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1 hour ago, Jameson76 said:

One cautionary note.  In the 1970's the decision was to reinvent the Boy Scouts program and roll out the Improved Scouting Program (ISP).  At the end of 1970 BSA membership was 6,287,284.  At the end of 1980 BSA membership was  4,326,082.  That is a reduction of over 30%.  Whatever may happen, BSA will not be able to weather another improvement to the program along those lines.

At least those berets will look darling on our new scouts!  -Whatever we end up calling them.  Too bad we don't have a Green Bar Bill to pull our fat out of the fire this time.

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1 hour ago, Jameson76 said:

 

One cautionary note.  In the 1970's the decision was to reinvent the Boy Scouts program and roll out the Improved Scouting Program (ISP).  At the end of 1970 BSA membership was 6,287,284.  At the end of 1980 BSA membership was  4,326,082.  That is a reduction of over 30%.  Whatever may happen, BSA will not be able to weather another improvement to the program along those lines.

 

The birthrate of American children also nearly halved in that time period. It's difficult to pinpoint how much of the decline was based on the "Improved' Scouting program, and how much of it was demographic destiny. 

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Most likely there are a number of major factors that have caused and are still causing membership challenges.  Obviously, the ill-conceived move away from the outdoor element of scouting was a factor in the seventies and eighties particularly.  But, other likely reasons are wrapped up in the redirection of society related to the Vietnam era and the political issues going on, especially Civil Rights.  Many elements of Civil Rights are still connected to some of the current issues.  During the Vietnam era there began to be a pushback against uniformed groups that some saw mirroring the military which was being viewed far more negatively than just recent decades.  Most of us that were in Scouting then had few if any qualms about the uniform in public, even wearing it to school during Scout Week.  There also was the "escape to the suburbs" which often upended established institutions in older cities and towns.  Add to that the rise of far more youth directed groups, especially sports connected, and suddenly there were many more choices.  When I was a boy in the fifties Little League was new and very limited.  We lived in a county of L.A. enclave in Azusa, surrounded by the city.  I was not even allowed to play in the league because it was a City League.  Now of course, I likely could have found a team.  YMCA was my only outlet besides Scouts and school, even though I was "latch-key" once I turned eleven; prior I stayed with grandparents during the day after school, having been dropped there by my parents on their way to jobs in the L.A. area.  There also was a major upswing in two-earner families which sometimes affected juvenile dynamics.  Where "latch-key" kids were not the norm, by the late seventies they had become far more common.  There likely can be many additional bits and pieces that relate to the changes added, as surely I am overlooking a lot.  And I really have not touched on the slow movement in society away from strict respect for those "in charge", brought on by many things I am sure sociologists could discuss.  The Scouting public image change can be partly noted by the disappearance of Scouting on many periodical covers and advertising.  The real irony I see today is that the reasons Scouting took hold when B.P. began to develop it are just as serious, if not more so.  But while public response then was along similar views, today it is far broader and erratic even.  Still, the compass point of Scouting continues to indicate the way, and the foundation is still relatively sound, though may have some crack to be mended.  Every time I sit on an Eagle board, or visit with young adults of recent Eagle vintage, I am encouraged.  Many of them are truly exceptional, and most at least well-grounded and goal oriented.

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1 hour ago, Monkeytamer said:

At least those berets will look darling on our new scouts! 

My first troop was a beret troop ... we looked darn good, too!

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4 minutes ago, shortridge said:

My first troop was a beret troop ... we looked darn good, too!

Can we at least all agree that the skill awards for the belts (not the skills but the metal award) were ridiculous.  Though young I was able to get in under the wire in December of 73 with my Eagle completed.  Talk about an incentive.

There was a definite caste system for many years; were you an "old" Eagle requirements Eagle (outdoorsman to the core, no fear. out wrestling bears) or a "new" Eagle requirements Eagle (never camped, asked cops for directions on your hike if you get lost, full urban kid scared of the evil woods).  Ah the good old days.

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Actually, I would suggest that the skill award requirements could make some decent modern troop meetings.  One of the best I still believe was the "city hike", either in the Hiking SA or possibly the Citizenship one.  Have to look it up.  If you did the hike as noted, you had a better grasp of your town or city.  

 

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I've heard it often stated - but never asked.  Why are the skill awards considered so bad?

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48 minutes ago, Jameson76 said:

Can we at least all agree that the skill awards for the belts (not the skills but the metal award) were ridiculous.

I don’t know - never wore them. I joined in 1990, when the berets had been retired but we loved them so much that we ordered military knockoff ones and sewed the BSA logo on. (Or the SM’s wife did, rather.)

Some of the older Scouts still had their skill awards. I thought they looked dopey and too much like the Cub belt loops. I’d just gotten out of Cubs, so what would I want to wear belt loops for again?

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2 hours ago, Sentinel947 said:

The birthrate of American children also nearly halved in that time period. It's difficult to pinpoint how much of the decline was based on the "Improved' Scouting program, and how much of it was demographic destiny. 

Fertility halves, but population doubles. Immigration brings new youth. Number of children keeps on climbing. No matter how you slice it, BSA lost market share.

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25 minutes ago, ParkMan said:

I've heard it often stated - but never asked.  Why are the skill awards considered so bad?

Other than the metal awards that slid onto the web belt making some older boys feel like they were still in cubs, the award requirements were well thought out for the most part and made some skills easier for many scouts, maybe because of the way they were presented.  It is only an opinion, but I think it is not the SA itself that turns people off, but rather that it represented a very disappointing period of Scout here.  Not only did they fool with much of the outdoor requirements, but they also changed Eagle around, more MB's, put a MB requirement in First Class, first aid and removed cooking from the Eagle list.  Would have to go back and look at the specifics, but there were some other odd changes implemented both for lower ranks and Eagle.  They also discouraged MB work for younger scouts.  Other elements of the time were the berets, designer uniform, and smaller neckerchiefs or even the option of none.  I know I was startled by the changes as I returned as a commissioner in 1977 after not being able to get attention from the OCC for volunteering there.  GWC, now WLAC grabbed me quickly though.  I had been ASM in Germany on a base troop in 66-67 but then got out and went back to school and so on.  Anyway, it was an odd introduction.

 

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35 minutes ago, shortridge said:

I joined in 1990, when the berets had been retired but we loved them so much that we ordered military knockoff ones and sewed the BSA logo on.

You loved the berets?   We Girl Scouts also had berets in the 1970s and they were awful.  Never stayed in place.   I think that GSUSA has gotten rid of many things it should not have gotten rid of,  but I don't mind the disappearance of the berets at all.

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43 minutes ago, qwazse said:

Fertility halves, but population doubles. Immigration brings new youth. Number of children keeps on climbing. No matter how you slice it, BSA lost market share.

I'm not sure if you're trying to make my point for me, or rebut. 🤣 Either way. My point is that there are much bigger and more powerful forces at play than just "The Improved Scouting Program Sucked." Which I believe it did hurt Scouting. I don't believe it was a decisive as some folks make it out to be.  

I could be wrong, and I am generalizing, but it's my understanding that the BSA is less successful in the inner cities as it is in the suburbs and rural areas of America. That's not to say there aren't strong pockets of Scouting in urban areas, or areas where there are significant non-white membership. That's also not to say there's something wrong with white people being the majority of membership in the BSA. It would follow that since the US is majority white and historically has been, and the BSA plays host to many generational families of Scouts, that the BSA would be majority white. The BSA doesn't publish member demographics that I could find easily, but they do publish data on "Available youth." Notice that for the millennial and generation X folks, the ones who are having Scout age children now, are less likely to white than their previous generations. You can find that stat on page 22 of the report. Almost a 10% drop from Boomers to Millenials/Gen X, which would make up the last 20-30 years or so of Scouting youth. 

https://filestore.scouting.org/filestore/media/ES_American_Households.pdf This data is for the late 2000's early 2010's. US Demographic data over time can be found here: 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historical_racial_and_ethnic_demographics_of_the_United_States


In short, my argument is that the BSA is primarily a less urban, majority white organization, that many immigrants and non-whites don't feel a particular connection to. Give the decline in birth rates, stagnating of white population in the US, increasing urbanization, and population growth via immigration of non-white people, the BSA has failed to adapt in far more ways than just the poorly thought out "Improved" Scouting program. There's an element of failure to market the program to people who aren't part of that core constituency. That's not to say the BSA hasn't tried, but I'd argue that they've failed. That's both a BSA failure, and local leadership failure to broaden the tent and recruit a more diverse membership. We can see by Scouting's global reach, that Scouting's message and ideals are about as close to universal as we could hope for.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_World_Organization_of_the_Scout_Movement_members

Combine that with all youth organizations in the US facing membership declines, slap on some poorly managed sex abuse, some culture war controversy, and it's pretty easy to see how the BSA's decline in membership is multifaceted and complex. It's far too simple to say "Improved Scouting Program killed the BSA.There's a bunch of variables and those things may or may not be a significant contributing factor. 

Edited by Sentinel947
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On 1/13/2019 at 11:35 AM, vol_scouter said:

Surveys of the youth (and absolutely every group measured including volunteers, donors, Eagle Scouts, the OA and others showed a similar level of support) in Scouting showed a 75% or greater support for the addition of girls so they had a voice. The youth were in favor of adding girls. T

I know it is moot, but would you please provide some links to your stats? I have combed BSA pubs and websites and all I can find are the non-member results. 

 

11 hours ago, gblotter said:

Do we really need to revisit the topic of the highly manipulative surveys that were selectively distributed and strangely worded to ensure a pre-determined outcome?

Please don't insult the intelligence of this forum by trying to assert that those bogus survey results were in any way a fair representation of support.

I do realize the surveys were manipulated. First,  National announced the town halls right before jamboree, when most of the council key threes were going. Second they limited the time frame the surveys would be conducted, with 2 or 3 of the weeks to do them in being Jamboree weeks. Third National  limited those who could take the survey to those who went to a town hall. I was one of about 15 people who could make the first town hall in my council as they announced it on 3 days notice. I do not know how many attended the second one, but a large group attended the third, most ly against the change. However that town hall was done after the deadline, and they were unable to take the poll. Lastly, the questions were so biased towards allowing girls in, it was over the top obvious that National wanted this decision.

And then you got the June 2017 applications with gender neutral language for the Cub Scout Pack and Boy Scout Troop  sections. Go back even further, you have an Exploring Program exec head of strategy who becomes CSE. I believe the decision was already made, and the surveys were an attempt to give it legitimacy.

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2 hours ago, skeptic said:

Other than the metal awards that slid onto the web belt making some older boys feel like they were still in cubs, the award requirements were well thought out for the most part and made some skills easier for many scouts, maybe because of the way they were presented.  It is only an opinion, but I think it is not the SA itself that turns people off, but rather that it represented a very disappointing period of Scout here.  Not only did they fool with much of the outdoor requirements, but they also changed Eagle around, more MB's, put a MB requirement in First Class, first aid and removed cooking from the Eagle list.  Would have to go back and look at the specifics, but there were some other odd changes implemented both for lower ranks and Eagle.  They also discouraged MB work for younger scouts.  Other elements of the time were the berets, designer uniform, and smaller neckerchiefs or even the option of none.  I know I was startled by the changes as I returned as a commissioner in 1977 after not being able to get attention from the OCC for volunteering there.  GWC, now WLAC grabbed me quickly though.  I had been ASM in Germany on a base troop in 66-67 but then got out and went back to school and so on.  Anyway, it was an odd introduction.

 

Actually the Skill Awards came out before teh the Cub Scout belt loops. But yyes, I think folks hate the SAs because of the ISP. but I liked them when I was in Socuts in the mid to late 80s.

 

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18 minutes ago, Eagle94-A1 said:

I know it is moot, but would you please provide some links to your stats? I have combed BSA pubs and websites and all I can find are the non-member results. 

 

I do realize the surveys were manipulated. First,  National announced the town halls right before jamboree, when most of the council key threes were going. Second they limited the time frame the surveys would be conducted, with 2 or 3 of the weeks to do them in being Jamboree weeks. Third National  limited those who could take the survey to those who went to a town hall. I was one of about 15 people who could make the first town hall in my council as they announced it on 3 days notice. I do not know how many attended the second one, but a large group attended the third, most ly against the change. However that town hall was done after the deadline, and they were unable to take the poll. Lastly, the questions were so biased towards allowing girls in, it was over the top obvious that National wanted this decision.

And then you got the June 2017 applications with gender neutral language for the Cub Scout Pack and Boy Scout Troop  sections. Go back even further, you have an Exploring Program exec head of strategy who becomes CSE. I believe the decision was already made, and the surveys were an attempt to give it legitimacy.

An attempt that was completely bungled. In my council, the townhall and survey were offered only to a “select group” (according to a council employee). 

I too would love to see the internal results. 

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