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Beavah

Membership Decline Reasons

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Gern, that may be true. However, we just lost a Scout - a most excellent Scout who loved the program - that is moving up from middle school to high school football. He is a small boy and I doubt that he will ever be a star football athlete. But, his Dad wants it and his coach demands 100% participation through the summer practices, through the fall season, and throughout the rest of the year.

 

I told him that our door will always been open for him. He loved our Troop's program and has never missed a campout since he joined a couple of years ago. I do hope he comes back.

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Things we in the Council I serve:

 

- DE's still work the schools, hard, and have relationships with the Superintendents and the building Principals.

 

- We encourage Packs to be active and supportive of their schools on "Back to School Night" ... nothing like helping out with an ice cream social, or doing D.O. desserts, and having the PW Derby track out to show the fun of Cubbing.

 

- We also encourage a Pack meeting focusing on recruitment in the first week of the school year.

 

- Don't focus on just the Tigers. Work the Wolf, Bear, and Weeb years as well.

 

- FOLLOWUP. Good program in Packs helps retention.

 

Trust me, it works. Our numbers are growing.

 

THE BUT: We volunteers have to be willing to work at obtaining and retaining youth members.

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Gotta agree with John in KC. In units that have declined in our Council, it's not because of boy interest, but because of lack of adults willing to deliver a quality program. Cub Scouts is Adult-run and Boy Scouts is Boy-led but both require active adults willing to put forth a quality program.

 

Many parents like Scouting, but feel that they "don't have enough time." To be blunt, the majority of those parents have looked in the mirror and are not willing to step up to the level of involvement that scouting requires. Its easy to commit to a season of dropping your kid off at baseball and soccer practice and then run off on errands or sit on the sidelines and socialize with a latte. i call this "effortless commitment." As your kid's soccer and baseball coach on the field I have seen it.

 

And from the coaching perspective, I know that it's a much easier job than scouting. You teach the skill, you coach the game, you have the parent always available to take responsibility. An hour practice, a two hour game, easy commitment, no true responsibility.

 

It takes a special individual to agree to lead a set of boys (and girls- I do girl scouts too)out into the woods and know that he/she is the responsbile adult 24-7 until that child is home with their parents. It takes a commitment to lead and a willingness to step up in emergencies.

 

We call these unique individuals Scouters. Recruit them, train them and numbers go up.

 

CMM

(This message has been edited by Cubmaster Mike)(This message has been edited by Cubmaster Mike)

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But when BSA had a good relationship with public schools, they had ready made charter organizations. Teachers could be recruited to help out (sure didn't hurt their relationship with the boss!), resources made available.

 

Yah, Gern, I'm just not seein' it.

 

To be honest I can't think of any teachers who ever volunteered on their own time to help a scout unit, even when da school itself was the CO. Not in public schools. Private schools, yah, we had a few, but the relationship was much tighter and the private school really ran it as their program, just usin' us for some support. Public school teachers expect to be paid for extracurriculars.

 

Even in our more liberal urban areas, I can name on one hand da units lost to Dale. By and large, the charters just shifted to PTOs if they weren't there already, and the workers continued to be the same parent volunteers. Only thing that made a dent was when a few schools stopped backpack mail so it was harder to get da word out, but now most school districts recognize that's illegal, eh? So no change.

 

Real declines we're seein' are along da lines others are talkin' about - fewer committed volunteer adults; kids and parents looking for more "organized" full-time activity without da same level of parent commitment.

 

And to be honest, there are a lot more sports enthusiast dads willing to coach and pay $$ for junior than there are scouting enthusiast dads.

 

Beavah

 

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rkfrance's laundry list of issues gets to the real point, that the membership declines are a result of a multitude of issues.

 

I have no doubt that if there were clear, convincing data that membership drops are linked directly to the 3G, you would see a change, (albeit a slow, bloody change) in national policy. Mazucca's now infamous comments that "camping isn't necessarily a big thing" or that we can "teach character and leadership through aerospace and computers" is a clear indication that the executive leadership, at least, is willing to burn the village to save it.

 

I would like to see the real, bottom-line demographic studies I know national must have done. My theory is that the core demographics Scouting draws from is declining much faster that the overall Total Available Youth statistics show.

 

Face it. Our core constituency are middle-class, suburban whites. Even here in our little corner of the woods, overall population growth hides the slow growth, even decline in white middle-class families. It is expected that the new census will show the whites population will dip below 50% for the first time.

 

Pretty clearly, national is reading these same polls. Where do you think they get the hispanic emphasis, Scouting & Soccer, and Mazucca's comments about adapting the program to include extended families because some cultures are suspicious of leaving their sons with "strangers" for a weekend campout.

 

I think we're being buttered up. Some would say set up. There are those who believe the future of Scouting is in computers, aerospace and family outings. If you believe the mission of Scouting is to teach "ethical decision making," the methods are immaterial, the outdoor program is expendable. Think Y-Guides for teenagers.

 

I you believe our purpose is to teach boys to be self-reliant, patriotic, courage and great woodsmen, you're in for a bumpy ride.

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I think that those leaders who continue to provide a traditional program, will survive. They may not be the largest, may not have the most Eagle, etc, etc. BUT they will have the best Scouts.

 

Case in point is the one patrol troop that has no feeder and is in a very small town. Their old SM was "old school" and the troop reflected traditional scouting. Kudu would be proud of them. They aren't the largest, they don't produce 8 Eagles a year, But their PL runs the patrol, their scouts are knowledgeable on traditional skills, and they are not afraid to take on challenges.

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"To be honest I can't think of any teachers who ever volunteered on their own time to help a scout unit, even when da school itself was the CO. "

 

Then you never met my son's HS Science teacher, Eagle scout and drama coach who my son chose to give his mentor pin to and showed up at his ECOH proudly wearing his Eagle medal in front of dozens of my son's HS friends who showed up for the ceremony and helped on his Eagle project. Nor have you met my son's wrestling coach or my Jr. HS Band leader also Eagle scouts that would occaisonally help out, or the several teachers and public school employees that work at our Council summer camp and often work hours well beyond what they're payed.

 

 

SA

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There are probably many ways to recruit successfully and grow a program. For us what works is providing a good outdoor calendar that is full of fun activities that the boys choose at the annual planning meeting. Some events they include year after year, others they try and discard. We try help them make it happen if they want to do it. This year we will backpack, canoe, white water, rock climb, summer camp, cooking competition, Camporee, scout base, fishing, along with the traditional family November campout and new scout cross over campout. Now we are lucky that we can afford to do all this. Even though we do all the trips on a shoestring budget it is still going to cost a lot to attend all of these events. But we do have a lot of fun and that has helped us keep good numbers.

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>>>> Sports - the sport programs thru our local schools are now year-round. Training, practice, conditioning, assorted camps and the coaches prefer 1 sport athletes so they can be monitored closer with a lower chance of injury from another activity.

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Then you never met my son's HS Science teacher,...Nor have you met my son's wrestling coach or my Jr. HS Band leader also Eagle scouts that would occaisonally help out, or the several teachers and public school employees that work at our Council summer camp and often work hours well beyond what they're payed

 

Yah, SA, I think yeh misunderstood me.

 

The claim was that by virtue of being a CO a public school would have special access to public school teachers as volunteers, eh? That they'd be recruited by the school administration and would to it to "look good for the boss." I don't believe that is the case.

 

There are of course people of all walks of life who volunteer for scouting, largely because their sons are involved; sometimes because they were scouts and want to give back. Public school teachers included! But there are almost zero who volunteer because their employer runs a scouting program. Like I said, I've known a few private schools where the teachers became scout leaders at the behest of the administration in order to support their employer's program, but that's rare. In those cases the scouting or exploring program was run as a full-out "regular" school extracurricular activity, same as the baseball team or drama program. I've never seen that happen for a public school charter.

 

Beavah

(This message has been edited by Beavah)

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It ain't the membership policies, it's Wood Badge.

 

Our membership went into sharp decline the year Wood Badge replaced Scoutcraft with leadership theory and office team-building exercises.

 

The methods that were in common use by boy scouts on June 15, 1916 are just as popular with boys today as they were with their great-grandfathers.

 

That is easy enough to prove:

 

When I recruit in the public schools the sixth-graders try to hoot my Boy Scout Uniform off the stage at first, but in 20 minutes 70% of them sign a list (in front of their peers) asking me to call their parents so they can be Boy Scouts. Most parents hide behind voicemail, but I usually registered 15 new BSA Scouts every year.

 

Skeptical?

 

Try it yourself:

 

http://inquiry.net/adult/recruiting.htm

 

The only bearing that membership policies have on that awesome 70% potential marketshare, is that they give us an excuse to claim victimhood at the hands of the ACLU rather than risking getting hooted off the stage by boys who hate classroom citizenship, the EDGE method, and office team-building exercises.

 

Boys hate that stuff, have always that stuff, and will continue to hate that stuff until the end of time.

 

If Little League was burdened with the cult of Wood Badge, then their volunteers would be just as mystified as we are now as to why Little League membership went into sharp decline the year they replaced baseball with leadership theory and office team-building exercises :)

 

Maybe it's the uniform?

 

Yours at 300 feet,

 

Kudu

(This message has been edited by Kudu)

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HMMM, according to Kudu and Merlyn all the BSA has to do is get rid of WB, Edge, DRP, and eliminate the ban on homosexuals and the BSA would be thriving instead of declining. A very interesting theory indeed and not without some merit. I for one think the problem is even more deeply rooted, for one a National office out of touch with the very group they wish to attract. For another a select group of adults, found in every council, who are in scouting for their own grandeur instead of wanting to help shape the youth. Thirdly training that really does very little to help volunteers to be well prepared leaders ready to deliver a dynamic program to our youth. I am sure there are even more reasons.

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As one who respects your opinion, Barry, I would be interested to hear what dramatic changes you would suggest.

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Indeed the Boy Scout part of the program is still cruising along nicely

Yr .. Boy Scouts*

1988 .. 1,025,370

1989 .. 1,007,871

1990 .. 1,010,857

1991 .. 988,270

1992 .. 975,589

1993 .. 979,192

1994 .. 978,608

1995 .. 989,343

1996 .. 1,000,078

1997 .. 1,016,383

1998 .. 1,023,442

1999 .. 1,023,691

2000 .. 1,003,691

2001 .. 1,005,592

2002 .. 1,010,791

2003 .. 997,398

2004 .. 988,995

2005 .. 943,426

2006 .. 922,836

2007 .. 913,588

2008 .. 905,879

 

 

That said Cub enrollment is down ~20% since the late 90's.

 

Note however that visiting national parks is down ~20% during the same period.

 

By the service's own reckoning, visits to national parks have been on a downward slide for 10 years. Overnight stays fell 20% between 1995 and 2005, and tent camping and backcountry camping each decreased nearly 24% during the same period.

http://articles.latimes.com/2006/nov/24/local/me-natparks24 (This message has been edited by LIBob)

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