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Membership down or is it?

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Why is scouting membership down or maybe in your area it isnt? Keeping kids in scouting seems to be more and more difficult any thoughts on the idea? This is often the voice heard at our roundtables. Many offer things such as sports, electronic devices to games, and a failure for scouting to keep current, the uniform, lack of money and the need to do fundraisers etc.


Ive asked my youths this very same question and received their opinion as to why and what would improve it. If anyone else has done the same I would like to hear your thoughts on it.


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I think it is because our world just doesn't like programs that have a moral backing. The battle versus homosexuals in the Supreme court, as well as with Atheists, shows me that we're in a moral downturn. Most likely activities that focus on being "morally straight" wouldn't be popular in such an atmosphere.


The high adventure focus of Venturing seems to be working, as Venturing is one of the fastest growing programs of the BSA. Because Venturing isn't quite as morally-focused as Scouting (it focuses heavily on ethics) it's an easier pill to swallow for some.



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Someone has to explain the difference between ethics and morals. I would have a hard time saying that my Venture Crew isnt as moral as my Boy Scout Troop.


In our area, Scouting appears to be up, we have grown from a troop of 20 when my son joined 5 years ago to 90 today. Now, as has been discussed in many places, we dont have an artificially concocted attendance requirement and we allow as many adults on a trip that want to come. We have an active program that focuses on inclusion, not exclusion.


I am not sure how scouting is not current, as its the boys who determine the program and schedule. I am not sure its money either as my doorbell is rung constantly for Little League, Middle School and High School Bands, oh and some organization that touts itself as the Girl Scouts sells cookies. I dont think fundraising keeps kids out of scouts. All youth groups raise money.


The uniform? as my son keeps saying, "if those shorts werent so dorky", he would rather wear long uniform pants, and did at summercamp, rather than wear those shorts. The shirt, however, he wears with pride. Talk about weird uniforms, ever see the get up some schools make their bands wear? I dont think its the uniforms either.


But then, I can only talk from my observations, I dont see scouting numbers going down in my area, why do you think they are going down in yours?

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Old Gray Eagle,


I didn't say that Venturing is a program without morals, what I did state was that Boy Scouting relies more heavily on morals than I perceive venturing to.


Venturing, a great program, seems to focus more on ethics. While in years past I would have agreed that the popular definitions of these words were the same, but today I simply cannot. More recently ethics have been plucked up by secular humanists as their guiding philosophy.


As a BSA program Venturing of course incorporates religious awards, etc. so it of course is not without any moral standing, rather it focuses more on philosophy, and the Merriam Webster dictionary makes a clear distinction between the two usages of the word ethics for that reason.(This message has been edited by Venturer2002)

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My troop and crew numbers are up but at every national meeting I attend or council meeting etc.; the focus is on declining numbers in membership or the high dropout or at least thats my impression of the message. Numbers are funny and you can play games with them (as were seeing in the stock market), so Im just interested in others opinion regarding it.


The kids do refer to the uniform as being dorky but I like it and so do some of the others (or should I say its not as dorky as other uniforms Ive seen).


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I responded to a similar post at usscouts about losing webelos.

I tend to agree that we lose kids, especially from webelos to scouts.

One of the reasons that I stated there, is that too many parents want to do everything for their kids, as evidenced by a lot of topics in this forum. In sports, there is the coach (even though he/she never knows enough or is doing it wrong ;-} ) in scouts, boys????? How are those parents going to deal with that???

Seriously though, I think we compete too much with sports, but, on the flip side, scouts is there for kids who don't necessarily are driven to sports.

You can drop your kid off at sports and pick em up, only resposibilities are: fundraising (not a problem here in Jersey) and uniform. with scouts, we actually expect parents to be involved.


One Huge problem I have with the program, especially cubs, is the dumbing down of the program to reach an even younger child. Our council ran a first nite last May to sign up Kindergardners for Tigers! The program does not change that much from Tiger to Wolf to Bear to Webelo only degree of difficulty and many find it boring in Webelos. Personally would do away with Tiger Program (let the spamming begin! Oh what a Heretic I am) so that the program was dumbed up and kids actually had something to look forward to, like boy scouts! (Or Venture!)

Now being on a district committee, I have seen the numbers and they are not good, nor going in the right direction.

I also think that we inudate our leaders with too much training (oh boy here comes the tar and feathers!). The training sessions have become so cookie cutter and frankly treat adults as dumb animals. This happens with a training program so large, it has to be dumbed down to the lowest common denomitor!) and training is so repititious, especially on the cub side. Baloo and Owl are basically run as the same program.

While it is a good idea going to specific job training, how many nights a month are adult leaders going to give up???? maybe balance should be stressed to new leaders.

Biggest turn down on adult vol. I have heard is that they don't have one more night.


One other thing that I here over and over again from cub scouters in my council is the feeling that they are a "younger boy" problem, and the distance between boy and cub scouts.


I think that we have a good program, one that should build on its strengths, one that goes upwards and not always reaching downward. I think the Webelos Program has to be rethought. (Boys Life and Program Helps no longer supplies hints towards rank advancement, but always has two pages for Tigers...go figure)


Just my rambling .02 in obvious disarry.

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Its down because the program needs an overhaul and should be updated to work more in the ways of the youths today. Failure to change is the cause of many business failures. Im not suggesting to abandon any moral believes or principles, but we should be able to update it with what the youth members want. Here are some of the key opportunities presented by the youth members to our council on this very same subject:


1. Uniform, dress code, and overall lack of a more modern look.

2. Lack of funding because of BSA policy of exclusion

3. Lack of trained professional adults, to many parents, and

not allowing the kids run the program.

4. News not often seen positive because of negative publicity

associated with when something goes wrong.

5. Boring activities, need more adventure.

6. Cub Scouts boring in the age group of 10-11 (last year of

Cub Scouts) therefore many will not do Boy Scouts.

7. Boy Scouts boring after 15-16 years of age.

8. Many other activities to choose from that are more fun and

excepted as fun within the youth peer group.

9. Sports

10. Computers, TV, and electronic games are more fun.



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1. The only thing I don't like is the shorts.

2. Our troop does just fine with funding because we work hard at earning money ourself.

3. This is not a problem with the BSA program, it's a problem with people who won't use the program.

4. The media only reports sensational news as it is now all about entertainment and not information. Nothing we can do about it other than promote ourselves through sending self written articles to the paper.

5. This is part of #3. Check out the troop program features, lots of fun stuff in there or use your imagination.

6. I can't say too much about it as I was never a cub or involved in cubs.

7. Quit treating them like 10 year olds and baby sitters for 10 year olds or get them into Venturing. It would also help if the adults would drop a few pounds so that they are physicaly able to do activities that interest older scouts. Also part of #3

8. Life is about choices. If you have a boring program then I too would expect kids to quit. See #3

9. Why is it necessary to choose sports Vs. Scouts? The majority of my boys do both.

10. Lots of different ways to have fun, unfortunately many parents promote a sedintary lifestyle. Parent problem not a scout program problem. If you provide an active program then not a problem.

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#6 goes back to #3 also. Or maybe it's just lack of imagination...


"War" Story: We had two 2nd year Webelos dens when my son was a Webelos. The leadership got together and did something rather innovative, I thought. (yes, I'm praising myself here also. Brag, brag, brag...) We drew from our strengths, and combined our program. One leader was good at administration and advancement, another good at outdoor stuff, another good at field trips, etc. So we used those talents and made the 2nd year program the best they ever had. Frequently we combined for weekly meetings. We used parent and other resources to help teach our boys new things. All earned the Arrow of Light. Many earned all the activity badges, almost all the belt loops (it take 2 belts), learned a lot of new stuff and had a blast. Of the 11 boys only one didn't cross over due to an unresolvable conflict with troop meeting times. 5 of the remaining are heading for Eagle.


Of course, the pack leadership was 100% trained, some with advanced training. It also helped to have an Eagle for a leader (Mr. "Outdoor Stuff"). Maybe I'm just full of our success, but it seems to me there really isn't an excuse for a poor Webelos program, whether you're rural or urban. This is the time to get them excited about Boy Scouts.


For the rest, I agree with Mike Long. Although #5 and #7 are boy problems. It is a boy-led program. Perhaps the scouts need to do some investigation into what kinds of adventure and interesting things there are to do in their area.

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I agree with Mike and rlculver,


1,3,5,6,7,8,9 and 10, are not program problems, they are leadership problems caused by not using the resources of the program.


2, Is a localized problem and usually only temporary. nationally iit has been a jojuicy media item but in reality has had little effect or no effect on the national program.


4,is a non issue I feel, When you consider the total membership of the scouting program there are few negative events covered by the media. There are probably more Eagle scout announcements in newspapers nationwide every week than there are negative items. The negative for the most part is on one politically hot topic that one particular group keeps alive.


I don't disagree with the areas of concern that scoutpro raises just with who is responsible. It's not a flawed program, it is local unit volunteers not using the program.


Bob White

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My son's Tiger year was great for the whole family. Biggest problem was the parents had little clue of what was going on. Many of the parents had not even looked at the book before the first meeting. Even after reading it, they could not understand it. Seemed simple and straight forward to me.


I was a Webelos leader for about 1 1/2 years. Some of the boys in my den were smart and sophisticated. They had video games and anything else they wanted at home. The biggest problem I had was the lack of interest from the parents. The boys had a blast with everything we did. They may not have earned all the pins, but that didn't seem to matter. We did science experiments, creative freeform art, built an electrical circuit, did the alka seltzer film canister rocket, went outside as much as possible, etc. I wish I could have had more time with them.


The boys lost interest because their parents put their own personal social lives first. The parents always had excuses about why they could not go camping. Such as "that's the weekend of our block party".


My son is now in a troop. He went to summer camp and had a great time. He is losing interest in troop meetings. They don't DO anything. They write out menus for the next campout or they may work on a merit badge as a group. Very little hands on fun. He wants to do the Boy Scout stuff like knot tying, merit badges that have you make something, patrol competitions, games, camping, etc. He wanted to know if he could work on stuff with me at home like he did in Cubs! Cubs and Webelos wer more exciting to him because he was constantly DOING.


Last night we did not attend the troop meeting, I was sick and he didn't want to go. Once he finished his homework he was out the door. Stayed outside playing for 2 hours with neighborhood kids. I told him he had to be in at 8. At 8:00, he started putting things away and came in without me telling him. Video games? Oh forget those things, he has many types that sit idle a lot. He was having much more fun tying pieces of junk together with a rope and using an old golf bag caddy to make a trailer to pull behind his bike. Also, that old tire in the garage is a lot of fun.


Which sounds more fun to a kid that just sat in class for 6 hours? Play outside being creative and getting dirty OR sitting in a chair in a meeting for over an 1 hour listening to people talk???????


By the way, I have one of the few boys who actually thinks his BSA shorts fit! He is so small they look rather stylish on him. And boys love those pockets to stash stuff in. lol


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