Philmont Training Center -- Part VII, The Staff


See also:
  1. Part I: Registration and Program Decisions
  2. Part II: Chicas Program
  3. Part III: Parking, Trading Post, Others
  4. Part IV: Boy Scout Program
  5. Part V: Senores
  6. Part VI: The Classes
  7. Part VII: The Staff

Date: Wed, 17 Jul 2002 08:00:22 -0700
From: "Donald S. Roberts" <don@hummellawfirm.com>
Subject: PTC Experience, Part VII, The Staff
This may be the hardest part to write. So many of the staff were wonderful, I almost hate to mention the bad parts.

I have little experience with the staff over at CHQ side, so I cannot speak for them, but everything I've heard was great. I will say that the folks I met at the staffed camps and TOTT were wonderful and very enthusiastic. I was somewhat distrubed by the language used in the staff grafitti at Pueblano. Fortunately, the scouts aren't allowed in the staff area where that stuff is. I really think that, given the Philmont employment guide says staff members are to live the scout law, those things should be removed. However, I'm not the boss there, but I will note that it is quite inconsistent with "a scout is Clean".

Starting at the top:

Management:

Keith, Mark, Doug and Brian were all great. They have an obvious enthusiasm for their jobs and are very anxious to make the experience a great one for all attendees. The one place Keith, Mark and Brian had as a negative was that none of them takes criticism of what they do well (this was not true for Doug, though I didn't have anything to criticize for him, so I guess that doesn't count). I brought up the problems of the call-in procedure, and they all got very defensive. I mentioned the mixed quality of the dining hall food, and Brian and Keith got almost indignant at the suggestion that someone might not like their food.

On the other hand, they were all very open and receptive to answering any questions I might ask. As an (among other things) employment lawyer, I had quite a few questions about dealing with so many temporary staff, and Keith, Mark and Brian were very frank and open about their issues and problems. They were also very much on top of things, knowing what was going on. That what quite refreshing to see in management.

It should be noted that Brian and Keith are both *very* new to their jobs, and that may be part of the reason there are still a few kinks to iron out (see below).

Faculty:

The faculty I already addressed in Part VI on the classes. They also had a great deal fo enthusiasm for what they were doing. I will note that the faculty is housed in buildings rather than tents, so they have a definite perq.

Program Staff:

The staff that works with the various family groups is absolutely fantastic. They have a real good handle on what is needed to make a fun program, they aren't overbearing, and they are very enthusiastic. Most were just plain fun people to be around. The only bad story I hear was the one about making the barfing kid at the stockade keep eating the chili, and I'm pretty dubious about that one.

Tent City Staff:

They were courteous and helpful, but there was some spottiness here. A few members of the staff seemed like they had better things to do than address your needs. One in East tent city in particular kept brushing people off, and it was quite annoying. However, for the most part these were folks who wanted to be there. One story I heard from South Tent City was about a spill. An attendee felt the spill was both unsightly and unsafe (in the bathroom), and they mentioned to a staff person the need to clean it up, pointing out that "a scout is clean." The response to that phrase was "we're not boy scouts." Well, that isn't true, since every staff member must, as a condition of employment, register with the BSA, and agrees to live by the scout oath and law (it's in the employee guidebook). The maintenance people were generally pretty standoffish and didn't seem to enjoy their jobs. These are among the difficult to fill positions.

Dining Hall Staff:

I was very disappointed with these folks. When asked for extra portions, some were nice about denying them (you have to wait until everyone goes through before you can get seconds), some were downright rude. I saw a lot of frowning faces in there. When I noticed the different cereals between the staff dining hall and ours, each and every staff member I asked about it was "surprised" that they had different cereals and "couldn't understand" how that could be. Yet it never changed througout the week, and when I finally decided to take things into my own hands and get cereal from the staff dining hall, they blocked the doors. I honestly feel I was being intentionally lied to. I even mentioned it to Brian and he was "surprised" so it appears to come from the top. I never would have known they had different cerieals had it not been for the fact they store the staff cereals on shelves in the common dining hall where you can see them.

I was told by Mark (who does all the hiring) that dining hall is his number one problem area for getting staff to fill the positions. The quality of the staff there bears that out.

Administrative staff:

This was another mixed group. The long term staff was great. My absolute favorite and most helpful staff person, Amy Ray, came from this area. However, the people in the program office, and about half the desk people were most unfriendly. I came in to ask a question which was directed to the program office, and after I asked, and was abruptly answered, I was thinking of more to ask when the person dismissed me with "good-bye", not even a "anything else." There were several times that I went to one of the offices (lost and found about my lost camera was one) and the staff members were sitting around talking, and they acted like it was a major imposition to be interrupted. Now, my approach was consistently to go to the door and wait for them to stop talking and acknowledge me before saying anything, so it wasn't like I was cutting them off.

General comments:

Since first contact with staff was administration, dining hall and tent city, my initial reaction to PTC was rather disappointed. However, as I came into contact with the program staff, management and faculty, I felt much better. In discussing staffing with Mark, the areas where he has to fill the positions from surrounding communities and universities, rather than scouting, are the administrative, maintenance, Dining hall and tent city staff. Therefore, it isn't too surprising that scout values seem somewhat less pronounced among those folks. Given the difficulty filling those positions, it also isn't too surprising that mixed quality is present. I would say that since most of your contact throughout the week is with program staff and faculty, you can expect to have a great working relationship with the staff you spend most of your time with.

One problem that occurred was on two sepearate occasions, staff people were, somewhat rowdily, carrying on loud conversations at 12:30 am in the staff tent city lounge area. Both occasions woke me up. I complained about the first one, and the tent city folks tried to claim it was coyotes, so Brian dismissed my complaint, until I told him what they were saying, so he knew they weren't coyotes.

Overall, the PTC staff is wonderful, and the problem staff is mostly behind the scene (the types we West Fellows would see, since we tour the background of Philmont as part of our program). I'm sure my experience of the negative staff members was more pronounced than most attendees would find, since I had more contact with those types of employees. It should be noted that when it came to things like the dance, staff skits, singing, etc., the constant participants from staff were the program staff. You saw much less of the support staff at those times. I think that is another indicator of thise difference between the type of people filling these positions.

I think this wraps up my series of reports on my PTC Experience. I know in Part VI I originally got mixed up between Doug and Mark [which has been corrected ...Selden], but other than that, I think I kept all the players straight.

Regards
Don Roberts
ASM T1201
Fullerton, CA


See also:
  1. Part I: Registration and Program Decisions
  2. Part II: Chicas Program
  3. Part III: Parking, Trading Post, Others
  4. Part IV: Boy Scout Program
  5. Part V: Senores
  6. Part VI: The Classes
  7. Part VII: The Staff

See also:

The content of this Web page was provided by Donald S. Roberts. Please contact him at <don@hummellawfirm.com> for more information.

This Web page is maintained by Selden Ball at Wilson Lab.
Please send any comments or corrections to seb@lns.cornell.edu