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ScouterPaul

How do we keep the cool in Scouting

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Personally, I don't think Scouting is for everyone. And I don't have a problem with that. There are certain boys who will drop out because Scouts aren't "cool" and that's OK. I don't think we need to be cool. I think what we need to be is place where boys can learn, have fun & do things they couldn't do anywhere else. I think there are times when we need to get down on their level. Play Release with them. Let them laugh at you. Remember, we aren't infallible. Let the Scouts know that. And most important, respect them as people. That will keep a lot more boys in the program.

 

Ed Mori

Scoutmaster

Troop 1

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The article you quote could have been written here sctmom. Our latest drive to get the 'cool' back involves a big uniform change and an update to the program rotates through every three years or so. But there is no drive to change our market base, increase leader numbers or get 'oomph' into meetings. To me the uniform is a down point but not a huge obstacle - once kids attend most couldn't care less. The thing is to get them to come the first time.

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Getting back to you with my son's answer ... He said most definitely it's the uniform. "If only they were red or blue or, anything other than tan - it's so dull!" We were at our troop meeting tonight (COH) and he just told me that another scout said to him, "If I was caught in this uniform I would get beat up by some kids that I go to school with." I find that sad to hear. As I said in another thread my son is going through an embarrassment phase when it comes to being seen in his uniform by certain peers. I'm hoping that it will pass as he matures. I personally like the uniform and think it looks sharp and very military-like and maybe that's what the kids don't like.

 

Perhaps a musical/advertising campaign with lots of media attention that included pop music kids of today adore and endorsed by pop stars and sports figures ... maybe this type of promo could enhance (not change) the image and make it more "cool". Kids love music and it leaves an impression upon you. As the country is in a patriotic whirl right now perhaps the idea of recruiting new scouts this way would catch on. Anything put to music sells better. Just a thought...

 

 

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mommascout,

It think this happens more than it doesn't. If your son went to school with chains hanging from his leather jacket, the kids would think he was "cool".

 

I know when I was in high school, the ROTC kids were the brunt of many a disparaging comment when they wore their uniforms.

 

Kids claim they want to be different, but when it comes right down to it, they want to be accepted & sometimes that means dressing the way everyone else does.

 

Ed Mori

Scoutmaster

Troop 1

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evmori were the comments about ROTC while you were at school due to their uniforms or was it a part of the anti-vietnam war / peace movement?

 

I see lots of kids wearing camouflage and other bits of military uniform and only the overly military ones that I know of get teased for being in army cadets (your ROTC).

 

I suspect that lots of teenagers want a uniform in order to fit in. What is not cool is probably our public image and the uniform represents that. Changing any uniform is only cosmetic. 'Cool' is not, I suspect, found in our actions and philosophy.

 

Cool seems to be:

 

'tough', street smart (ass), gang type ritual handshakes, implied violence, rebellion, anti-establishment etc

 

or

 

'green', 'save the...', conspirancy theorist, anti-capitalist, alternative medicine, etc (drugs do not play much of a part here)

 

or

 

'surf', adrenalin, sexism, youth cult (excludes almost all adults), relationships, looking attractive, soap opera style outlook etc

 

or

 

sport, playing hard, dedication to goals, eating right, short term goals, physical skill and showieness, etc

 

Pick you 'cool' - each has a uniform. Our uniform does not represent many of the attractive features described above. Thankfully in some cases - tragically in others. My 65 year old mother remembers Scouts to be tough, determined, resourseful, non-nonsense sort of men not easily made light of.

 

You americans started the visual use of advertising showing young men (not boys) and the image created was good. Maybe we should continue this. I don't think a 'little boys' movement will ever be cool for teenagers. I'm not suggesting that we cut out all sections for boys aged less than 12 but that we focus on the result - not the method.

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ozemu,

I was in high school during the Vietnam era, but it was the uniforms. At the time, they werem't considered cool. But what is kind of funny is if you would wear an old Army jacket, that was cool!

 

Ed Mori

Scoutmaster

Troop 1

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First, I have to say, cool isn't "cool" anymore. Nor is "Bad" good. And "Baaaad" is no longer very good. I believe the question should be - How do we keep Scouting "sweet" or make it "tight"? ;)

 

Any way...As Ed noted, I don't think Scouting is for everyone. There may be some things that can be done. I'm not saying to ignore the issue. Still, I wouldn't want to see too many changes just for the sake of the numbers. It seems to me, the program is doing a pretty good job of keeping several million boys active (and relatively happy). Ain't that Sweeeet!

 

 

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From long experience, I believe that the clothing doesn't matter. What matters is doing things. Adventure keeps kids young and old in the troop. If they get to go climbing or rafting, then they will wear the uniforms if they have to, even if they normally wouldn't. During meetings, we always have training sessions geared toward the next outing. If we are going backpacking, we talk about packs, packing them, adjusting them and what to take. The more technical the better they like it. Same for rafting and climbing.

JB

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Previous ideas are right on the mark. Most of the guys in school won't admit scouting itself is cool, but they're not as quick to slam some hard-core rock climbing or white-water rafting. For older boys, some supervised, but thrilling risk-taking is where it's at. And something for the younger boys to look forward to. (For some REALLY excellent insights into this, see Dr. James Dobson's newest book, "Bringing Up Boys.")

 

We went through a bit of an in-house crisis a couple of years ago when my then 13-yr old son decided to rebel against me by dropping out of scouts. (Why couldn't he shave his head and get an earing -- I could deal with that!) While letting him back off on scouting for a bit, I took him backpacking in the Sangre de Cristos and dropped by Philmont Base Camp on the way home. It was a life-changing experience for him. We finally communicated on numerous levels and he found out the old man has a few interesting skills to share. He also had his eyes opened to the possibilities of lots more fun to come in the scouting program.

 

By the way, I was careful to go easy on the discussions -- I wanted him to open up and not feel like he was trapped for a week. Slowly, the bits and pieces of his problems with troop program came out. Some were off-track whining, but a lot were very insightful. I passed these on to SM and we've been able to make some changes. We also made great progress in reconnecting as a father-son on many value issues, without distraction of sports, friends, mom, or brothers/sister. None too late as my boy goes blasting into the teens.

 

My son would still probably rather go to school in his skivvies than a Boy Scout uniform, but he's having more fun in the program and doesn't care whether other kids think it's cool or not.

 

YIS,

 

Mike F.

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In my troop, we hold an annual Troop Planning Council. We try to get as many scouts to attend a weekend campout where we listen to their ideas as to what they want to do for next year. Topics usually include campouts, summer camp, places to visit, and troop meetings.

 

Understandably, we cannot follow through with everything that the scouts ask for (DisneyWorld, Europe, etc. lol..Who can?) but we try our hardest to compromise.

 

The kids come to the all day planning session with ideas of places they would like to go. We stand at the front of the room and write down EVERY idea they have on an easel pad. Then, we start a round of eliminations. We eliminate anything that is too far fetched, or too expensive for our budget. The rest then gets voted on by the scouts.

 

Using a troop planning council like this, the scouts have more of a say as to what types of things we do. Plus, then the ones who suggested an idea are more likely to attend that campout because it was their idea.

 

Overall, I would say that our scouts rate our troop as "pretty cool" (but as all you parents know...scouting can rarely ever be "really cool" because of peer pressure). Just remember to have fun with them.

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Reply to evmori's comment:

 

I disagree with your statement, "I don't think we need to be cool." I think that we do. Scouting is for the scouts, not the adults, if they want to drop out because it isn't cool, we need to look at how to make it cool for them. There is a difference between cool and rebellious. Being a cool organization requires that the kids have fun, look forward to meetings, stay active, and bring friends to join the troop. Now, rebellious is different. That is where the kids don't want to obey rules, they want to destroy, vandalize, and tease. Those kids have no place in scouting.

 

Scouting does need a cool factor to be popular. And it does need to be popular to stay active. Our troop went from being a scoutmaster controlled troop to a boy run troop. And frankly, we are better off now than before. Why? Because we now have some sort of a "cool factor" that kids relate to. You can't say that scouting isn't supposed to be cool....It is.

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Perhaps the issue should be what is "cool" or as Rooster so adroitly pointed out, "sweet".

 

If wearing your pants down so half your boxers are showing is cool, then scouts are not cool

 

If singing songs with mutiple F-bombs in them is cool, then scouts are not cool

 

If promoting lewd sexual conduct is cool, then scouts are not cool

 

BUT

 

If being part of a team that accomplishes seemingly impossible feats (back packing trips, rock climbing, etc) is cool, then scouts are cool

 

If being part of a group where your input is valued and respected is cool, then scouts are cool

 

If having adults recognize that as adolescents you have the ability to plan, organize and implement a plan, then scouts is WAY COOL

 

but it does depend on what the youth see as cool and what we (adults) see as cool.

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My son is not yet 11 and he is socially "behind", so not always a good indicator of what is "cool".

 

What I have seen in the past couple of months from him and a few other boy that they are liking or looking forward to: golf, camping, cooking at campouts, no baths at campouts, not having adults boss them around, playing silly scout games.

 

My son is also playing baseball with the 11-12 year old team. I see some of those boys must be hitting puberty. They are even changing their running styles to be "cool". I swear, it is true. The coach has coached some of the boys for a few years, and he is so frustrated with them. It's like they have forgotten what the game is -- hormones ate away the brains? LOL

 

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OGE - Amen to your last. We shouldn't try to change the program. We should change the perception of the program. Was it on this thread or somewhere else that someone opined BSA's lack of suave marketing? Regardless, I agree with the sentiment.(This message has been edited by Rooster7)

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