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Being a Negative Nellie


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So as some may tell, I have been a "Negative Nellie" of late. Between the constant changes at national, and the lack of involvement in my council I have had it. And waht is really sad is that I was probably the biggest cheerleader for the council as little as 7  year ago, having drunk the Flavor aid.

But National has not listed to it's volunteers. The Instapalms are one I harp on a lot. But look at the Lion Program. Many thought the 4.5 year Tiger through AOL progression was too long. They went ahead and added a Lions anyway. The pilot den in my area started with 10 Lions. They now have 4 And of the 4, 3 MAY (emphasis) Cross Over, and 1 is burnt out and quitting.

The June 2015 Cub Scout Program was supposed to put OUTING back in Cub ScOUTING. It was supposed to better prepare folks to Scouting. Not only did they change the program in December 2016, the WDL literature has removed content in older training. Only those dens who either had trained WDLs under the older, in person courses, or were mentored by such folks, had Scouts ready for Cross Over.

The OA has tons of challenges that I won't get into here. IMHO it is no longer the Honor Society it was intended to be. In fact it appears to be a check mark on the way to Eagle.

Advancement is so focused by National, that quality of instruction has dropped. National actually praised a council giving  over 10,000 in their online MBUs. How can anyone learn in an online class of a 100? Heck I had scouts tuning out when my Troop was doing that for meetings.

One recent Eagle said that "Advancement seems to discourage Scouting. I just had fun, and said 'why not' and finished [Eagle]."

Then there is my local council. More on that later.

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Some of these issues seem to be a local or anecdotal rather than National. For example, I don't see any issues with InstaPalms (because they didn't much matter in the past before the change, so why does it matter now?) The grumbling comes from people who secretly wish they could have had InstaPalms based on their merit badge counts back in the day. I don't see the same issues in our OA lodge that you seem to be complaining about. Some of what you write about seems to stem from a fear of change rather than an actual issue.

I'm not familiar with the Cub Scout issues as much, as the last time I was involved at that level was in 2014 as a Unit Commissioner, but I can understand the burn-out issue from lengthening the program.

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1 hour ago, Eagle94-A1 said:

National actually praised a council giving  over 10,000 in their online MBUs.

YGBKM!!!

 

7 minutes ago, nolesrule said:

Some of what you write about seems to stem from a fear of change rather than an actual issue.

No, I can attest to these issues as well...  but I am not undecided on the issue of Insta-palms.

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5 minutes ago, InquisitiveScouter said:

No, I can attest to these issues as well...  but I am not undecided on the issue of Insta-palms.

"Insta-palms" are not an issue to me one way or another.  IMHO, reward the scout for doing the extra MBs.  But, it's not a big issue to me and definitely does not affect the scouts much.

Big issues are kids / families getting burnt out in cub scouts.  The program is way too long with too little value.  Should have remained as a program that starts in 3rd grade or 2nd grade.  1st grade is way too early.  Kindergarten is ridiculously early. 

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It will never satisfy everyone.  Some cannot see the forest as they say.  Others simply cannot get beyond their own fears or bias.  We are all human, and we are also prone to errors in judgment and make dumb decisions at times.  On the other hand, the majority mean well and most respond if challenged in a meaningful way with education on the program and its history.  

One of the biggest fallacies in the ongoing media attention is that somehow they either lose track of the fact all people involved are human, as far as we know anyway, and humanity has many very flawed and messed up people.  The concept that somehow BSA or any other youth oriented groups will be perfect is simply ludicrous.  

Focus on the goals and find the best methods that work and stay on the intened course.  Follow the safety rules and maybe allow adults to actually make logical decisions if they are "in charge".  If something occurs that is not positive, then work within the system and clarify, find solutions, and in rare cases get authorities involved.  STOP making every mistep a plot or blanket accusation that is painted with a very wide red or black brush.  

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Cub Scouts....

A lot of parents attend a Join Scout Night and listen to the spiel and sign up their kid.  Many of these parents never had an experience in Scouting, but it sounds like "something to do".  Of course you get a lot that show up to that first meeting and tap out right then and there.  The ones that stay fall into two groups of kids that actually want to be there and the other set of kids that don't care from the get go and are there because they are being told they have to.  Those kids that are being told they have to will leave soon because the parents get tired of fighting it and/or get tired of taking the time to go.  M

Now we are to the kids that wanted to be there, kinda sorta in the first place.  Many of them are going to get discouraged quickly.  All those promises of shooing BBs, archery, fishing, etc never come to fruition because the District doesn't plan enough events to fulfill the marketing.  The adventures that are the basis for rank are honestly kind of boring and as an adult, there isn't much there to build a fun meeting on.  So, going to lose some due to just don't want to go to boring meetings.  When you do get an enthusiastic adult, there is a risk they are one of those "uber" competitive people who run advancement to earn the most belt loops as possibly.  Numbers over substance.

A bigger problem I see is.,... kids have just changed.  Being outside from dusk to dawn was just how kids used to roll.  Scouts was just a continuation of what they were already doing and enjoyed.  Now, every household has multiple TVs, video game systems, tablets, phones.  Much of that of course carries over to car rides, restuarants, even at school it seems most of the day is looking at screen.  Society has shifted to a degree where putting all that away and doing community service, camping,, hiking etc just isn't something the parents or kids are really interested in.  

I don't think its Cub Scout burnout, its just lack of interest in the type of activities that Scouting provides.  I think a lot of folks that were Scouts 30+ years ago have a bias that doesnt allow them to recognize that.  Not saying the bias is bad or misguided, but it does exist.  

I guess the real challenge is how to develop a program that is attractive to the interests of youth/parents today that doesn't totally throw away the basics of Scouting, but yet is able to complement the interests and desires of those folks.

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I'll channel Jefferson:

Time indeed changes manners and notions, and so far we must expect institutions to bend to them. But time produces also corruption of principles, and against this it is the duty of good citizens [Scouters] to be ever on the watch, and if the gangrene is to prevail at last, let the day be kept off as long as possible.

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Agree with @5thGenTexan that trying to get youth of today to accept a program from thirty years ago is only going to work in limited fashion, and we're at that level. 

Accessibility to all those outdoor fun activities is an area we need to focus on. In the northeast, pretty much every council now runs a "base camp" program to make shooting/pioneering/orienteering and such available at least once a month, so that units/patrols/individuals can do them. Once a month may not be enough though. With all the other things kids/families have going on, the "once a month" opportunity may not fit their calendar (same for the troop program), which can make the youth lose interest real quick. We can lament the loss of patrol method, but if the fun factor isn't there, then we're cooked.

 

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I think the focus on membership numbers (ie collecting dues for national) has allowed a corruption of the program. I would rather see national and the councils focus on promoting quality programs instead of quantity of units. It may be true that youth desire other activities, however there are some who still desire a quality scouting program. We should aim to provide that instead of trying to change the program to attract others. I would rather we have 10% of the current membership and units delivering a scout led, patrol method, outdoor based scouting program than increasing membership numbers ten-fold having an adult led, webelos 3, classroom based advancement day care.

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17 minutes ago, mrjohns2 said:

That is a quality unit. Quality units deliver a quality program. A unit that does not deliver a quality program is not a quality unit. 

Yes. That is what I would preserve, and wish national and councils would advocate for instead of chasing quantity.

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11 hours ago, Eagle94-A1 said:

So as some may tell, I have been a "Negative Nellie" of late.

True that. So, what do you do when a scout is complaining about, say, the weather or the food?

The point is, don't worry about what you have no control over. It's eating you alive and that's no way to enjoy life.

11 hours ago, Eagle94-A1 said:

The Instapalms ....

Give up on the insta palms. That is certainly not a hill worth dying on. Not many care about merit badges beyond what is required for eagle.

11 hours ago, Eagle94-A1 said:

But look at the Lion Program ....

I don't know if I ever will. My granddaughter is 24 days old. That'll put me real close to 70. But, again, cubs is nothing you can do anything about. What you could do is go to a pack and try and convince them that all of the burnout and boredom is more about parents too invested in advancement. That's bad for scouts but horrible for cubs. Rather than doing mini-me scouts, just show them how to play outdoors. Kick the can, ghost in the graveyard, make a solar oven, go sledding. It's a simple recipe. Play. Outdoors. Skip the beads, belt loops, pins, B&G, and even the different colored neckerchiefs. Cub scouts should be easy. Share ideas with other packs and make a big google doc of ideas. 5 years with 1 big idea per month is 60 ideas. Teaching children how to play outside should be a slam dunk.

11 hours ago, Eagle94-A1 said:

The June 2015 Cub Scout Program was supposed to put OUTING back in Cub ScOUTING.

Make. Your. Own. Program.

11 hours ago, Eagle94-A1 said:

The OA has tons of challenges that I won't get into here. IMHO it is no longer the Honor Society it was intended to be.

Since when does honor need a society? The OA is treated as a bunch of check boxes because that's what it is. Anything that has a manual describing how to do it can't possibly be a way to ensure honor. As soon as there are a list of rules to guide everyone, Truth, with a capital T, is replaced by check boxes that can only ascertain whether something is not false. To be honorable is to be True to a set of ideals and not check boxes. And no society needed.

12 hours ago, Eagle94-A1 said:

Advancement is so focused by National, that quality of instruction has dropped. National actually praised a council giving  over 10,000 in their online MBUs.

You seem to be getting warmer.  Again, focusing on rules rather than ideals will water down the real program.

12 hours ago, Eagle94-A1 said:

One recent Eagle said that "Advancement seems to discourage Scouting. I just had fun, and said 'why not' and finished [Eagle]."

Just one recent eagle? That's exactly what my son said 13 years ago. What stuck with him was doing the service and the high adventure. If he were to do it again he'd likely stop at first class and just have fun doing things.

You can't change the cub program, scout advancement, the OA or Eagle. But it turns out that just ignoring those things might free you up enough to bring about the things you seem to really care about - the ideals of scouting.

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Family joke:

Two old biddies are "regulars" at a restaurant,  but never have anything good to say about the food, even tho they come there every week.....

"It's too salty". " They never use any seasoning...." " the green beans are mushy.... overcooked.... the steak is BURNT,,,, it's too raw.... "

" Coffee tastes like burnt dishwater.... greasy french fries....  my hamburger is  old and  undercooked...."

""And the portions are so SMALL...."

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10 hours ago, MattR said:

That's exactly what my son said 13 years ago. What stuck with him was doing the service and the high adventure. If he were to do it again he'd likely stop at first class and just have fun doing things.

You can't change the cub program, scout advancement, the OA or Eagle. But it turns out that just ignoring those things might free you up enough to bring about the things you seem to really care about - the ideals of scouting.

Agree.  I'd  take a scout / troop doing fun things any day over an advancement driven program.  Advancement should come more naturally.

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