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Sentinel947

"Boy Scouts thrive after lifting of gay ban."

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Even if you're down by 25 points, sometimes you can come back for an overtime win.

 

Probably not if one keeps throwing interceptions and fumbling the ball.  :)  One has to step up the basics and go back to what works, and that is an issue that is not being addressed.

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Or we need to console ourselves that we are destined to keep shrinking until we either lose critical mass and die, or we reach a stability point of a small(er), but dedicated organization.

This is where most, if not all, the scouting organizations in North America who made major membership changes have ended up. The Canadian Scouts are nearer to 50% of what they were when they started making their membership changes. What really makes that even more significant is that the Canadian Scouts Program was considered the premiere Scouting model in the world. But to be fair, I believe their membership changes were forced on the organization by the government. 

 

Barry

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There have been other changes over the decades other than gays. One of the biggest has been that life is more competitive than it used to be. The economy is certainly more competitive. Someone once told me that decades ago if you asked a parent what they wanted for their children they would tell you they wanted their kids to be good. Now, they'll tell you they want their kids to succeed. Art is now competitive. Marching band, Dancing with the Stars, American Idol. Something is wrong when art is about winning.

 

Whereas scouts used to be about being good, now it has to be about succeeding. If all you have to do is succeed then taking care of younger scouts is not a selling point. If the parents don't see the point of scouts then they won't volunteer. They won't make sure their kid gets to meetings or campouts. That's why the numbers are going down.

Edited by MattR
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This is where most, if not all, the scouting organizations in North America who made major membership changes have ended up. The Canadian Scouts are nearer to 50% of what they were when they started making their membership changes. What really makes that even more significant is that the Canadian Scouts Program was considered the premiere Scouting model in the world. But to be fair, I believe their membership changes were forced on the organization by the government. 

 

Barry

Actually Scouts Canada are at about 60%. If they can sustain the gains of the past 5 years they may be at their original numbers by decade's end. However, their annual report does not clearly show the counts by sex, so we can only assume they are still serving far fewer boys than they once did.

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Whereas scouts used to be about being good, now it has to be about succeeding. If all you have to do is succeed then taking care of younger scouts is not a selling point. If the parents don't see the point of scouts then they won't volunteer. They won't make sure their kid gets to meetings or campouts. That's why the numbers are going down.

 

 

There's definitely something to this idea. When I joined cub scouts as a kid in the late 1980s the percentage of scouts making it to Eagle was less than 2%. Now it's 6%. And the percentage rises despite falling overall membership numbers. The percentage shouldn't change that much no matter what is happening with overall membership. 

 

Scouting is no stranger to the competitive trend. When we're not embroiled in a membership policy controversy, many of the headlines we see about scouting are somehow focused on a competitive aspect of being a scout, like another kid running the table on merit badges and wearing 2 sashes with all of them sewn on. Competition is definitely a bigger part of all things these days. 

 

It's not all bad, competition can be a good thing. But where it fits into Scouting and how it works within the aims of the program is a tricky business. It's kind of ironic, though. We're living in an age where kids more and more want to be a "winner", and yet everything is so ultra-competitive now that it's harder than ever to win at anything. 

Edited by EmberMike

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There have been other changes over the decades other than gays. One of the biggest has been that life is more competitive than it used to be. The economy is certainly more competitive. Someone once told me that decades ago if you asked a parent what they wanted for their children they would tell you they wanted their kids to be good. Now, they'll tell you they want their kids to succeed. Art is now competitive. Marching band, Dancing with the Stars, American Idol. Something is wrong when art is about winning.

 

Whereas scouts used to be about being good, now it has to be about succeeding. If all you have to do is succeed then taking care of younger scouts is not a selling point. If the parents don't see the point of scouts then they won't volunteer. They won't make sure their kid gets to meetings or campouts. That's why the numbers are going down.

 

Sorry, but this bolded area is opinion, right? Is there data to support this assertion?

 

While there are dozens of reasons scouting has been losing membership since the 1980s, the acceleration since 2013 has only a few reasons. For example, all of the COs that dropped units since 2013 in my council cited the membership policy change.

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Sorry, but this bolded area is opinion, right? Is there data to support this assertion?

 

While there are dozens of reasons scouting has been losing membership since the 1980s, the acceleration since 2013 has only a few reasons. For example, all of the COs that dropped units since 2013 in my council cited the membership policy change.

 

I have no doubt the recently large drop is due to the membership change. But I have no idea how this will effect things in the long term. Yes, it's been bad for 3 years. But I'm not talking about what has happened in the past 3 years. I'm talking about what has happened over the past 50 years. The numbers have been going down for one reason or another since the 60s even though the population has gone up nearly 40% in that time frame. I don't know what the scout membership was in the 60's but it's a lot more than now and it should have been going up, not down.

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Let's put it in perspective, in my neighborhood, if you weren't in scouts there wasn't much to do other than ride bikes around town and shoot baskets.  We did have Little League in the summer, but the coaches forfeited games during scout summer camp.  We had a poorly run troop, but we went camping whether we wore the uniform or not.  Kids back then went indoors only to catch a bit of TV which parents policed far more than iPhones and Smartphones of today.  It was a different world back then.

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I have no doubt the recently large drop is due to the membership change. But I have no idea how this will effect things in the long term. Yes, it's been bad for 3 years. But I'm not talking about what has happened in the past 3 years. I'm talking about what has happened over the past 50 years. The numbers have been going down for one reason or another since the 60s even though the population has gone up nearly 40% in that time frame. I don't know what the scout membership was in the 60's but it's a lot more than now and it should have been going up, not down.

Well there's more stuff in school and sports and church to be involved in. There's select sports. Heck Rec sports essentially don't exist because everyone now is "select". There's a bowling alley, arcade or other type of venue on just about every corner of suburbia. Your TV 10,000 channels. If that's not enough you have Netflix and Hulu. Oh, and your TV is now handheld and you can carry with you everywhere, as they guy watching the ODU game in the stall next to me to Wing Stop can attest to. Gaming is now a profession. Should I go on with the changes to free time that have exploded in the last twenty years that would take away from Scouting?

 

Folks simply have too much to choose from. Scouting -- and simply being outdoors -- simply is seen as boring compared to all of this stuff. If being on top of the Tooth rafting down the New River doesn't make one's heart beat faster you're probably dead...or a gamer. :)

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One doesn't need to be an adrenaline junkie to drift slowly down the river with a dry paddle soaking up the rays and listing to the silence or propped up against a tree with a .22 across your lap watching the squirrels play in the fall leaves, or laying in a meadow staring out into the silence of space watching for a satellite to pass by or the loudest noise one hears is the swish of the cross-country skies on a cold winter night as the snow gently falls all around......... 

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There's definitely something to this idea. When I joined cub scouts as a kid in the late 1980s the percentage of scouts making it to Eagle was less than 2%. Now it's 6%. And the percentage rises despite falling overall membership numbers. The percentage shouldn't change that much no matter what is happening with overall membership. 

 

 

As they like to say in statistics (1) Correlation is not Causation and (2) By carefully choosing your statistics (and population) you can get them to say anything you want to say.

 

As to the first point, alternative (but not exhaustive) explanations could include:

(1) Although we are losing on bringing in general membership, we might be better at retaining current membership - leading to a higher number (%) of Eagles

(2) As the program membership shrinks, those that remain are more dedicated to the cause (both the boy and their families), again contributing to being in the program longer, contributing to a greater likelihood of achieving eagle

(3) If membership drops but the number of people earning eagle remains the same the % of those earning would increase.  I do not believe that the actual numbers bare this out, and I believe the the number of those earning eagle have increased year over year (but I do not have the reference at the moment), so this option could probably be dismissed.

(4) In a desperate attempt to stave off membership losses, we have made the prize jewel (the Eagle) easier to obtain.

 

My only real point is, that by itself we really cannot attribute how membership numbers and eagle numbers are or should be interrelated.

 

For a reference to the numbers themselves, in the Karate program my children are/did attend, they say (anecdotally) that about 10% of those who join the program make it to their black belt.  That is also a multi-year effort for similarly aged children to reach a milestone achievement.

Edited by gumbymaster

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Yep; we cannot accurately make comparisons across decades of change in society.  Not only are there far more things to do for youth and simply distractions, but we also have more two-earner families, more financial stress for lower income families, and a highly litigious environment that puts many dampers on activities once easily done with little thought.  While many of the restraints are important, others are over-kill that simply scare people and make many choose other less challenging and "dangerous" activity.  

 

As I keep repeating.  We have a great program which works well if we make the local efforts to make it happen and listen to the scouts and try and let them lead.  And, believe it or not, sometimes introducing what may seem an archaic activity or game sometimes really excites them and will lead to related activity.  In our troop/pack/(possibly crew and GS group soon) we are often like a small family that really inter-connects.  

 

Local, unit focus works if you actually let it.

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I think units have been focusing local of a long time. Numbers keep dropping. 

 

The program is working, boys are joining, but they are joining in fewer and fewer numbers despite the local-first attitude of many units.

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They may be staying away because of the bad press.  The local option might be right up their alley, but with all the talk at the national level it means the local units pick up guilt by association and thus parents don't even bother to check it out.

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