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EmberMike

Sunday Morning segment on the BSA

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This Sunday Morning report also covered  "Troop 1262, one of the fastest-growing troops in America. The Scouts are almost all Burmese refugees, their families resettled here from Thailand" as part of the "changing face" of the BSA.

As Sunday Morning host Jane Pauley introduced the report, she mentioned that today was Scout Sunday. Nice touch.

 

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Saw our CSE, interesting comments from him.  Apparently the drop in numbers for BSA is all about the change in families

"And you think about how families then, in the '70s, '80s and '90s, started to change," he said. "More pressures on the family. More activities for children. Moms now are in the workforce. But because we didn't adapt our program design, we just had a slow, steady erosion."

Partially true, but unless an organization / business / group really, well and truly, understands the issues, they will no doubt repeat them.  Basically CSE is blaming the decline on influences outside the organization.  A very shallow and simplistic view.

Membership declines had nothing to do with the wholesale change in the program in 1974, the continued emphasis on everything BUT outdoor skills and leadership, not fully understanding where your user base is coming from, not the large membership accuracy issues pretty much every decade, not a large professional base more attuned to fund raising than delivery of program, etc etc etc.

Scouting is a great program, one that teaches leadership and self reliance.  Unfortunately we seem to be moving to just another after school program in may ways.  Stick to the strong points if you want to grow.

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Both the BSA and GSUSA have seen significant membership declines.  Some of this is undoubtably societal.

 

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7 hours ago, RememberSchiff said:

This Sunday Morning report also covered  "Troop 1262, one of the fastest-growing troops in America. The Scouts are almost all Burmese refugees, their families resettled here from Thailand" as part of the "changing face" of the BSA.

 

Yeah, I didn't like them putting those two segments together. It seemed like they were trying to imply that, until recently, we would have excluded Burmese boys from scouting.

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I think I have said this before, but I wish that the BSA, as its first decision after letting girls into Cub Scouts, had NOT issued a new article of clothing for the girl-Cubs that emphasizes differences between the genders.  Why couldn’t they just let the girls wear the regular blue shorts and long pants?  And if necessary, offer a girls’ version, the same thing the boys are wearing, just a different “cut.”

I really hope that when the Girl Boy Scouts starts, they just let them wear the uniform pants or shorts and not have a green “skort.”

Is there a “skort” for female Venturers?

 

 

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I routinely hear that the drop in membership in 70's was caused by the program change. I can't say for sure, because I was not involved at that time, certainly not as an adult leader. So I went in search of some numbers. I found some here http://www.allcountries.org/uscensus/443_boy_scouts_and_girl_scouts_membership.html

I decided to chart the numbers for BSA and GSUSA. The dates are a bit strange in the spacing 10 years, 5, 5 then one year increments after that. The gaps in the data can hide a few things like actuall peaks and valleys, but the general trend line remains fairly accurate. The data ends in 1999, so there are no status for this century.

A few things I noticed.
1. BSA and GSUSA both take a similar dive in numbers from 1970 to 1980. BSA's drop is marginally worse.
2. BSA's numbers recover more robustly - great gains than GSUSA each year following 1980
3. BSA's numbers eventually exceed the 1970 peak, GSUSA's do regain their 1970 level

That begs the question, if BSA's membership drop was primarily about the program change, then why did GSUSA's numbers follow an almost identical decrease trend?

5a77ca829fd71_ScreenShot2018-02-04at9_48_41PM.thumb.png.1b303abc7cccfad11c6861083a6ce7f7.png

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41 minutes ago, HelpfulTracks said:

I routinely hear that the drop in membership in 70's was caused by the program change.

I hypothesize that it was the dreary times that we lived in. I bet if one were to look up membership numbers of many similar organizations that existed that that time, that we would see similar numbers. I think fraternal organizations experienced something similar as well.

This was the decade of stagflation, gas lines, Watergate, hostage crises, austerity, to name a few.

This was when "latchkey kids" became a household term. I was one. As one study put it, " [this generation] went through its all-important, formative years as one of the least parented, least nurtured generations in U.S. history." Whether due to increases in the divorce rate or both parents working, as kids, we were home alone more than any other generation.

In summary, people/kids joining organizations when they feel hope. I don't feel (and don't recall) a lot of hope in the 1970s as a kid. Such is probably why I also didn't last more than a few years in scouts as a kid.

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There's a lot of societal reasons why the Baby Boomer generation frequently comment as having grown up in the Golden Age of America.  My father said it many times.  The waning years of the 20th Century were not often viewed as "great".  The 21st Century has not really "taken off" in many areas other than maybe technology.

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@HelpfulTracks, we don't usually count Learning for Life members - as many of those participants aren't even aware that their school registered them in the BSA. Excluding that (as well as 18+ year-olds in Venturing and Exploring), we see steady declines in the traditional program - going back to the nationalization of the 18th birthday requirement for Eagle.

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13 hours ago, David CO said:

Yeah, I didn't like them putting those two segments together. It seemed like they were trying to imply that, until recently, we would have excluded Burmese boys from scouting.

Agreed, refugee and immigrant scouts are not a new face (membership) of the BSA.

 

 

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1 hour ago, qwazse said:

@HelpfulTracks, we don't usually count Learning for Life members - as many of those participants aren't even aware that their school registered them in the BSA. Excluding that (as well as 18+ year-olds in Venturing and Exploring), we see steady declines in the traditional program - going back to the nationalization of the 18th birthday requirement for Eagle.

Fair enough and true. So I recalculated. But, since Explorers were effectively split (in this statistical report) with School/Career based Exploring moving to LFL and some staying under Exploring program, I removed exploring altogether. This was to compare apples to apples. Leaving Explorers in, but not LFL, creates an impression that there was a significant drop in participation rather than a reclassification of what was a member.

That said, the comparison of the 70's membership drop is still valid and between BSA and GSUSA and both still suffer very equivalent drops. Clearly there were factors in the membership decline beyond the program change, else GSUSA would not have suffered the same decline.

I am not saying the program change had no effect. Perhaps without the change, the decline would not have been as drastic, now way to know for sure. But it appears that other factors were also involved. It is not as simple as saying the program change was the reason.

5a785fd567cca_ScreenShot2018-02-05at8_10_53AM.thumb.png.a3afa2ae1ba56c2a48c41af81f10b888.png

Edited by HelpfulTracks
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12 hours ago, NJCubScouter said:

I think I have said this before, but I wish that the BSA, as its first decision after letting girls into Cub Scouts, had NOT issued a new article of clothing for the girl-Cubs that emphasizes differences between the genders...

 

Agreed. There should been a freeze on any girl uniform items for at least a couple of years. They don't need them, at the cub level the clothing is universal enough to fit a boy or a girl. If they wanted to roll out girl-specific products later, fine. But at the launch of the program, it just sends the wrong message. The opposite message of what we've been trying to express, really, that girls want the boy program as-is, and we're giving them that same program and experience. Except we're not, if you're a girl, you should wear this impractical gender-specific uniform item. :rolleyes:

 

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1 hour ago, HelpfulTracks said:

Fair enough and true. So I recalculated. But, since Explorers were effectively split (in this statistical report) with School/Career based Exploring moving to LFL and some staying under Exploring program, I removed exploring altogether. This was to compare apples to apples. Leaving Explorers in, but not LFL, creates an impression that there was a significant drop in participation rather than a reclassification of what was a member.

That said, the comparison of the 70's membership drop is still valid and between BSA and GSUSA and both still suffer very equivalent drops. Clearly there were factors in the membership decline beyond the program change, else GSUSA would not have suffered the same decline.

I am not saying the program change had no effect. Perhaps without the change, the decline would not have been as drastic, now way to know for sure. But it appears that other factors were also involved. It is not as simple as saying the program change was the reason.

5a785fd567cca_ScreenShot2018-02-05at8_10_53AM.thumb.png.a3afa2ae1ba56c2a48c41af81f10b888.png

From the 2016 Annual Report BSA is now at 2,221,939

  • Cubs - 1,262,311
  • Scouts - 822,999
  • Venture - 136,629

 

  • L for L - 372,891
  • Explorers - 119,268

 

Your chart shows (estimate) 3,400,000 in 99.  That is a 35% decline in 17 years.  

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