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Stosh

Cross-over Mess

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As I mentioned in another posting, I went with my church youth group on a rock climbing, hiking, swimming outing a couple of weeks back.  Last week they had a cookout, did the hot dog - S'mores thingy. 

 

This may be why Trail Life USA got traction in the first place. 

 

KAMO (Kids and Mentors Outdoors - Think Big Brothers/Big Sisters Outdoors) 2016 events include Squirrel hunting, Winter Rec Fest, Van Loon hike, hunter education classes, archery, ice fishing, hiking, canoeing, archery, mentored hunting and more.

 

We aren't talking Baseball vs. Camping, we're talking Skeet Shooting vs. Duck Hunting.

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.... We aren't talking Baseball vs. Camping, we're talking Skeet Shooting vs. Duck Hunting.

Ducks don't cost as much, and they give you something for your dog to fetch.

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Ducks don't cost as much, and they give you something for your dog to fetch.

 

Unofficially, we go hunting. Just not in uniform or as a troop, but we go. Just so happens that all of the folks going are scouters or scouts.

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Honestly, however, the profusion of youth clubs and taxpayer-funded outdoor-ish activities (e.g. our school installed a climbing wall) the flawed thinking of Pack camping as a recruiting tool.

 

Take the school climbing wall. When that came in, I had more youth already safety trained so that we could hire a guide and hit some rocks first thing ... knocking out a hearty climb in one morning. But most of those youth looked at the opportunity that our crew provided and thought, "Meh, been their done that. How much different than school can it be?"

 

My pointing out that with us, you learn your figure eights and rope yourself in, you hug real granite, road trips are cool, we cook better than the cafeteria (don't say that too loud, SM's wife is a lunch lady) ... does not add enough value to the event to someone who can arrange for all of those sensations without lugging biner and rope.

 

Well, cub family campouts are not much different. Families team up to knock out some weekends camping. That itch gets scratched. Parents continue make plans to bring you and your buddies to the family cabin. Why bother doing the same thing in a troop?

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We've had this same discussion many times over the years. 45 to 50 percent is the typical average for crossovers nation wide. In short, adult burnout is the cause.

 

A volunteer run program can hope for at best two years from their average volunteers. After two years, the volunteers are burning out. The Cub program is FIVE YEARS LONG. Yep, raising my voice there. Even if a parent wasn't a leader during the Tiger year, they still are two years in before they reach Webelos. Adding to the problem is that the average Cub leader is a mother who doesn't camp outdoors or understand Boy Scout Skills. Either the Bear leader reluctantly takes on the more outdoor style Webelos, or she quits and the pack finds a reluctant replacement. Either way the boys have an unmotivated leader for two more years. I did a lot of research in this and I'm guessing that between 65 to 75 percent of non crossovers came from a Dens with unmotivated burned out leaders.

 

The numbers can be improved, but the real problem is the five year Cub program. This is why I believe the Tiger program needs to be moved or merged into a pre-Pack age Scout program. Four years is still too long, but it's a start. 

 

Barry

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A volunteer run program can hope for at best two years from their average volunteers. After two years, the volunteers are burning out. The Cub program is FIVE YEARS LONG. Yep, raising my voice there. Even if a parent wasn't a leader during the Tiger year, they still are two years in before they reach Webelos. Adding to the problem is that the average Cub leader is a mother who doesn't camp outdoors or understand Boy Scout Skills.

 

Just for the sake of argument, wasn't the original de facto Pack leader back in the 50s and 60s, moms?

 

Was there a higher crossover rate then? If so, you think it was due to shear numbers going through the system? Less organized stuff for kids to do?

 

In our area moms are just as likely to camp as dads. Heck, I've got some guys who won't step foot in "the woods", even if it is a posh state park.

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@@barry. So what is National's solution ? MAKE IT SIX YEARS AND EVEN MORE WORK ON THE LEADERS. Most people are just don't have the creativity or time to spend 4 hours preparing for and sourcing the materials for a den meeting.

 

Your observations are interesting becuase in three different Packs I have not seen one female DL although a couple of assistants.

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I see the problem as a lack of marketing direction at the National level. Irving has failed to define, and implement a vision which focuses on what makes bsa unique compared to all other organizations. Without that, all marketing done at the local level is haphazard. There are a whole bunch of burger joints around, what makes ours stand out? I would argue that the failure at the national level to ensure that all franchises implement a boy-led, patrol-method program has diluted the one thing which could be used to demonstrate what makes scouting unique. The brand is losing its luster, and that responsibility falls squarely on the big boys in tx to ensure.

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I see the problem as a lack of marketing direction at the National level. Irving has failed to define, and implement a vision which focuses on what makes bsa unique compared to all other organizations. Without that, all marketing done at the local level is haphazard. There are a whole bunch of burger joints around, what makes ours stand out? I would argue that the failure at the national level to ensure that all franchises implement a boy-led, patrol-method program has diluted the one thing which could be used to demonstrate what makes scouting unique. The brand is losing its luster, and that responsibility falls squarely on the big boys in tx to ensure.

 

Exactly!

 

Leadership development, citizenship, self-reliance, personal growth. Put these in context with all the things Boy Scouts must do to operate and that might help sell the brand.

 

Of course, this might also push away those who join looking for that instant gratification which seems so prevalent in today's culture. Would that loss equal a greater gain?

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@@barry. So what is National's solution ? MAKE IT SIX YEARS AND EVEN MORE WORK ON THE LEADERS. Most people are just don't have the creativity or time to spend 4 hours preparing for and sourcing the materials for a den meeting.

 

Your observations are interesting becuase in three different Packs I have not seen one female DL although a couple of assistants.

That is not typical of packs nationally unless things have changed in the last few years. but even the male leaders who like to camp burn out. I've seen it a lot.

 

Still guys, marketing is not really the issue on this problem, trust me. Go out and find out for yourself by interviewing Den leaders like I did. Interview the Webelos and you will find that if the Den leader is running a fun program where the boys look forward to each meeting, they will likely crossover. In fact I found even if the den program is basically arts and crafts, but the leader still makes the meetings fun, they scouts will crossover because they believe the troop will be as fun as the den. If the meetings are boring, the scouts presume that is how the troop program will be as well and they look for a chance to break from the program. Crossover is that easy break.

 

The local fix is to find the burned out leaders and help them out. Not as easy as it sounds.

 

Barry

Edited by Eagledad

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Stosh,

 

I wasn't, this time, saying send a DC.  I was saying the Troop which supports a Pack, wins the boys.

 

Invite them on a short hike (1-2 miles).  Do a Webelos Pin event with them.  Do a Cub Scout Letter program with them ... tie it into skills for a merit badge.  Let your youth be creative in thinking about how!

 

Have fun.

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With the AOL emphasis we got 10 of 8 boys that showed up to the meetings.  The CM's son went solo to another troop in the area.  Unknown reasons. Burned out WDL's son dropped the AOL program about half way through.

 

To have involved adult leadership seemed to be working AGAINST us this time around.

 

No problem, we'll just play the cards we got dealt.

 

I have initiated contact with the WDL of our co-sponsored COR so we'll work on that.  No Web II scouts but maybe working together, we can retain more boys.

 

We've got council watching us like a hawk because we are rather unconventional and seem to be doing well relative to the other units in the neighborhood.

 

Got dinged on JTE on only one category that kept us from Gold.  Losing a couple boys in a troop of 50 wouldn't have made a bit of difference, losing a couple boys in a small start up troop makes a big difference.  But when one takes on 8 boys and it's a 400% increase in recruiting, you'd think that would count too.  :)

Edited by Stosh

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In my area is you want outdoors adventures your direct competition is family and friends. Next would be church groups or companies that put together or specialize in outdoor stuff. Parks and Rec departments have some things and in Texas I have to admit they are pretty good.

 

Clubs or groups like the Y are really not that popular here and really don't compete with Scouting. It is really sports, school, church/faith and clubs that compete for time in our area.

 

There's just so much to do out there that if you wanted an "outdoor" lifestyle, with plenty of parks, outfitters and companies out there catering to the recreationalist in all of us, you could do every Scouting adventure without Scouts.

I honestly wonder about the "indoor" parameter more.  I know there's a huge variable from unit to unit.... but it seems a huge focus on "meetings" and "classroom".  Even sitting round the campfire on a campout, the TG rounds up his pupils for a class..... just not fun.  the meetings are indoors and almost always adult "oriented" or perhaps "modeled" is a better word.... not fun for me anyway....

 

And since Cubs is even worse on this front.....

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