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The real test of character would be the people.  As we all know, Scouting is an idea with form and tradition that cannot be destroyed.  It’s shape and appearance could and it could require rebuilding but there is merit (in a tough sort of way) of putting an idea through a test.  It can emerge stronger and more pure in its followers and substance.  This is putting a great spin on a shitty deal but it’s a reality in many situations.  

People set up scholarships and volunteer assets like they do churches and parks.  There are many many people with assets and who believe in the mission who would step up and buy new property or donate.  That would be the mission.  It would tie people together and energize in a new way and give a lot of people focus.  I would be moved to contribute time and resources for that.  Masons had to do this after a terrible time in the 1840s.  Gymnastics and other sports, like other activities can’t be destroyed only reforged.

 

Like a lot of things, society changes and associations, groups and organizations are forced to change or shrivel up.  So many alternatives now exist for young people that zeroing in on a few can be difficult.  It seems that as the generations move forward, the shift in values makes tradition much more difficult.  The work place reflects this as anti-discrimination laws of all types demonstrate.  Growing up into those new workplace realities inevitably shifts to how kids are raised and how peers react to each other. This, of course, is only one dynamic.  The peer groups and internet life goes far beyond anything I could have ever imagined and is a staggering force and influence.  

Civic groups in general have faced a decline and the lack of example by parents and adults must reflect directly on the desire of children to do or not do the same.  These, among other, forces already have put Boy Scouts on the back foot. 
 

Sacred Cows?  A good mental exercise may be looking back in history to basic functions and objectives.  Looking back on activities when it started and establish a consensus on the district level.  One doesn’t have to jettison things but rather re-confirm the core and get a lot of clever people to market and advertise those focal points.  There is a good book called “The Starfish and the Spider”.  Don’t be mislead by the title but it demonstrates how local chapters of an organization differ from Centrally Run.  It is quite insightful and may be worth examining for scouts.

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One other thing that made the OA special, candidates that were not willing to undergo the Ordeal fully would be told to leave. That is not longer allowed, only candidates can decide whether they should leave or not. If the lodge was to send them home, it would be considered "hazing."

I found this out at one Ordeal where an adult candidate complained a lot about doing the work. After three counseling sessions,  he was separated from the rest of the Candidate,  had 2 adult members to supervise him, and they became a 3 man work party.  He still complained, and at one point refused to work any more. When I found out, I asked the lodge adviser why we don't send him home, and was told national no longer allows it.

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I'm a little older. I was elected in 1974 and to be elected you had to be 14.  Another thing is that women or girls could not be members. I am looking forward to seeing how young ladies contribute to the Order.

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2 hours ago, Mrjeff said:

  As far as the Scoutn Oath and Law, they were set aside when some people on some executive board attempted to increase membership by turning it into an activity for everyone.  

You keep stating this in many threads. I fail to see how the Oath and Law have been set aside in regards to the membership changes. I understand some disagree with the changes, but that alone doesn't mean the Scout Oath and Law have been set aside. 

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Going from Ordeal to Brotherhood was not a gimme either.  It required a written letter and memorizing the answers to a bunch of questions located in a little blue book. I also agree that candidates should be dismissed if they refuse to follow the program.  Does anyone else remember carving an arrow?

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If you fail to see how the Scout Oath and Law have been seriously compromised I would suggest that you research the history, meaning, and application of both. Other then that, I'm not going to argue my position.  And again, compair recent decisions with the timeline leading to the current state of Scouting.

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To introduce my nominee for a sacred cow to be sacrificed:

  • I don't think that BSA's biggest problem is the sexual abuse liability, the bankruptcy, the pandemic, or membership standards.
  • I believe that units with well-trained leaders and active outdoor programs attract and retain youth members.
  • I think that the biggest problem BSA has is that a large share of its Cub Scout and Scouts BSA units are not delivering their programs in a way that attracts non-Scout youth or that holds the interest of youth already in the program.  The result is ever-declining membership.
  • I don't think it is the fault of the unit adults.  It is the fault of BSA for not setting standards for the process and results of unit program delivery, training the adults in those standards, and ensuring that the standards are met by units.  It is the fault of BSA for not caring whether each of its thousands of "stores" is selling a quality product that people want to buy.

With that, my nominee for sacred cow to be sacrificed is:  The notion that it is okay, or even desirable, for every unit to be different and have its own personality and operate in a way that "works best" for its members.

It is not the purpose of Scouting to create diverse units with different personalities; units are simply delivery systems.  What matters is whether each individual Scout is being given the growth opportunities the Scouting program is designed to provide.  No unit has the right to give a Scout an experience that is less than what is described in the official handbooks, leadership materials, training syllabi, and policy guides for each age level. The only way for BSA to retain existing members and attract new members is for each unit to strive to be closer and closer to the model.

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15 hours ago, Eagle94-A1 said:

Must have been prior to the 1980s.

BUT I can tell you from my experience in my troop, everyone getting elected tended to be in the 15-17 year old age range. Not because of any age restriction, but because it was considered an honor and we had an active Leadership Corps I remember 1 14 year old getting elected, and he turned 15 prior to the Ordeal.

I was active in OA as a youth in the 90s and we had the age requirement of 14 then. To be honest, I had just assumed it was still a requirement. 

 

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14 hours ago, Mrjeff said:

I'm a little older. I was elected in 1974 and to be elected you had to be 14.  Another thing is that women or girls could not be members. I am looking forward to seeing how young ladies contribute to the Order.

I am a little older as well, having been inducted in 1969.  If you had to be 14 to be elected, someone somewhere was doing it wrong.  Since requirement #1 is and has been, unit leader approval, perhaps your unit leader at the time simply did not give his approval to anyone under the age of 14.

I have the 1968, 1973, and 1975 handbooks in front of me.  Requirements for election in the '68 handbook state: 1.  Unit leader approval; 2.  Camping requirement;  3.  Unit quota; 4.  Who may vote;  5.  First class requirement (at that time a scout could be elected PRIOR to achieving First Class, provided he reached that rank within 6 months and it was also achieved PRIOR to induction).  There were a few changes to election procedures noted in the '73 handbook, most notably the ability to complete First Class after election but prior to induction, and the change in the quota.  Instead of the number of scouts in a troop determining the maximum number of those who could be elected, the number of scout in the troop determined how many of those eligible you could vote for.  Everyone who received at least 50% of the votes cast was elected.

The only election procedure that is currently in place that I would consider changing would be to bring back the unit quota.  I am convinced that if we went back to making it a bit tougher to be elected it would mean more to those scouts when they do receive the honor, and they may be more inclined to be active members.

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1 hour ago, Protoclete said:

I was active in OA as a youth in the 90s and we had the age requirement of 14 then. To be honest, I had just assumed it was still a requirement. 

 

My 1990 handbook does not even list the membership requirements, instead spending a lot of time on the Ten Induction Principals.

As I mentioned above in my response to Mrjeff, the first requirement for election has always been the approval of your unit leader.  It is entirely possible that some unit leaders would not approve anyone under the age of 14.  Back in the days when there were unit quotas, we did tend to elect older scouts, but not because we could not elect a 12 or 13 year old.  If you were in a small troop, you may have had 4 or 5 eligible scouts, but could only elect one.  That one scout elected was, if other factors were equal, most likely to be the older of those eligible.

In addition to going back through a number of my older handbooks, I have also scoured online resources, and have found nothing from at least 1968 on that restricted membership to those 14 and above.

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1 hour ago, MikeS72 said:

The only election procedure that is currently in place that I would consider changing would be to bring back the unit quota.  I am convinced that if we went back to making it a bit tougher to be elected it would mean more to those scouts when they do receive the honor, and they may be more inclined to be active members.

Agreed.  I don't think it would need to be super exclusive, but it should be meaningful.  But it would take recognition that getting elected in the 2nd, 3rd, 4th years of eligibility was normal, and that it's quite possible some scout who hoped to be elected wouldn't' be.

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5 hours ago, dkurtenbach said:

With that, my nominee for sacred cow to be sacrificed is:  The notion that it is okay, or even desirable, for every unit to be different and have its own personality and operate in a way that "works best" for its members.

It is not the purpose of Scouting to create diverse units with different personalities; units are simply delivery systems.  What matters is whether each individual Scout is being given the growth opportunities the Scouting program is designed to provide.  No unit has the right to give a Scout an experience that is less than what is described in the official handbooks, leadership materials, training syllabi, and policy guides for each age level. The only way for BSA to retain existing members and attract new members is for each unit to strive to be closer and closer to the model.

I agree units should be delivering the program as written--scouts miss out (and quit) when that doesn't happen. But I do think there is room for units to have "personality"....or perhaps more of an emphasis on certain parts of the program (while not dropping/neglecting others).  So a Catholic unit might have more of a faith-based feel to it, one sponsored by the VFW might have a more patriotic feel, etc.

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1 hour ago, MikeS72 said:

In addition to going back through a number of my older handbooks, I have also scoured online resources, and have found nothing from at least 1968 on that restricted membership to those 14 and above.

That is interesting. Our troop in the 70s had the 14 year old restriction and limited to two scouts per year.

 

19 minutes ago, Chisos said:

Agreed.  I don't think it would need to be super exclusive, but it should be meaningful.  But it would take recognition that getting elected in the 2nd, 3rd, 4th years of eligibility was normal, and that it's quite possible some scout who hoped to be elected wouldn't' be.

I remember that these guys were typically friendly to all scouts and were well skilled in outdoor skills. The Ordeal back then required the scout to sleep by himself in the wood overnight in total silence. That alone requires a maturity of someone of great confidence. And I will say, someone special.  I would agree that that kind of person would be an older scout. But, I had one scout in my troop who was a natural leader and a skilled woodsmen at the age of 12. He was  just a neat guy who naturally made everyone like themselves and loved scouting. Ironically, the one part of scouting he hated was advancement. The only reason he earned first class (at the encouragement of his patrol) was so he could be eligible to run for SPL. He was the scout who taught me to take out restrictions and let skills and character direct a scout's path.

Barry

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5 minutes ago, Chisos said:

I agree units should be delivering the program as written--scouts miss out (and quit) when that doesn't happen. But I do think there is room for units to have "personality"....or perhaps more of an emphasis on certain parts of the program (while not dropping/neglecting others).  So a Catholic unit might have more of a faith-based feel to it, one sponsored by the VFW might have a more patriotic feel, etc.

I think of it like a rental unit in an apartment complex:  plenty of room to change the furnishings and decor, but don't start knocking down walls.

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53 minutes ago, dkurtenbach said:

I think of it like a rental unit in an apartment complex:  plenty of room to change the furnishings and decor, but don't start knocking down walls.

I wouldn't worry so much about the walls.  The roof is caving in.

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