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On 5/10/2024 at 6:39 PM, InquisitiveScouter said:

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Fascinating graph. It explains a lot. The rise in scouts was tied to the baby boom a lot more than I realized. I joined in 1971, which was both about the peak and near the end of the baby boom. I don't know what happened in 86 but there was a big bump in cub scouts but no change boy scouts. The other thing I noticed is the connection to the family savings rate and this graph. Nobody even measured it before 1950 because it was so low, but then there was a huge surge in the 60's and a drop off mid to late 70's that has been going down since.

Maybe I'm seeing what I want but the lesson to me is make scouting cheaper and simpler. It has nothing to do with membership rules nearly as much as it does with the economic health of the middle class.

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Lot of good comments Summary is the BSA (SA??) has not fully defined what it is and what they do.  When I joined way back when it was a game with a purpose, we had adventures, learned things, sam

To be honest, I think the program is too easy to get wrong and consequently scouts are not joining or are leaving because they're not having fun when they're younger or not being challenged when they'

This. ----------------- In the National Annual Report, https://www.scouting.org/about/annual-report/year2023/  they should change the verbiage from "earned" Merit Badges to "awarded" Merit B

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And let's not forget that as late as 1990 about 18% of boys in the target population age were in a BSA program and that percentage was still about 15% in 2000. I believe it slid down from there to about 9% by 2017 when Surbaugh and the higher ups decided there were two paths forward. One was to juice the flywheel with laser focus. But, Surbaugh and others thought that meant becoming a "very small, boutique organization serving what's probably a legacy clientele" (quote from article referenced below). So they decided to transform into something else--a saving grace of bigger is better because after all the target market would more than double. Shortly after that choice and other choices and outside factors (COVID, BSA supports BLM, bankruptcy, LDS split, spotlight on sexual abuse, drastic price increases, etc.) the numbers collapsed. Twice the target market and half the membership. Hard to imagine. I wonder what % of boys today are in a BSA program? 5-6% if we're lucky? 

Boy Scouts Are Just Scouts Now, and That’s Making Girl Scouts Mad | by Bloomberg Businessweek | Bloomberg Businessweek | Medium

 

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2 hours ago, ToKindle96 said:

And let's not forget that as late as 1990 about 18% of boys in the target population age were in a BSA program and that percentage was still about 15% in 2000. I believe it slid down from there to about 9% by 2017 when Surbaugh and the higher ups decided there were two paths forward. One was to juice the flywheel with laser focus. But, Surbaugh and others thought that meant becoming a "very small, boutique organization serving what's probably a legacy clientele" (quote from article referenced below). So they decided to transform into something else--a saving grace of bigger is better because after all the target market would more than double. Shortly after that choice and other choices and outside factors (COVID, BSA supports BLM, bankruptcy, LDS split, spotlight on sexual abuse, drastic price increases, etc.) the numbers collapsed. Twice the target market and half the membership. Hard to imagine. I wonder what % of boys today are in a BSA program? 5-6% if we're lucky? 

Boy Scouts Are Just Scouts Now, and That’s Making Girl Scouts Mad | by Bloomberg Businessweek | Bloomberg Businessweek | Medium

 

Interesting article, but it is five years old.  On the other hand it reinforces what I have said from the start; that allowing girls is a good thing, and the issues the so called experts raise are pretty much non starters for most of the youth.  As always, the adults cause the most waves.  The likelihood of coed is almost a reality, and it will in time be just the norm, though a few specific troops likely will still remain.  

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Of course it is 5 years old. I used it to illustrate a strategic choice and the thinking process behind it. Let's not kid ourselves though. "Bringing scouting to more youth" is easy to rally around. Reality? BSA is serving 1 million fewer youth than 5 years ago. 1 million fewer (50% less) is not more youth. Perhaps it is a non starter for most of the youth as you say, but I'm not so sure. 50% of them are simply gone. In the last 5 years BSA has failed miserably at serving more youth.

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9 hours ago, skeptic said:

Interesting article, but it is five years old.  On the other hand it reinforces what I have said from the start; that allowing girls is a good thing, and the issues the so called experts raise are pretty much non starters for most of the youth.  As always, the adults cause the most waves.  The likelihood of coed is almost a reality, and it will in time be just the norm, though a few specific troops likely will still remain.  

Did the addition of girls actually improve numbers?  The chart doesn't indicate that.  The various changes (and I wouldn't call BLM support and the LDS departure an "outside change") haven't brought in the numbers that we were told they would.  The numbers in the Boy Scout program didn't change all that much from 1979 to 2019.  Even with COVID, if the changes were to have had the desired effect, I would expect the bars for Boy Scouts to have remained the same, not 75% of the previous numbers.  COVID has been over for more than a year and the numbers have dropped even more.  Tells me that inclusivity isn't the problem.  

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32 minutes ago, Armymutt said:

Did the addition of girls actually improve numbers?  The chart doesn't indicate that.  The various changes (and I wouldn't call BLM support and the LDS departure an "outside change") haven't brought in the numbers that we were told they would.  The numbers in the Boy Scout program didn't change all that much from 1979 to 2019.  Even with COVID, if the changes were to have had the desired effect, I would expect the bars for Boy Scouts to have remained the same, not 75% of the previous numbers.  COVID has been over for more than a year and the numbers have dropped even more.  Tells me that inclusivity isn't the problem.  

"Tells me that inclusivity isn't the problem. "   There lies the problem.  For whatever reason, the wider media has chosen to stigmatize BSA, and really other positive (with the known aberrations) groups such as traditional service organizations for adults, and too often our own civil servants.  This has metastasized in the modern era of overly available media output with little control for the larger good.  And this problem is rampant in our political machines, socalled entertainment industry, and our educational entities.  I have no answer, other than to try and put the positive images forward the best I can, and to not dwell on things over which I have little control.  Time for a nap. 

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I remember the first year girls were admitted the annual report emphasized that some 77K girls joined cub scouts, but neglected to mention there were 91K fewer boys in cub scouts. That trend accelerated. Compare the number of girls in the programs today (175K or so) to the massive decrease in the numbers of boys served (somewhere in the range of -1.1 million compared to 5 years ago. Maybe it was never about "serving more youth." Maybe it was about serving different youth. Remember, Surbaugh said the legacy clientele was no longer good enough for the BSA.

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BSA lost a million and a half scouts from the start of Dale to lifting the ban on gay scouts.  They fought 15+ years and cemented their legacy of discrimination against the gay community.  Yes they are much more inclusive now, but 15+ years digs a deep hole of mistrust.  GSUSA who avoided that mess has 700,000 more girls than total youth in BSA.

That said, it is tough to determine if BSA numbers would be better now if they accepted gay youth at the same time GSUSA did. Loosing relationships with public schools was damaging, but I expect trends would have worked against BSA regardless.

Recent changes.... Did adding girls help stave off a deeper drop than would have occurred if the didn't add girls?  I lean to the guess that short term, the impact on total membership has been a net negative.  That said, the question will be in 10-15 years will BSA be better off accepting all youth?  Time will tell.

Note that this is just discussion members numbers, not how these changes could negatively impact the chance for boys to have their own space.

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2 hours ago, ToKindle96 said:

Maybe it was never about "serving more youth." Maybe it was about serving different youth. 

You had me going there for a moment. Then I remembered that National only makes program changes that serve the folks at National.

I’ve been wondering lately what the Boy Scout program has that would attract girls over the Girl Scouts program. Then I ran into a BSA girls troop fundraising at a local store yesterday. These girls were in full uniforms with every patch they could wear appropriate for their rank. They looked really sharp and any Scoutmaster would be proud. I think these girls are attracted to the legacy Boy Scout program. Sadly, National is going to shuck that away from them like they have been doing to the rest of us for years.

Barry

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3 minutes ago, Eagle1993 said:

That said, it is tough to determine if BSA numbers would be better now if they accepted gay youth at the same time GSUSA did. Loosing relationships with public schools was damaging, but I expect trends would have worked against BSA regardless.

Gays had very little influence one way or the other on membership until National decided to allow gays. That caused the exodus in numbers as well as as alumni funds. And that was the beginning of raising membership fees.

Forcing scouting out of schools was done by the atheist.

Non of the progressive activism really affected membership except for the girls. What really hurt the BSA the most was the financial support from past members. While liberal corporations taking away their support got all the media attention, it was the huge alumni pockets that hurt the most as National tried to walk the political tightrope.

Barry

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Just curious..did the BSA do any risk analysis on any of these decisions?    Or did they ask 3 people at the food truck and 2 said yes so they plowed ahead?     

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4 hours ago, ToKindle96 said:

I remember the first year girls were admitted the annual report emphasized that some 77K girls joined cub scouts, but neglected to mention there were 91K fewer boys in cub scouts. That trend accelerated. Compare the number of girls in the programs today (175K or so) to the massive decrease in the numbers of boys served (somewhere in the range of -1.1 million compared to 5 years ago. Maybe it was never about "serving more youth." Maybe it was about serving different youth. Remember, Surbaugh said the legacy clientele was no longer good enough for the BSA.

I gave up referencing myself a while ago, so I won’t link to the thread that shows this data, but here goes anyway … while BSA was mulling over including girls in packs and troops (under the corporate double-speak “family scouting”), there was a WOSM census that revealed that membership declined in nearly every European country immediately after their scouting organization incorporated girls. Recovery to where they would have the same number of boys as they did before desegregation would take decades, if it has occurred yet at all. The UK took 25 years.

So, if BSA is indeed about serving more youth, the strategy chosen is a very long term one — quite an anomaly for any American organization.

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3 hours ago, qwazse said:

there was a WOSM census that revealed that membership declined in nearly every European country immediately after their scouting organization incorporated girls.

BSA mentioned this, which is why they added girls but kept girls in their own den and Troop.  The idea was that it would prevent any loss of boys while also adding girls.  Clearly that strategy didn't work, which is likely one reason why they are adding fully coed options.  No point in keeping them separated if it didn't keep scouts/scouters from quitting and many packs/Troops operated like coed units anyway.

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8 hours ago, PACAN said:

Just curious..did the BSA do any risk analysis on any of these decisions?    Or did they ask 3 people at the food truck and 2 said yes so they plowed ahead?     

I expect each time they did risk/benefit tradeoff discussions.  They may have been better talking with 3 guys at a food truck. 

These decisions really started with Dale (perhaps you could argue it goes back to their partnership with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints).  I'm sure each time they weighed the risks of change and did their best.. but clearly the end result has been failure.

1999- Keeping Gay scouts out... To prevent angering the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, BSA fought to keep gay scouts out. In 1999/2000 there was limited blow back.  However, that grew over time and as the USA opinions on gays changed, BSA was clearly behind the times (similar to their delayed response to desegregation in the 1960s).

2013/2015 - Gay scouts/leaders admitted.... They stopped listening to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints  and realized the nation passed them by.  They probably made the decision 5 years too late, but it is what it is.  The damage was done for corporate donors, United Way and progressive areas.  However, I expect this started the clock for the LDS to leave.

2018/2019 - Girls admitted... They knew the LDS were leaving and felt they needed a new group of youth to recruit.  They wanted to minimize the impact to existing scouts so they attempted to minimize changes (single gender, BSA name stays the same, etc.).  They attempted to split the baby....

2020 - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints leave BSA

2020-2024 Covid/Bankruptcy caused further damage

2025 - Scouting America.... They decided to go all in on relaunching BSA.  I expect they believe the BSA brand has been tarnished and they need a relaunch.  BSA membership and financials are atrocious so I expect they are more willing to be aggressive.

What else is changing going forward?  I don't think a name change alone will do anything.  Perhaps it's time for them to talk to a few guys at the food truck.

Edited by Eagle1993
Corrected name of church
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