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Everything posted by Zuse

  1. LDS scouter here. Report this to your District Commissioner, District/Council Advancement chairs. This shouldn't be happening regardless of unit. It's unfortunate that BSA doesn't have a verification system in place for merit badges and counselors signing off for blue cards, because then parents, random adults and basically anyone else who can hold a pen can print merit badges for boys like they're monopoly money. In our unit, I produce a blue card each time the boy is wanting to work on a merit badge, and I provide them with the contact information for MB counselors using the district and council lists that I request from our district. I then say "you have to contact them, set up appointments, do the work, etc. Don't come back to me until you're done or unless you need a new counselor" (like if the one I gave them won't return calls/follow up/isn't interested in meeting). I am quite glad for the 14+ change in the church's youth programs because at that age we lose most of the young men anyway due to people not implementing the program as directed by both BSA and the Church. I flat out told the parents and scouts numerous times this past year that it is "opt-in" and that only those with a real desire to work consistently towards Eagle will get there. It's not our job as leaders to give them an award that they didn't earn because it cheapens its worth and teaches the lesson to the scout and family that they can get through life that way. It's things like this that give LDS--or any other chartered org--a bad name in scouting. It's a shame that people forget that it's the climb towards Eagle, not the award itself, that makes these boys into men.
  2. Hopefully I'm not being dense, but I'm guessing you were joking. It wasn't my intent to suggest that BSA should pander to these trends- quite the opposite, I think Scouting needs to stand its ground because these principles really do matter and they build strong youth. Scouting just can't work without strong families, and families need to be investing the time to build those strong households with or without scouting.
  3. I agree with you- there's so much that goes into the declining trends as contributing factors. I personally think that among other things, you have: Families being less connected, spending less time together and more single-parent families (as cited by Mr. Surbaugh during his presentation), which undermines the family-centered support that youth need to really be successful and invested in scouting. On a related note, I see more and more parents expecting scouting to fill in their gaps as parents. Scouting thrives and does its best when it is merely reinforcing what should already be taught in the home; it should not be the main vehicle whereby these principles and values are taught. Technology has taken over people's lives more than ever- ask a boy or girl if they would rather play a video game/browse Facebook or learn how to cook in the outdoors, and 9/10 will say they prefer the former. Scouting is increasingly expensive and families have to make hard choices about where to spend their money. Sure, membership fees are cheap, but when you talk about equipment, uniforms, awards, travel, etc- it starts to look more like a really expensive hobby. BSA--and scouting in general--is fading more by the day. The program is great when implemented effectively with dedicated volunteers and invested youth, but I really don't see a way for BSA to modernize and go back to the glory days of high membership numbers regardless of what changes they make. What scouting has to offer is more needed than ever, but modern society doesn't see its value. I can't help but feel bad for BSA's professional staff in some ways because under their watch, the decline of Scouting continues and they desperately want to change that. I commend them for exploring any option because Scouting is wonderful, but I think the factors really contributing to it are out of their control.
  4. Nailed it. The variety in the questions in different parts of the country tells you that they're fishing for answers. I already had questions during the presentation about the survey methods, questions asked, options that people could choose from as their answer, etc. This just makes the preliminary "market research" that Mr. Surbaugh mentioned even more suspect and erodes his (and national's) credibility. I mentioned it during our meeting last week and I'll say it again: I feel like the fact that our CSE was doing a sales pitch (his words at the end of the video) tells me that BSA has already decided to go down this path. Very little of the negatives were touched on or acknowledged during the presentation, which has the effect of automatically painting who vocalize opposition to the changes after the video as being obstructionist, out of touch or discriminating against girls. There are good reasons for why BSA should not make this change, and until they recognize and validate those points of view (which is not the same as agreeing), they will lose all those people and their families. The option to partner with an outside organization? C'mon, Mr. Surbaugh- that's a false choice. Everyone knows that the most well-known organization to partner with is GSUSA, but they don't want to be absorbed or be beholden to any outside organization in giving up the power to choose how their own program is run. The top award in GSUSA is not comparable to Eagle, it doesn't have the prestige and recognition that the Eagle does for boys. The whole pitch he gave was centered around how convenient it would be for families to not have two separate programs, and yet partnering with just such an organization (which doesn't solve the convenience problem) is presented as if it was a viable option. It's not, and it reeked of the BSA trying to make it sound like they were extending an olive branch to other groups even though they already knew the response people would have to that proposal. It was dishonest and misleading, unbecoming of the CSE who is supposed to exemplify all the values of scouting--especially being trustworthy. Because the problem lies in not continuing to hemorrhage sponsors and members (which don't want to contribute to an organization that is seen as discriminatory towards girls because they're not "inclusive"), BSA will look at the financial situation. From that perspective, the changes make tons of sense. In terms of what is best for the youth that the program serves, it is not so clear cut.
  5. The reasoning given by our council executive and the trainer presenting the video and facilitating the discussion is because they very much wanted people to be exposed to the different viewpoints about the presentation before filling out the survey. Although I do agree about making the video available--I actually asked during the meeting why they couldn't make it available to watch/show others later--I also see where they're coming from. It's that exposure to others and having a respectful discussion that helps people to think critically and not resort to a lot of knee-jerk reactions from the video alone. Just because someone has youth in scouting doesn't mean they understand the program fully or have the perspective of volunteers who are looking at it from a more strategic, national point of view in terms of how it would affect the program structure or the way it is executed. I can tell you that a lot of parents who came to our meeting last week had their viewpoints changed because there were adult scouters who gave them an insight that they could not have possibly come up with on their own from watching the video. There was a lot of "oh, I never thought of it that way". Without that kind of discussion, there's less of an opportunity to build unity and keep the program working for as many youth, families and adult volunteers as possible. With such a hot-button issue, that is more critical than ever.
  6. Stosh, your point rings true with regards to something shared at one of our council meetings about this topic last week. It was mentioned only once--but it is true--that girls developmentally are mature at an earlier age than boys, which means that a lot more girls will be in leadership than boys and boys will struggle even more than they already do in many units to step up in terms of leadership. I want girls to have the blessings of scouting, I truly do. But if it comes at the cost of neutering our young men in a program that technically belongs to THEM, scouting will fade away even faster than anyone will realize. As effective as scouting is for the young men, it's a shame more pressure isn't being put on GSUSA to reform and inoculate themselves against the loss of membership this change by BSA would cause. It will turn into a turf war between the two groups and unfortunately, the youth in the program are the ones that will be used as pawns by the adult (national, council, district and local) leadership. What a shame.
  7. For anyone taking the survey without having watched the video AND participated in a council-level discussion, please keep in mind that you are missing a LOT of the context. In our council, they specifically said that the survey and video was not to be shared with people who did not attend since watching the video was crucial to see the options explained and then have the discussion with other interested parties. It's not that I desire anyone's voice to not be heard, but without the video, you don't have enough of the facts to be able to answer the survey as well as you could, which doesn't help National as they review the results.
  8. Unfortunately, an "adult" scouting program beyond what is already offered through Venturing would survive long enough, have enough resources or have enough interested people for it to really thrive. It's a pipe dream. Some young adults will see it as too childish (an extension of scouting for teenagers), and some will not feel challenged enough by it. Those that would truly benefit from it are a very small, fringe group of people. Outdoor programs that cater to 20-somethings and up seeking outdoor adventure and leadership are a dime a dozen, so for BSA to enter that saturated field is not worth their time, especially in terms of time and money spent. When I was in college, I wanted to keep up with Scouting and not lose what I had learned. So, I found a local scout troop and volunteered my time with them and served in various positions (Assistant Scoutmaster, Committee Member, USR). As rewarding as it was, being in college and trying to also serve in scouting was a huge weight and I struggled to accomplish my core objectives (aka school itself and preparing for a career). The unit was great, other scouters were very supportive and I was enthusiastic, but there's a finite limit to how much a person can do and how much they spread their time before they stop being effective. Scouting, if done correctly, sets the youth on a course that will carry them through the rest of their life because it's done during their most crucial years. If an adult really wants to incorporate the scouting values in their life, there's nothing stopping them from doing so on their own.
  9. It's unfortunate that many people equate a single-gender environment or organization with automatically being discriminatory, as if it's done out of malice. Discrimination, in the sense being talked about, has everything to do with an intent to do harm to those groups being left out. That is not why Scouting is boy-only. It was in Scouting that I learned from male role models--including my own father--that living the values and treating all others with respect, including women, isn't something only to be done when you are around those people. You do it all the time, and your speech, character and conduct should be consistent no matter where you are or who is present. In these mentors, I saw what I wanted to become as a future husband, father and servant of others, and being an adult scouter now reminds me constantly of how important those lessons were to me, and how important it is that I don't tarnish the good name of Scouting in my example to the youth I serve. If boys are acting in a way that is beneath their privilege, the fault cannot be primarily placed on BSA- that boils down to the example of unit leaders, but even more to the parents of these youth. Scouting is wonderful, but any parent who expects Scouting to parent their child for them and make up for their failures in the home needs to change their priorities. If Scouting values are not taught, reinforced and lived in the home, the incredible potential of each young man is squandered during this crucial time of their lives when they mature and grow into adulthood. After all, it is better to build strong boys than to repair or mend broken men.
  10. Truth be told, I think that these council-level meetings that they are having are just a formality. No amount of feedback is going to change BSA's mind on their course to opening it up to girls beyond what already exists in Sea Scouts, Venturing, etc. It's inevitable because the BSA is, in the end, a business. In order to keep the program alive from a financial standpoint, they need to open it up to increase membership. Unfortunately that will only slow, but not reverse, the trend of decreasing membership because BSA membership has been in constant decline since its peak in the 1970s. As sad as it makes me, the BSA will become a fringe program regardless of what (or how many) adjustments they make to accommodate other groups or trends in society. Its combination of program features are less in demand today than ever, even though I think all that it stands for is needed more than ever. Either course forward for the BSA leads to the same outcome: BSA keeps to its "timeless values", retaining the approval and support of many chartered organizations and families that participate because that's what they're looking for. They lose out on more corporate sponsors, donors, and will increasingly be a target for groups that accuse the BSA of being bigoted, intolerant, etc. BSA changes its "timeless values" to try to capture a wider audience, but they lose the support of many already in the program that want those "timeless values". BSA loses its unique flavor and becomes just another youth or outdoor program, a shadow of its former self.
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