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15 minutes ago, Eagledad said:

I give the results of our research of why families drop out and it’s disregarded.

Nope. You give your interpretation of data collection that may or may not have happened.

15 minutes ago, Eagledad said:

In fact, I would be surprised if today’s research didn’t support our data 25 years ago because program hasn’t really changed.

Using 25 year old data (which again, you refuse to share) to gauge current conditions? Sure, the program may not have changed, but parents and children and U.S. society HAVE.

EDIT: 25 years ago, people's perceptions on issues related to scouting, abuse, homosexuality, tolerance, allowing girls in (or not), etc. were very, very different.

If I tried to pass off 25 year old data as an indicator of current conditions in my work, I'd be laughed out of the room.

But the fact that you want to speaks volumes.

Quote

We didn’t have a theory when we did research.

Any research that doesn't have a research question/theory is failed process. That's literally research methods 101. The idea is that you use the research to test the theory.

Theory: Scouts like trout flavored ice cream.

Research method: RCT of scouts, expose to trout flavored ice cream. Gauge reaction on 7 point Lickert scale.

Results: ???

Interpretation/Conclusions: ???

That tell me all I need to know about your research methods.

Assuming you actually did the research (which again, you refuse to release for peer review/inspection) then it was based on a flawed model.

 

Edited by CynicalScouter

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39 minutes ago, Eagledad said:

Will you believe it? I give the results of our research of why families drop out and it’s disregarded. Folks here seem to only accept what fits their agenda. In fact, I would be surprised if today’s research didn’t support our data 25 years ago because program hasn’t really changed.

We didn’t have a theory when we did research. We had a problem but didn’t know why. Research took us to the problem. Once we saw the problem (like why first year scouts have the highest dropout rate), we could track it to when National started recording membership numbers. 

I have no doubt that your research was correct.  I myself imagine that most Scouts that quit do so because of poor program.  I am guessing that your research pointed to specific program areas that needed focus.

  

32 minutes ago, CynicalScouter said:

Nope. You give your interpretation of data collection that may or may not have happened.

Using 25 year old data (which again, you refuse to share) to gauge current conditions? Sure, the program may not have changed, but parents and children and U.S. society HAVE.

I think you're barking up the wrong tree.  The debate you need to be having is why don't people join Scouting in the first place, not why do people quit.  @Eagledad's research I imagine was on the question of why do people drop out.  I don't think I'd argue with any Scouter of his tenure and say that they doesn't understand why kids leave the program.

More broadly - I am sure there is a lot of merit in what you are saying.  However, it's value is getting lost in an overly vague discussion.  Are you lobbying for program, membership, marketing, changes or something else?  What do you want to see changed here?

Edited by ParkMan
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7 minutes ago, ParkMan said:

I am sure there is a lot of merit in what you are saying.  However, it's value is getting lost in an overly vague discussion.  Are you lobbying for program, membership, marketing, changes or something else?  What do you want to see changed here?

Vague descriptions? I'll have heard so far by the traditionalist/Back to the Future group has been "Let's go back to the program circa 1964" or 1927 or 1908.

If people don't even come in the door to be disappointed in the program, no sense worrying about program.

But sure, they win. I'm now utterly convinced.

Let's go back the 1908 or 1927 model which so many seem to want to embrace. No need to change or adapt. Let's offer the same program that was written at the start and offer up to modern American family. Because nothing's changed in the last century, we need to offer more of the same.

I'm persuaded.

Edited by CynicalScouter

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3 minutes ago, CynicalScouter said:

Any research that doesn't have a research question/theory is failed process. That's literally research methods 101. The idea is that you use the research to test the theory.

First, your link does not mention anything anything about a "research question/theory," and talks about how to conduct polls. @Eagledad  did have a research question for his survey, "Why did you leave Scouting?" which according to your link, is an acceptable type of question for a survey.

I think you are confusing the Scientific Method, a specific type of research method, and research methods in general.  The Scientific Method is the one that has a theory that you perform tests, experiments, etc to prove or disprove your theory. And it is one type of research method. You see this in science and medicine. Other research methods are used in different fields. Other research methods include polling and surveys, which Eagledad uses and you linked, analytics and statics, interviews, and good old fashion journal and book reading, to name a few off the top of my head.

The need for a theory to do research versus need for research too provide needed answers is usually based upon the environment you are in. In academia, theories are needed and proved or disproved, with your research supporting it. Best personal example is when a prof stated that the Balkan Crisis of the 1990s had no relation to what Nazi Germany did in the 1930s and 40s. When I disagreed with him and gave him a few examples, he said, 'Very well. Why don't you make that your paper." And thus my theory, How Serbian leaders used Nazi techniques, including science and medicine, in the Balkan Crisis was born. I used books, articles, and and interview to support that thesis. 

In the ''real world" as I call the non academic setting, the need for answers will cause research to be conducted. I cannot count the number of times physicians and nurses needed answers on best practices and evidence based medicine for new medical conditions they were encountering, and needed NOW over my 12 years as a medical librarian. Best personal example would the physician who needed information on counteracting a drug that a patient was having an allergic reaction to while in surgery. They didn't need a theory to prove or disprove, they needed an answer NOW.

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I am familiar with the distinction between exploratory, descriptive and explanatory research. Only, here's the difference. According to @Eagledad they had the answer they wanted to test: programmatic failures are the sole cause of membership decline. If that is the case, his methodology was inherently flawed. And using data from 25 years ago to examine current conditions? Forget it.

But as I said in a prior post. I'm now utterly convinced. Scouting needs to go Back to The Future, purge/cleanse the program of anything developed post-1969. Because nothing's changed since the Nixon administration. If it was how Green Bar Bill did it, or better still Baden-Powell, then we should do EXACTLY that (I assume that for those proposing a return to the original Baden-Powell literature that some adjustment would have to be made to ensure Scouts here in the U.S. do not vow to do their duty to the King/Queen but perhaps no?)

Quote

On my honour I promise that---

  1. I will do my duty to God and to king/queen.
  2. to help other people.
  3. I keep the scout law.
  1.  
Edited by CynicalScouter
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16 minutes ago, CynicalScouter said:

Vague descriptions? I'll have heard so far by the traditionalist/Back to the Future group has been "Let's go back to the program circa 1964" or 1927 or 1908.

I would encourage you to ask them what they mean by that - just as I have been attempting to do with you about your ideas. 

When I have asked traditionalists that question, usually what I hear is a belief that in earlier times there was more integrity to the underlying program itself.  That people took patrol method more seriously, that people took advancement more seriously.  There is a compelling argument to this effect.  Many organizations react to challenges in membership (or sales) by watering down their core offering in order to "appeal to more people."  This is always a dangerous play for any organization.  Usually successful organizations distinguish themselves by the quality and differentiation of their offering.  In my mind, this is the basis of their argument.

I think that your argument is all about broadening the membership base.  I'm inferring that you're in favor of removing restrictive joining rules - on girls, sexual orientation, and religious beliefs.  I would welcome you to expand that argument further.

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Another change - now serving a calming cup of Chai with every plate of warm pie at our Ed Mori Scouter Cafe?  :)

 

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Just who advocates a return to the program of ninety-three years ago?  A "straw-man argument," I think. 

 

A false dichotomy as well.  There are many other choices.,  including the programs of every year from 1928-1969, and something else entirely. 

 

What do you propose?  

Edited by TAHAWK
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13 hours ago, ParkMan said:

... 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.  

Program is king.  "Active troops" attract and retain youth.  Scouting leaders should keep focus here.  Of course "active" does not mean meetings and sitting down quietly.  "Active" means "active".  Getting out.  Doing things.  Camping.  Outings.  Adventures.  Some merit badges, but more about doing things.  

The challenge is marketing to today's "INVOLVED" parents.  They are looking for one of many things.  Organization?  Reputation?  Troop goals?  Compatibility with family vision?  I'm not really sure anymore.  "active" can actually scare these parents away as it might hurt competing objectives.  

I just fear that today's INVOLVED parent changes the dynamic of scouting ... at least the ages 11 to 17 where we want the scout to experience scouting mainly on their own.  

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11 hours ago, Eagledad said:

It’s your theory, go find your support. There is plenty of National data if you are so inclined. I don’t think you can tho, your theory that girls and gays are the reason membership declined over the years is pretty out there. I interviewed and exit interviewed a lot of parents and scouts and compared that data with other people across the country. Gays, god and girls never came up. Maybe because families that would be so offended to quit would never join in the first place. We had several atheist parents in our units and several gay families in the district who joined and seem to enjoy the program.

I agree.  My view is slightly different. 

BSA membership changes were done to end 20 years of being a political punching bag.  External groups intentionally targeting BSA for their own political purposes.  The membership changes have really changed little.  Yes, girls are now allowed, but it's not really anything significantly structural.  I think BSA knew the membership changes would hurt as much as helped.  BUT, BSA had to get out from under the abuse from other groups.  

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8 hours ago, yknot said:

****    It also seems unrealistic not to understand that the piggy bank is broken and the pieces are never going to go back together the same way.  Whatever entity that comes out of the bankruptcy case is going to be vastly different than what is still operating now.  ****

Very well written.  I'd add a few points.

  • Religion ... <modified your point>  ... I don't want to remove religion because I value my faith.  But I agree, de-emphasizing is reasonable because at no time has scouting been a primary channel for teaching faith.  BUT, there needs to be a comfort and tolerance in scouting with having faith present and having a place for faith.  I'm not sure we really have to do much different or if anything needs to change.  It's just that I think scouting shines in the outdoors.  I'm not sure scouting shines when we start talking specifics with politics or faith or STEM or ....
  • Promote patrol over troop ... Fundamental redesign.
    • Consider
      • Many troops stagnate and ruin scouting for their scouts.
      • Trouble making patrols significant and the primary unit of scouting.
      • Troop meetings often poisoning the opinion of many scouts on scouting.
      • Troop meetings subvert patrols as the fundamental unit of scouting.   ... aka 60 to 90 minute troop meeting with 10 to 15 minutes allocated for patrols ... even then patrols have to be "released" from the troop meeting to their patrol time.   Then, they are called back into the troop meeting.  Worse, troop plans often leave no time for the patrols.  ...  IMHO, troop meeting structure 100% subverts patrols as the fundamental unit of scouting.  
    • Idea - Synthesize concepts from cubs and girl scouts to make patrols the primary unit.
      • Scouts experience scouting in their patrols.
      • Scout's uniform re-considered to de-emphasize troop.  As much as I'd care, it could be line 1 <name> patrol   line 2 <city>, <state>
      • (city or area or ??? ), 10 to 15 patrol leaders gather to form a troop and organize troop activities. 
      • Patrols focus on being active and getting out and doing things.  
      • Patrol members help each other advance.
      • Patrol size could be 6 to 16 scouts. 
    • Related
      • Girl scout "Troops" are more like Boy Scout "Patrols". 
      • Cubs experience scouting mostly in their den with periodic pack activities.  
      • Rethink the need for "charter" organizations.  Rather, it's a set of parents that support their patrol.   ... aka like Girl Scouts
      • Move advancement out of the patrol and troop to an organizational level.  Could be district boards of review. 
    • Thoughts
      • I'm not fully sold on if this is needed or even a good idea.  ... just a suggestion to think about.
      • My sons have benefited most when we get out to tent, bike, hike, paddle, tour, etc.  My sons have benefited very very little from troop meetings. 
      • If I had my druthers, I would not have a troop meeting unless we were preparing for the next event / activity or celebrating.  The idea of having a troop meeting for the sake of having a troop meeting is a thing of the past.
Edited by fred8033
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7 hours ago, fred8033 said:

I agree.  My view is slightly different. 

BSA membership changes were done to end 20 years of being a political punching bag.  External groups intentionally targeting BSA for their own political purposes.  The membership changes have really changed little.  Yes, girls are now allowed, but it's not really anything significantly structural.  I think BSA knew the membership changes would hurt as much as helped.  BUT, BSA had to get out from under the abuse from other groups.  

I agree. Where the understanding gets muddy is who applied the pressure. The claim and assumption in this discussion is that the pressure came from families, but that is not the case. If one looks at membership trends, the slopes don't show membership changing as events drove the BSA.

It is true that a lot of business drew back their support in the late 90s, but that was politically driven, not public. Activist were busy pushing (threating in some cases) companies to remove their support to the BSA, mainly over the gay issues. I remember a lot of folks felt Levi Co withdraw was indicative of the public support, but a report came out and showed that Levi's Co was a leader in gay activism. 

What folks didn't understand is that while loosing those sponsors did hurt the BSA some, the main funding came from alumni support. That is why no more was heard from National for another 10 years. I once talked to a professional in Campfire Kids organization and he said all scouting organizations envied the alumni support of the BSA. Just look at the Philmont to understand how the passion of scouting drove alumni support.

But, as you pointed out, the external pressure from activism eventually took it tole and National started making noise of change. THAT is were National started loosing the alumni support 10 to 15 years ago, and that is were they started feeling the pressure between the activist and their mainline funding. Events occurred very quickly at that time with the gay membership changes and who knows when the bottom dropped out. National probably saw the writing on the walls with the abuse law suit and loosing a 3rd of the membership with the Mormons, the future must have looked bleak. 

One last note of record, it was the homosexual activism that drove the change. There was never pressure to add girls to the program. Let's not reinvent history. And there is a simple reason why female activists never pushed or threatened the BSA. Can anyone guess? I will give you a hint; GSUSA. The women's equality activist entered into the Girls Scouts program back in the 70s. Their plan was not equality of boys and girls. If you remember back then, Women's movement was about women. That is why even today nobody is touching any female organization for combining  the boys and girls. Campfire Kids made the change in the 80's as a strategic move to increase membership. They started recruiting boys in 1st grade, which is year before the BSA recruited cubs. That is why the Tiger program was created. The pressure that both Campfire Girls at the time and the BSA felt today is funding. As a result of loss of support from the alumni, the BSA made the bold move to grab a share of the GS's membership. And the GSUSA is not letting it happen without a fight. But, there is still no push for the GS program to accept boys. And there won't be.

Of course there is more a head. I was told by a gay activist leader in 1992 that the enemy of culture is religion because morality is the constraint for social freedom. He said that any and all organizations that are based on moral principles  will feel the pressure to change their moral principles. And look where we are at. The BSA will give way to god as well. And once that foundation falls, living the oath and law will basically mean do what feels good at the time. 

The suggestion in this discussion is that if the BSA relaxes on it's basic founding principles, it will appeal to more of the public. It did work for the Canadian scouts and I think the reason is the forces that pushed the Canadian Scouts to change came from activist, not the public. I think the same is happening with the BSA. The public in general supports the BSA program as they know it. The recent changes and future changes are from activism, and, well, the law suit. But, it's probably just as well, the culture will not allow a principled youth program program.

Barry

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15 hours ago, yknot said:

It also seems unrealistic not to understand that the piggy bank is broken and the pieces are never going to go back together the same way.  Whatever entity that comes out of the bankruptcy case is going to be vastly different than what is still operating now.

Wonderful post.  If I could like this 100 times, I would.  Thank you so much for articulating this so well.  The specifics are perfect.

I find myself reading most of these and thinking - yes, this works very well.  My big, overarching though is - program, program, program.  We need to be focused on building a great quality program with youth and not get too hung up on all the surrounding stuff.  It's too easy to lose sight of that.

I agreed with much of these:

  • focus on being the premier outdoor program
    • Absolutely - I agree 100% with this.  Very well said.  Scouting is missing a HUGE opportunity here. 
  • cost efficient
    • Establish a monthly fee cap of $5 per scout to fund both national and council.
    • Develop sustainable endowments for camp properties.  Fundraising should be targeted at improving services for youth - not in funding council operations.
  • functional IT
    • Move to an all paperless system.  Eliminate the need for council employees to enter any data manually.
  • social media platforms & marketing
    • Develop a brand identity that is an asset and encourages people to become involved with the program.  
      • Scouting needs a much stronger marketing presence.  Let's shift some of the money we spend to fielding a strong marketing presence.
    • Solve the youth problem of Scouts being perceived as "dorky." 
      • Enough with this.  Scouting needs to end this.
  • de-emphasize religion
    • As a national organization, we need to reflect the nation.  I get the arguments and history here - but we can't be both a religious organization and a national organization.  Further, youth can get 95% of the benefits from what we do now with some subtle adjustments.
    • Welcome all kids to join Scouting
      • Religion is an important part of the life of many people, and Scouting should always welcome that. 
      • Yet, scouting needs to recognize and embrace people who are not actively religious.  To accomplish the focus should be on having a strong moral code - not having a belief in a higher power.  In the context of conversations about your personal moral code, religion should be discussed as a (and perhaps the) guiding factor for those with a belief if god.  But for kids who do not believe in god the path to a strong moral code could be something else.
    • Figure out a way to embrace both those who do, and do not, have a belief in a higher power. 
      • For example, discussions of religion need to be fine.  People also need to learn how to have them so that people who are not religious are not excluded.  Similarly people who are not religious need to learn how not to feel excluded.  We often see issues like this as binary -- either we embrace religion or exclude it.  Scouting needs to define a third approach.
  • Restructure the BSA employees and volunteers
    • The BSA absolutely needs to end it's top down, autocratic model.
      • As you said, the world is moving towards a much more collaborative model.  The days of rigid, top down organizational structures are decreasing.  The organizational structure needs to reflect that.  Further, results need to be much more important than structure.
    • Migrate away from the DE position.
      • The DE role is poorly defined and utilized.  They are an expensive way to do much of what we do in Scouting.  Also, the DE model drives so much of what we do at the council level in terms of funding, fundraising, and operations.  End the days of generalist DEs running around doing stuff in a district.
  • De-emphasize advancement
    • What you said here.  Agree.
  • Training
    • Scouting should have an outdoor preparation program for adults that is second to none.  In fact, adults should wants volunteer just to get access to this program.
      • Imagine adult development programs on canoeing, camping, hiking, climbing, cycling, etc.  
      • I would focus much, much less on national standards for training.  The culture needs to be one where we embrace strong local experts and let them teach.
    • Build up a library of helpful videos
      • Imagine a series of short, quality youtube sessions where real people go over specific topics.  Imagine a whole series of videos on how to prepare for camp or how to run a Pinewood Derby.  The BSA should invest in some teams who know how to generate such content and get them out talking to units.
    • Whenever possible, hold in person training sessions.  Live, in person training is key to building excitement.  We'll have to sort out what goes on Youtube vs. what is worthy of being live, but I think we'll figure that out

One where I see things differently

  • End the CO system
    • I understand your point here.
    • The benefits I see in the CO approach are:
      • It enables units to have some independence from the BSA organization.  Imagine if the Council Board or DEs or National was telling you were to camp, what to do, what you could buy, etc.  In the GSUSA the have requirements for what units do with money, how they spend it, etc.  Those rules are a detriment to a strong unit.
      • It provides permanence.  COs enable units to survive for decades.  In the GSUSA model, troops are much smaller because they lack permanence.  Permanence allows units to acquire skills, knowledge, gear, and equipment.  Permanence allows units to develop size and scale.
    • The CO model is one of the biggest successes of the BSA model.  Yes there are issues, but let's fix them

 

 

 

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51 minutes ago, Eagledad said:

 

The suggestion in this discussion is that if the BSA relaxes on it's basic founding principles, it will appeal to more of the public. It did work for the Canadian scouts and I think the reason is the forces that pushed the Canadian Scouts to change came from activist, not the public. I think the same is happening with the BSA. The public in general supports the BSA program as they know it. The recent changes and future changes are from activism, and, well, the law suit. But, it's probably just as well, the culture will not allow a principled youth program program.

 

Where the BSA screwed up was in how they fought it.  The BSA made an issue out of something that never needed to be an issue.  

The three contentious membership issues are clearly sexual orientation, religious beliefs, and gender.  Imagine if instead of three, there had been just one - gender.  If sexual orientation and religious beliefs were local options, we never would have had the fight we had.  We never would have ticked off the politically motivated people who fought the BSA.  If we had not made it the issue we did and then changed our answer, we never would have lost alumni support.  

We got so hung up on these issues that we picked a fight we didn't need and one that did us not benefit.  If we won the argument we'd have lost.  If we lost the argument we'd have lost  Frankly - the argument was never all that germane to Scouting to start with.  As such we had an argument we never even really needed to have and ticked everyone off in the process.

EDIT: BTW - I have a suspicion that if we'd never picked the fight on the other two issues, the gender issue would never have been that big a deal.

Edited by ParkMan
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