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Jameson76

2018 Membership numbers are in

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6 hours ago, walk in the woods said:

The national church pays for unit recharter fees.  From https://www.lds.org/callings/aaronic-priesthood/leader-resources/scouting-in-the-church/ward-leaders-responsibilities?lang=eng

So to the extent there are costs to the Ward/Stake, it doesn't appear to be recharter fees.  And, it appears their boys would be counted in membership regardless of whether they are active in the program.  If you click through the link in the quote you'll find this process:

Original estimates were 400 - 500,000 boys in LDS units.  If you add up all the membership losses in the last two years, and incorrectly attribute them all to the LDS decision, we still have 200-300,000 to go next year.  We'll be lucky if the Boy Scout program doesn't drop under 500,000 total membership next year at this time.

Cool.  I never knew that.  That helps understand the details.  Thank you !

6 hours ago, Saltface said:

Isolating LDS numbers wouldn't paint a true picture of activity.

On paper, everyone is still engaged. There wasn't a recharter for LDS units this year, our charters were just extended out to 2020 with the current roster. Church headquarters pays a lump sum every year so individual wards have no budget benefit to drop out early. Furthermore, there are good reasons for finishing strong regardless of whether individuals want to continue in BSA or drop it. 

In reality, it's a mixed bag. Attendance at my district's roundtable has dropped off to about 50-75 people or so (about 25% of normal attendance). Council has shut down one camp for the summer and halved the number of sessions available at another. 

In June, BSA is going to start a fairly large-scale LDS retention campaign. I'm not sure what good it would do, people already have enough information to decide if they want to stay or leave.

I never understood that.  Thank you.

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Posted (edited)
On 3/8/2019 at 7:20 PM, qwazse said:

BSA dragged venturing down by a thousand cuts. The worst being last years' youth protection mandates. What group of 14-20 year old co-eds would want to be dependent on the presence of two adults for every meeting and activity? Before that, the distinction between adult and youth participants put an effective wedge between members of a crews with a wide age span. Before that, the jump in registration fees exceeded the average cost of a weekend in the woods on borrowed gear.

For late teens, it is now easier to fulfill the vision of a pinnacle scouting experience of hiking and camping independently with your mates --- without the BSA.

I may be whistling past the graveyard, here, but I'm hopeful the introduction of girls into Scouts BSA will spark a turnaround in Venturing.

As Cub Scouts have sub-segments of Webelos, Tigers, etc., it's always struck me as odd that Boy Scouts (now Scouts BSA) ran from ~5th through ~12th grades without sub-segments of its own.  Even G2SS discourages tent-sharing among scouts > 2-grade-levels apart.  Alas, before girls were able to join as scouts, promoting a follow-on co-ed Venture crew - where late-teen boy scouts, but not the girls, could continue to pursue Eagle - always seemed awkward.  Now, however, I can both visualize a smooth transition as well as foresee a much-needed follow-on program to keep my late-teens engaged.

I just hope it isn't too little, too late.

Edited by AltadenaCraig

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I'm trying to figure out what's going on in Venturing that we're seeing such big drops.  We're down 41% this year and 36% last year?  I'm gathering that nationally Venturing was kinda like Varsity - most of those involved are LDS.

We've never seen strong Venturing participation in our district.  Our Venturing number is something like 3% of our total Scouts.  But, I also don't see that we lost 75% of the Venturers in our district in the last two years.  If anything our Venturing problem has more to do with not having adults to champion Venturing programs than it does youth not interested.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, AltadenaCraig said:

I may be whistling past the graveyard, here, but I'm hopeful the introduction of girls into Scouts BSA will spark a turnaround in Venturing.

As Cub Scouts have sub-segments of Webelos, Tigers, etc., it's always struck me as odd that Boy Scouts (now Scouts BSA) ran from ~5th through ~12th grades without sub-segments of its own.  Even G2SS discourages tent-sharing among scouts > 2-grade-levels apart.  Alas, before girls were able to join as scouts, promoting a follow-on co-ed Venture crew - where late-teen boy scouts, but not the girls, could continue to pursue Eagle - always seemed awkward.  Now, however, I can both visualize a smooth transition as well as foresee a much-needed follow-on program to keep my late-teens engaged.

I just hope it isn't too little, too late.

We need to face another social shift. Schools are getting public funds to be the venue for what would be venturing activities. And this is an intentional goal. A young friend who I dearly wish hadn't moved away before she could be in our crew is now trying to develop programs that keep kids in school after hours. I joked with her that communities need their kids out on their streets, taking odd jobs, patronizing local business, and generally doing good in the world -- not seeking ways to justify more precious tax dollars going their way. She was not amused. 

Also, I don't know if you've noticed church youth groups (especially mega churches) lately, but they are more than just additional Bible studies. There are big screen TVs, soda fountains, plans for distant getaways, service projects, camping trips. And... you don't have to declare your belief in God to be part of them. 

46 minutes ago, ParkMan said:

I'm trying to figure out what's going on in Venturing that we're seeing such big drops.  We're down 41% this year and 36% last year?  I'm gathering that nationally Venturing was kinda like Varsity - most of those involved are LDS.

We've never seen strong Venturing participation in our district.  Our Venturing number is something like 3% of our total Scouts.  But, I also don't see that we lost 75% of the Venturers in our district in the last two years.  If anything our Venturing problem has more to do with not having adults to champion Venturing programs than it does youth not interested.

Venturing crews must develop a truly unique niche to justify the adult overhead that BSA is requiring. If a crew is simply hiking and camping in back-country (as mine was) that's nothing special. It certainly isn't something that a half dozen 17-20 year old's need me around for ('cept I can track like nobody's business, and my SM can call deer and turkey in from miles around). Venturing can't simply be Webelos IV. 

But: the tough part about being an adult Venturing leader: there aren't that many leaders like you. For example, I think my crew could have gotten behind auto racing. One of my venturers was a driver whose challenge was funding the car. His dad was a great mechanic, but on paper at least, terrible leader. So, I would have needed to find that co-leader who wanted revise his/her entire schedule to get youth around building a racing team. Plus we'd have to patch together whatever liability BSA would offer with whatever agreements would be needed to insure a driver. All this -- before convincing parents that this would be better for their kids then sports/drama or college/military prep. Finally, as much as I love pulling kids together, and I loved talking racing and mechanics with this one venturer, I wasn't prepared for that kind of sacrifice of camping nights it would entail.

Now, as I described the potential scope of this crew, a lot of you policy wonks probably were hearing a bunch of risk-management bells and whistles firing off, you'd have something to tell me about those liability issues. Imagine some scouter like me - minus the thick skin - even voicing an idea like this at a round-table and you quickly understand why most crews are not even starting, let alone trying to continue under BSA's banner.

Edited by qwazse
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51 minutes ago, ParkMan said:

I'm trying to figure out what's going on in Venturing that we're seeing such big drops.  We're down 41% this year and 36% last year? 

Here are my guesses.

1) Going on an adventure is not the attraction it used to be. Maybe it's too scary.

2) Teamwork and leadership skills are sorely lacking, so they're afraid to do things on their own.

3) Too many scouts want dessert for every meal. i.e., can't wait for the payoff.

4) Pushing oneself is not the attraction it used to be, at least for teenagers. Or maybe they just feel too much external pressure to succeed.

5) Too much screen time?

6) Lack of adult volunteers and/or critical mass.

I listened to a group of young scouts talk while I drove to a campout this weekend. On the way up they could only talk about video games. I couldn't take it anymore and finally asked them what else they did. They mentioned other organized activities (sports, band, martial arts). I finally asked them what they did for fun that wasn't organized. One scout had no answer. One mentioned wood carving and a couple of other things like that. One felt a bit embarrassed and came up with some things he had talked to his dad about. This is so different from when I was their age. We made model rockets, planes, boats, etc, explored the nearby woods, played games at night, went fishing, played pickup sports, made radios, and the like. My guess is these scouts have also done some of these things but it's a bit odd that when I asked them what they did for fun they really didn't have an answer. And nobody said that video games are fun. Is it that video games are just a way to create dopamine and sate their brains?

Three scouts is not definitive but I see a lot of other youth that sound similar. Many are over scheduled and don't have time to just explore their own interests. The idea of elite sports in middle school is so far from the reality of my childhood. If a kid has to decide what sport he wants to play by the time they're 13 then there's not much time for exploring or just making decisions. Granted, most parents don't buy into this but it does say something about our culture.

I wouldn't write off scouts, but scouts needs to adapt. I'm not sure what that means. If I did then my district would be doing great right now.

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Posted (edited)

@MattR, thanks for the excellent insights.

I'm seeing the same dynamics in my neck of the woods.  If it isn't organized by adults, and if it involves any hardship, most scouts aren't interested.

There are crews in our council that are active and have the high adventure spirit, and they are already committed to various treks each and every summer.  That's some good news!

When I was a youth, I would have given anything to be in a program designed like Venturing.  

Edited by desertrat77

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Support for Venturing varies widely. In my entire council, I count around five Venturing crews - and two are for camp staff registration. Aside from keeping 18-20 youth involved, there’s not much of an obvious rationale for the program. And with girls able to join Scouts BSA now, I’m not sure it’s much longer for this world.

My council *is* heavily promoting Explorer Posts, by contrast.

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On 3/8/2019 at 12:23 PM, mashmaster said:

Ventures lumps in Sea Scouts which I would like to know the numbers for,  I know our numbers nationwide are up but a blip.  Were Teams bundled in with Ventures?  If so, the drop would make sense. 

Look for a big drop next year overall, when the LDS church is fully out of BSA.

Saw this on a different scouting board:

Quote

The Report to the Nation stated, "51,815 young men and women ages 14 to 20 in Venturing and Sea Scouting."

According to Tw Cook, Southern Region Sea Scout Commodore, the 51,815 included 3,286 Sea Scouts.

 

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On 3/10/2019 at 9:58 PM, MattR said:

This is so different from when I was their age. We made model rockets, planes, boats, etc, explored the nearby woods, played games at night, went fishing, played pickup sports, made radios, and the like. My guess is these scouts have also done some of these things but it's a bit odd that when I asked them what they did for fun they really didn't have an answer. And nobody said that video games are fun. Is it that video games are just a way to create dopamine and sate their brains?

Were video games even a thing when you were a kid? When everything was sepia? ;)

I'm not being funny, but I'd guess they'd pick up on your negativity, and wouldn't want to talk about their enjoyment of video games and risk further scorn or disbelief. Of course they enjoy them, otherwise, why would you do them? Maybe they enjoy the dopamine if that's what you think, but it's still the end result. Video games can be fun, can be social, can be a way of testing yourself against others, testing yourself. Yes, not the same as the outdoors, obviously, but there it is.

 

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, ianwilkins said:

... video games ... Of course they enjoy them, otherwise, why would you do them? Maybe they enjoy the dopamine if that's what you think, but it's still the end result. Video games can be fun, can be social, can be a way of testing yourself against others, testing yourself. Yes, not the same as the outdoors, obviously, but there it is.

 

Dopamine or no dopamine ... usage by minors would plummet if video games required two registered adults older than 20 of the requisite sexes to be present while playing.

Edited by qwazse
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On ‎3‎/‎10‎/‎2019 at 9:17 PM, shortridge said:

My council *is* heavily promoting Explorer Posts, by contrast.

Good to hear.  As far as I'm concerned this should be where the BSA devotes more of its energy.  I know that in our area the term Explorers has recently been used for short term classes with specialists in Engineering or other careers but I am most familiar with the Law Enforcement and Fire programs.  My son is enjoying his LE explorer post more than his troop because the post meetings are fun and active.  My brother has 20+ years in law enforcement and still says the time he spent with his post was inspirational and important to his career.

I live in the suburb of a large midwest city.  If a teen is motivated enough to want to rock climb, cave or hike they don't need to form a group to do it.  A simple google search will show that there are already local groups that are established and have experts waiting with open arms.  I don't think it was that easy in the past and I know its not that easy everywhere.  Most likely, the teen will convince a buddy or two and just go do it.  why form a group at all?  Took my son to a new Venturing crew meeting because it was supposed to be about a topic he had interest in.  With the exception of my son and another scout, the teens were clueless about Venturing and the adults hosting the meeting had planned poorly, did a terrible job explaining the goals of the new crew or why anyone would even want to be in the group.  They were talking about elections and they hadn't even established what was going to motivate the crew to show up.  I understand that Venturing is crew lead but I don't think most people join a group and then ask what does this group do?  After two hours of talking about everything except why we were there my son decided he wasn't interested in joining.

When anyone mentions Venturing I cant help but think back to the meetings we had when our troop was starting a crew.  One of the people that spoke about venturing was a gentleman that was active and an adult advisor in several crews that did different activities.  He mentioned that the crews had more adult participation at planned activities than the youth.  They had to set rules to limit the number of adults.  The adults were more interested than the youth. I'm not talking about 21 yo's, I'm talking about the parents of the crews and the advisors.  I'll never forget that

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23 minutes ago, thrifty said:

When anyone mentions Venturing I cant help but think back to the meetings we had when our troop was starting a crew.  One of the people that spoke about venturing was a gentleman that was active and an adult advisor in several crews that did different activities.  He mentioned that the crews had more adult participation at planned activities than the youth.  They had to set rules to limit the number of adults.  The adults were more interested than the youth. I'm not talking about 21 yo's, I'm talking about the parents of the crews and the advisors.  I'll never forget that

Yes, that is the issue with Venturing, it is an adult driven program. Adults start the program with enthusiasm, but when that dies out, so does the program. 3 out of 5 Venturing Crews die within 5 years in our district. 

Explorers was, and is, no different, the only reason they appear more resilient is they had sponsors to continue the enthusiasm through generations of adult leaders. 

I'm guessing that sponsorship is why Venturing is fading. 

Barry

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1 hour ago, thrifty said:

He mentioned that the crews had more adult participation at planned activities than the youth.  They had to set rules to limit the number of adults.  The adults were more interested than the youth. I'm not talking about 21 yo's, I'm talking about the parents of the crews and the advisors.  I'll never forget that

My troop hasn't set a rule, but we have created a backpacking group of adults separate from the Troop. It seems like we want to/can go more often than our youth can. A few of us still take the  lead on troop backpacking trips, but it helps us adults not crowd out the Scout backpacking trips. 

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2 hours ago, Eagledad said:

Yes, that is the issue with Venturing, it is an adult driven program. Adults start the program with enthusiasm, but when that dies out, so does the program. 3 out of 5 Venturing Crews die within 5 years in our district. 

Explorers was, and is, no different, the only reason they appear more resilient is they had sponsors to continue the enthusiasm through generations of adult leaders. 

I'm guessing that sponsorship is why Venturing is fading. 

Barry

I'm thinking this essentially comes back to program.  Is the problem that people are not implementing the Venturing program correctly?

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