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I think all of us have to remember that by their very nature polls can be made to turn out anyway a person wants them to based on the style and types of questions being asked and who you ask them of. So any poll in reality is really meaningless and at best reflects only the opinion of a small minority.


If you want to design a better BSA program you need to bring in leaders and youth from very successful units and have them be the core from which this new program comes into exsistence, not the paper pushers in Texas. Next, kids are sold an idea by proper and relevant advertising that appeals to them in the media types they frequent, not at 2am in the morning like past scout ads have appeared. The BSA has failed to understand for the last 30 years how to use CORRECT advertising to build membership, and the numbers prove it.

Polls are meant only to reflect a current mood or opinion of something for a specific region to a specific demographic, not as the medium to create the new BSA of the next century.

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No, it's not true to say that "any poll in reality is really meaningless". A simple poll of Scouts who have recently left asking "Why did you leave Scouts?" is going to give you some simple, useful information.


And we all know that polling even the most successful (numerically?) units still excludes some people and some options, eg. girls.

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Sorry Hilo but I think you are wrong because if you ask a 100 boys why they left scouts you will probably get 100 different answers each unique to that boy. Even if you got some duplicate answers they would hardly be enough to reinvent the program. No, polls only give you some possible trends but nothing really concrete to build from.

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I think HiLo is absolutely right!


Polls MIGHT just give a vague trend, but it depends on what and how you ask.


If you poll 100 scouts, you MIGHT get 100 answers, or you may get 55 random answers and 45 answers identicle other than their specific individual wording.

Matter of fact, look at this post itself:


Count each individual person who replied or commented. Did every single one of them give a completely different answer?

Or would you call it a trend?

But I have to ask ( and I mean all respect okay?) How do you determine what is a trend and what is an actual issue or problem?


How do you determine that?


Suppose right now, the biggest reason Boy Scouts drop out by ninth grade is that bewtween school sports and academics,they just are too worn out for scouting. Would you call that a "trend" or say that it is a very legit and valid answer because the National educational trend is that schools and teachers give more homework. My 3rd grade son has just as much homework as I did ( pro rating that is) in high school!

That is indeed a trend, but also a trend that is gonna stay. 100 years ago, not many people went to college, But the trend today is more than not do. 100 years ago, not many women worked professionally outside the home. The trend today is that way more do than not!That trend is not going anywhere either.


I'm thinking that when you say trend, you are thinking fad.


Point is, your questions can't steer a responce, but can't be vague either.


Ask 10 people why they left scouting, and the answers might not tell you much.


Ask 100,000 why they left scouting and I think you will get a pretty darn clear picture!(This message has been edited by scoutfish)

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I like to think and hope that we should be able to provide the kids that join.



New Challenges.

Some units do a wonderful job of this.

Some not so wonderful and sadly some not at all.

Scouting happens at the unit level and it becomes the job of the adults to allow the youth to participate in activities that are challenging, fun and adventurous.

For my part, I really don't care if a Troop is 100% fully uniformed, allows or doesn't allow electronic devices or if most of the members are right or left handed.


Let's say that we can and do provide a wonderful program that meets the fun, adventure and challenges.


We are left with the other good stuff.

The aim of the Scouting is to build youth into quality citizens by:

Building Character

Fostering Citizenship

Promoting Fitness.

The fitness bit more than lightly would be covered by the things that we do.

If we cast aside the:Fostering Citizenship and Building Character

What are we left with?

Do we become just a club that provides fun and adventure?

Do we ever want to become that club?

The USA can and should be proud that over the past 100 years it has become the size it is, has the resources and facilities that it has.

Change for the sake of change is not always a good thing. We only have to look back at the "New Coke" to see that.

Remaining relevant and attractive is however something we need to aware of.

Most polls I have seen are here today and gone tomorrow, at best they give a snapshot of what is going on at that point in time. They do not provide a plan of action.

That plan should be outlined in the long term strategic plan.

Sadly when I look back at the last long term strategic plan, I see a plan that might have looked great on the page but lacked any real substance, I see goals that had more to do with finance than aiding in the delivery of the program and getting the program out to more youth members.

I don't need a poll to know that the kids we serve are learning stuff I didn't learn, they are being taught it in a very different way. The family today is not the same as it used to be.

In the area where I live the jobs that people used to do have gone and will never come back. There seems to be far less people who work Monday -Friday 9-5.

In a good many families there has been a shift. Mum is now the person who is the big bread winner. Mum is now in control of the family finances.

A good side of this is that Dad is more actively involved in raising the kids. (My father never changed a diaper in his life. -Me? I'm a great little diaper changer!)

I don't know about others? But at times I feel that I'm being force fed a lot of stuff from the media. Five years back if someone had asked me about my "Carbon Foot-print"? I would have had no idea what the heck they were talking about. Now for a week even the NBC peacock went green for a week.

One of my co-workers who watches soap operas was going on how on his favorite soap there were two guys in bed deep kissing. It seem that every reality show has one gay guy or one gay team on it. - OK -Already! I get the message!

All of this stuff leaves a mark. Some marks remain some just come and go as fast as they came.

I know that back when OJ was a very little fellow and we watched Barney, the kids who sang and danced along side of this dinosaur, who for some unknown reason the ice age missed in order to make my life miserable were picked with a diverse mix in mind.

You bet I sat there and sang along with the "I love you, you love me" song. Why? Because I thought it would help my kid in later life. Barney seems to have stood the test of time.

On the other hand Pokmon, who had me standing outside of Toys-R-Us in the rain came and went and for the most part is now forgotten.

I don't want any changes that might be made to be "Pokmon Changes".



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Scoutfish If you ever organized any type of poll you would know all polls are organized to go after a specific demographic and are usually just a small sampling of that demographic, say a few hundred to a couple of thousand.


In this case say you asked a thousand scouts, which demographic will you go after, inner city troops, rural troops, wealthy, middle class, or poor troops. If you say all of them then your poll would be too diluted and diverse to be truly useful. Thats why your idea of polling a 100,000 scouts may sound good but is not really practical. In a troop from a well to do area their answer might be going to Philmont or the Seabase, while from a poor troop your answer might be to be able to afford uniforms or equipment for the troop. So you see why the polls are nothing more than a projection of a current trend from a very specific group for a very specific time period. Polls were never meant to serve the purpose that this particular thread is addressing, at best all they can do is to give you a possible starting point, but even that point will not be indicitive of the entire groups opinion.(This message has been edited by BadenP)

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BadenP sez: "Next, kids are sold an idea by proper and relevant advertising that appeals to them in the media types they frequent, not at 2am in the morning like past scout ads have appeared. The BSA has failed to understand for the last 30 years how to use CORRECT advertising to build membership, and the numbers prove it."


That has always been a bit of a mystery to me as well, BP. I don't remember any stand-out television ad campaigns in recent years. Now my viewing of the tube is rather limited, so I may have missed something. If such ad campaigns have happened, are they at the times, and on the networks where the target audience can be found? I do think that viral promotion via Facebook, YouTube,etc is gaining some momentum and could definitely help the organization. A venue like Facebook might be an interesting place to launch a polling attempt as has been discussed on this thread.

I hate to think of National trying to re-invent the wheel because of dropping membership, a decline that may possibly be largely because of a dip in the available boy population at this time. And based on what I'm seeing in the kindergarten dept. at our church right now, that pendulum may swing back in a big way soon. The boy numbers in that specific dept. have quadrupled recently.

Tinkering with the program is not the answer, IMHO. Better and bolder salesmanship is.


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Statisticians claim that meaningful results can be obtained by polling a number of people equal to the square root of the total population you're interested in. For the whole US population, that means polling around 17,500 people. Obviously much fewer if you're only interested in existing or potential Scouts.

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I've read through a lot of these posts, and here's my two cents worth.

I think everything changed, America's beliefs, children's rolls in America, and parents aspirations, when the American people were no longer referred to as citizens, but rather consumers.

There was a time when the large majority of families in America had one bread winner in the family, but not anymore. Does it cost more to live today than it did thirty, forty, fifty years ago? No, we've just lost our vision on importance today, and we are letting sophisticated marketing be our moral compass. Today's America refuses to sacrifice, refuses to be realistic, refuses to go without material things, and refuses to recognize the importance of family like the America of past. I think a large cause of low enrolment, and high drop out rates in scouting is due to time constraints on the two family incomes, and the loss of what is truly important and meaningful in life. Lets use Philmont, the panicle of scouting, as a looking glass into why scouting is on the decline, and where American society is headed.


Just 30 years ago 90% of all scouts going to Philmont either drove or used buses as a means for transportation to New Mexico. Not today. The claim is no one has the time it takes to use those modes of transportations, so flying is now the preferred mode of transportation. Sure, now with most families having dual incomes this is easily obtainable. I think corporate America is allowing more vacation time than ever before in history, but yet we still feel there is still no time for a road trip to New Mexico. Could it be that because we're a dual income family with a higher net disposable income with perceived time constraints we've lost our focus. Since we can afford to fly, we think it's just quicker and less painful to take a plane ride than it is to actually slow down and drive cross country, and give our scouts the ability to actually see America. Why, with using air travel, one doesn't have to sacrifice all their personal vacation to the greater good. Yet we fail to see the true cost of having dual income families, and what it is doing to the core of American society.


Now the scout has arrived at Philmont, and the check-in process has started. The crew sits down with their backcountry ranger, and the group goes through both the troop gear and personal gear. Keep in mind Philmont's terrain has not changed in millions of years, yet we seem to think the gear scouts used just a decade ago, let alone thirty years ago, is no longer adequate for today's scouter's. Why? Why is it so important that we parents feel our children of today must have the absolute best, and the latest gear available? Could it be that we are trying to justify our choice of having a dual income family, and we're feeling guilty of the time lost with our children? Could it be that we've somehow fallen into believing the marketing moral compass, and we can no longer survive unless it's the latest and greatest item? Or, is it truly a desire to ensure our kids have it better than we did? I feel like it is impossible for the kids of today to have it better than the kids of the past generations. Kids of today will never feel the joy of freedom, trust, and faith that past generations of kids enjoyed.


Now it's time for the hike, and one of the last reminders given out before we hit the backcountry is to leave all cell phones turned off to ensure we have batteries during an emergency. Why is it that this generation of authorities, parents and children feel so compelled to be in constant contact? Can this generation not even slow down enough to enjoy the solitude of being in the backcountry? What are we afraid of, or afraid of missing out on that we have to carry our cell phones at all times, even in the backcountry? Has the marketing moral compass created false fears, and false importance? Are both parents away from home so much that they try and make up for it via constant access through cell phones? Humans, like many other species, have family unity instincts. Is this generation feeling a void in family unity, and is this constant ability to communicate now filling this void? The urge for this constant ability to communicate just wasn't there even ten years ago, otherwise Philmont would have had a staff camp phone usage guideline for scouters. Why are we putting such high values on false communication?


We are losing our purpose, we are losing our core beliefs, and we are losing our core reasons for being America. America is being guided by the sophisticated marketing moral compass, and we have become a nation of consumers, and not citizens. We are becoming afraid of saying no, we are afraid of being left out or behind, and we are afraid of saying you failed. We have become a nation of individualism that's only loyalty lies with one's self. We have become a nation that asks not of sacrifice, but asks of entitlement. We've lost trust, and we have built up fears. We have lost faith in others, and we're losing faith in ourselves. We have lost the understanding of needs verses wants, and we have lost the need for thrift. We have lost respect for our selves, so why should we give respect to others. We're full of cynicism, so we've lost our friendliness. We see our heroes on TV, and not on the battlefield, or on our street corner. And lastly we forgetting our reverence in day to day life.


Scouting is one of the very few institutions in America that is still trying to instill the core American values in our children and our teens. Let's follow our true north, and not lose our way like so many other organizations, institutions, and cultures have done by following the sophisticated marketing moral compass.

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While it doesn't have much to do with polls, I agree with a lot of that, but just have to remind the writer that Scouting is a lot bigger than America. (It wasn't even invented there, nor in my country.) I would say....


Scouting is one of the very few institutions in the world that is still trying to instil the core human values.

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the heff;


"What are we afraid of, or afraid of missing out on that we have to carry our cell phones at all times, even in the backcountry?"


WEll, I can't speak for anybody else, but I would be afriad of missing out on being able to call Rescue/EMS if the situation arised.



Granted, technology isn't always for the better, especially when trying to get closer to nature, but I strongly believe that scouts would have carried cell phone - FOR EMERGENCY USE - had the technology been around.


It's too easy to say they didn't use them, especially when such a thing had not been invented yet.(This message has been edited by scoutfish)

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