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Merlyn_LeRoy

BSA membership drops by over 400,000 in 2005

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Rooster7

Has hit the nail on the head when he posts:

"Its the volunteers at the Pack or Troop level that will make that program run well, or not. Just like any other organization, it comes down to whos really running the show. Frankly, I dont understand what kind of support Packs or Troops are hoping to obtain from the national organization (or even if a significant number of Packs or Troops are seeking such support). The BSA offers a program to chartering organizations. As part of the package, the BSA offers uniforms, policies, procedures, best practices, fund raising ideas, alternative programs, camps, and other resources. They offer more than enough resources for any CO to garner and use, as they see fit, to make their Pack or Troop successful."

 

At the end of the day it comes down to program.

Maybe we do need to seek out a more diverse group of CO?

But even in the tiny District I'm in we have 43 units chartered by: Elks, Lions, VFW, The American Legion, a few Methodist Churches, A Funeral home,a few Catholic Churches,A couple of Baptist Churches and a sports complex.

I feel that most parents if they wanted to pick and choose a CO should be able to find one out of that lot that suits them.

But as a rule most youngsters join the unit where their pals are.

Their pals are there because the program is a good one.

Eamonn.

 

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I do believe we may have found a point on which all (or anyway nearly all) of us can agree...in the issues and politics section no less!

 

Strong units with great programs and solid leadership attract new members and weak units with lousy programs and poor leadership lose members. Program trumps politics and amen to that!

 

Lisa'bob

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Quoted by Backpacker: "As far as Merlyns numbers are concerned, I don't believe his or even Nationals numbers are truly accurate, and that the truth is somewhere in between the two. As we have seen in the press councils and National both fabricate numbers all the time, it has been a long standing practice, especially since the 1970's."

 

How sad. Why in the world should we expect our boy scouts to be "Trustworthy" when our leaders don't practice it? It makes me sick. I expect the truth from my council and the national council. Nothing more, nothing less.

 

I realize that it is hard and sometimes impossible to get numbers that are 100% accurate because of human error and other variables. However, to deliberately misrepresent the facts is just plain wrong and there is no excuse for it.

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Newbie DL: Backpacker is a former professional and so am I. We just have different takes on some of what is happening. Fabrication of units and numbers does happen, no doubt about it, but there is another factor that accounts for number inflation. Units do not always purge their rosters completely when the recharter. Some units are organized and fail for various reasons, many of which are not the fault of the council. Some COs want to keep a Scouting presence and will keep rechartering even though they don't have an active program. Some units are in fact combination troops and venture units and have the same membership, so what looks like two units is really only one.

 

To be realistic, professional Scouters are in a numbers game. They compete for dollars with every other nonprofit and within their own organizational hierarchy they must have measurable achievements. Membership and units are the only really measurable way of doing it. It's a lousy way, shouldn't be that way, but reality is reality.

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I understand about growth, either you are gorwing or you are dieing, there is no safe "middle". But the question I have is why is the emphasis on new units AND members?

 

If a District grows in scouts by 5%, why should a DE be taken to task if "only" 3 new units start and the goal was 5? More youth are being served by the program, why are moer units such a priority?

 

If you have 5 troops of 10 scouts each, isnt a single troop of 50 scouts better? Or at least 2 of 25? In the 10 scout troops you have a SM and Asst Sm and then a whole committee, in the 50 member troop you would have the 10 leaders avaiable and the economies of scale. More youth to go on trips, to plan. Now we could get into what is the perfect troop size, but thats not my point here. Why not simply go by increases in youth members (period)

 

OK, what am I missing? What is the argument for mixing units and youth membership?

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OGE

 

To answer your question, it all depends on whether you are looking at the situation from a volunteer or professional scouter viewpoint. National mandates to councils that they must grow in both members and units, especially in special interest units like the new cub soccer program for inner city youth,LFL, any type of unit serving minorities or special interest groups is also highly desired. Why, because then councils and National can show they are reaching out to a more diverse cross section of America and make themselves eligible to receive special grants and funds from a wide variety of organizations. These kind of units equal more money for council and National. The SE's I worked for told me they would rather have 25 small units, than 10 large active units, "it makes the council look better." I never understood that logic because most of those weak units failed in the first year or two and we would have to start over again. In the long run these units hurt the successful units by pulling boys away to fill the new ones, and then frustrated with the lousy programs they quit scouting never to return, when they could have had a positive experience in one of the established units.

 

These are some of the reasons why volunteer and professional scouting will always be at odds with each other their agendas, motives, and goals are very different. Volunteer scouters put the boys first and foremost, professional scouters put money and getting promoted on the fast track their priorities, even those who are real nice guys.

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I have been told by a member of the local council professional staff that some changes in the way DEs are evaluated is in the works.

 

Apparently growth in units will be considered of lower importance than growth in members.

 

Also, the new system apparently includes a way to measure, and reward, retention.

 

So, perhaps BSA has finally decided to do what the volunteers have long been hoping for?

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To answer your question, it all depends on whether you are looking at the situation from a volunteer or professional scouter viewpoint

 

How 'bout da "What's in the best interest of the kids?" viewpoint.

 

Strong, healthy units. New units only when strong, healthy units get so big that they can become two strong, healthy units.

 

 

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It wasn't losing school access that hurt.....Let's be real people. Don't you think that this pretty major drop has something to do with all the scandals and changed reporting rules?

 

Of course Greta vanSustren - or was it Nancy Grace going off on a rant how she'd never let her kids join Scouts after the Sovreign Smith thing.... well, THAT whole incident didn't have ANY effect either, right? Enough leaders - and parents - were horrified. BSA's usual sonewalling - issue a statement from legal and don't answer questions didn't help. About those sailing trips out of Miami, and past contact with boys? Any investigation contacting people to MAKE SURE nothing happened? We wouldn't want to HIDE anything - not like in Idaho where legislators are calling for the SE involved in failing to report abuse cases to be removed

 

Sometimes the view here is like all the "good" Enron employees that don't want to believe the Execs are looting the company and selling stock while THEY can't and are losing their retirement accounts...... the least offensive analogy I can find....

 

Things smell to high heaven in too many parts of BSA. The utter LACK of transparency is itself a HUGE red flag. BSA's refusal to allow outside audits means they ARE hiding something. In an organization that touts character and values, why is it so hard for BSA to simply do "the right" thing? ANY time there's a scandal about ANYTHING, it hurts Scouting.

 

As far as numbers now, volunteers now have to sign off on them and many aren't willing to sign off on "questionable" ones. It seems that there are other changes as well - like a SE personally vouching for small units. Like it or not, too many professionals have been playing fast and loose with numbers. But they are evaluated on numbers and money. They have goals. Blame these simplistic measures on National and Williams. His statement last year noted how BSA uses "statistics to measure success" - and too often lie about it. Atlanta's SE apparently did the noble thing and fell on his sword - he took responsibility. Have any others involved in scandals resigned?

 

As far as transparency goes, oh for the good old days when BSA annual reports had full and complete numbers - but even the old reports have disappeared now. BSA doesn't like people to make comparisons. But it WAS funny how the ending numbers for say 1999 did not match the opening ones for 2000.

 

As far as the "questionable numbers" reported at the beginning, look at the site below and please explain because I'm at a loss on the Units figures. I hope they didn't lose THAT many units though we seem to have had enough questionable under 10 member ones. But the enrollment ones fit with the numbers quoted.

 

http://www.iac-bsa.org/bsa_at_a_glance.htm

 

The above site is apparently an official site. It looks like someone posted a report they weren't supposed to. BSA doesn't like to report ANYTHING but year-end numbers - these are APRIL 2005

 

Given the way BSA Counts, the numbers here fit with the initial reports in the first posting since BSA counts will add more in the fall when school opens.

 

 

 

And there's word that Williams and the good old boy crew are feeling heat. Look for early (and generous) retirement offers to cut back the higher professional ranks. It's not like BSA really needs them anyway. Besides, they need to clear out the Supply Division for all the SE's caught fudging numbers. Gotta put them somewhere.

 

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No doubt that scandal is unhelpful in terms of our public image. Still, I've spent a lot of time over the last couple of years working with packs in my district to get successful round-ups going. I've talked with countless potential cub scout families, most of whom have little or no previous experience with the program. Very, very rarely, has anyone mentioned BSA politics or BSA scandal at all. It just isn't on the radar screen of most people who aren't already deeply involved, where I live at least (in the midwest, a suburban area within an hour's drive of two major cities). My experience is that the vast majority of people who are aware that such issues even exist are already deeply involved in the BSA in some way.

 

Maybe it is different in other parts of the country. We have not had any major scandals here and scouting is considered a "normal" activity to participate in for most little boys. But that's what I see on the ground.

 

Lisa'bob

 

PS: It is 7:37 Central Time on Sunday 3/13 here - I wonder what time stamp this post will bear???

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See now, that whole date thing has me so confused. I meant that it is Sunday 3/12!

 

(For whatever reason I still can't edit my own posts once they're submitted, no matter how quickly I catch the error)

 

Lisa'bob

Sunday 3/12 at 7:41am Central Time

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Lisa'bob,

 

I've had the same experience. In all the families I've talked with about recruiting, none brought up politics or scandals. Now, that may be in part because I'm only talking to people who are intentionally attending a Scouting recruitment effort. I do suspect, though, that there are some people who have decided not to participate, and never show up at the event, because of some of the issues. It's quite complex to identify the weight behind any of the potential reasons why membership is dropping, so all we can do is to hypothesize. But as you say, the scandals have to be unhelpful. I think having ongoing controversies isn't a good thing, either.

 

Oak Tree

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P.S. It's 11:37 Eastern right now on Sunday, 3/12.

 

I too am unable to edit my own posts, or perhaps I just don't know the magic incantation.

 

Oak Tree

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I agree with others that I have never, ever been questioned about BSA politics, issues or policies by a single soul when I've recruited boys......and I've done a fair amount of recruiting. In fact, I've never been asked about these issues by anyone.

 

I think it is fair to say that those who have little to nothing good to say about the BSA have a burr under their personal saddle and go out of their way to search out all of these individual council issues and tie them together in one big package.

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And let's not forget the start of this thread was a claim of a 400,000 drop in BSA membership. and let's not forget these numbers were based on an estimate of an estimate but presented as fact.

 

Burr meet saddle!

 

Ed Mori

Troop 1

1 Peter 4:10

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