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4 hours ago, CynicalScouter said:

Because there is a large and vocal contingent who want things "the way they were." Except, of course, that that program they remember with such fond memories was developed for a time that no longer exists and for a nation and society that simply will not embrace it.

Organisms and organizations have three choices: move, adapt, or die. Since Boy Scouts of America isn't going to move, that leaves adapt or die.

And I honestly thing some of the people where would rather see a dead but "pure" Boy Scouts of America vs. one that adapts.

Dear Cynic, how do we know it would not be embraced.?  First, one would have to try it.

The Patrol Method - Scouting's Essential Method.

BSA started deemphasizing the Patrol Method in about 1960 when, after fifty years,  it stopped chartering patrols.  Planning forms for patrol meeting went away over forty years ago.  Patrol Leader stopped being capitalized (unlike Senior Patrol Leader) and the "Unit Leader" became the Scoutmaster.   The literature changed to prohibit patrol activities that conflicted with troop activities sometime more than forty years ago.   They made Bill, who invented our version of the Patrol Method, retire in 1969 and went all in on the indoor program.   BSA has not coherently explained the Patrol Method in nearly fifty years.  It says it expects a Scout candidate  to "explain it," but, repeatedly and politely asked, cannot say what it is.  What "does not work" has not been tried  by BSA in over forty years and BSA does not know what it is that "does not work."  Their focus is on revenue, not program .   

In 2017 , BSA posted on line, in "Orientation for New Scout Parents," that "the Patrol Method is one component of what we call  the youth-led troop."   That statement is still there as I type.  Go ahead, look up the "youth-led troop method."

As the then head of training at BSA  told me in 2014, "it's not so much a conscious policy change as they misplacing Scouting." 

The Outdoor Program - "Since its inception, Boy Scouting has relied heavily on an outdoor program to achieve its objectives. This program meets more of the purposes of Scouting than any other single feature." 

You could make Eagle without starting a single fire under the 1971 "Improved Scouting Program."  The camping goal for a troop was lowered to a pathetic five weekend campouts from a modest ten.  There were no goals for patrol activities.  The awful Handbook , which our Museum cannot give away - literally - taught about answering the telephone and walking home from school.  "Better teach about rat-bite than snake-bite" was the rallying cry of the indoor program advocates.  Of course, they had never asked the customers what they wanted, only academic former sperts, who endorsed  "Urban-centered Scouting."   When they finally asked, wondering where all the Scouts and Scouters were going in their tens of thousands, they found they had it backwards.  Bill was brought  back and wrote a new, more "traditional" Handbook, and stemmed the bleeding, but he was regarded by the folks in the corporate tower  as old and obsolete even as he tried to save them from themselves - the "Scoutmaster to the World" as  something of a joke.

The Fieldbook, when last I looked, said nothing about fire, ropes, woods tools, cooking, or most outdoor skills.  The focus was on administration - in the FIELDBOOK!

The Journey to Mediocrity in its, Q & A, defines "weekend campout" to include an indoor "lock in" playing video games.  As it was explained to me by a representative at National:  Camping is desirable; indoor activities are also desirable; therefore, indoor activities count as "camping. "  ["You have no idea, said the rep (not born when I had twenty years in as a Scouter)] how hard it is to get kids to do anything."  We took 67 kids to our troop-operated summer camp that Summer - six seven entire days in camp plus two more for travel to Twin Lakes, PA.  Three Scouts were tied up in high school athletics. A former member got his dad to bring him from Pittsburgh so he could have another campout with his patrol.  He earned - EARNED - two merit badges.  They built SUPER expedient brush shelters for Wilderness Survival because the Ranger wanted an area "thinned out." 

Training in the Outdoor program for Scouts and Scouters has declined in breadth and depth.  One-third as much time is devoted for basic training of Scoutmasters and SA's in outdoor as was devoted in 1981, when I re-upped as a dad after the move across country/grad school/teaching/law school/start family break.  The lake spillway lulled us to sleep each night.

All this time of BSA membership decline,  public Interest in the outdoors skyrocketed, based on recorded visits to parks and state and federal forests, but not at BSA, based on behavior.  A positive effect of the crowds in the back country was the "buy in" by BSA on LNT, although they seem to think it's a set of rules to be memorized.

In 2019, the camping requirement for First Class was reduced to a pitiful three days and nights.  

Since 1981, the Council has sold off three of its four camps, plus 250 acres at the fourth camp, and it sold, solely for revenue,  one of the camps that it acquired through merger - a camp that it absolutely needed in Summer, even after adding seven sites at the main camp used for Summer Camp.   In 2019, all sites were filled for five of the weeks, but nine of that year's sites are now gone with Camp Stigwandish on the Grand River  (sold without open bidding) if anything is left of summer camp for 2021.

 

I live on hope, but the trend has been established for nearly fifty years.  The compensation at BSA's top levels has climbed and climbed as youth served declined and declined.  Talk about "adapt" or "die." 

 

The "good Volunteer," I was told by our very effective middle-manager in charge of capital development,  is not about being willing and able to do the work but, instead, almost solely about donating money to meet payroll (She did not say the words.  Instead, she rubbed her thumb in a circular motion against her first two fingers of that hand.  You know the gesture.)  Then she was laid off because capital money that she raised, literally in the $millions as Golden age Scouters died off, does not meet the monthly payroll - it is only useful for the relatively  unimportant future.

The most common communication that I receive from Council, our districts having been abolished in favor of "teams" led by employees looking for "good volunteers,"  are reminders to "do my duty" by estate planning to "support Scouting."  "Have you remembered Scouting in your estate plan."  Indeed, I do remember.  Few do.

 

 

Edited by TAHAWK
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13 hours ago, yknot said:

Look, the stuff you and some others are talking about from 30, 40, 50 years ago is just not terribly relevant today. The comments you process as negative really are not. Scouting is the Titanic and some people like me for years have been shouting iceberg dead ahead.  Maybe try listening instead of getting perpetually offended? 

 

I think my up and coming iceberg is bigger than yours. Mine is based on facts seeing it through the eyeglass. Yours, up this point, appears to be based bias.

Barry

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19 hours ago, yknot said:

I absolutely agree. And if I'm wrong, please correct me, but it seems like the answers that keep being delivered up on this site are connected to returning to or at least harkening back to practices from decades ago. I've been on this forum for years and have yet to see many threads truly examine what modern families and scouters need or want. Every time the topics come up, people freak out.

I've read some of the long posts on this particular thread about training and traditional organizational structure and I feel like it is so disconnected from what modern day families are interested in or willing to spend their time on. I realize we're often weaving in two discussions -- how to deal with the bankruptcy with how to survive post bankruptcy -- and if I've confused that I apologize. 

Just what do you think they need?  Not want, NEED; these are not synonymous.  The answers being delivered up are observations that some of us think they need.

One of the reasons so many of us think traditional training and organizational structure are the answer is because they worked.  Do you honestly think families today are more broken than families in the 1920s and 30s?  Scouting got its reputation because it provided not just outdoor skills but genuine leadership training, the ability to plan and deal with the unexpected, etc.

The growth of companies like REI, EMS, etc. tells us the modern family is actually interested in the outdoors.  Don't you think it would behoove Scouting to really teach outdoor skills?  Employers want employees that can think, learn, plan, teach, improvise, etc.  All of these were skills that Scouting used to teach.  The Patrol Method was a proven method for developing leadership skills which is why a few here keep harping on returning to using it.

 

18 hours ago, CynicalScouter said:

Because there is a large and vocal contingent who want things "the way they were." Except, of course, that that program they remember with such fond memories was developed for a time that no longer exists and for a nation and society that simply will not embrace it.

Organisms and organizations have three choices: move, adapt, or die. Since Boy Scouts of America isn't going to move, that leaves adapt or die.

And I honestly thing some of the people where would rather see a dead but "pure" Boy Scouts of America vs. one that adapts.

No, it's not a matter of just wanting things the way they were.  It's a matter of realizing that the program did certain things that worked and that catering to contemporary trends has not.  This is very much like the difference between the Air Force and the Marine Corps in the 90s and 00s -- the Air Force keeps reinventing itself every decade or so and then wonders why it lost direction.  The Marines modernized but kept their identity and core principles (until relatively recently anyway).  People knew what Marines were, what they represented, and were shocked when a Marine wasn't what they thought (for good or bad).

There's adaptation (the Marines adopted and embraced IT superiority among other things) and being so flexible and adaptable that you have no structure.  All the "adaptation" that the BSA has done in the past 3 decades has only weakened it -- and done so at a time when it should have blossomed due to the increase in interest in camping, hiking, and general outdoor activities.

Now, I don't believe it's all BSA National's fault because at the same time there has been a concerted effort by various forces who despise American culture and heritage to tear down the pillars of American society.  IMO, a great deal of the lawsuit (as well as some of the internal change from National) is driven more by a desire to tear down Scouting as one such pillar than to protect youth today or right past wrongs.  As such, no settlement will ever satisfy those forces (IMO) and the bankruptcy will not (IMO) be the end of this.  The COs will be the next target no matter what because they represent another pillar of society.

The only way to respond to this kind of attack would have been to counter-attack it but Robert Gates and company rolled over and even abetted the attacks.

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21 hours ago, CynicalScouter said:

Because there is a large and vocal contingent who want things "the way they were." Except, of course, that that program they remember with such fond memories was developed for a time that no longer exists and for a nation and society that simply will not embrace it.

Organisms and organizations have three choices: move, adapt, or die. Since Boy Scouts of America isn't going to move, that leaves adapt or die.

And I honestly thing some of the people where would rather see a dead but "pure" Boy Scouts of America vs. one that adapts.

😀 Exactly what is it that should die?

At it’s best, scouting builds maturity by learning from bad decisions.

My wife and were asked by our kids school to listen to a Nationally known child psychologist they sponsored Talk about techniques for encouraging kids to grow and mature in society. The theme of his talk is “The more mistakes your kids make as while they are young, the fewer mistakes they will make as adults.” That is the foundation of scouting.

I mean no disrespect, I’m sure your smart and talented in many things. But I’m wondering if we are being played by continually showing respect to posters who obviously don’t have a clue of a subject they pretend to be experts. I find the shallow bias tone toward experienced scouters and their knowledge condescending and disrespectful.

Barry

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50 minutes ago, HICO_Eagle said:

One of the reasons so many of us think traditional training and organizational structure are the answer is because they worked.  Do you honestly think families today are more broken than families in the 1920s and 30s?

They absolutely are more broken. And offering 1920s solutions to 2020 problem is the definition of anachronistic.

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1 minute ago, CynicalScouter said:

They absolutely are more broken. And offering 1920s solutions to 2020 problem is the definition of anachronistic.

How would you like to see Scouting address the unique problems of 2020?

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4 hours ago, HICO_Eagle said:

One of the reasons so many of us think traditional training and organizational structure are the answer is because they worked.  Do you honestly think families today are more broken than families in the 1920s and 30s?  Scouting got its reputation because it provided not just outdoor skills but genuine leadership training, the ability to plan and deal with the unexpected, etc.

The growth of companies like REI, EMS, etc. tells us the modern family is actually interested in the outdoors.  Don't you think it would behoove Scouting to really teach outdoor skills?  Employers want employees that can think, learn, plan, teach, improvise, etc.  All of these were skills that Scouting used to teach.  The Patrol Method was a proven method for developing leadership skills which is why a few here keep harping on returning to using it.

My sense is that there are a few different things going on with respect to families.

1) The core challenges families face today are not all that different than they were 10, 20, 50, even 100 years ago.  Having a good job, being able to provide for you family, raising your kids, etc.  For youth, the struggles of increasing independence, a desire to build friend groups, and for many - the beginning of dating and working.  These basic problems really are the same as they've always been.

2) The mechanics of family life are different though they share a common root.  Today you have more two income families than you once did.  There are more outside distractions on family life than there once were.  There is a reduced influence of extended family networks than there once was.  Youth are less independent in some ways, more independent in others.  

3) The superficial parts of life are substantially different.  TV, cell phones, internet, social media, etc.

I think a big part of this discussion is a conflict between two mindsets:

  • the feeling that because of the changes in the superficial parts of life that organizations like Scouting need to change. 
  • the feeling that because the core challenges are largely the same, that the fundamentals of Scouting are sound.

This is where I believe Scouting needs to be very careful.  I think you are spot on when you write:

4 hours ago, HICO_Eagle said:

Employers want employees that can think, learn, plan, teach, improvise, etc.

I would modify what you wrote slightly to say:

Quote

We want young adults that can think, learn, plan, teach, improvise, etc.

Scouting can, and should, certainly adapt.  Yet, in doing so, we need to be mindful of why what Scouting does works and we need to be smart about where we adjust the program.  Sure, modernize the program and techniques, but be very careful that in doing so we don't loose the very essence of what is working.

For example, in this topic on training, I believe that the BSA does need to adjust it's training program to recognize that Scouters today have an interest in the outdoors, but less specific backgrounds in it.  We cannot, for example, assume that ever Scouter cuts their own firewood for their home fireplace.  As such, Scouters come into the program was a decreased understanding of things like building fires.  Does it mean that Scouters do not want to build fires - no, it does not.  But it does mean that a new Scouter has to learn a skill that was considered commonplace 20-50-100 years ago.

Similarly, with the patrol method.  Youth today has a greater number of options for activities than they once did.  That puts a strain on the patrol method.  So, does that mean we should abandon the patrol method?  I would submit, that no - it does not.  Kids still need to learn leadership skills.  Kids still need to learn to work in teams. Scouting provides a exemplary place within which to learn these skills. So, in the example of the patrol method, it becomes even more important for Scouting to utilize the patrol method.

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12 hours ago, Eagledad said:

I think my up and coming iceberg is bigger than yours. Mine is based on facts seeing it through the eyeglass. Yours, up this point, appears to be based bias.

Barry

It's called disagreeing, not bias. I am disagreeing with you.

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1 hour ago, CynicalScouter said:

They absolutely are more broken. And offering 1920s solutions to 2020 problem is the definition of anachronistic.

There is no integrity in this statement because you haven’t shown any evidence of understanding how the scouting program develops growth. 

Barry

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21 minutes ago, HICO_Eagle said:

Just what do you think they need?  Not want, NEED; these are not synonymous.  The answers being delivered up are observations that some of us think they need.

One of the reasons so many of us think traditional training and organizational structure are the answer is because they worked.  Do you honestly think families today are more broken than families in the 1920s and 30s?  Scouting got its reputation because it provided not just outdoor skills but genuine leadership training, the ability to plan and deal with the unexpected, etc.

The growth of companies like REI, EMS, etc. tells us the modern family is actually interested in the outdoors.  Don't you think it would behoove Scouting to really teach outdoor skills?  Employers want employees that can think, learn, plan, teach, improvise, etc.  All of these were skills that Scouting used to teach.  The Patrol Method was a proven method for developing leadership skills which is why a few here keep harping on returning to using it.

Camping rates are actually slightly down and flat but what has increased exponentially is spending on gear.  Exhibit A: Boy's Life.

I am a practical person, so if your goal is try to return to some version of scouting from 1970 or 1990 or even 2010, I personally don't think there is much point in discussing that much because it won't happen. Thinking we know best what people need vs. what they want is by definition bound for failure. History is always good for context but there is a reason why buggy whip manufacturers went out of business after the Model T. 

I have advocated in multiple places for BSA to reposition itself as the premiere outdoors resource for the nation's youth. It's something we've moved away from while increasing emphasis on advancement and religion and adding an awful lot of things that feel more like school homework than the game with a purpose. We can stick with the past and serve an increasingly small number of kids -- which to me is the iceberg -- or we can try and figure out a way to reinvent scouting to be more relevant to current families and what they want, because what they want is what they will do. With all due respect, I'm not trying to be negative or freak anyone out, I just firmly believe that this is the reality that we need to wrap our minds around. As  the very thoughtful ParkMan said, try to do it while still preserving some of the most essential pieces. I think that's where folks with decades of experience could offer some helpful advice but it's hard to parse anything useful out when the comments are so outraged and reactionary.

 

 

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2 minutes ago, yknot said:

History is always good for context but there is a reason why buggy whip manufacturers went out of business after the Model T. 

Lot of people here would rather a "pure" buggy whip to any kind of adaptation and modernization.

If it worked for great-grandpa, it is good enough for the great-grand kids?

We need to go Back to the Future (tm)

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7 minutes ago, yknot said:

It's called disagreeing, not bias. I am disagreeing with you.

Disagreeing with what?

Your only only disagreeing argument is that a 110 year old program doesn’t fit in today’s culture.

You are offended by post that you take out of context and you pretend your experience is equivalently to everyone on the list.

You don’t give details, just generalizations. Your generalizations come off as personal, not structural to any weakness. You don’t have a youth scouting experience and pass it off as irrelevant, which is condescending to those who believe the BSA made a difference in the lives.

if you truly want to have have a discussion, ask a question. I don’t think your bias will allow the humble approach.

Barry 

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17 minutes ago, CynicalScouter said:

Lot of people here would rather a "pure" buggy whip to any kind of adaptation and modernization.

If it worked for great-grandpa, it is good enough for the great-grand kids?

We need to go Back to the Future (tm)

Again, since you lack a BSA scouting experience and haven’t shown any intellectual understanding of the program, your post can’t be taken seriously. Integrity.

The buggy whip worked for 110 years, why not 111?

Barry

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2 minutes ago, Eagledad said:

Your only only disagreeing argument is that a 110 year old program doesn’t fit in today’s culture.

My own objection is to the notion that taking a program from 1920, developed for a different populace and a VERY different nation and a different social and economic conditions, with different expectations and different family dynamics and superimposing that 1920 plan on to 2020 is simply asking for failure.

But by all means, let's go Back to the Future, turn the clock back to 1927, and pretend that the last century never happened and that the kids of the Depression Era (or the post World War II Baby Boomers?) remain the target audience.

Or perhaps even that is too much. Let's simply go back to 1908 and Baden-Powell's Scouting for Boys,

In other words, let's turn the keys over to the Baden-Powell Scout Association?

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5 minutes ago, Eagledad said:

Again, since you lack a BSA scouting experience and haven’t shown any intellectual understanding of the program, your post can’t be taken seriously. Integrity.

The buggy whip worked for 110 years, why not 111?

Barry

I see. If you weren't a scout as a child, you have no right to speak? Tell that to the parents at your next unit meeting. See how that turns out. Only those who were born and raised in the One True Way may speak and make comment. All others are to remain silent.

That's not an organization. That's a cult.

And yes, the buggy whip is still perfectly functional for the scan few dozen (hundreds?) of buggies still operating.

Or perhaps that's your point: we need to get back to "pure" scouting, which means a fraction of current membership.

You aren't talking about designing a program for today's youth. You are talking about designing a throwback group to make Boomers happy and nostalgic for the "good old days".

Edited by CynicalScouter

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