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Renax127

Crisis Of Faith

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I'm having a sort of crisis of faith in the BSA right now. It just seems like the BSA is continually moving away from the adventure of outdoors and trying to just disallow anything that MIGHT have the possibility of injury. Well unless it's at one of their big camps. When 6 year old Daisy scouts can do more than an 11 year old Webelos the program has gone off the rails somewhere. Along with that the ridiculous amount of useless paperwork required, the old boys network that just isn't going away and all the politics at both local and national level has just about burned me out. MY inability to find a boy led troop for my son has also added to this, he's not particularly happy either right now. 

 

Almost every organization eventually becomes more about maintaining the organization itself than whatever the original reason for existing was and I think the BSA is there or really close. I've been looking at the BPSA really hard for a couple of months now and while I'm not there yet it is definitely something I've been thinking about a lot. I don't want to leave the BSA, I think even with all it's faults it's sill trying to do what's right by the boys at least at the Troop level but if my son isn't having fun and it's just turned into another couple hours of school a week he's not going to want to stay. I'm just sort of torn right now, and yes I'll admit this isn't entirely about my son it's about how I feel about the troop too. But my son is not having fun at scouts. 

 

In our neighborhood he's started what seems to me like what Baden-Powell was talking about originally a group of boys doing stuff together. They get together after school and on the weekends and go play for hours in the woods behind the house, and yes they all have Xboxes to play on. He's teaching the other 3 boys how to lash and tie knots so they can build a fort out there. How could the "sit in a folding chair and listen to the SPL drone on about whatever the SM has told him to for an hour while continually being interrupted by some adult" troop compete with that?

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What I'm finding is along with the changes away from the historical (i.e. old-fashioned scouting) that is "out of touch" with the boys, also means that the intent of what original scouting was focused on is also gone.

 

Adult-led programs in a program that is marketed as an adventure?  Drop in the legalese fine print, G2SS, and a half-dozen "myth" traditions out there, and what one ends up with is sitting in a classroom chair can be dangerous.  Where's the adventure in that?

 

Adult-led programs are always limited to the ability of the adults to deliver the program.    A SM with basic outdoor skills hits the pavement running, he's going to find out the race started yesterday and he's in, well over his head.  One can't be an elementary teacher in the high school or college and believe for one second they can be effective.  Scouts are trained to the lowest common denominator and that's usually the SM's abilities.

 

Adult-led programs are limited to the number of boys they can "handle" at one time.  A well trained professional school teacher will complain that a classroom of 20 is about all they can effectively handle at one time.  So that pretty much limits the troop size unless they add more adults and fragment the troop.  Or they can let the boys lead and break it down into smaller patrol-sized groups.

 

Adult-led programs tend to be managerially organized.  Agendas, rosters, menus, etc.The days of a can of beans, bed roll and a trail to follow are pretty much passe.

 

A boy-led program?  NO WAY ON GOD"S GREEN EARTH WE"RE GONNA ALLOW THAT!!!   They go off and do something really stupid and maybe get hurt.  Well if you're going to teach them to go off unprepared they probably will do something stupid and get hurt.  Maybe as adults we ought to do a better job of getting the boys involved in the process and eventually trust them enough to actually let them do it all themselves.

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I hear you!

I've felt similarly several times over the last couple years in the cub program.

I have been looking forward to when my son crosses into a troop, thinking he'll really get a lot out of it and will very likely have more fun.

BUT

as I'm getting more familiar with what is happening, I'm realizing that it's unlikely to be much different.  In fact I'm getting the idea that our CO's troop has even more adult energy than our pack does!  I hope I'm wrong....

 

As it is, my son has fun but it's really sort a luke warm thing for him.

 

I keep trudging along, HOPING that I can in some way make a difference for him and the other boys.

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It just seems like the BSA is continually moving away from the adventure of outdoors and trying to just disallow anything that MIGHT have the possibility of injury.

Don't want to get sued and lose MONEY.

 

Well unless it's at one of their big camps.

Where you pay them MONEY.

 

When 6 year old Daisy scouts can do more than an 11 year old Webelos the program has gone off the rails somewhere.

Daisys...  Wait!  Don't they sell cookies and make big MONEY?!  How much popcorn can we sell?

 

Along with that the ridiculous amount of useless paperwork required,

Gotta have forms to track the MONEY.

 

the old boys network that just isn't going away

Hey, don't dis-respect the free labor that helps keep the top of the pyramid flush with MONEY.

 

and all the politics at both local and national level has just about burned me out.

Need good politicians to keep the big donors MONEY coming in.

 

Almost every organization eventually becomes more about maintaining the organization itself 

Sadly, you're right.  Once the accountants get control, the product becomes secondary.

I can think of few recent changes in the BSA program that have been truly directed at improving the program.  It seems like everything is directed at consolidating control at the top, keep the free labor (volunteers) in line, and milking the brand for dollars.

 

Many of the volunteers that I'm close to are just riding it out while it lasts.  National is too big.

 

I'm jaded...

 

Edited by JoeBob
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All the sentiments above are why we focus on our unit and nothing beyond that. We've developed a great relationship with our CO so that we give back more than we take. We've focused on a great set of events and themes within our unit program to make us independent from anything council or district would offer (e.g., shooting/range sports, climbing, HA, water sports, etc.). We literally don't need council OR district for anything. We abide by the Sweet 16 and GTSS but we push the envelop a bit. If an activity is not even tacitly forbidden we assume it can be done (i.e., go karts). As I have said before, we have our own OA ceremonial team, so we are not even dependent on the local lodge for call outs, only ordeal. We do our own TLT which is based on the old JLT program from long ago. We have a wealth of MBCs which cover all the major MBs, so we rarely have need for MBCs outside our unit.

 

So outside of ordeal, NYLT, the occasional MBC, Eagle project approval and EBORs, we literally have no use for council or district. To guard against overzealous district Eagle project reviews we make sure all projects and paperwork are 100% above reproach. 

 

While my faith in BSA continues to wane, my faith in the power of parents to step up and make our unit stronger continues to grow!

Edited by Bad Wolf

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Renax, when you read Scouting for Boys or some of the literature from the 40s, 50s, and 60s you kind of wonder what happened, right?  I have to admit, too, that the Baden-Powell Service Association in the US looks pretty good.  They are a small entity now but if you look at the photos they post--especially the Cascadia unit--you see young boys and girls doing pretty traditional Scouting.  Of course, those are just photos; we're not there to participate and witness first-hand how the program is being implemented.

 

I have a strategy in my head for bringing our district back to B-P's model.  How about I give you a report in October?   :D

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Renax, when you read Scouting for Boys or some of the literature from the 40s, 50s, and 60s you kind of wonder what happened, right?  I have to admit, too, that the Baden-Powell Service Association in the US looks pretty good.  They are a small entity now but if you look at the photos they post--especially the Cascadia unit--you see young boys and girls doing pretty traditional Scouting.  Of course, those are just photos; we're not there to participate and witness first-hand how the program is being implemented.

 

I have a strategy in my head for bringing our district back to B-P's model.  How about I give you a report in October?   :D

I'd love a report I don't have much hope but hey, I'm wrong at least twice a day before I brush my teeth.

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In our neighborhood he's started what seems to me like what Baden-Powell was talking about originally a group of boys doing stuff together. They get together after school and on the weekends and go play for hours in the woods behind the house, and yes they all have Xboxes to play on. He's teaching the other 3 boys how to lash and tie knots so they can build a fort out there.

I'd suggest you try and interest this Patrol into forming a new, boy-led Troop.  I suspect you will find many families in your area that are dissatisfied with their current choices.  Working to deliver a "real" Scouting experience will re-energize you. 

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I'd suggest you try and interest this Patrol into forming a new, boy-led Troop.  I suspect you will find many families in your area that are dissatisfied with their current choices.  Working to deliver a "real" Scouting experience will re-energize you. 

 

This happened in a rural town here in my neck of the woods and there are still some hurt feelings three years later.  You'd have to gauge whether or not it was worth it to alienate some in order to have a unit that was less run by adults or work from within the existing unit to get things back on track.  It's a fine balance.  

 

That said, I can certainly appreciate this idea, Gipper.  

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I appreciate your perspective.  I've found that hard feelings simply can't be avoided if we're going to grow this program.  I've been accused of "stealing" another Troop's Webelos when all we did was recruit better and offer a better program then they had.  Same with starting a new Pack at an elementary school across the street from a church that already has a Pack.

 

Nobody "owns" Scouting.  Nobody owns Scouts or Webelos.  As I'm fond of telling families that complain about the way we're doing things, Scouting is a voluntary association - they're free to find a different Troop that fits their family's vision any time.  There's nothing I can do to make them be part of our Troop.  People can, should and do vote with their feet.  I much prefer they walk to a different Troop than out of the program entirely.  If some Adult gets his or her feelings hurt in the process, that's just tough.

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As ASM one cannot over-ride a well run adult-led program with any stupid ideas like boy-led or patrol-method.  I tried that for 13 years before just walking away to help a troop that wanted to be boy-led.

 

If one wants boy-led, patrol-method EVERYONE from the individual scouts to the COR have to be on the same page all pulling in the same direction or it's not going anywhere.  Keep looking until you find one, they are out there.

Edited by Stosh

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Stosh and Renax

 

I agree with both of you 100%. :D  Our troop and crew run the traditional scout programs very close to Baden Powell's original vision, and we now have a waiting list since we are filled beyond capacity. I strongly feel that National desperately needs to get back to scouting's core roots or watch the continued decline of troops, crews and scouts until there is nothing left. STEM is NOT going to save the BSA in spite of what National thinks. It is imperative for them to talk to unit leaders out in the field with successful units and form them into an advisory group for programming advice to National. Our experience is that the youth really love the OUTDOOR emphasized program and its challenges. It is time for National to get off their  butts and realize they are heading down the WRONG path which will end with the potential demise of the BSA.

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As ASM one cannot over-ride a well run adult-led program with any stupid ideas like boy-led or patrol-method.  I tried that for 13 years before just walking away to help a troop that wanted to be boy-led.

 

If one wants boy-led, patrol-method EVERYONE from the individual scouts to the COR have to be on the same page all pulling in the same direction or it's not going anywhere.  Keep looking until you find one, they are out there.

That's where I'm at. I just got there quicker :)

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As ASM one cannot over-ride a well run adult-led program with any stupid ideas like boy-led or patrol-method.  I tried that for 13 years before just walking away to help a troop that wanted to be boy-led.

 

If one wants boy-led, patrol-method EVERYONE from the individual scouts to the COR have to be on the same page all pulling in the same direction or it's not going anywhere.  Keep looking until you find one, they are out there.

 

As ASM, I would agree it is tough to change. As SM, however, it is easier...and that's what happened in my unit years ago. We were lucky to get an SM who had a vision to tighten things up, make things more boy-led and implement the patrol method. It took a while and we lost about 4-8 families (most paper Eagle types). However, our unit has grown by 20 full time scouts to nearly 90 scouts. The "active" scouts have gone up too. We used to have a 30% inactivity rate (mostly kids who reached Life by 14 then came back at 17 to Eagle out), now that number is more like 10% or less. Our number of active leaders is up too. Our programs we support (events and service projects) are up as well. There's still work to do, mostly in educating new parents how to let go, but overall we are light years from where we were 10 years ago.

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I can see the adult-led program for some people.  That's why it took me 13 years to get frustrated.

 

Philmont once every 3 years

Sea Base once every 3 years

Boundary Waters once ever 3 years

Summer Camp every year, sometimes half-way across the country from local council.

 

100% Eagle Mill driven.

 

Everyone had a great time, no youth leadership necessary.  Their Eagle JASM was totally typical of what that troop produced.  He was SPL of one of the Centennial Jamboree contingents and he was totally useless.  Did exactly what he had been trained to do, sit around until some adult would do it for him.  

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