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Merlyn_LeRoy

BSA membership drops by over 400,000 in 2005

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Adam,

 

I have been granted access to sensitive documents and figures inside the BSA organization by the legal powers that be. The numbers are published on a quarterly basis by the National Office. If you would like to get them, then you could simply make a trip to Irving and get them.

 

Unfortunately, I will not service those who have an agenda, but if they want to make the trip then they have have the correct numbers also. That being said, there was a distinctive drop since 2005, probably due to the Jamboree tragedy, but the scale was not in the order of Merl's numbers.

 

I'm sorry that you are swayed by Merl's incorrect figures but that is out of my control.

 

David C. Scott

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Fellows, I gotta say, with respect to the numbers, Merlyn's convincing me.

 

What is he convincing you of, Adam? His source is questionable & he hasn't been able to validate them. The membership numbers I have as of 4/2006 are the same as what Eamonn posted.

 

Yeah there is a decline. But the reasons given by the original poster have no basis & he refuses to believe there are other factors.

 

Ed Mori

Troop 1

1 Peter 4:10

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>>That being said, there was a distinctive drop since 2005, probably due to the Jamboree tragedy, but the scale was not in the order of Merl's numbers.

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The figures from bsa-discrimination.org don't match the figures put out by the BSA for their end-of-year 2005, which are now up on the BSA website:

http://www.scouting.org/media/review/2005.html

Their figures show a drop of just over 200,000, not including Learning For Life.

 

Given that the BSA says their overall membership dropped by only about 200,000 from Dec 2004 to Dec 2005, but the following January their membership drops by about 800,000, their end-of-year membership figures are geared to show the largest number, not the most accurate.

I would be interested in where Adam's SE and bsa-discrimination.org got their numbers, and why there's such a difference.

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Im swayed by Merlyns (perhaps incorrect) numbers in a general sense (he may have changed them, by now) only because they have not been falsifiedhe made them available and gave the opportunity for rebuttal, but received none. Im not saying there isn't rebutting information, Im just saying that if it is not revealed it can have no persuasive effect. (I know youll agree, Mr. Scott, that unrevealed information can prove no case.) When someone makes a proposition that would tend in reason to draw a response, and response comes there none, Occams Razor encourages me to infer that no response is possible. Other inferences can be made (enter "agenda" here), but they require that I multiply propositions unnecessarily, which Occam discourages.

 

Im willing to be swayed away from Merlyn, but only open facts will do.

 

That doesnt mean I buy the conclusions Merlyn draws from the data. (Actually, I dont know what those would beI suspect theyre more complex than has been characterized here.) As a 3-year Cubmaster of a pack that has doubled in size three times in the last three years (9 to 17 to 35 to 60+ boys) in a council that on April 30 folded due to dropping enrollment, I have my own sense of pack-level organizational sociology and the causes of membership drop-off or gain. And I agree with what someone here expressed very well earlierthe causes are multifold and deep.

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I forgot to say--

 

I don't know where my SE got his numbers. At the "our council is folding" meeting he said [paraphrased], "Nationwide, BSA membership is down 400,000, or 10%, from 2004, and 25% from 2000."

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Adam,

 

Now that the 2005 numbers are out I will forward the following unfortunate observation. I have the 1st quarter numbers and it looks as if there has been a dramatic loss in membership over that 3-month time period.

 

Again, I am sorry to say, that Merl's observations at THIS point are well founded, however, I feel that his reasons for them are not. I propose that the horrendous accidents that happened in 2005 account for the exodus in membership...Jamboree tragedy, drownings, lost hikers, etc. There is very little good press that the BSA has been able to generate and they are "taking it on the chin" at this point in time.

 

Although these 1st qtr numbers are not widely available - they are made available but not for the average internet surfer as far as I know. The annual ones are...as you know.

 

David C. Scott

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The exact number isnt important. Whether its 400,000 or 90,000 members lost, the point is, were five places to the left of the decimal point.

 

I proffer the following thesis: Membership is like capitalisma free market systemand the markets judgments are always correct. The corollary is that an organization draws the membership, and its meetings the attendance, that it deserves.

 

The BSA sells coordination of opportunities for 1) enrichment, 2) fun, and 3) instillation of character values. Thats the product. Putting aside idiosyncratic phenomena (personality conflicts, misunderstandings, etc.), 99% of the people who refuse to buy this product do so because its too expensive, i.e., does not provide as enough satisfaction to justify the expenditure of time and effort.

 

In three years of pack-level observation in a successful pack but a failing council I have never once heard that non-price issues were important. In other words, I have never heard that issues affecting somebody else were even relevant, much less deal breakers. So I dont think religious, political or safety issues are the main drivers for membership loss.

 

I propose that the causes of membership drop-off are, in a hierarchical order:

 

1. Less time (the price is too high, 60%):

 

a. More and better extracurricular opportunities available;

b. More 2-job families;

c. More travel time to work;

 

2. Less relevance (the product is inefficient, 25%):

 

a. More and better extracurricular opportunities available;

b. Decreased sense that a BSA-type organization is an efficient way to instill BSA-type values;

 

3. Less patience with delayed gratification (inefficient, 10%):

 

a. More and better entertainment media (television, games, Internet);

b. Faster-paced stimuli (todays cartoons arent Bugs Bunny and Roadrunner, the games arent pinball and Pac Man, and clicking an icon is faster than opening a book);

 

4. Less program available/less focus (not enough bang for the buck, 5%):

 

a. Less money;

b. Less time to reflect on what would be a good program or to be creative in the face of reduced funding;

c. Less time to deliver whatever program is decided upon;

 

5. Antipathy (the product brand is immoral, 1%):

 

a. Political issues;

b. Religious issues;

c. Safety faults;

d. Scandal.

 

(Get your grain of salt here: People probably assume a Cubmaster wouldnt be receptive to their gripes about BSA, and therefore probably wouldnt tell me the truth about why theyre not buying my product. And yes, I know theres repetition and the whole doesnt add to 100%.)

 

Ive presented roughly a dozen issues broken into 5 categories. We can rant and rave about one or another issue, and we shouldit might be productive and satisfying and fun. But I dont think we can isolate one issue and say this is the culprit. If we want to improve the system we should focus our energies so as to maximize our returnnot at the 1% issues (4a-d), which even if solved, would bring only a 1% return, nor at the 70% issues (1a-c) which are intractable, but at those middling issues (2-4) as to which we can hope for a 5-10% return.

 

If we want simply to rant (and I like ranting), we should pick whichever issue interests us most.

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Adam writes:

 

"We can rant and rave about one or another issue, and we shouldit might be productive and satisfying and fun. But I dont think we can isolate one issue and say this is the culprit.

 

Actually, in this case you can rather easily narrrow it down to the Jamboree. When the membership numbers stay in a normal range of fluctuation for 3/4 of the year and then begin to take a noticeable drop during the last 3 months, you must take a look at what happened just before that drop. And that event was the 2005 National Jamboree. The 4th quarter numbers began to show an erosion in membership - then came the disastrous results for the 1st quarter 2006.

 

You seem keen on numbers and analysis, which is a good thing, but the Jamboree tragedy is the most likely culprit in this instance - regardless of your 5 categories.

 

David C. Scott

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I'd argue post hoc doesn't ergo prompter hoc--just because it happens after doesn't mean it happens because of. But it might have. I know of nothing that would rule it out. However, my impression is that lightning is pretty low on people's list of things to take steps against, and this lightning strike went the same way as other natural tragedies in and out of scouting--headline for a day, forgotten tomorrow.

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I think everyone is putting too much thought into the membership decline. The numbers dropped in January, which is recharter time. After all the bad press about ghost units and inflated numbers, my guess is the SE's around the country cleaned their rolls and tried to get the numbers as accurate as possible. With the ACLU threatening lawsuits against the BSA for public school charters, any "ghost units" at public schools certainly disappeared. My guess is the large majority of the drop in numbers was due to this roll cleaning excercise.

I don't see how the Jamboree event affected numbers. Those were adults, not Scouts. I don't know of anyone who even mentioned dropping out because of that.

In our area, membership is up. I'm still convinced that if boys are offered "a game with a purpose" that is fun and exciting, Scouting will thrive.

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>>but the Jamboree tragedy is the most likely culprit in this instance - regardless of your 5 categories.>Now that the 2005 numbers are out I will forward the following unfortunate observation. I have the 1st quarter numbers and it looks as if there has been a dramatic loss in membership over that 3-month time period.

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David

 

I think it is both naive and rather simplistic to blame the jambo tragedy for loss in Boy scout numbers. I agree with Eagledad and Brent here, losses in large numbers are due to poor programs and untrained leaders. The scandals didn't help either, but on a unit level not a major factor. Where is your evidence to support your case?

 

Losses also occur because professional scouters are setting up weak units with weak leaders to boost their numbers, and they are gone after the first year which also attributes to these losses. Quantity has replaced quality units among professional scouters, and they bear much of the blame for losses in the program. Instead of building their exsisting units into stronger action packed programs, the DE's start another unit with 5 boys and 5 adults who are untrained and have no intention of getting trained and guess what happens? For that year the DE looks good, the next year the council posts a 25% loss of numbers as these units all fold up. So who is to blame, and who has the power to change this pattern of doing business?

 

A hint David, its not the jamborees fault.

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The figures from bsa-discrimination.org don't match the figures put out by the BSA for their end-of-year 2005, which are now up on the BSA website

 

Surprise Surprise Surprise!

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