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A lot of good points, though I think I want to die on this sporting hill. I think a lot of parents pull their kids from scouting to do sports thinking their kid is something special athletically. I had a meeting with a parent at the troop last night, she raised concern that we're losing a PL for the summer to some club baseball team and he might not come back. I told her it's not likely to work out for the kid; he's in 8th grade, he's like only 5ft tall, 90lbs soaking wet, both parents are sub 6fters and fat. Really what it might be is that scouting is too nice; I deal with some of these coaches with my own kids and it's a joke the yarns they spin to recruit kids. What if scouting pushed the hard sell on parents, think along the lines of these dingleberry baseball coaches "You're kids got it, with my mentoring he'll get in shape, learn how to problem solve, have a bunch of fun, learn how to survive in the outdoors, get his eagle scout, and then from there every top end business school and military academy in the nation will want him! rabble rabble rabble". Do you think we can get carve out on the scout is trustworthy for this? 

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LOL, he says they have doubled in size while BSA has steeply lost members. Their self reporting that they have 60k members right now, total, nationwide. Trail Life is a joke.

I would say my troop is pretty outdoorsy. We camp 10/12 months, with a lock in IF possible in December and 2 weekends of Scouting For Food in February, being the 2 months we do not camp. Even during C

How about going back to an earlier version?

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3 minutes ago, Tron said:

A lot of good points, though I think I want to die on this sporting hill. I think a lot of parents pull their kids from scouting to do sports thinking their kid is something special athletically. I had a meeting with a parent at the troop last night, she raised concern that we're losing a PL for the summer to some club baseball team and he might not come back. I told her it's not likely to work out for the kid; he's in 8th grade, he's like only 5ft tall, 90lbs soaking wet, both parents are sub 6fters and fat. Really what it might be is that scouting is too nice; I deal with some of these coaches with my own kids and it's a joke the yarns they spin to recruit kids. What if scouting pushed the hard sell on parents, think along the lines of these dingleberry baseball coaches "You're kids got it, with my mentoring he'll get in shape, learn how to problem solve, have a bunch of fun, learn how to survive in the outdoors, get his eagle scout, and then from there every top end business school and military academy in the nation will want him! rabble rabble rabble". Do you think we can get carve out on the scout is trustworthy for this? 

I find parents understand the merits of scouting. It's the kids who have trouble grasping it. Sports are fun. They can run around on a field everyday after school, again and again. It's an everyday commitment for a season. If they want to keep up and get ahead, they are encouraged to join offseason programs, another everyday commitment. After you factor in school commitment, then they are practicing/playing sports every day, they are not left much time for other endeavors. Scouting is different. We only meet once a week and have an outing once a month. The rest of the time they are supposed to be working independently: reading the handbook, working on merit badges, etc. Scouting is not only physically demanding; it is mentally challenging, socially and spiritually.  It is hard work. Scouts are free to choose how much obligation they want. It is easy to fall in the sports trap, coaches demanding you practice everyday. It is difficult to lead yourself through scouting.

Then realize families are strapped for time and money. It takes a lot of investment to play a sport, buying nice equipment and travelling around. It takes investment to adventure in scouts, to have good equipment and to keep up abilities (swimming, fitness, etc.). Often it becomes a choice, one or the other. 

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When our troop was 100 scouts strong, I would say 50 percent of those scouts were in sports and other outside activities that demanded some of their time. But, it was seasonal. I average troop meetings between September and December averaged about 60 scouts. 100  scouts January through March, then 60 to 80 scouts until June. We took 100 scouts to summer camp and then the cycle started over again. 

I agree that parents understand the value of the scouting experience better than their kids, but, I also think if the troop has a good (fun) program, the scouts will attend when they can. They will come to meetings late after practice and arrive at campouts after their Friday night or Saturday games. The parents are big part of that because they have to take up the slack for getting their kids to scouts.

I remember one scout showing me his schedule to be the elected SPL in two years. It was impressive to see on paper, but I also remember it included the time on the high school swim team. And he did it.

Of course, I'm learning that families today are different than when I was a scout leader 20 years ago. But, that was our experience. Don't sweat sports. You just need to make sure the program is worth coming back to.

Barry

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It took a while, but I stopped letting overly demanding sports programs, and over the top coaches, get to me.  I tried to make the youth understand that there are myriad choices in life, and making them is part of the "growing up" process.  Ultimately, they need to choose, hopefully with focus and balance.  Too many chose the overly demanding sports road, but with luck may have carried a small piece of the tenets of Scouting with them.  A few, returned and refocused on Scouting.  We never know.  One of the good things about contact with the troop family over decades is that on occasion I see the result in the now adult.  

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I am grateful for the scouts I have reached. Whether they were only Cubs, if they joined the troop one year and left, or if they stayed long enough to earn Eagle. Everyone walks a different path. Everyone has lessons they need to learn. They all take something from the program, no matter how long they stay with it. The more you give to scouting, the more you get out of it. 

2 hours ago, Eagledad said:

Of course, I'm learning that families today are different than when I was a scout leader 20 years ago. But, that was our experience. Don't sweat sports. You just need to make sure the program is worth coming back to.

Barry

This is the right attitude. Realize that families are different, sports are different... There are lots more activities and stresses taking up kids' time than there was 20 years ago.  We are not going to have as many kids jumping from school, to sports practice, to scouts, back and forth like they used to. Even though there are less kids in scouting, I find the ones who choose scouting are more focused than ever. Develop a quality program and they will find you.

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On 5/15/2024 at 12:57 PM, DannyG said:

Even though there are less kids in scouting, I find the ones who choose scouting are more focused than ever. Develop a quality program and they will find you.

I'm about to preside over a cub scout rank advancement ceremony that includes two scouts that joined last month and two months ago, respectively. They went after that advancement hard and finished, using the opportunities for outdoor activities and knife safety we offered to the max. Both scouts asked their parents to sign them up, not the other way around. Since they're cubs they would have advanced without the badge, but they really wanted to be scouts and do the program so that's what they're choosing to do. It will be a pleasure to give them their badges and new neckers.

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33 minutes ago, Tron said:

LOL, he says they have doubled in size while BSA has steeply lost members. Their self reporting that they have 60k members right now, total, nationwide. Trail Life is a joke.

Trail Life is a Scouting program.

Scouting is the movement.  BSA is a business.  You should really separate the two in your thinking.

Otherwise, you miss the point of the article.

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1 hour ago, InquisitiveScouter said:

While some of the article is questionable, there are some truths.

Trail Life does clearly define who they are, what they do, and what the benefit may be.  One has the right to disagree with their messaging, but it is clear.

BSA (SA??) has an extremely broad message about what they are.  The current focus seems to be all things to all people.  Not sure you can excite and entice people with that.  There may be confusion in that all are welcome seems to mean BSA (SA??) will do / provide whatever you want in it's program.  IMHO there is a Balkanization of what BSA (SA??) provides in that there are many constituencies that rather than benefiting from the larger group they are laser focused on their specific benefit they can get.  While good for them, that may not build a cohesive organization.  Also as BSA (SA??) units can be almost a franchise what one gets from unit to unit can vary.

The organization needs to welcome all BUT needs to clearly define what the organization does and how it does this.

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2 hours ago, Tron said:

…. Trail Life is a joke.

For being a joke, I have a couple of great nephews who TL/USA helped guide into adulthood. The BSA troop’s available to them were inadequate.

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6 hours ago, Jameson76 said:

The organization needs to welcome all BUT needs to clearly define what the organization does and how it does this.

It seems contradictory. Be open to everyone but clearly define what the the program is and how it works?

The promise is adventure and outdoors. Scouting let's you choose how you want to achieve those objectives. They provide the framework. Your unit decides how it is going to meet it.

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Posted (edited)

I don't think calling another scouting organization that doubled in size a joke is scout like, my friend. Nor is it something to draw laughter. I'm trying to recall the part of the Scout Law that teaches us to do either of those things.

BSA losing 1.2+ million in 5 years doesn't give those in the BSA a solid perch to smirk from. Those are 60,000 youth being served in the scouting movement.

Edited by ToKindle96
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On 5/15/2024 at 8:29 AM, Tron said:

A lot of good points, though I think I want to die on this sporting hill. I think a lot of parents pull their kids from scouting to do sports thinking their kid is something special athletically ...

While there are a few delusional folks out there, I think the vast majority of parents sign their kids up for club teams simply because their kids enjoy playing sports. Parents don't mind the added expense and time commitment as long as their child is having fun, making friends, and getting exercise.

In many large suburban school districts, kids need to play their primary sport during the club season in order to make their high school varsity team. This is most common with soccer, basketball, and baseball / softball. A kid's skill level is unlikely to keep up with peers if they sit out the club season. That's an extra 2-3 months of practice for the club participants (compounded over 10 years). Usually, the high school coach doesn't require club participation. Rather, when it's time to make the varsity roster, it's obvious who has been putting in the work and who hasn't.

I love Scouting. It was the best experience of my youth; however, I can tell my son prefers basketball. I will try to thread the needle as long as we can. However, if you're looking for legitimate reasons why families might prefer travel sports to Scouting, I've got a few:

  1. Civic Pride - Today, there is more pride associated with high school sports teams than Scouting. Two years ago, our local high school won a state championship in basketball. The town threw a parade and we still have signage up marking the achievement. My son wants to have an Eagle Court of Honor like his dad, but I think he'd really prefer to ride a fire truck through downtown.
  2. Socialization - Youth sports have effectively replaced a lot of bowing and softball leagues for adults. Parents make friends while traveling for youth sports. Unlike Scouting, you can pack a cooler to most events. A colleague of mine did the youth hockey grind for many years, but now that his son is in the Navy, he misses it.
  3. Exclusivity - I applaud Scouting for its inclusivity; however, I can tell my son is getting frustrated by the behavior issues of a few Packmates (so much so that it's souring his experience). Club sports try and serve as many youth as possible, but they won't hesitate to cut the trouble-makers loose.
  4. Competition - My son is frustrated that everyone gets the badges in Cub Scouts, even though some kids only show up to half the events and others are poorly behaved. Sports force kids out of their comfort zones. We can joke about kids being soft, but I watch my son guard peers who are better than him and it both humbles him and strengthens his resolve. Some competition is good, even at a young age.
  5. No Fundraising - Sometimes it's nice just to be able to write a check.
  6. Few YP Concerns - Self explanatory.
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30 minutes ago, BetterWithCheddar said:

While there are a few delusional folks out there, I think the vast majority of parents sign their kids up for club teams simply because their kids enjoy playing sports. Parents don't mind the added expense and time commitment as long as their child is having fun, making friends, and getting exercise.

In many large suburban school districts, kids need to play their primary sport during the club season in order to make their high school varsity team. This is most common with soccer, basketball, and baseball / softball. A kid's skill level is unlikely to keep up with peers if they sit out the club season. That's an extra 2-3 months of practice for the club participants (compounded over 10 years). Usually, the high school coach doesn't require club participation. Rather, when it's time to make the varsity roster, it's obvious who has been putting in the work and who hasn't.

I love Scouting. It was the best experience of my youth; however, I can tell my son prefers basketball. I will try to thread the needle as long as we can. However, if you're looking for legitimate reasons why families might prefer travel sports to Scouting, I've got a few:

  1. Civic Pride - Today, there is more pride associated with high school sports teams than Scouting. Two years ago, our local high school won a state championship in basketball. The town threw a parade and we still have signage up marking the achievement. My son wants to have an Eagle Court of Honor like his dad, but I think he'd really prefer to ride a fire truck through downtown.
  2. Socialization - Youth sports have effectively replaced a lot of bowing and softball leagues for adults. Parents make friends while traveling for youth sports. Unlike Scouting, you can pack a cooler to most events. A colleague of mine did the youth hockey grind for many years, but now that his son is in the Navy, he misses it.
  3. Exclusivity - I applaud Scouting for its inclusivity; however, I can tell my son is getting frustrated by the behavior issues of a few Packmates (so much so that it's souring his experience). Club sports try and serve as many youth as possible, but they won't hesitate to cut the trouble-makers loose.
  4. Competition - My son is frustrated that everyone gets the badges in Cub Scouts, even though some kids only show up to half the events and others are poorly behaved. Sports force kids out of their comfort zones. We can joke about kids being soft, but I watch my son guard peers who are better than him and it both humbles him and strengthens his resolve. Some competition is good, even at a young age.
  5. No Fundraising - Sometimes it's nice just to be able to write a check.
  6. Few YP Concerns - Self explanatory.

You make a number of valid, or at least seemingly valid, points.  But, I have heard indirectly of many issues with poorly disciplined or overbearing kids on teams, and if  a child is NOT good enough, they will be gone by middle school age for the most part.  More importantly, IF you feel youth sports have few YP issues, you are not paying attention.  Only recently have many states stepped in to begin a better oversight of these teams.  In California, and I believe many other states now, there are state madated certifications for adults involved in these teams.  It remains to be seen if those mandates will be properl policed, just as BSA YP continues to have that challenge.  But, BSA is mostly working to assure these State mandates are met.    Sadly, just as in BSA, some groups are more attentive than others I suspect.  And for me, the mention of travel teams can pack their coolers is a bit scary, as that suggests that they may turn a blind eye to alcholol issues in some cases.  The two types of youth offerings are not the same, and both have their own unique challenges.  IF sportsmanship, as I learned it anyway, was assured in these leagues I would be more inclined to understand; but we all have read or seen the lack of sportsmanship in youth situations, both little league types, high school programs, and travel.  And Professional sports also too often set a very poor example, both in regard to respect of other players, but also looking the other way in regard to the actual rules.  

    None of it is easy, nor are they free of serious concerns.  But the basic tenets of Scouting still stand up to one of the best guides for real citizenship and a character filled life.  

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