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Is Scouting in Canada Dead?

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One could never prove "scientifically" why membership dropped without tracking down a lot of people who dropped out or considered joining and did not do so. Nevertheless, the shift if membership policy was followed by a dramtic drop in membership for no other apparent reason. Growth in other youth programs may be both cause and effect. BSA also competes with other youth programs, but holds its own nevertheless.

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eisley -

Where have we seen that the "dramatic" drop occurred after the policy change. Obviously, I haven't seen much about Canada's dilemma except right here. It seemed from the Globe and Mail article that the drop off was already happening before the change. I guess we'd have to look at year by year changes. I'm not arguing that the new policy didn't hurt their numbers, I'm just looking for info to create some perspective. I don't think you could argue that Zeiger's piece was inflammatory and hyperbolic. And, it's very possible, the Globe and Mail could be avoiding a key issue, but they made it seem like a local issue with a limited number of camps closing and upsetting those locals and others with associations to specific camps. Of course, the truth is in the middle, but where?



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Women have been able to hold any position in the BSA since fall of 1988. I think women in Scouting is good and have reaped the benefits of having them around. I think it's a completely different issue with homosexuals.


Female is a gender. We would not be complete without females.


I don't think it's fair or right to try to combine female and homosexual in the same sentence any more than it is to bag apples and oranges together and sell them at one price.



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I strongly agree that allowing greater participation by women has been very good for scouting in the US. Zeiger's statement does lump all these changes together. Regarding numbers, I did a little research.


Zeiger says that there were 320,000 members in 1965. (Zeiger refers to scouts, the numbers I cite below include adult members.) The newspaper article is consistent with this statement. I found two annual reports for Scouts Canada on line. Their reporting period ends August 31. As of August 31, 2002 they reported 161,486 members. This is a 49.5% drop in membership while the total population of Canada grew 55.0% from 20,015 thousands at the end of 1966 to 31,021 thousands at the end of 2001, the last year for which data are available. I don't know about the age profiles of the Canadian population for these different years, but clearly Scouts Canada has not kept up. I don't know how gradual that deline was over 35 years, or if the drop was more recent.


However, in the year ended August 31, 2003, membership dropped another 17.5% in just one year from 161,486 to 133,174. Revenues of the national organization dropped 11.2% during the same period. Whatever the causes, if I were in a national leadership position in Scouts Canada, I would be alarmed. No organization can go on that way and survive.

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Rephrase time:


Issue One:


Allowing females into the (USA) Boy Scout Program when they are 11 years of age.


Issue Two:


Allowing homosexuals into the (USA) Boy Scout Program without reservation at any age, allowable by the specific program.


These two separate but unequal issues may stimulate vigorous debate. Since these issues have been raised as being part of the problem and resulting in the selling off Canadian Boy Scout Camps and bringing the total population served in the Canadian Boy Scout Program to new lows, they appear to be problematic topics. Please reference earlier posts within this issue beginning with the first and reading forward to become acquainted with the subject. You will find these two issues couched together like apples and bananas or grapes or oranges or possibly tomatoes.


Earlier, one excited reader attempted to use the alphabet.



(This message has been edited by Fuzzy Bear)(This message has been edited by Fuzzy Bear)

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I read several different articles that quoted the national spokeswoman. She sounds like a good business person and talks of Scouting as a business quite a bit. If it is just a business, it sounds like a company ready for a major shake-up from the top down! The company I work for wouldn't put up with those kinds of numbers for a minute!



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I am a Canadian Scouter and would like to speak to this issue.

Scouting in Canada is not dead yet.


I do not take credit for what follows but received it in an email about a week ago from another Scouter



Here is a little bit of what has happened in Scouts Canada since 1968:


(1) The Scouting program, in general has been watered down to a mere shadow of what it once was.

(2) Membership has dropped to less than half of what it was.

(3) Staff and employee expenses at Scouts Canada have ballooned way out of proportion with the membership. So much so that the organization will go bankrupt within 2 to 3 years if something radical is not done. (Request a financial statement from National - see for yourself.)

(4) The camps and other properties that have been granted/bequested/given since 1910, in order to serve as resources to the members of the movement, are being liquidated in order to pay down the national defecit and pay salaries and pensions. (These resources are IRREPLACABLE and we should go

to great lengths to protect them.)

(5) Registration costs have increased over 500%.

(6) Staff interference in Scout life and program has increased to a point where policies and procedures are difficult to keep up with. Program resources are limited. The paperwork load of a Scouter has grown beyond all reason.

(7) The personal training opportunities available to the volunteers are less frequent and less applicable to the execution of good program for the kids.

(8) Your ability to help determine the future of Scouting in Canada beyond your own group has been systematically removed. Democracy and volunteer control of Scouting is a thing of the past. In the last 3 years alone thousands of long time dedicated Scouters have voted with their feet and either left Scouting completely or joined other associations. They are

labelled whiners", "dinosaurs", "old guard" etc. by management and have been painted as "unable to change with the times". What a crock! They just don't want any dissenters who know what Scouting really is and should be.

(9) Goodwill for brother Scouts from different Associations in Canada has been damaged and compromised.

(10) Fundraising has become a National obsession designed to prop up the bureaucracy and not necessarily the betterment of program. That is a small part of the story since the total revamping of Scouting in Canada in 1968.




I am not a happy camper. Quite frankly, my dreams for a better Scouting in the future for all kids in Canada, have all but disappeared. The very people who should be serving us, the volunteers, are the tail wagging the dog. Do I like being a rebel? Not particularly......I don't like politics much. I am normally a patient and extremely tolerant person. I am a middle aged, middle class guy who has already seen his kids pass through and benefit from Scouting, albeit a very different Scouting from what I had as a boy. I don't usually say much. (I am after all, typically Canadian.) But I can't sit quiet any longer.

I am concerned enough about this organization I love, that I feel the need to fight for it so that my grandchildren will benefit from it some day. I want to save Scouting IN Scouts Canada. Along with a few like-minded individuals, I am taking a stand.

I am one of a few "ordinary members", who have taken steps to start an Ad Hoc Committee, the: "Scouts Canada Ordinary-member Unity Taskforce - Association" - or "SCOUT eh!" (Way clever don't you think?).


We propose the following:


As an Association of Ordinary Members of Scouts Canada, our purpose is to try to reform Scouts Canada:


1. So that the Board of Governors of Scouts Canada and the employed staff:


a. Will be accountable to the membership,

b. Will become subject to democratic election.


2. So that Property held in Bare Trusteeship shall be under the authority and control of the groups or councils who are the

beneficial owners.



3. So the continuing membership of Registered members cannot be threatened by well meaning but ill-conceived policies and



Some recent history. Over the past several years a management takeover of Scouts Canada has been engineered. A system of appointees, driven from the top echelon of Scouts Canada, has deprived the members of the Scout Movement in Canada of any effective say in the governance of the movement. There are

now two types of members; voting members (100 people) and ordinary members (the rest of us). Along with the takeover, the Management of Scouts Canada, (although only bare trustees of property held in the name of Scouts Canada), has attempted to take over from the local groups and councils who are the

actual beneficial owners of the property. It has, in the guise of updating the Boys Scouts of Canada Act, attempted to have legislation passed that would entrench the top down administration and marginalize the membership.

As you know, the traditional structure of District Councils and Provincial Councils have been eliminated by larger and more central councils. New positions have been created, re-thought and changed within the last two years. The number of changes has been mind boggling. The net result has been

poorer communication, distant bureaucracy and no appropriate forums for a say or a vote. At the last Annual General Meeting of Scouts Canada in November 2003 the meeting was abruptly adjourned without any questions being permitted from the floor. Today there is only a small coterie of 100

persons, out of a membership exceeding 100,000, who are entitled to vote.

All of these persons are either appointed or hold ex-officio positions on the Board. No ordinary voice was heard. No concerns from the members were expressed. National is also paranoid about losing our members to other Associations. Used to be; "A Scout is a friend to all and a brother to all

Scouts." Scouts Canada actually threatened legal action against the Baden Powell Service Association because they had the audacity to use the word Scout. Scouts Canada professes to "own" the word and threatened copyright

infringement if BP Scouts used it in their program. This is akin to Ford saying GM can't use the word automobile to describe their product. The BPSA acquiesced, as they did not have the financial resources to mount what would certainly have been a costly and ultimately stupid law suit. Here is an

interesting point. None of the other dozen or so Scout associations in Canada have been threatened in the same manner. Why is that? (BP is spinning in his grave....). Management has created National Fund raisers. They are

sending kids 5 to26 years of age into the street to sell popcorn and hot chocolate. In my view, the kids did not sign up to be uniformed door-to-door salesman. They joined to learn by doing, have fun and become responsible citizens. As a Scouter, I signed on to try to deliver quality program for the kids, not supervise inventory and collection of money while I chauffeur them around the neighbourhood selling what amounts to overpriced goods so that National can take their percentage to pay another salary or deficit. We, a small

group of ordinary members, have now organized this association in order to try to save Scouts Canada from itself and bring back management accountability. Our association wishes to disseminate information to its members in such a way that you can make an informed choice. We will listen, discuss, suggest. We will be constructive. Ultimately, your opinions will be

respected. It has been said that "All it takes for evil to flourish, is for good men to stand by idle." I wish to be idle no longer. How can we hope to take on a huge political machine? I have about 30 Scouters in my personal

e-mail address book. I am sending this e-mail to each of them. I'm asking you to do two things:

(1) Forward this e-mail to every Scouter in your own address book.

(2) Join our Association - Scout eh!. (SEE THE LINK BELOW) Membership is free. You'll meet an awful lot of Scouters and ordinary members who want their Association back. Let's start a groundswell of grass roots members who can large enough that they will have to listen. BP once said, "never let

our movement become a professional organization." BP wasn't a dumb guy. He got it right the first time. He would want us to take a stand.


Take a stand for the ordinary member.


Take a stand for better program.


Take a stand for sound fiscal control.


Take a stand for accountability.


Take a stand to keep the properties and resources that have been granted us

for the use of all our members now and in the future.


Take a stand for a vote.


Most of all, Take a stand for the kids of today and tomorrow.


Please, forward the e-mail RIGHT NOW!! This may not work. But I for one,

won't stand idly by and watch any

longer. I would rather lose in trying than in apathy. If you are with us,

my best wishes and a left hand of welcome to you.

If you are not with us that's OK too. I respect both your opinion and your

wishes and still offer you my best regards and my left hand in the true

Brotherhood of Scouting.



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Your post was both fascinating and extremely sad at the same time. My Canadian friends boys really miss scouts, they used to compete with my boys to see who earned their badges first.I hope your reform movement is sucessful. I personally feel those of us involved with scouting in the USA should watch this story carefully, especially since some councils in the states are starting to go on a similiar power trip. I think American scouting is probably the best and last stronghold of Baden Powells original concept. It would be truly a sad day if the BSA ever erroded to the condition of Canadian scouting today.

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Let's see now, isn't Scouts Canada a private organization and if you don't like yit ou can leave? Where have I heard that argument before?


Isn't making uniforms "mandatory" in the BSA a no no? It is a method of Scouting, not an aim. So why the big fuss when Scouts Canada does the same thing?


I've attended Scout camps in Canada with our troop in the past. I don't think having co-ed membership has hurt their program at all. They do have the problem of having to have a female leader at all unit functions when female Scouts are present. They seemed to be more like Venture crews. I was not aware of any homosexual presence, but then again I didn't ask.


I wish them well.

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Acco - That's exactly the point. They made a decision, people don't like it, and now they're leaving. Those that remain either like the program as it has become, or are holding out hope for a return to the program BP started. I agree that we need to watch this very carefully, or we could end up in the same condition. I hope the BSA stands firm.

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I was thinking the same thing. BSA is BSA. National determines the program and you accept it when you sign on. If you don't like it, don't sign up. It isn't a democracy and you don't get a say so. I've seen this argument many times here as well. On one hand, I do think it is part of what has helped keep Scouting strong in America. But it is dependent on the leadership at the top which we don't have any say so in. Should we ever get people in power that act the way the Canadian leadership has, we could see things go south as they have and not be able to do anything about it. People would have to vote with their feet the way they have in Canada. I don't think their reform movement would be any more successful than those that want to "reform" BSA because of the way they are set up. They can resist outside influence all day long and be perfectly within their legal rights. People throwing up their hands and leaving will be the only thing that could change it. However, the whole organization could die if the leadership continued to resist.


Now, before anyone accuses me of wanting to change BSA, don't. I like it just the way it is. I realize that there are folks who want to include gays and atheists. I don't. I don't want to make it co-ed or do away with the uniform. My comments are simply a realization that we are at the mercy of who is running the organization and that it can be abused. Thank God that it has not been here in the US. Let's hope it stays that way. There will be little we can do if it doesn't. Canada is a good example.

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What am I missing?

From the email that Eagleeyes posted, the Ad Hoc committee has 2 issues. Money and a watered down program.

Same issues that I read about on this board constantly from BSA Scouters.

What all is the Ad Hoc committee including in watered down program?

Atheist? Females? Gays? Scout Skills?

I would like more information. Because something seems to be missing. But it is probably just me being dense.

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Here's an outta the box thought...


We are the BSA...not the BSUSA. Why not export our program to those more frozen brothers who crave it? Let them put the Maple Leaf on the right sleeve instead of the Stars and Stripes and let's go Scouting! It's not like there's a huge language barrier, eh?

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