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Eagledad

The Future of the BSA?

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Am I alone in that I don't care about the future of the BSA? We'll be okay for the next five years, and my son will be done. He is my primary concern.

 

Sure, I d like for him to be able to proudly point to to a venerable organization of which he is an alum; but that horse is gone. BSA has devolved into a prissy politically correct financial enterprise.

How do the BSA pensions compare to the GSUSA pensions?

 

What the country really needs is a BSA type organization with a little more testosterone.

Before things get out of hand here, I want to assure everyone that unless a volunteer leader intentionally does harm to a unit or the boys, I'm going to credit them with the selfless contribution of time and probably money they freely contribute and if that is primarily for their own family but provides 'collateral benefit' I'm good with it. I hope this is obvious enough and I also hope that if anyone wants to apply the adjective, 'selfish', to a scouter, in my opinion the persons at the front of that line ought to be the ones getting paid for their service. The more they are paid, the closer to the front.

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So the BSA currently serves 2.7 million youth ....taken from the 2011 BSA annual report.

 

Yet we have the highest number of Eagles per year.......

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Am I alone in that I don't care about the future of the BSA? We'll be okay for the next five years, and my son will be done. He is my primary concern.

 

Sure, I d like for him to be able to proudly point to to a venerable organization of which he is an alum; but that horse is gone. BSA has devolved into a prissy politically correct financial enterprise.

How do the BSA pensions compare to the GSUSA pensions?

 

What the country really needs is a BSA type organization with a little more testosterone.

I stand chastened.

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BasementDweller - the ones who stick around are chasing the Eagle. Modern youth don't have the time to be dilettantes - every activity has to result in a check box for a job or a college application. My hypothesis is that we have dropped the youth that used to just come for the fun of it, regardless of advancement. On top of that, there are more materials available for a boy to pencil whip his way through a merit badge (downloadable workbooks from MeritBadge.com for example).

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As long as Scouting professionals are measured based on FOS, popcorn and booklet sales, new units and total numbers we will see the incentive system drive behavior.

 

As long as units carry Scouts on the rolls, they will leave them there in case they come back (if the unit can afford the $25 or so annual carrying fee). My son is on the rolls for one unit, though he only shows up to help once a year or so while he is in college.

 

As long as rechartering remains such a pain, units will also leave some people on the list rather than deal with the poorly designed interface.

My observation is that most phantom members are aged-out Boy scouts that are kept on as ASM's on record. It allows them to do OA activities, and continue their "active service" time.

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BasementDweller - the ones who stick around are chasing the Eagle. Modern youth don't have the time to be dilettantes - every activity has to result in a check box for a job or a college application. My hypothesis is that we have dropped the youth that used to just come for the fun of it, regardless of advancement. On top of that, there are more materials available for a boy to pencil whip his way through a merit badge (downloadable workbooks from MeritBadge.com for example).
I don't think we've "dropped the youth that used to just come for the fun of it." I think they aren't coming anymore. Why? I'm not sure. I personally think it's the increase of the seriousness of youth sports combined with video games. I know that most of the Scouts we have intend to Eagle.

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BasementDweller - the ones who stick around are chasing the Eagle. Modern youth don't have the time to be dilettantes - every activity has to result in a check box for a job or a college application. My hypothesis is that we have dropped the youth that used to just come for the fun of it, regardless of advancement. On top of that, there are more materials available for a boy to pencil whip his way through a merit badge (downloadable workbooks from MeritBadge.com for example).
perdidochas - poor parsing on my part we I said "we have dropped" - I agree with you. Those Scouts who aren't chasing the Eagle lose interest and drop out on their own (or never join in the first place as you say). We then respond to our remaining customers by focusing even more on advancement, which then chases away even MORE Scouts. The end result is a much higher rate of earning Eagle - but I think it is the same youth earning Eagle - there just aren't as many who are just along for the ride.

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BasementDweller - the ones who stick around are chasing the Eagle. Modern youth don't have the time to be dilettantes - every activity has to result in a check box for a job or a college application. My hypothesis is that we have dropped the youth that used to just come for the fun of it, regardless of advancement. On top of that, there are more materials available for a boy to pencil whip his way through a merit badge (downloadable workbooks from MeritBadge.com for example).
I've had a number of scouts tell me they started boy scouts with the intent of getting Eagle and moving on, but recently they've decided it's way too much fun and now they want to stay till they age out. It warms my heart. I hope I can keep the excitement for them.

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BasementDweller - the ones who stick around are chasing the Eagle. Modern youth don't have the time to be dilettantes - every activity has to result in a check box for a job or a college application. My hypothesis is that we have dropped the youth that used to just come for the fun of it, regardless of advancement. On top of that, there are more materials available for a boy to pencil whip his way through a merit badge (downloadable workbooks from MeritBadge.com for example).
All youth activities have dropped off for the less serious. My daughters do dance class, and after the very young levels (through 3rd/4th grade), it becomes serious real fast. The dance school still offers various classes in different schools, but the girls either drop out or take all of them. The middle school has some recreational girls, but the high schools are chasing a scholarship or drop out.

 

Casual little league in my town gives way to travel baseball real fast. There isn't room for kids that aren't serious. You're chasing a scholarship or you drop out.

 

The kids in karate not shooting for black belt drop out before middle school.

 

So if you aren't interested in pursuing Eagle, there isn't much room for you in BSA. There are other areas in life to get nebulous "leadership experience" that don't require a time commitment on par with the army reserves. I've talked to one family about Cubs (their sons are tight with my son), but they are seriously committed to a particular youth sport, and can't/won't make the time for something else.

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It's very simple. The DEs either take names from the phone book or leave formerly registered boys and units on the books. They have to pay the fees themselves. It was easy enough back when I was a DE in the 70s and must be even easier now with computer inputs. As someone said' date=' as long as professional Scouters are promoted and paid based on numbers there will be fudging. Not by all, but by some.[/quote']

I'm not actually trying to refute your statements, but rather am using them as a springboard for my own statements on this subject.

 

BSA is hampered by the effects of its own registration methods. Please let me present an alternative method that I am intimately experienced with.

 

I am a retired veteran with 35 years of military service, the last 29 of them in the Navy Reserve. During the last decade of my service, I was in the Voluntary Training Unit (VTU), a catch-all unit of members without a pay billet who drill voluntarily without pay. In that decade in the VTU, I served most of the time as the XO (Executive Officer, concerned with the daily administrative paperwork; "Number One" to you Star Trek:TNG fans) as well as a few years as the CO (Commanding Officer) of the unit, so I have had a lot of exposure to the administrative requirements and practices of the Navy Reserve. I can only assume that the administrative practices and requirements of the reserve forces of the other branches are very similar if not the same as ours.

 

Official Navy Statement at the start of each Nonresident Training Course (NTC):

Although the words “he,†“him,†and “his†are used sparingly in this course to enhance communication, they are not intended to be gender driven or to affront or discriminate against anyone.

 

All members of the reserve forces enlist for a period of time, just as every Scout and Scouter registers for a period of time, namely until the next rechartering. The Navy Reserve, like BSA, has membership requirements, though the Navy's requirements are more stringent. In particular, participation is a major requirement in the reserves. We take muster at the start of each and every drill (the period of time that constitutes one unit of attendance and service). We require a particular percentage drill attendance for each anniversary year (a 12-month period which starts based on the member's initial or last enlistment). If the member does not meet that particular participation requirement (95%, as I recall, but as a retiree my memory is admittedly fading), then he is subject to administrative separation (AKA "being ADSEP'd"). Additionally, each member's monthly pay depends directly on his having participated in scheduled or re-scheduled or equivalent drills.

 

The point I am making here is that there is of necessity a system set up in the military reserve to track and document each individual member's participation in the reserve program. It is not just that there is a system in place to ADSEP a member for unsatisfactory participation, but rather that there is even a system in place for tracking individual members' participation.

 

BSA doesn't have anything like that, because it has no requirements for tracking individual participation. My question here is to ask how reasonable it is to implement one.

 

Here is what one of our DEs had described to me -- mind you, this was circa 1990 when we still rechartered on BSA's birthday in Februrary. The biggest registration numbers were in Cub Scouting, which always occurred in September, at the start of the new school year. Even though a large number of those original registrants dropped out within a month or two, they continued to be carried on the books until the rechartering in February. My DE showed me the graph of membership. It hit a low in February, after which it climbed steadily (with no way to track those who had dropped out, how else could it climb?) until September when it took a very steep climb, continued to climb steadily until February, when it plummetted and then started to steadly climb again.

 

My point is that that is all that BSA has to work with. They can track new registrations, but they cannot track any members who drop out until time for rechartering comes around. The only way I can see for BSA to properly track active membership on a month-by-month basis would be for it to adopt a similar administrative model as the military reserve forces, but that would require monthly/daily reports of attendence and participation from all units in the field. Personally, I don't see that happening the BSA.

 

Yes, in the meantime BSA districts and councils will continue to take advantage of the system in place. But I personally don't see much of any alternative.

I'd like a drop form, like I have a registration add form. Sure at Re-charter I can fix, but why can't I remove a Youth that told me they dropped out. Instead of hitting my membership account all at once, hit it monthly, so I'd have a reason to drop people as they drop.

 

I had one family come to two few meetings, be interested, dropped off a form at my house, never paid dues, and inadvertently their form went in with a bunch of other forms when I dropped stuff off at Council, about a month after re-chartering, by the way. Net-Net, I have a Scout that's never paid a dime registered, we paid for him for the year, and my Journey To Excellence Numbers are all knocked down by his presence. Another Scout dropped out a month after re-charter, 14/15 Tiger Beads done as well. Same story.

 

For better or for worse, we run our program year Sept - Aug, and collect dues in September for the year. As a result, a Scout that shows up in September and drops out in February/March will be registered for 16 months. If they drop out in December, just 4 months. But the ones that don't come back after winter break may just never respond.

 

It's a broken system, oh well.

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BasementDweller - the ones who stick around are chasing the Eagle. Modern youth don't have the time to be dilettantes - every activity has to result in a check box for a job or a college application. My hypothesis is that we have dropped the youth that used to just come for the fun of it, regardless of advancement. On top of that, there are more materials available for a boy to pencil whip his way through a merit badge (downloadable workbooks from MeritBadge.com for example).
Agreed. I've lost kids to 4H and had parents refuse to let their son join the troop without dropping 4H. One or the other, not both. Baseball used to be a spring sport in HS but now it's winter gym, spring practice, spring games, summer ball, fall ball. Same for golf, basketball, etc. Jr. High sports are close behind. Come to the HS coach's clinic or you won't play when you get here. FFA is big here, they start recruiting in Jr. High from the 4H crowd. But with spring/fall fundraisers, planting, harvest, annual convention, oratory/debate contests, and working the home farm, it's a full time commitment.

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BasementDweller - the ones who stick around are chasing the Eagle. Modern youth don't have the time to be dilettantes - every activity has to result in a check box for a job or a college application. My hypothesis is that we have dropped the youth that used to just come for the fun of it, regardless of advancement. On top of that, there are more materials available for a boy to pencil whip his way through a merit badge (downloadable workbooks from MeritBadge.com for example).
You make a good point. In our troop, most who are still in at the end of 8th grade earn Eagle--usually close to their 18th birthday. Those who have Eagled earlier have stayed in until they aged out and two are currently assistant scoutmasters.

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It's very simple. The DEs either take names from the phone book or leave formerly registered boys and units on the books. They have to pay the fees themselves. It was easy enough back when I was a DE in the 70s and must be even easier now with computer inputs. As someone said, as long as professional Scouters are promoted and paid based on numbers there will be fudging. Not by all, but by some.
Fred,

 

Unfortunately some pros DID commit fraud, andit is well documented. Phone books, school year books, and cemeteries, I have heard about. Renewing folded units' charters and refusing tor remove names from a charter is something I've seen first hand and had to deal with the repercussions of it happening.

 

Officially I started 4 units in the 20 months as a DE. In actuality I had 2 additional units that were non existent for several years but still "active." Essentially I followed the new unit process to get them running. But got no credit since the charters were active.

 

And when I left, 4 units I dropped were renewed by someone at the office. Although someone tried to blame me for faking them. Thankfully my volunteers knew I was dropping them, and I have copies of all the paperwork and notes about the units.

 

I personally think the new UTVS that commissioners are suppose to use helps to prevent the problem because volunteers tend to keep the pros in line. if they see units dying or non exstant, it will get noticed faster.

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As to the "rules" about duty to God and their enforcement, I think we need to look no further than the letter of the council Scout Executive in South Carolina who resigned over the gay issue. His letter reveals that his Christian beliefs probably drove many of his decisions over the years he was a professional. He would be the type of guy who would find it necessary to kick out Scouts of uncertain beliefs.
Kahuna, it looks like you're arguing that council SEs would be acting on their own based on their own personal prejudices. That doesn't agree with what I observed. Searching through an excerpt of the Rules and Regulations (I have sections in disk files that I had copied out, but my paper hard copies are packed away), I passed by some wording to the effect that councils cannot act on their own, or perhaps more specifically that they may not add nor subtract from membership or other requirements. And what was happening in the 1990's was that mountains of FAXes were flowing up- and down-hill between National and Council, such that Council couldn't even begin to consider to think about scratching itself without getting clearance to do so from National. Control was very highly centralized. Furthermore, my DE informed me that he was required to report every single contact he had and I'm sure that Council has the same requirement to report everything to Regional (albeit summarized) and that Regional had the same requirements to report everything to National. Of course, for day-to-day malfeasance the various levels would be operating as per standing orders, but the orders were still coming from the very top at National.

 

I don't think that that SE's situation was that he could no longer act independently, but rather that he didn't agree with the new orders he anticipated coming from National.

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By 1991, most of the headlines BSA was grabbing were related to the 3G's. However, in Los Angeles the Council was being audited because a former paid professional alleged membership fraud in the council's inner-city outreach program. BSA National refused to allow an outside audit of the council's rolls and reported that the council had indeed inflated its rolls, but only by about 1,800 youth. Other former paid professionals reported that the actual number was more like 16,000, from a total of 80,000. It should be noted that by 2000, the council reported about 41,000 registered youth.

 

Another former paid professional blew the whistle on another membership scandal in 1994 on the Andrew Jackson Council (Vicksburg, MS). Brian Paul Freese, "wrote in his resignation letter that he had been threatened with termination for refusing to create fake units and pay their registration fees to national headquarters with diverted funds."

"Phil Gee, a Scout volunteer who was among those who blew the whistle on the alleged practices, said local and national Scout audits found 6,000 inactive Scouts on the rolls. The council's numbers were reduced from 14,000 to 8,000 after all the "ghosts" were purged, Mr. Gee said."

 

For the first time that we know of, an independent review of a Council's membership rolls (albeit a small section) was prepared in 1999. The University of North Florida conducted a study for the Jessie Ball duPont Fund, which provided funds to the Northeast Florida Council (Jacksonville, FL) to provide Scouting to youth in public housing projects (the report can be read here.). The Fund gave more than $327,000, over an eight-year period, to the council for this project. Of the 600 scouts the council claimed, the study could only verify less than 100 and only 125 of the 285 adult volunteer leaders claimed.

 

After more than 25 years of public airing of BSA's fraudulent activities it should have come as no surprise to the Circle Ten Council (Dallas, TX), when federal agents raided their offices on the morning of 7 April 2000. This raid started a federal investigation into the Council's fraudulent membership reporting. The investigation resulted in the impanelling of a federal grand jury in 2003 to examine the evidence and hear testimony from government witnesses. As of January 2005, that examination was yet to be concluded.

However, since the raid, the council has revised their membership rolls by -35%, or a reduction of 20,000 youth. The local United Way chapter, "which had steadily increased its contributions over 10 years based on Circle Ten's membership claims, has reduced donations" to the council each year, since 2000.

 

"In Atlanta, independent auditors are investigating claims the metro area´s Boy Scouts inflated black membership numbers to 20,000 to gain more donations. A civil rights leader contends there are no more than 500 blacks actively involved." For more information on this current scandal, click here. At the end of 2004, we learned that the FBI was investigating the Greater Alabama Council (Birmingham, AL) for yet another fraudulent membership scheme. We'll probably read about the council revising their membership numbers in the next couple of months. However, until a paid BSA professional is prosecuted for fraud, there will be no incentive to other paid professionals to just say no to BSA National's insistence on inflating membership figures. Until BSA allows outside and independent audits to be conducted of its membership rolls, the public will have no confidence in the membership figures printed in BSA's Annual Report to Congress .

I believe you meant the Greater ALABAMA Council.

 

I know, Atlanta has 3 'a's and an 'l' in the same name. We're both from the South. But the 'Greater Alabama Council' and the 'Atlanta Area Council' are not the same.

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