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National releases membership numbers. All programs down 40-48%


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21 hours ago, yknot said:

That is what I have been trying to figure out. To my recollection, I'd already seen estimates that we'd be around 1.2 million before Covid hit; I was expecting a lower number after Covid. If this is December 2020, I don't think it would capture that.  I don't know if we have to wait until next year to find out. If there was an even more substantial hit than this, though, I expect we might hear more in the months to come because that would certainly affect operating cash flow for BSA and it might come up in the bankruptcy case. 

We didn't lose any scouts due to Covid, but it absolutely impacted our ability to bring in new scouts.  We had one scout drop due to an ongoing fight between two scouts in our Troop (mentioned in another thread, which I might go revive), but another, who had dropped the previous year, decided to sign up again this year in the hopes that we're headed to summer camp.

Our Venture Crew numbers are down slightly.  We're going on our fifth year, so the girls (all-girl crew) who started the Crew and were super-involved have graduated.  Many are away at university, but even those who are remote learning are too busy and didn't renew.  It's great they have the option to stay in until age 21, but the reality is that they don't.  We have a decent number of sophmores, and a handful of freshmen, but not in the same numbers as the original group who helped get this Crew off the ground.

One thing we've started doing - and by 'we' I mean both Troops in our town (same CO), as well as the girls' Troop and the Crew (same CO in a different town) - is to utilize social media more.  We're making more of an effort to take pictures to post on community forums and to write articles for local news.  We'll see if it helps at all this year.

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There are also regional breakdowns http://filestore.scouting.org/filestore/commissioner/newsletter/2021_winter/KPI_NatlRegion.pdf

I can tell you, having been either DL or ADL for both of my boys from tiger to AOL, (They are two years apart in age) that the cub program is way to long & repetitive. IMO.  I'm just an amateur sc

Covid is a whole new experience, but in the past scouting families don't come back. However, good marketing can do wonders if this a Covid response. I don't get the feel the public cares much about th

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We have been fortunate. Since COVID hit, we lost 1 to a death in the family, and 1 to aging out. We had 3 come in due to word of mouth, and 2 cross over. But we have been active this time. First with zoom, then with physical meetings and events. We have problems, i.e. cannot meet inside the CO at this time (we were meeting in a tent), we are limited to 1 hour one way drive for camp outs, and we have been doing more day trips than usual. But we are doing our best to keep the "OUTING in ScOUTING."

But LDS was a 20% hit. And yes, we lost some folks with girls coming in. Also for Exploring and Venturing, are they including 18-20 year olds in that number? If they are, that would also affect comparison in the past.

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23 minutes ago, swilliams said:

We didn't lose any scouts due to Covid, but it absolutely impacted our ability to bring in new scouts.  We had one scout drop due to an ongoing fight between two scouts in our Troop (mentioned in another thread, which I might go revive), but another, who had dropped the previous year, decided to sign up again this year in the hopes that we're headed to summer camp.

Our Venture Crew numbers are down slightly.  We're going on our fifth year, so the girls (all-girl crew) who started the Crew and were super-involved have graduated.  Many are away at university, but even those who are remote learning are too busy and didn't renew.  It's great they have the option to stay in until age 21, but the reality is that they don't.  We have a decent number of sophmores, and a handful of freshmen, but not in the same numbers as the original group who helped get this Crew off the ground.

One thing we've started doing - and by 'we' I mean both Troops in our town (same CO), as well as the girls' Troop and the Crew (same CO in a different town) - is to utilize social media more.  We're making more of an effort to take pictures to post on community forums and to write articles for local news.  We'll see if it helps at all this year.

Social media is where it's at to reach families today.  

In our area, one Troop is up while a few others are slightly down. Packs have been hard hit though. 

A lot is going to depend on what happens with Covid. Lots of places opening up despite the fact that we've stalled at a pretty high level of community transmission. I just hope it doesn't come back around to bite us and ruin the spring and summer with another surge after Easter and Spring Break.  

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5 minutes ago, PACAN said:

Someone told me they had seen a Feb 2021 report like the one cynical shared and the total BSA was about 950K

It is possible. In the past few years BSA has pushed quarterly reports out, but I'm sure for internal consumption there's monthly.

And the February 2021 report would be the first real indication of current conditions. The report I posted was 2020 or 2020 recharter year (so December 2019-December 2020 maybe) showing how many units did/did NOT recharter in December 2020.

To put this into perspective:

1) The last time BSA youth totals were below 1.2 million was in 1941

2) The last time BSA youth totals were below 950,000 was 1938

Source: https://old.reddit.com/r/BSA/comments/gres82/youth_membership_graph_1911_2019/

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@Eagle1993  do you think the almost 1 million (or a good chunk) previously registered will return or will this be new scouts who are willing to pay extra to join?

any stats on numbers of youth that leave the program that return within the next year?  

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Covid is a whole new experience, but in the past scouting families don't come back. However, good marketing can do wonders if this a Covid response. I don't get the feel the public cares much about the law suit, so my gut is Covid just pulled families back from a lot of activities. My neighbor has two scout age boys and the parents pulled them from everything a year ago. We've rarely see them out.

Families might be ready to jump into a scouting type program. Great marketing opportunity, but National has never shown themselves to be marketing savvy.

Barry

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Posted (edited)

Here's the other aspect of this. Keep in mind we cannot just parse out COVID.

Putting on my old statistics course hat, we cannot control all the variables for the decline and oh, there are so many. In no particular order and certainly not an exhaustive list

  1. COVID
  2. A 20-year decline in all youth organizations and activities.
  3. A 20-year decline in long term membership for ANY organization (in very short, the millennials are having kids and they are used to hoping from cause-to-cause or organization to organization; the days of the lifetime member of the Sierra Club are over)
  4. Fee increases
  5. Bad press over the bankruptcy
  6. Bad press over sexual abuse
  7. The rise of alternatives (Trail Life, travel sports, etc.)
  8. The perception BSA is too "conservative" (not letting homosexual leaders, not letting in girls, too "religious")
  9. The perception BSA is too "liberal" (letting in the homosexual leaders, letting in the girls, etc.)
  10. The perception BSA is outdated/antiquated. BSA is something grandpa did, not you

And on and on.

The fact is that we don't know what happens next. BSA has had rebounds before (1977-1986 was a little uptick) but the last time BSA saw more scouts today vs. 10 years prior was 1991 (3,501,233) vs. 1982 (3,425,000).

The last time we had a 5 year uptick was 1999 (3,742,852) vs. 1994 (3,460,795).

The overall trendline was already down. The real question is what can BSA stabilize at in the next 1-3 (assuming it survives)?

As I said above BSA is looking at PRE-WORLD WAR 2 membership numbers. It would take a DOUBLING of membership just to get back to where we were in 2014 (2.4 million) and a TRIPLING to get back to 2000 (3.6 million).

Edited by CynicalScouter
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11 minutes ago, CynicalScouter said:

Fee increases

I would add to #4: "and leadership demands for the sake of YP."

The increase in cost to run a unit is not merely monetary. The demand of time from adults is higher. This includes need to commit more hours for training, and the need to have two adults (of a minimum age ... and  specific sex depending on the type of unit) for every meeting/activity.

This is squarely impacting venturing, and indirectly impacting troops depending on how many older youth in the community are thriving in their exploits independent of adults. It probably also impacts potential female cub scouts where only two dads would be available on a regular basis.

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I have always felt that the very top heavy program structure of the Cub Scouts is the direct problem with the constant decline for scouting at all ages. If the scouts leave at the Cub level, they never get to the older age levels to experience the program.

Most of the changes National has done to the Cubs program in the last 30 years added significant burden on pack leaders. Tigers is a killer. It's hard to measure because there weren't any exit polls for families leaving the program. But, for those of us who worked in the weeds of program and recruiting, a story developed. Cubs, more than any other BSA program, drives families away.

All that being said, I think opportunity is knocking at the door with Covid. The problem will be that the issues I'm talking about in the Cub program are still there and will eventually cause the same decline.

Barry

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Posted (edited)
6 minutes ago, Eagledad said:

Cubs, more than any other BSA program, drives families away.

Might have a point there.

From 1989 to 2019, Cubs dropped 45% from 2,155,976 to 1,176,119.

Boy Scouts/Scouts, BSA dropped "only" 21% (1,007,871 vs. 798,516)

 

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22 minutes ago, CynicalScouter said:

Might have a point there.

From 1989 to 2019, Cubs dropped 45% from 2,155,976 to 1,176,119.

Boy Scouts/Scouts, BSA dropped "only" 21% (1,007,871 vs. 798,516)

 

As I said, when you work with the program and membership everyday at several levels, a picture starts to form.

I'll add one more statistic to the Boy Scouts membership 21% drop; more scouts drop out in the first year (really first 6 months) of the troop experience than any other single year of scouting. That is the result of the sudden shift from the scouts safe adult lead lifestyle to a more self-independent boy lead expectation. That drop has been consistent since National started tracking drop outs. The cause is a human nature reality that is hard to get around.

I'm saying the 21% would be a lot less if not for the first year drop outs, which would expose the cub program problem to be even more significant.

Barry

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3 minutes ago, Eagledad said:

I'm saying the 21% would be a lot less if not for the first year drop outs, which would expose the cub program problem to be even more significant.

I wonder if it is "first year" or is it they don't "re-up" at the turn of the year. For cubs that cross over in March, it is "free" to continue with very little effort. The big question is who *really* signs up for Scouts when they have to choose.

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