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Working with Kids

Counseling, inspiring and teaching kids.

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  • LATEST POSTS

    • @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 absence of any discussion about the challenges families and units are going through.  Only at the end of the session did Roger Mosby say 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 it was more of a victory lap for the pros than anything.  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 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.  
    • Deep Creek - my first Scout campout.  SoCal high dessert.  Fall.  Terrific thunder storm.  All but one tent blew away.   Now you're talkin'!   
    • To even use the word unjust is inappropriate- unless they are in only for the Eagle.  I also see flawed logic in the postings regarding camping nights.  When someone starts a post saying their unit is enthusiastic, and camps monthly, you have to do the math.  Assume they started right out the gate 2/1/19.  Say monthly camping March, April, May, summer camp in June or July, and a weekend trip the other month, then weekend trip in September, October, possibly November.  In any event, that means likely 5 weekend trips minimum, plus summer camp = 16 camping nights? Getting 4 more by the end of 2020 is totally out of the question? And, with the extension option already there, I hardly see anything that is not just.  The choice of words, for me, highlights the uber-Eagle problem.  We all are missing on momentum right now, but take it as part of the journey. 
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