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Eagle1993

NAM - Best Scouting Activity

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I found a posting on Talk About Scouting Facebook page about this slide from the National Annual Meeting.  The summary is similar to what I have heard directly from our scouts.  What shocked me was the many contributors who stated their scouts disliked camping.  Someone mentioned that on Eagle BORs he heard STEM as the leading answer.  Others mentioned that their scouts "get their 20 nights in" then never camp again.  Then this quote came up.

The BSA needs to figure out what our youth DO NEED TO SURVIVE and to get ahead in TODAY'S world. They need computer literacy, math, science, programming. We need scouts with essential "survival skills" going into the 21st century. What do our youth in 50 years, or in 100 years need to know? Youth do need outdoor outings. But many youth live in the city, and camping is a foreign concept to them. City folks can go to museums to identify plants and animals, etc. Our youth need to know how to navigate bus routes and subway systems.

Do I live in a completely different BSA universe?  My scouts love camping.  Kids that don't enjoy camping don't join my Troop … they find other activities.  I will not run an after school program that tells kids how to tour a museum...

 

 

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Considering that camping is an integral part of scouting, one wonders why they are in scouting to begin with? Why join little league if one doesn't like baseball. Sure scouts is much more than a camping club, but camping is a fundamental part of the program.

I also wonder how many of those adults who made those statements enjoy camping. My guess, is they do not and it rubs off on the scouts. They probably also don't know how to have fun camping. 

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Posted (edited)

The above graph 100% matches my experience.  I challenge the ability to separate the 1st (camping) and 2nd (time with friends).  Many scouts see camping as fun because they hang with their friends away from the normal world / adults / homework / etc.  They get to create their own world that they control ... until the next big thunderstorm.

Edited by fred8033
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1 hour ago, Eagle1993 said:

But many youth live in the city, and camping is a foreign concept to them. City folks can go to museums to identify plants and animals, etc. Our youth need to know how to navigate bus routes and subway systems.

This is the new version of the ISP Urban Hike.

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This is, in my opinion, a direct result of BSA attempting to transform itself. 

- It started as an organization that uses the outdoors to both attract youth and to develop in them useful skills, responsibility, and citizenship through outdoor living and adventure with a small community (the patrol). 

- Perhaps developing a puffed-up sense of its own importance, BSA began to advertise itself as an organization that teaches character and values, but still does some outdoor stuff.  See, for example, former CSE Bob Mazzuca's statement about rubbing two sticks together to make a fire while sitting side by side with an adult of character.

- Over time, membership in the outdoor-centric program (Boy Scouts) became more and more limited to members who had first spent years in an indoor-centric "Scouting" program (Cub Scouts) -- which was also nearly twice as large as Boy Scouting (and therefore, nearly twice as large in importance to BSA).

- The Patrol Method, designed for camp life, lost significance as the nature of Scout camping changed to make it more efficient and less work for the Scouts.

- With growing concern over membership loss, BSA began more aggressively branching out into non-outdoor areas.  See, for example, the original Bronze awards in Venturing, which included awards for Arts & Hobbies, Sports, and Religious Life; the Varsity Scout program, which had a strong sports component; the Soccer and Scouting program, designed to attract Hispanic families to Scouting; Sports and Academics belt loops in Cub Scouting; and the recent development of STEM Scouts and Explorer Clubs (taking the concept of career Exploring to younger kids).

- Even Boy Scout summer camps became classrooms for many non-outdoors merit badge subjects. 

 

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I do have a few boys that hate camping and most are pressured by the parents to stick with it. They are delighted with scouts the last 3 months and liking all the changed to MB and the ability to do tours virtually. I would prefer that they drop out of scouts so that I can have full patrols at campouts and less disruptions because they don't want to be on the campout. 

I am all for spinning off STEM scouts, you can still achieve citizenship, character building and leadership if you modified the program. You could build a STEM skills program with different ranks and reinforce STEM princlples in weekly meetings. But keep it out of Boy Scouts and stop wtering down the program. Polling parents that have no clue how/why scouts works is the wrong way to data to improve the program unless you are just looking for $$$$

 

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19 minutes ago, fred8033 said:

The above graph 100% matches my experience.  I challenge the ability to separate the 1st (camping) and 2nd (time with friends).  Many scouts see camping as fun because they hang with their friends away from the normal world / adults / homework / etc.  They get to create their own world that they control ... until the next big thunderstorm.

I agree. I polled our older scouts (14 and older) at the height of our troop program as to why they liked our troop, less than 25% said it was for the activities side of the program. First on their list was hanging out with their friends. I believe there was more to that because what would make our program more attractive than other Troops if it were really only about hanging out with friends. At the time, we had more age 14 and older scouts than any other troop or Venturing program unit in the council. But that is still a pretty awakening statistic. 

Barry

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@DuctTape  You are probably correct.  One of the quotes "Now, I believe the majority of Americans don't want to go camping.  It just isn't fun."  This is form 

The hiking one is interesting.  Many of our scouts did indicate they were not fans of hiking, including one of our scouts going to Philmont.  I looked at him a bit odd after he told me hiking was his least favorite activity.  I then asked … aren't you registered to go to Philmont … you realize they are not going to drive you down those trails?  He smiled and said … well, I like Philmont hiking, but not our Troop hiking.  Made me think that if Troops have scouts who don't like camping, it could be the type of camping they offer.

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12 minutes ago, Eagle1993 said:

@DuctTape  You are probably correct.  One of the quotes "Now, I believe the majority of Americans don't want to go camping.  It just isn't fun."  This is form 

The hiking one is interesting.  Many of our scouts did indicate they were not fans of hiking, including one of our scouts going to Philmont.  I looked at him a bit odd after he told me hiking was his least favorite activity.  I then asked … aren't you registered to go to Philmont … you realize they are not going to drive you down those trails?  He smiled and said … well, I like Philmont hiking, but not our Troop hiking.  Made me think that if Troops have scouts who don't like camping, it could be the type of camping they offer.

That may be more profound that we realize. Our troop started out with heavy patrol boxes that required four scouts to carry from the trailer to the campsite. When we decided to become a dedicated backpacking troop (meaning carry all gear into camp with personal packs), we decided to make the switch over 6 month period. We thought the scouts would have a hard time getting away from the patrol boxes. Boy were we wrong. None of the six patrols took a patrol box ever again after the decision was made. We became an instant back packing troop, well except for the adults.

Patrol Boxes were "work" in just about every aspect of the word. Camping out of the back pack was fun because it was basic. Patrols liked backpacking so long as they were moving to new camps. But, the dreaded hiking without gear (5 mile hike) or coming back to the same camp with gear as we often did for shake downs was not considered fun. Camping is fun if it isn't work. But only the scouts could define what is and isn't work.:huh:

Barry

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12 minutes ago, Eagle1993 said:

 Made me think that if Troops have scouts who don't like camping, it could be the type of camping they offer.

I would agree with this statement for sure.  My son does like camping, but at age 17 he likes camping that involves allowing him to be in fairly in control of what he does while camping.  He appreciates his first few years in his former troop that it helped him get to where he is advancement-wise and with some of the skills he has, but that troop is about advancement 90% of the time on their camping trips.  Most of it is car camping only, the SM dictates that he wants a schedule from the SPL on what time breakfast is, what advancement activities are being offered from 8:30-noon, what is being done in the afternoon, what time dinner is, who's running the campfire program on Saturday night, etc. Kids are never allowed to leave the campsite unless the whole troop is doing so.  At dusk, no one leaves the site unless they are going to the latrine.  If you are an older scout, say 14+, you are expected to be teaching advancement.  There is no real time given for kids to make an adventure of their own, whether it be fishing with a few of their buddies, or taking a hike to scenic spot, or playing ultimate frisbee, etc.  No going on a star gazing walk at night.  So, it becomes a rather one-flavor boring affair after a few of those outings.  I would say that in my time with the troop, about 30 kids received Camping MB. In reality, less than 8 of them actually did the type of camping required by requirement #9b and only because they had been in the troop for 4-5 years and the once a year "special camping trip" overlapped with some of those options.  

The troop he is with now encourages advancement, and the older kids helping with it, but otherwise it is up to what the PLC wanted for the afternoon.  as long as the kids are doing what they want safely, and understand that that if we observe something being done that should not be they will lose the privilege, they go off and do what they want.  If the theme of the weekend is a backpacking trip, then obviously it is going to involve backpacking, and it is up to the kid to decide to attend or not.  We strive to have at least one camping trip a year cover one of those options from requirement 9b, so we know that every kid will have options to complete those things.  We strive to have balance, so some not-so-comfortable experiences will be had, some car camping experiences will be had, and some HA will be had.

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4 hours ago, walk in the woods said:

This is the new version of the ISP Urban Hike.

I agree.  Sounds like some gold-tabbers still have their red beret tucked in their back pocket.

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Computer skills:  almost all kids have advanced computer skills.  They often know more than their tech teachers in school.

Bus and subway navigation:  small children can figure this out easily with the help of a parent or older sibling. 

Math and science:  does the BSA propose to teach this subjects?

Going to museums to identify flora and fauna:  how many youth will sign up for that?

The BSA is going to have quite a challenge building an organization around these activities.  Who is going to pay dues for the privilege of solving algebra word problems on the weekend?

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Posted (edited)
36 minutes ago, Jameson76 said:

The neat thing about the Outdoor program is that (if run correctly) Scouts learn invaluable skills and do not realize they are even in a learning situation.  In their mind they are out having fun, spending time with their friends, enjoying the day away from their parents 😀.  THAT is the real secret that many do not get.  If one tries to turn Scouts / BSA / Whatever the new name may be into just more classes, more instruction and NOT something unique, it will continue to fade.

The strength, the differentiation in the crowded youth activity market IS the outdoor program and the activities related to this.  Schools / museums / colleges do STEM better than BSA ever could.  Similar groups can offer a much deeper effort for Arts type activities.  The mass amount of sports programs can offer fitness and team stuff.

We are (or should be) an Outdoor based program and by involvement the participant will gain experience in self reliance, life skills, leadership, conflict resolution, citizenship (camp in a state park and you sort of have to learn what collaborative government can provide to citizens), practical first aid, etc etc.  This is what we need to emphasize.  Not to be all things to all people and literally do none of them very well.

I don't at all disagree with you that many other programs are out there that do STEM better than BSA.  What BSA offers in this regard that is attractive to some parents: BSA does it cheaper.  Cheaper doesn't translate to equal quality for sure.  If BSA is going to keep doing STEM, invest to make it better/comparable to those other things out there, and charge accordingly.  I've seen robotics workshops in my area that are weekend events (9-5 each day, with lunch only provided at an additional cost) for youth age 15-18 that costs like $350.  These workshops have students from MIT, employees of iRobot, etc. involved, so seems pretty quality and for a kid into robotics probably a worthwhile experience.  But if I as a parent can pay just a smidge more and send my kid to summer camp so he can work on robotics MB, though not at all a comparable experience, but meals are included, etc. - WOW! What a value!

Reality is we don't have the $ to invest in STEM, and we are not going to get there after the next year is over, so scuttle it.  Providing a mediocre experience in that is only going to turn those kids off in short order anyway, and then they will just sour on the BSA altogether. 

  

Edited by HashTagScouts

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17 minutes ago, Jameson76 said:

The neat thing about the Outdoor program is that (if run correctly) Scouts learn invaluable skills and do not realize they are even in a learning situation.  In their mind they are out having fun, spending time with their friends, enjoying the day away from their parents 😀.  THAT is the real secret that many do not get.  

 

So true. The mother of a 14 year old scout told me that her 17 year old son went on a high school field outing and the forecast was lots of rain. The 17 year old went and asked the 14 year old how to dress for the outing. The 14 year old couldn't figure out the big deal. 

39 minutes ago, Jameson76 said:

We are (or should be) an Outdoor based program and by involvement the participant will gain experience in self reliance, life skills, leadership, conflict resolution, citizenship (camp in a state park and you sort of have to learn what collaborative government can provide to citizens), practical first aid, etc etc.  This is what we need to emphasize.  Not to be all things to all people and literally do none of them very well.

National may now be forced to do that very thing. I might be interested in getting my grandkids into that program.

Barry

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