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How do we keep the cool in Scouting

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Marketing does more than provide name recognition. Good marketing creates an image. For many boys, BSA's image is not positive. Why should they visit a troop if they are convinced that Scouting is un-cool? Presented with the current image of Scouting, these boys would never visit your troop. No changes made at the local level would affect their decision one way or the other. They are already convinced that Scouting is something they don't want to do, not because they know anything about the program but because our media has created a negative image of Scouting.


Why does everyone want to talk about "what can somebody else do?"


It's not a conspiracy Bob. Nobody is claiming to be perfectnor should the paid staff of BSA. As someone who has volunteered hundreds of hours, I feel I have as much right as anyone else to make suggestions and to even criticize the organization.


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Rooster7 wrote"Why should they visit a troop if they are convinced that Scouting is un-cool?"


Answer: Because boys don't choose whether to join based on ads. they choose by what they hear and see of scouts and scouting in their school, and neighborhood. They join because their parents understand what the program can offer. They join because of what they experience when they visit a troop as a guest of a scout or as a visiting Webelos. They join based on your your promise of leadership and adventure. They leave when we don't keep the promise.


He then wrote "not because they know anything about the program but because our media has created a negative image of Scouting."


The BSA has done some excellent ads for decades, locally and nationally, that has never altered the way the media portrays scouting and it never will. The writers of sitcoms and movies are payed to write scripts not promote scouting. A few ads won't change that culture. The "cool" thing is that scouting is so engrained in the americasn culture. Just think how often you hear scouting references as compared to 4H or Indian Guides, or even Pop Warner football. If your waiting for the media to quit making jokes about Scouts, or student council representatives, or class valedictorians, or alter boys, its not going to happen.


The programs image in your community depends on you.


Lastly he wrote "It's not a conspiracy Bob. Nobody is claiming to be perfectnor should the paid staff of BSA."


No one is saying it's a conspiracy. No one is asking for, or claiming, perfection. I am suggesting we take responsibility for our own units ability to attract and retain members, rather than transfer the blame to national's ad campaign or lack of.


As far as the comment about professional scouting...If you are suggesting I am anything other than a volunteer you are wrong. I have never been an employee of the BSA.


You have a right to your opinion but it would be nice if it was in keeping with the theme of the original post. "what can we do to keep the cool in scouting" not "what do we wish someone else would do"

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Doesn't "we" include BSA the organization, its volunteers, and all of its paid staff? I hope it does. If so, why should we limit our suggestions and criticism to just the volunteers and our local units? Aren't we all in it together?


Any way, I am running out of steam here. Bob, we simply disagree...on a number of things. I think a smart marketing plan could do a lot to improve BSA's image and the numbers. BTW, I cannot remember seeing a single advertisement for Scouting. I have been living in the D.C. area for 43 years. There may have been a couple, but it must have been a long time ago.


Did I mention that you were stubborn?

(This message has been edited by Rooster7)

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I would agree that ads and commercials for BSA are not exactly "cool" or what a 13 year old is looking for. Take for example the Army and Navy recruiting commercials these day that are very upbeat and exciting to younger people. As somebody who remembers BSA ads and commercials as a 15 year old and even younger I was honestly embarrased to have a non-scouting friend watching it with me. Why? Because I feel like the commercials never show you exactly why kids join scouts. They mostly join to be with friends and to enjoy the outdoors. Why don't we see BSA commercials with kids rock climbing, backpacking, camping, canoeing? Maybe these ads do exist!? But I have never seen them.

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"The "cool" thing is that scouting is so engrained in the americasn culture"


Bob, I disagree. It is not "cool" at all when scouting is engrained in the American culture so negatively. Don't tell me that it isn't. It is indeed. I am only 18 so I remember quite well being harassed by others for being a scout. I know that most teenage boys look upon scouting as a very "uncool thing to do. This is because the American Culture has made it "uncool". Today scouts are not only harassed for being "uncool" but for being "gay haters". Being so engrained in the American culture is only hurting us.



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I guess you had to get that "gay hater" thing in there somehow. It's a non-issue with our Troop. It's not part of the program. We don't train our youth leaders in it, and our Scouts have never been accused of it. We would have heard.

As a Scout leader in a community with lots of youth, I would like to see a variety of national ads for Scouting. No one expects it to counter the mass media or a poor Scout program. Our Troop has a great program, but it's hard to get the message out. We do lots of community service so they know we're here. Our leaders are trained. We have a great meeting facility. We do Open Houses every fall and put ads in the community papers (our Pack stinks, but we're still working those issues). I will admit, that we live in a very diversified community. With a majority of the community now consisting of minorities, we need a national campaign to raise awareness of the Scouting program for EVERYONE !!! A lot of our problem is just getting to show the program. A lot of the problem is cultural. A focused targeted series of national promos would be great, and help us get the word out. As it stands now, we simply can't compete. Our Scouts do promote their program, but there is still so much that they can do. Come on National, we're not looking for a hand out, we're looking for a hand up (sorry, I just couldn't resist).

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Now that we've established that everyone wants better ads from national, let's address the original question.


"What can we do to keep the cool in scouting". Only this time lets say for the sake of discussion that the "we" is us. Since we can actually and immediately control our own actions we can effect real change at the unit level if we choose.


"What can we as unit leaders do to keep the cool in scouting?"(This message has been edited by Bob White)

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If the program is being implemented as it was meant to be, perhaps "we" should do nothing (i.e., stay the course). I think this is why the conversation turned towards a national ad campaign. Scouting was, is, and will always be cool as long as we continue to fulfill the promise. It's a matter of perception, not an implementation problem.

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As adult leaders we need to be as excited about being a Boy Scout leader as we want the boys to be about being a Boy Scout, perhaps even more so


We have to hit the campsite running and having fun and helping, guiding and caring along the way. We have to resist the urge to "just get it done" and help the boys step through the patrol method to get things done. The more fun we have, and show we are having it, the more cool scouting will be.


In our community there is a 7th grade teacher who is a Venturer leader, he is as Gung-Ho a scout as I have ever seen. The man is amazing, everybody in the school knows he is a Boy Scout and since he is "cool" then scouting is cool in that school. We all need to have the same spirit, or at least strive to it.


We cant complain how tired we are, how hungry, how much we miss a shower etc ( all things I have observed from many troops), if we are to be the role models BSA expects, then we have to be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent ourselves.


We need to be the kind of adults kids feel comfortable around and want to "hang with"


It takes energy, but as Sister Anthony Mary always said, "anything worth doing, is worth doing well"


and we all know Scouting is worth doing...





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Sctmom - I hear ya! This could well be a separate topic (Webelos to Scout transition and how it affects retention). I was a Webelos leader for 2 years, did all the training, read everything I could get my hands on about Webelos. We visited troops, went on a campout. But there are so many differences between Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts - here is what I'd do different it I could go back:


As soon as the boys became Webelos, I'd begin involving them in a lot more decision making such as which badges to work on, what types of outings to go on, managing den money, etc. By the end of the 2 years I would make sure they all knew what boy led meant.


I'd do a lot more with Boy Scout troops, going way beyond the 1 visit/ 1 outdoor event to get AOL. I'd have the den do something with a troop at least once a month and increase camping and outdoor activities.


I would educate parents on what I was learning about Boy Scouts. I would try to get them to understand how they will be needed in Boy Scouts, as merit badge counselors or ASM's and let them know about the trainings that are available NOW.


I tell these things to my friends who are currently Webelos leaders...some of it sinks in but they are sometimes so busy doing adult planned activities with the boys they do not even think of what it will be like after the boys cross over. They are the same ones who say they want to get their son into a troop that is active - I tell them a troop is as active as the boys plan for and the committee/SM supportive of.


Its so much easier (for me) in Girl Scouts where it is 'girl led' (to varying degrees depending on age) from day 1.

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We're about to raise our "cool level" here. One of the biggest "uncool" things among our Scouts is the hats. You've all heard the complaints: ride too high on the head, too stiff up front, can't get the brim to curve, plastic snap back, and so on. And, these are Scouts who wear their uniforms with pride on Scout Sunday, Scout Week, Loyalty Day Parade, POW/MIA ceremonies, the whole schmeer. The funny thing is, almost all my Scouts wear caps when I see them around...but they're "cool" caps, not like the BSA issue hat.


So, after checking with my unit commish and my DC to make sure it's okay, the Scouts are designing their own troop caps, similar to our troop neckerchiefs. They aren't down to the graphics yet, but it will be low-silhouette, no plastic snaps, and with a pre-curved bill. Beyond that, they have lots of leeway (although I'll retain veto authority if it's not Scoutlike). The consensus: if they design it, they'll wear it.


It wasn't an original idea; I've seen other troops with troop caps...the only reason I noticed is because all their Scouts wore their caps...go figure.

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