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Jameson76

What are the BSA priorities??

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After some local meetings and conversations with local professionals, I am curious what are the actual BSA priorities now?

It seems that apparently our main focus and purpose is YPT, it currently defines the movement; then maybe training, it is most important; then making the Bechtel Summit property an essential asset (hey let's move everything there) so it can be protected in a bankruptcy; then remember it's all about being an Eagle Scout, or maybe the new background checks, if you don't toe the line, see ya; and just shut up and pay the new fee as Scouting is a great value; then let's make sure we add girls (which is fine); and remember No Bullying; don't forget that Family camping is the best thing ever; we need to add kindergartners; and there is STEM; and etc etc etc

Seems that National and Local Councils have moved away from focusing on Outdoor Programs and letting youth learn and grow.  You remember, patrols and youth led activities.  Successful Units continue that focus and honestly much of this does not impact us directly, but long-term it will be harder to bring in new youth.

Families will look at all of the red tape, and after sitting through the 2 hour YPT training and go...yeah...maybe not.  

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I see this trend on this forum. The discussions are less about working with the youth and more on policy and guidelines. The new female leaders here seem the most involved with getting to core scouting. Good for them. 

Remember when the popular theme for staying on the path was,  "it's all for the boys. Um, and girls". There is so much noise at the adult level now that the youth part of the youth scouting is taking a back seat. 

I'm here for any discussions with the youth part. I love the youth scouting part.

43 minutes ago, Jameson76 said:

Families will look at all of the red tape, and after sitting through the 2 hour YPT training and go...yeah...maybe not.  

Our family made this very decision with the YMCA sports after a 2 hour YPT type training (lecture). I know the training is for protection, but it had such a social engineering feel to it. 

Barry

Edited by Eagledad
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Twice this week (once on in person and once online), I heard from leaders, that when they started, they took all the online training and still didn't know how to be a tiger DL!

We have a thread from a scouter who is trying to outline "how to start a unit" and is doing it from Troop experience.

It seems like we got into the habit of thinking the tail should wag the dog.

It's a far cry from "Get the boys together, read the book, pick the next chapter, do what it says."

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22 minutes ago, qwazse said:

Twice this week (once on in person and once online), I heard from leaders, that when they started, they took all the online training and still didn't know how to be a tiger DL!

We have a thread from a scouter who is trying to outline "how to start a unit" and is doing it from Troop experience.

It seems like we got into the habit of thinking the tail should wag the dog.

It's a far cry from "Get the boys together, read the book, pick the next chapter, do what it says."

Getting the push to be 100% trained in the district, which is an admirable goal, so took the Merit Badge Counselor on-line training.  more just fluff, very little nuts and bolts.  That's the same comment most of our leaders made with the "NEW" YPT, it was more theory and convincing us that endangering children was bad and less about how to be compliant and "DO" YPT.  The old training was really applicable, DO this DON'T do this etc etc.  

When we do training for the Troop Leaders our emphasis is on them having the Scouts DO stuff.  When doing fire building we do not need Scouts to understand combustion, ignition points of materials, etc.  Maybe later, but let them strike some matches and see that logs do not in fact make kindling.

Focus on DOING, Focus on getting out in the woods and letting the Scouts be Scouts.

 

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That is why I think the best "how to manual" for scouts is the original Fieldbook. A patrol can start on chapter 1, do the activity (pow-wow I think they were called). Then go to the next activity. If a new scouter needed a "how to", I direct them to this and have them hand it to their PL.

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When outdoor adventure was the cornerstone of the BSA, adults knew what they signed up for.  They'd either be outdoors as a leader, or in a support capacity that directly helped folks get outdoors.

Not so today.  Now you can have a long career in the BSA, as a pro or volunteer, and not have to "deal" with outdoor "stuff."  Sure, you might have to gut out two weekends for WB, but after that the coast is pretty clear.  Clean uniforms, lots of meetings and conferences, etc.

Hike 5 miles into camp?  Chop wood with an axe?  Start a fire in the rain?  Cook a meal on the coals with a couple mess kits?  Build pioneering projects?  Sleep in a tent?   These experiences are definitely not stressed or prioritized by most above unit level today.  They are just quaint notions from yesterday, something to keep the scouts amused until they start the fast track to Eagle.  Then it's SUV time, driving scouts to the local university on Saturdays, go through the assembly line, and leave with a hand full of merit badges at the end of the day.  Lunch provided.  The only thing the scout has to do is put on their uniform in the morning.  The adults do everything.  Less risk for Irving TX to worry about.

OA is going in the same direction.

Sure, we have our high adventure bases, but those are cash cows (some of them).  So Irving is willing to assume the risk there. 

Whatever the priorities of the BSA may be, it's safe to say that their best selling product--the great outdoors at the unit level--has been shoved to the corner of the store, bottom shelf, covered with cob webs. 

And if the outdoor adventure is not the top priority of the BSA, it's really not the BSA any more. 

 

Edited by desertrat77
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The challenge with all the information available in our society today is that it's really difficult to make sense of questions like priorities.

The BSA's priorities are different depending on who you talk to. 

  • If you're the Chief Scout Executive or the national board, what's more important - fostering an outdoor program that already exists or trying to stave off financial disaster, continual declines in membership, or abuse lawsuits?
  • If you're a local Scout Executive, is it outdoor program or keeping your council camp open and stopping membership losses?
  • If you're a Scoutmaster is it outdoor program, patrol method, or something else?

I think it's part of our culture today that we all get online and discuss the topic of the day.  Hopefully most Scouters are with it enough that they put all this in proper context.

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6 minutes ago, ParkMan said:
  • If you're the Chief Scout Executive or the national board, what's more important - fostering an outdoor program that already exists or trying to stave off financial disaster, continual declines in membership, or abuse lawsuits?

Maybe trying to figure out how to extricate yourself from the financial disaster that is Summit Bechtel, that is $500 MM - $750 MM that will never be used to support local Scouting programs.  Needed money that was poured (shoveled??) into a vanity project by the Chief Scout Executive and the National Board who are so far removed from actual Scouting it's like a they are in another organization.

Edited by Jameson76

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Bring back the pioneering and Native American skills and games that were in the old Cub Program.   Let them play games that they can get filthy dirty in. Our fall hike was based on the old Bear leaf ID elective and the kids had a blast stomping around to identify them with an arborist dad.   One Grampa in the group found paw prints near the water and the cubs were trying to ID them back at the luncheon with the old stalking/tracking MB books the troop in town keeps on hand. 
 

parents need to let the youth fail - fail at making a fire, or a meal or having their tent set up so it doesn’t leak.   It’s not like they’re being sent into the woods solo to fail - there are friends and adults there so it doesn’t get dangerous. 
 

STEM/STEAM is good but they get that at school. What about letting the kids make the connection from ‘old’ skills to the STEMy stuff themselves. 

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1 hour ago, Jameson76 said:

Maybe trying to figure out how to extricate yourself from the financial disaster that is Summit Bechtel, that is $500 MM - $750 MM that will never be used to support local Scouting programs.  Needed money that was poured (shoveled??) into a vanity project by the Chief Scout Executive and the National Board who are so far removed from actual Scouting it's like a they are in another organization.

I like a good rant as much as anyone, but how does this impact prioritizing an outdoor program?  If anything, providing more facilities for advanced outdoor programming is a good thing.  The location is within a day car drive for a very large percentage of the US population.  That would be good for encouraging more outdoor use.

Edited by ParkMan
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50 minutes ago, Momleader said:

Bring back the pioneering and Native American skills and games that were in the old Cub Program.   Let them play games that they can get filthy dirty in. Our fall hike was based on the old Bear leaf ID elective and the kids had a blast stomping around to identify them with an arborist dad.   One Grampa in the group found paw prints near the water and the cubs were trying to ID them back at the luncheon with the old stalking/tracking MB books the troop in town keeps on hand. 
 

parents need to let the youth fail - fail at making a fire, or a meal or having their tent set up so it doesn’t leak.   It’s not like they’re being sent into the woods solo to fail - there are friends and adults there so it doesn’t get dangerous. 
 

STEM/STEAM is good but they get that at school. What about letting the kids make the connection from ‘old’ skills to the STEMy stuff themselves. 

These sound like good things for a pack to use.  Can you not do this now?

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Just now, ParkMan said:

I like a good rant as much as anyone, but how does this impact prioritizing an outdoor program?  If anything, providing more facilities for advanced outdoor programming is a good thing.

In theory it does not, but in practice it is a facility that is not fully utilized, and takes resources from other areas.  In general it puts the organization at financial risk.  For a local unit, not so much impact until they see the update registration fee and may not realize that some portion of that is in fact a Summit Tax.

Similar to a unit that goes all out for popcorn sales working to exceed last year, not necessarily a bad thing in general, but units, like organizations, only have so much bandwidth and human capital.  They all work on the sales and then other parts of the program suffer.  There must be a balance.

When National has to move things, make events, and work to make Summit relevant, it's an issue.  Over time it will impact the outdoor program as there are only so many resource to go around

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To the question:  The priorities of National are to maintain a program template that works and arrange for sensible business services and highest-end program experiences unavailable at the unit and council levels.  I think they are on-task and doing reasonably well, now that they have withdrawn from social policy development and enforcement — and now that they are conducting YPT effectively.  The priorities of councils are to form and maintain units and to provide program experiences to supplement and support units (camp properties, camporee, etc.).  The effectiveness of councils varies greatly.  My long term experience is that the principal determinant of how well a council hoes to these priorities is the quality and engagement of the volunteer council board — and not the professionals.  The priorities of units, like the 30-girl Troop I am Scoutmaster of, is to vigorously provide an outdoor program and, while there, foster leadership and self-sustainable among young people.  I think volunteers do an excellent job at the unit level no matter the status of the unit —because we are usually doing the best we can with available recourses.  It is striking just how many of the above comments stray so far from these fundamental priorities.  

 

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8 hours ago, Jameson76 said:

After some local meetings and conversations with local professionals, I am curious what are the actual BSA priorities now?

It seems that apparently our main focus and purpose is YPT, it currently defines the movement; then maybe training, it is most important; then making the Bechtel Summit property an essential asset (hey let's move everything there) so it can be protected in a bankruptcy; then remember it's all about being an Eagle Scout, or maybe the new background checks, if you don't toe the line, see ya; and just shut up and pay the new fee as Scouting is a great value; then let's make sure we add girls (which is fine); and remember No Bullying; don't forget that Family camping is the best thing ever; we need to add kindergartners; and there is STEM; and etc etc etc

Seems that National and Local Councils have moved away from focusing on Outdoor Programs and letting youth learn and grow.  You remember, patrols and youth led activities.  Successful Units continue that focus and honestly much of this does not impact us directly, but long-term it will be harder to bring in new youth.

Families will look at all of the red tape, and after sitting through the 2 hour YPT training and go...yeah...maybe not.  

I think you are looking in the wrong place for traditional scouting values.  They are still there in the aims and methods. 

Of course, YPT is national's highest priority.  The failure of this in the past is the thing most jeopardizing the future of the national organization.  You can't blame the national staff of the present for that (you should blame the perverts of the past though). The background check forms are another step in that process.  I want national to do everything they need to do to protect the existence of the program for future generations.  As long as YPT  (and the legacy of the past) is a problem then it will have to be a function of National.  Abuse scandles are bad press, scouts getting hurt is bad press. Bad press is bad for recruitment. We have half the number of units in our district than we did when I was a scout (not counting LDS). 

The Eagle has been a priority for years.  It was emphasized 20 years ago when I was a scout.  As long as it is viewed as the end goal and a feather on a young person's cap for college and job applications it will be a priority.  I don't see national or councils being the push for this though.  I haven't been to Summit, but I don't have a problem with it.  National is using it (like philmont and sea base) to provide things that local councils simply cannot.  I see no wrong in this as long as it is handled. 

All of the fee discussion has come from panicked scouters and parents.  National should have handled it better, but until the number actually comes out we have no way of knowing how bad it is.  

The outdoor program is supposed to come from the troop. Except for high adventure, it isn't national's job. Except for summer camp, it really isn't the local council's job.  If you see shifting priorities here then it is a Unit problem.    My units still spend a ton of time outside with boys learning great outdoor skills.  

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