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Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts suffer huge declines in membership


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So, if things are going well for you, and your lodge, why do you feel like it is failing? Is your lodge failing? I can’t square the circle of your comments with your experience. 

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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

21 hours ago, Eagledad said:

This all may true. I believe Scouts will survive at a minimum as just an outdoors program. The problem is when a program is only focused on activities without the virtues of behavior values as a by-product, the adults will turn it into an after school/weekend activity program. Basically a babysitting program. The hallmark of if giving scouts the independence of running program will fade away. We struggle with adult intrusiveness now, making values a lower priority will finish if off. I understand this is what happened to Canadian Scouts. 

Barry

 

19 hours ago, fred8033 said:

Absolutely.  Ditch the stuff scouting does not shine at.  .... at least minimize.  

Scouting SHINES when it takes kids outside.  Hiking.  Biking.  Canoe.  Teaching outdoor skills.  

Scouting bumbles around in just too many other areas.  Scouting can claim so many positive reasons to be a scout IF IT WOULD JUST STOP DESIGNING THE PROGRAM TO TARGET THOSE REASONS.

The reason to be a scout is simple.  To be outside.  To have adventures.  To try new things.  To make friends.  To explore the world.  To sit by a campfire.  ... The rest is hogwash.  Sure it's neat to point and brag at, but it gets messed as often as it helps. 

I swear ... scouting is an easy win if we just stop pretending it's more grandiose than it is.  

 

I think there's a sweet spot between these 2 posts. As Fred says, scouting is kids outside, learning skills, being challenged and having fun. But think about what challenge means, especially to a teenager. The right challenge is the motivation that brings out the magic in scouts. Somewhere between boring and overwhelming is a good challenge. Not only that but the best motivation is self motivation. The adults sole purpose is to help the scouts find motivation, preferably self motivation. As the scouts become motivated the adults have less to do. That's my interpretation of what Barry has said elsewhere. If the scouts are motivated to try new things then everything else will take care of itself.

Scouts respond to different things. Advancement and recognition, high adventure trips, working with younger scouts, servant leadership. Nearly all scouts respond to just hanging with their friends.

I think the challenge is giving the adults the tools to make this work. How to work with scouts at different levels of maturity to find that which will give them a passion for scouting.

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19 minutes ago, MattR said:

I think the challenge is giving the adults the tools to make this work. How to work with scouts at different levels of maturity to find that which will give them a passion for scouting.

I'm skeptical because scouts already join for the outdoor fun and adventure. That part of the program is fine. The adults are the ones that turn it on its head, and I'm not sure how that can change. 

Where I disagree with Fred is he wants to simplify the program so the adults can do a better job. But, if we take away goals, adults by nature fill in with their own ambitious desires. I don't believe that adults will allow scouts to lead if leadership is not part of the goals. I've watched to many adults fill in their self-desires where they see gaps in the program. An afterschool outdoor program fits because it doesn't matter what the adults do, it's part of the program.

I also don't believe older scouts stay in the program for fun and adventure. I have actually polled our scouts on this. Only 1/4 of the scouts 14 and older hung around for the outdoors activities.  If you can get an honest answer as to why older scouts stay with the program, you will learn they enjoy adult mature responsibilities of running a complicated program, mentoring the younger scouts. You don't see older scouts in adult run troops for two reasons: First, they have been doing fun and adventure for several years, it's not a draw anymore. Second, the only responsibility that have with younger scouts basically comes down to babysitting. That is not the same as mentoring. 

Barry

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56 minutes ago, Eagledad said:

I also don't believe older scouts stay in the program for fun and adventure. I have actually polled our scouts on this. Only 1/4 of the scouts 14 and older hung around for the outdoors activities.  If you can get an honest answer as to why older scouts stay with the program, you will learn they enjoy adult mature responsibilities of running a complicated program, mentoring the younger scouts. You don't see older scouts in adult run troops for two reasons: First, they have been doing fun and adventure for several years, it's not a draw anymore. Second, the only responsibility that have with younger scouts basically comes down to babysitting. That is not the same as mentoring. 

Barry

That was the draw that kept me engaged in my Troop as an older Scout. Being responsible for the Troop, it's activities and it's members. It was a challenge, and I enjoyed the opportunity to try to make things better for myself and the other Scouts. 

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Ok, reality check:  The BSA is doing everything they can to place all liability on the volunteers and COs. There are so many policies and rules in place it's hard to tell right from wrong.  Individual councils are having to provide the BSA with bunches and bunches of money.  District's and councils don't really have enough units to sustain them.  Long time members are simply stepping away by the thousands.  Schools are refusing to allow recruitment.  Positive public perception is falling.   The price of registration, summer camp, high adventure or national events are prohibitive in cost, and people just aren't joining up.  Sure, successes do take place but if you don't view the whole picture and only focus on one spot you're kidding yourself if you think that "All is well with the BSA."  Its like checking someone's pulse with your thumb, you can feel it, but the dude is ded.  I hope that clarifies things a little.

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2 hours ago, Mrjeff said:

There are so many policies and rules in place it's hard to tell right from wrong.

While I will agree that keeping up with the GTSS may not be the easiest thing to do, but no Scout or Scouter should ever find it "hard to tell right from wrong."

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36 minutes ago, MikeS72 said:

While I will agree that keeping up with the GTSS may not be the easiest thing to do, but no Scout or Scouter should ever find it "hard to tell right from wrong."

I think it can be very hard depending on what kind of unit or council you are in. This forum and other places on social media are full of posts from scouters who simply don't know what to do. National is telling you to keep your head down and focus on your unit, yet your unit can't operate in a vacuum. What do you do when you see malfeasance or unscoutlike behavior and even when you go up the food chain nothing is done to correct it. What do you do? Quit? Go public? Post something here or on facebook looking for advice? 

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14 hours ago, Mrjeff said:

Sure, successes do take place but if you don't view the whole picture and only focus on one spot you're kidding yourself if you think that "All is well with the BSA."  Its like checking someone's pulse with your thumb, you can feel it, but the dude is ded.  I hope that clarifies things a little.

All that you say is true. But what am I to do if I still believe in the program and my 3 girls and wife enjoy it? Damm the torpedoes and full speed ahead. KBO (keep buggering on) as Churchill said. I don’t serve on any national committees, so all I can do is my part “and leave nothing on the field”. It is all that most of us can do. Am I worried about the longevity as the program as we’ve know it? Sure. Are things going well in My neck of the woods? Yes. Has my boyhood camp that I spent 4 summers on staff at been sold? Yes. It hurts, but my current council is humming along well. 
 

KBO

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Oh, I completely and emphatically AGREE!  I have said from the beginning that Scouting may be forced to go back to the way they were.  By that I  mean:  troops doing their own summer camp program; units gathering up on their own for fun and fellowship; friendly sharing of resources;  smaller OA Lodges; less expense program wide; more unit individuality; and this list goes on.  We will have to pick up whatever pieces are left and SCOUT ON.  This won't be easy, but I think its worth the effort.

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Things are frustrating and difficult.  It takes much longer for awards to be processed and returned, other national services are delayed, and property is disappearing.   So what do we do? Whatever it takes to deliver the program;  if our local camp goes away we camp in a friendly farmers field, swim in his lake and catch his fish. That may not be easy but it can be done!  Scout On my friends 😉

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