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Girls in Boy Scouts in the News (and in recruiting numbers)...

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12 minutes ago, Jameson76 said:

BSA needs to spend more time understanding retention and promoting OUTDOOR PROGRAM, then if you build it they will come.

Nail hit right on the head there.

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32 minutes ago, ianwilkins said:

The interesting thing for me is that as you go through the UK sections, the proportion of girls goes up

2018 census gender ratios:

Beavers (aged 6-8) it's 81:19
Cubs (aged 8-10) it's 80:20
Scouts (10-14) it's 75:25
Explorers (14-18) it's 68:32
Network (18-25) it's 63:37

I don't know what to read into that, but my gut feel is boys are sent to Beavers, and as girls find their voice, say "I want to go to Cubs/Scouts/Explorers/Network" increasingly.

Last year we had 18 girls and 24 boys on our Explorer summer camp.

In addition Rainbows (GGUK equivalent of Beavers) starts at 5 instead of 6 and Brownies starts at 7 rather than 8 so they tend to get "first dibs" in those sections. I'm pretty convinced that's part of the cause.

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37 minutes ago, Jameson76 said:

The issue is retaining members, their (BSA Dallas) solution is to make the pool bigger, not solve or work on retaining members.

Retention is not the same thing as recruitment. In fact, I think retention is a lot more reflective of the unit and not BSA as a whole. If your pack can't keep their Lions and Tigers, is that really the fault of BSA Dallas? The rest of your paragraph goes on to list complaints that are local, not national. Nothing about the first rank requires your first meeting to be a boring one - or even advancement focused.

Additionally, as it pertains to growing market share for a business (or member org), it is not a wise decision to ignore a huge segment of potential customers and Lions and Tigers are it. I doubt any pack would have a lot of success if they focused on recruiting just Wolves and higher. In fact, I would bet that most packs grow their Wolf dens by less than 20% YOY.

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32 minutes ago, Hawkwin said:

Retention is not the same thing as recruitment. In fact, I think retention is a lot more reflective of the unit and not BSA as a whole. If your pack can't keep their Lions and Tigers, is that really the fault of BSA Dallas?

Yes, the problem is absolutely the fault of National. I spend a great deal of time on this very problem, so I can speak directly to it. Because of how our education is structured, the maturity difference between a 1st and 2nd grader is huge. 1st graders don't have the patience, maturity, focus and communication skills for the Pack program that 2nd graders developed in the first grade. Oh, you don't think communication has any affect. Try handle out songs and skits for Tigers to "read" with the rest the pack. As a result of the huge maturity difference, the pack has work three separate programs, Tigers, Wolves/Bears, and Webelos. We will stick with the Tigers for the moment. When National added tigers, they basically doubled the adult requirements of the whole pack. Tigers and Webelos stretches the whole program so thin that adults are burned out by the end of the Bear year.

I mention earlier that Tigers have a 50% drop out rate. That is a very conservative figure, it's higher. The reason for the high rate is the age. First grade is the big year for the parents because that is when sports gets more active, Sunday schools, music, dance, and even Karate. They need a year to sort out how much their toddler (that is what they are) can handle, as well as, parents time. I found Tigers was one of the first to go parents because they couldn't see a long term benefit. 


Adult burnout by the Bears year is why the Webelos causes at least a 50% drop at crossover. Leaders have lost the energy for fun dynamic programs. Webelos looses between 15 to 20 percent just going from Webs 1 to Webs 2. BUT, that number would be a lot bigger if the scouts had a choice. I found many parents are ready to let their sons out of the 1st year Webelos because the boys hate it so much, but they want to teach the lesson of finishing what they started. That is why the big dropout happens at the end of 2nd year Webelos when the program makes a complete change to the troops. That is the convenient break for the parents to finish scouting, and stop all the whining. 

54 minutes ago, Hawkwin said:

Additionally, as it pertains to growing market share for a business (or member org), it is not a wise decision to ignore a huge segment of potential customers and Lions and Tigers are it. I doubt any pack would have a lot of success if they focused on recruiting just Wolves and higher. In fact, I would bet that most packs grow their Wolf dens by less than 20% YOY.

And you would be wrong. We had a couple of packs skip the Tigers and start recruiting the wolf year. The first 3 years they maintained the numbers they had when they recruited Tigers. And really, why doesn't that make sense? Those youth aren't going anywhere, they don't disappear off the face of the earth. They just move up to 2nd grade. The one other benefit is the parents are more mature. They don't have the stress of all the new activities that come at first grade. But more importantly, the packs grew in the forth year. I didn't investigate the packs closely, but my guess is they had less adult burnout, thus quality of the whole program improved. 

One last thing, when we starting understanding the factors that were influencing our Tiger dropouts, we changed our program so that the Tiger Dens only had to have two meetings a month. They could meet anywhere they wanted and one of the two could be the pack meeting. We added a very experienced den leader who manage the parents with the intention of taking as little of their time a possible. Our dropout rate with from 80% to less than 3%. Knowing what I know now, if I had to do it again, I would skip the Tiger year all together.

Barry

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3 hours ago, Hawkwin said:

My assumption is the BSA learned that if you don't engage them while they are in K or 1st grade, you can easily lose them to other activities and commitments.

I don't know what National was thinking, but the reality we saw was parents want their kids in scouting simply by it's reputation. Remember, it's the parents that put their kids in scouting, not the kids wanting the program. As I said, the parents are more relaxed the beginning of their kids 2nd grade year, so adding another program that doesn't involve much of the parents time is easy. 

Where most folks think out-of-context is they look at it from the boys perspective. "It's the boys program". In reality, Cubs is all about adults because they do all the work. If you don't keep the adults happy, the leave. Burnout is a huge issue and the number one reason why troops are much bigger.

Barry

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Posted (edited)
38 minutes ago, Eagledad said:

Knowing what I know now, if I had to do it again, I would skip the Tiger year all together.

Nice write up.  

As the father of multiple sons, if I knew what I knew now, I'd skip the Lion and Tiger years too.  They are just not ready and our family had enough stress starting the kid out in school.  Also, my sons have no recollection of those years in scouts.  Their memories really started when they got their pocket knives and started working with fire.

I also agree.  Parents have a hard time seeing the value of scouts when viewed from Lion and Tiger.  Especially when compared to baseball, music, or any other highly structured program.  As such, scouts is often the first to get cut.

I really think that scouts would have strong recruitment if not stronger recruitment if started in second grade.  

Edited by fred8033

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30 minutes ago, Eagledad said:

Where most folks think out-of-context is they look at it from the boys perspective. "It's the boys program". In reality, Cubs is all about adults because they do all the work. If you don't keep the adults happy, the leave. Burnout is a huge issue and the number one reason why troops are much bigger.

 

That is so true...Cubs is really a PARENTS program and Boy Scouts is a BOYS YOUTH program.  Remember your customer and serve that customer.  Once you burn out the Cub parent, they and the youth are gone forever

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39 minutes ago, Eagledad said:

...

Burnout is a huge issue and the number one reason why troops are much bigger.

Is that really true?  Troops are bigger than packs?!?!

Seems to me like there are more packs in my neck of the woods than there are troops, and some of the packs are mighty darn big...

I'd be interested in seeing some stats on relative unit sizes.  Any idea where those numbers might be??

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1 minute ago, mrkstvns said:

Is that really true?  Troops are bigger than packs?!?!

Seems to me like there are more packs in my neck of the woods than there are troops, and some of the packs are mighty darn big...

I'd be interested in seeing some stats on relative unit sizes.  Any idea where those numbers might be??

Ask your district commissioner. Ours shares the numbers with us. Haven't seen any from this recharter.

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13 minutes ago, mrkstvns said:

Is that really true?  Troops are bigger than packs?!?!

Seems to me like there are more packs in my neck of the woods than there are troops, and some of the packs are mighty darn big...

I'd be interested in seeing some stats on relative unit sizes.  Any idea where those numbers might be??

What I mean is more scouts crossing over to feed the troops.

All my data (20 years ago) showed less than 50% of Webelos joining troops.I was accounting 75% of those dropouts to boring Webelos programs.

The thing is that boys of this age relate their future interest of a program to their present experience. If they are experiencing a fun den meeting each week, it doesn't matter what kind of program the troop is presenting, the Webelos are thinking fun fun fun. Well, the same is true for weak boring programs as well. In general, den meetings are a reflection of the leaders energy and excitement. 

To give you and idea of how serious I think burnout is, National changed their Tiger program in 2000 to require MORE meetings and MORE adult time for the families of that age group. We predicted the troop numbers would reflect the program change in 2005 because that would be the first year of crossovers affected by the change. Sure enough, membership dipped in 2005. It wasn't hard to see, we learned what was hurting the cub program in the 90's. National threw fuel on the fire in 2000. Did they learn? Lions. 

Barry

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Eagledad said:

And you would be wrong.

Based on what, your anecdotal data or do you have something more substantial than personal experience that you can point to? Can you point to actual data that reflects that nationally, Wolves have a better than 20% recruitment growth rate of new scouts?

1 hour ago, Eagledad said:

we changed our program so that the Tiger Dens only had to have two meetings a month. They could meet anywhere they wanted and one of the two could be the pack meeting. We added a very experienced den leader who manage the parents with the intention of taking as little of their time a possible.

So, in other words, you made changes locally to make your program successful. Does nationals get the credit for that just like they do the blame?

Edited by Hawkwin

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Just now, Hawkwin said:

Based on what, your anecdotal data or do you have something more substantial than personal experience that you can point to? Can you point to actual data that reflects that nationally, Wolves have a better than 20% recruitment growth rate of new scouts?

I could 20 years ago, I don't save that stuff. But it educated me to pinpoint the causes of the problems. Obviously you are free to follow your feelings.  

Barry

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6 hours ago, FireStone said:

These days, I wouldn't be so sure about that. I've been watching a lot of hiking videos/documentaries lately and did some research into demographics of hikers, in particular thru-hikers on the Appalachian Trail, and the demographics are something around 1/3 of those who complete the 2,000+ mile trek are women. That's up significantly since the early 2000s when that number was closer to 20%.

Backpacking seems like a pretty scout-oriented activity, and 1/3 certainly isn't a small group. Recent reports from the Outdoor Industry Association suggest that 47% of Americans who went camping in recent years were female.

I wonder if the idea that girls/women don't want to do scout-like things is at all related to simply the visibility of females in these sorts of activities in past decades. Today's demographics would certainly seem to suggest that woman have a significant interest in doing outdoorsy things like camping and backpacking. So where else could this notion of females being "the exception" be coming from if the data just doesn't support that?

You have to admit that' your own anecdotal viewing of some hiking show you saw, doesn't exactly constitute strong  data.

The real data I am actually very interested in seeing, is on financial contributions, or other forms of support, from organizations like the National Organization of Women (NOW), that had previously attacked the BSA for previously excluding girls. 

Surely they must love the new Scouts BSA and are willing and eager to contribute to and support the BSA's new found commitment to girls

I don't know what NOW has or hasn't done for Scout Me In...and I could very well be wrong, but my hunch is that they've done absolutely nothing.

I stand by my original prediction though that I don't think there are enough girls and female leaders, to make girls in the boy scouts viable in the long run.

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On 3/4/2019 at 1:14 PM, Jameson76 said:

  Rather than Scout Me In our marketing should be We Go Do Stuff.

Love this idea.

On 3/4/2019 at 1:14 PM, Jameson76 said:

Let the program sell itself at the local level.  Get away from JTE, uniform police, leaders focused on district/council and not youth and laser focus back to Scouting outdoor activities

Agreed, Jameson76.  But how do we "laser-focus" without some kind of metric?  I'm a big supporter of JTE, but I think it needs to measure scout-lead outdoor activities.  Our district is chock-full of adults who are focused on completing "Merit Badge Packets" but who couldn't "Go Do Stuff" to save their lives.

If our girls-in-Scouts-BSA is to be successful.  We HAVE to have metrics that accurately identify and discriminate the Green-Bar-Bill units from the posers.

On 3/4/2019 at 1:14 PM, Jameson76 said:

Adding more girls seeking outdoor adventure may nudge the organization back to it's roots, hopefully. 

From your words to God's eyes.  Amen.

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2 minutes ago, AltadenaCraig said:

Agreed, Jameson76.  But how do we "laser-focus" without some kind of metric?  I'm a big supporter of JTE, but I think it needs to measure scout-lead outdoor activities.  Our district is chock-full of adults who are focused on completing "Merit Badge Packets" but who couldn't "Go Do Stuff" to save their lives.

Yes, I agree. One thing l learned about adult leaders is that they need check-offs to measure their performance. That is why the "Advancement Method" is so abused; the Scouts' advancement checklist in "his" book is an easy way for the adults to measure how they are doing. I was a little surprised that National took away tour permits. Maybe the bureaucracy was more than the councils could handle, but it was a good preparation checklist for traveling with a troop full of scouts. The PLC filled out the Tour Permit in our troop.

Barry

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