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Jameson76

What are the BSA priorities??

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16 hours ago, yknot said:

 This is a marketing message BSA is missing. Getting America's Kids Outdoors would be a great positive message to counteract all the negativity. Doing more to save local Council camps that are closing. Protect parks. Developing partnerships with conservation groups that are working to protect some of the species that are linked to our ranks, like wolves and tigers and bears. There is very little real or functional connection in BSA to conservation, wildlife, parks, etc.  Our purpose is so muddled and we miss opportunities right and left to cast ourselves in a better light 

I absolutely agree.  The "outdoors" is BSA's big unique selling opportunity.   It's debatable on BSA's track record with physical fitness, leadership and citizenship.  BSA is generally really good, but those can also be addressed with sports, ROTC and other programs.  But I really don't see a quality youth outdoor nature program other than BSA.  

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18 hours ago, fred8033 said:

I absolutely agree.  The "outdoors" is BSA's big unique selling opportunity.   It's debatable on BSA's track record with physical fitness, leadership and citizenship.  BSA is generally really good, but those can also be addressed with sports, ROTC and other programs.  But I really don't see a quality youth outdoor nature program other than BSA.  

Would it perhaps be more accurate to describe the BSA as an adventure program? The best packs and troops I know spend a lot of time outdoors and do some mature things, but they are not really nature programs.  I learned more about nature in one year of high school biology than 6 years of Scouting.  

Sure we spent a lot of time outdoors, where we were always doing things such as hiking, camping, and canoeing.  Today troops do all those things, but they also go to a lot of other interesting places too.

Another light analogy is the national park system.  If you explored all of it, you'd see lots of nature.  But you'd also see battlegrounds, forts, museums, historical figures, locations of national importance such as Lincoln's birthplace.

So, maybe instead of saying we're a nature program - say that we're an adventure program.

 

Edited by ParkMan
clarified a thought
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18 hours ago, fred8033 said:

I absolutely agree.  The "outdoors" is BSA's big unique selling opportunity.   It's debatable on BSA's track record with physical fitness, leadership and citizenship.  BSA is generally really good, but those can also be addressed with sports, ROTC and other programs.  But I really don't see a quality youth outdoor nature program other than BSA.  

 

11 minutes ago, ParkMan said:

Would it perhaps be more accurate to describe the BSA as an adventure program? The best packs and troops I know spend a lot of time outdoors and do some mature things, but they are not really nature programs.  I learned more about nature in one year of high school biology than 6 years of Scouting. 

I would say that BSA already has all of the content of a nature/ecology/environmental program available in its handbooks, merit badge pamphlets, and Fieldbook.  These can be supplemented by authoritative outside materials and, best of all, by experts directly teaching and guiding Scouts -- experts readily available in local, state, and national parks and local high schools, community colleges, and universities.  But I agree that nature study is often a neglected subject matter in unit programs, perhaps because it is an area that is far more knowledge-based and far less hands-on than other standard Scouting subjects. 

Nevertheless, if BSA wishes to improve its image in the minds of the general public, one thing it must do (in addition to dealing with the sexual abuse and financial crises) is counteract the perception that Scouting is a "living history" program, teaching youth about things like whittling and pioneering and campfires, and wearing uniforms designed nearly fifty years ago.  That is, the public perception that Scouting is out-of-touch and not relevant to the problems of today's world.  One of the biggest of those problems is the environment.  Another is obesity.  Another -- particularly where the news is full of the devastation of severe storms, forest fires, and mass-casualty events -- is emergency preparation and response.  Another is nature deprivation syndrome and too much electronic screen time.  These are four areas that are directly addressed by existing BSA program content and that can all make a difference now as well as in the future.  BSA must show America that it is relevant to the world today by publicly, visibly, and powerfully engaging in issues that matter today

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54 minutes ago, dkurtenbach said:

 BSA must show America that it is relevant to the world today by publicly, visibly, and powerfully engaging in issues that matter today

Generally speaking - yes.  The BSA needs to be relevant to today's youth.

56 minutes ago, dkurtenbach said:

One of the biggest of those problems is the environment.  Another is obesity.  Another -- particularly where the news is full of the devastation of severe storms, forest fires, and mass-casualty events -- is emergency preparation and response.  Another is nature deprivation syndrome and too much electronic screen time.  These are four areas that are directly addressed by existing BSA program content and that can all make a difference now as well as in the future.  

I think the BSA has to be careful in who it targets it's program to.  We need to make sure our relevance is to kids.  If we target adult sensibilities, that may be good for Cub Scout initial recruitment, but over time we'll still lose Scouts.  Make it fun and interesting to kids - and most especially kids in the program.  

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16 minutes ago, ParkMan said:

Generally speaking - yes.  The BSA needs to be relevant to today's youth.

I think the BSA has to be careful in who it targets it's program to.  We need to make sure our relevance is to kids.  If we target adult sensibilities, that may be good for Cub Scout initial recruitment, but over time we'll still lose Scouts.  Make it fun and interesting to kids - and most especially kids in the program.  

I absolutely agree that our program has to be fun and interesting to kids.  My experience is that kids like doing things that make a difference -- even (or especially) difficult things -- as long as the object is clear and understandable and relevant to them, the activity is scaled to the age and attention span of the youth, and the activity is planned and offered in a way that is not boring or tedious or otherwise unappealing. 

By their mid-teens, young people are aware of what is happening in the world, are forming opinions about those issues, and are looking for outlets where they can do something positive.  That is also the time when young people are dropping out of Scouting after having done lots of camping and hiking and merit badge earning and serving in Positions of Responsibility.  Scouting activities directed outward toward real-world problems (but still within the core Scouting program) could provide that outlet and keep more youth in Scouting programs. 

At the same time, BSA's reputation and future membership is in the control of adults.  They are the people who see the bigger picture and have opinions about the value of the Boy Scouts of America.  They are the people who will judge whether BSA has something worthwhile to contribute to today's world and should be supported, or is just a refuge for hobbyists and traditionalists who want to retreat from today's world.

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7 minutes ago, dkurtenbach said:

I absolutely agree that our program has to be fun and interesting to kids.  My experience is that kids like doing things that make a difference -- even (or especially) difficult things -- as long as the object is clear and understandable and relevant to them, the activity is scaled to the age and attention span of the youth, and the activity is planned and offered in a way that is not boring or tedious or otherwise unappealing. 

By their mid-teens, young people are aware of what is happening in the world, are forming opinions about those issues, and are looking for outlets where they can do something positive.  That is also the time when young people are dropping out of Scouting after having done lots of camping and hiking and merit badge earning and serving in Positions of Responsibility.  Scouting activities directed outward toward real-world problems (but still within the core Scouting program) could provide that outlet and keep more youth in Scouting programs. 

Agreed.

One big mistake that we make in "BSA" Scouting is that we don't differentiate well between the two very different age levels in Scouts BSA.  Scouts 11-14 are often quite different than those 15-18.  In my mind, I see four distinct age ranges:

  • Lions/Tigers/Wolves
  • Bears/Webelos
  • Scouts BSA 11-14
  • Scouts BSA 15-18

So yes, while I agree with your point I'd suggest our approach needs to be tailored to each age range.  I think you're saying much the same thing.  

One trap we need to avoid is that of changing our program to be more relevant.  I think STEM Scouts was an example of that.  In reality, I think we need to fine tune our current programs such that they align better with these age ranges today.  For example - maybe a little less pioneering at the 11-14 & 15-18 age ranges and an increasing focus on things like the environment.

 

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9 minutes ago, ParkMan said:

Agreed.

One big mistake that we make in "BSA" Scouting is that we don't differentiate well between the two very different age levels in Scouts BSA.  Scouts 11-14 are often quite different than those 15-18.  In my mind, I see four distinct age ranges:

  • Lions/Tigers/Wolves
  • Bears/Webelos
  • Scouts BSA 11-14
  • Scouts BSA 15-18

So yes, while I agree with your point I'd suggest our approach needs to be tailored to each age range.  I think you're saying much the same thing.  

Those age breaks are reflected in the scouting program as delivered in other countries.

For example, Cambridgeskip recently pointed out that UK activity badges vary by age group (11-14 vs. 15-18).  In Cambridgeskip's part of the world, the scouting groups are:

- Beavers (6-8)
- Cub (8-10)
- Scouts (10-14)
- Explorers (14-18)

In Canada, the age-based programs are:
- Beavers (5-7)
- Cub (8-10)
- Scout (11-14)
- Venturer (15-17)
- Rover (18-26)

Compared to BSA, the age gradations are more narrow, giving a better fit at each level.

 

 

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50 minutes ago, mrkstvns said:

Those age breaks are reflected in the scouting program as delivered in other countries.

For example, Cambridgeskip recently pointed out that UK activity badges vary by age group (11-14 vs. 15-18).  In Cambridgeskip's part of the world, the scouting groups are:

- Beavers (6-8)
- Cub (8-10)
- Scouts (10-14)
- Explorers (14-18)

In Canada, the age-based programs are:
- Beavers (5-7)
- Cub (8-10)
- Scout (11-14)
- Venturer (15-17)
- Rover (18-26)

Compared to BSA, the age gradations are more narrow, giving a better fit at each level.

 

 

I think a breakdown like they have in UK makes a lot of sense.  We talk so much on this forum about how Scouts get worn out by long, repetitive programs.  WIthin our units we tend to differentiate - but I think that if the BSA were to recognize this it would be very good for the program.

My proposal would even be pretty minor.  Keep Cubs as a group.  Keep Scouts BSA as a group.  But focus on clarifying program and activities for the two age ranges in each.  i.e.:

  • Cubs
    • Lions/Tigers/Wolves 
    • Bears/Webeblos
  • Scouts
    • Middle School
    • High School

Develop program and leader training for each so that programming is really differentiated.

 

 

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12 minutes ago, Jameson76 said:

Assuming East Idaho may have a goodly number of LDS units?

“We’ve got up to 20 percent of our membership that are not members of the LDS Church. The assumption is they are going to want to continue their Scouting,” Farrer said. “We know that not all of the LDS families or boys are going to leave Scouting.”

Farrer, himself a Latter-day Saint, says there are “legacy Scouting families” that have been involved for generations and want to continue with the tradition.

IMHO, Retention (survival) is a priority for Grand Teton Council.

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Really feels like this headline ought to be  something like "LDS stops using Scout program as primary church youth program and most LDS members are not expected to continue in Scouting on their own." 

You've got to have a lot of sympathy for people working for the BSA and those involved making decisions in the most heavily LDS areas, but I think this is exactly what I'd expect to see happen.  This seems like an adjustment to typical Scouting participation levels in these areas.   I wish them all the best in this transition.

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The headline follows from story lead. The story is about Grand Teton Council's membership loss (Titanic disaster ) and their response (care for the survivors) - retention.

IMHO, the cost of retention is less than the cost of recruitment.

The Titanic analogy is a good one in terms of the number lost due to arrogance and stupidity of the big wigs.

I too wish Grand Teton Council and every Council the best.  Keep as many as you can. In my memory, never has National upset so many members for so many different reasons in so short a time.  :(

My $0.02,

Edited by RememberSchiff
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I hear you and good point.

I think I internalized a while back that this split was going to eventually happen - it was just a question of when.  So, now that it's happening, it's not so much a negative reflection on anyone, but more just a question of how to manage it.  In councils which will be significantly smaller in January it will be more challenging to adjust.  But, I'd coach that SE to avoid descriptions like the Titanic or that it's bleak. The Titanic was an accident and a tragedy.  This - is not the case here.

So, I think it's natural for folks there to mourn what once was, but I'd encourage them to avoid that as much as possible.  I think you've got to look at it cheerfully and find they way forward.

Edited by ParkMan
clarified a thought

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1 hour ago, RememberSchiff said:

This is a good article about the challenges faced by a council with 80% LDS membership.  To me, this was the most significant statement in that article:  "Braithwaite said he has even seen the new community troop in Idaho Falls created by a local businessman and a group of Scouts, including Braithwaite’s two sons, grow instead of shrink over that last year.  'We’re just trying to keep the kids going,' Braithwaite said. 'The more we do, the more kids keep coming.'”  (Emphasis added.) 

We have to keep front and center the reality that neither BSA National nor our local councils are "Scouting."  Baden-Powell's Scouting program didn't arrive in the United States with the formation of a corporation.  It arrived with with copies of Scouting for Boys, a book chock-full of fun and adventure and challenge, and the resulting ad hoc formation of local Scout troops.  More than a century later, that truth has not changed:  All Scouting is local.  It happens in dens and packs and troops and crews and ships.  All Scout recruiting is local.  Youth join units because of their friends and families and unit activities.  Even in the midst of all of the problems of BSA National, youth continue to join -- and stay in -- active units with great outdoor programs and great leadership.  They continue to leave units that don't hold their interest.  The more we do [in our local units], the more kids keep coming.  

I am reminded of a line from the movie Follow Me Boys where plans for a troop celebration are being explained to Lem, the old Scoutmaster.  When he is told that the Troop Committee is handling things, he responds, "The Troop Committee?  They'll just gum everything up."  I'm wondering if that applies on a vastly larger scale to the decisions made by BSA National, at least starting with the "improved" Scouting program that broke American Scouting at its height in the 1970s.  Maybe BSA's priorities should be to shrink its corporate bureaucracy as much as possible, issue only policies that are absolutely necessary (such as YPT), and get out of the way of Scouting at the local level so that units, Scouts, and Scouters can improvise, innovate, and adapt their membership policies, training, and program elements to local conditions.

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