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Eamonn

Why did we fail ?

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Leadership does indeed make a difference. However, when the parents are in STEM careers themselves, they tend to have a certain bias toward STEM...and they sometimes combine that bias with a certain air of superiority that is nearly impossible to penetrate. So I just focus on the ones who really want to be part of a scouting program. No sweat.

I don't get that. Yes, the Mrs. and I have a bias towards STEM, and we infected our kids with that attitude to the point they gave their humanities teachers a run for their money. Heck, Son #1 confessed his love to he girl he would eventually marry using an integral formula.

 

But, there is no way I'd waste a dime on science camp.

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In many locations it's done at a college or university in multiple lab settings with real research equipment and around here the young people flock to it by the busloads from all over the state. Like was mentioned earlier, if the program is done right.......

Edited by ya lazima vumbi

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Just look at television shows: Survivor, Bear Grylis, Survivorman, Naked and Afraid, Fat Guy in the Woods or movies like Wild.  Just look at the success of stores like REI and Eastern Mountain Sports.  

 

 

 

Compare the ratings for those television shows with the ratings for The Big Bang Theory, a show about a bunch of scientists, and geeky scientists at that - not a Boy Scout among them.

 

I don't think anyone is saying that traditional Scouting isn't important and needs to be shunted off to history.  What National is trying to do is to broaden the scope to be attractive to youth that aren't interested in the traditional Scouting program.  Despite the naysayers that just hate National and Councils and think they're nothing but a bunch of money-grubbing imcompetants, the BSA understands the trends and is trying to remain viable - if STEM Scouts helps bring donations and memberships numbers up to help save camps, the I'm all for it.

 

I mentioned once before that most people don't realize that National has a research department that follows and analyzes societal trends, and has had it for a long time.  Some just jeered at the entire notion - let them remain ignorant.  The BSA isn't flailing blindly - they see the trends, they know whats going on in the world of outdoor sports and activities.  Have they responded ham-handedly in some cases?  No doubt - but often they're responding to things we just aren't aware of yet.  They see beyond our little provincialism in our districts and units.  Tell us all about how much your unit is camping - and how successful your unit is and we only need to read through some of the other threads on this very forum to see just how much other units are failing and not successful.

 

A lot has changed in the last 30 years.  There are fewer hunters and fishermen/women every year - this year, the cost of the Federal Duck Stamp jumped in price from $15 to $25.  That is the biggest price hike ever seen (had it followed trends, it should have jumped to $18 or $19).  Part of the reason is it costs so much more to purchase and protect lands (and for those that hate the federal government, the Duck Stamp program is one of the most efficient federal programs there is - no more than 3% of the funds raised go to the adminstration of the program, including running the duck stamp art contest - there is a whopping 3 employees in that whole department - just about all of the funds raised goes right into preserving and managing wildlife refuge lands).  But another big part of the reason is that there are a lot fewer game bird hunters out there than there used to be.

 

The 100th anniversary of the National Park Service is next year but park visitation is declining every year - and not just nationally, but state parks are seeing declining visitation as well.  The most popular parks are still holding strong - Acadia, Great Smokey Mountains, Yellowstone, Grand Canyon and Yosemite, but even at these parks, there have been significant changes - most visits today are day trips - people are staying in hotels and lodges with water parks outside the borders of the park.  There are fewer people camping in the parks, and those that are camping are demanding much more modern amenities - not just flush toilets and shower houses - but individual water and electricity service at tent sites.  It's still hard to get into state parks without reservations on the major summer holidays - Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day, but except for state parks in major tourism areas (like Devil's Lake, Mirror Lake and Rocky Arbor state parks in the Baraboo/Wisconsin Dells area), or major summer tourist states (like Minnesota),  it's pretty easy these days to drive up to a state park on a random weekend and have your choice of campsites.

 

REI and EMS was mentioned, and someone linked to Outside Magazine.  Yes, they successful - but they certainly aren't touting traditionalism of the Boy Scout variety.  They're selling adventure - kayaking down some rapids, board paddling down a placid river, 100 mile bike trips - then having steak and wine at a steakhouse or burgers and brew at a brew pub before retiring to a grand lodge room to rest for the next day's adventure.  They're promoting backpacking and canoeing adventures for young, urban, childless single people or couples with well paying jobs and nothing better to spend it on.  What family camping they do promote is car camping with big, roomy tents and all the comforts of home. 

 

I still love camping at state parks - the most likely people to be camping there these days?  Retired people with RV's, small town blue collar wokers and immigrants from other countries (particularly Eastern Europeans).  There aren't many suburban folks out there anymore, and good luck finding someone who lives in a major city.  These are the trends that the BSA has been facing for a long time - it's easy to dismiss them if you're in a unit where you have an active program and things are working right - unfortunately, for too many units, that's just not the reality they're experiencing.

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I don't think anyone is saying that traditional Scouting isn't important and needs to be shunted off to history.  What National is trying to do is to broaden the scope to be attractive to youth that aren't interested in the traditional Scouting program.  Despite the naysayers that just hate National and Councils and think they're nothing but a bunch of money-grubbing imcompetants, the BSA understands the trends and is trying to remain viable - if STEM Scouts helps bring donations and memberships numbers up to help save camps, the I'm all for it.

...

There are fewer people camping in the parks, and those that are camping are demanding much more modern amenities - not just flush toilets and shower houses - but individual water and electricity service at tent sites.

I agree with you. Society is changing, and people don't look at the outdoors the same way. I grew up tent camping (and sometimes just under the stars when the weather was good), it's what my family did for vacation.

 

But what I hear from a lot of parents today is fear about the outdoors. What about spiders and other bugs? Sleep without a tent? What about the critters??? One of the reasons for the growth in RV sales is they are little portable fortresses complete with locks on the doors and windows.

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Watching trends and changing from traditional scouting to a modern career oriented program which de-emphasizes the outdoors and scoutcraft sounds like a repeat of the failed attempt of the improved scouting program of the 70s. Unfortunately GBB isnt around to bail them out this time.

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So society is camping less.   Should the BSA just shrug its collective shoulders, and camp less too?    Just plop down on the sofa and settle in?

 

Heck no.

 

Many kids want to be outdoors.  They just don't know how to get there.   This is the BSA's golden opportunity to reestablish its reputation as an outdoor organization.    Not every kid will sign up, but enough will.

 

However, the standard hike along a nice rolling path, or the typical BSA tailgate/horsetrailer campout, isn't very inspiring.   There must be more adventure than that.   Provide it, and the scouts will stay.

 

There are obstacles.   One, many adults in our society today are indoor types, tried and true.   Two, many adults in the BSA itself are not only indoor types, but anti-outdoor as well (which still astounds me!).  

 

Look at those troops that are thriving.   They are outdoors, and challenging their scouts.   Not sitting in town.

 

So less people are camping?   All the better!    Scouts will have the outdoors to themselves, with the bonus of bucking the tide that is encouraging poor health and inertia

Edited by desertrat77
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ROFL Calico, when has BSA EVER gotten a program change right?

 

You can continue to throw those of us think council or districts are useless under the bus, but the evidence against them is pretty clear. They're useless and BSA, with their six figure leaders, *is* a group of money grubbing parasites. If they're not please offer evidence to the contrary. ;)

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BSA, with their six figure leaders, *is* a group of money grubbing parasites. If they're not please offer evidence to the contrary. ;)

LOL, yep that just about sums it up.

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ROFL Calico, when has BSA EVER gotten a program change right?

 

You can continue to throw those of us think council or districts are useless under the bus, but the evidence against them is pretty clear. They're useless and BSA, with their six figure leaders, *is* a group of money grubbing parasites. If they're not please offer evidence to the contrary. ;)

Very true.

 

As you and Joe Bob pointed out, it's become apparent that the BSA is a pyramid scheme.   Plus, based on Calico's last post, National is slowly divesting the outdoor competency for indoor stuff--because that's where society is going. 

 

Well, those who still like the outdoors will have it all to themselves!    Good news for the troops that are outdoor oriented and self sufficient.  

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@@desertrat77 We've got a few threads about districts, councils, national and their BSA operating model. The most recent one not in I&P is here and I posted my summation of what I think is wrong there.

 

BSA wants to address change. They create STEM. They eliminate the most controversial portion of their membership policy. They tinker with courting urban youth. They open the program to women and girls. They start Venturing (from Explorers). BSA *seems* to embrace change -- albeit very misguided and poorly implemented many times. So why do they continue to hold on to a business operating model with councils and districts which many, many people know does not work?

 

The dichotomy in thinking is staggering UNLESS you explain the reluctance to do so with the self-preservation argument of the paid BSA staff. Then you can clearly explain why they continue to feed the sacred cow. ;)

Edited by Bad Wolf

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There are always issues, but there are also things that work.

 

>> The 100th anniversary of the National Park Service is next year but park visitation is declining every year

 

Might depend on what you are counting, but certainly this is not a clear trend

http://www.cnn.com/2015/02/17/travel/feat-most-visited-national-parks-sites-2014/

 

>> state parks are seeing declining visitation as well.

 

Not here in NC:

http://ncparks.gov/News/newsletter/stewards/February_2015.pdf  

State parks report record attendance of 15.6 million in 2014

 

In fact, the whole issue of "where did we fail" is going to have very local answers in addition to some national answers. Around here it's not at all clear to me that BSA is failing.  There are lots more groups of all types around so we generally have tremendous fragmentation of all types of organizations.

 

STEM is not going to be the answer.  It's not BSA's core mission.  If you want STEM, there are groups that focus specifically on that.  Scouting cannot be everything to everyone.  It can do some of these things and they can augment the BSA's core brand image, which is around the outdoors. Maybe we have some advantages here in the southeast as compared to the northeast. We have growing populations, year-round camping weather, younger populations.

 

Maybe in some places the BSA model doesn't work very well.  I suspect there are lots of places where it still continues to work. My experience is certainly very different from Eamonn's.

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...

If someone has a lot of time on their hands they can go back and see how many times I've posted:

 

Train them, Trust them, Let them lead.

Wise words, wise words indeed.

The problem is that we are running out of people who have the know how to be able to train them and without that the rest of it just doesn't work.

Having a herd of parents hanging around makes it very hard to let them lead and does little for the Scouts when it comes to them knowing that we trust them.

 

...

Eamonn   

Maybe our challenge, as far as getting adult leaders engaged (which I think was your original question), is we don't apply this principle to adults?

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Very true.

 

As you and Joe Bob pointed out, it's become apparent that the BSA is a pyramid scheme.   Plus, based on Calico's last post, National is slowly divesting the outdoor competency for indoor stuff--because that's where society is going. 

 

Well, those who still like the outdoors will have it all to themselves!    Good news for the troops that are outdoor oriented and self sufficient.  

YES! All to ourselves! OK, maybe with a few others but fewer and fewer.

 

But here's my question: If BSA is a pyramid scheme, why bother wasting time criticising their stupid decisions when it's clear those decisions are mostly designed in the first place to preserve the pyramid?

 

To me the better approach would be to treat them like the parasites that they are, with a treatment that might even rid us of those parasites. Starve them. Do not support FOS, other fundraisers for the national organization. Devote all resources to local units. Local control, local choice, local impact, local responsibility. If we create a situation that cannot possibly support those obscene salaries then the parasites will seek other hosts or just go away.

Once rid of those things, there will be available two related opportunities:

1) to restructure the system in a way that really IS for the boys, and

2) attract system leaders whose motivation is NOT money (because of the lower salaries) but instead are motivated by the desire to support and improve the program for the local units and the boys. Parasites from outside of scouting, moreover, will note the salary structure and continue to turn to other hosts.

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YES! All to ourselves! OK, maybe with a few others but fewer and fewer.

 

But here's my question: If BSA is a pyramid scheme, why bother wasting time criticising their stupid decisions when it's clear those decisions are mostly designed in the first place to preserve the pyramid?

 

To me the better approach would be to treat them like the parasites that they are, with a treatment that might even rid us of those parasites. Starve them. Do not support FOS, other fundraisers for the national organization. Devote all resources to local units. Local control, local choice, local impact, local responsibility. If we create a situation that cannot possibly support those obscene salaries then the parasites will seek other hosts or just go away.

Once rid of those things, there will be available two related opportunities:

1) to restructure the system in a way that really IS for the boys, and

2) attract system leaders whose motivation is NOT money (because of the lower salaries) but instead are motivated by the desire to support and improve the program for the local units and the boys. Parasites from outside of scouting, moreover, will note the salary structure and continue to turn to other hosts.

 

Good points all.

 

As far as funding the pyramid, I have already been mulling over my annual FOS donation.  For a couple weeks now.  I will not contribute to FOS again.

 

If there is a fundraiser to improve a council camp (upgrade pool, buy a new dishwasher for the mess hall), I'll gladly give for a specific project.   Same with a summer camp scholarship.

 

I haven't bought popcorn in years.   Instead, I donate 20 bucks directly to the unit each time I'm asked.   Confuses the scouts a bit a first, but leaders appreciate it.   Money goes straight into their coffers.    I'm not paying middle management salaries, and I'm not loaded down with a bunch of broccoli-flavored popcorn, or whatever they are pushing this year.  

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I'm willing to admit that for a very long time it does seem that the stuff coming down from the powers that be, doesn't work and from my point of view led Councils in very much the wrong direction.

Sad thing is that in many cases the grass roots volunteers got sucked into this mess.

 

While I'd guess that most of the regular Forum Members are the exemption to the rule.

Most parents are OK with their kids doing things where:

The kids are safe.

The people who run the activity are seen as being good people.

The activity doesn't entail them having to get them very involved.

 

I know that when my son was at High School.

He'd come home with a slip of paper telling us his parents about some school club or activity along with a permission slip.

We'd more then lightly sign this.

He'd stay after school and the school activity bus  would drop him off home.

 

Reasons for not signing were normally based on, him wanting to take on too much and him not having enough time to do everything he wanted.

I to this day have no idea what the Computer Club did? Other then him telling me that Windows was terrible and Apple was the way to go. (This ended up with us buying him an Apple laptop!)

The Track Club only entailed me attending the meets. Which I found to be very boring

Soccer which he was very good at, didn't expect anything from me.

I went to the games and he got mad at me for yelling to much.

Of course some parents got sucked into becoming Booster Parents and the unfortunate parents who had kids in the band, seemed to be really involved. Maybe because they had spent a lot buying an instrument?

 

While maybe I was being lazy?

His days however seemed always to be full. Him leaving home at 06:30 and not arriving home till around 18:30.

Later when the school play was in rehearsal.

Trying to get home eat and get to his Scout meeting always seemed to be a rush and when he got older there would be an argument about him wearing his Scout uniform. 

 

They say that hindsight is 20/20.

Looking back, I have to admit that I feel that Scouting cheated him.

While he is an Eagle Scout. He really doesn't have the skills needed to take on new and exciting challenges.

While he did get a lot out of First Aid, he can't read a map, can't use a compass, isn't good with rope and hates to walk anywhere let alone hike!

He is a very kind and loving person who really does care for others.

Living the Scout Oath and Law isn't hard for him.

 

I really think that us trying to be anything but an outdoor fun loving organization is a big mistake.

I worry sometimes that we are guilty of trying to make this more complicated then what it should be.

I worry that we expect parents to spend a small fortune on the newest and latest high-tech equipment, which maybe might be good in the long term, but is over-kill for a young Lad just starting out.

 

While it is true that very often National gets things wrong.

I however do think that the Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve is a sign that we might be heading in the right direction and should be the model for all Summer camp sites.

If National really does know what is trending? (And I'm not sure it does!)

We need to take a long hard look at parents and future parents.

Hopefully in time the changes made this year will die down and no longer be such a big deal.

We are however looking at a group of people who may not have the same values that we might have.

They might not want or like to have the commitment that many of us have.

Sadly many, even ex-Scouts might lack the outdoor skills or like the outdoors.

 

Many of us have refused to listen to what older youth have been saying.

Somehow we have been willing to disregard any opinion that didn't fit what we wanted or wanted to hear.

We refuse to accept that these people are our replacements and that their views and what they are saying really does matter.

Eamonn 

 

 

 

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