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Eamonn

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Stosh,

I think we think that everyone knows about Scouts and Scouting.

Truth is that this just isn't the case.

I think it's fair to say that just about everyone has heard about Scouting, but when it comes down to knowing what we do?

Many of the people I asked to part with over $100k, were women.

As I posted in a thread some little time back they knew about Boy Scouts and little old Ladies crossing the road, they had seen photos in the local papers of Scouts posing for their Eagle Rank photo. But aside from that they knew very little.

 

While I am very much a traditionalist.

Someone who enjoys being outdoors and doing the outdoor traditional activities.

I know that I'm blessed because I know how to do this stuff. Mainly because I did it as a Scout. (Spend a good deal of time last night trying to get a Monkey's Fist out of a line that I want to use for something else!)

I think I'm a very good leader! (Nothing like self-praise!) Not because I sat around in "Leadership Classes". But because I was given lots of Boy Sized opportunities to lead, when I was a Lad.

Still my big fear is that maybe? Just maybe we are trying to sell something that just no longer appeals to the youth that are around today and or the youth that will follow.

This of course begs the question if we are going to change? How far will we go?

The "New" Wood Badge is going on ten years old and we are still looking back, going on about how it really isn't Wood Badge.

Venturing has been around for about 13 years and I still keep hearing that it is a new program.

From what I hear the changes made in the UK have been for the better but the changes made in Canada have not been so good.

Should we evaluate what they are doing to see what works and what doesn't?

Ea.

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As far as WHO to poll? Poll the youth not in the program.

How do you get to these youth? I don't know. (technology, facebook, twitter, youtube, IPhone app)

BSA can shy away from tech toys in the program, but its BSA's best bet to gather data and MARKET to its target audience.

 

What do we ask? Do you want to have fun? What is fun to you?

 

BSA vs sports - Sports wins almost every time, why? We can ask this question, but my gut reaction is twofold: 1) People in the US (especially pre-teen and teen boys) are uber competitive. Sports seperates the winners from the loosers in real time. 2) No one is getting a multi-million dollar contract from Nike (or even North Face for that matter) for being a professional scouter. You hit, throw or carry a ball for a living and you've got the in-road to that Nike contract.

 

We should be asking parents WHAT life skills they want to see the porgram teach. If its tolerance, openness, and an attitude of "I don't agree with A,B, or C but I want to respect other's right to live that way..." - well then the Three G's pretty much take care of themselves. If the life skills wanted are dedication to an ideal, even if unpopular with some segments of the population, then BSA knows to stand its ground.

 

I know the OP asked not to dwell on this aspect, but I truely believe the 3G's are the often unspoken of 800 pound gorilla in the room for the BSA. How BSA as an organization chooses to address (or not address) the 3G's in the next 5 to 10 years will determine its success or failure as an organization. As others have posted, I'm not sure BSA moves forward in any means on the 3G's without first addressing the way the organization is intertwined with CO's.

 

It really comes down to: Does BSA want to stand on its "moral highground" and go for quality over quantity, or does it want to bend to societal pressures in order to remove the stigma of being viewed by some on the outside as a prejudiced organization?

 

If outdoors vs urban scouting was the hallmark of BSA change in the 60's and 70's - then the 3G's are its debate du jour for the 100th anniversary.

 

Its just a matter of HOW BSA decides to act and whether national sides with those who take a fundamental stance on these issues or those that see a more secular approach to the same issues.

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I don't think the 3Gs have anything to do with it.

When the 8 year old and his parents consider joining, they don't wonder if it's for girls or not. Who cares what athiests think? As for the gay issue, it's very far from any consideration for a young lad and his family.

The issue is our image. If the public thinks we're too wholesome, is that something we'd really want to change? What needs to be promoted (and it's what we try to do) is that Scouting is fun and adventure. It's opportunity. And if the parents think just the least little bit about it, we're values based.

I don't think we need to change anything. It's simply finding the silver bullet that gets people in the door. Then it's up to us to self-promote and to deliver the program that keeps them in.

BDPT00

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I guess I'm not all that in favor of polling the youth to see what they want and design a program around that. I'm sure that the BSA doesn't want to become a training ground for candy store or computer game shop managers. If we rely on what the kids want, one is going to get some pretty strange programs, depending on the whims of the youth's imagination.

 

To poll scouters, one is going to get a bit less diversity but it will boil down to going back to the old ways or let's do something that we think might be interesting to kids. Other than polarizing the leadership of BSA I'm not seeing much progress here.

 

Polling parents, one will get whatever dreams they themselves were unable to get as youth, i.e. soccer and stage moms, little league dads, etc.

 

The BSA does not presently have a clearly defined marketable package for people to consider. I'm not thinking that BP sat around trying to come up with an idea for a program that he thought the boys should/would/could do to improve their development in life. He drew on his own personal experiences and translated that back into a program for boys. One man's ideals, not a group consensus.

 

Multiple voices cause a cacophony of noise, but not much consensus in the long run and will only serve to confuse people even more. I'm thinking this may be some of the problem we face today.

 

Not many companies, activities, programs, etc. have survived 100 years in today's world. Heck, even whole countries have difficulty pulling that off. As fluid as the whims of people seem to be, change occurs on a regular basis, but for some reason the principles of certain organizes when they stay firm, somehow survive.

 

Up and down cycles of interest come and go. A powerhouse troop may last but a few years and then they struggle, only to resurrect back once more. This dynamic occurs in all organizations, not just the BSA. When one doesn't realize this natural occurrence, they have a tendency to panic at the low end of the cycles and sit back on their laurels at the high ends.

 

Is success measured in the big numbers of the top of the cycle and failure measured in the smaller number of the bottom? In the 50's and 60's we were on a roll, big time in BSA, it had grown steadily and rather consistently for many years (50 years). Then at it's peak, it was decided to "improve" that which was working and it became evident that the "decline" began. Is it a result of the change in BSA or a natural wave of the cycle? Do we measure success by the number of boys enrolled or the number of boys helped? Did we do anything for boys that didn't Eagle? Maybe we ought to make getting Eagle easier so more boys can feel successful? There are a lot of questions and not many answers.

 

Until someone sits down and defines what it is we are all about, what we want to accomplish and a means to measure it's success other than just totaling up a bunch of numbers, we are going to struggle.

 

I spent 4 years as a scout and only made 2nd class. I have camped and hunted, fished and hiked, skied and canoed all over the United States. I have been working with youth for over 40 years and 20 of them as an adult BSA leader. If one were to only measure my BSA record, it wouldn't amount to much as a youth. But if one were to measure the influence of BSA, it wouldn't show up in the numbers.

 

We have no idea what or if the program is effective in the lives of individual youth in our country, because it is not measurable. Even trying to get a definition of leadership development from an adult-led program vs. a boy-led program will produce two different options.

 

Sure, we can "adapt" to a modern electronic world and allow iPods and have LAN parties for our boys, but does having 8 boys' faces glued to an electronic game really play itself out in the patrol method? Does texting and cell phones replace the Signaling MB that everyone is all agog about coming back for 2010?

 

We all need to stop and reflect what it is that we intend to attempt before setting off willy-nilly into the unknown. One wouldn't do that in the BWCA on a high-adventure trip, so why would we as a national program for youth consider it?

 

Eamonn has the right idea to start asking questions, i.e. polling, but we must all realize that the questions we ask may or may not get us to a goal/purpose when that goal or purpose isn't clearly defined in the first place. Hopefully I'm not in the minority when it comes to believing in the basic principles outlined by BP 100 years ago, because in spite of the ups and downs of natural cycles, the program has and will survive as long as we hold them as primary to all other concerns.

 

Stosh

 

 

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>>I know the OP asked not to dwell on this aspect, but I truely believe the 3G's are the often unspoken of 800 pound gorilla in the room for the BSA. How BSA as an organization chooses to address (or not address) the 3G's in the next 5 to 10 years will determine its success or failure as an organization. As others have posted, I'm not sure BSA moves forward in any means on the 3G's without first addressing the way the organization is intertwined with CO's.

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I too can't recall losing any scouts in 20+ years to the 3Gs. I've lost them to afterschool jobs, athletics, academics but the 3Gs haven't been an issue. I HAVE run across a few girls who wished they could join BSA because of the outdoor activities but they generally had no response when I asked why they didn't alter their own GSA programs.

 

At this point, I'm very suspicious of polls and how they are used/misused.

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I guess the world is colored by the lens' one sees it through.

 

I live in southern California in a council that has been bitterly embattled with the gay community for well over 20 years now. We have lost use of certain public lands, certain public camping areas, and most certainly members over this debate. We have lost the ability to upgrade and improve existing facilities because they reside inside a public park and the opposition has successfully filed injuctions to prevent any public funds to be used to improve said grounds because the public funds would be going to an organization that discriminates. And you can't use private funds to build / add on in public lands. So, a council office area and campground that began as a great collaboration between the city and county of S.D. and the BSA is now in a stalemate stance with no way to improve facilities.

 

BTW - the girl scout's offices next door - just underwent a multimillion dollar renovation in the past two years - frankly BSA looks like crap sitting next to them at the north end of Balboa Park. I shudder to think about how much funding that could go towards camp upkeep / upgrades, new locations, etc, has been spent in that amount of time in litigation fees to defend the council and national BSA.

 

I live in a state where Prop 8 pushed the issue into the national spotlight to the point that our state prop ballot measure eclipsed every other race on the national scene with the exception of the presidental candidates in the last national election. Its back in court headed most likely to the US supreme court and will more than likely be on the ballot again in the next election. I serve in a council and unit that you could hear the hushed conversations of adults regarding who's vehicle in the parking lot at meetings did or did NOT have a pro or anti prop 8 sticker on it and if they were anti-prop 8 (which meant pro-gay marriage) and the discussions of if anything should be said or done because they were scouters.

 

I KNOW its an issue for some folks, because I've had discussions with families after they've joined regarding how BSA is a "Christian modelled" organization (even though it really isn't - when you have a majority of the CO's coming from the LDS, the Roman Catholics, and other prodestant churches) it LOOKS that way to folks. The catch 22 is that because of BSA national policy, these CO's are just about the only organizations that will charter a unit in our state anymore. I know of two different groups that in the past year have approached both the Kiwiani's and VFW about being CO's for new units. Neither want to touch BSA with a 10 foot poll. Far more potential for local negative press than either organization wants to encounter.

 

I know of units that have ran into public school use permit issues because of TWO of th G's (gays and girls). Some cannot even get promotional materials and flyers regarding roundups sent home with the K-1-2 grdae kids because of this! If we can't let families know we are here, we certainly will have a hard time increasing numbers.

 

So, yes, I guess we disagree. When BSA national policy hinders a unit's ability to market to BSA's target audience, when it continously diverts funds to litigation that could be used to remodel camps or gets BSA into positions where it legally cannot upkeep its existing facilitie, when it causes other civic organizations to think twice about their involvement with BSA units, then I think it IS the 800 pound gorrilla in the room.

 

If BSA wants to remain relevant, then they need to be able to market effectively and cheaply (the easiest way is parents talking to other parents - but you need to have access to the school grounds). Youth sports leagues don't have this issue, because they just don't make it an issue. A kid can be gay, atheist, girl / boy - if they sign up, they play and hopefully learn some fundamentals, get exercise, and learn a thing or two about sportsmanship and teamwork along the way.

 

If BSA want to remain relevant, they need to be able to update facilities (both at council offices and campgrounds) without legal battles. They need to be able to work with other civic organizations in the local community. All those things are hindered by the current national policy regarding the 3G's.

 

You can't move the organization forward without recruitment, retention, upkeep and civic collaboration.

 

Like I said - maybe I just see it through a different colored set of glasses.

 

Add to that the fact that the generation that is currently scouts and will be adult leaders in the next 20 years are more open to mixed sex organizations, more open to "alternate" sexual orientations, and more open towards variations of religions - BSA either changes or where do the next generation of leaders come from? As I have gotten older, my own personal views on the 3G's have softened from what they were (or what I was taught) as a youth. I hardly think a 12 y/o that is brought up in a "live and let live" type of world is going to be willing to take a hardline stance at age 32. He'll just take his kids camping on their own instead, instilling his own belief system, having their own adventures and discoveries.

 

I half laugh at the idea because I can remember my own father and a couple of adult leaders when I was a youth having a discussion on a campout regarding the "protestant" kid who joined our unit chartered to the Knights of Columbus. I also vividly remember the first hispanic and first black kids to join our troop in the midwest and the hand-wringing hushed discussions and worry it caused among the adult leadership. I also recall most of the scouts thinking it was no big deal when Joe and Juan joined the troop. I wonder if my son will have the same memories regarding the great 3G debate when he was a scout? The adults all worked up about it, and the scouts wonderring, "What's the big deal?"

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The whole situation in San Diego is a shame but we need to realize that we are not going to be able to beat them on public land. We're going to loose in court every time now so we need to move away from that venue and stop wasting money fighting it.

 

Maybe a simpler solution is to have a Boy Scouts of America and a Boy Scouts of California. You could spend your dollars fighting with BSA over the use of the name but could probably win in the U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.

 

If that works, the rest of us wouldn't have to give up our ideals and programs! Who knows, if there was a groundswell of units from other councils wanting to join BSCa, the rest of us that are happy with the program, will realize that we've been wrong all along........... But, I don't think so!

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The issues in San Diego are technically related to the religious element; but really probably is more due to the Gay issue. But since they could not attack them on the Gay issue, they found an excuse on religious grounds. It has been appealed to the Supreme Court now, and hopefully will finally get a proper hearing, as the 9th Circuit is obviously biased from the start. The plaintiffs in the case have very little "real" standing it seems, but somehow they continue to get enough sympathy from the PC crowd to hang in there. But the latest decisions had some interesting vibrations hinting at that they are not as secure as they thought.

 

But, it is correct that it is a crime that this is taking away from the real program. Yet, who is responsible, really? People that have no care at all about the effect on the youth who are served, nor even the benefits to the city. Lets face it; if you are familiar with San Diego, you know that the parkland in Balboa not controlled by private groups is overgrown and a haven for drug, homeless, and crime. If the city takes back the BSA site, it will fall into the same category. And if Mission Bay is lost, it may very well fall on hard times too, as the BSA was "chosen" by the other youth serving groups to build and run the aquatic center, because it was felt they had the best resources and capability.

 

Common sense, and the benefit to the majority continues to fall victim to selfish egotism. Don't bother to make your standard harpyish comment Merlyn. We already know what your thoughts are.(This message has been edited by skeptic)

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Skeptic, the problem with your "benefit to the majority" view is that it explicitly excludes some minorities. I would love to see a Scouting program that is inclusive of all.

 

To an outsider looking at BSA, the biggest difference from most of the rest of the world's Scouting is BSA's total dependence on and subservience to the Chartering Organisations.

 

If I was being asked what I think BSA needs to do to move forward, I would be saying "Free yourselves from those other bodies. Let Scouting be Scouting, not a church youth club with a Scouting flavour."

 

Back to the topic, my answer is above. The question should be "What should BSA do to move forward?", obviously adapted to the audience, whether it's people inside or outside Scouting.

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HiLo;

 

Right, back to the actual thread. The other issue is on the politics board anyway.

 

Poll should focus on current users, past users, and possible users of the program. What should be asked, and how, would have to be tempered to the target, as those within will have a different perspective probably. Also, different wording at least if aimed at youth or adults; both should be part of it if possible.

 

Should the BSA change its basic foundation in order to cater to a greater number, or should it remain faithful to its core? Certainly a query for current adults within the program. For youth within, perhaps something as to what makes the program fun for them? What could they do without, or change? For youth not in the program, something about what might bring them in; or why do they not feel scouting is for them? Would have to have some real thought go into any type of question though. For adults outside the program, something along the line of how do you view the BSA? You might need to ask if they have ever been in scouting as a preface to the survey. All, or most of the questions might be better if they included a "why".

 

While there are those on this board who seem to think that a large majority of scouters would like major changes, I think they might be surprised. Most that I know, including those decades younger, specifically note they continue "because" it so far has not buckled to the outside pressures.

 

But, polls and statistics are prone to skewing, no matter how careful you are.

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You've done it again. Gone back to that majority thing in "... there are those on this board who seem to think that a large majority of scouters would like major changes, I think they might be surprised."

 

Scouters are there now because they presumably broadly agree with current policy and practice, so I wouldn't expect a lot of them to seek major change. But Scouting is not for the "majority of current Scouters". It's for current and future kids. You need to look long term and broadly. As other threads have hinted, change may have some negative short term effect. Probably will. But if it's the right change, it will eventually bring in a whole new generation of kids AND Scouters. Scouters who like the new approach.

 

Some of them may be atheists, gay or female, but I can assure you that if they follow the rest of Scouting's philosophies, they will still be great people.(This message has been edited by hilo)

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DeanRx, I feel for you regarding CA but it's not Scouting or national creating that condition, it's the homosexual activist groups. There's nothing preventing them from creating their own groups -- except they don't really want to take care of the boys the way we do, they want to destroy any organization that doesn't embrace their lifestyle as normal and healthy.

 

HiLo, I have no doubt there are a lot of fine people that are atheists or homosexuals (or girls). I have friends that fall in all three camps. That doesn't mean they belong in Scouting but forget that because that's not what this thread is about. The question Eamonn asked was about whether it would be useful to take polls and if so, polls of whom. One thing I think that has to be asked is what you intend to do with the poll -- if the poll is leading toward a destructive or useless answer, then why take it? Polling membership (or non-members) about whether BSA should admit group X will be even worse than not polling if BSA is unlikely to actually admit group X because all it will do is make people think we were raising false hopes or lying -- which would REALLY be counterproductive.

 

You can poll with non-leading questions like asking boys who are quitting what they liked and disliked, why they chose to quit. You could ask boys who don't join at all what they didn't like about Scouting or what might make them join. I'm just not sure how useful those kinds of questions are because I'm not sure most people would know (or say) all the reasons. It's frequently easier to "blame" some more socially acceptable answer than tell the truth (like telling the aunt who gave you the ugly sweater that you're not wearing it because you wore it yesterday or got it dirty or some other excuse).

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Yes HICO_Eagle, there's a lot of truth in your last paragraph. But there can be some useful results from polling those who leave.

 

A letter gets sent to every youth member who leaves Scouting in my Australian state (computer generated of course) asking why they left. A lot of the responses (apart from the obvious valid reasons) are then sent back to the relevant local leaders to respond to the reasons. We do see some interesting perspectives, like the boy who claimed he was bullied, but was, we knew, the subject of a serious crackdown by the leaders on his own bullying behaviour, and didn't like it. But such feedback can help identify where programs are weak, etc.

 

And yes, I guess the decision, if it ever comes, to stop worrying about gays and/or atheists and/or girls, will be have to be an internal organizational one, and not poll driven. As you say, poll results would be fairly predictable depending on who you asked.(This message has been edited by hilo)

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Okay, I'm gonna go on a completely different angle here:

 

I think everybody is making this way too over complicated!

 

I would have three seperate polls consisting of two questions each.

 

POLL #1 -For Active Scouts

Question 1) Name one thing that almost made you want to quit scouting.

Question 2) What is the biggest thing that kept you in scouting?

 

POLL #2 -For Former Scouts

 

Question #1) What was the reason you left scouting?

Question #2) What could have been done ( if anything) to keep you in scouts?

 

POLL #3 -For Non Scouts

Question #1) What is there about Scouting that appeals to you?

Question #2) What is it about Scouting that turn you away?

 

 

Now, those 3 polls are simple and leave it to the scouts to fill in as they see fit. You can find out why youth have stayed away from Scouts, Why they quit Scouts or why they are still here.

 

Knowing you can't please 100 % of the people 100% of the time.. You go for the biggest numbers OR you recognize the need in certain areas to have different kinds of pack/troop programs.

 

I suppose , that if you feel the need, you can have additional polls based towards each particular group based on what answers you got from the 3 original polls.

 

But in the broader scheme of things, I believe those 3 polls are a great place to get started. You know why boys join or not, why they stay, and why they quit!

 

 

Everything else is too complicated and screws up the info.

 

You know why I say that? Because when my son joined up, neithet my son or myself had any idea, clue or notion of "The three G's " or what it might mean. I never heard that phrase before. Chances are good, that alot of very fine and educated parents and kids have no idea either.

 

It's kinda like a Dr telling you that you need a Modified Radical Right Side Neck Disection . He knows exactly what that is. So do other Drs. It's THEIR terminology. Not mine. I had to ask and had to look it up to find out what they were gonna do to me. Turns out all he had to say was "I'm gonna cut open the right side of you neck and cut out your cancer."

 

But he was so used to the speak he used,the terminology and the familiarity of those around him, trhat he just talked to me like I knew.

Same for scouting: Those of you who are 10, 20, 30 years into the program just assume everybody in, outside or thinking of joining knows . Truth be told, my entire idea of Scouting 2 years ago was a group of boys who hung out at one of the parents house ( on rotation) and learned about things like flags, knives and how to clean up the environment.

*I had no idea about any connection to any religion, the 3 G's or any politics what so ever. I didn't even know there was any association with churches or Co's.

 

Now, am I the exception, or am I just a standard parent who is/was just like millions of other parents.

Remember, you guys (as well as me) are active parents/ leaders/ organizers and former scouts. But not everybody is.

 

Some of us are people who though: "Oh hey look..it's the Cub/Boy Scouts. I bet Jr would like to do that!"

 

And that sums up our knowledge!

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