Jump to content


  • Content Count

  • Joined

  • Last visited

  • Days Won


Everything posted by ParkMan

  1. ParkMan

    Scouting in Blighted Communities

    Your language is a bit inflammatory - so not sure you're really serious in this question. I would believe that in any community - no matter how advantaged or disadvantaged, there are people of character. I would think your task is to start with them. Build a program that those people will want to be part of. Then leverage that core program and expand it to include youth who are disadvantaged.
  2. Yes - but politics has a different dynamic. In an election there is a definitive winner. So, since we live in a primarily two party system it becomes a binary choice. So, appealing to the core constituency of one of those two choices is generally a good thing. In Scouting, there's not such a stark choice. The vast majority of available kids do not join Scouting. Further, there is not one political constituency in Scouting. I live in a pretty progressive, secular area. What matters to families in our area is very different than in others. Frankly - the BSA made a huge mistake ever letting itself get aligned with any particular belief set. All these issues around admitting gay youth and adults, girls, and specific religious beliefs are done more to hurt the program than they've helped. Admit gays you tick off one group, don't admit gays you tick off another. The BSA should have stuck to providing the program framework and should have stayed away from all all this admissions stuff.
  3. From what I've seen the membership losses are a result of two general areas - relevance/alignment with families and program quality. We all think that Scouting is great - but many families are either not interested or have looked and just don't find Scouting all that compelling for their kids. Many families try Scouting, but just don't find the program enough to continue year after year. Did Dale impact this? I don't know. But, even if it did it was caught up in a much larger trend where Scouting is becoming less and less relevant to many families. I think it's more likely that it just simply furthered the already ongoing trend where families just didn't even consider Scouting. A sort of death by a thousand paper cuts.
  4. ParkMan

    LDS Youth Program for 2020

    A big part of this is structural. Since troops are owned by Chartered Organizations there is an inherent longevity that does not exist in the GSUSA. Further, the GSUSA has a rule (as I understand it) that requires that troops carry over no money year to year. On the flip side, pack/troop bank accounts are never seen by the BSA or local council. Our council has no idea how much money is in reserve in our troop. We actively maintain a reserve so that we can spend as needed instead of constantly chasing money.
  5. ParkMan

    What are the BSA priorities??

    I hear you and good point. I think I internalized a while back that this split was going to eventually happen - it was just a question of when. So, now that it's happening, it's not so much a negative reflection on anyone, but more just a question of how to manage it. In councils which will be significantly smaller in January it will be more challenging to adjust. But, I'd coach that SE to avoid descriptions like the Titanic or that it's bleak. The Titanic was an accident and a tragedy. This - is not the case here. So, I think it's natural for folks there to mourn what once was, but I'd encourage them to avoid that as much as possible. I think you've got to look at it cheerfully and find they way forward.
  6. ParkMan

    LDS Youth Program for 2020

    Hah! I listened for 20 minutes on the way home from work and eventually decided I was bored and gave up.
  7. ParkMan

    What are the BSA priorities??

    Really feels like this headline ought to be something like "LDS stops using Scout program as primary church youth program and most LDS members are not expected to continue in Scouting on their own." You've got to have a lot of sympathy for people working for the BSA and those involved making decisions in the most heavily LDS areas, but I think this is exactly what I'd expect to see happen. This seems like an adjustment to typical Scouting participation levels in these areas. I wish them all the best in this transition.
  8. Reading the remarks here is interesting. Rea There are always worst case scenarios, problem youth, and problem parents. But, for the most part, interactions like this are more often the case which can be resolved with a little explaining with a parent. I continue to think the right approach here is to take this at face value, explain why you do what you do the parent, and then have a friendly conversation. Maybe the parent has a different perception of what happened. Maybe there is some extenuating circumstance. But, before jumping to all kinds of more serious conclusions, have a chat with the parent.
  9. I imagine lots of things hurt Scouting - recent negative publicity is one of them. But, sure I imagine it does to some extent. Nationwide I think something like 5-10% of boys are in Scouting. I'm sure it's too early to measure for girls. That number has been trending down for decades. Did that number decrease even more because of the recent negative publicity? Perhaps. But, they are not the cause of why only 5-10% are in Scouting.
  10. Very well said. We see pretty much the same thing here. In our area internet connectivity really isn't the issue, but everything else you describe matches really well. What The Powers That Be (TPTB in my book) really seem to have missed is that 75% of training occurs in the interaction between people. The content is only 25% of the value. My recommendation to national: Use online training to cover the most basic of information. Make it one hour or less Start a national campaign to hold face-to-face basic leader training in every district annually. That training should be 6 hours or less. Provide sufficient instructional guidance for the district training teams to adequately staff and present the materials. Begin the development of an intermediate leader training course for Cub Scouts & for Scouts BSA. Upon collection of the topics, decide if it's either an instructor led local course or a series of Roundtable topics.
  11. Sure - happy to elaborate. Maybe it's just a local thing here. On starting a new unit: We just never see it anymore. In the last decade, I've seen 2 new packs in our district. Both were off shoots of other existing packs which had gotten very large and a leader decided to try something closer to home. We've seen 1 new troop - a troop for girls that started alongside an existing troop. In my time, I've never seen a CO decide - "we want to start a Scouting unit". In the same time, I can count 7 packs & troops that have closed down. This doesn't count the LDS units we'll lose this year. They've closed for the same reasons - leaders and participation dwindled to the point where it wasn't worth it. The few remaining scouts switched to another unit. I don't think it's harder logistically. My gut tells me that 1) our typical CO base of churches is itself struggling and 2) people are less tied to their CO and so are more likely to join a neighborhood pack/troop. On experienced leaders: I fully, 100% agree with your statement. What's happening in my area is that the really strong units are sustaining or getting stronger. The small to mid sized units are struggling because they don't have a lot of strong leaders. So, as a result, the small to mid sized units get even smaller and in a number of instances just give up. If you've got the skills to become a strong leader and are in a strong unit, you'll do great. If you've got the skills to become a strong leader and are in one of the other units, you get overwhelmed, frustrated, and are likely to find something else to spend time on. Put differently - big units have the depth to develop leaders internally. Your typical small to mid sized units do not. So, because of the lack of support for leaders in the small to mid-sized units, we see a slow, steady decline in number and size of these small to mid-sized units. So, if your community is a smaller town which has one or two units - I'd agree. Just build a great pack/troop that supports the town. But, if your community is larger and you've got to figure out how to keep a bunch of packs & troops healthy, it takes more than just a single, strong unit.
  12. I find that all the negatives in the media and within the Scouting community do hurt us. The national media issues don't hurt Scout recruiting too much. if you're known to have a good unit and work at letting people know, the Scouts are out there. Very, very rarely have I seen anything in the national media about Scouting impact us locally with kid interest. Where all these negatives are killing us is with volunteer engagement. Locally, I could double Scouting in 5 years if we had enough experienced volunteers who were helping. Example - I was talking with a leader in a smaller troop recently. They'd like to grow, but are struggling with how to strengthen recruiting and program. The leaders they have don't know what to do in order to break out of their rut. They've taken online training, but it really doesn't answer the hard questions. Because of leader training is online, local leader training has dried up The commissioner staff is virtually non-existent. Roundtable has gone away So, if you're an overwhelmed leader - what do you do? Who do you turn to? What I've seen locally is that all the experienced leaders are focusing on their troops or are leaving Scouting. I think this is what is really hurting us. Strong packs & troops are doing OK. But, over time many falter and start to shrink. Many of those eventually go away. We lose a unit about every two or three years. We see no new unit growth. Why? People just don't start new units anymore. Experienced leaders are rarely focusing on building up Scouting in the community, leaving a vacuum.
  13. @mashmaster - Sorry to hear about the incident with the parents. Yes, it's remarkably frustrating to feel that parents are constantly putting up obstacles to you making the right decisions. I think I'd simply ask the parent "why?". My note would be something like: As Scoutmaster, conversations like this are pretty routine. A big part of why their kid is in Scouting is to benefit from being with other youth in a constructive environment. But, as kids are trying to figure out their own path they will make mistakes. Part of being Scoutmaster to let the kids know when they've crossed a line. We do it promptly and directly with the Scout to make the feedback have the most impact. When it happens, you try to do it in the most constructive way possible. You'll call parents for something significant, but in most cases you give the Scout feedback and trust he's learning from it. This is entirely normal and part of the development process for teens. Is there something special about this instance that you, the parents, feel is important enough to warrant a request to be present in the future?
  14. ParkMan


    Same here. As Committee Chair I always did it. Every listing of Committee Chair responsibilities lists recharter as the CC"s job. I'd encourage you to sit down with the Committee Chair and come up with a list of responsibilities for the different adult volunteer positions you have and think you need to have in the troop - including the SM & CC. Don't worry about whether you have the role filled today. What's important is to describe the volunteer structure you want to have. As prep for that, both you and the CC should go through the online Troop Committee training.
  15. I've often heard that the key requirement to bring a leader is the desire to lead. The key requirement to bring a servant is a desire to serve. So, I think the key requirement to being a Scout or Scouter is a desire to be one. That seems an appropriate requirement to me. If you desire to join the movement and adhere to the principles in it, we welcome you. (That of course excludes the folks who are excluded because of prior bad acts) That seems about right to me.
  16. Exactly. Focus on bringing together great instructors into a setting where Scouts can be interested in and learn alot in a shorter, focused format.
  17. Sorry - didn't mean to make it seem like an argument.
  18. ParkMan

    ...Still Relevant and Worthwhile...?

    I think that may be a regional issue. Around here, most of our Scouts start - either at Cub Scouts or at Scouts BSA because of an interest in what we do. Sure, along the way many parents think - "hey, my son (now daughter too) is doing this, it would be good for college/job is they also earned Eagle." But I know of very few, if any, who joined for college or future employment reasons. But, I do agree on your core point. The game needs to be fun. If the game isn't fun, then the Scouts won't stick around to absorb the purpose.
  19. My belief is that providing additional opportunities for Scouts is a good thing. Just because many are bad doesn't mean it's not a reasonable approach - it's just that we have lots of bad events that need to be improved. Fully concur. Let's celebrate good examples of Scouting. Let's correct or remove bad examples of Scouting.
  20. I understand what this says - but not what it means. Why would scouts sign up and these be so prevalent if the Scouts didn't want to attend? I don't think that parents are forcing most Scouts to attend these. I don't put a lot of stock into what national encourages/discourages right now. No disrespect to them, but we're stuck in a lowest common denominator period. A focus on building good district level programs is not even on the BSA radar at this point. So, kinda like with the G2SS where we outlawed wheel barrows because somebody got hurt by one we make these kind of decisions about district programming too. They are the same ones that suggested Cub SCout camping should be limited to one night. Lowest Common Denominator I think that a reasonable district can do both training and hold a merit badge college. In most districts they are separate groups of people. My model would be something like: training team - focus on merit badge counsellor training advancement team - set examples and expectations about what a good merit badge program looks like activities team - put on a really good, high quality merit badge college. The purpose of this is to provide additional enrichment opportunities for Scouts beyond the unit program.
  21. ParkMan

    What are the BSA priorities??

    I think a breakdown like they have in UK makes a lot of sense. We talk so much on this forum about how Scouts get worn out by long, repetitive programs. WIthin our units we tend to differentiate - but I think that if the BSA were to recognize this it would be very good for the program. My proposal would even be pretty minor. Keep Cubs as a group. Keep Scouts BSA as a group. But focus on clarifying program and activities for the two age ranges in each. i.e.: Cubs Lions/Tigers/Wolves Bears/Webeblos Scouts Middle School High School Develop program and leader training for each so that programming is really differentiated.
  22. ParkMan

    What are the BSA priorities??

    Agreed. One big mistake that we make in "BSA" Scouting is that we don't differentiate well between the two very different age levels in Scouts BSA. Scouts 11-14 are often quite different than those 15-18. In my mind, I see four distinct age ranges: Lions/Tigers/Wolves Bears/Webelos Scouts BSA 11-14 Scouts BSA 15-18 So yes, while I agree with your point I'd suggest our approach needs to be tailored to each age range. I think you're saying much the same thing. One trap we need to avoid is that of changing our program to be more relevant. I think STEM Scouts was an example of that. In reality, I think we need to fine tune our current programs such that they align better with these age ranges today. For example - maybe a little less pioneering at the 11-14 & 15-18 age ranges and an increasing focus on things like the environment.
  23. I respect the deep knowledge of the posters here. We've all been posting together on various topics for years. In many walks of life there is a tendency to look at something we don't think is going well and arrive at the conclusion that it a can't be done well. My sense is that's happening here. We all have stories of bad summer camp merit badge classes and badge merit badge college classes. These events are generally popular. Are some poorly run - without doubt. But not all. So wouldn't it be good for the Scouts to continue to have these popular events, but just make them better? Perhaps the BSA could put together a day long Merit Badge College director's conference. Teach people how to run a good event. Talk about how to teach materials, class size, program quality, deal with prerequisites. In my mind, this is where the BSA can add a LOT of value for us adult leaders.
  24. ParkMan

    ...Still Relevant and Worthwhile...?

    To use the old phrase: "A game with a purpose" The purpose needs to be worthwhile The game needs to be relevant.
  25. I think in our rush to critique merit badge colleges, we're missing out on a key point. These opportunities for Scouts are popular - that's why they exist. Having sessions like this provide opportunities for Scouts to learn things they might not, to advance when they might not. We hold an annual merit badge college. At the event, Scouts spend one day working on one single merit badge. Class size is 10-15 scouts per class. The class runs about 6 hours. In that time, the scouts complete the bulk of the requirements. If there are longer form requirements we assign them as prerequisites just like at summer camp. Would it be wonderful if every MB was earned by working directly with a counselor - perhaps. But, Scouts are only going to invest so much time in doing one-on-one sessions. Merit badge colleges provide an alternative path to experience more Scouting. Does every participant treat it as an additive activity - no. Some do use it to replace one-on-one merit badge sessions. But, a great many do see it as a way to earn an extra badge they might not normally. I would think it would be good for us to do two things here: leverage these as additional opportunities for Scouts. Take a merit badge you never have before. Complete that required merit badge you've been dreading. develop best practices for these sorts of events that make them as productive as possible. What is a good class size, how should they be structured, what about individual tasks in the context of that course. So, in short. Let's not throw out these popular sessions, but let's find a way to better integrate them so Scouts extract maximum value.