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3 hours ago, walk in the woods said:

Agreed.  @yknot and @CynicalScouter what changes are you advocating?  Being a premier youth outdoor program is a mission statement not a change.  What are the specifics?

I know the perfect solution!

Let's go Back to the Future, turn the clock back to 1927, and pretend that the last century never happened.

Let's pretend that the kids of the Depression Era (or the post World War II Baby Boomers?) remain the target audience.

Therefore, let's simply go back to 1908 and Baden-Powell's Scouting for Boys,

That will solve everything. A "pure" scouting from a bygone era will solve all problems.

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I am just going to tell you about Traditional Scouting in my neck of the woods. IT WORKS! (emphasis).

We have two "old school," or as some of my Scouts have said "sweaty," troops in my district. My troop has 11 active, is Scout led, and is a "hiking and camping" troop. Although we probably should add "Biking" to that list since we have 3 biking trips scheduled for the upcoming year since the Scouts want Cycling MB. They plan and organize everything, and adults are there for health, safety and guidance. It is messy, and mistakes are made by the Scouts. But they are learning experiences. We normally have an Annual Planning Conference, but with COVID, we did a 6 month plan instead. Part of me was upset because trips that had been scheduled, and the Scouts want to do had to be limited to anything within an hour. BUT, the Scouts took everything in stride, and I was really proud how they handled the situation. If the troop is weak in an area, it is recruiting. We rely to heavily on word of mouth since we do not have a feeder pack. In the last 2 years we had 3 transfer into the troop ( my two oldest and a friend), 2 Cross Over from Cub Scouts, and 3 with no prior Scouting experience.. We also lost 3 to aging out, 1 to behavioral issues, and 1 to a family crisis. And we will lose 2 next year due to ageing out. Yes we tend to retain them until they are 18, even after they earn Eagle.

The other troop is more "old school" than us, or "super sweaty," as my Scouts call them.  Pre-COVID they had 36 active, and many of their 18-20 year olds stayed around until they left for college, the military, or jobs as ASMs. They are now down to about 26 active. They are primarily a minority troop with inner city kids from the local housing authority in it. The CO views Scouting as a true outreach ministry, and heavily subsidizes the troop to the point they limited the number of Scouts in the troop. ( although the SM is good and increasing that number the past few years. It use to be 32 Scouts). They do not have a feeder pack, but they have an active recruiting program, when they have room. They also have an extremely active outdoor program. They do weekend damp outs at least once a month every month except February ( Scouting for Food project) and December ( they are Salvation Army Bell Ringers), and they will multiple camp outs in a month. They are also involved in ARC hurricane shelter operations. One year they spent more time running shelters than camping.  They encourage the Scouts to truly live the Scout Oath and Law in their everyday lives, and because the majority of the Scouts are in they same neighborhood and schools, they tend to hang together all the time.

Even the troops that are not as active like the two above have active traditional elements to keep interest. They may be more advancement oriented, or more adult led, or more outdoor club than a traditional Scout troop that is youth led. But they are still in the outdoors. The youth WANT the outdoor adventures. They want the challenges. And Traditional Scouting does prepare them for adulthood than anything else. 

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39 minutes ago, CynicalScouter said:

Note the contradiction here.

The girls membership policy no negative influence on membership...but was changed to increase membership.

This points to an important issue in making decisions about program changes.  Most organizations have a core offering or service that they provide - for many years in the BSA it was a youth program for boys.  In admitting girls, the BSA expanded their offering to an adjacent space - a youth program for girls.  In that move, the BSA expanded the total available audience for it's offering.  This results in the potential for more members.  Yet, it probably has mad a limited (if any) impact on the membership numbers from the original offering.

This is a very real business choice - do we try to gain additional market share in our core market or do we open up additional markets?  In other words, it Scouting better served by increasing the number of members from those kids we serve or by trying to broaden the number of youth we can recruit from?

Yet, I sense that your argument here is more about the offering and program itself.  That somehow the core Scouting program is a relic of the past and not compelling for modern youth.  Did I get that right?  If so, what is it about the program that you think needs to change?

 

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12 minutes ago, ParkMan said:

This is a very real business choice - do we try to gain additional market share in our core market or do we open up additional markets?  In other words, it Scouting better served by increasing the number of members from those kids we serve or by trying to broaden the number of youth we can recruit from?

The problem that the shift to gain additional "market share" was dressed up as "effort to open opportunities" and NOT what it was, a desperate attempt to bolster numbers in an mad dash to avoid total membership collapse. It looks disingenuous.

As I noted here

As for the broaden, it gets to a real question that that traditionalists have never, ever answered.

BSA membership is in freefall. Does the "Back to the Future" circa 1927 (or perhaps 1967) plan stem this? OR are the proponents simply accepting that the collapse of BSA membership is a given and the result is a much, much smaller but "pure" BSA?

Edited by CynicalScouter

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46 minutes ago, Eagle94-A1 said:

I am just going to tell you about Traditional Scouting in my neck of the woods. IT WORKS! (emphasis).

[...]

Even the troops that are not as active like the two above have active traditional elements to keep interest. They may be more advancement oriented, or more adult led, or more outdoor club than a traditional Scout troop that is youth led. But they are still in the outdoors. The youth WANT the outdoor adventures. They want the challenges. And Traditional Scouting does prepare them for adulthood than anything else. 

Thank you for the wonderful examples of Scouting working today.

Our troop has similarly been quite successful.  We're about 60 kids today.  Covid dropped our numbers a bit, but not too much.  We are a very active, youth led, outdoor troop.  In any given month there are generally at least two outdoor activities of some form.  Troop meeting attendance is generally good.  Planning is driven by the youth and they determine what we do.

I will share that a lesson that I learned from this troop is that activity level matters more than most anything else.  Youth want to do things - they want to be active.  If you have an active program, youth join.  If you have a inactive program they get bored.  As I look around our district, I see that again and again.  Packs & troops that are active and energetic have members - those that are not, do not. 

If our district had 10 active troops like ours, we'd see a very different district. 

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1 hour ago, CynicalScouter said:

Note the contradiction here.

The girls membership policy no negative influence on membership...but was changed to increase membership.

Wha?

No contradiction, there has never been any indication that not admitting girls caused membership losses. National admitted they started taking girls to stop the bleeding after the Mormons left the BSA. 

Barry

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16 minutes ago, Eagledad said:

No contradiction, there has never been any indication that not admitting girls caused membership losses.

Based on what? Market research or just wishful thinking?

EDIT: I'm not thinking people left because of it, but every indication is that new Gen X and Millennial parents did NOT sign up their kids to participate in an organization that looked out of touch and intolerant.

Edited by CynicalScouter

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Just now, CynicalScouter said:

Based on what? Market research or just wishful thinking?

Trends and program reviews. Easy to monitor. And, it makes sense. There are several scouting programs for girls.

What do you have that suggest an overwhelming demand. 
 

Barry

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3 minutes ago, CynicalScouter said:

The problem that the shift to gain additional "market share" was dressed up as "effort to open opportunities" and NOT what it was, a desperate attempt to bolster numbers in an mad dash to avoid total membership collapse. It looks disingenuous.

As for the broaden, it gets to a real question that that traditionalists have never, ever answered.

BSA membership is in freefall. Does the "Back to the Future" circa 1927 (or perhaps 1967) plan stem this? OR are the proponents simply accepting that the collapse of BSA membership is a given and the result is a much, much smaller but "pure" BSA?

RIght - as @Eagledad just correctly noted that doesn't point to a contradiction.  Adding girls to open up a new market doesn't mean that not having girls was the reason that fewer boys were joining.  Who knows why fewer boys are joining - but we cannot simply assume it's because there are no girls.  To borrow the phrase "correlation does not imply causation."

One reason you see a lot of experienced Scouters push back on suggestions of blanket change is because Scouting's history is full of people who show up and make changes.  In most cases those changes have not improved things.  Some quick examples that come to mind are: the Improved Scouting Program of the 70's, Learning for Life, Varsity Scouting, Scouting Soccer, & STEM Scouts.  These are all examples where someone said - "you need to change and here is that change."  Yet, through all of that, the core program has continued to survive.

As such, when people show up and say "you all need to change but offer no details", there is a lot of skepticism.  This is why change agents need to offer specifics.  What do you want to change, how will that change increase membership?

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4 minutes ago, Eagledad said:

Trends and program reviews. Easy to monitor. And, it makes sense. There are several scouting programs for girls.

What do you have that suggest an overwhelming demand.

Source? I'd like to see actual data on this.

And the point is NOT that girls alone felt alienated but parents of boys AND girls won't sign their kids up.

When my youngest was around Cub Scout age my family and I were at a town parade with 3 other families we knew from school. A local cub pack came marching by and the topic of joining Cubs came up. The other families in unison rejected it because "there's too much forcing religion" and the abuse scandal. Skip forward to today. My family is in scouts. Two of the other families go camping as a family often. The third is more sports focused, but the kid(s) are constantly in some kind of activity.

The Scouts were/are looked at as adhering to intolerant, bigoted, outdated views. Meanwhile, the Gen X and Millennial generation are far more tolerant and will NOT put their kids in such a program.

And the abuse scandal isn't helping this one bit, of course.

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1 minute ago, ParkMan said:

Who knows why fewer boys are joining

According to @Eagledad and others the reason fewer boys are joining is that the BSA program is no longer "pure", no longer what it was in 1927 or 1967 and therefore we need to go Back to the Future.

I'm not 100% discounting that, but I think it is oversold. That would explain why, say, scouts (boys AND girls) are joining then dropping when they are exposed to a program that doesn't suit their needs.

I'm suggesting that BSA's image regarding only allowing girls in after having fought for decades, only allowing homosexuals in after having fought for decades (including a Supreme Court battle in Dale), took a toll. Those young men (and woman) simply are not even showing up in the first place because Mom and Dad don't want anything to do with BSA.

And the abuse scandal is compounding the problem.

 

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For those who are advocating the "Back to the Future" program, here's the two data points I'd like to see (it may not exist, I get that).

Drop Outs

Market research (properly done) on parents/scouts who DROP OUT OF THE PROGRAM.

1) Causes for dropping out (and if they self-offer that they "just wish things were like it were back in 1927", great!)

2) Offered solutions: "If we adopted the practices we had in 1927 (and spell out what those practices are) would you have stayed in scouting (for the scouts)/put your scout back in scouting (parents)?"

Never Entered

Market research (properly done) on parents and youth who NEVER ENTERED THE PROGRAM.

1) What caused you to not want to join? And ask directly whether the Scout's policies on homosexuals, girls, and God made a difference (either positively or negatively)

2) What if we changed our program to what it was in 1927 (and spell out what those practices are) would you be interested in joining (youth) or putting your child in such a program (parents)?

Edited by CynicalScouter

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13 minutes ago, CynicalScouter said:

Source? I'd like to see actual data on this.

You would like to see the data of no data that supports your theory of BSA membership declining because of no girls!

Barry

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7 minutes ago, Eagledad said:

You would like to see the data of no data that supports your theory of BSA membership declining because of no girls!

Barry

No, I'd like to see the data you claim shows that the BSA membership decline was due to other factors. You claimed it existed, I am asking for proof.

You have definitely and (supposedly) authoritatively claimed that BSA's policies a) banning homosexuals and b) banning girls had 0 impact in recruitment and retention and c) that there was data to prove it.

40 minutes ago, Eagledad said:

Trends and program reviews. Easy to monitor.

So, cough up the "trends and program reviews". Produce your data showing that I'm wrong and that the failure to recruit and retain is entirely because of BSA's refusal to go with your "Back to the Future" 1927-or-bust plan.

Edited by CynicalScouter

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