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What changes would you make if you were Robert Gates, the new BSA president

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  • What changes would you make if you were Robert Gates, the new BSA president

    In the fall of 2011, BSA addressed major problems with the release of the new Guide To Advancement and the new Eagle scout workbook and processes. I was extremely impressed. The advancement changes were major. Professionally thought through. Successfully and fairly smoothly rolled out. Most importantly, those changes successfully addressed current major problems in our scouting district.

    From what I see so far ... the new BSA changes are because BSA recognizes there are major problems and everyone knows changes are needed. I'm just not sure the changes significant enough and I am concerned they are not the right changes. From what I see, we are just trading existing problems for new problems.


    - Addressed - Changing cub program to be more "doing" ... "adventures" ... less school ... more outdoors. Great! That's what scouting offers that others don't. Outdoor adventures and experiences. School doesn't. Sports doesn't. That's what scouting is. Growing character and citizenship and physical fitness through an outdoor program.


    - Not addressed - Broken relationship between packs, troops and crews
    - Not addressed - Girls are ignored until they are 14. Nothing before then.
    - Not addressed - Unknown and undervalued venturing awards.

    - New problem - Escalating "faith" to be in-your-face. BAD IDEA !!!!!!!!
    - New problem - Age limit escalates existing venturing problems.
    - New problem - Venturing summit award? Unknown brand. Wait, my son earned the Summit award in Cub Scouts in 2011.


    ************************************************** ************************
    So ... "IF I WERE ROBERT GATES" ... here's what I would do.
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    - REMOVE MEMBERSHIP BARRIERS. Immediately and without discussion. Do criminal background checks. But not any thing else. BSA should choose the charter partners and then trust them. Then, let our charter partners choose the leaders.

    - LET GIRLS IN all programs. Heck, a large part of summer camp staff are already girls. So they can staff scout camps (teach skills, run events, etc) and be adult leaders, but younger girls can't be members? Huh? How does that work?

    - PUBLICLY RECOGNIZE CHARTER PARTNER LATITUDE ... choosing leaders ... admitting members ... structuring their program ... etc etc etc. It exists now. And it's okay. A Catholic unit has different values than a public school chartered unit. That's fine. That's how it should be.

    - LOOK OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES ... Scouting is a world wide movement. How do other countries do scouting? UK fascinates me. Also, LDS units (surprisingly) fascinate me (though I realize that's inside the US).

    - MERGE UNITS INTO "SCOUTING UNITS" similar to what I understand the UK does. Similar to how LDS works. One administrative committee. One committee chair. Have age based sub-groups. Scout friends pre-school - 2nd grade. Cubs grades 2-5. Boy (or new name) Scouts ages 10-16. Venture scouts ages 14-18. One committee chair. One continuous set of offerings. Sometimes one sub-group will help or work with another sub-group. Someone to always look up to.

    - ONE PINNACLE RANK. Let it be Eagle Scout as Eagle Scout is the Xerox and Kleenex of outdoor brands. Arrow of light? I'm not sure that's good promoting it as a pinnacle of anything.

    - LET GIRLS EARN EAGLE SCOUT.

    - Consistent set of ranks for ages 10-18 for boys and girls. Use the Boy Scout ranks. Everyone knows them and they would fit both sexes.

    - DO NOT ESCALATE FAITH REQUIREMENTS. Getting kids outside places them in the hands of God. Forcing it to be even more formally part of advancement will turn them off and alienate the scouting program from the general population. Scouting is a subtle program.

    ************************************************** ************************
    ************************************************** ************************

    What would you do ?????

  • #2
    I would recommend that you copy this into a letter and mail it to him, certified mail, return receipt!

    With one addition that I can think of right now.... and that is a section regarding the uniforms. I know, I know, a can of worms.....
    I am a believer in the uniform method, and I think that we have been getting lazy with them. I think the activity uniform concept has really made it worse.
    I think that perhaps with very few tweaks, there's no reason the field uniform isn't appropriate for almost any activity a scout does (hiking, camping, etc...) why not wear it so that it can fill its purposes? Hey now that I think about it, Steve Irwin used to wear what was essentially a Field Uniform shirt wrestling crocs, and even when scuba diving! I can't believe I never thought of that before now......
    The beads at the cub level are just stupid in my opinion.
    Cubs need a better way to display their patch collection.... on uniform.

    Regarding Faith.... I guess I see your point, but I personally see nothing wrong with pushing Faith to a visible place. I suppose though, that that could be a CO prerogative though. We push the Religious Medals program..... as a CO program, and I think it's a very good thing. A major portion of two of the 4-1/2 years of Cub Scouts in our Pack
    Last edited by blw2; 05-23-2014, 10:48 AM.

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    • #3
      I'm not sure you're quite at the "95 Thesis" stage yet. I'd dicker with the age designations. There should be a place, as in UK, for a young adult network. APO could fill that on college campuses, venturing is kinda filling that for the non-college-bound of my crew. Somehow, that formal designation needs to be there to distinguish the young-adult scout from the fella who grabs a few cold ones and goes of to the national forest with his/her buddies.

      But that leads me to the one "opportunity area" which you've omitted ...:

      (Re)Establishing a culture where the vision of The Pinnacle Scouting Experience is not "high adventure" per se, but Hiking and camping independently with your patrol. Other "big ticket" events must exist to support a boy (and his adult leaders) learning how to do that and taking that "adventurer's swagger" back home to their units. A good example that I hear from many scouters coming back from Philmont is how the rangers address issues with the youth crew leader, NOT the adults. Until that vision is instilled at every program level, ultimate scouting adventures that any determined youth could and should enjoy will continue to be held outside of the auspices of the BSA.

      I'm not Robert Gates, but that is what I do, and will do in whatever position I hold.

      Not to disrespect all those other aspirations, Frank. I think most of them are good ideas. But, they are pretty much nail polish, and don't cut to the quick of where scouting needs to be for boys and girls to feel that they are indeed growing into great young men and women.

      Comment


      • #4
        Happily, my unit(s) don't experience any problems based on your post. Our Pack, Troop and Crew (and, frankly, our Troop and most of the Packs in about a 10-mile radius) enjoy close contact and work together well. This is because we choose to make it that way and aren't counting on someone in Texas detailing "rules" to somehow force it to happen.

        Girls would ruin Boy Scouts - I've polled the Scouts and they're 100 percent against it - most volunteered they'd leave if girls were let in. This is an Adult idea based on Adult concepts of "fairness" and other politically-correct nonsense.

        I was a little surprised that the decision was made to limit Venturing to 18 as "youth." Most decisions BSA has made over the years are intended to expand the kinds of people who could be called "Boy Scouts." I agree with those that believe a consistent age standard is the way to go. Crew currently has no members older than 18 anyway, and it's hard to imagine very many college students being active in a Crew 1500 miles away.

        Boy Scouts recognizes the importance of faith in life. It always astonishes me when someone involved in the program seems surprised by that fact - I mean it's right there in the Oath and Law - "Duty to God," "reverent." Zero subtlety there, but only one small part of a larger program. The great thing is that Scouts is a voluntary association - if one doesn't like the faith-based aspects, he or she can go find an atheist organization to belong to. I don't know what "general population" you believe is out there, but 75 percent of Americans profess a belief in some kind of God. Focusing our efforts on placating the minority - while currently popular in the country and in Scouting - is hardly a recipe for success.

        If I were Bob Gates, I'd tell Councils to focus their efforts in two areas: fundraising to build endowments for the future and to purchase and maintain camping properties and building Cub Scout membership.

        Comment


        • #5
          Agree .... let the girls in. On a number of camp staffs, I've seen them run COPE and Climbing Courses as well as swiftwater. They have served as Camp Directors as well as Program Directors. They've also served as back country guides in Maine's North woods having skill sets that would put an Eagle Scout as well as a number of adult leaders to shame ....yet, they are shut out of the advancement side of the program....



          Comment


          • #6
            While I'm not sure I agree that all the items are necessarily good for the program I suspect it is the correct list to get the BSA out of the line of fire of the culture struggles in our country. I would fully support the single committee/charter concept. I agree with Q that I'd play with the ages a bit and would eliminate the overlap you suggest between the middle-school and high-school programs.

            It's interesting to hear about camps with large numbers of female staffers. I've only attended a few summer camps over the years but none of them had more than a token number of female staff members. Two or three at most.

            I'm curious though Fred on your suggestion about charter partner latitude. Are you suggesting that if my unit decided no female leaders, no female youth, no gay leaders that you would and would expect National to support that choice? I think that's what you're suggesting but just curious.

            Comment


            • #7
              Letting girls in to the lower programs would be HUGE PR disaster without the full endorsement of GSUSA and that is not going to happen. On top of that we would just be inheriting their problems. Male leadership is going to take tween girls out in the woods without a female adult ? I don't think so. No female adult available? So the girls stay behind or the whole thing is cancelled? I don't think so.

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              • #8
                SCOUTGRIPPER ... I can respect what you are saying and though we share the same scouting universe, our realities are different. Everything I listed is an issue in my area.

                "go find an atheist organization" ... That attitude is killing BSA. Life is not clean cut. Many families have been alienated from churches and a specific faith. Many teenagers experiment with atheism. BSA was once the pre-eminent youth organization. Now, we can't recruit from schools and BSA is viewed negatively by many.

                "BSA v. Dale" was properly decided by the US Supreme Court, but triggered by a bad BSA decision. It's killing BSA membership. It's killing BSA endowments. It's killing BSA good will.

                We need to get out of the political debates. And when we tell people to go find another organization, that's exactly what they do and many others too.

                BSA needs to get back to scouting and get out of the political debates.

                Comment


                • #9
                  DCSIMMONS... charter org latitude ... that's exactly what I'm suggesting. And it exists now. No scouting unit is forced to take any leader. The leaders are offered up by the charter org. No unit is forced to accept a specific scout as a member. Units can be closed to members of their church. It exists now. I would have zero problem if one scouting unit decided that they wanted to have a boy-only troop. That would be fine with me. I'm sure other units would pick up the slack.


                  KDD - No female leaders or the whole event is canceled. Welcome to the world of venturing... Personally, we've always been able to find female adults to come

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    DCSIMMONS - Boy Scout camps in my area have about 10% female staff. Cub camps have about 40%.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I should have guessed, this was just a cleaver thread for a "more political correctness in the BSA" rant. Moderators need to move the debat to the politics section. Barry

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by scoutergipper View Post
                        ....
                        I was a little surprised that the decision was made to limit Venturing to 18 as "youth." Most decisions BSA has made over the years are intended to expand the kinds of people who could be called "Boy Scouts." I agree with those that believe a consistent age standard is the way to go. Crew currently has no members older than 18 anyway, and it's hard to imagine very many college students being active in a Crew 1500 miles away.
                        ...
                        I take it that 18-20 year olds will still participate as venturers. I'm warming up to the idea of having the older youth in my crew registered as adults. Proper scouting should be preparing these young adults to manage packs and troops (BS and GSUSA) and other youth programs, and getting them to feel the spotlight we're trying to put them in is the first step to them stepping up. It's about time we started treating them as adults.

                        Which is why the independent hiking and camping is such a linchpin to all of this. When you tell a youth he/she can step out like that, you are literally handing them the keys to their own country.

                        Like, SG, I'm not seeing the co-ed thing as a game changer. There are boys who are quite happy to have their "man time." And likewise the girls ask for something similar. The only reason I am okay with extending it to younger ages is that right now it takes a special young woman to come into the program at 14 and find her place among us good-old-boys. There are plenty of those out there, but I feel that more girls were acquainted with us at younger ages, the more "average" young lady would be less intimidated by what we're offering.
                        Last edited by qwazse; 05-23-2014, 01:18 PM.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Eagledad .. In my view, this is not a political rant. I am really scared by BSA's coming 2015 changes that escalate the faith component. I am hoping Robert Gates can make big changes. Faith is very important to me, but forcing it more into the program is not a way to be successful.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by fred johnson View Post
                            SCOUTGRIPPER ... I can respect what you are saying and though we share the same scouting universe, our realities are different. Everything I listed is an issue in my area.

                            "go find an atheist organization" ... That attitude is killing BSA. Life is not clean cut. Many families have been alienated from churches and a specific faith. Many teenagers experiment with atheism. BSA was once the pre-eminent youth organization. Now, we can't recruit from schools and BSA is viewed negatively by many.

                            "BSA v. Dale" was properly decided by the US Supreme Court, but triggered by a bad BSA decision. It's killing BSA membership. It's killing BSA endowments. It's killing BSA good will.

                            We need to get out of the political debates. And when we tell people to go find another organization, that's exactly what they do and many others too.

                            BSA needs to get back to scouting and get out of the political debates.
                            BSA is never going to be popular among the people you're trying to please. As soon as BSA admits gay leaders, and drops all references to god, then people are going to start questioning all of the native american symbolism. That will be next on the chopping block.

                            Shooting BB guns, rifles, shotguns?? What does that teach kids about violence? And so on. There is very little to the BSA program, other than maybe recycling, that would please a liberal mindset.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by jumpyg View Post
                              BSA is never going to be popular among the people you're trying to please. As soon as BSA admits gay leaders, and drops all references to god, then people are going to start questioning all of the native american symbolism. That will be next on the chopping block. Shooting BB guns, rifles, shotguns?? What does that teach kids about violence? And so on. There is very little to the BSA program, other than maybe recycling, that would please a liberal mindset.
                              Your probably right. He should kick the gays out and begin merger negotiations with TLUSA.

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