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Boypower '76

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  • Boypower '76

    Anybody remember this program (or at least read about it)? Started about 1968, Boypower was intended to bring one boy out every three in the U.S. into Scouting by the Bicentennial in 1976. In the end, it led to major scandals concerning paper units, mystery Scouts and diversion of government funds. Combined with program changes designed to appeal to minorities, It also caused a drop in membership by 1980. There have been other cheating scandals and other program efforts that didn't succeed, but this one was a doozie.

    So, I'm wondering if there are any impressions among historians here. My first question is whether this has any application in Journey To Excellence. Just asking. I was among a number of professionals who ultimately left over the pressure to achieve unreachable goals and I suspect there are others on the forum.

    Any thoughts or comments?

  • #2
    I was working semi-professional for a BSA council at that time and I remember the pressure to "meet quota" at all cost. I happened to be responsible for helping the old Explorer program division and brought into light 43 new units on a variety of different hobby/career basis. It wasn't easy, but all of them were legitimate. However the effort was huge to be able to pull it off. By the time I moved on after 2 years, I had schmoozed just about everyone in town. There were some very good units that were developed, interest surveys taken and huge mailings along with the beating the bushes for adult volunteers. If done right, it was a really good thing. I don't know about other councils, by my efforts were sufficient to overcome the district shortcomings in both the cub and scout divisions.

    I don't know as if this effort could be duplicated today in that it required cooperation between schools and businesses in the area. All 8th grade students in the geographic area of the council received a survey and it was collected back up. Then it was accumulated into a huge database inputted by many local companies that at that time relied on mainframe computers. This information was then decimated into mailing lists and letters of invite for first nighters were sent out to everyone who showed interest in any of the areas we set units up.

    All three hospitals in town had a medical post, law firms had law posts, every police/sheriffs department had law enforcement posts as well as all the fire departments had rescue/first aid posts. General interest posts (high adventure) were plentiful and were sponsored by multiple organizations, mostly churches. I'm thinking the Explorer program took a major hit when it was broken up in the late 1990's.

    I don't see that kind of effort being promoted in BSA today.



    • #3
      Thanks for the blog. I bought some Boypower:Manpower window decals on eBay a few months ago with no clue what the initiative was.


      • Kahuna
        Kahuna commented
        Editing a comment
        You're welcome. I haven't seen much in the way of Boypower/Manpower memorabilia lately, but a friend sent me a Recruiter strip image recently.