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This is How We Will Grow Scouting

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:mad: So much for promoting a vision of the pinnacle scouting experience as hiking and camping independently with your mates.

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What I see here are vague generalities, platitudes and corporate-speak. I am not sure how you make a "plan" out of this. There certainly isn't a "plan" in this statement. At best, there are some goals.

 

The one thing that is ALMOST specific is questioning programs in some councils that reach out to "younger youth." Younger than what? If I read between the lines, I think he is probably talking about "Lion" (kindergarten) programs, and suggesting that this is not the way to go. I cannot think of anything else that those two sentences could be about. If that is what he is saying, I agree with him. But again it is couched in such general and qualified language that I am not certain that that is what he is even talking about.

 

(By the way, I find it a little odd that the blog post is simply signed "Mike" and I see no mention of his last name anywhere. Presumably, the tiny, tiny little words at the top "Chief's Corner" is supposed to tell us that this is our new Chief Scout Executive, Michael Surbaugh. Hey "Mike", you've only had the job for seven days, you can sign your full name!)

Edited by NJCubScouter

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No solutions there that I see.

 

Just proposing to double down on stuff that already isn't working,  is what I see.

 

The biggest problem I see is a GROWING inability/unwillingness of volunteers to step forward to support Scout units.  Lots more children are interested in Scouting but have parents who aren't or have competing activities.

 

Plus,  Scouting is getting ever more complex for leaders and youth.  Too complex,  in my opinion.

 

Cub Scout den handbooks can be 200-300 pages long. WAY too much reading and programs that are way too complex.

 

And Scouting seems to be chasing every fad around in the forlorn hope of latching on to one that will have the appeal that camping had a hundred years ago and decades ago.

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And another by the way, I am moving this to Open Discussion/Program. If the discussion goes in certain directions it may end up in I & P, though recently I have learned that I need to put on my battle gear before moving anything there. But I think something from National, by definition, does not go into "Council Relations."

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Read it this way:

 

His mission statement was to grow legacy programs, evolve quality, reflect interests of youth, focus on key-scouting values and methods (assume that means outs, adult association, patrol method).

 

Career experiences through Exploring Explosion. Not quite sure how this program dovetails with the "legacy programs" or what it even does, but it seems to be a career education and development program. I read the play book and it is yet another example of how BSA rolls stuff out telling you WHY something should be done but not HOW to do it or WHAT benefit you get from the program. Yet another set of volunteers to manage and more recognition garbage. They just don't make it simple for anyone. What we need is a quick way to integrate this program in to the EXISTING Scouting program. This just seems like another layer to an already muddled picture.

 

The second point is just a plea to develop a program to reach out to minority and immigrant communities. They do seem to imply they will be reaching out to kids younger than Tiger age.

 

Obviously they see STEM as a big play.

 

He talks about "underserved" markets and groups. Sounds like PC speech for minorities and immigrants again.

 

@@NJCubScouter is right, there's not much to go on here. 

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I like what he said about minorities and immigrants. Most of our white people demographic has had the opportunity to be a Scout. They know what Scouting is. Obviously we want to keep that option available to them. Inner city and immigrants are an area where Scouting can grow, but we have to give them the same program the country and suburb kids get. Being outdoors, with their friends, doing fun things. Not stupid ideas like the "improved Scouting program." 

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I like what he said about minorities and immigrants. Most of our white people demographic has had the opportunity to be a Scout. They know what Scouting is. Obviously we want to keep that option available to them. Inner city and immigrants are an area where Scouting can grow, but we have to give them the same program the country and suburb kids get. Being outdoors, with their friends, doing fun things. Not stupid ideas like the "improved Scouting program." 

 

But you will need to fundamentally adjust the program to meet that objective. With the high rate of single-parent and multi-child households in those demographics -- adding in language issues -- how are you going to drive growth in a program that relies on parents to step up and run a Den or Pack? Until BSA solves that issue these ideas are useless musings.

 

We already have an issue with 20- and 30-somethings stepping up to help in Scouts as it is today. Do you think immigrant parents with poor language skills or single parents with multiple kids are going to do it? That's the problem to solve first, then you can market to those groups.

Edited by Krampus

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Career experiences through Exploring Explosion. Not quite sure how this program dovetails with the "legacy programs" or what it even does, but it seems to be a career education and development program. I read the play book and it is yet another example of how BSA rolls stuff out telling you WHY something should be done but not HOW to do it or WHAT benefit you get from the program. Yet another set of volunteers to manage and more recognition garbage. They just don't make it simple for anyone. What we need is a quick way to integrate this program in to the EXISTING Scouting program. This just seems like another layer to an already muddled picture.

This IS part of the "existing" BSA "program", or at least the BSA organization. Whether you consider it "Scouting" is up to you. I clicked on the "Exploring Explosion" link and it seems pretty clear that it is just a stepped-up marketing campaign to grow the Exploring career exploration program that has been around for years under that name (80's? 90's? Whenever the Venturing program was split off to be what used to be Exploring) and was around under other names since the 60's or 70s. Right here in the town where I work there is a Law Explorer post that I have been thinking of getting involved in. So presumably the "Explorer Explosion" will be designed to attract more participants, more units, more sponsoring organizations and possibly more career fields, but it is not a new program.

 

The second point is just a plea to develop a program to reach out to minority and immigrant communities. They do seem to imply they will be reaching out to kids younger than Tiger age.

On the first sentence, I hope they are more successful than the "Soccer and Scouting" program, which the BSA thought was intended to produce more Scouts but the participants mostly decided was just another chance to play soccer. I remember a DE telling me "We've got these kids signing up to play soccer for a second year, which isn't the point. They are supposed to play soccer for awhile and then form into Cub Scout dens, but their parents aren't stepping forward to be leaders or to hold meetings." (To which my reply (spoken only to myself) was, "What made you think they would?")

 

As for your second sentence, what he said is: "Additionally, local councils have embarked on innovative programs to reach out to younger youth. We need to truly study this and determine if this is helpful or harmful to overall growth in the program." I guess that can be read two ways. I read it to imply that they have tried to reach out to kids younger than Tigers and it isn't working out. But I can see how you could read it the other way. To me, the fact that various councils have been "piloting" kindergarten programs for what seems like 6-7-8 years, and National has never adopted this program nationwide, suggests to me that National isn't interested in doing so.

 

He talks about "underserved" markets and groups. Sounds like PC speech for minorities and immigrants again.

Yes, it is about minorities and immigrants, but I don't think "PC" has anything to do with it. National wants every youth of Scouting ages (boys only where applicable) to be in a BSA program. If you are idealistic, this is just because they want every youth to benefit from the programs of the BSA. If you are cynical (like me), this is also because more members = more registration fees and probably = more donations = higher salaries (and more jobs) at National, councils and all around.

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Exploring Explosion, stem scouts, family scouts. What happened to fun with a purpose? Probably went the way of recess ....

 

I guess I shouldn't be too surprised given that the efficiency of raising kids is the most important thing parents do. It's all about winning. Win all you can. Your son can win more if he has less free time and focuses more on his career, starting at age 7.

 

How many other threads can I tie into this one?

 

BTW, it's not a rifle approach, it's a shotgun approach. This whole document is a grab bag of ideas. Hardly a single bullet.

 

I do like the idea of reaching out to minority communities. These communities tend to be more interested in community and less on winning all you can. But someone said they don't know the outdoors and for some it's hard to volunteer, so that is a problem.

  • Upvote 1

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@@NJCubScouter, thanks for identifying the author.

... (By the way, I find it a little odd that the blog post is simply signed "Mike" and I see no mention of his last name anywhere. Presumably, the tiny, tiny little words at the top "Chief's Corner" is supposed to tell us that this is our new Chief Scout Executive, Michael Surbaugh. Hey "Mike", you've only had the job for seven days, you can sign your full name!)

When he was here, he always went by "Mike", but usually got his last name or E-mail in the memo somewhere.

Would have been nice to see a surname ... at least in a byline.

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Part of my issue with ScoutReach (which is mentioned in the blog post) is that after all the words I have read about it, I am still not clear on exactly what measures are used to attract more units and more members in the "underserved communities." Most of it (including the page linked from the blog post) seems to focus on the goals of ScoutReach and how Scouting can benefit these communities, which is fine as far as it goes but doesn't tell me anything I didn't already know. My question is, what are they actually doing? They are talking about "enhanced ScoutReach" but I don't see much on that page that seems "enhanced." Part of it is promotion and marketing, part of it is getting kids into one program and trying to lure them from that into Scouting (see Scouting, Soccer and, above), and part of it is providing grants for fees and expenses when regular fundraising is insufficient. It's all nice but it hardly seems new or innovative or enhanced. It's probably just nibbling on the edges of the problem. My question is, do any of these ScoutReach programs finance paid Scouters to do what volunteers do in areas where volunteers are more plentiful? In other words, paid Cubmasters and Scoutmasters? It seems to me I have read about that somewhere but I don't know if it actually exists. I realize that would be a controversial idea and would involve big bucks, but quite frankly if the goal is to get big numbers to join Scouting in areas where almost all the parents are wondering where their next meal is coming from and dealing with all the issues of a troubled urban (or remote rural) area, I think that's what it would take.

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This IS part of the "existing" BSA "program", or at least the BSA organization. Whether you consider it "Scouting" is up to you. I clicked on the "Exploring Explosion" link and it seems pretty clear that it is just a stepped-up marketing campaign to grow the Exploring career exploration program that has been around for years under that name

 

 

ROFL...never heard of it. Never seen it at district RTs or any council events...and I live in a charter council. ;) Shows you how well communicated it is. ;)

 

 

I do like the idea of reaching out to minority communities. These communities tend to be more interested in community and less on winning all you can. But someone said they don't know the outdoors and for some it's hard to volunteer, so that is a problem.

 

I like the idea but their concept is skewed. Scouting is family based. We have a helluva time getting our single parent kids to participate, let alone the parents. They just look at us like we have three arms when we ask them to volunteer. We have a few households where English is the second language....forget getting mom or dad to step up and help.

 

So in a program that depends on parent volunteers, BSA has their work cut out for them in making this outreach program work. They have a hard enough time keeping packs and troops viable in the areas they currently serve. :)

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I'll borrow a phrase from another thread to describe the "initiatives:"  lame, lame, lame.

 

Career exploring and STEM make great PR, but the are and always have been specialties that have appealed to small segments of the youth population.

 

More cub scouting:  steer resources and focus to the most predictable category of scouting.  So the kids do the cub scout programming death march, for years, and then what?   No mention of how to recruit and retain traditional boy scouts.  Short sighted there.

 

Family scouting?   Good idea.   But salesmanship involves selling something people want. 

 

Very interesting that the author picked the year 1972 as high water point.    Gosh, something else happened in the BSA that year...that's right, the Improved Scouting Program.   Where National scuttled every winning strategy in its arsenal for something that they perceived as hip, cool, modern, and PC (before there was such a phrase).  Too bad no one outside of National thought so.   Didn't work out so well.  

 

Newsflash to the strategy folks at National:   kids want to hike, camp, climb mountains, swim, start fires, shoot guns, and paddle canoes, with a minimum of adult supervision.   Kids in 1915 liked those activities, and kids in 2015 do as well.  

 

This isn't as tough as you think it is, HQ Irving.   But you'll have to swallow your pride, set aside the fancy ppt slides and disband the committees that are dreaming up all of this pie in the sky, and dust off the BSA's successful formula:   outdoor adventure.

 

Everything else will fall into place.

Edited by desertrat77
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