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Helping little old ladies across the road?

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A few years back I was asked to help raise a large amount of money for the Council I serve.

My first port of call was of course to the people I knew in Scouting who I thought might have a few extra dollars and might be willing to not give it all to the tax man.

This was an easy sale.

Most of the people I asked if they had the extra money were willing to donate, in some cases I know just to be rid of me. If they didn't have it? They just didn't have it!

A good pal of mine is the CEO of a small chain of up market department stores. When I asked him he was willing to give personal donation but said that Scouts didn't fit in with the company profile, as a company they support The American Cancer Society.

I asked several foundations, some very politely said no. A couple asked me to come and give a short presentation.

It became very clear that a lot of the people who sit on these foundations have no idea what we do!

Just about everyone had of course heard of Boy Scouts. I heard the "Little old Lady.." thing more than once, but I was surprised that these people had no real idea what we were about.


Of course we (The people who post here) like to think that everyone knows all about Scouts and Scouting.

But this just isn't the case.

The people I was talking with were for the most part very well educated, well off people. I can't help wondering if they don't know about us? What chance has the family that lives in the less desirable area?


I have to wonder what our image really is to outsiders?

When I mentioned this to our then SE he said "What do you expect from an organization that meets in the basement and camps in the woods?"

While he might well have had a point? I would hope that we can do better.


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Meet in the basement and camp in the woods. I remember about ten years ago a fellow scouter expressing that same concern, almost those same words. He was pushing for us to hold the roundtable meetings, or at least the district committee meetings, in a public place such as a restaurant or coffee house. That never happened but what did happen was a bigger push to put things in our local newspapers about what the scouts do. Almost weekly there is a photo and story or short caption about scouts collecting food, scouts doing service projects, Eagle projects, visiting somewhere, etc.


All that helps folks in town know we are here. It still doesn't give them a clear picture of what we do other than helping out the community once in a while.


I wonder though if that hasn't always been the case? Were scouts more visible in decades past? When did the 'helping little old ladies cross the street' image form? We read so many posts about older scouts being embarrassed to wear their uniforms in public because of the perception that scouting is lame. The words used today are different but I remember my brothers being teased about being in scouts in the 60s, and I too suffered some taunts when I was seen in my girl scout dress back then.


And, speaking of Girl Scouts, seems like most people have an image of Girl Scouts as only being an organization that sells cookies. I know in this area that's the only time we ever see the girls.



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I think htat everyone here is hitting it on the head. Scouting is not as well known as it used to be because we are not as visible. And I am talking both BSA and GSUSA.


I think that with the 100th Anniversary of BSA we have a great chance to bring scouting back into the light. I think that maybe service projects should be more than just working on the churches back flower garden. I think that if we get out where the public can see us, in uniform, doing something that is onbviously for the good of the community, then people may start seeing scouting for what it really is again.


I also see that scouting is not what it used to be. I personally try to keep the boys in my pack active and having fun. Although it is not always easy to do, I keep trying.


Lets all get things rolling and bring back helping little old ladies across the street.

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I agree.


Especially when in uniform its important to look for opportunities to help.


Two examples.


Last year a stray dog wandered into our yard. I dont remember all the details, but apparently a neighbor down the road who we do not know was taking care of it when it escaped. My wife was trying to find the owner form the collar when my son, who was getting ready for a Scout meeting saw the neighbor out searching. In full Scout uniform, he walks up to her and asks if she is missing a dog.


Last winter, he, I and another scout were driving home, all in uniform and saw a Jeep stuck, and I mean stuck in the snow. We got out, took a shovel from the trunk and proceeded to extricate the Jeep. The driver never had to even get out of the car. There was a police car back in the parking lot. It turned out his wife was driving the Jeep and after she got stuck, the police rolled up and tagged her for DUI. The officer wouldnt impound the car if her husband could get it unstuck. I was kind of tempted to stop helping then, but figured it wasnt his fault so we continued and got the truck out. I think we probably scored more points with the police then the driver.


Good things happen when we make the time to help people


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I wonder how many complaints National would get if they ran a few million dollar ads at the next Super Bowl?

I wonder what we might try and sell?

Would we go for the ads that sell the high adventure stuff?

That I know most of the units where I live don't deliver?

Or would we play it safe and stick to the very boring "Words To Live By" Selling the values?


Maybe what we need is to do away with the National Jamboree as we know it and have the site open every year, with all the activities going on and use it like a Scouting Disney World (Kinda like Sea Base)?

Troops from all over could come and this could be something that we could use as a selling point?


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  • 2 weeks later...

I remember as a youth watching a commercial where a guy was ducked into an alley at night to avoid some approaching shadows. He was relieved when he saw it was just a couple of boy scouts. Love to see that again!


If the opposition at Goshen holds sway, we might have to convert a parking lot into a Scouting theme park instead of holding Jamboree, so hold on to that thought.


Anyway, I think getting adults to put good troops in the spotlight is important. Our troop tries to get the local paper to every eagle project site and court of honor. At some of the larger projects in public parks we hang a banner announcing that this an eagle project of our troop.


I went to a graduation at a major college where two of the top ten youth listed their scout rank as a major achievement (one was life, the other eagle).


If councils set up a clipping service for these things, I bet they would have fresh material every month to share with prospective donors.


A picture of scouts helping little old ladies ford streams in a wilderness recreation area would be pretty cool too!

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This maybe just me and my communication style but I cannot seem to explain to people who know nothing about scouting what it is about and why I do it.

I have tried

Scouting teaches these boys on how to be leaders...

Scouting teaches these boys to make ethical decisions...

camping and hiking is just the tool we use to teach with...

Scouting creates men from boys.


Has anyone found a good way to explain what scouting is, in a short time frame?


Could this be part of the issue, it is to hard to explain what scouting is and is not so that it is understood?


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I think there was a point in time where the majority of the people didn't need to what scouting was about, they just knew it was a good thing. But, we are now in the "Google Age", where information about anything you can imagine is available at your fingertips. It's getting very hard to hide behind your ignorance.


The people who have no idea what scouting is about, don't want to know, and certainly don't want to pay for it.



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Just as we don't sell scouting to kids by hitting on the intangible leadership & character aspect, reality is we probably shouldn't sell scouting to the public that way either. Emphasize the things your scouts DO. Let people judge us by our actions, not our words.


The problem, as I see it, is that we don't promote our actions. Scouts aren't highly visible in many communities anymore. I think we need to be more visible.


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"The people who have no idea what scouting is about, don't want to know, and certainly don't want to pay for it."


Have to say that when I read this I was a little peeved.

This to me seems exactly the attitude that prevents people from knowing or finding out about what we are really doing.

The people and foundations I was talking with do have money that they want and in some cases need to donate.


It's way to easy to blame everyone else for just about anything!

I really am having a hard time understanding:

"The people who have no idea what scouting is about, don't want to know,"?

If they don't know?

Why would they not want to know?

Surely you have to know about something in order to not be interested in it or hold an opinion about it?





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"I think there was a point in time where the majority of the people didn't need to what scouting was about, they just knew it was a good thing. But, we are now in the "Google Age", where information about anything you can imagine is available at your fingertips. It's getting very hard to hide behind your ignorance."


Would we be trying to reach the people that are trying to find out about scouting or the ones that have no reason to google it?

I think we would be trying to get more people to google scouting.

But than again I would take most stuff I google with a BIG grain of salt.


Even going to the national web site would most people who has never been in scouts really understand it?




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I need to apologize to you.

I had been out in the yard playing with a fallen tree limb and was kind of hot and bothered when I replied to your posting.

I think I was way to hard on you. For that I'm sorry.



My brother is four years older than I am. He was a Scout up until he was about 16.

I joined when I was 7.

I have two sisters, one 3 years younger than me, one seven years younger than me.

Both have a son.

Growing up they of course seen me toddle off to scouting events, might have noticed that most weekends I was away at camp. Very well might have seen the write ups in the local press when I made Queen's Scout.

Seen the honor guard that the Scouts made for me and my then new bride after our wedding.

In short they were around me and my scouting activities all the time they were growing up.

This past Christmas my youngest sister, who earns more money than I can count! Arrived with her husband, a guy from the UK and her two kids, one boy, one girl. They are living in Hong Kong.

We got to talking about what their kids do.

The boy is a member of a swimming team, a cricket club,he likes to hike with his Dad and ride bikes.

When I asked if they had thought about maybe joining a Scout Troop? She said no, that they didn't know what Scouts did!

I know that Scouting was at one time big in Hong Kong, it was very much based and like on Scouting UK.

I don't really know if my sister meant that she didn't know what Scouts in Hong Kong got up too? Or if she really had no idea what I'd been doing for the past 45 years?


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I agree on the image issue. Most out there just don't know who we are and what we really do. Our paper runs the photo and a bio when a local Scout earns Eagle, but I'm not sure many know the jargon. We have a couple of nice parks here, so we might look into a "Scouts in Action" demo or expo.


Our annual Dunwoody 4th of July Parade is themed this year "A Gathering of Eagles." The Ducote family, which included 8 sons who all earned Eagle, will be the grand marshalls. The parade organizers are inviting all Eagle Scouts in the community to come to the front of the parade and walk behind the grand marshalls. A group of Korean War vets are coming up from Florida to make a special presentation to the Ducote family (most of the 8 boys are in the services) and afterwards, the Eagles will all renew their Oath.


Another part of the parade program involves the spectators bringing canned food for the food bank, with Scouts picking it up along the route. Trucks carry it to the finish. One of the larger Troops sells bar-b-que at the end of the route as a fundraiser. Several Troops will be part of the parade. This is supposedly the largest 4th of July parade in Georgia, with 2,500 participants and over 28,000 spectators. It is a nice small-town parade in the suburbs of Atlanta.


All that just lets the community know we are here, but it really doesn't say much about what we do most of the time. At least it is a good image.

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In order to get people to support scouting, not only do they have to know about it, they have to care about it. Some people simply do not care about what we do. They may hide behind their ignorance or tune us out when we try to inform them.


It frustrates me that there are people like that - whether they are CEOs, foundation board members or parents of scouts who won't give to FOS.

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