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37 minutes ago, Eagledad said:

You’re doing it wrong.

And the irony is this isn't a very elegant way to help :)

But getting back to the OP, @5thGenTexan, I wonder if the approach used in Let Grow might really help a pack. The age range is similar. I think the basic idea is get a bunch of stuff, let them figure out how to play with it and only step in if it really is a safety issue (or maybe an opportunity to talk about the scout law as it pertains to a specific incident). If some scouts want to make skits then that's their program for the meeting while others do something else. I suppose adults could also be there to help with an activity pin, if that's what the scouts want to do. And if they just want to play with wood blocks and crash cars into it, then fine, they're at least not playing video games.

One of my goals as SM was to push for a good game at each meeting. A successful meeting was a bunch of sweaty, smiling scouts at the end. It absolutely hurts me to see the troop push off a game because there are more important things to do.

For a child, playing is important. The challenge for the adults is understanding how to play. Unfortunately, requirements are the antithesis of play.

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I am really big on no structure on unit campouts.  Especially Pack campouts.  Have set meal times. maybe an organized hike during the day, but let em go play in the woods and do what they dont get to

Lenore Skenazy, who wrote the book Free Range Kids about just letting kids play more rather than all the structure/school work, helped start a new program called Let Grow,  which is about setting up m

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58 minutes ago, MattR said:

And the irony is this isn't a very elegant way to help :)

Quit right! I reread my post and saw my words differently. My apologies to all.

I was looking at this as 2 friends at a campfire where the context would have been seen with a smile. But that’s where social media fails.

Again, my apologies.

have a great day.

Barry

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15 hours ago, 5thGenTexan said:

Declining membership...  As much as it pains me to say, I don't think what BSA is offering what is wanted today.

Cub School talks...  A DE or other representative comes in and talks to the kids.  They come out excited they are going to shoot BB Guns, Archery, Fishing, Camping.  The pay their money,,,

The first thing we do is tell em they have these 12 words to memorize and this other oath they gotta memorize and recite it all the time.  Also, go take this online class about how the internet works and then these uncomfortable scenarios in this little book.  We promise we will get to camping and BB Guns and stuff soon.  We promise.   Oh yeah, sorry... we can't shoot BB Guns or a Bow and Arrow unless you pay more money to go to a certain camp where its allowed.  If you can't go there, well sorry, I don't know what to tell you.

Then... we have meetings where we do everything other than fishing or camping, or hiking, or all that other stuff they were promised in that school talk.  And in the infinite wisdom of the BSA has decided that the cost of rewarding all that comes out to about $30 a year when you add up the belt loops and other awards.

Then, we tell all the parents that have absolutely no experience working with kids OR any Scouting experience...  What position do you want to sign up for and help out?

That's when you stop seeing them showing up to any event.   I am not saying any of its right, just my observation of the past 5 years.   

The ones that do stay, I get asked A LOT... "What do I get for that"?  Well, you get the knowledge you just learned that will help you be better next time.  You get to know you did the right thing for someone.  Kids are so used to get getting a sticker, candy, pencil, or whatever, every time they they turn around they are unable to comprehend doing something just because they might learn a skill or something to improve their character.

Once again, I don't believe this and I do hate it, but.... In these times, no one cares about Trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, etc.  We live in a very selfish society and I am just not sure it resonates. 

 

I am out of Cubs now, my son just joined the Troop and has earned Scout already because I made him get it done.  My daughter is 2nd Class.  I have to make sure she gets it done too..

1) Scouts Read the Handbook.  No they don't.  IF a Scout manages to find their book and bring it to a meeting its because they need something signed off.  I will say "Most" Scouts are not sitting down and reading the book. 

2) They Decide What to Do.  Once again, no they aren't.  IF they manage to complete some requirements at a meeting and it gets signed off great.  I don't believe there are many Scouts getting home from school and pulling out the handbook and looking for a requirement to knock out.  That would cut into their phone / game time.

3)Adults Provide Adequate Supervision.  Sometimes.  You have Scouters that see the issues above and push the Scouts to do more and then you have Adults with no Scouting experience who do what they know, and sometimes that is running program like a birthday party with uniforms.

 

I am not saying I know the answers.  I try to get my own kids to get others at school to try Scouts, but they both say no one wants to do it.  They are busy with sports and other activities.  I don't know how to instill the importance that the Scout Law and Oath are really a good guideline to live by, and not just something to recite at meetings.  I don't know how to show there is a lot more to Scouts that the flashy things the professionals use to sell it to new families.  I don't even know how to get my own kids to take it upon themselves to put their phones away and get done what needs to get done without pulling teeth.

I keep putting on my uniform and trying though.

This is a great recap of so many obvious problems in scouting today. I think you've hit so many nails right on the head here. Many aspects of the program are disconnected from the day to day realities and perspectives of an increasing number of families and kids, but there is a lot of resistance to acknowledging that. Anyone who tries to point out problems like these is simply told "You're doing it wrong" but I don't think these are issues or problems that are going to be fixed by adhering to existing program. I think program, as well as the whole scout mindset, needs to change. At least if scouting is going to continue in any signficant form or fashion. I'm not sure bankruptcy is the biggest threat to scouting.  I think it's more the resistance to reimagining scouting into something that is more accessible, understandable, interesting, and doable for a greater number of current day families and kids. I laughed when I got to the part of your comments about giving roles to parents with no experience with kids or scouting.  No parent today would dream of sending their little 6 or 7 year old off onto a field with a coach who has no idea what they are doing, either with kids or a sport, and yet that is exactly what scouting does. And it continues up the chain. 

 

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7 hours ago, scoutldr said:

I am old, and most of my Scouting was done prior to phones and video games.  My 3 grandkids all have the latest iPhones in their hands...one is 10 and the other two are 6.  So we buy the kids phones and games, then bemoan the fact that they won't put them down and do something else?  I have quit asking when they will get involved in Scouts.  They are just not interested in fitting character building into their daily agenda.  Sorry...we have met the enemy and they is us.  

Give up on scouting then maybe, not getting kids off their phones or outside. Kid participation in a lot of outdoor activities is way up -- fishing, birding, horseback riding, organized biking. The scouting program in some ways and in some places has become an impediment to getting kids outdoors. And phones and devices are not all bad. There are apps and features that can be fun to use outdoors. 

Edit: For example, I'm doing Cornell's Great Backyard Bird Count this weekend with my teenage son. He's using Merlin on his phone; I'm reporting via ebird. This is the kind of outdoors thing he likes to do. 

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1 hour ago, yknot said:

No parent today would dream of sending their little 6 or 7 year old off onto a field with a coach who has no idea what they are doing, either with kids or a sport, and yet that is exactly what scouting does

At an Eagle Court of Honor years ago, just as I was about to speak, as I looked across the audience assembled for the 3 Eagle Scouts, it struck me that the majority of folks there were not active in Scouting and likely had no inkling of the number of requirements the Eagles had completed, the range of skills and topics those requirements spanned, the years it took to do so, and even more telling, the vast number of campouts and meetings each Eagle had attended to complete just a requirement or two.

As it is our Troop's practice to provide each Eagle with a 3 ring  binder with an extensive collection of certificates, letters, etc., and having one before me, I turned to the print out of Ione of the Eagle's entire scouting history, showing the dates that they earned each requirement and merit badge.

I spoke for just a couple of minutes about what it takes to earn Eagle-mentioning the items above.

My point is that Scouting is a complicated program.  Touching on topics and skills few adults have unless they've been through the program as a youth. Knots, life-saving, archery, kayaking, first aid, canoeing, rifle shooting, fire building, fishing, cooking over a fire, gas stove operation (and repair), whittling, shotgun shooting, tree identification, range safety, camping skills, knife and axe… 

And it is not merely these skills which are a challenge, but also being a unit leader mentoring and counseling youth whose ages span a number of years and taking into account the emotional and academic differences among scouts of different ages.

And it is "immersive."  Weekend campouts and summer camp weeks are a far cry from an event lasting an hour or two.

I can understand parents being reluctant. The program is daunting.

Few adults active in my Troop have a scouting background. It is not the program I grew up in.  Many merit badges are "homework" oriented-much more paperwork-which has been growing over the last several decades. Most scouts struggle to motivate themselves to complete merit badges that are mostly paperwork.

My generation is late 60's to mid 70's. Many boilers are running out of steam.  Who will pick up the load?

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I can’t say what is hurting scout membership today because there are to many new variables with adding girls, bankruptcy, and COVID. But, 10 years ago I could show the biggest membership killer in the BSA was the Cubscout program. Less than 30% of Tigers end up joining a troop.

While I believe National has made some bad policy decisions on the troop program over the last 30 years, the program over all doesn’t have big membership drops after a scouts first year. While history does show some troop membership drops, the number is difficult to analysis because much of the drop is mostly reflective of Cub membership trends.

If the Cub program were changed to where 50% of tigers made it to troops, it would be a huge increase for all the BSA programs.

Barry

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This discussion made me think of a Scouting "political cartoon" that I saw before, but can't find. It was a "two cell" cartoon with "What they were told Scouting would be" and then the other "What Scouting is". It showed adventure in the outdoors on one side and a meeting in a Church basement on the other. I seem to recall this might have been British. I would love to have a copy if someone knows it and can post a link.

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3 hours ago, Eagledad said:

... 10 years ago I could show the biggest membership killer in the BSA was the Cubscout program....

I agree.   Too long.  Too adult intensive.  Too early.

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8 hours ago, mrjohns2 said:

This discussion made me think of a Scouting "political cartoon" that I saw before, but can't find. It was a "two cell" cartoon with "What they were told Scouting would be" and then the other "What Scouting is". It showed adventure in the outdoors on one side and a meeting in a Church basement on the other. I seem to recall this might have been British. I would love to have a copy if someone knows it and can post a link.

I have seen that cartoon multiple times.  As soon as I run across it again I will save a copy and post it here.

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21 hours ago, InquisitiveScouter said:

I'd really like to see any empirical data that shows the 18-20 y.o. is more of a danger to Scouts.

You and me both. I remember back in the day being told by a newly crossed over adult, that I was to young to know what I was doing. Thankfully that adult didn't burn anything down with what he was doing.

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3 minutes ago, Eagle94-A1 said:

You and me both. I remember back in the day being told by a newly crossed over adult, that I was to young to know what I was doing. Thankfully that adult didn't burn anything down with what he was doing.

We have discussed the foibles of young men this age with alcohol. Some of the abuse victims who have been kind enough to share their stories were abused by camp staff. Odds are their ages were 18-20. What’s not clear to me is the relative risk. It used to be that young ASMs outnumbered old ones. So in probability if a fixed percentage of males were serial abusers, in scouting they were more likely to young adults.

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1 hour ago, qwazse said:

We have discussed the foibles of young men this age with alcohol. Some of the abuse victims who have been kind enough to share their stories were abused by camp staff. Odds are their ages were 18-20. What’s not clear to me is the relative risk. It used to be that young ASMs outnumbered old ones. So in probability if a fixed percentage of males were serial abusers, in scouting they were more likely to young adults.

While I know folks will do stupid things, including those over 21, I would still like to see the raw data to analyze this information.

 

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If I was to design a BSA program for 18-21 y/o. I would...

1. Recognize they are adults.

2. Provide opportunities for more advanced type adventures.

3. Focus on training these adult scouts how to implement the Scout Program as designed with Patrol Method and all the other things we often describe here.

#3. is best done as "campfire discussions" or "talks while hiking" instead of "classroom in the outdoors". The training should be explicitly known  but implicitly executed.

In general the outcomes should be "outdoor fun with similar aged adults" and "training future Scoutmasters".

Rationale: While going through the program as a scout even with a fantastic SM in a high quality troop, the scout likely does not understand the intricacies of what the SM (and ASM) are doing (or not doing!). This training supports what the scout already experienced (if it was great) or supplants with better Scoutmastership training.

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15 hours ago, Eagledad said:

I can’t say what is hurting scout membership today because there are to many new variables with adding girls, bankruptcy, and COVID. But, 10 years ago I could show the biggest membership killer in the BSA was the Cubscout program. Less than 30% of Tigers end up joining a troop.

While I believe National has made some bad policy decisions on the troop program over the last 30 years, the program over all doesn’t have big membership drops after a scouts first year. While history does show some troop membership drops, the number is difficult to analysis because much of the drop is mostly reflective of Cub membership trends.

If the Cub program were changed to where 50% of tigers made it to troops, it would be a huge increase for all the BSA programs.

Barry

I was thinking about this in the context of, well, this thread - scouts learning to find their own fun - and maybe fixing the cub program might help the scout program.

As a den leader I tried to follow the program of activity pins. It was difficult, hard, time consuming and not many cubs from my den moved to a troop. I was burned out, relieved it was over and the only reason I went to a troop was I knew what scouting could be.

Contrast that with a program, linked to on page 1, of encouraging kids to learn how to play. The adults don't burn out because they're not trying to entertain kids while going over a bunch of repetitive activity pins. The kids do what they're naturally good at, they play. They make up games. They solve people problems. They look out for younger kids. The adults learn to back off. It also takes fewer adults.

Imagine those kids transferring to a troop. They would already have the skills to be in a patrol. Given some options they could pick the skills they wanted to learn. The parents would already understand to let the scouts deal with issues.

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