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I'm going to move some posts from the ch 11 thread to here. It came from comments about what the bsa needs vs what it wants. It seems to include a discussion about camps and program.

You're welcome to add here.

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You are likely to hear/read a post-modern nomad say, "Adulting is hard." But, they are also doing some astounding things: Serving multiple tours in military reserves. Learning busin

Bear in mind that my youth scouting was in the UK, while my adult leadership is in the US. My observation tends to agree. Much as I love the Eagle program, and the merit badge programs, I see a lot of

Same here, well except the other half sounds like the bad advice I gave them.

1 hour ago, ThenNow said:

On average, what do you guys estimate is the average weekly time commitment for a Scout and, separately, a volunteer? I realize the outer will be wildly variable, likely more so for volunteers, but a guesstimated average. For me, this is a critical part of any equation considering involvement and long term commitment to any youth activity. Curious. I know what mine was, but that was decades ago and irrelevant...before the age of the microchip, resume building from birth and the panoply of menu options.  

Now I can answer your question, since this has little to do with CH 11.

Typical scouts spend about 1.5 hours a week at meetings and one weekend a month at campouts. When they get into leadership and they do a good job the meeting time probably doubles. And could double again for SPL/ASPL.

Adults are more like storing data on disk drives, time spent is not a problem until the spouse complains (or drive fills up). We estimated that for each scout in the troop all the time spent by adults as a whole was one hour a week. So with 50 scouts, the total time could get to 50 hours of adult time a week. Honestly, I'd say the scout leadership time was part of that. So if you had really great scout leaders then the adults would be doing less and the scouts more.

At the district and council level ... they all get yelled at by their spouses (and hence I have cut that way back and say no a lot).

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8 hours ago, CynicalScouter said:

.... Scouting wants to just act as if nothing positive happened since Saint Green Bar Bill passed on.

Scouting wants Guide to Safe Scouting and Youth Protection Training to go away, because a) the sexual abuse cases never happened and b) we are still living in the same legal terrain we were in circa 1965.

That's what scouting wants.

“Scouting” is all that. No pretending. It’s just doing that without Scouts BSA.

How many adults does it take to grab a tarp go into some woods and spend the evening? To walk to the nearest museum? To visit a municipal building? To do some good in the world. (Answer: it’s a nonnegative number less than 1.)

Scouting will continue as long as there are boys, girls, and woods. It just won’t be distributed fairly to all youth. It will have increased safety risks.
If National averages are correct, it will be twice to ten times more likely to expose a youth to sexual and physical abuse as youth in BSA. But, it will continue ... with or without the BSA.

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16 hours ago, vol_scouter said:

STEM is not being pushed hard. If it is true that female leaders do less outdoor programs is likely multifactorial. Part could be because the males are really critical, especially in the outdoors and the female leaders wish to avoid the criticism.  
 

I know of nothing that would lead me to believe that females are better prepared or able to lead STEM programs that have been male dominated in the past.  
 

STEM is where the job growth and upward mobility lie.  The BSA could be a powerful after school competitor in this area. 

This is a very interesting and unexpected response. I have said for several years now that the trend of scouting is going toward an after school type program. As a result of the BSA pulling in the family and getting away from the patrol method, an after school program is the natural result.

I don't believe females are more prepared for STEM, just more comfortable with the STEM environment than outdoor camping. I believe, Men, and  women, who are uncomfortable with outdoors choose the STEM because the environment for teaching STEM is more comfortable, and perceived safer. And I wonder if this is what has happened to the professionals at National.

I don't mind STEM  in scouting for adding more variety like Merit Badges to give scouts the opportunities to meet people and learn skills. But when STEM replaces the objectives of patrol method, then it's not scouting. It is school and the opposite of scouting. STEM isn't developing characters skills to prepare men and women for life. 

STEM almost feels like a MB program without the stress of advancement. 

Of course not all female leaders are uncomfortable with the outdoors, and of course many male leaders are uncomfortable with the outdoors, but if the adults of this culture are more uncomfortable with the outdoors, then no wonder family scouting and STEM is becoming more popular. No wonder scouting is turning into an after school program. And maybe that is a good thing in some cases, but it looses the main point of learning through making decisions. Scouting is about preparing men and women to make moral and ethical decisions using the Scout Law for life. The patrol method does that by putting scouts in positions to make decisions about the actions of the other scouts. I don't see STEM doing that. 

This post isn't about men and women, I think my observation was more the result of the huge influx of female leaders in a program that was led by men for several decades. I'm not anti female adult leaders, but I am pragmatic.

Barry

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Barry,

Like you, I am pragmatic.  The youth want STEM programming that can be integrated into a heavily outdoor program.  The patrol method is a powerful way to achieve the mission of Scouting (whereas the uniform may now be a negative) but it is not the only means to accomplish those goals.

Many on these forums advocate change but whenever real innovation and change is proposed, they say that we must be a camping, hiking, etc organization.  Real innovation and change might move us in a direction where that the current methods are replaced or modified.

Scouting is about building character and leadership.  In order to do that, we must excite and inspire the youth with an attractive program to them - not to us.

Battlebots is very exciting to the youth of today and arguably better prepares youth for their futures.  Could one have a program around Battlebots that teaches the Scout Oath and Law?  The answer is yes.

People point to the soccer and Scouting program that is said to be a failure.  If you look at it objectively, it was a success in getting new ethnic groups into Scouting.  However, they were then encouraged to join a traditional unit.  We forgot that they had had the ability to join a traditional Scouting unit but chose not to do so.  They wanted to play soccer.  If the BSA had built the mission into the soccer program, it could have been a success in all measures.

Research on STEM Scouts shows that it is fulfilling the mission while having a different delivery model.  The demand for the program is also seen by the research to be very large.  There is little enthusiasm with the volunteers and professionals to market the program.  Because of that, it might languish but others have eyed it.

Scouting must decide if it is all about the current mission statement that does not limit it to the outdoor program.  If there is a overwhelming desire to keep it as it primarily is today, it could become a niche program for some number of youth but not getting to be as large proportionately as it once was.

 

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There are comments about STEM, women, school, etc. that are missing something.

Scouts would enjoy a program raising chickens in their back yard if they actually got to make a chicken coop and raised the chickens rather than talked about the different types of chickens, safety requirements for raising chickens and presented a report to their patrol about different types of chicken coops. It's not what they work on, it's that they do something.

The real challenge to this program is coming up with all of these ideas that have scouts doing something every single week that builds into either a campout every month or some other major event. 4H has a project. Robotics have a big competition. Sports have some sort of playoffs. They're doing something constantly. Scouts have a lot of boring meetings because that's the easiest thing to create. Standing up and having a scout recite finger printing MB requirements is really easy to set up. I use that example because I just heard my troop did that.

If there was one thing I'd change it would be related to the MB's. They all have great potential for doing fun stuff. I would rewrite all of them and greatly reduce the "school" part of them. I would make all of them have the option of doing a 3 month project for scouts that really want to dig in and do something more. I would also make them so an entire patrol can work on them at the same time. If a patrol wants to make a club house by lashing poles together over a week, that would be a great way to do pioneering MB. It might take a month or two to get the poles and ropes but it would make for a fun memory.

One more thing, the outdoors is still quite popular. If I want to hike on a popular trail I have to get up early if I want to find a parking spot at the trailhead. The nearest national park started an appointment system to go for a hike during covid and we're afraid they're going to keep it. Camp grounds are booked months ahead. Skiing is so popular it has priced many people out. People like the outdoors. It's what made the pandemic tolerable for me. The question is why can't the BSA use this interest? I'd say that what's driving the kids away is our lack of imagination in getting them doing things. I know how to teach a kid how to tie a bowline but I don't know how to make a bowline something a kid needs to have fun. The phrase "we do fun" might be a good goal.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, vol_scouter said:

Barry,

Like you, I am pragmatic.  The youth want STEM programming that can be integrated into a heavily outdoor program.  The patrol method is a powerful way to achieve the mission of Scouting (whereas the uniform may now be a negative) but it is not the only means to accomplish those goals.

 

 

Good response, thanks. Let me start with your uniform statement; I'm not sure where the negative uniform in the youths eyes is comi8ng from. My observation is more the adults that think it negative and project that on the youths. But, when talking to most scouts, they don't mind the uniform, and in fact, the girls scouts new uniform has gone back to the more traditional scouting style.

All that being said to point out that we hear a lot of adults perceptions of the program  that don't seem to hold true in the general perception. Either the perception is a personal bias, or it's a local bias. But, the mis-perceptions don't contribute to discussion of changes that would have real positive impact to scouting.

1 hour ago, vol_scouter said:

Many on these forums advocate change but whenever real innovation and change is proposed, they say that we must be a camping, hiking, etc organization.  Real innovation and change might move us in a direction where that the current methods are replaced or modified.

 

I'm in and industry where innovation is part of my responsibility, based on our company mission. Human instinct is to always build a better mousetrap. But, I found that more often than not, humans want to fix what's not broken, and often get away from the mission. The mission of the BSA as proposed by National "The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law.".  That is really a pretty basic mission, but it has complicated process, which is basically giving individual responsibilities of directing other individuals so that they learn from their decisions of how applications of moral and ethical directions, or non ethical and moral directions, result in the actions of others. 

To say replacing of current methods with real innovation is ignoring the real world performance of current methods. Do they need replacing? Why? How does innovation compare?

1 hour ago, vol_scouter said:

Scouting is about building character and leadership.  In order to do that, we must excite and inspire the youth with an attractive program to them - not to us.

Exactly. But, how does camping not inspire youth? Or, are we just doing it differently than was designed in the first place. Inspiration comes from the managers of the program. One of the main reason's I have observed were programs get derailed is when the adults are inspiring a program other than designed scouting program. We have a SM on this for a number of years that Scout-mastered THREE failed programs before he disappeared from the forum. Most of us could see his failure even while he passionate brag about his personal leadership techniques to his scouts. He was very inspirational and charismatic, but he wasn't doing the program as provided and actually drove the scouts away. 

 

1 hour ago, vol_scouter said:

Battlebots is very exciting to the youth of today and arguably better prepares youth for their futures.  Could one have a program around Battlebots that teaches the Scout Oath and Law?  The answer is yes.

OK, how does Battlebots give individuals responsibilities of directing other individuals so that they learn from their decisions of how applications of moral and ethical directions, or non ethical and moral directions, result in the actions of others? 

1 hour ago, vol_scouter said:

We forgot that they had had the ability to join a traditional Scouting unit but chose not to do so.  They wanted to play soccer.  If the BSA had built the mission into the soccer program, it could have been a success in all measures.

As a youth sports coach and a Soccer Coach for 10 years, I struggle to see how a sport can have the same mission as scouting because the nature of the activity doesn't encourage players to make group decisions to the degree where they learn a moral and ethical lesson. Scouting is not sports or visa versa. Marketing has to be applied correctly.

1 hour ago, vol_scouter said:

Research on STEM Scouts shows that it is fulfilling the mission while having a different delivery model.  The demand for the program is also seen by the research to be very large.  There is little enthusiasm with the volunteers and professionals to market the program.  Because of that, it might languish but others have eyed it.

 

When I was a Scouter, I had to put on my Scouter hat. When I was a coach, I had to put on my coach hat. As much as I tried to make them one hat, I couldn't.

Not to say scouts can play sports during scouting activities, but that isn't the same thing. Our scouts played A LOT of sports in their scouting activities. The more creative scouts also play music, acted, and taught. But in the end, they needed the outdoor program to practice character building in the patrol. 

1 hour ago, vol_scouter said:

Scouting must decide if it is all about the current mission statement that does not limit it to the outdoor program.  If there is a overwhelming desire to keep it as it primarily is today, it could become a niche program for some number of youth but not getting to be as large proportionately as it once was.

 

Scouting already encourages many activities that aren't outdoor activities to add fun and personal accomplishment. They just aren't the primary activity of making mortal and ethical decisions. 

The real concern I have with your post is how the indoor activities work toward the BSA mission to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law.". I think to answer that question, you first have understand how the BSA program design accomplishes that mission. Then, you can design your new innovative program to enhance the same mission. I have said here before that when the adults have a good understanding of the principles for how the scouting program builds character, they can tune any program to achieve the same performance. I just don't that yet in STEM.

Barry

Edited by Eagledad
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Most of what I wanted say has been said. Instead of classroom stuff BSA needs more hand on OUTING. I think the powers that be have forgotten that. In fact I know they have.  Instead of relying on volunteers in the field to make suggestions to improve the program, they ignore them EVEN WHEN THEY ASK FOR VOLUNTEER INPUT (emphasis), and instead rely on "experts" in academia who may know little to nothing about Scouting. I harp on the 94% who were against ( 18%) or strongly against (76%) Instapalms, but that is the best example.

And don't forget the misquote in one edition of the handbook published in the past 7 years:  Outing ia two-thirds of Scouting.  1) the actual quote is " OUTING is three-fourths of ScOUTING," and 2) do the math: 6/8 simplified is 3/4.

Anecdotal about kids wanting the outdoors. My troop is small with no feeder pack. Right now we have 13 Scouts, and one 18 year old ASM about to graduate. But we are an active troop. As soon as we were able, we got back in the outdoors. Of the 14 folks above, 5 transferred from other troops. We were visited by 2 folks last week who are not happy with their current troop because they are not being active. They liked the fact that we have been meeting, we did our own summer camp, and have been doing day trips and campouts when we could. While meetings can be disorganized, they are Scout run, and that was another factor for them visiting.

 

 

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As Barry pointed out, the mission statement is vague and does not capture the essence of "what and how". The mission and the program are different.

One only needs to look at other corporate mission statements to see how they are vague and do not represent the what and how. I submit for example the mission statement of McDonalds, "to be our customers favorite place and way to eat and drink". Over the years McDs has certainly changed some menu items and other aspects for business reasons, but at their core they are still fast food hamburgers and milkshakes.

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I think the first question is what does the youth of America need.  In other words, is the aims of scouting (as written by BSA) still what is needed.  Perhaps I would add one more ... "grit" .. but perhaps that is simply a subset of character development that I think is lacking in youth today.  Overall, I think the aims of scouting are appropriate.

Then, how about the methods.  I personally believe the methods are appropriate (if implemented well and in a balanced approach).

I still believe youth and parents are looking for an organization that instills the aims of scouting, using the methods of scouting.  So ... why are we seeing a decline.

  • Bad units - Units that simply do not implement the program correctly.  
  • Lack of sufficient volunteers who are willing to spend the time necessary to implement the program
  • Noise/Press ... bankruptcy, girls, gay scouts, etc.  (I'm 100% for the inclusion, but I do think how BSA handled all of these issues distracted from the core mission.  Perhaps that was unavoidable.). 

How do we fix this?

  • Eliminate bad units ... if there are 4 packs in one town and two implement the program well, pull the charter from the other two.  Same with Troops.  This helps focus scouts (and volunteers) into the high performing units.  (Note that BSA should coordinate and ensure units are ready for transitions).  Also, don't add units too quickly.  Only add if there is areas where more units are sustainable long term.
  • Reduce Volunteer burden ... improve IT systems, simplify forms, etc.  GSUSA sign up & renewals are easier than BSA.  Simplify as much as possible.   I also used to believe in Lions & Tigers, but have flipped.  Eliminate those programs as they are burning out volunteers.
  • Improve training ... this is a mixed bag as a lot of my volunteers already struggle giving up time to the Troop, so asking to have them take time for training is difficult.  Find ways to reduce burden but still have high quality training.  This is a tough challenge.
  • Cancel the noise ... if BSA is planning on making any other controversial changes, get them out of the way now.  (To me, that is the possibility of eliminating the declaration of religious principals).  If that is in the cards, do it now.  Exit bankruptcy soon as possible and ensure you have years of non controversy (as much as possible).

Most of the issues I hear, are from units not implementing the program correctly.  The units that I see as doing a balanced implementation seem to grow and be sustainable long term.

 

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Posted (edited)
14 minutes ago, Eagle1993 said:

Eliminate bad units ... if there are 4 packs in one town and two implement the program well, pull the charter from the other two.  Same with Troops.

How do you determine "bad" units other than to have outside entities (unit commissioners? DEs?) review the unit and render a judgment? Want to see knock down drag out fights? Create an Inspector General corp (unit commissioners/DEs) whose mission is to judge "good" and "bad" units. Watch the sparks fly.

I see precisely 0% chance of BSA coming up with a "bad unit" list or, perhaps more accurately, coming up with criteria for a "bad unit" that are so broad and nebulous as to be unenforceable and wind up with everyone being a "good" unit (JTE, anyone?)

EDIT: I want to be clear. If a unit is engaged in criminal activity and/or directly endangering children, yes then clearly someone can and should step in and shut them down. But outside those extreme cases, I do not see how you come up with a "bad unit" list. Who gets to decide if that unit is/is not implementing the program up to BSA standards? Are you prepared to hire inspectors general/auditors? Or ask volunteers to do so? Unit commissioners already have a bad reputation for being "council spies". This would LITERALLY make them so.

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7 minutes ago, CynicalScouter said:

How do you determine "bad" units other than to have outside entities (unit commissioners? DEs?) review the unit and render a judgment? Want to see knock down drag out fights? Create an Inspector General corp (unit commissioners/DEs) whose mission is to judge "good" and "bad" units. Watch the sparks fly.

I see precisely 0% chance of BSA coming up with a "bad unit" list or, perhaps more accurately, coming up with criteria for a "bad unit" that are so broad and nebulous as to be unenforceable and wind up with everyone being a "good" unit (JTE, anyone?)

They already do it with programs like Journey to Excellence.

A troop doesn't have to be ranked against other troops to know how it performs to the BSA expectations when they are asked to thank themselves on the list. We called it something different 25 years ago, but the Journey to Excellence is a good shoehorn to guiding troop programs.

I also think the Tour Permit worked for the same reason because it gave expectations to insure the troop traveled safely and had properly trained scouters for the activities planned. National gave that up, I don't know why, but it was clear enough that we handed the responsibility of checklist to the PLC. The SPL the responsibility to show to authorities when required. 

Barry

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Just now, Eagledad said:

A troop doesn't have to be ranked against other troops to know how it performs to the BSA expectations when they are asked to thank themselves on the list. We called it something different 25 years ago, but the Journey to Excellence is a good shoehorn to guiding troop programs.

I was under the impression JTE was looked upon as being not a "true" measure of "real, true" scouting and therefore shunned by "true" scouters.

I know JTE gold troops that function as Cub Scouts 2.0, so I don't know that JTE is going to help weed out "bad" units.

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22 minutes ago, Eagle1993 said:

 

How do we fix this?

  • Eliminate bad units ... if there are 4 packs in one town and two implement the program well, pull the charter from the other two.  Same with Troops.  This helps focus scouts (and volunteers) into the high performing units.  (Note that BSA should coordinate and ensure units are ready for transitions).  Also, don't add units too quickly.  Only add if there is areas where more units are sustainable long term.
  • Reduce Volunteer burden ... improve IT systems, simplify forms, etc.  GSUSA sign up & renewals are easier than BSA.  Simplify as much as possible.   I also used to believe in Lions & Tigers, but have flipped.  Eliminate those programs as they are burning out volunteers.
  • Improve training ... this is a mixed bag as a lot of my volunteers already struggle giving up time to the Troop, so asking to have them take time for training is difficult.  Find ways to reduce burden but still have high quality training.  This is a tough challenge.
  • Cancel the noise ... if BSA is planning on making any other controversial changes, get them out of the way now.  (To me, that is the possibility of eliminating the declaration of religious principals).  If that is in the cards, do it now.  Exit bankruptcy soon as possible and ensure you have years of non controversy (as much as possible).

Most of the issues I hear, are from units not implementing the program correctly.  The units that I see as doing a balanced implementation seem to grow and be sustainable long term.

 

Good posts. I agree with all of it, but you left out one very big problem that is getting in the way of running good units; Top  Heavy programs that burn out the adults. As evidence to how National suffocates it's members. National required additional adults to the tiger program in 2000 that resulted in lower Cub membership, which resulted in lower Troop member around 2005. 2005 is the age the Tigers in 2000 would have joined Troops. National needs to reduce the management requirements for adults, especially in the Cub program. Taking Tigers out of the Cub program would be a good start to reduce the program considerably, and take a year out of the five years expected from adults. 

Barry

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8 minutes ago, CynicalScouter said:

I was under the impression JTE was looked upon as being not a "true" measure of "real, true" scouting and therefore shunned by "true" scouters.

I know JTE gold troops that function as Cub Scouts 2.0, so I don't know that JTE is going to help weed out "bad" units.

Weed out is a bad use of terms. JTE or something similar shows the unit adults where they need to improve. In most cases, units that don't improve don't last long anyway. But, some further training could help units that struggle to understand the principles of the list. And, as far as know, data on these list wasn't collected. But, that would be a indicator to learn and react to trends.

Barry

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