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STEM Scout pilot program

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Mozartbrau

 

You obviously disagree which is fine with me,(sarcastically)  however the stats do NOT lie, boy scouts and troops are  becoming fewer and fewer in number. National thinks STEM is their saving grace since they continue to de-emphasis the outdoor program. On another thread you were having a tirade over having to fill out a silly little form to obtain badges from your council scout shop(Boo-Hoo) your priorities about being a "good scouter" seem to be a little screwed up. If the troop leaders do not emphasis the outdoor program more it is probable that their troop will fail ,or be small in number and look more like a science lab than a boy scout troop. Boys need to be challenged and exposed to new activities that stimulate or they will get bored and leave, like the troops I mentioned in my previous post. The result will be that the STEM-BSA will become a group of techno geeks that will become even fewer in number and IMO and an organization that will become even more ridiculed by both youth and adults alike.

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William "Green Bar Bill" Hillcourt said it best about Scouting with the two following quotes: 

 

"OUTING is three-fourths of ScOUTING." 3rd ed. hanbook ( emphasis is mine. Ever sicne the current HB misqouted GBB, I Bold OUTING to show the math.)

 

"ScOUTING IS OUTING!" New Orlean Area Council Scout Show, circa 1990 ( memory is getting to me and can't remember exact yearand emphasis is in original speech.)

 

My son's troop a has tripled in size in the past 16 months. Why? I would like to think we are a "Hiking and Camping Troop."  We are far from perfect, heck we "killed" one patient when doing last first aid scenarios last campout among other "challenges." And "Organized Chaos" is describing the troop very politely. A "Charley Foxtrot" would be a better description. ;)

 

But we go camping every month save January. Because of we traditionally get the bulk of our new Scouts in December Cross overs, we have a lock in instead to get the new guys up to spead with gear needed for cold weather camping. We do rock climbing at a wall, and either first aid or ILST during the lock in. We've had transfers from another troop that, by JTE standards, is a better troop than us. We don't focus on advancement, we focus on the outdoors and FUN. That is what the Scouts want, and that is what we try to give them.

 

Have we lost Scouts, yep.  I know two Scouts who were in my son's patrol on the first camp out left shortly thereafter because they didn't like having to do the work at camp, i.e. cooking, cleaning, etc. But we've gotten more who do want to camp, than those 2. 

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Mozartbrau

 

You obviously disagree which is fine with me,(sarcastically)  however the stats do NOT lie, boy scouts and troops are  becoming fewer and fewer in number. National thinks STEM is their saving grace since they continue to de-emphasis the outdoor program. On another thread you were having a tirade over having to fill out a silly little form to obtain badges from your council scout shop(Boo-Hoo) your priorities about being a "good scouter" seem to be a little screwed up. If the troop leaders do not emphasis the outdoor program more it is probable that their troop will fail ,or be small in number and look more like a science lab than a boy scout troop. Boys need to be challenged and exposed to new activities that stimulate or they will get bored and leave, like the troops I mentioned in my previous post. The result will be that the STEM-BSA will become a group of techno geeks that will become even fewer in number and IMO and an organization that will become even more ridiculed by both youth and adults alike.

 

Hmmmm. You might want to slow down and read my posts...and the smileys. ;)

 

First, my post above was poking fun at the fact that more and more Scouters are just as couch potato-like as the Scouts BSA is trying to target. Got to any national, district or council event and measure waistlines. So, in fact, I was agreeing with...just poking fun at the Scouters who are just as lazy as the Scouts.

 

Second, if you read any of my posts you will know that I am VERY MUCH in favor of a GREATER emphasis on the outdoor program. So, again, we agree that Scouting is about the outdoors. Yes, STEM is important, but NOT where BSA should be spending its money. I thought my post about spending money on STEM, rather than other areas where BSA's main mission is at risk, is silly.

 

Third, I pointed out in this thread that BSA as mis-aligning its program emphasis toward things like STEM, rather than doing some REAL research on where their membership growth lies and aligning their outreach programs with that. This takes away from BSA's main mission (outdoors) so, again, we agree.

 

Fourth, I pointed out that BSA had nor business promoting STEM in certain areas where the school systems already had a far superior presence than BSA could EVER have with some expensive, over-hyped RV road show.

 

Lastly, if you can't tell by my posts, I pretty much an old-school scout. Parents should butt out. Boys should lead more. BSA should be smarter and better at what they do. Scouting is about being outside, building fires, cooking, camping, hiking, etc. Want to promote STEM? Great, but do it in a manner that will be effective, not waste 300k on a tricked-out RV. 

 

I hope that makes my position clear. ;)

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Why does Roseanne Roseanneadanna come to mind?  :)

 

BP, you did really misread Mozar's post, but I wanted to give him a chance to say something first. 

 

Remember people put the smiley faces in to show both humor and sarcasm.  It's often difficult to tell, but from Mozar's other posts, I knew it wasn't sarcasm.

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^Six pages of posts and no one has had a decent argument how or why STEM belongs in Scouting. Stem activities are already available with merit badges, and in cub scout advancement, but should not be the focal point or a side program of the BSA. Six troops in my council tried a STEM focused program last year and five went under and the sixth is down to 5 boys and will probably be gone before the end of May. My point, Scouting was never designed for couch potatoes who are afraid of the outdoors. The further away we get from the roots of scouting to cater to the needs of boys who really do not belong in scouts the continued decline in boy scout troops and boy scouts will only increase, as statistics have shown. Lets keep the Outing in Scouting as our program focus and we can help the troop numbers and boy scout numbers begin to grow and get stronger again. Otherwise we will witness the continued decline and eventual demise of what once was the greatest youth program, teaching self reliance, leadership, and a love of the outdoors and the urgent need to protect it. The troop connected with my church, like our crew, keeps growing every year  as we put the main emphasis on our outdoor program. Our troop now numbers over 60 active members and is the largest in the council, how many of you pro STEM oriented scoutmasters can claim the same?

 

 

I'm all for STEM (former science teacher).  STEM doesn't have to be a classroom thing (and I would argue shouldn't be).  My troop did a STEM activity through the US Naval Academy. We built an underwater ROV (Using their kit) and dove it in a lake.  STEM activities are required for advancement--plant and animal identification.  STEM should be hands-on. 

 

That said, Scouting has to be based on outing or it will die.  The more outdoors we get the boys, the better off we are.  Our CO recently (well two years ago) allowed us to use a small building on the church campus for the exclusive use of Scout meetings.  We've basically almost outgrown the building, and  weather permitting, we now meet outside whenever possible. We have also upped our outdoor program, and IMHO, that's why we've grown from 18 scouts to 34 scouts in about 3 years.  We have mainly grown due, not to recruiting, but to lower loss of Scouts.  Outing and boy led leadership (and tradition/history/Eagle brand) are the only truly special things Scouts has going for us. 

 

(Scouting was developed for urban couch potatoes who were afraid of the outdoors. Baden-Powell's goal was for those city kids to become outdoorsmen--i.e. love the outdoors.  )

Edited by perdidochas

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Hmmmm. You might want to slow down and read my posts...and the smileys. ;)

 

First, my post above was poking fun at the fact that more and more Scouters are just as couch potato-like as the Scouts BSA is trying to target. Got to any national, district or council event and measure waistlines. So, in fact, I was agreeing with...just poking fun at the Scouters who are just as lazy as the Scouts.

 

Second, if you read any of my posts you will know that I am VERY MUCH in favor of a GREATER emphasis on the outdoor program. So, again, we agree that Scouting is about the outdoors. Yes, STEM is important, but NOT where BSA should be spending its money. I thought my post about spending money on STEM, rather than other areas where BSA's main mission is at risk, is silly.

 

Third, I pointed out in this thread that BSA as mis-aligning its program emphasis toward things like STEM, rather than doing some REAL research on where their membership growth lies and aligning their outreach programs with that. This takes away from BSA's main mission (outdoors) so, again, we agree.

 

Fourth, I pointed out that BSA had nor business promoting STEM in certain areas where the school systems already had a far superior presence than BSA could EVER have with some expensive, over-hyped RV road show.

 

Lastly, if you can't tell by my posts, I pretty much an old-school scout. Parents should butt out. Boys should lead more. BSA should be smarter and better at what they do. Scouting is about being outside, building fires, cooking, camping, hiking, etc. Want to promote STEM? Great, but do it in a manner that will be effective, not waste 300k on a tricked-out RV. 

 

I hope that makes my position clear. ;)

 

Well, my waistline doesn't resemble it, but I do believe that Scouting=outing. 

 

I do agree with STEM, but my definition of STEM is probably different from National's definition.  Making a fire is STEM in action. 

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I'm all for STEM (former science teacher).  STEM doesn't have to be a classroom thing (and I would argue shouldn't be).  My troop did a STEM activity through the US Naval Academy. We built an underwater ROV (Using their kit) and dove it in a lake.  STEM activities are required for advancement--plant and animal identification.  STEM should be hands-on. 

 

That said, Scouting has to be based on outing or it will die.  The more outdoors we get the boys, the better off we are.  Our CO recently (well two years ago) allowed us to use a small building on the church campus for the exclusive use of Scout meetings.  We've basically almost outgrown the building, and  weather permitting, we now meet outside whenever possible. We have also upped our outdoor program, and IMHO, that's why we've grown from 18 scouts to 34 scouts in about 3 years.  We have mainly grown due, not to recruiting, but to lower loss of Scouts.  Outing and boy led leadership (and tradition/history/Eagle brand) are the only truly special things Scouts has going for us. 

 

(Scouting was developed for urban couch potatoes who were afraid of the outdoors. Baden-Powell's goal was for those city kids to become outdoorsmen--i.e. love the outdoors.  )

 

The only time I "lie" to my boys, and they know it, is when the weather is really nice and I have "forgotten" the key to the CO's building and we have to sit and have our meeting on the lawn in front of the building.  There's a flag pole so we do opening, we cover advancement, play games and have closing flags.  I think the boys always know when the key gets forgotten.  :)

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So BadenP opines that a case for a STEM based program has not been made and Eagle 94-A1 quotes Green Bar Bill.  However, the movement has experienced declining membership for forty or more years with only adjustments when the age to join has decreased.  It has been said that better program would turn that around and the program is better than ever before.  In addition to Philmont, Sea Base, Northern Tier, and the Summit Bechtel Reserve have improved the program along with camp COPE and Ropes courses but the decline continues.  Others have pointed to training and so there are more trained volunteers and professionals with far better courses but still the decline continues.  Get boys to First Class in a year, change the uniform, advertise, etc.  Still the decline continues.

 

​Remember why there is a Scouting program:  "Field efficiency, backwoodsmanship, camping, hiking, good turns, jamboree comradeship are all means, not the end. The end is character with a purpose.†Baden-Powell

 

So Scouting is about teaching the values of the Scout Oath and Law.  The mission of the BSA is: "The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law."

 

How might Baden-Powell advise us today?  He does provide guidance in the quote: “A fisherman does not bait the hook with the bait the fisherman likes, he baits it with the bait the fish likes, so it is with boys.â€

 

So the youth of America are not very interested in the activities that the BSA has been offering otherwise there would not be continuous decline.  Yet despite doing everything better, the movement has not seen true growth in a long time.

 

The reason to have a program like STEM Scouts is to instill in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law by offering activities that they wish to do.  To do less is to deny the need for the youth of America to have the lasting values of the Scout Oath and Law.  

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Already can see the questions coming, we are in one of the councils that will roll it out this fall):

If my elementary age son & daughter can both be a STEM Scout does why can't my daughter can now join the pack with her brother? (Answer is it's a co-Ed program, cub packs are gender specific).

Well, that's not really an explanation, it's just a statement of the policy. I think that by having girls in this program starting in the third grade, and calling it "Scouts", with the Scout Oath and Law as part of the program, the BSA has seriously damaged (if not destroyed) the last logical argument for keeping girls of the same age out of packs and troops. And I am speaking as someone who thinks it's ok to have programs for boys because there are corresponding programs for the girls. But the BSA itself is undermining that idea - especially when they imply that STEM Scouts will have an outdoor component. Maybe this is all part of a master plan - maybe in a few years STEM Scouts will be merged into Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts - girls and all. I don't think it would be because the BSA particularly wants girls in the traditional programs - I think it's because the BSA wants their registration fees.

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NJCubScouter,

 

The same thing was said of Exploring but it has not occurred.  Same thing was said of Venturing but it has not occurred.  A new program does not have to affect the membership of any other part of the BSA.  If the membership in Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts were to ever change, it would only be because the volunteers want the change.  The Scouting professionals have no ability to affect such a change.

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While there are too many "barely outdoor" units, most still do get outdoors more than the average kids do.  And some units are rabid campers and high adventure oriented, as well as the best of the Venture groups.  As noted, STEM ideally will utilize hands on, outdoors for many of its challenges, even though because it is science and engineering it needs some kind of lab and classroom experience too.  The challenge of course is to keep it in balance, and to take it outside whenever possible.  

 

As noted, the overall program opportunities are far superior to the hay day of Scouting.  But, I do not see the changes as the cause of decline.  I see it as a societal problem that is reflected in Scouting participation.  Society no longer respects many of the basic tenets of the program, and of course some consider Scouting to be anathema.  But, outside of the political, religious, and PC challenges, we simply have too many options for kids; and many of them allow parents to not have only minimal involvement outside of paying.  Scouting still requires parental and family involvement to succeed.  And that, of course, is why where it does happen, it is so successful, helping to create outstanding future citizens and leaders.  It also, even when only done to minimal standards, instills some modicum of respect and responsibility in kids who stick with it for any length of time.  

 

So, whatever we can do to continue to keep it viable and get participation is important.  While we will likely never see the percentages of youth involved as in the past, we can stabilize it and continue to grow better citizens and leaders.  

 

Just an old guy that tries to see the positive, but not use rose colored glasses to filter it.

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BP, I would agree with you if the existing programs were executed with integrity, but as shown in another thread ...

http://scouter.com/index.php/topic/27086-informal-poll-strictness-of-requirements/page-2?do=findComment&comment=414342

... many units have translated "Do your best!" to "Don't want to try? Don't worry, we'll do the requirements so you don't have to!" :(

 

Of course, if that same attitude leaks into STEM scouts. It will have the same problems. But, for the moment, it seems the folks starting labs are not so badge-crazy as to compromise integrity.

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I haven't read every response, but I get the gist that some are unhappy about the encroachment of "couch potato" activities into the Scouting program.

 

I'd like to offer another perspective as the parent of a child with high functioning autism who *loves* being a Scout.  Disability friendly activities like STEM can encourage involvement by scouts who might otherwise be intimidated if the program is too challenging.

 

I get that you don't want to see the outdoor challenge dumbed down.  I also know that the STEM portions of the program are a place where my child is comfortable and can build his confidence and relationships with the other scouts.  Then, he feels more confident about tackling the more challenging outdoor part of the program, which has been tremendously beneficial to him.

 

Instead of thinking of the less physically challenging part of the program as "couch potato scouting", it might be more helpful to think of it as "never leave a man behind".

 

Our family is very grateful for the way scouting has benefited our son,

 

Georgia Mom

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So the youth of America are not very interested in the activities that the BSA has been offering otherwise there would not be continuous decline.  Yet despite doing everything better, the movement has not seen true growth in a long time.

 

I simply haven't seen that boy are not interested in playing in the woods. I've found they are uninterested in yet one more group of adults telling them what to do and doing what is easiest for the adults not what the boys want to do. And no it isn't just a troop level issue more and more the folks at national are taking away the fun/adventure/learning part of Scouting. No wagons for Cubs, no battery operated screw drives for 13 year old scouts, not water guns no more patrols camping without an adult and heaven knows what else.

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