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ScouterPaul

How do we keep the cool in Scouting

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Nope not what I meant at all but I think I didn't communicate clearly what I intended to say. I certainly didn't mean to imply that packs were completely to blame for anything but that it is a factor in this equation.

 

Who said we don't need to look at our Troop's presentation of the Scouting program?

 

Anyone that knows me knows I don't believe in blame games, I believe in getting the job done.

 

My point was in that particular case that we went through we could not find anything amiss other than the fact that the packs these guys came from were babysitting services and the boys were not willing to function as Boy Scouts once they crossed over. Never seen a Cub scout babysitting service? Come on down and let me show you a few. A lot of us lost a lot of sleep over that and I dare say we take our responsability very seriously. We re-examine our troop after every time we get together. I even discuss the issue with people I know outside of scouting just so I have an outside perspective.

 

The reasons a particular boy leaves is particular to the child. Some reasons are shared between boys but there isn't one universal reason. That seems to be the difficulty in communication here. Delivering the Scouting program correctly is not a magic pill. A perfect program does not guarantee that units will only lose 10% or more of our scouts to reasons other than aging out or families relocating. The only things we can do to remedy the problem is to perform better across the board. That means the BSA doing what they can to get the message out to get guys in the door and Pack and Troop leaders presenting the program as best as they can to keep the guys happily inside the door.

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Geez, maybe I just need to take a nap. I'm all over the map this morning.

 

Regarding my "magic pill" comment please add.

 

But it's the most best most potent pill we've got and we all should strive to present it accurately and entheusiasticly. (I know I butchered that one.)

 

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I could not agree more with sctmom. I know there are a lot of things that I could of done different running my Webelos den. Some of the main ones are as follows.

- No Den Chiefs, tried for years to get a den chief from the troop. Finally got one just before my last 2 den meetings. (Introduced him to a Bear den that meets on the night he preferred.)

- No enough outings. No time on my part to plan with work, planning den meetings.

- Not enough intergreation with the troop on camping and other activities.

- No one that I could call to get information or help on finding out about opportinities.

 

What am I going to do about this? I have decided to stay with the pack as the Pack Trainer (Been there, done that, got the t-shirts). I am also going to be the troop committe member dealing with outreach to Pack and Webelos Dens. In these positions, I am going to make sure that all Pack leaders are trained for thier position and make my self available to help them come up with ideas and plan their programs. I am also going to work with the troop so that Webelos dens have a selection of campouts that they can go on with the troop and also try to schedule some overlapping Pack and Troop trips. I am also going to make a very strong plea to the boys in the troop to help out as Den Chiefs.

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Now I'm really confused. Which of these program problems that you say caused a loss of scouts would be fixed by a snappy ad campaign? Please explain how a perception of "Coolness" would change any one of these elements.

 

*Transient area (where I live is a prime example - suburbs of Washington, D.C.)

*Personality conflicts with other Scouts

*Camping experience is not what the boy expected

*Parents do not like the program or the leadership

*The boy wants to be with his friends that are doing things outside of Scouting

*Competition with other activities

*inconsistent program

*Try covering the Webelos program in 2 hours per month

No Den Chiefs, tried for years to get a den chief from the troop. Finally got one just before my last 2 den meetings. (Introduced him to a Bear den that meets on the night he preferred.)

* No enough outings. No time on my part to plan with work, planning den meetings.

* Not enough intergreation with the troop on camping and other activities.

* No one that I could call to get information or help on finding out about opportinities.

 

Now read the list again and ask yourself how many elements would be effected by the actions and leadership choices that are available to adult leaders.

 

We make the program cool, we control the delivery, we control retention. No matter what the boys cubbing experience is, once he is in the troop it is his Boy Scouting activities that will determine if he stays or drops out.

 

We are not talking about perfect programs. We are talking about programs that use the methods of the BSA.

 

Sctmom asks how are we going to get the kids there, if we dont have better ads? Why worry about that if we are not keeping the ones we get now.

 

 

Imagine the best media ad you can for scouting, and then look at the your unit and the units around you. If you don't look like that ad right now, running the ad won't help you.

Units that use the Scouting methods don't have recruitment problems.

 

Think of all the posts that have been shared by leaders who...

-Don't use the Patrol method.

-Don't let boys elect leaders.

-Dont use First Class emphasis.

-Don't let the boys do the planning.

-Don't use the New Scout Patrol

-Don't use the Uniform correctly

-Don't do enough outings

-Don't allow Patrol Activities

-Haven't gone to learn the program yet.

 

BUT, they believe that a good ad campaign will add coolness and bring the boys running to them.

 

I'm sorry, that just doesn't make any sense.

 

(This message has been edited by Bob White)

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Bob, I agree that an advertising campaign will not help Troops such as you describe with not so good programs.

 

But my Troop is good. Seems that you, Mike, Rooster7, sst3rd, Bob Russell etc also have good Troops. If I could get them to the door I would keep a darn sight more than 50%.

 

I fight to keep them and it is worth every conversation with Scout, parents, siblings, P/L's and every activity that is aimed at that one Scout. I have lost one out of 13 in 14 months and that was through a divorce.

 

My own ad campaign is pretty small stuff compared with the over-riding public opinion. We do need a marketing campaign. Rooster7 can have the job - it's on the money. Let us show robust young men - not let the media beat us up with cheap laughs. It's not 'cool' or 'sweet' to be laughed at.(This message has been edited by ozemu)

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All the issues that Bob listed have existed in the past, exist today and will continue to exist. Better trained leadership and better prepared leadership is a major solution. BUT what is wrong with a super ad campaign? It can't hurt. Enthusiasm is contagious! Let's show everyone what we do, what our boys do.

 

The ads would need to target the adults in a positive way as well as the scouts. The positive feedback alone may motivate those leaders who need that push. We've all seen the Pepsi and beer commercials that just grab your undivided attention. Sometimes its the humor and sometimes its the music or a touching moment between a parent and child. As I said before, the country is ripe for a patriotic Scouting campaign. Let's do it! We've all heard the jingles that are so catchy you find yourself humming or singing them over and over to the point of annoyance. Scouting - as huge as it is - and moreso, as great as we all know it is should be promoted in a grander style with bells and whistles, drums and flyovers!! Okay, I'm getting carried away - but maybe a great jingle??

How about Britney Spears in a Boy Scout uniform singing the jingle?? (Just kidding Bob! :)

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Bob asks how will a great ad campaign help?

 

1 - It will get more people in the door to begin with.

2 - The ones who are currently showing up will have a better idea first walking in about whay Boy Scouting is about. Then the training will sink in a little quicker and not be such a shock.

 

Will it save all the boys we are currently losing? No.

I believe that there are many boys and families who are never showing up that would had great value to the program. They would take training, the program does fit into their family values, they would promote the program from inside and outside, adding value to the program, therefore helping with the retention.

 

Is it the answer to all problems? Nope. Because all the other problems will continue to exist. Except if more parents are involved, then all the official BSA positions could be filled at the unit, district and council. Then all the training could be done and done frequently. And the program can be offered as planned because you have enough people to do the job and do it right.

 

Like some many things, it all works together and good things feed off of other good things.

 

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Bob,

 

If I had to describe you in two words, it would be these: knowledgeable and stubborn.

 

No one is denying the value of good training. As I tried to point out, we're really talking about two different issues. I never made the claim that a marketing plan would resolve the dropout rate. I merely listed several factors that contribute to the dropout rate that are often beyond the control of the troop's leadership.

 

Transient area (where I live is a prime example - suburbs of Washington, D.C.)

Personality conflicts with other Scouts

Camping experience is not what the boy expected

Parents do not like the program or the leadership

The boy wants to be with his friends that are doing things outside of Scouting

Competition with other activities

 

An acceptable compromise or remedy is not always assured. The Scout and/or his parents can be the barrier as opposed to the program's execution or the troop's leadership. Consequently, trained, prepared, willing, and able as you may be, you will lose some Scouts. Furthermore, not every troop faces the same issues. Some troops are going to lose more Scouts than others due to no fault of their own. Are they always blameless? No, I'm not saying thatbut I did say this:

 

All one can do is run the program as it was meant to be. A lot of the factors that lead to boys leaving are primarily within the control of the boy and/or his parents, not the troop leadership. We can't be held accountable just because the dropout rates don't meet the expected norm or the desired standard. As Mike Long said, statistics do not tell the whole story.

 

So, what will a good marketing program do? As so many others have recognized, it will get more boys in the door and exposed to the program. Even if the dropout rate does not change, we would see a dramatic increase in participation. BSA and the boys choosing to stay would be all the better for it.

 

In the meantime, yesby all means, lets make sure the program is being done right and try to improve (decrease) the dropout rate. But don't throw the baby out with the bath waterLets get as many boys in the program as possible.

 

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Rooster7,

My point is if your car's tire is going flat, the solution is not to pump in more air. If you don't fix the leak first your wasting the air.

 

I we as leaders don't first solve the scout retention problem, pumping more scouts into scouting won't solve anything.

 

The origanl point of this board was how to put the cool back in scouting. Too many leaders replying seem to want National to solve that problem. i believe national has by giving us the best youth program available.

 

The responsibility for "cool" is in the program of the local unit. We put the cool in scouting Your unit is scouting to the young people in your unit. They don't care about what the ads show, they care about what they DO in their meetings and outings.

 

Scouting flouished for decades before mass media even existed. We need to focus on what we can control not on what we wish someone else would do. The boys won't wait around for your wish to come true. They will stay because of what YOU do with them this week.

 

BTW-I would prefer the words "dedicated to the scouting methods" over stubborn. :)

 

Bob

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Bob,

 

My point is if your car's tire is going flat, the solution is not to pump in more air. If you don't fix the leak first you're wasting the air.

 

Interesting analogy. Let's build on that. You don't stop putting air in the other three tires because the fourth one has a leak. You do both. You fix the leak, but you also continue to put air in all the tires (i.e., other troops should not have to suffer because another troop has a problem).

 

We as leaders don't first solve the scout retention problem, pumping more scouts into scouting won't solve anything.

 

Hmmm.

 

First, these guys aren't Scouts. They're boys who are not joining their local troop because they perceive Scouting as being "un-cool".

 

Second, while some troops may have problems, they are plenty that would receive and retain these new boys.

 

Third, even if the so-called retention problems were not resolved, more boys would be participating. There's no reason to believe that the retention rate for these new boys (brought in by a marketing program) would be any different than the current rate. Nevertheless, the numbers overall would increase dramatically. Aren't we supposed to bring the program to as many boys as possible? If a marketing program brought in 2 million more boys and only 1 million stayed, isn't that better than the 2 million boys never being exposed to the program?

 

Fourth, one could argue that a marketing program may in fact affect the retention rate. If the country's perception is that Scouting is very cool, some boys may hang around long enough to agree with the perception. Some boys may not believe the garbage that media implies about Scouting. The peer pressure in and around schools could be nullified, or in fact, be changed to view Scouting as a cool thing. Thus, more boys join. More boys stay in the program.

 

The original point of this board was how to put the cool back in scouting. Too many leaders replying seem to want National to solve that problem.

 

Disagree. We're merely saying that national could contribute greatly to the cause by helping to change the public's perception of Scouting and the boys who join the organization. Something should be done to counteract the sit-coms, movies, and other media influences that trash the organization and make fun of those who join it. Certainly there are things that we can do at the local level. However, you seem to think that every problem is a leadership and/or training issue. This is not always the case.

 

I believe national has by giving us the best youth program available.

 

Agreed, but they're unwilling to spend the dollars to tell America about that great program.

 

The responsibility for "cool" is in the program of the local unit.

 

Disagree. As you have stated yourself on numerous occasions, if we're doing what we're supposed to be doing, the program is already cool. Cool is a matter of perception. National could do a lot to change the perception with a good marketing program.

 

Your unit is scouting to the young people in your unit. They don't care about what the ads show, they care about what they DO in their meetings and outings.

 

Agreed. This part of your statement is definitely addressing a local problem. However, not every troop has this problem. There are very many (probably most) troops that are presenting a great program. These troops should not be penalized because of some dropout rate that national is measuring across the nation.

 

Scouting flourished for decades before mass media even existed. We need to focus on what we can control not on what we wish someone else would do.

 

Agreed, but I can still do my job and have a desire to see national implement an intelligent marketing plan. These goals are not mutually exclusive. Both can and should be done.

 

The boys won't wait around for your wish to come true. They will stay because of what YOU do with them this week.

 

Agreed, but the dropout rate is not always attributable to the troop's leadership or the execution of the program (as I tried to point out on two previous occasions). Can't you acknowledge the fact that a troop can have a high dropout rate due to factors that were beyond their control? Does every Boy Scout issue/problem have to be blamed on the leadership of the troop (i.e., not following the program, poor training, etc.)? Since you're not their to see these leaders or how they execute the program, I would think that you could afford a little grace.

 

BTW-I would prefer the words "dedicated to the scouting methods" over stubborn.

 

I understand your preference, but your "dedication" exacerbates me. Believe it or not, most of us are dedicated to the program. You are not the lone voice in the woods. :)

 

(This message has been edited by Rooster7)

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I do admit that my post was a little of topic, I was mainly replying to sctmoms post about some problems she had experienced and how I was going to fix them in my Pack and Troop.

 

As far as a snappy ad campaign is necessary and National should really consider doing one. They should show all levels of scouting and they should have scouts tell about the great things they are doing in Scouts. The focus should be on the outdoors and leadership program. Think about how many boys would be interested in a program that not only took them on a great outdoor trip, but also had the boys point out that they planned and ran the trip. This type of campaign might also get parents and current scout leaders thinking that their troops and packs can be better if they ran it the way National recommends. So in short show the boys doing the things boys at each age group wants to do and show it done in the correct way, using real boys with real stories. That in my opinion that best way to run an add campaign.

 

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Rooster,

You wrote,"Agreed, but the dropout rate is not always attributable to the troop's leadership or the execution of the program"

 

Only on rare occassions. for instance, Korea Scouter leads a troop on a military base where families can be transfered in large numbers.

Other than those rare occassions, if you have a large turnover on a regular basis, it's the delivery of the program. As I pointed out earlier, most the posters who say they have high loss rates have also claimed in this board and others that they don't use key elements of the program.

 

Units with strong programs don't need advertising to boost membership. Units lossing scouts now will only lose more scouts.

 

I agree everyone speaks of being dedicated. What I've noticed, and what concerns me the most is that so many "dedicated" scouters also say they don't like or don't use the BSA program.

 

Better retention would do as much or more for the program than the cool ad campaign. retention comes with delivering the BSA program and using the BSA methods.

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Bob, you speak highly of the new scout patrol method. Did you see my other thread about the parents who pulled their boys out BECAUSE OF the new scout patrol method? That is due to a perception they walked in the door with. They didn't stick around long enough for training. That is one area where a better national campaign could help retention.

 

In regards to your comment about how many years the movement has been happening without lots of ads, that was before we were all bombarded with TV, radios, billboards, newspapers. Sports players weren't paid millions just for signing up. Sports scholarships weren't considered "the ticket" to your future. Society changes, if Scouting doesn't change with it, it will die. I'm not saying to change the basis of the program, but to accept the reality of today's world.

 

Scouting is a business, marketing is important. Even churchs use marketing now to get people in the door.

 

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I guess it depends on how you define "large turnover on a regular basis". If large is anything greater than 10 percent, I disagree. If its 50 percent in the first year, then we probably agree (although I would reserve judgment without knowing the rest of the story).

 

Better retention would do as much or more for the program than the cool ad campaign. Retention comes with delivering the BSA program and using the BSA methods.

 

Attracting and retaining, surely you can see these two as separate issues. Why can't we work on the retention problem and have a smart marketing program at the same time? Should we write off the millions of boys who perceive Scouting as un-cool? They have no idea what the program is like. Even if you fix the retention problem in some of these troops, the boys of which I speak are not going see those changes.

(This message has been edited by Rooster7)

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sctmom,

 

You wrote "you speak highly of the new scout patrol method. Did you see my other thread about the parents who pulled their boys out BECAUSE OF the new scout patrol method?"

 

If you reread the description of how your son's troop operated on that campout and then read the scoutmaster handbook and attend Scoutmaster Job Specific Training, you'll see that the troop did not use the New Scout Patrol Method, they only grouped the boys in a patrol together. There is more to it than that, and a 60 second commercial will not remedy it. Nor will a series of 60 second commercials teach parents the patrol method.

 

The point of this board was "How do we keep the cool in scouting?"

 

We keep the "cool" in scouting by keeping the promise of scouting. Ads will not make what you do cool, or keep it cool. What you do in your scouting unit makes it cool.

 

No ad campaign will do more for the unit you serve then you having a real scouting program.

 

I enjoy seeing BSA ads like the scout reppelling down the mountain side to return a man's wallet, and I am absolutely sure that not one scout who joined my son's troop this year joined because they saw that ad.

 

They joined because we had them visit a couple of times, we took them camping, we had a recruitment lock in, we had an information packet for the parents and we use the 8 methods of scouting. No ad will replace that. No ad is needed to support it.

 

My son's troop is not the exception, the packs and troops that follow the program do don't need ads. The units that don't use the program won't be improved by ads.

 

I'm not against seeing BSA ads in the media, but don't expect them to solve any of your problems. Ads only provide name recognition, they can't tell your cubs about your troops, they can't train your leaders or your parents, or plan your activities and they can't keep the "cool" in scouting.

 

The question was "how do we keep the cool in scouting". Why does everyone want to talk about "what can somebody else do"?

 

 

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