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    • A man's entitled to his own opinion. 
    • I think we need to keep things in perspective here. First off, BSA has green lighted virtual campouts and even hosted them. BSA realizes - as should each of us - that Scouting needs to adapt to the environment we live in to stay relevant to our audience - children. Waiting until COVID is over to return to the way things were is bass-akwards and we will loose the attention of every child, even the most dedicated. Some will return for a while and try to recapture the magic, but they won't return forever. We are running them off when we hold back the tools they need to continue their journey and their joy. To condemn children - and don't ever forget they are just children, no matter how much we think we can expect from them - for wandering off during a virtual campout for an undetermined reason is not ok. Maybe they were instructed to leave. Maybe they got bored. It does not matter. Celebrate what they did stay for and let the rest go. Have less involvement in the next virtual campout because that one must have been ill-tuned to the audience. To assume that a parent who marks off a child's progress in scoutbook/wherever without photo evidence is being dishonest flies in the face of the Scout Oath and Scout Law - a Scout is trustworthy. Trust them, and if we need more proof, call them, talk to the child, and inquire how they completed the task. If we can't do that for now, for whatever reason, let it go until you can, but err on the side of people doing the best they can. Scouting isn't something that any child signs up for because they want to please a leader, jump through red tape, or otherwise impress someone. They do it for the adventure, for fun, and we need to assume that all regular advancement that they quite possibly did on their own doing what they truly thought they were supposed to do under published BSA guidelines is checked off for a Scout following the Scout Oath and Law. 
    • @MattR, your thoughts are timely.  We need this dialogue more than ever. I watched the general session of the National Annual Meeting today.  Right off the bat, three pros talked at length (about 15 - 20 minutes) about big dollar fundraising.  National is launching a new program to help councils raise money.  They made other points, but the upshot was definitely "the show must go on."  And by "show" I mean "keep those dollars rolling in."  Frankly, I was half expecting Alec Baldwin's character, "Blake," from the movie Glengarry Glen Ross to jump in and shout "A, B, C...Always Be Closing!" Overall, the general session had this one stark theme:  the virtual absence of any discussion about the challenges families and units are going through.  It was a completely inward-look/ivory-palace session.  At the end of the session, Roger Mosby said a word of thanks to unit level leaders.  And sure, there was some breathless enthusiasm about badge earning via Zoom and camping in the backyard, but that was more of a victory lap for the pros.  Unless I missed it, only Roger addressed the unit leaders directly. If those deep corporate pockets are out there and ready to donate, great.  But on a family and neighborhood level, the dollars are going to be far fewer from this point forward.  I understand National and councils have started to tighten the belt, but the financial pain has only just begun.
    • I think there ought to be a moratorium on scouts complaining about what is fair or just during the pandemic.  100, 000 of our countrymen have died.  40 million are unemployed.  Under these circumstances, whining about advancement seems selfish and un-scout-like.
    • There are several threads going about how to deal with all of the problems but I wanted to focus on just one thing - money. Or more accurately, why and how to do scouts with little money. Not just belt tightening but cutting the budget by a lot. I have two assumptions. First, scouts for the most part don't really care about eagle or any other skill they might gain from being in the program. Their parents might but that can be more of a negative if the kid doesn't like camping. Scouts like to advance but I don't think it's as important as having fun with their friends. Back in the 60's, at the supposed height of scouting, how many scouts actually completed Eagle compared to today?  I can answer that. In 1960 there were 21k eagle ranks awarded and last year there were 61k. Few people cared for eagle back then so why is it such a big deal now? Who is driving that focus and what is it taking away from? Second, what scouts will gain from the program, and it's quite a bit, is not the rank. What scouts learn is not a STEM skill like programming, science or engineering. It's not even a sport that can, many parents believe, be traded for a college education. It's a lot of soft skills like learning how to fail the right way and how to make decisions in a group. It's even how to just take a day off and, as one scout told me, get away from the usual high school drama. Anyway, not many parents are going to pay for it and I can't blame them. There are other ways to gain these skills. This is the crux of the BSA's problem. Their program and budget depends on selling a lot of something that not enough people want. What they're really good at nobody knows about and wouldn't bring in the income they need to stay afloat anyway. Consequently they have been in this downward spiral of spending more time and resources failing to increase membership and donations for something that is not their core product. They say scouts want bigger adventure so they pour money into Summit. They say scouts want to get Eagle so they push for FCFY and insta-palms. They say scouts want hi tech uniforms so they charge a lot of money for that. They say eagle is so important that there's a constant push to crank out eagles even though that's not what scouts really want. Councils are doing the same thing with climbing walls, zip lines and robot classes at summer camp. It's unsustainable and the covid/bankruptcy just sped things up. The only sustainable option that I see is to focus on what the scouts want and keep it cheap enough such that any kid can participate without causing a financial burden. Scouts want to have fun with their friends in the outdoors. The BSA can't compare scouting to premier sports clubs. They have to compare it to 4H (which only has costs for the projects). So what does it take to reduce the cost of scouting down to, say, gear, food and $50-$100 per year to cover trips? No FOS. No council or national fees. No $30/camporee fees. No merit badge fairs. No more dining halls. No donations. No council profits on every event they organize. And the scouts still have a fun time. If they really crank down the costs and include all kids then they can probably write grants for helping out. Donations are welcome but there is no drive for it. The down side? We might not get a DE? I doubt if anyone at council will ever answer a phone call again. When parents are really upset with the SM they might just have to walk away or find another troop. Camps are going to be rustic and few. I'm not sure about how maintenance will be done at camps. All scout shops will be replaced by an Amazon portal. The only thing I'd like to see improved is training for adults on how to run a troop in this environment and a system to support them if they ask for help. How to make fun calendars that the PL's own. How to incorporate advancement and skills as fun and not the goal. All the rest can get scaled down and I'd be fine with it.  
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