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

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Like most who comment on this site, I have a good amount of exposure to the ups and downs of Scouting through the years.  In my case it is 54 years  since I became a Cub and I have served in just about every role as an adult leader since age 21.  I have carefully read the fine thoughts shared by all on this particular string and must say that despite some of the current issues, the BSA is going to come out of this 5-year workout in reasonably good shape.  We have faced many other seemingly-existential matters before and handled them pretty well.  We are now just needing to address the YPT fails of earlier decades and finish the normalization that once again, all are welcome in the BSA.  

After all of this discussion I will go to our Troop meeting tomorrow and deal with the big, real issues of the BSA.  When will my daughter make Second Class?  Why can’t my daughter go to Philmont at age 12?  We don’t make enough money to purchase hiking boots for our daughter, can the Troop help us?  My daughter has anger management problems and yells at the other Scouts.  What should we do?  ASM Jones is being tough on my knowing the outdoor code.  Can you tell him to go easier on me?  Yes, these are the questions that we all will continue to answer as we continue to help families form good decision-making habits and character in our Scouts.

so for all of you pros and volunteers reading this, have faith and confidence that all will be well.

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On 10/4/2019 at 2:20 AM, ParkMan said:

The good thing is that this is usually when organizations start to get nimble.  When faced with do or die moments, they start to recognize what they really need to do.

I see it starting to happen where I am.  The current attempts at being nimble are still bogged down with the institutional baggage - but they are at least starting to try harder.

I wish I had your optimism. Unfortunately I have seen pros take over and ignore the boots on the ground. Not only at the local level, but national as well. One example is the "instapalms" that 94% were either against (18%) or strongly against (76%). And to this day, they still have not released the results of the last membership poll they took. I have seen a few pros that have a passion for the movement. Sadly they tend to leave quickly and the ones that remain and move up tend to view it as a job. And they willdo anything to keep their positions.

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Just spoke to the local pros in our council.  Of 13,000 youth members in Scouts BSA, we now have 800 females.  In over 75 new all-girl Troops.  There is no comparable circumstance in my 50+ years of association with Scouting when we have experienced an opportunity like this -- which is available to every council and chartered organization willing to act.  As these Troops swell in membership over the next couple of years and are joined by additional ones, our collective future will be a lot brighter.  Our new membership directions are much better than our recent decades spent focused on excluding categories of people -- and then unsuccessfully attempting to sell such practices as being good for the country.  I don't know how many following this posting have actually gone out and helped for a new unit this last year.  If you have not, you have not experienced the welcome we now receive from potential COs.  They are very happy to see us again.

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I believe that at one time the Boy Scouts was a group of boys and men who worked together to teach and demonstrate all of the points of the scout oath and law.  The men showed the boys how to be scouts in the woods, at home and school, at camp, and at church.  The Boy Scouts was a private orgination that required a person to fill out an application, pay a fee, and abide by their rules.  If you chose not to do these things you chose not to belong.  Somehow these things changed and rather then stand on the principles agreed to by the members the rules were changed and many members decided that rather then conform to the new rules they would walk away, and others, who were not members, did not like the changes and just decided not to participate.  Scouting is in danger and unless there in not a reorganized, revamped, and begin to follow the dictates of the Scout Oath and Law, Boy Scouting will fade away.  Sadly, it may be, that our modern society that the Boy Scouts of America has lost its relevance in the light of liberal and permissive views.

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Well let'ssee now...   No, I think I'll start a new thread.  I will name it, "Who can be a Scout?"   No, maybe,   "Who should be a Scout?"    Ummm, no, maybe  "Who do we want to be a Scout?" 

Maybe we need to agree on what IS a Scout?  How us ole' timers try to pass on a little of our lore and learning?   

Edited by SSScout

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Seems simple enough and really no real change if we can get past various biases.  Any youth between the ages of 5 and 18 can be a scout in some manner or group, and any adult that chooses to be YP trained and follow the rules of YP and the group as a whole may be involved in mentor capacity, with or without family members.  All will "do their best" to live their lives in the reflection of the basic tenets of Scouting shown by the Oath and Law.  Adults will put the needs of the youth first, and youth will strive, though living the noted tenets to be the best citizens and members of society that they can, accepting the challenges and respecting others.  

 

How is that?  Are we close? 

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On 10/29/2019 at 3:55 PM, Mrjeff said:

The Boy Scouts was a private organization that required a person to fill out an application, pay a fee, and abide by their rules.  If you chose not to do these things you chose not to belong.  Somehow these things changed and rather then stand on the principles agreed to by the members the rules were changed and many members decided that rather then conform to the new rules they would walk away,

Progressives know that the key to controlling the future is to own the minds of the nation's youth.  They took over education through the teachers' unions.  The feminists usurped Girl Scouts.  Boy Scouts of America was the last most prominent bastion for learning how to live a moral life.  So that made BSA a very important target for progressives to eliminate. 

There once was a principle that one should adhere to their principles, even in the face of adversity. Compromise was the splinter that became a wedge that split the traditionalists from the program.  Sadly for the youth, the knowledge and love of the outdoors was more heavily vested in the old traditionalist farts, who were reluctant to compromise their principles.

I feel just fine on the road less traveled.   Too bad BSA won't join me.

Edited by JoeBob
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I find that all the negatives in the media and within the Scouting community do hurt us. The national media issues don't hurt Scout recruiting too much.  if you're known to have a good unit and work at letting people know, the Scouts are out there.  Very, very rarely have I seen anything in the national media about Scouting impact us locally with kid interest.  Where all these negatives are killing us is with volunteer engagement.  Locally, I could double Scouting in 5 years if we had enough experienced volunteers who were helping. 

Example - I was talking with a leader in a smaller troop recently.  They'd like to grow, but are struggling with how to strengthen recruiting and program.  The leaders they have don't know what to do in order to break out of their rut.  They've taken online training, but it really doesn't answer the hard questions.

  • Because of leader training is online, local leader training has dried up
  • The commissioner staff is virtually non-existent.
  • Roundtable has gone away

So, if you're an overwhelmed leader - what do you do?  Who do you turn to?

What I've seen locally is that all the experienced leaders are focusing on their troops or are leaving Scouting. I think this is what is really hurting us.  Strong packs & troops  are doing OK.  But, over time many falter and start to shrink.  Many of those eventually go away.  We lose a unit about every two or three years.  We see no new unit growth.

Why?

  1. People just don't start new units anymore. 
  2. Experienced leaders are rarely focusing on building up Scouting in the community, leaving a vacuum.

 

 

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1 hour ago, ParkMan said:

Why?

  1. People just don't start new units anymore. 
  2. Experienced leaders are rarely focusing on building up Scouting in the community, leaving a vacuum.

???

Why is it harder (as in not worth the effort) than ever (paperwork, finances) to start units and attract/keep volunteers? 

Competent leaders know that building a great program is the key to Scouting longevity in their community.  

My $0.02,

Edited by RememberSchiff
grammar, ugh and more grammar
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43 minutes ago, ParkMan said:

Example - I was talking with a leader in a smaller troop recently.  They'd like to grow, but are struggling with how to strengthen recruiting and program.  The leaders they have don't know what to do in order to break out of their rut.  They've taken online training, but it really doesn't answer the hard questions.

  • Because of leader training is online, local leader training has dried up
  • The commissioner staff is virtually non-existent.
  • Roundtable has gone away

I. HATE. ONLINE. TRAINING.

 Not only for the lack of contact with others, especially experienced Scouters who have "been there, done that," but also because the Powers That Be don't seem the grasp that technological disparities across the country. Not everyone has high speed internet. One person took over 4 hours to do just the YPT2.0 training because he had to use dial up; there are no high speed providers in the area that will service him. We had a group so fed up with trying to do YPT2.0 online, that they begged council to allow a live class, which thankfully council obliged. We would have lost several units if we didn't have that class.

And don't get me started on the Specific Leader courses. Out of all the Cub Leaders in my district, 5 are completely trained. And 3 of those are experienced Cub Scout Leaders who took Cub Scout Basic Leader Training way back in the day. The bulk of the problem lies in internet connectivity issues. But also the way  the training is presented, in a series of courses and not as a single, standalone course as in the old days,is confusing and intimidating some folks. Add in the fact that National changed all the courses, and if you were in the middle of training you had to start all over again, was the complaint I head from one of the 2 trained CSDLs who did it online last year. Plus National has attempted to state that in order to be "Trained" you have to have all the current courses, which makes people ask "why get trained at all if they will be invalid when they change?" Thankfully enough volunteers complained about that policy that it was quickly, but quietly , reversed.

But sadly even the classroom training appears watered down. I was asked to be training chair again, and I am in the process of getting my syllabi to start setting up courses. In comparing my old syllabi to the ones I have used in the past, I am noticing the following: Length of courses have shortened; Topics have been watered down, or omitted completely; writing style of the syllabi seems to be geared towards a Middle School First Class Scout instead of adult learners.

 

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48 minutes ago, RememberSchiff said:

???

Why is harder (as in not worth the effort) the ever (paperwork, finances) for start units? 

Competent leaders know that building a great program is the key to Scouting longevity in their community.  

My $0.02,

Sure - happy to elaborate.  Maybe it's just a local thing here.

48 minutes ago, RememberSchiff said:

Why is harder (as in not worth the effort) the ever (paperwork, finances) for start units? 

On starting a new unit:

We just never see it anymore.  In the last decade, I've seen 2 new packs in our district.  Both were off shoots of other existing packs which had gotten very large and a leader decided to try something closer to home.  We've seen 1 new troop - a troop for girls that started alongside an existing troop.  In my time, I've never seen a CO decide - "we want to start a Scouting unit".

In the same time, I can count 7 packs & troops that have closed down.  This doesn't count the LDS units we'll lose this year.  They've closed for the same reasons - leaders and participation dwindled to the point where it wasn't worth it.  The few remaining scouts switched to another unit. 

I don't think it's harder logistically.  My gut tells me that 1) our typical CO base of churches is itself struggling and 2) people are less tied to their CO and so are more likely to join a neighborhood pack/troop.

48 minutes ago, RememberSchiff said:

Competent leaders know that building a great program is the key to Scouting longevity in their community.  

On experienced leaders:

I fully, 100% agree with your statement.

What's happening in my area is that the really strong units are sustaining or getting stronger.  The small to mid sized units are struggling because they don't have a lot of strong leaders.  So, as a result, the small to mid sized units get even smaller and in a number of instances just give up.  If you've got the skills to become a strong leader and are in a strong unit, you'll do great.  If you've got the skills to become a strong leader and are in one of the other units, you get overwhelmed, frustrated, and are likely to find something else to spend time on. 

Put differently - big units have the depth to develop leaders internally.  Your typical small to mid sized units do not.  So, because of the lack of support for leaders in the small to mid-sized units, we see a slow, steady decline in number and size of these small to mid-sized units.

So, if your community is a smaller town which has one or two units - I'd agree.  Just build a great pack/troop that supports the town.  But, if your community is larger and you've got to figure out how to keep a bunch of packs & troops healthy, it takes more than just a single, strong unit.

Edited by ParkMan
clarified a thought

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23 minutes ago, Eagle94-A1 said:

I. HATE. ONLINE. TRAINING.

 Not only for the lack of contact with others, especially experienced Scouters who have "been there, done that," but also because the Powers That Be don't seem the grasp that technological disparities across the country. Not everyone has high speed internet. One person took over 4 hours to do just the YPT2.0 training because he had to use dial up; there are no high speed providers in the area that will service him. We had a group so fed up with trying to do YPT2.0 online, that they begged council to allow a live class, which thankfully council obliged. We would have lost several units if we didn't have that class.

And don't get me started on the Specific Leader courses. Out of all the Cub Leaders in my district, 5 are completely trained. And 3 of those are experienced Cub Scout Leaders who took Cub Scout Basic Leader Training way back in the day. The bulk of the problem lies in internet connectivity issues. But also the way  the training is presented, in a series of courses and not as a single, standalone course as in the old days,is confusing and intimidating some folks. Add in the fact that National changed all the courses, and if you were in the middle of training you had to start all over again, was the complaint I head from one of the 2 trained CSDLs who did it online last year. Plus National has attempted to state that in order to be "Trained" you have to have all the current courses, which makes people ask "why get trained at all if they will be invalid when they change?" Thankfully enough volunteers complained about that policy that it was quickly, but quietly , reversed.

But sadly even the classroom training appears watered down. I was asked to be training chair again, and I am in the process of getting my syllabi to start setting up courses. In comparing my old syllabi to the ones I have used in the past, I am noticing the following: Length of courses have shortened; Topics have been watered down, or omitted completely; writing style of the syllabi seems to be geared towards a Middle School First Class Scout instead of adult learners.

 

Very well said.  We see pretty much the same thing here.  In our area internet connectivity really isn't the issue, but everything else you describe matches really well.

What The Powers That Be (TPTB in my book) really seem to have missed is that 75% of training occurs in the interaction between people.  The content is only 25% of the value.

My recommendation to national:

  • Use online training to cover the most basic of information.  Make it one hour or less
  • Start a national campaign to hold face-to-face basic leader training in every district annually.  That training should be 6 hours or less.
  • Provide sufficient instructional guidance for the district training teams to adequately staff and present the materials.
  • Begin the development of an intermediate leader training course for Cub Scouts & for Scouts BSA.  Upon collection of the topics, decide if it's either an instructor led local course or a series of Roundtable topics.

 

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4 hours ago, ParkMan said:

The national media issues don't hurt Scout recruiting too much. 

 

2 hours ago, ParkMan said:

On starting a new unit:

We just never see it anymore. 

2 hours ago, ParkMan said:

The small to mid sized units are struggling because they don't have a lot of strong leaders. 

Maybe the national media issues do hurt scouting, as the view of scouting, by the parents that don't put their kids in scouts, is not positive.  Hence, fewer new parents, fewer new leaders, online training. This is a national media issue. If national doesn't put anything out then they don't get ahead of their message and whatever bad media is put out by other people is the only message that all these parents get.

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A non scouters buddy of mine said he'd seen some BSA advertising on t.v.  He wasn't sure of the channel,  TNT he thought.  But he's seen more of the lawyers advertising for clients.  His take on the commercial was generally positive and he commented the BSA was clearly trying to prepare the public for girls in the program.  When I told him girls had been in the program for over a year he said "you're one of the 7 people in the country that know that."

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2 hours ago, MattR said:

 

Maybe the national media issues do hurt scouting, as the view of scouting, by the parents that don't put their kids in scouts, is not positive.  Hence, fewer new parents, fewer new leaders, online training. This is a national media issue. If national doesn't put anything out then they don't get ahead of their message and whatever bad media is put out by other people is the only message that all these parents get.

I imagine lots of things hurt Scouting - recent negative publicity is one of them.  But, sure I imagine it does to some extent.

Nationwide I think something like 5-10% of boys are in Scouting.  I'm sure it's too early to measure for girls.  That number has been trending down for decades.  Did that number decrease even more because of the recent negative publicity?  Perhaps.  But, they are not the cause of why only 5-10% are in Scouting.

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