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Posts posted by dkurtenbach

  1. Looks mostly like administrative tidying up -- much of which should have been done long ago.  Innovative?  Visionary?  Well, they are combining the National Annual Business Meeting and the Top Hands Meeting.  🤪  It is quite a boring document, really.  Not Churchillian.  But, it is pure BSA.  For example:  "Create a membership executive position within councils focused on growth and paid on performance."  How many hundreds of times has that been tried in councils all across the United States over the last forty years of declining membership?  Maybe tens of thousands, if you count District Executives and Field Directors.  

    Survival of the Boy Scouts of America is entirely dependent upon membership growth, but the folks from the National level all the way down to councils and even districts simply can't grasp the notion that they are powerless to do anything about membership growth,** despite more than forty years of contrary evidence.  Retaining youth who are already Scouts and attracting youth who are not currently Scouts is entirely dependent upon how well the local moms and dads who are the unit adults execute an active, interesting, challenging Scouting program with a strong outdoor component.  If BSA decided to create an executive position within councils focused on inspiring unit adults, then maybe they would be on to something.

    ** BSA National initiatives, policies, and program changes have caused significant membership losses over the years, however.

    • Upvote 4
  2. To cut way back on the number and styles of uniform parts and insignia that BSA has to produce, distribute, and maintain in inventory, I'd suggest:

    • The same color and style of shirt for all programs.
    • No epaulets, no shoulder loops, only cloth badges/patches with no backing so they are easy to sew on
    • The only insignia allowed are the BSA and Council name strips (lettering only), World Scout badge (without Messenger of Peace ring or other embellishment), unit numeral, den/patrol patch, rank badge, position patch, OA arrow strip
    • All insignia are at least one-third smaller than current badges/patches
    • No official pants / shorts / skirts / skorts; no official belts, socks, or hats
    • No sashes; merit badges one-third smaller than current size, may be sewn on neckerchiefs
    • One Cub Scout neckerchief color for all grade levels
    • Cub Scout adventure pins and belt loops become cloth badges sewn on neckerchiefs
    • Other awards currently worn on uniform may be sewn on neckerchiefs

    To cut way back on the number of publications that BSA develops, produces, distributes, and maintains, I'd suggest:

    • All publications are electronic, printable on demand
    • The contents of all existing publications are broken down into these collections:  Youth member "how to" information for each program; youth leader "how to" information (Scouts BSA, Venturing, Sea Scouting only); adult leader "how to" information for each program
    • Eliminate all duplication and as much inconsistency as possible from each collection
    • Convert what is left so that at least 90 percent of each collection is in the form of (a) checklists, (b) step-by-step instructions, and (c) diagrams or illustrations; with the remaining 10 percent or less limited to text, but with no single block of text containing more than seventy-five words
  3. 9 minutes ago, Eagledad said:

    The new color shirt is a powerful incentive for many youth. And, they usually need a new one for growth and age. I don't know what you would be saving.


    The need to stock blue shirts and tan shirts in the same sizes, and the need to stock green shirts and tan shirts in the same sizes.

  4. 47 minutes ago, qwazse said:

    From the minute they rolled out the tan ODL shirts with epaulets, I always wondered why the Explorers didn't just use those with green shoulderloops. Furthermore, there should be half- and quarter- loops for folks who serve in multiple programs.

    If adults have position patches and youth have rank/award patches that reveal their program, do we need shoulder loops at all?

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  5. Suppose that one of the effects of the BSA's current difficulties is a determination that it is too expensive on an ongoing basis for BSA to develop, produce, maintain, and update all of the various versions of BSA uniforms, accessories, insignia/badges/etc., handbooks, other publications, and program supplies and equipment currently in the BSA catalog.  You are asked what "stuff" could be eliminated or slimmed down without changing any substantive aspect of the current program (such as rank requirements, adult positions, different programs, etc.).  What would you recommend?

  6. 5 hours ago, k80sill said:

    Do you have specific examples of programs you consider "faddish" or "flavor-of-the-week" activities? How do they detract from the goals of scouting? 

    The Improved Scouting Program; STEM Scouts; NOVA awards; ATVs at summer camp; a "Tech Center" at summer camp; "Cub World" summer camps; merit badge clinics/universities; "Leadership" as an addition to the Aims of Scouting and the purposes of the Order of the Arrow; Soccer and Scouting; Explorer Clubs; Journey to Excellence; "Scout" as a rank; geocaching; the Summit; uniforms designed for indoor and ceremonial wear only;  . . . to name a few.  

    It is not about detracting from the goals of Scouting (although some do).  It is about pouring resources into things that don't really matter and ignoring what really does matter.  

  7. 15 hours ago, Jameson76 said:

    New members would be recruited through two efforts: establishing troops in inner cities and retaining older boys by allowing girls to participate in the special-interest, career-focused segment of the Explorers program. 

            . . .

    Membership Quotas

    Councils were given strict monthly and annual membership goals to keep them on track to achieve the expansion envisioned in Boypower 76.

    Another sad reminder that the only way to grow Scouting is organically:  strengthening existing units so that they grow and give birth to strong new units that grow.  And the only way that happens is through active, high-performing units with strong outdoor programs.  Those units attract and retain youth without gimmicks and without flavor-of-the-week activities.  If BSA at all levels would stop tinkering with the program content and new faddish programs and focus on improving delivery of the existing program by existing units, membership will grow.  

    • Upvote 2
  8. Just now, Navybone said:

    I am not tracking your logic -  BSA also put out a statement and then a decision to take positive action to educate Scouts on racism and discrimination.  The UK put a statement out and that is more proactive?  This is an opportunity to educate scouts on racism and discrimination, to have a difficult conversation about this subject, and hopefully develop young men adn women who can add to the conversation and elimination of this scourge.  Statements alone are no enough.  This is a chance for scouts to be educated and informed, and become the future leaders of this nation this program is designed for.  

    As soon as BSA said, "this is what we're going to do," anything else BSA had say was irrelevant.  All that matters is what BSA is going to do, and what it is going to do is next to nothing:  a merit badge, a class, a review of names.

    • Upvote 1
  9. 55 minutes ago, Eagle1993 said:

    What additional actions would you have BSA take to help eliminate discrimination?  Are there other best practices that they should follow and are not?

    BSA must be willing look to its own house, and identify any aspects of its organization, operations, and program that could be considered discriminatory or racially insensitive or belittling, or a cultural misappropriation, or a condition that -- however unintentionally -- results in exclusion or inequality in access to or benefits of the Scouting program.  That would mean looking at things like:

    • Rates of earning Eagle Scout rank by race, ethnicity, religion, sex, national origin, etc.
    • The use of Native American / Indigenous Peoples themes in the Order of the Arrow and in every other aspect of the program.
    • The Declaration of Religious Principle.
    • Whether any Chartered Organization can exclude any person from a sponsored unit.
    • As @MattR has noted, the presence of Scouting units within various communities, and a full analysis of where Scouting units are found, the demographics of those communities, the types of chartered organizations in those communities, and the demographics of BSA members.
    • The cost of participation in Scouting programs in comparison to income levels in communities where Scouting is found and not found.
    • The burden placed on parental time by the Scouting program, and whether Scouting is more prevalent in two-parent families, single-income families, single-job families, etc.
    • Correlation between the presence of Scouting units and school quality.  

    And more.

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  10. 5 hours ago, Navybone said:

    What Alternative would you propose?

    Something much more like this:  https://www.scouts.org.uk/news/2020/june/a-statement-from-chief-scout-bear-grylls/   A statement of support; of the idea that justice, empathy, and peace are part of the very fabric of Scouting; that these events reinforce the necessity for each Scout, each Scouter, each unit, each Council, and every other component of the Boy Scouts of America to ensure that we are living and acting every day in accordance with those principles.  It must be deep, open-ended, and continuing. 

    By responding with steps that are minor -- a merit badge, a sensitivity class, a review of property names -- BSA is saying that the underlying racial issues are minor.  And that is coming from an organization that just a few years ago was seen as one of the biggest advocates of discrimination and exclusion in America.  



    • Upvote 1
  11. Quote

    We condemn the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and all those who are not named but are equally important. We hear the anguish, feel the heartbreak and join the country’s resolve to do better.

    So we're going to introduce a new MERIT BADGE???!!!

    Could there be a more trivial response to murder, anguish, and heartbreak?

    • Upvote 1

    44 minutes ago, MattR said:

    They mentioned Boys and Girls Clubs but didn't mention scouts. That kind of hurt. It hurt even more realizing that, as scouts currently stands, it would likely not work. And yet if there's ever a part of our cities that could use scouting, these are the places.

    Put another way, if scouting can't figure out how to work in these places then I think scouting has become irrelevant. And it's not because parents don't care for character development, it's that the current program is all twisted out of shape from what it started as. Didn't scouting start for kids in cities? To me it seems that the target group of kids are those in suburbs.

    Cub Scouts:  $$ - uniforms, handbooks, badges, pins, belt loops, parental presence, adult supervision.   Scouts BSA:  $$$ - uniforms, handbooks, badges, pins, sleeping bags, backpacks, personal gear, troop camping gear and supplies, adult supervision, transportation, hiking trails or routes, campgrounds.  Both:  progressive development of skills and experience over long periods of time via the rank system, often operated on planned timelines to complete all of the requirements for a particular badge within a certain number of months.

    BSA Scouting has become very "heavy" with all of the stuff needed to run a standard program.  It is also, on its face, very complicated with all of the ranks and requirements and awards spanning a wide variety of topics -- before you even get to the merit badge program.  And, particularly in Cub Scouts, if you miss some meetings or activities, it is difficult to "catch up" to complete the requirements for the rank badge.

    So much easier to go play some basketball or soccer (minimal equipment, not many rules) -- while learning about teamwork and fairness and sportsmanship.

    • Upvote 2
  13. 5 minutes ago, Chisos said:

    I agree units should be delivering the program as written--scouts miss out (and quit) when that doesn't happen. But I do think there is room for units to have "personality"....or perhaps more of an emphasis on certain parts of the program (while not dropping/neglecting others).  So a Catholic unit might have more of a faith-based feel to it, one sponsored by the VFW might have a more patriotic feel, etc.

    I think of it like a rental unit in an apartment complex:  plenty of room to change the furnishings and decor, but don't start knocking down walls.

    • Like 1
  14. To introduce my nominee for a sacred cow to be sacrificed:

    • I don't think that BSA's biggest problem is the sexual abuse liability, the bankruptcy, the pandemic, or membership standards.
    • I believe that units with well-trained leaders and active outdoor programs attract and retain youth members.
    • I think that the biggest problem BSA has is that a large share of its Cub Scout and Scouts BSA units are not delivering their programs in a way that attracts non-Scout youth or that holds the interest of youth already in the program.  The result is ever-declining membership.
    • I don't think it is the fault of the unit adults.  It is the fault of BSA for not setting standards for the process and results of unit program delivery, training the adults in those standards, and ensuring that the standards are met by units.  It is the fault of BSA for not caring whether each of its thousands of "stores" is selling a quality product that people want to buy.

    With that, my nominee for sacred cow to be sacrificed is:  The notion that it is okay, or even desirable, for every unit to be different and have its own personality and operate in a way that "works best" for its members.

    It is not the purpose of Scouting to create diverse units with different personalities; units are simply delivery systems.  What matters is whether each individual Scout is being given the growth opportunities the Scouting program is designed to provide.  No unit has the right to give a Scout an experience that is less than what is described in the official handbooks, leadership materials, training syllabi, and policy guides for each age level. The only way for BSA to retain existing members and attract new members is for each unit to strive to be closer and closer to the model.

    • Upvote 1
  15. 9 hours ago, Angus said:

    So, how do convince national to bring back the Rovers?

    BSA National?  In the words of Lem Siddons (Follow Me, Boys!): "They'll gum everything up." 

    It needs to start on the local level, with some older Scouter friends getting together -- without youth -- to show each other outdoor skills, take hikes, and sit around campfires enjoying each others' company.  Then they invite some of the younger Scouters in.  It's not long before they are setting up model campsites at IOLS sessions and camporees, teaching whittling and map reading and how to cook foil dinners -- and telling tall tales.  Eventually someone asks them, "Who are you folks?  What is your group called?"  They look at each other for a second, then they all point to some doo-dad they are each wearing, and one of them explains, "We're Rovers.  We roam around the trails and campgrounds."  Another pipes up, "Sort of like Gandalf the Grey."  A third says, "Or the Ghost of Scouting Past."  And the first one says, "Bringing the magic of Scouting.  Real Scouting."  

    It doesn't need a handbook.  Maybe just a sheet of paper with three double-spaced lists:  The Principles of Rovering; Things Rovers Should Do; and Links to Resources on the Outdoors, Scouting Skills and Knowledge, and Scouting Fun Stuff.  But just like Scouting for Boys did so long ago, maybe those three brief lists, distributed on some Scouting forum, could be the spark that gets a lot of Scouting adults to start doing what they are naturally inclined to do anyway.

    • Like 1
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  16. 4 hours ago, InquisitiveScouter said:

    BSA has a long way to go here...how many of your council camps have been logged??

    It's a question of character.  

    Many people believe that conservation and environmental stewardship is a fundamental moral obligation.  As an ostensibly "outdoor" organization, an organization increasingly interested in promoting science, and an organization focused on the development of future generations, BSA is ideally positioned to be a leader in this area.  If it chose to do so, BSA could show the public that it is a serious organization with a serious mission that directly affects the modern world.  And that it is not just a dwindling, old-fashioned after-school activity in which kids dress up in cute uniforms, wave the flag, and collect colorful badges.

    • Upvote 1
  17. Quote

     "[P]reserving useful traditions . . . we must pivot from valuing the past . . . invest[ing] resources in those programs that our customers most value, allowing others to be cut from the vine." 
                    -- BSA Chair-Elect Dan Ownby

    51 minutes ago, Sentinel947 said:

    Unfortunately since B-P's day, laws around minors have changed, parents expectations have changed, and the liability lawyers lurk waiting to pounce and fatten their wallets. Within these changing rules and expectations, I still think there is room to run a program that meets the spirit of BP's intent, even if it's not always possible to follow the prescribed methods. Still use the patrol method. Still separate the patrols as much is possible within the space confines. Do provide the required adult supervision, but that supervision needs to be in their own space, observing, and only intervening when needed for health and safety, or called upon by the youth leaders. 

    Much of traditional Scouting is not at all dangerous, and as @Sentinel947 notes, can be carried on effectively in the presence of adults, as long as the adults exercise restraint.  I sometimes wonder if the differences between the Boy Scout program of 1970 (before the Improved Scouting Program) and the Scouts BSA program of today are really differences at all.  Or are they just the result of changes in technology, transportation, and family practices that don't really matter once we get the youth out to a camp or hiking trail?  Is the difference that it is just harder today "to wean them from indoors and to make the outdoors attractive to them"?  Is the real issue that we are stuck in the practices of the past and just lack the creativity to lure today's youth outdoors? 

    My concern is that in deciding what traditions are "useful" and what programs "our customers most value," the decision makers will be like the city Scoutmaster whose troop never went on hikes because staying indoors is what they were used to.  That is, they mistake "comfort zone" for "relevance" and consider traditions and activities that would take youth and families out of their comfort zones to no longer be relevant or to have no value to our customers.  

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