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Reaching Millennials: BSA's Answer Will Cost You...

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I overheard a Scout this weekend reply to the question as to why his dad didn't come camping: "My dad's lazy. He works all week and then watches sports all weekend. He wouldn't last a minute out here."

Yeah, that lazy dad. He works all week, and all he wants to do on the weekend (after shelling out some of his hard-earned pay for Junior's Scouting activities) is relax. The nerve of that guy!

 

But it's ok. I have concluded that the vast majority of teenagers, and on up through college students, don't really understand what "working" really means - even if they have had part-time or summer jobs. I guess you can't really blame them, because they haven't "been there." I probably didn't get it. I know my son didn't get it. But he sure does now, now that he's been working full time for a year and a half.

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Yeah, that lazy dad. He works all week, and all he wants to do on the weekend (after shelling out some of his hard-earned pay for Junior's Scouting activities) is relax. The nerve of that guy!

 

 

The kid was spot on in this case. Dad ONLY works during the week. The rest of the time after work and on weekends is all about dad. Sits in the car during his kid's soccer games. Goes to Starbucks and surfs wifi during daughter's dance class. Golf's rather than spending time with other son. The list goes on.

 

Sorry, but the reason you have kids is to spend time nurturing them. Glad to see the kid is NOT is father's son.

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The kid was spot on in this case. Dad ONLY works during the week. The rest of the time after work and on weekends is all about dad. Sits in the car during his kid's soccer games. Goes to Starbucks and surfs wifi during daughter's dance class. Golf's rather than spending time with other son. The list goes on.

Well, that sheds a different light on the situation.

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Today?  I don't think Socrates was talking about today.  And I know you didn't mean he was, but it sort of highlights a point I make whenever we get into these generational discussions:  EVERY generation (probably since Socrates) has taken a dim view of the antics of the next generation.  "These kids today" - it's not a new saying.  My parents' "generation" said it about mine - and Stosh, you are in the same "generation" as me, if you put any stock in these generational labels, which I really don't.  So that's another point, I guess:  Millennial (which to me is still Gen Y), Gen X, and so on are just labels created by media and marketing gurus.  Nobody can even agree on what the dividing lines are.   And what does it all mean anyway?  After all, by most definitions, my children are an X and 2 Y's - but to me, they are all the same generation, that being the generation of my family after me.

 

LOL!  NJCubScouter... The point being, no matter what "label" one puts on a generation, they're all the same, the have been that way for what, now, 3,000 years?  I don't need an expensive class at Philmont to tell me what every generation knows about kids.  Sacrates was talking about the kids in his generation and every generation since.  :)

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Well, that sheds a different light on the situation.

 

Sadly, this is out experience locally with this age group. Mom and dad are self-absorbed. They spend more time on themselves than their kids. When they do go to their kids' events they are on their phones or treating them like some sorority/fraternity mixer where they socialize rather than cheer on their team. Of course, they are the first to berate the referee or coach.

 

@@Stosh has a point, why should we cater to this generation? The folks I see joining from this generation as leaders are useless. They sit around and want to be waited on at camp. They are not the jumping in sort.

 

Gross generalization, sure. But per capita I find better volunteers in the older generations than I do with this one.

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Sadly, this is out experience locally with this age group. Mom and dad are self-absorbed. They spend more time on themselves than their kids. When they do go to their kids' events they are on their phones or treating them like some sorority/fraternity mixer where they socialize rather than cheer on their team. Of course, they are the first to berate the referee or coach.

 

@@Stosh has a point, why should we cater to this generation? The folks I see joining from this generation as leaders are useless. They sit around and want to be waited on at camp. They are not the jumping in sort.

 

Gross generalization, sure. But per capita I find better volunteers in the older generations than I do with this one.

It would be interesting to see any actual statistical studies of this issue. For now, I am not convinced that the current "generation" of younger parents are much different from past generations. There have always been people like you describe - and there have always been others who "step up to the plate" and give as much time and effort as they can, and more. I think that is true in every "generation."

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Sadly, this is out experience locally with this age group. Mom and dad are self-absorbed. They spend more time on themselves than their kids. When they do go to their kids' events they are on their phones or treating them like some sorority/fraternity mixer where they socialize rather than cheer on their team. Of course, they are the first to berate the referee or coach.

 

@@Stosh has a point, why should we cater to this generation? The folks I see joining from this generation as leaders are useless. They sit around and want to be waited on at camp. They are not the jumping in sort.

 

Gross generalization, sure. But per capita I find better volunteers in the older generations than I do with this one.

You seem to be contradicting yourself by first agreeing with Stosh's point that all generations are the same, and then commenting that volunteers from older generations are better.

 

I can understand your frustration with parents, but what you don' understand is that we have all been there; even the old generations. It's just part of the job. Of course we learn to become disappointed in our fellow neighbors, but that is the price we pay for being naive servants.

 

In talking with my dad about scouts in the 30's and 40s, parents weren't any more involved in his generation than now. In fact they were involved less because the older generations didn't the 2 adult requirements. The SM was the only adult on most of his campouts. If there is a difference that stands, the youth in my dad's day (and myself really) had more independence from the parents. Thus there wasn't the helicoptering that we see today. Why is a different discussion.

 

Maybe the frustration of todays volunteers is a result of them feeling the need for more help to run their boy run units. Maybe todays volunteers are more helicoptering than we realize. That thought leads to a whole lot of other discussions as well.

 

Barry

Edited by Eagledad

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It would be interesting to see any actual statistical studies of this issue. For now, I am not convinced that the current "generation" of younger parents are much different from past generations. There have always been people like you describe - and there have always been others who "step up to the plate" and give as much time and effort as they can, and more. I think that is true in every "generation."

 

I'd like to see those stats too. However, I think to a degree we are already seeing the unofficial stats. BSA notes that adult membership is dropping, and at a higher rate than youth membership is dropping. It would be interesting to see the details behind that. Is it due to "old timers" not re-upping? Or is is due to not enough younger parents. stepping up? Locally we are seeing the latter. Older parents are having to maintain roles longer because find replacements is harder; and the replacements they do find are not the Millennials, but that next generation up (40-50 year olds).

 

Locally we have had three packs and one troop fold in the last three years. All three packs folded because none of the younger parents would step up and take ANY role. The parents leaving (all in their 40s) tried to get coverage but in the end the younger parents simply thought it was easier to find another pack than step up and help.

 

You seem to be contradicting yourself by first agreeing with Stosh's point that all generations are the same, and then commenting that volunteers from older generations are better.

 

Unless I misread @@Stosh's intentions of his post, it was that we shouldn't be catering to any generation, but rather forcing them to adjust to society and how it operates. The horse may be out of the barn with the current crop of young parents. They are already so spoiled that they might just become the next "Lost Generation".

 

 

I can understand your frustration with parents, but what you don' understand is that we have all been there; even the old generations. It's just part of the job. Of course we learn to become disappointed in our fellow neighbors, but that is the price we pay for being naive servants.

But there's a difference. Even the generation just above mine agrees that we are blatantly pandering to the Millennials rather than forcing them to comply with society. We keep making everything so easy. Hold them to the standards of societal norms rather than changing the rules to fit how they want to live their lives. Yes, other generations complained about youth. But it used to be that once you had kids a light bulb went off somewhere and you knew what you had to do. That's not the case with the advanced narcissism of the Millennials...and that's the difference.

 

In talking with my dad about scouts in the 30's and 40s, parents weren't any more involved in his generation than now. In fact they were involved less because the older generations didn't the 2 adult requirements. The SM was the only adult on most of his campouts. If there is a difference that stands, the youth in my dad's day (and myself really) had more independence from the parents. Thus there wasn't the helicoptering that we see today. Why is a different discussion.

I think the Depression and a World War might have had something to do with it.

 

Maybe the frustration of todays volunteers is a result of them feeling the need for more help to run their boy run units. Maybe the todays volunteers are more helicoptering than we realize. That thought leads to a whole lot of other discussions as well.

Perhaps. Yet locally I see Tom Johnson spending more time working on his back swing or making sure he enjoys two Caribbean cruises (without his kids) each year, rather than helping his son with his homework or playing catch.

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@@Eagledad, I beg to differ about parents. And it has to do with the tools at their disposal.

 

In my day, most of us could walk to the scout house in the time that it took me to drive my son to his meeting place. I got lucky. My dad retired, so he was happy to ride me places to get out of dish-washing duty. (Mom was happy to have the kitchen to herself and get things done right for change.) But, there were plenty of times where I just hoofed it.

 

It's different now.

 

Why is this? Because most of us have it in our heads that we can choose the ideal troop, ideal  sport, ideal house of worship, etc ... for our kids ... regardless of where it is in relation to our our ideal house and our dream job. After all, we have that tin box on wheels. Might as well use it. And thanks to the mobile phone, we can adjust plans on the fly. Really, when the Mrs. is on the road, it's like we are ground crew being radioed into position. :mad:

 

Sure we all want our kids to grow up strong and good. But, this profusion of devices has addled some folk's brains as to how best to meet that end.

Edited by qwazse
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No need to go all the way to Philmont and cough up $500.00 when if you Google "Millennial's Boy Scouts of America" the BSA already has several pdf's and power point presentations with information on the millennial demographic and what they supposedly are into. 

 

According to their studies, these parents "want to be involved and want to volunteer".  I personally would love to know where to find these people because if you look around at our den meetings, the parents are not really involved and are off somewhere in the sanctuary or outside on their phones or pads.  I almost want to see if we can initiate in our pack something like what is happening at Chick Fil-A.  http://inside.chick-fil-a.com/all-cooped-up-how-one-chick-fil-a-operator-is-redefining-the-phrase/.  

 

Maybe if these parents can get the screen out of their face and actually see what all happens during meetings and camping they can see that help is needed.  We have the same 5 or 6 people doing almost everything.  Its ridiculous when we have a pack of over 40 boys.  I have a crazy work schedule( like have to be at work everyday at 3am) just like everyone else yet I am doing way more than my "one hour a week".   You are bringing your child for that one hour a week, why not actually get involved?  Then there will be no one to b*tch about how slowly the pinewood derby is going or that its taking so long for meals to come out when we are camping.   Or complaining about how much various activities cost for camping or other events.  They fail to do any of the fundraisers.  

 

These millennial's need a swift kick in the pants if you ask me.  I almost have to wonder if the disconnect with them is the whole "vote" issue and they think that scouting is outdated and that they think that scouting will not have an impact on their child's life and they won't learn anything useful. 

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No need to go all the way to Philmont and cough up $500.00 when if you Google "Millennial's Boy Scouts of America" the BSA already has several pdf's and power point presentations with information on the millennial demographic and what they supposedly are into. 

 

According to their studies, these parents "want to be involved and want to volunteer".  I personally would love to know where to find these people because if you look around at our den meetings, the parents are not really involved and are off somewhere in the sanctuary or outside on their phones or pads.  I almost want to see if we can initiate in our pack something like what is happening at Chick Fil-A.  http://inside.chick-fil-a.com/all-cooped-up-how-one-chick-fil-a-operator-is-redefining-the-phrase/.  

 

Maybe if these parents can get the screen out of their face and actually see what all happens during meetings and camping they can see that help is needed.  We have the same 5 or 6 people doing almost everything.  Its ridiculous when we have a pack of over 40 boys.  I have a crazy work schedule( like have to be at work everyday at 3am) just like everyone else yet I am doing way more than my "one hour a week".   You are bringing your child for that one hour a week, why not actually get involved?  Then there will be no one to b*tch about how slowly the pinewood derby is going or that its taking so long for meals to come out when we are camping.   Or complaining about how much various activities cost for camping or other events.  They fail to do any of the fundraisers.  

 

These millennial's need a swift kick in the pants if you ask me.  I almost have to wonder if the disconnect with them is the whole "vote" issue and they think that scouting is outdated and that they think that scouting will not have an impact on their child's life and they won't learn anything useful. 

So I did Google as you suggested.  There was of course a fair amount of fluff, but there was also some good stuff.

 

One of the power points seemed to address the challenge you were having about getting folks to help out.

 

We know Millennials want to help –

èbut, they need to be asked

è-remember they are accustomed to being scheduled by their parents.

èExpect volunteering to be a collaborative effort

èThey want to be involved in the planning stages–

èAccustomed to structure –

èneed to know what is expected of them, when it is expected, and why it is expected

Don’t handle open-ended job assignments well - they don’t do as well if left alone to make it happen

 

This has been my experience, and not just with Millennials.  If you don't specifically ask for help at all, people assume you don't need it.  If you stand in the front of the room, or send out an email, asking for volunteers you'll get the usual suspects.

 

If you want people to help you, ask them personally to do a specific task.  Tell them exactly what you want and when you want it: "John, we need fifty balloons for the Pack meeting.  Could you please pick them up, bring them to the meeting, and then get three other people to help you blow them up so they're ready by 7."

 

"Mary, this word search is our gathering activity for the den meeting.  As people come in could you make sure each scout has a sheet and a crayon and sits at the table and works on it.  You could probably ask Maria to help you."

 

When I used to take my kids to baseball or hockey practice I didn't automatically assume I was going out on the ice or the field unless I was asked specifically to do so.

 

It is similar to what we try teaching the scouts.  When my PLs complain that nobody's doing any work I ask them where their duty roster is and who is actually assigned to the task they're moaning about.

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If you want people to help you, ask them personally to do a specific task.  Tell them exactly what you want and when you want it: "John, we need fifty balloons for the Pack meeting.  Could you please pick them up, bring them to the meeting, and then get three other people to help you blow them up so they're ready by 7."

 

Wow...better hope none of these folks are doctors or lawyers or airline pilots or something where thinking outside of the box and initiative are required. I've had Millennials who hold positions where they must think without being told what to do and they are very successful at it. However, that line of thinking stops at the office door. I'm not convinced they really value what Scouts does. Maybe that's why they are not volunteering en mass. I'd hate to think all of them are too narcissistic to help their own kid by volunteering. 

 

This thread from two years ago hits on a similar issue. I believe there are several different types of volunteers, as highlighted in this old Scouting article from two years ago. I think the problem is that there are few who would bring "enough for everyone", and even fewer of those types with the Millennials. 

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Generational labels were developed by social scientists to help them make sense of how the industrial revolution and the continuing technological revolution(s) afterwards were affecting different generations of people (notice no one really talks about generational labels when this was mostly an agricultural or hunter/gatherer world - we may talk about eras and ages but not about generations - other than a certain revolutionary zeal, there wasn't much difference on how the founding fathers survived and how the puritans of 150+ years before survived).  The media and marketers just screwed them up (Obama is a Gen X-er - but some media folks think of him as a Boomer).

 

The problem with the media and marketer version of the generations is that they don't really understand the differences within a generation either.  Late boomers and early X-er's are know for being early adopters of technology.  Early boomers not as much.  Late X-er's are less early adopters and more rapid adopters as technological advances have come quicker and quicker.

 

Early Millenial's are the new parents of today - they were also rapid adopters.  They tend to be "more highly educated" but less well-rounded in their education.  They were the first to be really subjected to what I call the "be more like Japan and Europe educational model" of learn to the test instead of the fine American tradition of teach both knowledge and critical thinking.  They were the first to be subject to the "mandatory volunteer service project".  There was less "figure it out" and more "here's the step by step instructions".  They were the first to experience the internet not as a tool but as a playground.  They have the advantage of being the first to have nationwide and worldwide "friends and acquaintances" at their fingertips and the wherewithal to speak to (if not interact with) 100's of people at one time.  Unfortunately, I think that also translates to being the first to not have to rely solely on their local community for support and friendship.  Anyone remember the book Bowling Alone?  They weren't bowling alone - they were just not bowling in their local community - they were bowling online with their buddies from Canada, Texas, California, Idaho, Utah, Israel, France. 

 

Maybe they're harder to get to step-up and volunteer but wait until we start seeing the late Millenial's - the folks in college right now - Emory University is now dealing with some students who are "traumatized" and "feeling unsafe" because someone chalked Trump 2016 on sidewalks in campus.  Holy Shnikes - what's going to happen to them when they start getting jobs?

 

I'm not really convinced that the BSA's volunteer problem is generationally based as much as it is likely to be era-based.  We live in a new era - we're technologically savvy and more equal than we have ever been before.  Women have been in the workforce for decades and that's not going to change anytime soon (nor should it).  In the 1970's, my mother had a part-time job.  In the 1980's, my sister had a career.  That's a big jump - and it's not going away anytime soon (thank goodness).  We have reached the point where women are earning more doctoral-level degrees than men.  That's huge.  What does that mean for us?  It means our Den Leader tradition is outmoded - there aren't enough men or women working part time jobs while their spouses work full time to have weekly meetings in their homes.  The two-career family is here to stay.  We need to adapt (as many Packs have with weekly den meetings all held in the same place at the same time).  Troops need to start thinking about adapting too. 

 

But more than that, we need to stop panicking about the numbers - we still have a couple of million Scouts involved.  The biggest problem with the 1970's reboot wasn't that it was a bad idea, it was that it failed to attract the people in the urban areas it was meant to attract.  It should be clear that Boy Scouting's strength is in the suburbs, exurbs and rural areas and that's where we should be focusing our efforts on.

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But more than that, we need to stop panicking about the numbers - we still have a couple of million Scouts involved.  The biggest problem with the 1970's reboot wasn't that it was a bad idea, it was that it failed to attract the people in the urban areas it was meant to attract.  It should be clear that Boy Scouting's strength is in the suburbs, exurbs and rural areas and that's where we should be focusing our efforts on.

 

Increasing rates of membership losses at both the youth and adult levels means two things: 1) Fewer Scouts  and 2) Fewer adults.

 

Since this trend has increased since 2013 (by nearly doubling, check the threads with these facts noted), why should we not be concerned? There are fewer adults, ergo a smaller volunteer pool.

 

I'd love to see stats on the average age of volunteers by unit, district and council over the last ten years. That data would tell a great deal.

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