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Maybe when our professional millionaires run out of ideas to turn the Boy Scout program into an "inclusive" indoor program, we might consider the June 15, 1916 Scoutcraft program mandated by an Act of Congress in return for our monopoly on Scouting.
Maybe some day the Boy Scout program will be an inclusive, outdoor, character-building program, i.e., take any boy who wants to be a scout, teach them scoutcraft and leadership (not management), and then trust them to lead other scouts on outings without adults.
We can take every boy in the nation, Schiff, and people will still call us discriminatory because we don't take girls. Our policies aren't our critics' real problem, the problem is our industrial/modern ideals in a post-modern world. So, we can take homosexuals and then it's atheists, and then we can take atheists and it'll be girls, and then we can take girls in Cubs and Boy Scouts and it'll be something new after that over and over again until we strip out every aspect of our ideals that is a moral absolute, patriotic, competitive, etc.
I'm was talking about boys that we are not taking in and scouts we are not keeping due to policies. Critics, girls, and Cub Scouts are other matters.
Over the years I personally have turned away many great boys and their families over the membership form DRP (hated myself too) and seen almost as many older great scouts leave because they were not allowed to take charge (as in no adults) or even do the outdoor things they safely did with their families. This takes a toll on our youth membership numbers.
I'm with Kudu. BSA had a great program and extensive membership. Then they repackaged the program and the membership took a dive.
The Ritz might have had a great steak dinner served with all the flair of a posh restaurant, but when they changed their menu to burgers and fries, they lost their clientele. To this day they have no idea why.
You guys are so funny. The Girl Scouts and Campfire Kids took a huge hit that they have yet to recover from when they allowed gays. The Canadian Scouts are somewhere around 35 percent of what they were when they allowed gays. But the BSA's cause for the membership drop after the admission of gays is "program"? LOL
IMO, this is a warning sign to BSA should they decide to admit gay leaders. That's where the rubber hits the road when you ask parents to let their sons to go off into the woods with men that are sexually attracted to males.
I have no doubt that the changes to the membership policy helped to accelerate the decline that was already taking place, but becoming "inclusive" (which for Scouts Canada meant forcing the new policy on all their units, thus excluding those opposed to it) is not the sole reason for the decline.
Also interesting: Scouts Canada has fewer members per employee than the BSA.
I think competing activities and demographics has more to do with it than The changes to the program in the 60s or allowing gays. Youth sport participation numbers are falling too.
If not sports (as youth sport participation numbers are falling), what are the competing activities? Personally, I think it's that Scouting isnt competing successfully with video games and Facebook/Instagram/etc. The other is that while the number of kids playing a sport may be going down, the level of their playing the sport has gone up--it's not uncommon around here for boys to play baseball in both the fall and spring. I wonder how their participation in baseball is measured?
We need to get rid of silly rules in G2SS, and embrace the outdoors as much as possible. I don't think the new crop of digital subject area merit badges are going to help.
If kids are becoming one sport or one activity kids because of time commitments or financial ones, then all youth activities would have losses wouldn't they? When I was a teenager, I played Soccer, was a Scout and was in Band. In High School, I had marching band practices and I was consistently holding leadership positions in Scouts so I dropped Soccer.
My unit isn't having membership issues but we do struggle to get more than 50% attendance on outings. And that is definetly program related.
I don't think the technology merit badges are going to help. I don't think merit badges period are going to help. Camping, adventure and their buddies is what keeps Scouts in Scouting. Merit badges are just annoying paperwork needed to get rank advancement.
Well, if youth sports and Scouts are both having losses, where are the youth going?
We had the problem with attendance at campouts. We fixed it mainly by just changing up the locations of campouts. We were camping in the same few spots over and over (Scout camp and a local base mainly). Now that we've branched out more, we are having more attendance and higher membership.
We're feeling that, only in reverse. Crossovers are going to other new troops. I'm not counting those boys. Troop members have parents who absorb costs if they can, and we have managed to blunt the rise in cost through the troop treasury.
I'm mainly focused on the crew, who are more pay-as-you go and membership dues 95% to pay for registration.
I'm also concerned that 8th-10th grade boys who would have joined any of the troops in the neighborhood years back are not doing so.
Actually, we are doing a poor job at attracting crossovers, initially. We are getting a lot of scouts a year or so into the program. We've also gotten a few scouts a few month after their crossover into other troops. The other troops didn't give them anything program wise. We did.
Per, I had friends in the Canadian scouts at the time, it was a direct relationship. And there have been many articles since about it as well. 65% loss! The Canadian Scouts of today is nothing like it was in 1995. It's more of a YMCA type of program now. It lost it's soul. I can't say the BSA has or is going to fall that much. I'm pleasently surprised it's only 6%. But I have experience with collecting national membership data and it takes at least 18 months to get an accurate count on a single scout because it takes at least a year to take him off the council roster, and he may had signed up for that year several months before. Plus, there is not a National deadline for membership signup, each council has their own timeline and process for registration. If you have every followed BSA data, you know that it takes about five years to identify a trend with membership data. Barry
Per, I had friends in the Canadian scouts at the time, it was a direct relationship.
I didn't say it wasn't a direct relationship, I said it wasn't the sole reason for the decline. Yes, I have friends who were leaders in Scouts Canada at the time of the membership policy change (1998) and who left not because girls, homosexuals, etc. were allowed but because units were not permitted to opt out. That is, units were forcibly integrated.
That the new membership policy was not the sole reason for the decline can be seen by the fact that membership had already declined over 20% from 1990 by the time the new policy was put in place (1998).
Now if membership had continued to decline at the same rate, then we would expect to see a total membership of about 135,400 in 2014. Instead, total membership stands at 98,142 as of 2013. So, again, the new membership policy accelerated the decline that was already taking place. I suspect that the new co-ed policy has more to do with it than the policy on homosexuals, as Beavers and Cubs have experienced the worst decline and one would expect that they would be least affected by gays in their midst.
Here is a personal example. When my oldest (now 23 years old) wanted to be a Cub Scout I signed him up. The next year, I was my second son's Tiger partner. The next year my wife signed me up to be a Wolf Den leader and for the next ten years I was some combination of Den Leader, Assistant Scoutmaster, Scoutmaster and Unit Commissioner (never less than two positions!). During that time the council changed structure twice - merging with with the council next to in geographically and a few year later forming a state wide council. Camps have closed (mothballed) to save operating and maintenance costs. I'm going to an Eagle (and Silver Award) Recognition dinner next week that will be held at a large convention center. When my boys earned Eagle, they attended the same dinner but then it was for a much smaller geographic area but attendance was almost the same ≈500 or so Scouts. It is much less personal now and I'm afraid the BSA program will continue to shrink. However, I don't think it has anything to do with God, Gays or Girls. I just think in this day and age the thought of "going camping" and "the outdoors" is so foreign to so many folks they don't see the benefit. I look back fondly during the time I was a Scout Leader and am contemplating jumping back into it after I retire in the next few years.
I think it's a combination of things. I've seen a number of parents pull kids because of membership. It's certainly part of the equation. Right or wrong, I think it will get worse when the restrictions on adults are lifted. acco40, I think there are plenty of kids who like camping and the outdoors. That said, in my corner of rural America by the time they are Boy Scout age they've spent many hours with Dad hunting, fishing, canoeing and camping. They've driven ATVs and jet skis and snowmobiles. They "own" their own firearms. Boy Scout aged boys in my area that are interested in the outdoors aren't willing to wait until they are 15 years old to do the things they've been doing with Dad for years. The boys and girls I work with think things like the laser tag ban are the stupidest rules known to man. My autistic son learned to mow the lawn at 11, not 14. Boys who are 14/15 years old drive quarter-million dollar farm equipment every spring and fall but they can't drive a lawn tractor on summer camp staff or work days because they aren't 18. Ultimately we are selling buggy whips to the ipod generation and even those interested in buggy whips aren't interested in the restrictions we put on them.
I do agree that the restrictions in things like laser tag/paintball, etc. aren't helping things. However, fundamentally, boys like to camp, make fires and play with knives. At least in my neck of the woods, those are allowed.
I think a big part of the decline in participation in Boy Scouts and other activities is the increased opportunity costs of participation.
Kids today are chauffeured everywhere, they don’t travel on their own. Look at any elementary school today, where are the bicycle racks? When I was a kid, my school had huge bicycle racks that held hundreds of bicycles everyday. Why? Because we rode our bikes or walked to school. That very same elementary school no-longer has those racks because the kids are driven to and from school by their parents. The line of urban assault vehicles (SUVs) waiting to pick up their kids at the end of the day stretches for blocks. Same thing for little league, boy scouts, etc. - we usually got there under our own power (unless it was across town). I am amazed at how much time parents today spend shuttling their kids around. In our cub pack we have lost several boys over transportation issues.
Many extracurricular activities today require complete commitment. Want to be a cheerleader at your high school? You have to attend a summer camp just to be allowed to try out. Want to play soccer? Be prepared for a year round activity. It used to be if you wanted to do multiple activities, it wasn’t that hard. Now many groups expect you to pick just one and spend all you time with them.
One thing I have observed that is probably related to the transportation thing, is that the circle of friends that kids have today tend to be much more geographically distributed. When I was a kid, I could walk or ride my bicycle to the house of virtually every one of my friends. We all lived in the same neighborhood and went to the same schools. Now with most of the children of my friends, that isn’t true. One of the reasons they have to be chauffeured to “play dates” instead of simply getting together with their friends under their own power.
The chauffeuring has a lot do to with being a helicopter parent as well. Many parents are very fearful of letting their children out of their sight. Other families think I'm crazy because I let my kids ride their bikes to school and around the neighborhood. The are certain that my kids will be hit by a car, kidnapped, etc.
This is ridiculous. 4% drops for years and now we see a 6% drop and suddenly that's the number everyone is focusing on. Assuming we would have seen another 4% drop this year regardless of policy changes, really it's only fair to attribute maybe 2% to the policy, and even that is just a guess.
What I'll be anxious to see is what happens next year or over the next 2-3 years. We knew the policy change would result in some loss. That was a given. But after the exodus (if you can call it that when it really only resulted in a 2% loss), it will be interesting to see how things go as membership trends normalize around the existing policies. In other words, what will the numbers look like during a year where no membership policy change took place? Back to 4% losses? Less? I suspect so.
I wonder what folks will be saying a year or two from now if we see membership numbers increase.
I think it is very funny, when people say the membership will drop if they let gay adult leaders in. I would be more suspicious of a heterosexual man who wanted to help in the program for a few reasons.
The first is how many openly gay men would join the BSA to molest boys? You wouldn't want people to know that you were gay, and many of the people who molest children are married men. For example, Sandusky was married with biological children. Also if you are that worried then your son shouldn't be playing sport, going outside without a parent, or be in school. There is a chance that someone might do something to your son after all.
The reason I think the BSA membership is falling is simple. Boy Scouts isn't "cool" and it can't compete with the virtual world. In Philadelphia I rarely see kids outside playing they are on their electronics.
I also think Rick is spot on, we have lost kids due to sports, and if your troop requires a certain number of camping trips per year. That will turn off scouts who have other obligation.
I have never understood the issue people have with allowing gay scouts and leaders in, and I don't view it as a good reason to leave scouting.
Again, Rick, as gay writer/editor Karl Andersson has explained in his book Gay Man's Worst Friend, your knee-jerk assumption that any criticism of homosexuals=charges of pedophilia is the result of several decades' effort to dissociate homosexuals from their proclivity to youth as a culture obsessed with sex. If you're comfortable subverting documented (by gays) history to politics, more power to ya (everyone else does it).
Seriously? If a gay man doesn't desire to sexually abuse teenagers it's because of a "...several decades' effort to dissociate homosexuals from their proclivity to youth..."? That's it's all some sort of conspiracy to hide the truth about gay people? Am I understanding your point?
As for: "your knee-jerk assumption that any criticism of homosexuals=charges of pedophilia", what a load. I don't assume anything of the sort. I'm just reacting when I see people like you writing stuff of the form: "most gay people secretly want to abuse teens, it's part of their culture". Or is that not what you are saying?
Last edited by Rick_in_CA; 02-18-2014, 08:11 PM.
Reason: fix typo