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Pselb

Is BSA Sustainable?

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If an organization doesn't have the resources to run the program, why does it think it has the right to continue?  Businesses go out of business every day.  Organizations close down all the time.  Churches stand vacant all around the country.  It's the cycle of life.  Things come and go.  Why in the world does BSA think it is exempt from such things anymore than General Motors thought itself to be too big to fail at one time.  Maybe with the emphasis on adult involvement, adult volunteerism, etc. the boys think it's dorky and not fun and too expensive, could it be said that the organization is really not in a position any longer to sustain itself?

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11 hours ago, Pselb said:

Why in the world does BSA think it is exempt from such things anymore than General Motors thought itself to be too big to fail at one time.

? Can you elaborate on your beef? What has BSA done to suggest that it is exempt from going bankrupt?

 

11 hours ago, Pselb said:

could it be said that the organization is really not in a position any longer to sustain itself?

Based on what?

 

Why all the doom and gloom? I am personally more committed to scouting today than I was yesterday and will probably be more so tomorrow.

 

And the day after that, and the day after that...

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Over the years, I have given much of my life to the BSA at most levels from the Tigers to council. Looking back, I believe that National's actions and decisions for the organization are more self-serving to National than the rest the organization. 

Can an organization with that kind of leadership sustain itself? Canadian Scouts and Campfire Kids are still around. 

Barry

Edited by Eagledad
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It is not a question of just the dedication of the Scouters it is two different questions IMHO:

(1) Is Boy Scouts of America, a Corporation able as it is currently configured and organized, and with current revenue streams and debts a financially and organization sustainable organization. This question which includes social issues such as a national decline in membership organizations, etc. I think there is a reasonable case to be made for the financially viability of BSA the corporate institution given the evidence of consolation of many Councils due to falling membership and declining finances. This is true in areas such as Florida where the the 10-18 population from 1990 (and projected to 2030) has been constantly growing. Others have commented on this forum about BSA's looming debt load on the Summit.

(2) The second is the question is Scouting, as a concept (the boundaries of which are constantly debated) , regardless if single-gendered or mixed is still an attractive people "movement" able to attract, sustain, or grow youth membership in the modern era irregardless of existing conditions and nostalgia. IMHO I think the answer is yes given the proliferation of world scouting. However the next question is 'in what form" and how many would be members? A smaller leaner more traditional structure? A loose confederation of local units with little National structure? How many assets (Camps, High Adventure Bases) should Scouting need or even have? Or a more expanded inclusive school based program? Or a complete reconstruction of ages and program to mirror the UK? Are the social forces, which also impact many youth sports programs and traditional structured religious denominations, represent a more powerful drag that will whittle away scouting altogether? (I call that last one the "we're all doomed" scenario.) 

 

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16 minutes ago, Tampa Turtle said:

It is not a question of just the dedication of the Scouters it is two different questions IMHO:

(1) Is Boy Scouts of America, a Corporation able as it is currently configured and organized, and with current revenue streams and debts a financially and organization sustainable organization. This question which includes social issues such as a national decline in membership organizations, etc. I think there is a reasonable case to be made for the financially viability of BSA the corporate institution given the evidence of consolation of many Councils due to falling membership and declining finances. This is true in areas such as Florida where the the 10-18 population from 1990 (and projected to 2030) has been constantly growing. Others have commented on this forum about BSA's looming debt load on the Summit.

(2) The second is the question is Scouting, as a concept (the boundaries of which are constantly debated) , regardless if single-gendered or mixed is still an attractive people "movement" able to attract, sustain, or grow youth membership in the modern era irregardless of existing conditions and nostalgia. IMHO I think the answer is yes given the proliferation of world scouting. However the next question is 'in what form" and how many would be members? A smaller leaner more traditional structure? A loose confederation of local units with little National structure? How many assets (Camps, High Adventure Bases) should Scouting need or even have? Or a more expanded inclusive school based program? Or a complete reconstruction of ages and program to mirror the UK? Are the social forces, which also impact many youth sports programs and traditional structured religious denominations, represent a more powerful drag that will whittle away scouting altogether? (I call that last one the "we're all doomed" scenario.) 

 

Good points and to add to them one must (for the sake of this discussion) separate CORPORATE BSA from Scouts running around camping

Is BSA Corporate sustainable?  - Not sure.  There has been noted mismanagement of assets and spending.  Most notably Summit and fixed retirement benefits exposure.  Also has the overhead been structured to match the field reality?.  That being said BSA National is one entity and I believe that local councils are a separate entity and then the units are in fact other entities.  As members we are not obligated to pay council debts as the council is not obligated for any unit debts.  This will no doubt come to a head in a few years.  The hail Mary for including girls and the expected membership increases will likely not be in the magnitude needed.  If BSA National folds and/or changes relationship the biggest hurdle will be the liability insurance question.  In some cases that may be an improvement as local entities may be able to get lower rates if out from under the umbrella of National and long-term issues

Is BSA as a concept in current form sustainable - Again, not sure.  Certainly the organization is going to change.  The addition of girls, linked troops, and likely coed units will heavily impact summer camps, any district or council activities, and in many cases local units as they change or do not change.  This change will bring new leaders (hopefully) and sadly the departure of other with their institutional knowledge. Will BSA continue to promote their aims of  character development, citizenship training, and personal fitness.  Will they use and emphasize the methods - Scouting Ideals, Patrols, Outdoors, Advancement, Personal Growth, Adult Association, Leadership Development, Uniforms.  

 

Real question is will "BSA" (or whatever name) still be the group for youth leadership, youth being allowed to fail, and youth gaining a quality outdoor experience as they journey through scouting over several years OR will "BSA" become another activity that families and youth do for a season as an after school thing and then maybe move on to something else.

 

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Just give me a little online store that I can buy handbooks, merit badge manuals, patches and uniforms and our troop can continue on just fine.
We also need an insurance policy in place.

That is all our troop really needs to keep on scouting. 

 

 

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14 hours ago, Pselb said:

If an organization doesn't have the resources to run the program, why does it think it has the right to continue?  Businesses go out of business every day.  Organizations close down all the time.  Churches stand vacant all around the country.  It's the cycle of life.  Things come and go.  Why in the world does BSA think it is exempt from such things anymore than General Motors thought itself to be too big to fail at one time.  Maybe with the emphasis on adult involvement, adult volunteerism, etc. the boys think it's dorky and not fun and too expensive, could it be said that the organization is really not in a position any longer to sustain itself?

They're not quite dead yet.......

1 hour ago, Eagledad said:

Over the years, I have given much of my life to the BSA at most levels from the Tigers to council. Looking back, I believe that National's actions and decisions for the organization are more self-serving to National than the rest the organization. 

Can an organization with that kind of leadership sustain itself? Canadian Scouts and Campfire Kids are still around. 

Barry

I don't know a single Campfire kid.  I know Royal Rangers, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Venture Scouts, but no campfire kids.  

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13 minutes ago, perdidochas said:

They're not quite dead yet.......

Image result for monty python i'm not dead yet meme

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BSA is one of the largest youth organizations in the USA in terms of revenue and membership.  BSA won’t go away.  It may be smaller, different and even have to restructure debt, but I don’t see BSA vanishing.  

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43 minutes ago, perdidochas said:

They're not quite dead yet.......

I don't know a single Campfire kid.  I know Royal Rangers, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Venture Scouts, but no campfire kids.  

It is sad and I ironic.

Our neighbor, while I was a Cub Master, was a district leader for Campfire. By coincidence, the wife of our ASM was what we would call the District Commissioner. Only over a much larger area. She was well connected to the National office. I was lost when I started in cubs and the neighbor gave me all her notes. The program was fantastic. I was what I still feel Cub Scouts should be. But both friends admitted that they felt the future was bleak. Campfire had changed it's membership policy to accept gays and the membership numbers were taking a huge hit. It also started to accept boys, but that wasn't as much of an issue as the gay policy. The program is still around, but just a shell of what it was in the 80s.

As I became a troop leader, the internet started becoming a popular source for resources and scouters in the Canadian Boy Scouts dominated the content for troop scouting. At the time, Canadian Scouts had the most boys of any nation in the world. And it was also respected as the best boy scout program in the world. If you were to search for scouting resources now from the Canadian scouts today, well there is a little. But, they were the go-to experts of troop scouting before the organization took it's sudden left turn.

I think there will always be a market for some kind of youth outdoor program. Whether it resembles the scouting program that we have discussed here in the past is the question. But as I said, I have come to believe the folks at National are in it for the folks at National. I don't feel there is much tradition, nostalgia or values principles holding them to a plan.

Barry

 

Edited by Eagledad
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This question is bigger than BSA. Many national youth programs may falter if benefactors of all types cease to believe in them.

If only partisans would take the money they blow on these hideous TV campaign spots and sink it into local youth programs ...

That would tip the scales for me ... an ad that said "Instead of bashing the politician we hate/dread, we donated the money for the remainder of this spot to boys and girls clubs. Enjoy the next 25 seconds of air paid by other sponsors. See you at the polls!"

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This is a real concern.  The membership numbers have been bad for a long time, but locally the numbers are getting very bad.  Bad to the point that 75% or more of the units are on the bring of collapsing.  The numbers are bad.  I just never expected this years numbers to be as bad as they are.  

All the recent program changes seem to address the continual loss.   IMHO, BSA has done some good and bad things.

  • Girls in scouting ... I think this is a good change.  Not only does it open up BSA to many more youth, it also brings BSA into the modern era.  Unless it is a physical issue (football = size, basketball = height, etc), program are becoming more and more co-ed.  When we think of other youth programs, they are co-ed:  Theater.  Debate.  Robotics.  Chess team.  Math teams.   And to be blunt, scouting in the rest of the world is co-ed.  I just don't see a good argument to keep it gender segregated here.   IMHO, this will help the numbers long term.
  • Lions and Tigers ... I think this has been a bad change.  Families establish a perception of scouting in their first few years.  At K & 1st grade, youth are just too immature.  The perception of scouting starts bad and does not recover.  A few units may do it well, but the majority just don't.  Then add family burn-out from five plus year cub scouts.   Then, add the endless repetition.   ... Cub scouts was originally created as a program for youth too young for Boy Scouts.  It was meant to be just a few years.  ... Then when we started scouting, Tigers were just a friend of the pack, full membership.  IMHO, we should go back to Cub Scouts starting in 2nd grade and then it's a GO SEE IT and GO DO THINGS program.  Essentially, start scouting when the kids are ready for using knives and starting fires. 

Scouting is at it's best when we focus on OUTINGS and GO DO THINGS.  Then, as part of OUTING and DOING THINGS, we encourage the scouts to lead and be organized and take responsibility, etc. 

At this point, our district is 1/3 the size of it was 15 years ago.  

 

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26 minutes ago, fred johnson said:
  • Lions and Tigers ... I think this has been a bad change.  Families establish a perception of scouting in their first few years.  At K & 1st grade, youth are just too immature.  The perception of scouting starts bad and does not recover.  A few units may do it well, but the majority just don't.  Then add family burn-out from five plus year cub scouts.   Then, add the endless repetition.   ... Cub scouts was originally created as a program for youth too young for Boy Scouts.  It was meant to be just a few years.  ... Then when we started scouting, Tigers were just a friend of the pack, full membership.  IMHO, we should go back to Cub Scouts starting in 2nd grade and then it's a GO SEE IT and GO DO THINGS program.  Essentially, start scouting when the kids are ready for using knives and starting fires. 

 

GSUSA has this problem.  They recruit kindergarteners into Daisies. And these kindergarteners really cannot do much yet.  By the time the girls are old enough to use knives and light fires, their families have become accustomed to Girl Scouts as a once-a-month light-and-fluffy not-much-asked-of-kid-or-family activity.

When my daugher hit second grade (start of Brownies) I signed up for my GSUSA council's "troop camp training" which is a prerequisite to building fires with your troop or taking kids camping.  I also invited the other moms in the troop to take the training along with me, if they were interested.  It turns out I scared the parents, who didn't want to see the troop camping, and they gave this feedback to the other leader, not me.

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9 minutes ago, Treflienne said:

GSUSA has this problem.  They recruit kindergarteners into Daisies. And these kindergarteners really cannot do much yet.  By the time the girls are old enough to use knives and light fires, their families have become accustomed to Girl Scouts as a once-a-month light-and-fluffy not-much-asked-of-kid-or-family activity.

It's probably why baseball and other programs may be able to successfully recruit younger.  Same with Violin programs.  The program does not change year to year.  It just gets more challenging.  Bigger bats and violins.  The five year old program very much resembles what the 17 year old program will be, just at a much lower level.  

The scouting program changes drastically from Lions & Tigers until Eagle scout.  Parent involvement changes.  Whole types of challenge changes.  Types of activities change.  It's just a much much different program.  Lions & Tigers is a baby sitting program.   Go see things.  No real skills development or focus at all.  Higher cub scout levels add knives and fire.  Boy scouts adds independence and separation.  Higher years adds high adventure.  

 

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48 minutes ago, fred johnson said:

Girls in scouting ... I think this is a good change.

I think GSUSA is dying as a scouting organization -- or rather living on as a completely different kind of program for kids.  Instead of girls who are old-enough to do so, growing through the game of scouting, what I am seeing being promoted instead is a light-weight feel-good program for little girls: do crafts once a month, sell cookies, and call yourself a Girl Scout.

It makes me sad. I've been a GSUSA member for decades.

I am really quite appreciative that BSA will be opening up to girls, offering girls a chance at a more traditional scouting program.  Don't know whether it will appeal to many girls, but I think it will benefit the girls who do join.   

 

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