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Poll shows decline in support for Boy Scouts

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  • #61
    KDD, perhaps that film wasn't as widely viewed as you and I might have thought.Or maybe they HAVE lost their essence. POE

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    • #62
      Barry,
      I do doubt the validity of Deron Smith's statement, which said the BSA offers life changing experiences that youth "cannot get anywhere else." I gave the counter examples to show that life changing experiences substantially similar to those in the BSA can be found in other places. I suppose the National and World Jamborees are unique to the BSA and Scouting but that's a small list. In general, making easily disproved statements is probably not great marketing because they are difficult to rally around.

      I mention 4-H and FFA because in my corner of America those programs are stronger than scouting. Maybe that's just because I live in a rural area. But in the Chicago area there are discussions about combining multiple councils that are a mix of urban and suburban. My understanding is the councils have been underperforming. So it's not clear to me that the issues faced by the BSA aren't systemic rather than locally programmatic.

      Perdidochas, 4-H and FFA have expanded beyond their farm roots. Both 4-H and FFA were working the STEM angle long before the BSA for example. The FFA changed their name from Future Farmers of America to the National FFA Organization a few decades ago to reflect their changing demographics and target audience. The FFA gets 50,000 plus people (10% of their membership) to their National Convention every year. They are half the size of the BSA in the 12 - 21 age demographic but they are growing. There may be lessons for the BSA to learn from the FFA.

      Honestly, I'm not trying to bash the BSA. It's a cliché but the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. When things are going poorly management's first inclination is to "work harder." That may work for a while but it's a tactical reaction, not a strategic plan. Work harder or faster isn't the answer for the long-term. I'm just the messenger. Shooting me won't solve the problems .
      Last edited by dcsimmons; 04-22-2014, 06:11 PM. Reason: Tried to put blank lines between paragraphs.

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      • #63
        I think part of the flaw is your definition of "life-changing", which has been part of the BSA profit-centered machine. Jamborees are just oversized conventions HAs are outdoor money pits accessed by a fraction of our membership. In and of themselves they are not life-changing. Thrilling, moving, memorable, etc ...not life-changing. The signature life changing experience of scouting comes when a boy takes his patrol independently hiking or camping. This is the pinnacle of scouting experience. This is "the key" that we use to unlock a youth's confidence to plan service projects, to explore hobbies and interests, to prepare to save lives. We need to get back to treating qualifying to take your patrol hiking and camping as the pinnacle of the scouting experience, and all the other "big ticket" items as nifty trails you can take down off that summit of your First-Class journey.

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        • #64
          While I can't say much about FFA because I don't know much about them, I can vouch for dcsimmons's statements about 4-H.
          As for management's "work harder" response, I suspect the volunteers in BSA who already do most of the work...probably already work hard enough.
          The earlier observation that locally units are doing OK is revealing of what I think the best way is for BSA to have a long term outlook and that is to fully engage 'local option'. Let the marketplace work. Let people determine their own fates and lives. Stop trying to control from a central authority. They can continue to try to dictate to us but that is just going to drive more and more boys and families away.

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          • #65
            To me, there seems to be a big gap between the BSA's potential and where it is now. Some units are doing great and a lot are blundering along. For those that are doing great they probably sell themselves irrespective of whatever national does. Giving the others what they need would help a lot. Win locally and everyone can ignore what the global wing nuts think or say.

            I've always thought scouting is this strange mix of things that just works. It's character and adventure and leadership and fun. And it's not just sports or STEM or band. It's well rounded where a lot of other things are focused on very narrow fields. I think that's both a strength and a weakness. A strength because the outcomes are boys that are well rounded and a weakness because we seem to be a society focused on specializing and winning. Instead, scouts gets to the crux of life. Be happy and helpful when the crap hits the fan. I'm not sure how to put that in PC speak but it is enticing to me as a parent.

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            • #66
              Polls are inaccurate and skewed by design, I'd not place any stock in this, or any other poll, about anything.

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              • #67
                I think the local option can work if the National organization provides insurance and cover for charter organizations that might be the next target of law suits. I think it failed last year because it seemed to come out of left field. Regardless, let's assume the BSA goes totally down the local option for everything path because ultimately they have no choice. Remove the restrictions on all the Gs and make the changes to the program foundations as necessary to accommodate. I'm not trying to be facetious, just brainstorming. I'm not convinced that changes the membership decline or the perception problem, assuming you believe it's real.

                Qwazse, I'll stipulate to your definition of life-changing, I kind of like it better than where I was headed. Do you think there are structural issues that should change to support that definition? Maybe Boy Scouts should be two or three years based on the T21 requirements with SLE moved into Venturing in parallel with Ranger, Quest, Trust and the rest? I kind of like the idea because it takes the focus off of merit badges and Eagle in the Jr. High timeline. It eliminates the age overlap. Also solves the issue people hate with 14 year old Eagles. And gives youth who come to the program late the opportunity to earn Eagle if we say the entry level of the new Venturing program is equivalent to T21. Maybe summer camps could focus on just having fun instead of offering MBs. Certainly they could quit offering Citizenships, Communications, and the other Eagle required bookwork MBs. I don't know.

                I personally think we could reduce our loses at the 5th grade point by shortening Cub Scouts to a three year program; combine Bobcat, Wolf, Bear into the first year then expand Webelos to get outdoors more. I think we'd get less boy and parent burn out. Sure membership would drop initially but maybe it would put some anticipation back into the younger boys and ultimately drive greater continuity of membership. I don't know. I do think expanding Cubs will make things worse.

                MattR I absolutely agree with your argument that scouting is a broader program than band or sports or STEM. I also like it as a parent. I also think other parents see the value, they just won't commit to the program. Again, I'll stipulate to single parents or multiple job families not being able to commit but I think we all have parents who are just afraid to make the commitment. I wonder if there isn't a way to reduce the number of adults required to run units? The group/section concept from the UK (also adapted by TL and AHG) makes a lot of sense to me. Would something like that help? I do think eliminating the obvious transition between Cubs and Boy Scouts can't hurt. Again, I don't know.

                I do think the discussion needs to be at that kind of level though and I'm not confident it's happening in Texas.

                Comment


                • #68
                  Originally posted by qwazse View Post
                  We need to get back to treating qualifying to take your patrol hiking and camping as the pinnacle of the scouting experience, and all the other "big ticket" items as nifty trails you can take down off that summit of your First-Class journey.
                  Just curious...since BSA requires two-deep, trained leaders on all activities, tour plans, CPR/AED, weather training, etc., how can "boys be boys" and to their own hikes, events, etc. anymore without adults around.

                  Or does your statement assume adults are around and just in the background?

                  Comment


                  • #69
                    Originally posted by qwazse View Post
                    I think part of the flaw is your definition of "life-changing", which has been part of the BSA profit-centered machine. Jamborees are just oversized conventions HAs are outdoor money pits accessed by a fraction of our membership. In and of themselves they are not life-changing. Thrilling, moving, memorable, etc ...not life-changing. The signature life changing experience of scouting comes when a boy takes his patrol independently hiking or camping. This is the pinnacle of scouting experience. This is "the key" that we use to unlock a youth's confidence to plan service projects, to explore hobbies and interests, to prepare to save lives. We need to get back to treating qualifying to take your patrol hiking and camping as the pinnacle of the scouting experience, and all the other "big ticket" items as nifty trails you can take down off that summit of your First-Class journey.
                    I went to one Jamboree. That was one more than necessary. For me.

                    In all three troops I have worked with, the memorable HA's were those planned by the Scouts and experienced in public lands. If you allow HA to be defined as going to some bureaucracy's facility, that's not on the bureaucracy. At the Scout's initiative, we went to White Mountain in NH, to White Mountain in California, and other places. We did have six kids go to Philmont once. They liked it well enough but like our own trips better.

                    Not sure how to generalize with such confidence about what experiences are "life-changing." For one of our Scouts it seemed to be saving a woman and her daughter from a car that went into a river here in mid-April, He seemed much more serious and focused afterwards. He went from underachiever to super achiever. He told me years later that it was like he got a "tap on the shoulder." (He was a high school water polo player and his coach had them swim outside in Winter, so his decision to go in was not crazy.)

                    The "First Class Journey" has been gone since 1948. Yet Scouting reached its peak of popularity over two decades thereafter.

                    Scouts should be backpackers and Winter campers - I think.

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                    • #70
                      <I><b>~~Or does your statement assume adults are around and just in the background?<//b></I>

                      Or possibly it assumes BSA could change some of its rules?

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                      • #71
                        Originally posted by JMHawkins View Post
                        <I><b>~~Or does your statement assume adults are around and just in the background?<//b></I> Or possibly it assumes BSA could change some of its rules?
                        No doubt, but they won't. The lawyers got involved a while ago and I don't see BSA backing down and letting boys be boys. My Venture Crew has planned a great overnight hike in to the mountains, planned every detail. But BSA rules require two adults with all this training, tour permits, med forms, etc. So until we get the adults to free up time to go the Crew is in limbo.

                        Comment


                        • #72
                          Originally posted by mozartbrau View Post
                          ... how can "boys be boys" and to their own hikes, events, etc. anymore without adults around.

                          Or does your statement assume adults are around and just in the background?
                          No, it does not assume. Youth have come to me with plans for weekend campout or hike. They have various qualifications (certified EMT, seasoned hiker, etc ...) and I would advise them on their plan, loan gear (sometimes give keys to the car), and bless them as they went on their way. Who am I to gainsay a solid plan by requiring them to take on two more persons who may add cost and risk to the venture?

                          Just because the BSA no longer supports the pinnacle scouting experience, doesn't mean I have to.

                          Scouting happens. Inasmuch as BSA supports it, folks will support the BSA.

                          Comment


                          • #73
                            Originally posted by mozartbrau View Post
                            ... My Venture Crew has planned a great overnight hike in to the mountains, planned every detail. But BSA rules require two adults with all this training, tour permits, med forms, etc. So until we get the adults to free up time to go the Crew is in limbo.
                            Now, with Venturing the tables are turned a little, IMHO. There is less emphasis on patrol method and more on adult association. This is more for the purposes of fellowship and giving those 18+ year-olds some quality time with good people to help them find their way in the wide world. In that context, I don't think adults add much in terms of safety, but in terms of being a sounding board, that's a major point of the program.

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                            • #74
                              Originally posted by qwazse View Post
                              No, it does not assume. Youth have come to me with plans for weekend campout or hike. They have various qualifications (certified EMT, seasoned hiker, etc ...) and I would advise them on their plan, loan gear (sometimes give keys to the car), and bless them as they went on their way. Who am I to gainsay a solid plan by requiring them to take on two more persons who may add cost and risk to the venture?
                              So....you send a group of boys out without adults? Didn't think this was allowed by BSA.

                              Comment


                              • #75

                                Originally posted by qwazse View Post

                                No, it does not assume. Youth have come to me with plans for weekend campout or hike. They have various qualifications (certified EMT, seasoned hiker, etc ...) and I would advise them on their plan, loan gear (sometimes give keys to the car), and bless them as they went on their way. Who am I to gainsay a solid plan by requiring them to take on two more persons who may add cost and risk to the venture?

                                Just because the BSA no longer supports the pinnacle scouting experience, doesn't mean I have to.

                                Scouting happens. Inasmuch as BSA supports it, folks will support the BSA.


                                Ha. Yes, good point. Just like BSA prohibiting laser tag. Nothing to stop a bunch of guys - who happen to also be members of Troop 123 - from playing laser tag on their own, so long as their parents agree. Shoot, after laser tag, they might even go camping with sheath knives and home-made alcohol stoves. Or maybe help out around the house by using a cordless drill or wheelbarrow.

                                The sad thing is, BSA could have fought against the overlawyering that's at the heart of the risk-aversion in society. "How are kids ever supposed to learn to do anything if people get sued for letting them use a wheelbarrow?"

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