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Scouts is Uncool

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  • #46
    I'm not totally convinced that it is the perception of non-scouts who think scouting is uncool. Just watch the boys coming into the meetings, most put their uniform shirts on after they arrive and remove them before they leave. While they might think it's cool once they get there, they do not want to deal with the peer pressure that seems to be stacked against them in the "real world".

    One hears a lot of negative comments about scouting out in the world and yet there are an occasional positive comments here and there, but not enough to counter the negative ones.

    So, the boys invite their friend to come to a meeting to check things out and what do they find when they get there? Citizenship in the Nation? Not going to cut it with one's buddies.

    On the home front, there's a lot of resistance from parents. Most dads do not camp themselves and therefore do not encourage their sons to become involved in scouting, even if the boy wants to. So, one has their parents, their peers, and competition from other activities with far more exciting rewards, like sports, etc. and when it all adds up, it concludes that scouting is uncool.

    That's the society we are dealt with in today's world. How one recognizes that and adjusts determines whether or not a scout program is successful in that particular area of the world.

    Most scouts start out all fired up (Tigers) and by the time they reach the 2nd or 3rd year of Boy Scouting have a tough time hanging in there. Only a small fraction ever make it to Eagle and/or their 18th birthday. Even if they do, their scouting career is pretty much over. Why would they then subject their sons to such a process?

    In today's world it continually amazes me the number of Eagle scouts that are no longer involved in scouting on any level. Maybe scouting really is uncool.

    Stosh

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    • #47
      >>Only a small fraction ever make it to Eagle and/or their 18th birthday. Even if they do, their scouting career is pretty much over. Why would they then subject their sons to such a process?

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      • #48
        I am not an Eagle scout, nor is my son. I made it to Second Class and my son made it to Star. My daughter (GSA - Silver) has more interest in the outdoors than my son.
        My wife was a (GSA - Daisy) and is even more involved in outdoor activities than I am.

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        • #49
          Maybe, the scouts aren't looking at it as cool/uncool. Perhaps they view it as "interesting/uninteresting."

          They may not understand the history of the BSA, or the Big Picture. They go to MB universities, and endure Cit in the Nation at the weekly meeting, because that's all they know scouting to be. They accept or reject it.

          For adults, the cool/uncool discussion is different.

          For example, as a guy who moves alot, and serves as a UC at each location, Stosh's observations match mine quite a bit.

          I see alot of meetings where scouts either wander around aimlessly, or things are structured around something like Cit in the Nation.

          Having been in outdoor-oriented troops in the past, as a scout and scouter, it's quite easy for me to label such meetings as uncool. In my mind, the meetings are for getting ready for the next outdoor adventure...gear prep, training, planning.

          Official BSA Homework MBs are something you do on your own time, on a cold winter's evening, as you press towards Eagle. You don't bore scouts to death with that at a meeting.

          The scouts will enthusiastically wear uniforms they find acceptable, show up willinging to meetings they find interesting, and read books that they get something out of.

          Too often, the BSA is structured around what a staffer thinks is cool. Usually, there is a huge gulf between what a staffer and a scout thinks is cool.

          Example: the historic MBs. I think those MBs were popular, and earned long after the expiration date, for reasons beyond their collectability and novelty. Rather, scouts may actually be interested in the topics.

          So the historic MBs are gone and what is on the horizon? Sustainability MB? Good grief.

          Uniforms...send some senior scouts to a big sporting goods store, and ask them to assemble an official uniform with what they find on the racks. I think the BSA would be greatly surprised, in a good way, with the functional, affordable, desirable clothing they select.

          Nope. A committee of staffers designs a uniform that is made just for the BSA, and generally disliked by many.

          We shouldn't bow to fads and whims. Those come and go. The best selling points of scouting have stood the test of time. If we use those as touchstones, we can't go wrong.(This message has been edited by desertrat77)

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          • #50
            I second desertrat77's comments.

            I suggest that the cool/uncool paradigm may be essentially irrelevant for new generations. There is a much wider range of acceptable behavior among kids when I was young, when those who had outre interests risked social banishment.

            Back then, if a teenager showed an interest in fantasy role-playing games, or comic book superheroes, or computers, he would be considered laughable or at least a nerd.

            Nowadays, most teenagers (and even many adults) play video games like World of Warcraft, superhero movies are among the top earners at the box office, and everyone fiddles with computers.

            With the increasing popularity of "niche" subcultures among kids, and the access to information about them through social network sites, I think boys have access to a wider range of choices in what they want to do, and things that once were terminally unhip are no longer social deal-killers. It may well be hip to be square, as Huey Lewis once sang. The BSA could benefit from this, along with the increase of interest in extreme sports and outdoor pursuits.

            But, drop or combine the MBs like the three iterations of the Citizenship MBs, add make more outdoorsy MBs requirements for Eagle.

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            • #51
              Scouts uncool? It depends where you live and how scouting is perceived by the youth and your community. In my city, scouting is perceived favorably. Youth are self-concious about wearing the uniform and prefer to wear it as little as possible; it has an uncool factor for reasons which I will save for another discussion in the uniform section. At the same time, since scouting is highly regarded in my town, scouts have an easier time wearing the uniform because they generally get compliments for being part of a fine organization.

              The youth attitudes about wearing the uniform today are not much different than what they were when I was scout in the 70's. I enjoyed scouting but I only wore the uniform to scout meetings and events.


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              • #52
                I agree with AZMike on the increased acceptance of nerdiness/dorkiness. It may can work in our favor, but I do agree that we need to streamline the homework MBs and increase the outdoor MBS required for Eagle. I would reduce the three citizenships to one MB. I like the new cooking MB requirement, and I would bring back the 4 historical MBs, and require one of them for Eagle. I'd kill Sustainability right now, but maybe replace it with a LNT MB, which would be the equivalent of a LNT trainer. I'd add a nature study MB option: One of the following: Bird Study, Reptile and Amphibian study, Fish and Wildlife management, Insect Study, Mammal Study, Oceanography or Nature. I'd also add an outdoor activities requirement: One of the following: Backpacking, Kayaking, Canoeing, Fishing, Fly Fishing, Geocaching, Snow Sports, Scuba Diving, Climbing, Water Sports, Rowing, Skating or Small Boat Sailing.

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                • #53
                  reduce the three citizenships to one MB

                  Hmmm ... Globalization at work ...

                  How does that improve the "cool" factor?

                  How does requiring more outdoor MBs (or any mix of patches that accumulate on a sash) make things cool? (Although, I agree that it's sad the historic MBs were only that.)

                  IMHO here's what makes things cool:
                  Setting up a campfire ring for you and your dates to hang out at after the homecoming dance. Being able to name the constellations they're seeing while the cobbler finishes cooking.
                  Attending a friend's naturalization ceremony because your Cit World MB counselor told you how significant it was.
                  Being sure enough of your own faith ( or lack thereof) to visit a friend's house of worship.
                  Getting in the newspaper for speaking at a town meeting.
                  Setting up an orienteering course around the school for your classmates.
                  Trebuchets -- built from scratch in 15 minutes any day of the week.
                  Eye splices -- blindfolded. Demonstrate, dare your classmates to beat your time.
                  Looking at a community project and saying "I built that."
                  Seeing a homeless guy in the blanket you and your buddies gave him.

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                  • #54
                    Combining the three dull Citizenship MBs into one is a great idea...cool/uncool is in the eye of the beholder, but to me, the interesting/uninteresting factor is there.

                    Same with more outdoor MBs. I think interest in scouting would jump with perdidochas's ideas in place.

                    It boils down to what activities will keep the scouts challenged and active in the program, long term? Homework or outdoors? Outdoors always wins.(This message has been edited by desertrat77)

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                    • #55
                      I'm actually not worried about the cool factor. I think, as AZMike said, coolness is going away. I'm concerned with making Scouting more outdoorsy. That is the thing that makes Scouting unique and different among the different options that youths have to participate in. Bookwork MBs are just bookwork, the same thing that the Scouts are getting 8 hrs a day at school. I do agree with quayze's list. Those are all great things to do.

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                      • #56
                        Thanks for answering for me OGE. I'll try to reciprocate for you in the future.

                        He he he

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                        • #57
                          The BSA as a whole has created a perception of scouting as uncool. So what are we doing as individual units to change that perception? What lots of units do on the activity side of things is no doubt manly (paddling, skiing, climbing, whitwater rafting, caving, ect..) Maybe we should look at taking away what's not cool about scouting.

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                          • perdidochas
                            perdidochas commented
                            Editing a comment
                            The problem is that it esconced in populat cultures.

                        • #58

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                          • #59
                            My experience has been with Cub Scouts. They wear their uniforms to school with pride and explain to everyone who will listen how they earned each patch. Everyone wants to be a scout.

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                            • #60
                              Scouts is considered uncool by some for sure. But when I look at our youth and our adults who are and have been active I see anything BUT uncool. I make sure our boys lift their heads up and see what a great group they stand with.

                              One of my highschool boys now has been bullied for being a "goody two-shoes" (I didn't realize kids even used that term anymore!), but realizes that he would be just as goody even if he weren't in Scouts because it is who he is as a person (respectfully, etc). We've had boys who have participated in all sorts of school athletics, band members, National Merit Scholars. We have boys who avail themselves of all sorts of high adventures through Scouts, including hiking and my own son will be doing all the watersports at camp with the Troop plus a full week of SCUBA during a specialty camp.

                              I also have one boy who gives anyone who will pretend to listen a 30 minute water lecture (the properties of water - NOT water sports), one who is pretty ADD and one youth is joining tonight who is autistic. We have aged out one who is wheelchair bound with MS. We have boys who have aged out, grown up (and may or may not be on our Troop Committee) who are active military, medical doctors, veterinarians, school administators. the Sheriff is our Committee Chair and a retired Sheriff was active in another area troop. We have adult leaders in our Council who are lawyers, one who has hiked thousands of miles in the mountains, lots of climbers, doctors, business owners, athletes. We also have a large array of blue collar workers and other white collar workers.


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