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Poll shows decline in support for Boy Scouts

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  • #16
    Let's not forget money. The mere cost of membership -- for those who are allowed to be members -- has outpaced inflation.

    Other cultural issues come into play:

    - Single parenting. This group has to work harder than others to make scouting work for their boys. This number may increase, I suspect, when unions where there is an inequality of reproductive burden are no longer held in unique esteem.
    - Post-Modern Nomads. We are commuting longer than any generation before. This includes the average scout's home being further from school/troop./ball field than ever before. Each activity involves a trek, while there are fewer hours for shuttling to/from activities.
    - Profusion. (Yes it's a thing.) There's more stuff to do. The football team doesn't have the best running backs because most are playing soccer. Our school musical runs for two weekends, then there's the state-wide competition. Then there's the awards. Meanwhile softball season is starting. Plus online gaming and other camps. The value of BSA is diluted by the competing value of these other activities.

    I will also have to say, an elitist attitude. No one should brag about excluding certain groups, but some scouters do. No one should brag about our boys, except when they show themselves as public servants, but "Are You Tougher Than A Boy Scout" is the line for the day. I had one advisor/SM at his wits end because his boys were picking on a venturer because "she could never be and Eagle and the Silver Award would never count for as much." It's a tough balance between pride in your work and humility towards others, but I am a little concerned that we haven't quite got that right.

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    • #17
      Everyone knows that Marketing is the way to go. If BSA is "just another youth organization" it becomes just one more option on a long list of things to do. If it is a leadership development program that teaches management skills instead, that could become a problem as well.

      Until BSA decides to reevaluate it's program and make it the unique entity is once was, it will remain just another youth organization amongst many. The pool of potential members will be diluted yet again.

      Today's world offers far more distractions for youth than it did 50 years ago. They don't know what they want, but they will jump from one activity to the next and/or veg-out on electronics as an escape mechanism from the stress put on them to succeed.

      There's something seriously wrong with our society that spends time in Middle School preparing the kids for the SAT/ACT tests for college, while at the same time accept the notion that at age 30 the child is still living at home, unable to cope with the world that surrounds them.

      There are no pioneers left in America. They would need to know how to operate and survive in an unknown world. How's that working out for our boys in Scouting?

      January 1, 2000 - Y2K. What if all the dire predictions had come true? No electicity, no gas, minimal food access, and the country went into a subsistence economy overnight. I wonder if the skills taught in scouting may have been helpful, or maybe the survival MB, out cooking on a wood fire, or.... Remember January 1 is in the dead of winter in the northern tier of the US. Are our boys Prepared to cope?

      Scouting is not an elective in life, it's the material needed to not only succeed, but also simply survive.

      Maybe Eagle should be more than just something one puts on their college application and is included on their employment resume.

      Stosh

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      • #18
        Originally posted by jblake47 View Post
        A quick google search on "Decline in Youth Organization Membership" showed articles on membership decline as far back as 2010. Groups included: GSUSA BSA Pop Warner Football Baseball, soccer, basketball, football programs sports in general youth ministries of the churches service club memberships church attendence 4-H So how is the gay issue related to any and all of this. There is a general trend for youth not to be involved in any and all activities as they once were. It has NOTHING to do with their sexual orientation or belief in a god. BSA is going to lose membership just like all the other youth organizations in America. Get over it. Provide a good program for those that haven't dropped out and ignore polls that are doing nothing more than pointing out the obvious. Stosh
        Hmmm. The stats I saw for youth soccer alone saw a decline of around 100,000 youths, so hardly a mass exodus. More like a population hiccup due to age trends. But the statement that gets me most is this: " There is a general trend for youth not to be involved in any and all activities as they once were." Really? Maybe in your area this is true. Where I live kids are involved in more activities, clubs, sports, etc. than I ever was. Baseball is played year around now. Same with soccer, basketball and lacrosse. Schools require choir or orchestra or band or drama for several years in middle/high school. Then there are the school clubs, church, honor societies and other events that these kids don't have time to breathe. Oh, forgot simply studying for school, down time and video gaming. THAT'S why I cannot get kids to Scout meetings regularly. Once a week plus camp outs, PLC, OA, service projects, etc., is just another demand which gets lost in the clatter of youth demands. Heck, if youth participation in stuff is low in your area that should make your job easier, because all,you have to do is motivate boys rather then force them to pick between competing interests.

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        • #19
          Originally posted by skeptic View Post
          "Make sense?" Not really. But the entire issue makes no sense, and hasn't from the beginning. As noted numerous times, if simply left to allow local unit leadership and membership policy, as was the case until about 1990, it would not have been a particularly big issue and over time would evolve to align more with the general public view. But, because certain groups have felt it needed to be a political weapon, and for some reason National found it necessary to go away from what had to that time worked in some kind of illogical reaction to the political hacks, it grew to the monster it has become. But, it really makes very little "sense".
          Well, first to address Sentinel: The current policy (which was a compromise position) basically puts us in a no-win situation, but hopefully would minimize lossses. Second, Most people who support gay marriage weren't supporting Scouts before the current issue. They viewed us as a paramilitary Hitler Youth.

          Next, to answer Skeptic. I agree with you. The issue should have been up to local units. They can choose leaders for a variety of reasons, why shouldn't sexual orientation be on that list?

          Comment


          • #20
            Originally posted by perdidochas View Post
            Well, first to address Sentinel: The current policy (which was a compromise position) basically puts us in a no-win situation, but hopefully would minimize lossses. Second, Most people who support gay marriage weren't supporting Scouts before the current issue. They viewed us as a paramilitary Hitler Youth. Next, to answer Skeptic. I agree with you. The issue should have been up to local units. They can choose leaders for a variety of reasons, why shouldn't sexual orientation be on that list?
            Wrong thread. "Most people......viewed us a paramilitary Hitler Youth". Most people in the US support gay marriage now. What evidence do you have that they viewed us as paramilitary Hitler Youth? I am sure there are a few wing nuts out there that are prone to hyperbole but that is a stretch to claim most people.

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            • #21
              A bit of an exaggeration, but I have heard Boy Scouts described as Hitler Youth by liberals, who I presume support gay marriage. How is this a wrong thread? I will admit my view of the world is colored by my local area, but around here, the supporters (and my supporters, I do't mean the people that simply don't object, but that actively want it) of gay marriage are pretty much on the far left. The less extreme wouldn't be brave enough to say so in the right wing area I live. Anyway, my point is that those actively supporting gay marriage (not just tolerating the idea, which is the majority nation wide) aren't going to be supporters of scouting anyway, IMHO.

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              • #22
                My bad. I forgot the turn this one took. Can't say I actively support gay or straight marriage. Just something to be tolerated. After 20 years this September some days my tolerance level is better than others.

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                • #23
                  Originally posted by TAHAWK View Post

                  You will not change the subject so you must try to change the facts.
                  You're making up "facts" wholesale. According to a Chicago Tribune column at the time, "Welsh had not gone out looking for trouble". What's your source other than your fevered imagination?

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                  • #24
                    Originally posted by King Ding Dong View Post
                    Most people in the US support gay marriage now.
                    Source?

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                    • #25
                      Originally posted by Merlyn_LeRoy View Post

                      You're making up "facts" wholesale. According to a Chicago Tribune column at the time, "Welsh had not gone out looking for trouble". What's your source other than your fevered imagination?
                      Repeat. He was a Cub, Scout, and Explorer, and you want us to believe he was genuinely surprised to find "Reverent."

                      Please persist. It's funny.

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                      • #26
                        Daily life for kids is over scheduled. Sports programs are now year round. So we are not getting the tier 1 athletes in scouts anymore. But we are getting the kids who want to be active. IMHO we need to modify the Webelo program to be more scout and less cub. Cub scouts is still big, but their crossover rate is low. Why? Cubs and their parents do not see the benefit. We should have joint Webelo/troop campouts. This would help keep our numbers high. Also we need to market that scouts is about personal responsibility and independence. Is the gay issue driving down membership. Not really, it's just a reason people give. My retention rate is high because we are active, go on adventures, and have fun. Troops should be a place for scouts to hang out which friends. That is what councils should be pushing. That is what will keep scouts in the program.

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                        • #27
                          Originally posted by TAHAWK View Post

                          Repeat. He was a Cub, Scout, and Explorer, and you want us to believe he was genuinely surprised to find "Reverent."
                          No, he was surprised to find god-belief was a requirement. The BSA hasn't always been kicking out atheists (I was a cub scout and my mother was a den mother, and we were both atheists at the time). The term "reverent" does not require god-belief.

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                          • #28
                            *sigh* HWGA.... Scouting should have no business in anyones sexual activity, except as it injures our youth, and for that the BSA has a very good Youth. (?!adult?) Protection Program. As I tell inquiring minds, we do not have a Sexuality Merit Badge. As the Old Guard dies out, the new will change...
                            Yes, we have a undeserved reputation as a paramilitary group. Comes from the uniform looking stuff we wear, comes from some of the ScoutLeaders we have that are frustrated DIs. Comes from the (sometimes) overly intense patriotic fervor we exhibit, but it is NOT official or encouraged except by over eager local folks. Join ROTC or Civil Air Patrol if you seek overt militarism. BSA shouldn't and isn't.
                            Our troubles with membership decline does not stem from the stuff we should be known for: Camping, hiking, physical activities (rock climbing, canoeing, archery.....). It does not come from our educational activities (flag courtesy, history observance, leadership opportunities, tool skill use....) . It does not come from our "cheerful service" (now where did I hear that? ummm...) to others.

                            Our membership decline stems from our organization's seeming predisposition to try and dictate morality to folks. The only thing we CAN do is DEMONSTRATE and example what good morality can accomplish. We can't demand the moral act, only encourage it theu our example. What is that? I'm not sure I could delineate such, maybe I should let one's religious faith (sorry, merlin) help to define that. But "Do to them what I'd like them to do to me" does come to mind .
                            Scout Promise? Scout Law? Good start on what a worthy citizen and neighbor should aim for. See also Luke 10:29... but first get the kids doing the first Scouty stuff (see above).

                            If we think we have a worthy organization that would benefit our youth, and teach them what we think they should know (survival skills, personal confidence, cooperation to accomplsh goals, manual dexterity, you name it), then THAT is what us "volunteers" should concentrate on and tell our CORs to GO to the rep meetings and VOTE the rascals out of office. Chicago Council had to do it a couple years ago. If the leadership in Irving is not appropriate to the definition of the BSA, then gee, look, things are changing, if slowly, but they are changing.

                            Comment


                            • #29
                              >>Our membership decline stems from our organization's seeming predisposition to try and dictate morality to folks.<<

                              The BSA has a lot of internal program issues causing a lot of angst for adults. While a poll shows dropping support, there nothing out there to suggest the resistance to political correctness is the cause. I know the folks I talked to are less concerned on the moral issues and more concerned with being in a program that activist keep attacking. Families just don't want to be part of a cause. But there is just simply no numbers to show this. In fact I have been reading folks on this forum making these same predictions for 15 years. I could easily show where the numbers were falling during those years and it had nothing to do with progressives activist attacking the program.

                              Still, I am concerned membership policy change the BSA just made may have very well hurt the program, but the only numbers that would really show that is the new scout numbers, and I expect that will take a couple years to understand. As I said, the BSA has internal program problems that need to be fixed first to stop the membership decline caused by those problems. I understand National is coming out with some pretty big changes this year. We will see, I remember holding my breath for changes with the Tiger program in 2000. Turns out the changes made the problems worse, not better. So I’m always skeptical that National understands the real causes to the problems they try to fix.

                              Barry

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                              • #30
                                Originally posted by mozartbrau View Post
                                Source?
                                In Washington Post-ABC News poll, fifty percent say equal protection in Constitution gives gays the right to marry; 41 percent say it doesn’t.

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