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Chapter 11 announced

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43 minutes ago, walk in the woods said:

 

My responses started to some hand-wringing about people involved in the chapter 11 process attempting to destroy the boy scouts, the impact that will have on current members of scouting, and how unfair it all seems.  My point is simple.  There are people outside of scouting, beyond the lawyers, who want to see scouting destroyed, for reasons other than money.  It doesn't matter who we let into the movement or who is excluded or how much we change the program, the BSA will always be on the outside of the post-modernist construct of the good simply because we pre-date the philosophy.  As such, we will always have enemies that seek our destruction in pursuit of their view of the greater good.  If this hit doesn't kill us there is a long line of attacks coming.

But it doesn't have to be so.  

At our core, Scouting is a fun activity for kids that gives them new experiences and adventures.  Along the way the kid learns some self reliance and independence.  The program is led by parents from withing our community which means it reflects the values of the kids in the program.  If you look at it like that, there is very little that most parents cannot get behind.  There is no reason to want to destroy Scouting.  In fact, it is exactly the kind of supportive, nurturing environment that progressives want.  

The problem is that we all want to label it.  Many of our former and current members want to label it as a conservative, religious, based program.  Many of those outside of the movement see that and want to criticize it for that reason.  It is well within the reach of Scouting to move past all these labels and get to what it really is - a fun activity for kids, that installs self reliance, and led by people who share your values.  Further, if one pack is too progressive for your liking, join the more conservative one down the street.

I live in a pretty progressive area.  We have had numerous parents who are of exactly the type of people who you'd think would oppose Scouting on principal.  I've heard several parents remark that they never thought their child would enjoy Scouting, but then for some reason or another took a chance and learned more about our pack & troop.  As a result, we've had great membership success.

Edited by ParkMan
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While I agree with the sentiment in your post @ParkMan, the progressive/post-modern movement doesn't.  After Obergfell there was a concerted effort to find and make an example of conservative bakers, florists, and wedding facilities.  Similarly progressive California attempted to compel pro-abortion speech on conservative Crisis Pregnancy Centers.  The idea that a conservative pack will be allowed to exist as progressives take control of the BSA seems unrealistic.  Even if the internal desire is local option peaceful coexistence, outside forces won't allow that to happen.  FWIW, I'm a live and let live libertarian.  The forces that previously controlled the BSA and those taking control now, have no desire for live and let live.  

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@Jameson76 Probably not. Just seen some posts from around the different blogs arguing that where the crime took place is where the lawyers will attempt to go to sue. 

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1 hour ago, walk in the woods said:

While I agree with the sentiment in your post @ParkMan, the progressive/post-modern movement doesn't.  After Obergfell there was a concerted effort to find and make an example of conservative bakers, florists, and wedding facilities.  Similarly progressive California attempted to compel pro-abortion speech on conservative Crisis Pregnancy Centers.  The idea that a conservative pack will be allowed to exist as progressives take control of the BSA seems unrealistic.  Even if the internal desire is local option peaceful coexistence, outside forces won't allow that to happen.  FWIW, I'm a live and let live libertarian.  The forces that previously controlled the BSA and those taking control now, have no desire for live and let live.  

We're treading in difficult waters here.  It's really tough for me to argue what progressives will or won't do.  

My belief is that as long as Scouting is identified with promoting particular views, it becomes a target for one political group or another.  The BSA promoting anti-progressive (aka conservative) views makes it a target for progressives.  The BSA promoting anti-conservative (aka progressive) views makes it a target for conservatives.

My point isn't that we should be actively organizing conservative or progressive packs - but that they will develop organically.  As people we tend to group into communities of more or less similarly minded people.  As a parent looking for a Cub Scout pack, you're going to be able to tell quickly is that pack holds a Sunday service or not.  You're going to get a sense for the values of the parents that make up that community - are they more conservative or more progressive?  You'll know sitting around the campfire.  You'll know by conversations at the troop meeting.

As a BSA community, we really ought to play it straight.  There's really no reason to associate Scouting with any one political ideology any more.  Make it about great adventures with your kids.

 

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Walk In Woods:

My personal experience is that until the early 1980's the BSA was not overly-controlled by either conservative or progressive elements of US society.  The BSA was conservative in the sense of an organization that encouraged self-reliance, but it was not the enforcer of religious or political dogma.  There was no group of people at that time attempting to assert membership admission control.  For example, the presence of gay men and atheists was generally recognized, but those people were pretty much left alone unless they were engaging in unrelated prohibited activities.  When I was a camp staffer around those times we had a lot of units and unit leaders that were politically left.  It was just not a big deal.  We were big enough to reflect all views in society and things generally worked-out among Scouters.

It was in the early 1980's that a group at national (including some professionals at the top as well as elements of national volunteer leadership) began a movement to specifically identify and exclude gay people, atheists and the like.  Society in general, including the liberal mainline churches, were not yet expressly welcoming of gay people.  This led to national adoption of the largely-unenforced but catastrophic "don't-ask-don't-tell" policy.  The policy repelled more liberally-minded Scouters and parents at every level of the BSA.  These people and their families began to slowly leave the BSA and were not replaced by others of a more-liberal viewpoint -- because there was distinct discomfort among many volunteers about what was then happening.  The leadership of National became more openly conservative over time and included people who were interested in making the BSA a principal "defense" against what those people saw as a leftward drift in American society.  The program themes used during those years openly embraced conservative social and religious views.  The big Dale Supreme Court case became the principal rallying point for these emergent conservative BSA leaders, who by then were firmly in control.  The overall effort was a flop, because even though the BSA won the Dale lawsuit, volunteers at the line level mostly refused to participate in the exclusionary activity and some urban councils were beginning to openly rebel.  There were relatively few people actually identified and removed from the BSA due to the DADT policy -- but the BSA lost immeasurably in terms of membership, contributions and goodwill.  Unfortunate impacts of this included that the BSA lost its previous welcoming reputation and became increasingly known as a conservative social policy promoter-enforcer.

DADT was repealed six years ago after what I can only describe as a horrible experience for those of us were on or near the front lines.  The BSA by then had become a cultural "punching bag" where we could do no right.  Conservatives adopted the view that the BSA had "always been anti-gay" and that to undo this "fundamental" policy was horrible.  The more liberally-minded by then were kicking us out of the schools, military bases and corporate headquarters for being discriminatory.  In a perfect melt-down, the National Executive Board announced it would reconsider DADT and did so by -- I kid you not -- appointing an unnamed secret group to reconsider the policy.   The secret group simply announced without explanation that the DADT policy would continue.  That ignited overwhelming disgust on the part of just about everyone due to the non-transparent approach taken.  Within one year the big vote to do away with DADT passed at the annual national meeting in Dallas.

I share this because as we once again have an "all are welcome" practice and national policy.  We are actually going back to where we historically were a few decades back.  The more liberally-minded volunteers who were either shut-out or whose voices were muted are now speaking their minds to the occasional distress of those who have not previously experienced this in the BSA.  We have historically been large enough to be a rough approximation of the public policy differences in US society and we are getting back there.  It is not my current experience that well intended liberally-minded volunteers are now trying to enforce their will on those who are culturally conservative.  However, they will certainly be open about not wanting the BSA to again embrace or enforce religious, cultural or political conservatism.  What we do have at this juncture is a far-right component of the media severely attacking the BSA and mischaracterizing our financial challenge as having been specifically created by the repeal of DADT.  On the other side, we have deconstructionist left-wing components of the media simply interested in diminishing organizations that promote self-reliance, patriotism and similar values.  I believe we are going to satisfy the middle 80% of American parents and youth who will come to us for our program in greater numbers over the next decade.  

I invite everyone to engage in those dialogs with people as we continue to adapt to our return to a welcoming policy.  

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16 hours ago, ParkMan said:

At our core, Scouting is a fun activity for kids that gives them new experiences and adventures.  Along the way the kid learns some self reliance and independence.  The program is led by parents from withing our community which means it reflects the values of the kids in the program.  If you look at it like that, there is very little that most parents cannot get behind.  There is no reason to want to destroy Scouting.  In fact, it is exactly the kind of supportive, nurturing environment that progressives want.  

The problem is that we all want to label it.  Many of our former and current members want to label it as a conservative, religious, based program.  Many of those outside of the movement see that and want to criticize it for that reason.  It is well within the reach of Scouting to move past all these labels and get to what it really is - a fun activity for kids, that installs self reliance, and led by people who share your values.  Further, if one pack is too progressive for your liking, join the more conservative one down the street.

I live in a pretty progressive area.  We have had numerous parents who are of exactly the type of people who you'd think would oppose Scouting on principal.  I've heard several parents remark that they never thought their child would enjoy Scouting, but then for some reason or another took a chance and learned more about our pack & troop.  As a result, we've had great membership success.

(Emphasis added.)

9 hours ago, ParkMan said:

My belief is that as long as Scouting is identified with promoting particular views, it becomes a target for one political group or another.  The BSA promoting anti-progressive (aka conservative) views makes it a target for progressives.  The BSA promoting anti-conservative (aka progressive) views makes it a target for conservatives. . . . 

As a BSA community, we really ought to play it straight.  There's really no reason to associate Scouting with any one political ideology any more.  Make it about great adventures with your kids.

(Emphasis added.)

Great posts that go to the heart of BSA's current problems, and how to fix them.  BSA, thinking it was a moral beacon for America, took a side in the culture war and was constantly attacked because of it for more than twenty years.  When BSA finally surrendered, it had lost credibility with all sides.  Regardless of how you feel about the war, BSA lost because it lost its identity and lost its standing as an American icon that could appeal to everyone.  As former CSE Bob Mazzuca said, "For the first time in our history, we had adversaries. Back in the day when I started, it was motherhood, apple pie and Boy Scouts."  

How do you bring people back to Scouting -- and along the way re-earn Scouting a place in American society?

(1) Go back to what the program is really about:  "The purposes of the corporation are to promote, through organization, and cooperation with other agencies, the ability of boys to do things for themselves and others, to train them in scoutcraft, and to teach them patriotism, courage, self-reliance, and kindred virtues, using the methods that were in common use by boy scouts on June 15, 1916."  BSA Congressional Charter, U.S. Code Title 36 Sec. 30902.  As @ParkMan says, "Scouting is a fun activity for kids that gives them new experiences and adventures.  Along the way the kid learns some self reliance and independence."

(2) Win people back Cub Scout pack by Cub Scout pack and ScoutsBSA troop by ScoutsBSA troop:  "I've heard several parents remark that they never thought their child would enjoy Scouting, but then for some reason or another took a chance and learned more about our pack & troop.  As a result, we've had great membership success."

 

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There will always be people that hate you if you're different. Blaming the culture war on our problems won't help solve them. It's the hand we've been dealt. Making a funner (sorry, that word is most appropriate) program will help. Getting a consistent message about how that fun is used to develop our youth will help. I mean marketing and training.

 

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It's the Outdoors mission for me. Outdoors is neutral territory no matter what your politics. There is a huge groundswell of interest among young kids today in the environment, but a lot of them don't know the first thing about it or have access to it. Why are we not capitalizing on this?  Our program -- the ranks and the merit badges -- need an overhaul to get rid of the school and homework type drivel and to emphasize more outdoors related activities. There is so much that scouting does not get into or go very deep with, from wildlife biology to weather to water resources. People mock STEM scouts but there is a lot of STEM programming that can be done in the context of the out of doors.
 

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It will be interesting to watch. Both my sons in their 30s have made some comments lately without any input from me that scouting as they knew is gone. They don't really know what it is now, but admitting girls was the final straw. I wouldn't call them conservative, political or even cultural. They see the change as radical and if they are going that far, what else have they changed. I can't disagree, not because of just the girls, but also because changes intended to protect the scouts.

The differences between my dads program in WWII and mine in the early 70s was hardly noticeable. In fact, I wore much of my dads uniform. The only real noticeable difference in program from the early 70's and my sons experience in the 90s was the addition of women leaders, and the short shorts men wore (glad that's over:o). But the difference my grand kids will see in 10 years compared to their dads experience is already significant. And if many here have their way, the uniforms will look something similar to only tie dye neckerchiefs. 

Self-reliance and Independence? Well, I guess that's subjective. Self-reliance is a direct response to independence, and I believe independence is being whittled away in different forms. Instead, scouting will have to become the FUN program of group adventures with a tinge of independence, so long as two adults are near by. 

I'm not being skeptical, I'm being realistic. I've been doing this long enough that I have seen how small program changes start a chain of culture ideals. I don't see Self-reliance and independence as the realistic objectives because the basis for those goals is independent decision making. And I don't believe adults today trust youth enough to give that kind of independence. I'm not even sure the changing rules and policies will give the scouts enough room for that independence. I think Fun Group Adventure is the scouting motto of the future.

Barry

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Eagledad, I think you are largely right. However, things change and if scouts manages to survive the bankruptcy, I will always believe that some scouting, even if it is a morphed program to fit new times, is better than no scouting. There are kids out here that love this stuff and I hope there is always a place where they can find it. 

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On 3/2/2020 at 3:32 PM, ParkMan said:

 Further, if one pack is too progressive for your liking, join the more conservative one down the street.

That might work at the unit level, but a conservative parent doesn't get a choice between a conservative or liberal council.  

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Skeptic, I heartily agree. Just had someone contact me to day to buy bluebird boxes from scouts because they assumed we sold them as a fundraiser. We don't. Why aren't we doing that, and becoming known for that, instead of ... rip off popcorn that has nothing to do with any scout value, oath, or law? 

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1 hour ago, skeptic said:

One of my biggest beliefs is that BSA has the opportunity to be in the real forefront of the environmental surge.  We should be doing all we can to encourage varieties of clean energy, solar and wind particularly, and water in a few areas.  We should be demonstrating in all the camps conservation methods to best use the various habitats and geographical elements.  . . .  Focus on that thing called service and being prepared, but make it fit the 21st century when we can, but still teach the best from the past.

Good stuff.  I believe that the (1) Scouting program (2) as delivered by local units is how we recover from the bankruptcy and rebuild membership.  I think we could really help ourselves in recruiting if we could do some trimming and tucking in the program, using the ScoutsBSA advancement requirements as the starting place.  We need to be able to explain in 15 seconds what ScoutBSA members DO, what Cub Scouts DO.  So I'd suggest the program consist of no more than four "core" areas -- or rather, Service plus three subject-matter areas, for example:

  • Outdoor Adventure
  • Environment and Nature
  • Emergency Response
  • Service and Citizenship
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