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2 hours ago, Eagle1993 said:

Most of the best Troops and Packs in my area have older scouters involved.  One major issue is that there appears to be less willingness to volunteer the massive amount of hours scouting requires from the upcoming generation of parents.  One Troo I talked with mentioned that in the past there was some competition over who would be Scoutmaster and now parents want a program but don't want to volunteer.  This may be a N of 3-4 and may not be widespread, but I get the sense that BSA sees a problem.  

Simplifying programs could be beneficial but could also lead to some really bad outcomes.  I hope for the best but I respect Mike and if he is concerned I am as well.

Less willingness, or less ability/time to do so?

My wife and I are already having talks about how far down the Scouter rabbit hole do we go. I'm an ACM for the pack with our youngest (just got his Wolf), and an ASM for the Troop where out eldest just crossed over. My wife is the Wolf (now Bear) DL and Pack Treasurer. (Our CM is also an ASM, and our pack CC is also an ASM - the joys of kids split by age, and the CC, CM, and our sons are all in the same Den, so that could be "fun" for the pack in 3 years...).

I did the NRA RSO training last weekend as my wife works with one of the Council rifle/shotgun instructors, and he mentioned that they are always short of RSOs, so I might be called in there on Saturdays or evenings.

We have a Camporee this Saturday (pack is taking 41 in total - cubs, scouts, and adults - woohoo!),  then I'm off with the eldest to a 2-night camp the following weekend. Yet to plan is the probably wilderness survival camp with the Troop for June, and we have summer camp in mid-July - one parent going with a Scout can put more pressure on the parent staying home with the other kid(s), especially during summer break and the parent is still working.

Add in that both kids also have other extra-curriculars that we need to get them too, and time gets to be squeezed.

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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?

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.

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A lot of people get spread thin; but if more leaders just asked people to step up it wouldnt be such a problem. I see a lot of troops in my area suffering from low scouter numbers; however, they are doing it to themselves. Heck I mentioned troop resource surveys at my sons troop and I would be dead right now if looks could kill.

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2 hours ago, Eagle94-A1 said:

Last time National improved the program, Bill Hillcourt had to come out of retirement to lead it.

As I recall, that was also following the disastrously poorly conceived SCOUTING USA rebrand.  Rebrands are highly problematic.

BSA needs to be smart about this.  (I know, I know).

Edited by BinTharDunThat
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2 hours ago, Eagledad said:

I’ve been preaching for a more simple cub program for many years because it pulls down the membership for all the other programs. But, I fear it’s the troop program that will be changed, which doesn’t need change.

National has rarely shown to make changes to better the program toward a better program.

Barry

The Cub program was pretty simple.  I think it started too early, but I get the need to get kids interested before they get into sports.  It really just took an evening of study to fully grasp it.  Taking away the beads and arrowheads simplified things a bit, but then adding in the belt loops made things worse to me.  Most kids don't have a waist big enough to carry all the belt loops.  Adding back the beads in different colors and ditching the arrow head and belt loops would be an improvement.  I think that moving AOL to its own 5th grade program is a bad idea.  Puts extra pressure on the DL to get 8 adventures in before 6 months expires.  For the kids that turned 10 in 4th grade, the pressure is even greater.  Another pack has a girl that is crossing over before school ends for 4th grade.  With the new program she couldn't do that.  I am curious what the discussion format is for all these changes.  It doesn't sound like anyone is developing courses of action and wargaming them to determine the best route.  Is anyone Red Teaming them?

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1 hour ago, Armymutt said:

I think that moving AOL to its own 5th grade program is a bad idea.

As a Troop, we have seen massive losses before crossover, so we are looking to pilot running the 5th grade AOL program.  Our plan is to hold AOL meetings concurrently with Troop Meetings had have our Troop Guide and a ASM run the den meeting.   Basically take over for the den leaders.  Not sure if it will work, but we figured it can't be worse than what has been happening the last 3 years.

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1 hour ago, Eagle1993 said:

As a Troop, we have seen massive losses before crossover, so we are looking to pilot running the 5th grade AOL program.  Our plan is to hold AOL meetings concurrently with Troop Meetings had have our Troop Guide and a ASM run the den meeting.   Basically take over for the den leaders.  Not sure if it will work, but we figured it can't be worse than what has been happening the last 3 years.

That's not a bad idea.  I wish our troop was as invested in the pack as yours.  Our troop has the same CO but no interaction.  Most of the kids came from a pack that folded due to the CO dropping them.  Of course, our pack will probably fold at the end of the year due to lack of parental interest and my son crossing over to a different troop.  

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12 minutes ago, Armymutt said:

That's not a bad idea.  I wish our troop was as invested in the pack as yours.  Our troop has the same CO but no interaction.  Most of the kids came from a pack that folded due to the CO dropping them.  Of course, our pack will probably fold at the end of the year due to lack of parental interest and my son crossing over to a different troop.  

We haven't been doing great working with our packs.  In the past, the Pack leaders were much more responsive to our invites but recently most kids are dropping before getting to Boy Scouts.  So, this is a bit of a Hail Mary.  If we fail to recruit by fall 2025 our Troop will likely fold.

 

Also, we have gone from 4 feeder packs 4 years ago to 1 this coming fall.  3 of the 4 packs have folded.

Edited by Eagle1993
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3 minutes ago, Eagle1993 said:

We haven't been doing great working with our packs.  In the past, the Pack leaders were much more responsive to our invites but recently most kids are dropping before getting to Boy Scouts.  So, this is a bit of a Hail Mary.  If we fail to recruit by fall 2025 our Troop will likely fold.

 

Also, we have gone from 4 feeder packs 4 years ago to 1 this coming fall.  3 of the 4 packs have folded.

The obvious answer is that we haven't changed the name of the organization enough.  I'm certain people will be knocking the doors down now.

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On 5/8/2024 at 2:00 PM, Eagle1993 said:

18 Eagle required MBs can be done fully/nearly fully indoor while 4 (cooking, camping, hiking and cycling) have substantial outdoor requirements.  BSA lost me on "scouting is outdoors" when they added Citizenship in Society merit badge. Most of my Eagle Scouts have said Wilderness Survival should be Eagle Required but yet BSA went with another discuss/research/report type badge.

In addition, my Troop was the only one to camp outdoors during our recent district's Klondike.  In the past the Patrols camping outdoors would be awarded more points...not this year.  In fact, the Patrols who did cabin camping were able to work on sled decorations (earning trail points) and eat in the dining hall while my patrols cooked their own their own meals outside.  They were happy to campout but clearly the pressure and awards are emphasizing indoor cabin camping.

Heck, look at summer camps and the near complete loss of patrol cooking options.  We struggle to find camps that support outdoor patrol cooking.

BSA may say outdoors but their program, district and councils are all pushing more activities indoors (and in some cases away from the patrol method).  Their advertising looks great but not aligned with 90% of what BSA has become.

The key point here is that fewer scouts (and likely their parents) want to camp ...

On 5/8/2024 at 3:00 PM, Eagle94-A1 said:

 

The last 2 batches of Webelos that visited, the activities scared the parents.

... as illustrated here

On 5/8/2024 at 2:37 PM, Eagledad said:

 

A lot of adults are living their scouting dream through their youths’ program and don’t even realize it.

Barry, I used to see that but not anymore. The parents I'm seeing aren't interested. One example is an eagle scout who worked at a high adventure base as a youth. When I said great, we can't wait to have you come on our next campout, he hemmed and hawed and said he doesn't do cold weather. We can take his kid but he won't come on that trip.

I used to not worry about what the BSA did because I figured the parents would take up the slack and do scouting, one way or the other.  Now, it appears the BSA is saying something we don't want to admit. Too many adults are afraid of the outdoors. Which makes no sense because I see so many RVs around here. But maybe it's that they like the outdoors, but only for a few hours at a time. Certainly not 40 hours on a weekend.  I think this change has been going on for a long time, at least a few decades, but it seems to have accelerated lately. It's not like it's everyone. My old troop still has a few scouts that want to do high adventure trips but it's not like 20 years ago when every single new scout wanted to go on klondike because that was the biggest challenge they'd ever seen. Now, there are scouts that have been in the troop for 2 years and still haven't gone on a campout.  It's like having a soccer team where half the kids don't want to go out on the field. That's why I told my old troop I was done. I can't figure out how to work with kids and parents that think the meetings are all there is to scouts. I suspect the BSA (or SSA or S,SA or whatever) is also struggling with this. Ten years ago my troop was really strong but probably half the troops in our district were struggling with things like having enough adults to go camping. My old troop is still one of the stronger troops but that's only because the others are on life support. Now, it's like those troops were ten years ago. My guess is the BSA has no idea how to change that. I admit, I don't have any ideas either.

I joked about the name change before because, honestly, worrying about what one can't control is unhealthy. The same goes for the rearranging of deck chairs the BSA does with its name. I've finally decided it is what it is and I can't and shouldn't think about changing it.

 

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13 minutes ago, MattR said:

The key point here is that fewer scouts (and likely their parents) want to camp ...

... as illustrated here

Barry, I used to see that but not anymore. The parents I'm seeing aren't interested. One example is an eagle scout who worked at a high adventure base as a youth. When I said great, we can't wait to have you come on our next campout, he hemmed and hawed and said he doesn't do cold weather. We can take his kid but he won't come on that trip.

I used to not worry about what the BSA did because I figured the parents would take up the slack and do scouting, one way or the other.  Now, it appears the BSA is saying something we don't want to admit. Too many adults are afraid of the outdoors. Which makes no sense because I see so many RVs around here. But maybe it's that they like the outdoors, but only for a few hours at a time. Certainly not 40 hours on a weekend.  I think this change has been going on for a long time, at least a few decades, but it seems to have accelerated lately. It's not like it's everyone. My old troop still has a few scouts that want to do high adventure trips but it's not like 20 years ago when every single new scout wanted to go on klondike because that was the biggest challenge they'd ever seen. Now, there are scouts that have been in the troop for 2 years and still haven't gone on a campout.  It's like having a soccer team where half the kids don't want to go out on the field. That's why I told my old troop I was done. I can't figure out how to work with kids and parents that think the meetings are all there is to scouts. I suspect the BSA (or SSA or S,SA or whatever) is also struggling with this. Ten years ago my troop was really strong but probably half the troops in our district were struggling with things like having enough adults to go camping. My old troop is still one of the stronger troops but that's only because the others are on life support. Now, it's like those troops were ten years ago. My guess is the BSA has no idea how to change that. I admit, I don't have any ideas either.

I joked about the name change before because, honestly, worrying about what one can't control is unhealthy. The same goes for the rearranging of deck chairs the BSA does with its name. I've finally decided it is what it is and I can't and shouldn't think about changing it.

 

Your mention of a lack of adults wanting to be in the outdoors reminded me of a post I saw on an OA FB page.  A guy went through Ordeal and described it as the toughest thing he had ever done.  I was rather shocked.  He looks to be about mid-30s.  I went through Ordeal at 17 and found it to be easier than a day at Philmont.  Frankly, the Ordeal these days is easier than the Lodge induction at my old Catholic camp in southern Illinois.  I think it was based on the OA when the camp opened in the 60s and was never really updated.  

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23 minutes ago, Armymutt said:

Your mention of a lack of adults wanting to be in the outdoors reminded me of a post I saw on an OA FB page.  A guy went through Ordeal and described it as the toughest thing he had ever done.  I was rather shocked.  He looks to be about mid-30s.  I went through Ordeal at 17 and found it to be easier than a day at Philmont.  Frankly, the Ordeal these days is easier than the Lodge induction at my old Catholic camp in southern Illinois.  I think it was based on the OA when the camp opened in the 60s and was never really updated.  

We really old guys likely chuckle, or get annoyed by the complaints about that type of thing.  I was 15 and a Life Scout when I was sitting on a log at campfire at old Camp Arataba and guys in nice regalia were moving about in the crowd.  All of a sudden a very loud yell in my ear found me being jerked to my feet and pushed to the front of the area where I was "tapped out", and I mean TAPPED OUT.  All of us were then taken to get sleeping bags and went off to the woods.  Of course that was when most tap outs were done heavily and you might hear the shoulder tap a long way away.  We all wore the wooden arrow and if you were judged to violating the instructions you could get a notch in the arrow.  Three in theory washed you out.  Ten minutes before the end the next day, a friend of mine walked up and asked me something, and I answered.  Still someplace is that arrow with one notch.  He laughed at me a bit, but that was how it was then.  The suspense and solemnity of the ceremonies loomed large, and most looked forward to "maybe" being judged worthy.  There were restrictions on how many could be voted in based on troop size and number eligible.  We all know how it is now.  Still, the program has many high spots still, though harder to get to with all the fear of legal stuff and frankly, pampered kids.  

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11 hours ago, skeptic said:

The suspense and solemnity of the ceremonies loomed large, and most looked forward to "maybe" being judged worthy.  There were restrictions on how many could be voted in based on troop size and number eligible. 

In his soul, every young man longs to know he is worthy... that he has "the right stuff".  And he seeks this approval from other men whom he admires.  (It is a profound evil that some men use this trait against a youth.)

Unfortunately, all men are fallible.  One day, the young man is mature enough to realize his approval of himself is what he ultimately needs.  He is his own measurer, and harshest critic, because only he and his God know the whole, true story of himself.  (And that realization will hopefully lead him on to a deeper truth.) The sooner I can help a youth to realize this, the healthier and happier that young man, and therefore, our society, will be.

Even without the trappings of Native American lore, the messages and symbols of the Order of the Arrow have deep meaning.  My perception is that, even more than in former times, that meaning is missed by most.

I remember when the OA was (generally) for those Scouts who were the finest examples of Scouting.  Today, everyone eligible with nights camped and rank gets in... (with a very few exceptions).

We use the OA program at our unit level to recognize our Scouts.  Even under the current rules, over the past seven years, there were two who were not elected from our Troop on their first go.  They took it hard, but when I counseled them, they understood.  For both, thankfully, it was a wake up call, and they changed their behavior for the better.  This is the (current) way.

Under the former way, Scouts were more dedicated to the unit, and performed better, if they wanted the recognition of the Arrow.  When their efforts were rewarded, it inspired others to perform better, as well.  Placing more of a limit on admission meant that there was, in effect, competition.

If you remove all standards, and everyone gets the trophy, the trophy becomes meaningless, and competition (or change of your behavior and performance in order to be selected) dies.

Edited by InquisitiveScouter
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14 hours ago, Eagle1993 said:

As a Troop, we have seen massive losses before crossover, so we are looking to pilot running the 5th grade AOL program.  Our plan is to hold AOL meetings concurrently with Troop Meetings had have our Troop Guide and a ASM run the den meeting.   Basically take over for the den leaders.  Not sure if it will work, but we figured it can't be worse than what has been happening the last 3 years.

With respect, I would start with the 4th grade Webelos. I was around in the old 3 year Cub Scout program, when you had 9-12 months to earn both Webelos and AOL and cross over. One year was not enough time to prepare for the differences in programs.

When the 18-24 month program came out in the 1990s, it was based upon research, and the training of the time emphasized the differences between the two programs and how Webelos needed to start transition in 4th grade. When the training got updated circa 2009, that information was not emphasized as much as the older training.  IMHO separating all the DL trainings into 3 different courses, was a mistake as folks will take 1 training, and assume Tigers, Wolves and Bears, and Webelos are all the same. Then going online where there is no human interaction AND folks can just play the training and do other stuff further exacerbates the issue.

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30 minutes ago, Eagle94-A1 said:

When the 18-24 month program came out in the 1990s, it was based upon research, and the training of the time emphasized the differences between the two programs and how Webelos needed to start transition in 4th grade. When the training got updated circa 2009, that information was not emphasized as much as the older training.  IMHO separating all the DL trainings into 3 different courses, was a mistake as folks will take 1 training, and assume Tigers, Wolves and Bears, and Webelos are all the same. Then going online where there is no human interaction AND folks can just play the training and do other stuff further exacerbates the issue.

There is no different training for Cub Scout leaders. Lions/Tigers/Wolves/Bears den leader is the same as Webelos/AOL. And for a Cub Scout to earn AOL, they only have to participate in one outdoor activity. They don't even have to camp anymore. That's not enough practice to bridge up to a troop who camps monthly. So the scouts are doing a lot of the transition after they join a troop.

Edited by DannyG
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The OA has lost a lot of meaning in my neck of the woods. And now that everybody who wants in gets in. None of my Scouts are interested. In the past 6 years, only 1 person wanted in, and he was pushed by his dad who was an Arrowman in his youth. He did the Ordeal, and went to a meeting, and it was so bad he never went again.

As for 2 of my sons, despite telling the OA election team they were not interested in joining the OA and remove their names from the ballot, their names remained and they did get elected. But never did their Ordeal. The reason they told me was that the OA is no longer a true honor society like it was in my day. There was a Call out where several Scouts my boys and I knew got elected and eventually became Arrowman, All of us knew one of them was a serious problem, especially camping, and wondered how he got elected. When they asked their friends in that Scout's troop how he got elected, they were told everyone gets in, its no big deal.

What really hurt me was that when I was the chapter advisor, and we were rebuilding out chapter and lodge's AIA program, my oldest helped me with the drum and drumsticks. he heard my stories, and couldn't wait to get in. But by the time he became eligible,  talking to his friends who were in said it was no big deal and he lost all interest.

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