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Double Eagle

A lot of negatives in the media, is scouting in danger?

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As I'm seeing other posts and reading about camps closing across may councils, LDS separating, negative BSA legal commercials during prime time TV, and price increases, I have to question what is going on with marketing, protecting the scouting legacy, and whether scouting is on the downslope.

Long gone is the public support of scouting like Waite Phillips donating Philmont to the BSA.  We need some of our wealthy folks in or out of social media circles to save camps too.  My  beloved Silver Trails Scout Reservation in the thumb of Michigan just announced a buyer for that camp.  Crossroads of American Council is doing the same with one of theirs.  Most scouts will never attend a national jamboree or high adventure base, but will spend their first summer camp at a local camp and carry those memories forever.  I only wish the wealthy could see the value of our program and help protect it.

The last greatest marketing push came from "are you tougher than a Boy Scout in 2013.  Hard to think its been that long.  Most of my scouts from that year watched every episode and even put some adults through our own unit competitions.  We had quite a membership increase in my units in 2013/2014.  I wish Scouts BSA could get the same positive attention rather than watching useless reality match-making shows and crazy wife shows in cities.  I guess they have their place, but I can't find anything useful in them. Wide-world of Sports and American Sportsman would be great about now.

The prices just keep climbing and it shows.  Whatever the reasons: protection lawsuits, china-made scout knives, uniforms you don't want to trash on campouts, but for indoors scouting, or scout shop Osprey backpacks that cost you fortune, or just paying for big camps and programs, the cost is driving away all, but well-off families.  We get asked to sell popcorn (which I hate doing), and raise scouting member numbers only to see lawsuits and sticker shock around the BSA.  I don't know how low income unit areas manage to pay $6 for a raingutter sailboat with two tiny pieces of balsa, $6 neckerchief slides and $15 books and hats. 

Rant over.  Please share your ideas whether you agree or disagree.        

        

Edited by Double Eagle
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Honestly the challenge is, or the question is, that at a National and Council level, NOT the unit level, have we lost our focus as an organization?

The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law.  The Vision is The Boy Scouts of America will prepare every eligible youth in America to become a responsible, participating citizen and leader who is guided by the Scout Oath and Law.

At the UNIT level we do this with campouts, fun activities, community service, projects, letting Scouts run things etc etc.  From my experience, the vast majority of the units do a good job of this and continue to execute that mission and vision.  Focusing on outdoor activities and doing stuff that other youth based groups (and it is a crowded marketplace) are not doing.

The CHALLENGE is that at the National and Council level the focus seems to be less on actions and more on fund raising (can you say popcorn) and the social issues that BSA feels they need to focus on.  I am not saying that the societal issues are not important.  These would be child abuse, bullying, etc.  But should that be our our front focus?  These efforts should be PART of who we are, not the REASON that we are.

The question is, does the current PAID Executive leadership, and make no mistake they drive the ship, really fully understand the program and what works at the grass roots level?  IMHO I would say no.  

BSA has a unique offering that can truly benefit the youth we serve.  If we continue to focus on non core initiatives, then many of those youth will not even come through the door.

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From what I have read, and been told, the answer is no. CSE Surbaugh mentioned how he had no children, do he could focus on his career. Many workers bees at National have little to no experience in Scouting,  either as a youth or Scouter working with an unit. And those that have the experience tend to be ignored. I am told the head trainer has the job because of her PhD in leadership management, and has never been involved previously.

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I’m a bit pessimistic.  

More wealthy families no longer see scouting as critical to their children’s success and they don’t see how scouting can fit in their schedule between mandarin classes, coding clubs, sports and music.

Middle class families are being priced out with national, council and camp fees.  Yes, there is fundraising, but scouting is not about fundraising and if that takes up considerable time just to pay registration fees you’ll lose interest.

Lack of quality new volunteers is my biggest concern about long term health.  Several Troops in my area are led by older scouters who would like to back down, but they cannot find parents willing to take on the work. 

Public schools seem to be at best, agnostic to BSA.  LDS loss willl be a big blow.  Fraternal lodges seem to be in decline as well (Moose, Elk, etc. are shutting down in my area).  

National needs to focus on what is the core mission of the BSA, help reduce overhead on volunteers outside that core mission and market it.  Scout Me In was a swing and miss.  Clarify how scouting is unique, fun and important to youth development and market that.

I don’t see that happening, I see the opposite which is driving my concern.

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I believe the romance of Scoutings idealism was beaten out of the population with political correctness. I remember listening to a young couple, during the gay scouting debates, when asked about their opinion of putting their kids into scouts, they didn't want to add more political drama in their life. Scouting used to be a refuge from real life. It then became one of the headlines. It was then I heard the big donor supporters, I mean the really big ones, where stepping back. Up until then, scouting had an idealistic image of developing the perfect citizen. 

So, maybe, the BSA is about to go through a change where the grassroots of tradition will drive more of the local program. Who knows, the Canadian Scouts went the opposite direction of turning into a progressive example of a global youth social association. 

Barry

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Since the title is "scouting" and not BSA, the answer is no.

Scouting is at least as old as Moses (literally). There will be a need for scouts as long as there are civilizations seeking their place in an otherwise harsh world. And that pool of scouts will come from the world's youth. As long as there a books available that describe how to be a scout, youth will learn to scout. The only question is how many and through whom?

Will BSA hold its claim as the largest scouting organization in the US? That depends on a number of forces beyond its control.

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4 minutes ago, qwazse said:

Will BSA hold its claim as the largest scouting organization in the US? That depends on a number of forces beyond its control.

Good question. My initial response is yes, because all the other scouting programs a declining as well. But then I started thinking about the GSUSA. Are they declining? Ironically, at least for me, the GSUSA is the one scouting organization left that hasn't been in the spotlight of changing it's program to the will of a progressive agenda. Now I agree, the GSUSA sold out to the progressives a long time ago, but they seem to have stayed out of the spotlight of radical change in the last few years. Will they eventually be the flag ship of scouting? 

Barry

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41 minutes ago, Eagle1993 said:

Scout Me In was a swing and miss.  Clarify how scouting is unique, fun and important to youth development and market that.

 

Agree that Scout Me In was not great.  Seemed to be more focused on younger youth, not really resonating with the older youth.  Though honestly BSA seems hell bent on being a Cub Scout group, I guess they feel that is where the members may come from.  Not sure the "Family" focus will get what they want either.  

Year Cubs Scouts  V / Exp Members
1960 49% 44% 7% 3,783,000
1970 52% 41% 7% 4,683,000
1980 53% 33% 14% 3,207,000
1990 55% 26% 19% 3,933,000
2000 63% 30% 7% 3,351,914
2010 58% 33% 9% 2,739,692
2018 59% 38% 3% 2,076,716

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11 minutes ago, Eagledad said:

Good question. My initial response is yes, because all the other scouting programs a declining as well. But then I started thinking about the GSUSA. Are they declining? Ironically, at least for me, the GSUSA is the one scouting organization left that hasn't been in the spotlight of changing it's program to the will of a progressive agenda. Now I agree, the GSUSA sold out to the progressives a long time ago, but they seem to have stayed out of the spotlight of radical change in the last few years. Will they eventually be the flag ship of scouting? 

Barry

GS/USA's membership has been declining. I don't know when they made their last census.

TL/USA has reportedly been gaining members, as has AHG. But I don't think their census is a matter of public record.

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20 hours ago, Cburkhardt said:

Now we are about to undergo the final "big step" in the work-out.  We will file our financial reorganizational bankruptcy and get beyond the legal perils overwhelmingly caused by the Youth Protection fails of the 70's, 60's and before.  That should be the final step and will be a difficult one for many of us.  Why?  Because it will offer detractors on the left and right an easy opportunity to tear at us to promote agendas.  These detractors are generally  not members or supporters of our organization but they have giant-sized and simplistic opinions about how we should teach ethical decision-making to young people.  Why is this?  Because we indeed are very good at teaching ethical decision-making through BSA programs to millions of children and these people are angry because we might not be doing their particularized bidding. 

The BSA is important because what it achieves is important and highly-valued.  I look forward to getting past the bankruptcy because it will, finally, provide clear ground in front of us.  We will be a bit smaller at first and will have shed some of our unneeded assets.  Those who were harmed will have received a sense of justice.  Our numbers will begin to swell as our then-new circumstances are recognized as a wonderful and open invitation.

We will be … just fine.  In fact …  much better-off.  We will continue to provide the ethical decision making education in our outdoor classroom that is in demand by families of boys and girls.  We will once again be the large cross-society organization that welcomes everyone and is not perceived to harbor a political agenda.  We will be Scouts and Scouters and can totally focus on what we have chosen as our avocation.       

The program is changing enough that ethical decision making will fad into a myth because the method of challenging a scout to make ethical decisions requires a moral reference. The YMCA was created for moral and ethical development of boys. Does our culture today respect the Young Men's Christian Association as an organization built on the foundation of morality? Or even ethical development?

Oh, some will say the oath and Law doesn't require religious reference to be valid, but once a consistent moral reference (god) is taken from the ethical decision making process, character is left to be defined by the strongest adult in the group and the mood they are in at the moment. The reference of ethics will just depend. One only needs to look our schools to see how that will go with kids who make a moral decision only to find the adult doesn't agree. Like the YMCA, Scouting will only be a family weekend program. The Eagle will only mean that they stuck it out for more than year. 

I'm waiting for the day that the ty-die t-shirt and purple neckerchief are the official uniform. Then, the alumni of the traditional program can define the difference between the Boy Scouts that died in 20??, and the Scout Family Weekend Fun Program. 

Barry

 

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I should add

  • BSA has a relationship with the NRA
  • BSA teaches scouts to murder and butcher fish
  • BSA promotes scout Sunday thereby disenfranchising their open/closeted atheist members

to my second list of bullets above.  The list is almost endless...

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1 hour ago, walk in the woods said:

I should add

  • BSA has a relationship with the NRA
  • BSA teaches scouts to murder and butcher fish
  • BSA promotes scout Sunday thereby disenfranchising their open/closeted atheist members

to my second list of bullets above.  The list is almost endless...

Also BSA may have issues with these activities

  • Firebuilding - which contributes to global warming
  • Citizenship in the Nation - which continues to support the capitalistic dogma the country was founded on
  • Knife basics - which promotes use of (yikes) a knife
  • Fingerprinting - Which supports the overreaching police state
  • Swimming - which promotes class separation as not everyone has equal access to a pool
  • Automotive Maintenance - which also promotes class separation as not everyone has equal access to a car
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