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Gold Winger

Dwindling Numbers

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Have been sitting on the fence with this thread.

Part of me wants to agree with most of what Gold Winger said at the start.

Part of me agrees with Bob White.


I'm concerned that we seem to want to appoint blame or point fingers!!

Some times I do think things are just the way they are because that's the way they are.

Bob White is right when he posts that the characteristics of young people haven't changed. I agree with him, but the opportunities that kids have to do things have changed.

A quick tour of my son's bedroom and compare it to my bedroom when I was about his age.

Without trying too hard I can count at least nine electrical /entertainment appliances in his room, where as I had a reading lamp!!

I love the outdoors and really enjoy just being outside. Where as he never has seemed to have developed this love.

This is just because he is the way he is.

It is no fault of mine, of Scouting or the leaders he has had some have been trained and some could do with a refresher course.

I'm not wise enough or clever enough to know why the numbers are dwindling.

Some of the youth who join have a great time and seem to be around till they leave for college, while others who are the same age and join the same Troop /Pack /Crew/Ship at the same time wander off to participate in other activities or for some reason don't have the time or are unwilling o make the time to remain active in a lot of things including Scouts and Scouting. Why?

I really don't know why!!

I think it is just the way it is or they are.

Part of the problem in my opinion is that the youth really don't know what they want.

Again in my opinion I think the BSA tried to accommodate these undecided, uncertain youth with the creation of the Venturing program.

However it seems to me that the successful Venturing Crews are the Crews that offer a traditional Scouting program that is much like Boy Scouting for bigger kids!!

The special interest Venturing Crews don't seem to last long, in part because the youth change their interests as often as they change their underwear.

It strikes me as being a little funny when people post that they were a Scout in the 1960's. I think we at times forget that some of the Scout's parents weren't born until the 1980's!! -A lot changed from 1960 till 1980!!

These parents in many cases see and view things a lot differently than some of us older folks.

I have to wonder; if we are unable to see where the parents of the youth are coming from? How the heck can we expect to understand their kids?

Sure it's all too easy to sit back and talk about the "Good old days". But these parents and their kids were educated differently than maybe we were. They see organizations with rules and uniforms and that sort of thing in a different way.

If we keep on keeping on about how it "Was" and don't try to see things as maybe they are? Or allow for change?

I can't help thinking that we will continue to see the decline in our ranks.

We will become an outdated has-been organization.


(But maybe that's the way things are supposed to play out? - I really don't know!!)



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". Now, it's a bit more aggressive - mountain biking and skating and snowboarding half-pipes or rails."


Those are the kids who are out doing something but they are really in the minority. Look at all the fat kids today, they aren't skating or mountain biking.



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Kids these days do not have much unstructured time. They are in sports, band, clubs, and various activities at each level. The 16-17 year olds have jobs and cars, and perhaps you have noticed the 2-3 hours of homework every night.


Scouting is not so much a demanding activity; just one night a week and one weekend a month. Many parents provide their kids with balance to include all of these opportunities. It is stressful, but doable. The activities and time pressures are the excuse, not the reason to quit or avoid scouting.


The real reason as I see it: just the look on the parents' faces when asked to volunteer their own time to help, told that their son must volunteer service hours, told that their son must also work fundraisers, and then told about the equipment that is required to participate on some outings in addition to the regular fee. Nothing turns the parent away faster than asking for their time too, and then asking for more money.


Life is simple when you just pay for a sport, drop the kids off at practice, enjoy the kids successes on the field and blame the coaches for the failures. A parent cannot enjoy these benefits in scouting. The successes of the scout belong to him, and the parents must endure the complaints of failure, which also belong to the scout.


In a world where its all about "me", its too easy to dismiss scouting. "It takes too much time" is the excuse I hear. Too much of the parents time and not enough parent award is what I believe to be the real truth. Its not the other activities that are being dropped, and its not the other activities that are asking the parents to contribute time. Sacrifice and giving, a real value taught in scouting, is rare and getting even more so.


As for recruitment, the wonderful efforts of the ACLU have frightened the schools to all but ban any semblance of scouting in or around their facilities. This makes it very difficult to attract more boys into the program.


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"Wnen you say that parents are "running the show" in Boy Scouts or Venturing, do you mean patrol meetingn, Troop meetings. activities and outings?

Do you see this as a feature of the Scouting program, or as a probelm of leadership in the unit? "


I see this as a problem of too many parents today, who feel they need to be involved with ALL aspects of thier childs life.


Don't get me wrong. There is a time for parent-child interaction/activity. BUT, there should also be time for junior to be able to do things WITHOUT mommie or daddie. And too many parents don't seem to get it.



A little tangential illustration. There is an excellent series of juvinile books called "Swallows and Amazons". They were published back in the 30s and 40s. They are set in England in the early 30s, and focus on a group of children in their early teens who go on camping trips/adventures without their parents. There are usually few adults who are along with their adventures, that those few who do, IMO act more like we would like our Crew Advisors do, then nagging parents.


Its still a popular series, still in print. There is a large group of fans around the world.


The point of this? I find it funny (or sad) that a great series that seems to celebrate, even avocate that young children should be trusted to be out on their own is used by many families as an inspiration to do parent-child activites!!! Something that is absent in the books! (it almost happened in one book, but the father got called back to active duty in the navy, the mother had to go along, so the kids went off on their own).



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I agree with most of Eamonn's post, the technology that controls most young peoples interests today in large part is a polar opposite to the scouting program as a whole. Now I know there are technology MB's and activities but those do not make up what the heart of scouting truly is or should be, namely an understanding, care, and appreciation of our outdoor resources, as well as leadership and citizenship skills. My feeling is that National has altered the original program so much over the years that we have lost our focus. Scouting was never supposed to be about computer games and technology, rather developing a sense of self reliance and confidence in their own abilities that would help them grow into confident, self sufficent adults. This is what is so sorely lacking in the youth of today, a complete lack of self confidence, computer games give them an escape from facing what life throws at them daily.


A recent study showed that the average American youth spends 6-8 hours a day gaming, texting, and blogging online, and that is so sad IMHO. This is a main reason why our numbers are shrinking, our kids today instead of learning to be self sufficent would rather escape into a fantasy world of their own making. As Eamonn stated,scouting will become irrelevant to our youth unless we can find a way as a society to reverse this trend rather than feeding into it.

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>>our kids today instead of learning to be self sufficent would rather escape into a fantasy world of their own making. As Eamonn stated,scouting will become irrelevant to our youth unless we can find a way as a society to reverse this trend rather than feeding into it.

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" Parents today are afraid of letting their kids experience being self sufficient."


I know two young men, now in their 20s, whose mother was terrified of letting them out of her sight, even as teens.


They in a nice suburb, and have a big park about a half mile from the house. I once commented on how kids don't play pick up games anymore. She said that she wouldn't let her boys go all the way to the park because it was too uncontrolled. The boys were 17 and 14 at the time. Random kidnappers usually don't want to snatch a 6'2" 190 lb football player.


The funny thing is that she really believes that she has raised them to be self sufficient but until they went off to college neither had ever been involved in an activity that wasn't adult controlled.

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In a maternally dominated society, (If mom ain't happy, nobody's happy!), there will always be a restriction placed on expanded development of males. A mom standing terrified at the base of the tree will anxiously call out, "BE CAREFUL!" to the boy climbing, where if the dad were dominant, he would be standing there calling out, "HOW FAR UP CAN YOU GO?!".


I'm not advocating one over the other, but every child needs a balance of both influences to develop a protective/savvy, yet confident outlook on life.


What better place to learn confident attitudes in a protected environment than in scouting? That's why it is declining. We prefer protective over confidence at all cost rather than a balance.


Of course these examples are to show trends, not give discussion fodder for all the exceptions out there.



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"In a maternally dominated society, (If mom ain't happy, nobody's happy!), there will always be a restriction placed on expanded development of males. "


I don't know about that. In my youth, mothers wanted us to go out, explore, find things, rough house, in short, be boys. Maybe they weren't happy about the filth but you were either hosed off in the driveway or scrubbed down in the laundry sink.



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Sorry, I'd like to be able to relate but I can't.


I can think of one time that that parents got overprotective and it ended quickly and never came up again.


I had brought a slide show of a recent campout to share with the troop committee. It was the same meeting where they were going to plan the spaghetti dinner so I knew there woud be a number of parents there as well.


We atarted with the dinner plans and when I said the scouts would wait tables, serve coffe etc. some of the parents went crazy. "we can't have scouts carrying hot coffee around they are too young!"


I said I understood how they could feel that way but I knew something about their scouts that they probably didn't know. Then I switched on the slide show and showed them their scouts swinging double bit axes to drop 40 ft pine trees then clearing them of branches, cutting them with two-man buck saws, and finally splitting them with hand axes and 3/4 axes. "But they can't pour coffee?"


Lots of parents don't realize what their kids learn through scouting (lots of leaders don't teach scouts to be this independent) and don't see what the scouts can do.


When parents see their scouts learning and growing they learn not only to trust the scout but to trust the leaders as well, and then they will give both the room they need. At least that has been my experience.


Follow me boys, follow me,

When you think you're really beat

That's the time to lift your feet,

And follow me boys, follow me,

Pick'em up, put'em down and follow me,

Pick'em up, put'em down pick'em up.







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It seems today kids have no interest or knowledge of how to plan their own activities. It's done for them. Their parents sign them up for activities, take them & pick them up. If it isn't planned for them, they don't do it. Their social skills are so limited they can't! No pick-up football, no calling your buddies to go sledding at the park, no dropping over to a friends house because you are bored. And we wonder why????


Ed Mori

1 Peter 4:10

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A couple of comments. On trained leaders: As someone said, many of the leaders were WWII vets and others had been raised on the farm. There connection with the outdoors was greater than for most of us today. I think that they required less training than some adults do today. Oftentimes the best leaders are former scouts - once again someone with outdoor experience. I am not sure that training can make up for the youthful experiences in the outdoors.


Second comment: Since most parents now were not raised on a farm or rural setting, they are afraid of the outdoors themselves and this fear is mapped onto their children. I agree that society is somewhat more matriarchial for many reasons but the most important being the high divorce rate. Boys and girls need both parents to best develop. So an overstressed mother with no connection to the outdoors is more likely to be overly concerned about injury.


Third: Our culture is sports crazed! People are too consumed by sports to do anything else. This has led sports to be far too time consuming for our youth. Even if they would still not be scouts, this is not good for them. Sports in general teaches to win at all costs and take drugs to help one do so. These are not good values.


Fourth: I agree that computers and video games that up far to much time for youth and many adults. We have soaring childhood obesity rates leading to Type II Diabetes Mellitus in age groups that were previously not affected.


I believe that our society is doing great harm too its youth and will pay a dear price for that in the future with early illness and distorted views of the world.

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I think nostalgia has over taken this thread.


Kudo got me turned on to the old scouts books and I now have a decent collection of about 12-15 various, out of print scout and camping books from 1970 - 1930'.


It was not easy to camp and especially backpack in old days and the fact that my 1948 Handbook for boys lists no backpacking MB would indicate to that this really wasn't done. The make shift backpacks and ruckus sacks shown in these books weren't going to get you far. Wool blankets and canvas tents would have made even the shortest distances seem far. There is no such thing as a "sleeping bag" in my 1948 book.


The obvious conclusion is that they mainly car camped then too. The menu plans seem to support this with pounds of flour and raw bacon and lots of can goods.


Kids haven't changed all that much and I suspect that "we" adults are applying our current selves, (work ethic, sense of responsibility, relationship understanding) to our selves as youths. We were just as absent minded then as our children our today. We whined when the load was too heavy or when the chores didn't seem even. Its human nature.


So to bring this back to the original post, I disagree "that the kids are different today" as the principal reason numbers are down.


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