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Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts suffer huge declines in membership


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https://apnews.com/article/only-on-ap-health-coronavirus-pandemic-7afeb2667df0a391de3be67b38495972

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Membership for the BSA’s flagship Cub Scouts and Scouts BSA programs dropped from 1.97 million in 2019 to 1.12 million in 2020, a 43% plunge, according to figures provided to The Associated Press. Court records show membership has fallen further since then, to about 762,000.

The Girl Scouts say their youth membership fell by nearly 30%, from about 1.4 million in 2019- 2020 to just over 1 million this year.

 

 

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Let's hope that we don't have a group that wants to "re-imagine" the BSA and it's programs.  The Cub movement toward heavily family oriented over the last 10 - 15 years was not getting in the droves o

Probably re-hashing a really old argument yet another time.  ... I agree that we don't need to keep re-imaging BSA and the programs.  I would say though that I disagree on the strengths.  I feel like

I advocate for the Fieldbook as a primary resource too. Especially the first one. I often find copies of these at garage sales for $1. I have mentioned in the past a patrol could go page by page with

Yep. 1.97 million down to 760k and there is no chance of BSA even reaching 1 million scouts prior to 2025, according to BSA's own projections. In fact, it won't even get back to 50% of its 2019 totals (987k) until 2024 at the earliest.

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Getting the bankruptcy and other bad news behind BSA is the biggest thing they can do to improve membership.  BSA needs to get the 20 years of bad press behind itself.  ... Then, give it a few years.  ... So yeah, 2024 at earliest.

 

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Posted (edited)
On 7/1/2021 at 2:48 PM, fred8033 said:

Probably re-hashing a really old argument yet another time.  ... I agree that we don't need to keep re-imaging BSA and the programs.  I would say though that I disagree on the strengths.  I feel like a church member who still has faith, but is now questioning one of the long-promised values. 

Leadership.  I just don't think troops teach it well.  I question focusing on leadership.  I question encouraging adults to teach leadership.  Scouts will learn leadership naturally by trying to get their scouts out doing things.  Be active, etc.  

I never wanted my scouts to be in scouting because of "leadership".   Sure it might become a side benefit.  I wanted them in it to do things I would not do with them on my own.  Or skills I did not have at that time.  ... To also build life-long friendships.   To get experiences.  To be more independent of me.  But, "leadership".  I'm not sure I would join BSA to get my kid to learn leadership.

I think we all agree that the informal leadership training that Scouting provides is valuable, it's also hard to quantify, and it's hard to sell as marketing to parents. There are numerous opportunities for adults to model good leadership practices to Senior Scouts, but these are less of formal instruction, and more of a mentorship/partnership. As Scouts seek to solve their own issues and confront their own challenges, there are opportunities for that informal style of teaching leadership. 

I have seem some great outcomes in myself and my Scouts from NYLT, but that alone is not sufficient to market Scouts BSA as a "Leadership" program. Much of it's value does not derive from the instruction, but from the activities and time spent in a real functional patrol, which is sorely lacking in many Troops. 

There's also a simple fact: not everyone can be, or should be leaders. There is absolutely nothing wrong with folks being contributors to the team. To say that every Scout who comes through the program should develop as a leader is presupposing that every Scout wants to be, and should be developing as a leader. 

Edited by Sentinel947
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17 hours ago, Mrjeff said:

I think you guys are right on the money.  I think that there is way too much focus on teaching lessons and building leaders when the focus should be on having fun outside.

Yep, 100% agree. Get the kids in the outdoors and the other things (leadership development, etc.) will happen anyway. 

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I wish the BSA had left well enough alone and kept "Leadership" as one of the Methods of Scouting rather than slipping it in as an additional "Aim of Scouting" as they did a few years ago.  With "Leadership" now as both an Aim and a Method, not only has the BSA confused the concept of Leadership they've also muddled the foundational principles of the organization.  Inexcusable.

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1 hour ago, AltadenaCraig said:

I wish the BSA had left well enough alone and kept "Leadership" as one of the Methods of Scouting rather than slipping it in as an additional "Aim of Scouting" as they did a few years ago.  With "Leadership" now as both an Aim and a Method, not only has the BSA confused the concept of Leadership they've also muddled the foundational principles of the organization.  Inexcusable.

Well said.  I saw when "Leadership Development" was added as an aim and wondered.  Then, I forgot but I'm still uncomfortable with it there.  IMHO, it was added for marketing purposes without thinking about whether it was really a "method". 

IMHO, listing as a method does more damage than good.

Then again ... I also question listing it as a "method".  They are objectives, not "methods" ... Plus we just don't teach it well.

  • Ideals – Good method ... We push oath and law as useful ideals to resolve everything.
  • Patrols – Good method ... We encourage small groups for many reasons.
  • Outdoor Programs – New fresh experiences trigger growth.  Great
  • Advancement – Fine.  Kids like bling and bragging points.   Fine.
  • Association with Adults – Fine.  Scouts encouraged to interact to build confidence.
  • Uniform – Being seen as part of a group.  Living up to standards.  Fine.

Two methods that are not parallel.  These are really objectives or marketing points.   

  • Personal Growth – "Encourage looking for "personal growth" ... As Scouts plan their activities and progress toward their goals, they experience personal growth. The Good Turn concept is a major part of the personal growth method of Scouting. Young people grow as they participate in community service projects and do Good Turns for others. Probably no device is so successful in developing a basis for personal growth as the daily Good Turn. The religious emblems program also is a large part of the personal growth method. Frequent personal conferences with their Scoutmaster help each Scout to determine their growth toward Scouting’s aims."
    • Perhaps method should be Daily Good Turn ... or ... Community Service ...
  • Leadership Development – The Scouting program encourages Scouts to learn and practice leadership skills. Every Scout has the opportunity to participate in both shared and total leadership situations. Understanding the concepts of leadership and becoming a servant leader helps a Scout accept the leadership role of others and guides them towards participating citizenship and character development.
    • Perhaps method should be related to Scouts leading Scouts.  Or Assigned Responsibilities.

 

Edited by fred8033
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On 7/1/2021 at 1:48 PM, fred8033 said:

Probably re-hashing a really old argument yet another time.  ... I agree that we don't need to keep re-imaging BSA and the programs.  I would say though that I disagree on the strengths.  I feel like a church member who still has faith, but is now questioning one of the long-promised values. 

Leadership.  I just don't think troops teach it well.  I question focusing on leadership.  I question encouraging adults to teach leadership.  Scouts will learn leadership naturally by trying to get their scouts out doing things.  Be active, etc.  

I never wanted my scouts to be in scouting because of "leadership".   Sure it might become a side benefit.  I wanted them in it to do things I would not do with them on my own.  Or skills I did not have at that time.  ... To also build life-long friendships.   To get experiences.  To be more independent of me.  But, "leadership".  I'm not sure I would join BSA to get my kid to learn leadership.

Hi All. I rarely, rarely ever disagree with Fred, but I believe he is not looking at the leadership image correctly. And I really don't think we are disagreeing, but I need to express my opinion on the Scouting leadership image.

I will start off by saying that if one were to poll the average person outside of the BSA of the 3 most important traits a scout gains from the scouting experience, the majority of the that polling would say leadership is one of the three. Leadership IS an image of the scouting program. Leadership is the image of a Scout.

The image is so powerful that the designers of the Normandy invasion for D-day were specifically looking for soldiers with a Boy Scouting experience to invade the beaches because those soldiers knew first aid and they had natural tendencies of leadership. The designers knew the casualties were going to be high, so they wanted soldiers that would naturally step up and continue when all those around them had fallen. I have personally witnessed those very actions among our scouts. They relied of the image of Scouting for their planning.

The struggle here is the teaching of leadership. First of all, I think most of us agree that when the Patrol Method method experience is applied correctly, leadership development will take place naturally. In fact, just about all the decision making character skills scouts develop during their scouting experiences are learned mostly by observing the actions of others in the patrol method activities. Most scouts will learn the habits of good leadership if they simply just hang around their patrol for a few years. I can go into that deeper if you like, but my experience as an adult in a boy run program confirms that premise. I have watch even the most shy and introverted scouts make leadership decisions when they found themselves in situations that required them to step up. How did they know what to do, they just did what they had observed and experienced during their scouting experience. 

The problem isn't developing leadership without a direct leadership POR experience, the problem is adults trusting that the Patrol Method method does develop leadership decision making habits simply by participating in a Patrol..

There was a large Council about 25 years ago that was considering removing all youth leadership training from the council because many of the adults felt leadership courses didn't really contribute to their scouting program. The big issue wasn't about taking leadership out, but the adult takeover of patrol method by adults who felt they were taking over the role of leadership. I believe the council stepped back as a result of the problems they were seeing with adult run troops.

If adults aren't trying to reach agreed goals, then they develop bad habits that dilute the rest of the program, especially patrol method. Leadership must be considered a priority program strength to insure integrity in the Patrol Method method and the development of character because many leaders would otherwise let their instincts of telling youth how they should run their patrols take over the troop. 

While we talk (at least I do) a lot about character development from the Scouting program, the natural image of scout development is leadership. See, most people think of scouts being prepared as stepping up when the situation requires. Being prepared is the mental ability to step up in stressful situations. Leadership is having the confidence to make a decision when the moment requires a decision for the good of those around. Leadership is making moral and ethical decisions in a moments notice. Scouts don't need leadership courses for those leadership decisions skills, they need to be exposed to many leadership decisions of a long period of time. 

If the troubling issue is adults ability of teaching leadership, OK, I'm with you. But, if the issue is that the leadership image is just equal among all the strengths a scout will gain during their scouting experiences, then I don't agree. Leadership, as an image of scouting strengths,  is a higher strength along with character and should be marketed as such because it is each scouts leadership habits (even the scouts without direct leadership experience) that are learned in the program that set them apart from the habits learned in other youth organizations. Adults need to learn how to lean on patrol method for leadership development, not on leadership courses to achieve the method. Leadership courses have their place for reinforcing proper management and leadership habits, but not as the primary approach leadership development.

I know this was a long way of saying that Leadership is very important for the image of scouting. It's not as simple as just saying leadership will come to those who play the game, it must be emphasized that leadership is one of the most important traits of a scout and the scout must play the game to develop the skills.

Sorry for the long post. 

Barry

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24 minutes ago, Eagledad said:

Being prepared is the mental ability to step up in stressful situations. 

A lot of great stuff in there, but I wanted to highlight this single line as it is often lost on folks. Too often Be Prepared is reduced to things, not the scout himself.

Secondly, the scout slogan and motto are not two disparate concepts. They fit together. Merging Barry's understanding of Be Prepared with Do a Good Turn Daily, one starts to see how these two often misunderstood (and in the case of the slogan; forgotten) tenets of scouting form the basis of achieving the scouting mission.

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On 7/1/2021 at 2:48 PM, fred8033 said:

Probably re-hashing a really old argument yet another time.  ... I agree that we don't need to keep re-imaging BSA and the programs.  I would say though that I disagree on the strengths.  I feel like a church member who still has faith, but is now questioning one of the long-promised values. 

Leadership.  I just don't think troops teach it well.  I question focusing on leadership.  I question encouraging adults to teach leadership.  Scouts will learn leadership naturally by trying to get their scouts out doing things.  Be active, etc.  

I never wanted my scouts to be in scouting because of "leadership".   Sure it might become a side benefit.  I wanted them in it to do things I would not do with them on my own.  Or skills I did not have at that time.  ... To also build life-long friendships.   To get experiences.  To be more independent of me.  But, "leadership".  I'm not sure I would join BSA to get my kid to learn leadership.

I don't disagree on "teaching" leadership.  My definition would the experiential leadership learning that occurs when a troop functions.  As a patrol leaders how do you get things done, what works and what doesn't work.  When do you have to involve the SPL, when do have to go through the woods and involve the adult leaders?  That is the leadership I was referring to.

When Scouting is done correctly in the wild, Scouts (the youth ones), learn how to manage and get things done in their group of peers.  They learn if they do not adhere to some type of timetable stuff does not in fact get done.  They learn to assign tasks, to divide duties, that working together can be successful.  They learn that not everyone can do every task to the same skill.  Timmy may can cook, Tommy can tie knots, Davey can figure out where to setup tents, Joey can start a fire, etc etc.  Together they can accomplish more than they can do separately.  That is the leadership I was referring to.

Organizing a police line, fixing a tarp in the rain, determining how to cook a meal when key ingredients are left at home, and working with the new Scout as they learn the ropes.  That is the leadership I meant.

Maybe Self Confidence / Self Determination / Self Reliance could be a better description.  Understanding they can be in charge of their own destiny and are ultimately responsible for the CHOICES THEY make

That is what we are selling and the benefits of Scouting (and having fun and not realizing they are getting some learning)

Edited by Jameson76
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