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FireStone

Putting the pieces together - Where are we headed?

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Putting aside the doom-and-gloom ideas for a moment, let's think about what this all looks like in a few years, or maybe a decade, if all of the changes don't sink the BSA. National has to have some sort of plan (go ahead, laugh, but let's assume for a minute that they actually do have a plan), or at least some idea of what they are driving the organization towards. 

My guess? Look at Scouts UK. 

Things that Scouts UK has done differently in past decades that the BSA is now doing: 

Scouts UK has been co-ed for a long time. They simplified their uniforms, attempting to revamp the image of scouting, something I suspect the BSA is already working on (look at BSA Brand Center marketing photos and lack of uniforms). They modernized their program, adding more non-traditional badges and activities (look at the heavy push in STEM in the BSA). 

These are all things that the BSA is already doing or seems to be working towards. We've had glimpses of a revamped uniform discussed here in this forum. I think we'll see more and more of that in the years to come. I've even seen BSA personnel and camp staffers occasionally walking around wearing neckerchiefs in the UK style and without the uniform shirt, and new larger necker sizes becoming available. 

If I had to imagine what National is envisioning as they move forward, that vision really does feel a lot like what we've seen across the pond. I would not be at all surprised to see the BSA even take on an ambassador like Bear Grylls to try and push this newer, cooler scouting image in the US. Not sure who our Bear could be, though. 

Any other guesses as to what the BSA of the future might look like? Are we on a path that aligns with the UK program or something else? 

 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, FireStone said:

let's think about what this all looks like in a few years, or maybe a decade, if all of the changes don't sink the BSA.

I think BSA will continue to exist, but in a very different incarnation than we know today. Some sort of bankruptcy reorganization seems inevitable. Many of the changes ahead will be dictated by courts and creditors and parties entirely detached from Scouting. But setting aside the gloom and doom ...

1 hour ago, FireStone said:

Any other guesses as to what the BSA of the future might look like?

OA will soon be forced to abandon its Indian-themed ceremonies - too much cultural appropriation for this PC era. Whether OA continues to exist at all after that - who knows?

God is next on the chopping block. I fully expect that Duty to God will become an optional component, if not eliminated from the oath altogether.

1 hour ago, FireStone said:

Are we on a path that aligns with the UK program or something else?

Yes - everything seems to point in the direction that BSA wants to emulate the UK Scouting program. With Irving's track record, I personally think they will end up emulating the Canada Scouting program instead. BSA National just doesn't have the wisdom and competence.

1 hour ago, FireStone said:

I would not be at all surprised to see the BSA even take on an ambassador like Bear Grylls to try and push this newer, cooler scouting image in the US.

I wholeheartedly support the idea of this kind of BSA ambassador. I would choose a male role model who exudes outdoor adventure and healthy manhood. That doesn't seem to fit the current trend toward genderless Scouting, so I'm sure BSA will bungle things by picking both a man and a woman.

1 hour ago, FireStone said:

look at the heavy push in STEM in the BSA

This is the wrong way to go. STEM is currently being pushed everywhere in our society. Who needs BSA for that? BSA needs to differentiate itself around outdoor adventure (something that should already be its core strength). Less indoors - more outdoors. Less bookwork - more adventure.

Edited by gblotter
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26 minutes ago, FireStone said:

Not sure who our Bear could be, though. 

 

His name is Creek Stewart.  He's been associated with the BSA at least informally for years.

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3 minutes ago, walk in the woods said:

His name is Creek Stewart.  He's been associated with the BSA at least informally for years.

But is he a fraud like Bear Grylls?

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1 minute ago, Saltface said:

But is he a fraud like Bear Grylls?

IDK.  Seems legit on the surface.  Point is, I hear the "We need someone like Bear" comment all the time.  This guy has been engaged for years.  I don't know if he limits his exposure to the BSA or the BSA is terrible at marketing, or both.

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Creek is an Eagle and advertised once in Boys' Life magazine back in the day. I know he rented a local scout camp for some cometition.

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33 minutes ago, walk in the woods said:

His name is Creek Stewart.  He's been associated with the BSA at least informally for years.

I have to admit I didn't know much about him and had to Google him. He seems like a cool guy, just not sure he'd be the guy the BSA would be looking for as the US equivalent to Bear. Creek seems a bit more old-school and has that mid-western-rancher-meets-navajo-medicine-man vibe about him. Might not be a modern enough image for what the BSA would probably be looking for. 

And he wore an Eagle Scout badge on a uniform shirt as an adult, so clearly he's out. 😉

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9 minutes ago, MattR said:

We need our own vision that our people can get behind. If it turns out to be similar to UK scouts, or Latvia, or Argentina, fine, but we need to figure it out for ourselves.

Totally agree - but Irving seems to be acting in desperation these days - grasping at the straws World Scouting. Vision isn't high on their list.

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58 minutes ago, walk in the woods said:

IDK.  Seems legit on the surface.  Point is, I hear the "We need someone like Bear" comment all the time.  This guy has been engaged for years.  I don't know if he limits his exposure to the BSA or the BSA is terrible at marketing, or both.

We have Mike Rowe.  I'll take Mike Rowe over Bear Grylls any day of the week.  

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Posted (edited)

Well...let's see 10 years down the road

  • All packs / troops / units will be coed
  • The uniform will be a suggestion, more just a shirt likely
  • Duty to God and Statement of Declaration of Religious Principle will be greatly amended, watered down, or tossed
  • The current 266 Councils will be consolidated to under 150
  • A financial reorganization due to the Summit debacle
  • The registration (showing 2,659.439 in 2017 annual report) will be down to well under 2,000,000
  • The number of units (showing 99,814 in 2017 annual report) will be down to well under 80,000
  • Major requirement changes and updates, less emphasis on actual outing and more emphasis on "events"
  • Also more options and paths to advancement, so as in the 70's, you can likely get to Eagle and never actually camp, start a fire, leave the house
  • Summer camp will be vastly different in appearance and scope
  • Families and family "events" in the program formerly known as Boy Scouts will be common place
  • More emphasis on STEM and non outdoor items, leading to more dilution of the brand
Edited by Jameson76

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, FireStone said:

Putting aside the doom-and-gloom ideas for a moment, let's think about what this all looks like in a few years, or maybe a decade, if all of the changes don't sink the BSA. National has to have some sort of plan (go ahead, laugh, but let's assume for a minute that they actually do have a plan), or at least some idea of what they are driving the organization towards. 

My guess? Look at Scouts UK. 

Things that Scouts UK has done differently in past decades that the BSA is now doing: 

Scouts UK has been co-ed for a long time. They simplified their uniforms, attempting to revamp the image of scouting, something I suspect the BSA is already working on (look at BSA Brand Center marketing photos and lack of uniforms). They modernized their program, adding more non-traditional badges and activities (look at the heavy push in STEM in the BSA). 

These are all things that the BSA is already doing or seems to be working towards. We've had glimpses of a revamped uniform discussed here in this forum. I think we'll see more and more of that in the years to come. I've even seen BSA personnel and camp staffers occasionally walking around wearing neckerchiefs in the UK style and without the uniform shirt, and new larger necker sizes becoming available. 

If I had to imagine what National is envisioning as they move forward, that vision really does feel a lot like what we've seen across the pond. I would not be at all surprised to see the BSA even take on an ambassador like Bear Grylls to try and push this newer, cooler scouting image in the US. Not sure who our Bear could be, though. 

Any other guesses as to what the BSA of the future might look like? Are we on a path that aligns with the UK program or something else? 

 

Well, I start with this observation.  Since the whole girls in scouting "conversation" started about this time last year, we've been consistently told we don't need to change because we have what families want.  If we have what families want, why would the BSA look any different in few years than it does today?  

@gblotter, I don't see an eminent bankruptcy from the LDS departure, however, membership fees will rise from $33/person to $40/person and unit insurance/recharter fees will rise from $40/unit to $50/unit.  That will happen with the recharters this fall so the BSA can bank a little cash while they hope for membership gains in 2019.  If membership gains aren't realized they'll be raised again the following year.  The loss of FOS contributions will hollow out the intermountain west resulting in camp sales, layoffs, and consolidations.  Unfortunately the vortex created by the LDS departure will also damage community units due to loss of critical mass for resources.  

@gblotter is absolutely correct that the OA will lose the NA trappings and probably the name as it won't make sense across Venturing, Boy Scouting and Sea Scouting.  The Ordeal will become a quaint bit of scouting history, as will the free labor and extra dues generated. 

However, now that the OA has set the precedent for First Class equivalencies, a path to Eagle will be created for Venturing (basically allowing them to work on Star Life and Eagle) and Sea Scouts.  Sea Scouts will ignore it but they may get some Venturers to work on Eagle especially if they don't have to join a Troop.  Once that boundary is crossed Scouting BSA will quickly become the middle school program (11 - 14 year olds).  

The fully co-ed option is a foregone conclusion.  I doubt it will be mandatory for several years but it will be an option by this time next year at the very latest.  Wouldn't surprise me to see the announcement after the fall National Council/Board whatever meeting.  The third G will fall next year as well.  Local option of course but Reverent will become Spiritual or something new age-y like that.

@FireStone's description of Creek Stewart succinctly captures the battle for the soul of the BSA.  The Cynic in me says Creek hasn't been more fully utilized, a la Bear Grylls, because the BSA leadership has exactly the same thought.  Creek's easy outdoor nature and "medicine man vibe" plays well with parents and boys in Peoria, but not so well in NYC or SF or LA or CHI.  The LDS departure vortex may spread into the non-urban central parts of the nation before the damage is finished.

I'm a survivor of the ISP.  Luckily I had a SM who ignored National's direction.  Modernized programs, simplified uniforms (don't want to look military), non-traditional badges (have to appeal to all the youth we don't serve) and activities (the outdoors is nice but there's lots of other activities).  It's deja vu all over again.  But I suspect you're right we'll head down that path again.

 

Edited by walk in the woods
extra comment on dues, and a verb.
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1 hour ago, gblotter said:

 

Yes - everything seems to point in the direction that BSA wants to emulate the UK Scouting program. With Irving's track record, I personally think they will end up emulating the Canada Scouting program instead. BSA National just doesn't have the wisdom and competence.

You do not want to emulate Scouts Canada's new program.  It's a couple of years in and there is still quite a bit of confusion as to how it is all supposed to work.

For starters, imagine taking most of your merit badges and making them optional for the program. Then have each Scout come up with his/her own requirements to get the badge.  http://www.scouts.ca/wp-content/uploads/s/s-pab-guide.pdf

They have opted for a more "Choose your own Adventure" style of requirements for the top awards so now you can get every top section award (equivalent to Life, Eagle etc) without spending a single night camping.

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2 minutes ago, Jameson76 said:
  • The registration (showing 2,659.439 in 2017 annual report) will be down to around 2,000,000
  • The number of units (showing 99,814 in 2017 annual report) will be down to around 80,000
 

BSA will see those kinds membership declines next year just from the LDS departure. The additional attrition over the next decade will be much more severe.

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21 minutes ago, walk in the woods said:

@gblotter, I don't see an eminent bankruptcy from the LDS departure, however, membership fees will rise from $33/person to $40/person and unit insurance/recharter fees will rise from $40/unit to $50/unit.

I don't link BSA bankruptcy reorganization to the LDS departure. I attribute it to huge debts and looming balloon payments for The Summit.

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