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Posts posted by SMMatthew

  1. I'm just venting frustration over something which over my years as a Scout Leader seems to be commonplace across the boys in the BSA as a whole' date='[/quote']

    I disagree with the premise that this is commonplace across the BSA or even true in general. I don't like to generalize -- every boy/troop/council/family is different -- but in my experience (at least where I am and with the families I've worked with), the kids who are also involved in sports are often more of a problem than the pure BSA-devotees.


    What I've observed (and again these are somewhat broad generalizations here) is that the sports-kids are better at at straightening up around adults (parents, teachers, coaches, Scoutmasters, ect.) so they'll exhibit self-control and behave like a perfect 10 (or a 9) when being "watched" but will often slip to a 5 or 6 when left on their own and without structure. Whereas the Scout-kids (while often not 100% perfect) are at least consistent... they're a 7 or 8 all the time (around their parents, around their Scoutmaster, and around each other).


    But I also think it also depends on how you define "good behavior." Standing at attention, not talking when the sign is up, and saying "yes, sir" or "no, sir"... you might get that more naturally from a disciplined athlete more than from a rambunctious Scout. But I've found that sometimes the sports-kids also carry an attitude of superiority, perfection, rigidity and self-importance that may cause bigger problems within the troop.


    Yes, I've seen some self-entitled Scout-brats.... and I've dealt with egocentric sports-brats too. I've dealt with bullying and hazing from both; and disruptions and misbehavior from both. I don't really know if one (sports or lack-thereof) causes the other (a kid to be bratty or a bully or disruptive). Is there is an actual correlation between the two? Maybe... maybe not. My sampling of the approximately 100+ Scouts and young athletes that I've worked with over the years is probably isn't big or diverse enough to draw any meaningful conclusions.

  2. I do not count winter cabin "camping" as camping.


    So a Scout who serves as his patrol's cook on a rustic winter cabin weekend (planning the menu, doing the food shopping, tending the fire, prepping the food, cooking the meals outside over the fire, leading grace, and doing clean-up...for breakfast, lunch and dinner) does not get credit for First Class requirement #4e (which specifies "on a campout") because he slept in a cabin that night rather than in a tent?

  3. Having a POR is like having one's name on a duty roster. It is a job assigned to you. How one "manages" to get the job done is up to the individual and this is as far as POR's go when it comes to advancement. It's measurable as the metrics dictate. He did it or he didn't do it. End of discussion.

    Ok I think there are two separate (but related) issues here: (1) What should a Scout with a POR do... and (2) What must a Scout with a POR do to get credit for advancement?


    Every Position of Responsibility (whether it be Quartermaster, Webmaster, Historian, Bugler, Chaplin's Aide, OA Representative, Patrol Leader, or Senior Patrol Leader) has measurable metrics -- specific duties, responsibilities and expectations. There are job descriptions and specific tasks that should be done by a Scout with a specific badge on his sleeve.


    Are the Dutch Ovens ready for the campout? Is the troop website up-to-date? Are there photos from recent troop events? Was there a bugle call at morning colors? Did someone give a blessing before we ate lunch? Is information about OA events getting to troop members? Is there a patrol duty roster for the campout? Is there a plan for next week's troop meeting? Did you attend and participate in the PLC meetings? etc, etc, etc....


    These metrics should be monitored and Scouts should be guided towards upholding and fulfilling all their responsibilities while they wear that patch on their sleeve. And if a Scout truly isn't cutting it (such as a Scribe who takes horrible minutes... or a quartermaster who forgets half the troop gear on every campout) or if he isn't active in his role (such as a Patrol Leader who never attends a single campout or PLC... or an OA Rep who never shows up to OA or troop meetings), then he should be removed from the position (although not without some due process and counseling first).


    But remember that the requirement for advancement simply says "serve actively"... not "serve perfectly." So a Scout should not "fail" holding a position of responsibility because he fell short of perfection or didn't complete 100% of his responsibilities to the 100% satisfaction of the Scoutmaster.


    A Scout who is falling short or is not performing to the expected standards should be mentored, guided and worked with to correct the problems. If they can't be corrected, then he should be removed from the position. But either a Scout was an active Patrol Leader for 6 months or he wasn't... you don't get to decide if he was "an effective Patrol Leader" or "a good Patrol Leader" and use that to decide if you'll count the time or not.


    A Scoutmaster should never say: "Look, I know you've been an active Quartermaster for the past 6 months, and have helped get our gear ready for every campout... but the Dutch ovens haven't been cleaned perfectly every time and your inventory sheets are a little sloppy. Plus there was that one campout where we ran out of trash bags. So, I'm sorry, but those months won't count for your Star rank. Come back in 4 months after holding another position." Nor should he say: "Hey, I know you were our SPL for 6 months, but the troop meetings were kind of chaotic and you didn't show much leadership by planning and running the meetings all by yourself... plus you don't even know any of the names of the newer Scouts... so we can't count those months that you were SPL for Life rank." You can't retroactively negate time served if they were active in their role. If they aren't good, remove them from being QM or SPL...don't just decide not count that time because they weren't the ideal QM or SPL.


    If the Webmaster is maintaining the troop website (getting the job done) you can't necessarily remove him... but you can still encourage him to engage with others and take on more leadership in his role.


    Every Position of Responsibility has the potential for a Scout to develop and demonstrate leadership. Some (such as SPL) are more natural and essential to getting the job done than others (such as Scribe or Librarian). But every Scout, in every POR, should be encouraged to take on leadership in their roles. However you can't "fail" the requirement of holding a Position of Responsibility for advancement simply because you don't show leadership (whether it be Quartermaster, Webmaster, or even Patrol Leader or Senior Patrol Leader).


    All PORs (including Webmaster and Quartermaster) should be encouraged and guided to show leadership in completing their tasks... but you can't necessarily "fail" them if they don't.

  4. There are several requirements on the trail to First Class that reference doing things on a “campout.†But what exactly counts as a “campout�


    Obviously spending the night sleeping in a tent you have helped pitch is camping (such as for Tenderfoot requirement 2) . Sleeping out under the stars on a ground cloth or a hammock is (in my opinion) camping. Summer camp in canvas wall tents is certainly camping. My interpretation is the event has to be overnight (so day trips into the wilderness don’t count as a “campoutâ€Â) and it has to have an outdoors element (so staying in a hotel or your house doesn't count). But what about “cabin campingâ€Â, staying in an Adirondack-style lean-to, staying in dormitory-style housing, staying in an RV, or any other indoor overnight Scouting activities that aren't under the stars or under canvas.


    A few examples….


    First Class requirement 4e states: “On one campout, serve as your patrol’s cook.†Would serving as cook for your patrol on a winter ski cabin weekend count? It’s not technically camping in the traditional sense (you’re indoors with running water, electricity and heat); but you’re doing the cooking and planning which is the spirit of the requirement. Does it count? Or does it not count because it’s not technically “on a campout.â€Â


    Another example,Second Class requirement 3g states: “On one campout, plan and cook one hot breakfast or lunch.†What if you plan and cook a hot breakfast and/or lunch but it’s not on an overnight trip? You carry a portable backpacking-style stove and cook a hot meal on a day-hike; it’s not technically a campout but it’s the same meal you would have cooked otherwise (you just don’t go and sleep in a tent at the end of the day).


    And one final example, Second Class requirement 3a states: “Since joining, have participated in five separate troop/patrol activities, two of which included camping overnight.†Does an overnighter in the church rec center count as “camping overnight� Does staying in the bunks at a Naval base count? Does a winter cabin weekend count? Does a trip to Seabase and staying in their dorms count? Or does it have to be an outdoor tent-and-sky camping overnighter. What’s the line between “campout†and just “Scouting overnight�


    I have been unable to find any definition in any of the official BSA literature I have. And it’s odd that the BSA would use such a specific word but not really give any guidance on their interpretation of it. Why didn’t they simply say “On a troop outing†or “on a troop/patrol overnight†… saying “campout†is more specific and they picked that word for a reason… but what was it? What was their intent? What counts? What’s the BSA’s definition of “campout†here?

  5. I disagree. It is a position of _responsibility_' date=' not a "leadership position". If the scout is a natural leader, he will gravitate to those positions that require leadership. If the scout is not a natural leader, then he can handle the important jobs of Historian, Quartermaster, or Librarian. Maybe they'll find that being a leader makes their position easier, but it doesn't have to be. I would absolutely judge a quartermaster on the cleanliness of the Dutch Ovens. The goal is responsibility, not leadership. He'll get his chance for leadership in his Eagle Project.[/quote']

    In my opinion, everything done in Scouting should be an exercise of building leadership and teamwork... whether it be a "position of responsibility" or just a simple one-time task given to a Scout with no position patch on his sleeve. We should NOT be focused on the product; we should be focused on the process.


    For example, a Scout being assigned to cook breakfast on a campout should not be encouraged to simply go off alone and cook in solitude while everyone else sleeps in (even if it results in the greatest and most delicious breakfast ever made)... it should be a team effort with him as leader (maybe not of the whole troop or patrol, but of at least 1 or 2 other Scouts). Likewise a Scout assigned the task of Webmaster should not be encouraged to go off alone and maintain a website from inside a bubble (even if that would result in the best website on the Internet)... it should be a team effort with him as the leader. A Scout who creates beautiful and detailed photo albums is not a great Historian if he never once interacts with another Scout or leader to complete the job (yes, he made sure the Historian's responsibilities were completed and got the job done well, but his method missed the bigger picture and greater potential of what Scouting is aiming for).


    SMMatthew, Okay, now we are getting close.


    "A good Quartermaster shouldn't be measured on how clean the Dutch ovens are... he should be measured on his leadership (having clean Dutch ovens and simply completing the task single-handedly is not the goal... exercising leadership is)."


    In the real world, yes, you are correct, but holding a Position of Responsibility within the troop for advancement IS NOT measuring leadership only responsibility! That's the rub.

    I'll agree that you shouldn't "fail" a Scout on an advancement requirement for failing to show leadership when the rank requirement only asks that a Scout serves actively in a position of responsibility (it doesn't say "show leadership while serving" or even "effectively serve" or "serve well"... it just says "serve actively").


    So if a Quartermaster is active and always makes sure the Dutch ovens are always clean and keeps detailed inventories of the troop gear (even if he's not involving any other people in completing the tasks), he gets credit for serving (but along the way you should be encouraging and striving for "leadership" not just "get-it-done-ness"...as you should be with all Scouts at all times). And even an active Quartermaster may not have 100% of the Dutch ovens clean 100% of the time, but that doesn't mean he "fails" the requirement of holding a position of responsibility either. But as long as he is putting forth an effort and is active in the job (i.e. not just wearing a patch on his sleeve for 4 months and doing nothing else... or failing to complete the tasks required so much that you remove him from the position before the end of the term) then he is fulfilling the requirement... they should be guided along the way to be more effective and better performing... but they should not be measured at the end of a term of active service and then either "passed" or "failed" for the time completed. EIther he was Quartermaster for 4-months or he wasn't...it's not "he was only a so-so Quartermaster so those months don't count." Likewise with Historian, Webmaster, Librarian, and even Patrol Leader or SPL... as long as the Scout is active in their job (even if they are not 100% effective) they get credit (now it's hard to be actively completing the responsibilities of SPL and not be showing leadership... but there are some "one-man-shows" out there that try). But you should be guiding, mentoring and directing the Scouts along the way...not waiting until the end of a term of service to simply "pass" them or "fail" them after the fact for showing (or not showing) adequate leadership or properly getting enough of the job done.

  6. For most positions of responsibility -- from Quartermaster and Scribe all the way up to SPL and Scoutmaster -- you can have individuals who are truly leaders... and you can also have individuals who are simply good managers or task-masters doing the job.


    I know there are plenty of examples out there of troops run by Scoutmasters and/or SPLs who are "one-man-shows" and complete all the tasks to put on a "good-looking" program while not giving any actual leadership to anyone. Likewise, you can have Quartermasters, Webmasters, and Historians who are just "task-completers"... or you can have individuals who step up and bring real leadership to their role and the troop.


    ​A Troop Webmaster (to return to that example) can simply manage the troop's online communications (posting pre-written blurbs written by the SM or SPL; pushing out information given to him by others and working diligently to get the job done)... or he can lead the troop's online communications (engaging with others to develop amd improve communication methods and online social experiences; pulling information and ideas from others and working with others to get the job done). It all depends on the limitations, expectations, guidance, and direction you give him.


    So yes, if the Webmaster goes online, posts a photo to get everyone's attention and then copy-and-pastes an announcement from the SPL about an upcoming campout he is not giving leadership... he's performing a task (sharing an announcement). Likewise if the SPL stands in front of the troop, puts up the sign up to get everyone's attention and then reads an announcement off a flyer about an upcoming campout he's not really giving leadership either... he's just performing a task (sharing an announcement). But just as a SPL can take on leadership to promote an upcoming event at a troop meeting and to the individual patrols and members in a troop, so can a webmaster take leadership to promote events to the troop. It all depends on if the webmaster is simply managing the troop's online presence, or if he's leading it.


    A Troop Historian who is simply a "lone-wolf" and a "photo-album-maker" and a "one-man-show" is not a leader (he is a task-completer) - he is simply managing the collection and storage of photos and data. But a Troop Historian who engages with others and leads a team to document, share and celebrate the troop's accomplishments is a leader (maybe he assigns a different Scout from each patrol the task of being "patrol photographer" for each outing and works with them to capture moments from each event; maybe he organizes everyone to get a big group photo on each campout; maybe he works with the troop Scribe and Webmaster to document and share the troop's accomplishments in creative ways to engage Scouts/Scouters/parents/friends/neighbors in seeing what the troop has done; maybe he works with other Scouts to develop and share creative presentations at a Court of Honors about the big trips that the troop went on; maybe he reaches out and helps a soon-to-be Eagle Scout gather relevant pictures from his Scouting career to share at his Eagle Court of Honor; etc.) He can simply manage the documenting of troop history, or he can lead the effort.


    If a troop quartermaster is just a troop supply "go-fer" (running to get and prep Dutch ovens when you call on him) and a troop documenter (counting and reporting the number of good tents you have on hand)... that's not leadership. That's being a gear manager. But a good Troop quartermaster shouldn't just be managing the equipment, they should be leading the Scouts in using and maintaining it too. He should be leading the patrol quartermasters in their job (just as the SPL leads the PLs); he should be listening and responding to the needs of individual Scouts and patrols; he should be coordinating with others and communicating the supply needs and resources available for particular events and outings; he should be organizing and leading gear inventory and cleaning days or efforts with others (not doing it single-handedly); he should be educating others on using and caring for troop gear; he should be making recommendations to the PLC on equipment purchases, policies or practices; etc.) He should be a leader.


    A quartermaster who takes all the tents home at the end of a campout (or comes to the troop supply room before a troop meeting) and airs out any wet tents, repairs any rips or broken poles, cleans out the tents and logs their condition is not a leader, he is a servant and a task-completer. But a quartermaster who educates the troop on good tent care and recruits, organizes and leads a group of Scouts in drying, repairing, repacking and inspecting all the tents on a Sunday afternoon or one night before a troop meeting, is showing leadership.


    Likewise a Life Scout who builds a beautiful garden at a school all by himself has not completed an Eagle project (which is a leadership project)... the Scout needs to show leadership and led others in building the garden (building a garden and completing the task is not the goal... exercising leadership is). Same with a "Position of Responsibility" vs. a "Leadership Positions". A good Quartermaster shouldn't be measured on how clean the Dutch ovens are... he should be measured on his leadership (having clean Dutch ovens and simply completing the task single-handedly is not the goal... exercising leadership is).


    So yes, simply building a website and publishing announcements is not leadership, nor is taking pictures and putting them in a book, nor is it recording attendance and taking meeting minutes, nor is it cleaning Dutch Ovens and counting spatulas, nor is creating a menu and cooking breakfast, nor is giving a presentation on the rules of Totin' Chip, nor is saying grace before a meal or a prayer before a Court of Honor... those are simply responsibilities (tasks) of certain jobs. But when overseeing a good Webmaster, Historian, Scribe, Quartermaster, Patrol Leader, Troop Guide, Chaplin's Aide, or whomever, you should shouldn't be focused simply on task-completion...you should be encouraging them to demonstrate leadership in completing their responsibilities. They should be taking on leadership to complete their tasks and they'll be 1,000-times more effective than if they just managed the job and completed the tasks all by themselves.

  7. Position of Responsibility or Position of Leadership. To me there is a significant difference.

    I think we can all agree that leadership is a responsibility, and so all Positions of Leadership (SPL, PL, ect.) are also certainly Positions of Responsibility.


    But do all Positions of Responsibility require leadership?


    Well I think it depends on your definition of "leadership."


    To me a leader is somebody who organizes a group of people to achieve a common goal.


    There are face-to-face leaders -- the ones who directly manage, guide and direct other people. The SPL and PLs are these types of leaders. They lead meetings, they directly interact with and manage other members, they direct and led events and activities, they build social relationships, and often will act as a spokesman or a figurehead for the group, etc.


    But there are other types of leaders -- administrative or "behind the scenes" leaders -- the ones who may not directly manage other people, but they are still providing leadership to organize and manage a group.


    A Webmaster can sit in his bedroom and do his work with no one else around.

    I disagree! Yes, a webmaster can do all his "work" at 11PM while sitting alone in his bedroom... but he's not doing it with no one else around. He's got the whole troop (Scouts and parents) and even the larger community as an audience. A webmaster may not be leading the troop in a face-to-face manner but a good webmaster is certainly leading the troop (from his bedroom at 11PM).


    Sending out a reminder that permission slips are due next week and effectively communicating that to all the members of the troop... that's leadership. Sharing the troop's latest accomplishments on social media and thus building community awareness and raising Scout spirit... that's leadership. Coming up with a fun and effective way to get Scouts excited for summer camp, engage members, communicate plans, and maybe even recruiting new members... that's leadership. Coordinating information from the PLC (working with the Scribe and SPL and PLs and others) to get information for the website... that's leadership. Working with the historian and others to get pictures, quotes and other content... that's leadership. Developing creative ideas and solving problems... leadership.


    A Scout simply pressing "upload" to a file that someone else created or doing copy-and-paste data-entry... that isn't really leadership. A Scout posting an announcement to a Facebook page that has zero followers or adding photos to a website that no one in the troop ever looks at is not really providing leadership either. Nor is it what a good webmaster should be doing.


    A Webmaster who develops, creates and posts website and social media updates that communicate the plans for upcoming event is providing essential guidance and leadership to the members in his troop.


    A Scout can sit in his bedroom and create beautiful and detailed photo albums of pictures from every troop outing and event with no one else around (and keep them all on a bookshelf in his bedroom with any other eyes seeing them). That does not make his a good Historian. A good troop Historian should be sharing what he does (make a slideshow to show at the next court of honor; create displays and presentations to share and promote the troop's accomplishments), and he should be engaging others (collecting pictures, conducting interviews, ect.).


    A Scribe that sits in the corner of the PLC meeting, writes everything down and then hands the paper to the SPL at the end of the meeting is not a leader... they're a stenographer. But a Scribe can be a leader if he keeps and shares minutes, co-ordinates information with patrol Scribes, engages with members to track attendance/advancement/financial records, collects and organizes paperwork, creates and develops forms and announcements, works with the Webmaster and Historian on communication efforts and with the Librarian and Quartermaster on record keeping.

  8. no other Scout was willing to take the POR and an adult has been filling this role ever since.

    Have an adult filling the role is not the solution. Check out the Youth Leader Organizational Chart and the unit position descriptions in the Patrol Leader Handbook (or the Senior Patrol Leader Handbook). If you don't have a QM (or if you don't have an active QM or if the QM drops the ball), the responsibilities and duties of the QM should fall onto the ASPL (and then the SPL) and/or the individual patrol QMs to pick up.


    If you don't have a Scribe present at a PLC meeting, an adult shouldn't jump in to take notes... have another youth do it (even if it means the SPL has to take the minutes)! It might not be seen as a disaster by teenage boys to not have official minutes from a single PLC meeting, but try a campout without a QM... either the SPL will have to take on the job (which I'm sure will put presure on him to recruit someone) or the patrol QMs will be left hanging (maybe one of them will step up)...but I'm sure a volunteer will surface when they see how important the role is to the troop.


    If no one want to cook breakfast on a campout because it's "too much work," don't have an adult do the cooking... let the Scouts get hungry... someone will step up. ;)


    They all have been offered the position of Troop Quartermaster but all have turned it down as being “too much workâ€Â.

    First, take a moment, step back, and see if your expectations are reasonable. Don't get too idealistic here, be practical and realistic. Perhaps you are asking "too much" of a teenage boy (especially if these kids have other commitments taking up their time/attention, or are working on merit badges or Eagle projects, or have transportation limitations, etc.). I've seen troops that expect so much from the QM (especially in terms of additional time commitments prepping for and cleaning up from each outing... and then demand so much more on the outings themselves) that most Scouts wouldn't have the extra 4-hours a week the troop expects from a youth QM to do everything (inventory, supply shopping, cleaning, and gear organizing)...and no one would want the job because you don't get to have fun on the outings (you're manning the supply tent all weekend while everyone else toasts s'mores and plays games). So make sure you're not asking "too much." Honestly, the job of a troop QM should not be that hard (especially if you're using the patrol method and have a good Quartermaster Corps. of individual patrol QMs)...and it shouldn't require a rocket scientist to do or be a job that forces a kid to drop out of school just to be able to cover all his added quartermaster responsibilities. So first make sure it is not "too much work."


    Secondly it's all about perception (and right now it seems like the Scouts perceive the job is being overly demanding and requiring a lot of work). Have the SPL come forward and communicate what is actually needed from a QM and what is actually expected. If they all think it's "too much work," show them that it's not that hard or difficult or complicated. Sell it! This is the SPL's (and the ASPL's) job - to build the team that leads the troop and makes the program happen. You can't always force someone to step up (and even if you do just appoint someone to the role, without their buy-in or true consent, they will be unsuccessful in the rule), You've got to sell, sell, sell! Maybe you have to make it a 6-month term instead of 12-months. Maybe you spread the load around (have the patrol QMs pick up some duties... or have the SPL or ASPL help with certain administrative tasks usually put on the QM... or while the QM does the quarterly gear inventory, have the Scribe there to help him record it).


    What do you do when no Scout wants to fill a POR in a Troop?

    I sat in the corner of a patrol meeting once where 7 teenage boys awkwardly sat in silence staring at each other because no one wanted to be Patrol Leader. No one wanted to run. They all declined nominations. They all claimed they were "too busy" or it was "too much work." The SPL came in and he didn't force anyone to take the job (and he certainly didn't appoint an adult to do it)...he just laid out what was required of the PL, and explained why the patrol needed a leader and what that leader actually does (and how fun it is). After some discussion of how "easy" it really is, the patrol found a willing leader... and he was great at the job... and in the next election 4 Scouts accepted nominations (and that PL became SPL).

  9. The troop I serve operates with 5-6 patrols of 7-8 Scouts each.


    It's rare that we get 100% attendance from any one patrol at an event. So sometimes (ok, most times) a patrol has to function with only 5 or 6 (or even 3 or 4) of its members present. Scout are being pulling in 101 different directions these days with other commitments (school, sports, band, family, religion, etc.). While some Scouts are more active than others, I don't think we have a Scout on our roster that has a 100% attendance record for all troop functions... however no one has a 0% (or even below a 50%) attendance record either. We try to juggle all the calendars (if we have a lot of Scouts in the high school band, we'll try to not to plan a big event that conflicts with that schedule... but with only 4 weekends a month and with all the activities of Scouts from 6+ schools and 30+ families, it's impossible to avoid every conflict). Several times - especially when there is a school event that might pull the Scouts from a single age group (such as a school dance or the SATs or a big football game) - we've seen patrols of just two Scouts (which the boys often enjoy because it's easier to co-ordinate things when it's just you and your buddy rather than having a big group of 8 to wrangle).


    The only time we'll ever "break" the patrols is if we have a patrol of one (the "buddy system" is important after all) -- if we have a solo-patroller then that lone Scout will be "adopted" as a guest by another patrol for the event. It's very rare that this happens (I think we've done it twice).


    If we notice that a certain patrol is routinely low on attendance (and it's the same 2-3 Scouts every time), we'll work with the patrol leader (through the SPL and PLC) to help the problem -- either address the attendance issues of his fellow members and work to get them to start attending more regularly (find out why they're not coming and work on solutions to fix)... or if the Patrol really doesn't like running as a 3-man patrol, then they've got to go out a recruit new members to join up! In some cases, as there is attrition (and Scouts start to age-out. drop-out, or disappear), we may reconfigure patrols... we try to keep the patrols intact as much as possible (but each year after re-chartering, we make sure the patrols are still fairly balanced and populated... if any change is made, often it's that the older Scout patrols will merge).

    • Upvote 1

  10. The boy scout program has systematically been guided away from its outdoor emphasis over the last decade by the pencil pushers at National

    Firstly, I disagree with you that the outdoor program has been systematically de-emphasized from the Boy Scout program. The outdoors is still a strong part of the Boy Scout program. Sure, some troops out there may be missing the mark and running merit badge mills in a church basement rather than going camping or hiking (troops like this even existed in the 1970s when I was a youth). But on a national-level the outdoors is still a central and strong part of Boy Scout program (heck, it's still one of the 8 methods of the Boy Scout program, isn't it?).


    But how does the outdoors being emphasized (or de-emphasized) in the Boy Scout program have anything to do with the STEM Scout program?


    Complaining that STEM Scouts spend all their time in a lab and don't go camping is like complaining that Sea Scouts spend all their time on a boat and don't go hiking in the mountains. Different programs have different aims and methods. Boy Scouts camp; STEM Scouts might not.


    STEM is yet another example of their push to get those sedentary boys and adults with no interest in the outdoors to join the BSA.

    The outdoors is a central method of the Boy Scout program... however it is not an aim of the Boy Scout program nor is it even a method of the overall BSA organization.


    So, you are probably correct here. The new STEM Scouts program is most likely a way to get boys and adults with no interest in camping and the outdoors to join the BSA. And what's wrong with that? ​The mission of the BSA is (and I quote) "to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Scout Law." Nowhere in the BSA's mission statement (or even the aims/goals of any of its programs) is anything about developing outdoorsmen or getting kids to go camping. As Baden-Powell said: "A fisherman does not bait his hook with food he likes. He uses food the fish likes. So with boys."


    It sounds like you want to the BSA's mission statement to be something like "to prepare young people who like the outdoors to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetime by developing camping skills and instilling the values of the Scout Oath and Law." Well I hate to break it to you, but that's not what the BSA is striving for (never has been)... their mission is: "to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Scout Law" I think STEM Scouts fits into that mission (just as Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Venturing, Sea Scouts, Varsity Scouts, and Explorers do).


    If you think that Boy Scouts don't get out and go camping enough, that's a separate debate... but I don't see how what Boy Scouts do (or don't do) has any bearing on the merit or value of a completely separate STEM Scout program.



    • Upvote 1

  11. In my council for example there are at least four troops where STEM makes up 90% of their programing' date='[/quote']

    Well it sounds like those troops are simply not running the Boy Scout program. Perhaps they should change their charter to become a STEM Scout Lab rather than continuing as a Boy Scout Troop.


    All STEM truly is a numbers game by National to bring boys who have NO real interest in the outdoors or scouting into the program in order to bring in more NUMBERS and more MONEY which are the only true goals of BSA National.

    That's a pretty cynical and pessimistic view of the BSA's motives.


    Perhaps STEM Scouts is a way to provide a program that builds character, citizenship and fitness to youth who are not interested in the outdoors.


    Teaching camping skills, going hiking, knot-tying, and other outdoor skills are not the aim or objective of the BSA; an outdoor program is just one of the 8 methods of the Boy Scout program but it is not the end-goal...and an outdoor program is not one of the methods of the STEM Scout program (nor is it a method of the Cub Scout program, the Venturing program, or other BSA programs).


    The BSA has three specific objectives: character development, citizenship training, and personal fitness. The STEM Scouts program attempts to reach those goals through different methods than the Boy Scout program.

  12. A few years back my council went on a big Venturing kick. The program was newer and not very big or popular in the council. So they hired a professional to focus solely on Venturing; there were tons of meetings and committees formed; troops were coerced into creating crews and getting the "older boy" patrols and ASMs to populate them, they existed mainly on paper and only did one or two activities before slowly slipping back into the troops and dying out after a few months; the council and districts orchestrated all sorts of special Venturing events (many of which were called off at the last minute due to low registration); they re-outfitting their camp for Venturing (buying pistols for shooting sports, expanding the female shower house to be equal to the boys showers in size, and investing in other Venturing-only program supplies)... they even dedicated an entire week of their summer camp program to be "Venturing-only" (that week of summer camp had more camp staff on the payroll than campers participating in the program).


    Thousands of man-hours were invested... and about 30% of the council's program budget was spent on Venturing -- a program that, at the time, served less than 4% of the council's total membership. It was a misstep. Big time! Meanwhile, Cub Scouts (which constituted more than 65% of the council's membership) was getting less than 20% of the council's financial support and less than half of the professional staff's attention (there was no dedicated Cub Scout program professionals, but we had a Venturing one? DE's were split between both Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts and almost all Cub Scout programs were pushed off onto volunteers with little support from the council).


    So I agree with you somewhat. If a council goes "all in" on STEM Scouts and starts investing in STEM weekends, and building a robotics lab and science center at their camp, and hires a full-time STEM professional when they only have 2 (or less) STEM Scout unit... well that's the council making poor decisions and the Scout Executive and the Council Executive Board should have their priorities (and heads) examined.


    However if a council along the coast has 500 registered and active Sea Scouts, well maybe a special Sea Scout camporee or regatta, or event is in order... but if you only have 1 ship, maybe not. Same with STEM. Don't hire a STEM professional, until you have the STEM programs and participants to support the position. Start small, start slow... baby steps. Ease into it, don't just jump in and end up in over your head. Don't disproportionately focus on a program and put the burden of supporting that program onto the backs of other programs that are also in need of the council's support and attention.

  13. Matthew -- your point about the "farming initiative" from years past make my point. Everything you mentioned was merit badge based. No separate "Farm Scout" program to maintain.

    So are you saying the BSA shouldn't maintain a separate "Sea Scouts" program because they already have sailing and aquatics-based merit badges and opportunities in Boy Scouts?


    Should the BSA scrap the separate "Varsity Scouts" program because they already have sports-based merit badges and high adventure options available through the Boy Scouts?


    And what's the point of maintaining a separate "Explorers" program when we already have career exploration opportunities through the Boy Scout merit badge program?


    I don't see the harm in having STEM Scouts (or "Farm Scouts" or "Business Scouts" or "Sea Scouts" or "Air Scouts" or "Drama Scouts" or whatever) in addition to traditional Scouting.


    I question the wisdom of councils starting to allocate money and staff to these programs to the exclusion of traditional programs.

    I'll agree with you there. As I said above, STEM Scouts should be in addition to traditional Boy Scouts (not in place of it or to the detriment of it). If a council can't balance it's programs and they start to neglect key programs or disproportionately support others, then that's a problem. And shame on the Scout Executive for not prioritizing and seeing the "big picture" when it comes to managing people/time/money/resources.


    But if a council is able to adequately support Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts and Venturing and Sea Scouts and Varsity Scouts and Explorers and the Order of the Arrow and summer camps and day camps and also balance STEM Scouts in there too, why stop them?

  14. In either case, you, like skeptic, seem not to misunderstand what Scouting is. It is not a career prep program, that's why Explorers exists as a separate venture.


    Maybe I was unclear. I do not think Boy Scouts is a career prep program... although career and hobby exploration through the merit badge program has been a part of Scouting for quite some time.


    The Boy Scout program is not a career prep program, that's why Explorers exists as a separate venture. Explorers focus on career-based activities; although Boy Scouts can have some career exploration through the merit badge program.


    And the Boy Scout program is not a math & science club, that's why STEM Scouts exists as a separate venture. STEM Scouts focus on science and technology activities; although Boy Scouts can have some STEM exploration through the merit badge program.

  15. Matthew: As a College student' date=' when I'm discussing what I do with my life and Scouting comes up, very few people jump down my throat about the Boy Scouts of America's membership policy. More often that not, people who are polite, engaging people would ask "What do you think of the membership policy?"[/quote']


    Ok, let me clarify a bit... very few people are overtly rude or aggressive about it; and I rarely feel "under attack" for bringing up Scouting nor do people "jump down my throat" just because I mention the BSA. Yes, it does happen from time to time that people are not civil and I have encountered a few people with a real chip on their shoulder and strong opinions that just want to get on a soapbox while you're simply trying to sell popcorn outside the local Walmart.


    But this conversation is about recruitment, and I've found that the biggest barrier to successful recruitment isn't that people don't know what Scouting is or how to sign the son up (something a good flyer or a well-manned information booth at the right event, or going door-to-door, or producing a powerful TV commercial or a good website could fix)... it's not that they don't know what Scouting is; it's that they don't like what Scouting is and they don't want to support it. That's something that having me simply spend time pounding the pavement and trying to talk up Scouting with people on the street won't change - there needs to be a change from BSA national to open the doors to new recruits. I feel like I'm trying to sell bacon-cheeseburgers in a community of all Hasidic Jews - they're not going to picket outside my store, but I'm certainly not going to get a lot of new customers off the street (no matter how good my promotional efforts are).


    Again, I don't hide my Scouting affiliation or my feelings towards the program. I'm not ashamed to be a Scout. When a co-worker asks on a Monday morning "so what did you do this weekend?" I'll answer "I went camping with my son's Boy Scout troop" or "I taught a course at the local Boy Scout council's training event" (or I may say "I went to a church picnic on Sunday.") I don't hide the fact that I'm a Scout, or that I enjoy Scouting or the benefits it's providing me and the community... just as I don't hide the fact that I am religious and attend church. All my co-workers know that I'm a Scout, and they all know what church I go to as well. But giving a "sales pitch" to join the BSA and telling them they should consider signing their son up for BSA summer camp is about as worthwhile as trying to give a sales pitch to come join my church or send their kids off to Bible camp. Not only is it socially awkward, it's also not productive or successful. So all the talk of building character, developing leadership skills, helping the community, teaching life skills, racing Pinewood derby cars, hiking at Philmont, sailing coral reefs at Seabase, zip-lining at the Summit, etc. is irrelevant to them when they know the organization has discrimination at its foundation. They don't care that their son can campout under the stars or learn to sail a boat or be a patrol leaders... because they hate the fact that their best friend is excluded from helping teach a merit badge simply because of who they are, or that the organization excludes and shuns exemplary members once they turn 18, or that the organization continues to promote a negative stigma towards a portion of the population, etc.


    When the subject of Scouting comes up people will ask (often in a very polite or truly inquisitive way) things like "what exactly is the policy" and "why is that the policy,"or "what do you think of the policy" and "how do you justify supporting an organization with such a policy", or "how does the BSA justify the hypocrisy of their policies," etc. I do my best to answer their questions honestly (but sometimes my answer is a shrug and a "I dunno"), but I've found that you're just not going to win them over and convince them to sign up (unless your answer is somehow "the policy doesn't exist anymore")... they've already made up their mind that they don't want to support or associate with the BSA because of the policy.


    It would be like going to a Catholic church on Sunday morning and handing out flyers on the street corner about converting to Judaism... the Christians going to mass probably won't be aggressive or hateful to the guy on the corner, but he's probably not going to get anyone new to show up at the synagogue next week and decide to renounce Jesus. In my liberal area, people won't run you out of town or have stones thrown through your windows because your a member of the BSA, but you might as well just put your "join Scouting" flyers directly in the trash because the people have already made up their mind... and until policies change, they'll be taking their kids elsewhere.

  16. The issues you raise feel like they are about you. You feel there will be a negative reaction. You would be - what? - embarassed? - afraid to offend?


    Again, I'm not ashamed to be a Scout nor do I see the program as "broken" by any means... but going around upsetting people on the street is not a worthwhile use of my time or energy.


    Our district had a recruitment table at a "back to school" fair hosted by a local elementary school last year. We were hoping to find some families interest in joining Cub Scouting. But only two types of people came up to the table: (1) people who were already in Scouting and just stopped by to say "hi" to some familiar faces, and (2) people who came up and politely listened to our sales pitch but then questioned the "hypocrisy" of the BSA's policies or voiced concern over supporting an organization that discriminates, and there were even a few who came to simply criticize or berated us for promoting hate or bigotry. We didn't get a single new recruit (not even a "maybe" or "we'll think about it")... 200+ families were there but it was a total waste of a Tuesday evening. The BSA has yet to provide any "talking points" or support to help volunteers in the trenches combat the frequently asked questions on the issue (I still don't know how to defend the policy or the organization when people ask certain questions).


    Over 90% of the conversations that I have with non-Scouts about Scouting are negative... they aren't Scouts because they haven't been invited or been handed a flyer, or received the right sales pitch... they aren't Scouts because they don't want to associate their family with the BSA.


    Again, it may just be the area that I'm in and other communities and parts of the country may react differently.

  17. If Scouting is such a good thing' date=' why are you keeping it a secret?[/quote']

    Here's a quick story and then my blunt feelings on the subject...


    About 20 years ago I was out shopping and saw a mother and son pass by the camping section of the store (I was there checking out camp gear for my next Scouting adventure). I saw the kid's eyes light up when he say the big display with a tent, a little faux-campfire ring, and some fake trees. I overheard him ask his mom if they could go camping sometime. The mother seemed reluctant (she didn't seem like much of the outdoorsy type) and she said "well maybe." I jumped in and said, "If you want to go camping, have you considered joining the Boy Scouts?" I gave the basic sales pitch and some information to the mother and the boy actually ended up joining a troop and going camping and being exposed to all the benefits of Scouting! Hooray! :D


    Now would I do that today? Truthfully, I'd be very reluctant to go up to a women in a store and tell her she should sign her son up for the Boy Scouts. Scouting has become very politicized and too taboo (at least in my area). I would feel just about as comfortable going up to a stranger in a department store and asking them if they'd like to join my troop as I would be asking them if they would join my political party or convert to my religion.


    I'm not ashamed to be a Scout -- nor am I ashamed of my political affiliations or my religious beliefs -- I have bumper stickers promoting all 3 on my car. ;) I don't hide the fact that I'm a Scout, but I don't go around trying to convert every person I see on the street... it's just too awkward (and going around and offending and aggravating people is counterproductive and seems somewhat un-Scoutlike).


    I would not go to a dinner party as start up a conversation with someone I barely know by saying "so do you believe in Jesus Christ? Do your kids go to Sunday School?" nor would I kick off a conversation with someone I just met by asking "so who did you vote for last November? And where do you stand on the abortion issue and gun control?"... likewise I would feel uneasy going up to someone I didn't know and asking "so are your sons Cub Scouts? Have you considered joining the BSA?" (I've done that and unleashed a fury about discrimination, hate, bigotry, and not wanting to support such a conservative organization... and I've also done it and gotten an earful about how the organization has turned its back on traditional values and is "too liberal" for their family. Plus in the wake of sexual abuse headlines and perversion files, there's the awkward looks questioning why a grown man is so interested in getting boys to sign up to go off into the woods for a weekend.) Overall it's too much of a social faux pas to ask strangers off the street to join and support the BSA.


    Due to the current membership issues (which I really don't know how to defend), it's just too politically awkward and controversial to go around preaching Scouting to the masses without feeling like a political evangelist (and having people feel uncomfortable, irritated or offended).


    I have no problem going around preaching the values of joining little league or the high school band... but going around asking families off the street to sign-up with the BSA is like walking through a field full of politically- and socially-charged landmines.

  18. Or, the STEM initiatives are just more hoops to jump through for already busy scouters.

    If you feel the STEM initiates (with the introduction of such merit badges as Programming, Robotics, Multimedia, Digital Technology, etc.) are "just more hoops to jump through" and that their inclusion in the program is an unnecessary burden on "busy Scouters" then how do you feel about all the farming initiatives (with merit badges such as Farm Mechanics, Animal Science, Plant Science, Gardening, Veterinary Medicine, etc.) or the business skills initiatives (with merit badges such as American Business, American Labor, Salesmanship, Entrepreneurship, etc.) or the transportation initiatives (with merit badges such as Aviation, Railroading, Truck Transportation)? Are they all existing "hoops to jump through"? Are they just busywork added by industries with their own agendas to promote and have unnecessarily overloaded Scouters? I don't see how making the program more well-rounded and more up-to-date is a bad thing! How is having a Programming merit badge or a robotics summer camp any more of a misstep then having a Dentistry merit badge or a search & rescue summer camp?


    I also disagree that STEM Scouts is totally adult driven. I know plenty of youth that would be interested in joining a youth organization that spends it's time building robots; designing, and creating websites or video games; exploring environmental sustainability issues and competing in science fairs; producing digital multi-media content; using and developing trade skills (such as welding or mechanics); etc... There are probably just as many (if not possibly more) youth that would be interested in that program as there are kids interested in a youth organization that focuses on camping, hiking, canoeing, rock climbing, fire building, and knot-tying.


    I will admit that "STEM" is a bit of a "buzzword" these days. It is occasionally slapped on things as a marketing ploy or a way to seem "current" without being backed by any real or worthwhile content (having a "science day" where you mix baking soda and vinegar in a paper-mache diorama may look cool but it does not teach much about geologic processes or how volcanoes work). But the STEM initiates being introduced to the BSA aren't just fluff - they are worthwhile, include real skills, and kids enjoy them.


    BSA had STEM programs long before STEM was even an antonym (with merit badges such as Electronics, Computers, Space Exploration, Chemistry, Nuclear Science, Surveying, etc.). They're just branding and focusing it now. Science and technology are growing fields of interest for youth, and are life skills that they need to have, and careers that they should be encouraged to explore. I think it's great that BSA isn't just staying stuck on 1910 methods and are offering programs and exploring methods to deliver their aims in a way that is connected to skills and subjects that are relevant in the 21st century.

  19. The newer STEM initiatives in Boy Scout and Cub Scout programs (the STEM/NOVA Awards, new merit badges such as Robotics, Programming, Digital Technology, Geocaching, etc.) are, in my opinion, welcomed additions that help keep the program current (as long as they don't totally replace the outdoor skills part of the program). It would be a repeat of the "Improved Scouting Program" of the 1970s if they totally dropped Camping merit badge in favor of a Mathematics merit badge; or if a council put all their focus on building computer labs rather than maintaining camp sites. But that's not happening - the outdoor skills part is still the foundation of the Scouting program (and "outdoor program" is still one of the key methods of Boy Scouts).


    However STEM Scouts is a completely separate program from Boy Scouts (and Cub Scouts)... which I think is great! I heard Wayne Brock (Chief Scout) talk about the pilot programs last year and it sounds exciting. There are many ways to reach the aims of Scouting (i.e. building character, citizenship and fitness) besides just teaching kids how to pitch a tent, tie a knot, go on a hike, and cook over a fire. Some kids (and some parents) just aren't interested in those things.


    Just as Varsity Scouts uses sports, and Sea Scouts uses nautical skills, and Explorers use career exploration, and even Venturing Crews don't have to run a camping-based program... STEM Scouts uses science and technology to reach the goals of building character, citizenship and fitness (and also teaches other important career and life skills along the way). Instead of lashing sticks together with rope, why not build a robot? Instead of woodworking and basketry, why not designing and building a website? Instead of fire building and Dutch oven cooking, why not chemistry experiments? How are these bad things (especially when the alternative is the kid sits at home and gets no Scouting experience)?


    Now if STEM Scouts replaces traditional Boy Scouts all together, I could see outcry (it would be the BSA taking the "outing out of Scouting" again). But having a separate program in addition to traditional Scouting can't be anything but good (more youth reached, more options... Scouts could even double-dip and camp with a Boy Scout troop and do computer programming with STEM Scout lab). No one complains that an EMS or Fire & Rescue Explorer Post that doesn't go camping is bad because they've taken the "outing out of Scouting." I don't see how a STEM Scout unit that builds robots is bad (as long as they include Asimov's 3 rules for robotics in their programming). ;)

  20. The only issue with scouting that we've found is that he can not memorize anything and repeat it word for word. So if you ask about how to treat something with first aid he can give a good enough answer and can demonstrate' date=' but if you ask him to repeat the Pledge of Allegiance, Oath, or Law he cannot. If I say one of the laws he can tell me what it means to him though. However the requirement for Tenderfoot "Repeat from memory and explain in your own words the Scout Oath, Law, motto, and slogan." Says REPEAT FROM MEMORY. Would you sign off on this or do I need to go ahead and file for disability.[/quote']

    The requirement for Tenderfoot state:

    "7. Repeat from memory and explain in your own words the Scout Oath, Law, motto, and slogan."


    It sounds like this Scout is fine with the "explain in your own words" part. (i.e. "what does "thrifty mean?"). It's the "repeat from memory" part that is a struggle (i.e. "what comes after cheerful?")


    However, look at the requirement; it does not say that the it has to be an uninterrupted recital or an unassisted recital from memory. He does not need to recall the Scout Law from his long-term memory and rattle it off without thought or effort in 15-seconds flat. Basically he just can't read it. You can give cues, clues and support as he tries to recall the 12 points of the Scout Law. Use short-term memory, repeating it back in chunks (he's still repeating from memory, he's just being reminded of the lines along the way). Or use clues or cues to help recall the next word or line.


    I think the heart of the requirement is that they want the Scout to be familiar with the Scout Oath and Law - inside and out - and be able to explain them. They should be something that he's read, studied and said multiple times... and he should know what the words all mean. If he needs some support saying it 100% properly from memory, I see no reason why he shouldn't be able to get such support to complete it. Holding a Scout that is truly trying his best and giving 100% (and also has a legitimate disability) back from advancing past Tenderfoot just because he can't say the Oath and Law 100% word-for-word unassisted is, in my opinion, silly and counterproductive.



    In her son's troop, his merit badge counselor insisted on written reports for every badge. It was exhausting. Her son quit. It was very sad. I understand what her son went through because I know it takes my son 4-5 hours to produce a single written page.

    Very few badges require written reports.


    There are some merit badges that do -- such as Environmental Science that specifically states "write a 100-word report" on an endangered species or Archaeology that states "write a brief report" about the results of an experiment. But most merit badge requirements do not require any writing...and certainly few that require reports be written.


    There are the straight-forward "doing" and "demonstrating" requirements the obviously can't be completed with writing (such as performing a skill, completing a task, making something, attending an event, etc.) These include things such as showing a specific swimming stroke, capsizing and rescuing a canoe, building and launching a model rocket, weaving a basket, attending a town meeting, giving a speech, catching a fish, taking a hike, etc. You cannot do these via writing (writing how to catch a fish is not the same as catching one; and writing about a fictional night camping is not the same as actually camping out)... and requiring an additional written report explaining or recapping what was done (when the requirements require no such thing) is just adding an additional and unnecessary requirement to earning the badge.


    However there are many merit badge requirements that start with words such as "explain", "describe", "list", "define", and "discuss." Sadly there are many merit badge councilors out there that want Scouts to do these thing in writing. While you certainly can "define" and "list" things in writing (and preparing written notes can help a Scout collect and organize his thoughts prior to sitting down with a councilor), you can also do these things orally. You can orally list the rules of safe hiking; you can orally explain how to treat dehydration; and you can orally define what an ecosystem is. No need to take pen to paper or type out long prose for these things. Only accepting these things in writing is wrong... and having a Scout write a report rather than having a discussion (especially when it says "discuss") is certainly missing the mark.


    If a merit badge councilor insists that a Scout writes his explanations rather than accepting oral explanations they are misinterpreting, misrepresenting and distorting what the BSA actually requires. The requirements are written the way they are for a reason...and very few specifically require a Scout take pen to paper.


    You can see the BSA's official stance and reasoning against merit badge worksheets and workbooks here: http://blog.scoutingmagazine.org/2015/01/13/merit-badge-worksheets/


  21. I wondered if any Council mergers increased the number of Boy Scouts in the affected area in a year' date=' 3 years, 5 years?[/quote']

    I think there are a lot of variables to such a situation.


    It all depends on the reasons for the merger and the situations of each council. No two councils are the same, and no two mergers are the same. And they aren't frequent enough to draw any meaningful conclusions on trends or cause/effect.


    So lets say Council A is fairly strong and has 10,000 members and Council B is struggling and has 2,000 members. The two merge (so on day #1 as the newly formed Council AB there are 12,000 members). What does that council look like in 3 years or 5 years? More Scouts? Less Scouts? The same?


    Well five years later, Council AB may have grown and has 15,000 members...it may have shrunk and has 10,000 members. Or it may have stayed the same with 12,000 members.


    But what would Council A and Council B look like if they hadn't merged. Both councils may have grown (to 12,000 and 3,000; a total of 15,000)... both may have shrunk (to 8,500 and 1,500; a total of 10,000).... Council A may have grown to 12,000 members (hooray!) but Council B decreased to 2,000, giving a net loss of 1,000 to the area of the two councils (boo!).


    Membership could increase due to more efficiency within the council or better support and resources for what may have been a struggling council. For example: the DEs in the areas of the once struggling Council B may now have a burden lifted due to the merger and can focus on the program and recruitment instead of spending so much time on fundraising and balancing their budget. Or it can provide more support staff or volunteers within an expanded council for certain programs - rather than having two small committees working on recruitment for each separate council, you'll now have one big/strong committee working to serve the whole area. Or Council B, which never had their own camp, now has access to a home council camp. Or Council B had a weak OA lodge, and its members are now is part of a strong lodge. Or Council B never held a Cub Scout Day Camp due to no volunteers to organize it, now they have Day Camps.


    Or it may decrease membership due to the growth and streamlining of operations. For example: the council registrar now has 50% more units to deal with and is more overworked and so the customer service performance drops. Or rather than having 6 DEs in Council A and 4 in Council B (a total of 10 DEs), the new council may reorganize and have 8 DEs serving the area. Some volunteers who liked being a "big fish in a small pond" could feel lost in a bigger council. Some traditions may be lost; culture clashes may occur over such things as OA traditions, camp properties, and "the way things should be done." Mergers can be tough.


    And membership may decrease after a merger but it not be a "failure." If Council A and Council B had been seeing a combined drop of 10% in membership each year, after they merge they probably will still see membership drop... but maybe it will only by 5% (they lose 600 Scouts) which is much better than if they hadn't merged and had lost 1,200 Scouts in the area.


    And membership may increase after a merger but it could be a "failure." If the new Council AB grows from 12,000 members to 15,000 members by 2017 that may seem good for the area... But if they hadn't merged perhaps they could have grown to 14,000 and 5,000 members (a combined 19,000). Who knows?


    Two councils may merge and see growth or decrease in membership this is 100% unrelated to the merger.


    There are councils that have handled mergers very well and have benefited from them (strengthening programs, increasing membership, etc.) And I'm sure there are councils who have managed them poorly and the areas are worse off as a result. I don't think there is a "one size fits all" answer to how a council merger will affect an area.


    Long story short: it's complicated.

  22. the shortage of buglers is a on-going serious problem.

    Do you have any Scouts who play trumpet in their school marching band? Our troop has 4, and they all help bugle when called upon (although several use a trumpet rather than an official bugle -- still sounds great).