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Everything posted by dkurtenbach

  1. While almost all recruiting is at the local unit level (and the unit has to be able to close the deal), we have to soften up the target audience so they will have a favorable view of Scouts, will see Scout skills and abilities as relevant and practical, and will be able to imagine their child changing the world because of what he or she learned as a Scout. That is where marketing program and strategy come in, it seems to me.
  2. That’s right. We need two things: - An attitude of absolute confidence, enthusiasm, and conviction universally shared among our members and families. But that’s not going to be based on our organization, which is pretty shaky right now. Instead, our swagger will be based on the abilities and achievements of the young people who come out of our programs and the unit Scouters who produce them. - A clear, simple, understandable, focused message: Scouts change the world.
  3. Controversies, scandal, significant membership loss, irrelevance . . . Scouting, that is, the Boy Scouts of America, has been taking a lot of hits, with no relief in sight. With the loss of the LDS Church and talk of bankruptcy, BSA certainly looks like it is on the ropes. BSA's character-based pitches ring hollow given the sex abuse scandal and reversal of its moral stand. Its uniforms seem . . . quaint (sashes? really?) as do some of its other program elements (merit badges, Tenderfoot rank, knot tying). And its marketing is uninspired (Scout Me In, Prepared for Life). How can we retake
  4. Even in just the basic advancement program, Scouting offers a very broad range of subject matter, from wildlife study to swimming and cycling, compass use to hand axes, cooking to first aid, and much more, before you even get to the scores of subject areas covered by merit badges and STEM awards. You learn things that will be useful for the rest of your life, and you can become an expert in subjects that will amaze your friends and family. In Scouts BSA and Venturing, youth learn and advance at their own pace. You work on some things individually, some things as a team, and s
  5. The problem with the Soccer and Scouting idea, in my view, is the notion that you can make Scouting more appealing by watering it down and making it look like something it isn't. I'd put STEM Scouting in that same category. Soccer is great, and maybe BSA should get into the soccer business, but don't call it Scouting. STEM is great, and BSA has gotten into the STEM business, but don't call it Scouting.
  6. BSA's Soccer and Scouting initiative has been around for a while. The idea was to use soccer to introduce Scouting into the Hispanic community. A few references: https://www.mccscouting.org/soccer-scouting ; https://voiceofscouting.org/developing-confidence-through-the-soccer-and-scouting-program ; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scoutreach ; https://scoutingwire.org/creating-opportunities-for-all-children/
  7. As I discussed above, I agree that there has to be a certain limited professional infrastructure to provide particular resources that are beyond the capabilities of individual units or area or regional collections of units and unit volunteers. As I stated, that specifically includes "[l]ocal Scout properties available year-round for camping, hiking, campfires, and other basic Scouting outdoor activities." That necessarily includes costs for acquisition, development, maintenance, and staffing. Having been very involved with our Council's camp facilities for several years, I'm well aware of t
  8. As I discussed above, I agree that there has to be a certain limited professional infrastructure to provide particular resources that are beyond the capabilities of individual units or area or regional collections of units and unit volunteers. But when you are talking about organizing multi-unit programs, or promoting Scouting in communities, or assisting units and leaders via training and commissioner service, volunteers are doing all of that already. They don't need a council or district structure, or council or district professionals, to make it happen. I've dealt with some fine dis
  9. This is a list I compiled in another thread of functions requiring professional staff at the Council or National level. Liability insurance protecting Scout leaders when claims are made against them Medical insurance protecting Scouts and other participants injured in Scouting activities Uniform youth protection and conduct policies Adult applicant background checks, screening, reporting, and enforcement of conduct policies Uniform health and safety policies, incident reporting, and research Relationships with local, state, and national agencies and o
  10. Absolutely. All Scouting is local. Recruiting happens through units. Program happens through units. Retention happens through units. We don't need a vast, multi-layered bureaucracy above the unit level, with the Scouting bureaucrats principally occupied in pleasing the Scouting bureaucrats in the layers above them. We don't need them sucking money and time and labor out of the real Scout workers in the units. Take a good look at what districts and councils and BSA National does. How much value does it add to unit programs?
  11. The question is:: Given that Scouting actually happens at the local unit level, what value is actually provided by the layers of corporate bureaucracy at the Council level and above? I would suggest: Liability insurance protecting Scout leaders when claims are made against them Medical insurance protecting Scouts and other participants injured in Scouting activities Uniform youth protection and conduct policies Adult applicant background checks, screening, reporting, and enforcement of conduct policies Uniform health and safety policies, incident reporting,
  12. This is another area where Corporate Scouting (at both the National and Council levels) adversely affects Unit Scouting. Rather than asking what units actually need to operate a great program 52 weeks a year, the folks running the show ask what they can do that will impress their "stakeholders." Something they can highlight when giving tours of their facilities or making fundraising pitches. Something they can attach a donor name to. But over and over again, we find that "If we build it, they (Scouts) will come" is something that only happens in movies. And we're left with big debt and/or
  13. The article states that: "The American program is the second-largest in the world, with the national organization claiming over 2.4 million members. As of 2012, the Gerakan Pramuka Indonesia, or Indonesian Scout Movement, had more than 21 million members, making it by far the largest Scout association worldwide." I guess we know where to go for membership recruiting advice. On the other hand, that was back in 2012. A lot can happen in a Scouting organization in seven years.
  14. Back in 2013 it seemed that the major motivation behind the admission of gay youth was that corporate donors to BSA were reducing or discontinuing support because of BSA's discriminatory policies. BSA had the choice of compromising on that issue and hoping that it could do so without alienating its religious institution partners, or sticking with its "right to discriminate" and facing continuing public disapproval. And BSA was relatively successful in avoiding a mass exodus of religious organizations over the gay issue. I think the decision of the LDS church to cut its ties with the BS
  15. Sounds like that Council Executive has given up. Of course traditional Scouting still works -- at the unit level, if you have leaders who know what they are doing and an active program, especially an active outdoor program. Traditional Scouting isn't working nearly as well at organizational levels above the unit because the layers of bureaucracy above the unit level aren't adding much value to unit Scouting and instead are a drag on the movement.
  16. Yes. Religious institutions. And most of them have "in-house" youth programs of some kind. It makes perfect sense that religious institutions would want to leverage Scouting programs to expand the activity options for their youth while keeping those youth in a values-based program consistent with the values of the religious organization. And it makes perfect sense that BSA would want to partner with organizations that have a lot of youth in order to efficiently grow and maintain membership. And it made sense that once those religious organizations became major BSA constituencies, BS
  17. Much as Pickett's Charge breaching the Union line on Cemetery Ridge at the Battle of Gettysburg (1863) is considered by some the "high-water mark of the Confederacy," the Supreme Court decision in the Dale case (2000) could be considered the high-water mark of BSA's war in defense of "traditional values." With each, there was a brief period of seeming victory, followed by retreat and disappointment. According to this article, after Dale, BSA's membership suffered a casualty rate similar to that of the Confederate forces attacking the center of the Union line that day -- approximately 50% (4.
  18. BSA seems to be at some kind of organizational crossroads as a result of membership standards changes, litigation over past sexual abuse, and financial difficulties. Given the uncertainty and BSA's needs -- membership, in particular -- I think it is fair to consider changing the organizational level within BSA that determines what members will be doing and how they will be doing it. That is, the level of the organization that decides on specific details of programs (such as individual rank or activity requirements), membership eligibility (age, sex, belief), and individual unit organization
  19. This is a good article about the challenges faced by a council with 80% LDS membership. To me, this was the most significant statement in that article: "Braithwaite said he has even seen the new community troop in Idaho Falls created by a local businessman and a group of Scouts, including Braithwaite’s two sons, grow instead of shrink over that last year. 'We’re just trying to keep the kids going,' Braithwaite said. 'The more we do, the more kids keep coming.'” (Emphasis added.) We have to keep front and center the reality that neither BSA National nor our local councils are "Scoutin
  20. I absolutely agree that our program has to be fun and interesting to kids. My experience is that kids like doing things that make a difference -- even (or especially) difficult things -- as long as the object is clear and understandable and relevant to them, the activity is scaled to the age and attention span of the youth, and the activity is planned and offered in a way that is not boring or tedious or otherwise unappealing. By their mid-teens, young people are aware of what is happening in the world, are forming opinions about those issues, and are looking for outlets where they can
  21. I would say that BSA already has all of the content of a nature/ecology/environmental program available in its handbooks, merit badge pamphlets, and Fieldbook. These can be supplemented by authoritative outside materials and, best of all, by experts directly teaching and guiding Scouts -- experts readily available in local, state, and national parks and local high schools, community colleges, and universities. But I agree that nature study is often a neglected subject matter in unit programs, perhaps because it is an area that is far more knowledge-based and far less hands-on than other stan
  22. We have to separate the concept of "relevance" from the concept of being "worthwhile." Character education and skills training for youth today are certainly important -- worthwhile -- for the future, whether 5 or 10 or 30 years from now. But relevance is defined as related to or connected to the matter at hand. The matter at hand is the condition of youth and society today, now. To be relevant, Scouting has to be seen as a program that benefits participants almost immediately upon joining; those benefits to youth must be observable and understandable to the public; the program must be perc
  23. As an administrative subdivision of the Council, the most pressure on a district and its leadership comes from its responsibility for two functions: (1) raise its share of the Council operating budget each year, through Friends of Scouting, special fundraising events (a golf tournament or awards dinner), and participation of units in the Council-approved fundraisers (such as popcorn sales); and (2) recruit (largely through units) its share of new members. Those are areas of need where the Council is heavily dependent on existing units: units and unit members are the source of a lot of the
  24. @ParkMan makes a great, fundamental point here. All Scout recruiting is local. Good units do well, poor ones do not. I have long believed that the two biggest threats to a strong BSA are purely internal: Program quality that varies wildly from unit to unit. A family that finds itself in a weak unit is likely to leave Scouting altogether, not just that unit. And if that happens, Scouting has lost them (and possibly some of their friends and relatives) for at least two generations. Because most Boy Scouting / Scouts BSA members come from Cub Scouting, troop membership recruitme
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