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The New BSA Strategic Plan

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Here's a link that describes the new BSA strategic plan, and provides a link to the plan itself.






I've only gotten part way through the plan ---- there are a lot of changes.



This should be a heads up on chages we will see happening in the next few years.







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I skimmed it. It concerns me.


It seems to focus on top-down implementation of automation and IT tools rather than focusing on other major issues scouting has that cause membership levels to decline.


We've been shrinking since 1972 steadily and dramatically, and I don't see anything in there that is going to reverse that trend. I am afraid there is denial about what is causing the shrinking interest in scouting at the highest levels and therefore the solutions don't match the problems. The solutions may fix some actual problems people are experiencing, but will not cause more boys to enroll or fewer to drop out.


I believe the membership is shrinking for several reasons:


* BSA is out of step with today's youth on the gay/atheist issue. Way out of step. Note the recent survey of active duty military that came back with a huge majority in favor of repealing DADT. Fighting that trend = self-destructive. Do we really want the program to have such low membership we can no longer afford to maintain our campgrounds?


* BSA's current uniforming does not appeal to youth. Let's face it - boys are embarrassed to wear it to school, but not embarrassed to wear ROTC uniforms. Why?


* BSA has lost its outdoorsy-ness. Many parents (myself included) lead more family hikes than scout troops do. Scout troops often spend meeting time on things that are not outdoor skills, boring the scouts to death. The whole "I'm a scout - I'm manly and tough" has been lost as the outdoor program has diminished and been supplanted by academic topics.


* Electronic America has long work hours. Dad is so busy on his phone all day, and so is mom, that no one is ever available to take kids anywhere. Plus, baseball, football, basketball all practice in the evenings now instead of afternoons as they did back in the 1960's, so it conflicts with scouting. This is probably the main cause and least likely to be overcome.


I don't think giving commissioners and execs better tools and automation is going to fix any of that.


I predict that in 2015, there will be fewer members than today, and also a fewer percentage of available youth will be members.


Here's what I would rather see:


* End the gay\atheist ban and instead just ban public affection and discussion of religion in scout meetings. Continue with non-sectarian prayers. Let the LDS or others threatening to leave go, and take the hit now before it is too late to recover.


* Overhaul the uniform to look like military BDU's. I'm talking radical, "holy smokes!" overhaul that eliminates coloful patches entirely and is subtle (black and green) - black t-shirt, green cargo pants, green BDU jacket with black rank emblem on pocket, green and black unit numbers & CSP, etc. Boys would rather look like they are going on a SWAT mission than going to 1910. Either that, or give it up entirely and do an REI look and just adopt sports clothing like underarmor and nike nylon shirts and pants.


* Increase outdoorsmanship in scouts. Consolidate all citizenship merit badges into one. Change the Eagle Badge to respresent outdoorsmanship - make pioneering, camping, hiking, canoeing, swimming, fish and wildlife conservation, leatherwork, wood carving, life saving, and other outdoor activity badges required for eagle and de-emphasize anything that is not classical scoutcraft.


* Work with local sports organizations and school districts to see about getting scouting back into schools and "scouting night" off-limits to sports in that area. Scouting needs to tie into the community, recruiting local county and city leaders to help support the program instead of ignoring those people and focusing on recruiting youth directly.


I'm afraid to save the program, the program itself must be re-made, and the focus at the district, council, and national level, must be on image rehabilitation and lobbying local leaders, not on automation and IT Tools. To have a scouting program, we have to attract youth. Hammering them with citizenship and character instead of lacing in outdoor activities is running them off, so is dressing in Oscar Dela Renta, so are conflicting cultural values and conflicting scheduling.


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To me it seems along the lines of change for the sake of change. "Develop new metrics for measuring the outcomes of Scouting in youth, families, and communities." translation will change the scoring system to make whatever the outcome seem great.


We'll just see what effect this really has on the unit. I'm thinking not much. My Troop will still camp and hike. We'll still teach compass based navigation. We will strive to teach the Ideals as a way of life with our outings the "classroom."

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BSA24 - Wow...


Those are actually some great ideas for changes that reflect current styles kids may prefer. The Uniforms being brought down to the simple green and black is actually reflective of current styles and minimalism.


What really blows me away though is the idea of a community-wide "Scouts Night". Many communities recognize Wednesday night is for Religion Classes or Catechism, and scouting families all know there's a "scout night" in that community, but it's not something other organizations or sports even bother to work around! If we can utilize our established name and brand image to tell people "Hey! Don't plan your games or events on Tuesday nights! That's Scouts Night and your boys should be there instead!" I don't know if that kind of community power has vanished since the 60's, and we may have lost some of that power once put in the negative spotlight for the stance against homosexuality and atheism...

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BSA24 - Your rant about uniforming is a paper tiger. My crew doesn't have a uniform and it has shrunk. Getting a "gangster look" is not going to attract more boys to scouting. How many boys are out there who will say "Finally, they changed their uniform to something I can stand to wear! I think I'll join."? Rather, I think they'll say "Scouts trying to be cool again. How lame."


I haven't met anyone who has passed on scouting because of the cultural/religious issues you mention. My impression from where I sit is that there aren't a whole lot of boys who will say "My homosexual uncle can be SM?" Or, "no more duty to God?" ... "Let me in!"


I think most of the people for whom this is a hot button issue have had more than 30 years to create youth movements of their own. They have not done so.


Your points about finding out how to create time for kids to participate are spot on. A lot of school clubs run late into the evening. A "community night" would sound absurd to most people I know.

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@ qwazse


I understand where you're coming from with thinking that these issues won't hold back individuals from joining. That's the absolute truth.


What is also true though is that there are organizations and communities that are holding us back from getting more face time with kids because of these issues. What an organization like the Boy Scouts requires is to be the dominant youth organization in the community, with nothing coming as close in terms of size and influence in that community. We cannot gain influence and therefore cannot gain numbers in communities that differ from us so grossly ideologically speaking.


We want to go into communities and say, "Hey, we're the Boy Scouts and we are the most effective way to install quality leadership, morals, skills, and citizenship in your sons."


We don't want to say, "Hey, we're the Boy Scouts and we don't like this and we don't like this and, etc... Want to join us in not liking stuff?"

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I've spoken with young men who haven't joined scouting for all of these reasons and all of them tied together:


* Do I have to dress like that?

* You guys are like nazi youth or something with your hate policies

* I don't have time.

* I'm bored doing citizenship in the nation/world/community/family. All you guys do is talk. I'd rather play playstation


Those are the four big objections I encounter - not from Tiger cubs and their parents - but from 10 year olds and up.


If you think the uniform is not a problem for the self-image of the boys who are members and recruiting, then please, by all means, convince your troop members to wear their full official uniforms to school once a week. Good luck with that.



(This message has been edited by bsa24)

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I don't think most of what you posted are big problems. Most kids don't really mind the uniform, mostly because you don't have to wear it to school. It isn't a big deal to wear a uniform when everyone else in the room is wearing one too. I also don't buy into people thinking that kids aren't cool if they are boy scouts. Last year, my school's football, baseball and track team captains were all eagle scouts and worked on camp staff in the summer. Most kids knew that they were boys couts, and when they go class rings they ordered them with the boy scouting device instead of the one for their sports. I don't know anyone who hides the fact they are boy scouts.


I have never met anyone who knew theBSA's view on gays or atheists. I don't agree with it, but it does not stop me or anyone I nkow from being a scout.


I will agree that the outdoor program is a turnoff for kids. If we could have a more exciting, adventurous program, I think we would attract more scouts.


I think the biggest problem is the cub scout program. Half of my elementary school grade joined tiger cubs. I think ten ended up becoming boy scouts. We lost more and more kids every year. I quit for one year, only coming back to get my arrow of light and try out boy scouts, and i stuck with that for the camping. If we did away with cub scouts and just started scouting at ten. i think we could keep a lot more kids.

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I believe Platypus is on to something. A lot of the program retention issues are in Cub Scouts. At our council membership meeting they handed out a chart that showed our retention over the last five years, because our council is the product of two merging councils and that's only as old as the new council is. Boy Scouts has stayed very steady. Cubs is what kept going down. The main difference between the two, at least in my opinion, is the parents. In Boy Scouts I remember going to my meetings by myself. I biked to them before I could drive, and then when I was old enough I drove myself. But in Cubs the kids are solely dependent on the parents. If the parents are too busy, the kids won't be there. From what I can see we aren't making it any easier on the parents either. If you want to be a leader you have to get trained. We're competing with other programs for time. Not to mention that scouting hasn't changed as much as society has.


If you want to keep the numbers up you have to change the program to suit what the youth and parents want. I don't necessarily believe that the organization should compromise though. How about scouting take a quality over quantity stance? Make sure we have a program that does what we want it to, and if the boys join, fine, if not, that's fine too.

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IMHO one of the biggest challenges for Scouting is the fact that for many youth it is a lot of work. It is much easier to sit at home and play video games. It is interesting to watch the number of boys for whom cooking, cleaning, all around taking care of themselves is a foreign idea.


To a large extent, our society has moved away from personal responsiblity (just look at our national debt!). Personally, I would rather see Scouting shrink but stay true to its values than chase the latest trend.


Ocassionally, when dealing with discipline problems within the Troop I will emphasize that I would rather have a small Troop committed to our code of conduct than a large one where anything goes. I suggest the same for the National level.


In our Troop we don't push the more academic MBs until the Scouts are older and committed to the Eagle Trail. I don't believe they are a deal breaker but I wouldn't want to push them on Jr. High aged Scouts.

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Just to pick out two of BSA24's issues:


Uniforms: I don't think changing the uniform is going to help, and the direction you suggest is not going to happen anyway. If a boy does not join Scouting, or quits, mainly because of the uniform, I really don't think changing the uniform is going to make a difference. If they don't want to wear a uniform, they don't want to wear a uniform. Eliminating the uniform MIGHT attract or retain more boys, but I don't think the number would be that great and I don't think it would make up for the loss of cohesiveness and "belonging" that the uniform helps encourage. As for the specific uniform change you support, it sounds like you are suggesting an essentially "paramilitary" uniform. It's not going to happen. The BSA is already concerned enough about people perceiving the program as being "paramilitary". They are not going to suddenly adopt a military-style uniform just because some boys (or more likely, adults) may think it looks "cooler."


Outdoor program: BSA has lost its outdoorsy-ness. I keep seeing people make statements like this in this forum, and I don't get it. How has the BSA lost its outdoorsy-ness? I really don't see any less of a focus on outdoor activities than when I was a Scout in the 60's and 70's. There seems to be just as much enthusiasm among the boys for camping, hiking, backpacking etc. as there ever was, and just as much opportunity to do so as there ever was, if not more. So I don't see the problem. Some people in this forum (not necessarily you BSA24) seem to think the BSA is forever scarred just because for about five years, ending more than 30 years ago, it was theoretically possible to make Eagle without ever going on a camping trip or a hike. That experiment ended long ago, years before any of the current Scouts were even born. In the present day, the outdoor program still seems to be there.(This message has been edited by njcubscouter)

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I'm a Cubmaster, so I'm in the middle of the issue of whether the Cub Scout program can be something that causes the boys to be excited about and wanting to be in Scouts for the long haul. I'm just a few months into this job, and I'm seeing more excitement, desire, with boys bringing in their friends and more. The leaders, the program, the planning, and the overall fun keep the boys wanting more. I think too many adults try to run the program being "like" adults instead of being on a level that a nine-year-old can appreciate. I also think our program is working well because it is run by Dads - not that I think Moms don't have a place in Scouting, I just think because we're dealing with boys, it is Dads that know a whole lot more about what it's like to be like a boy (sorry Moms). The way I put on the monthly pack event and even my den meetings is all boy - what they want, what they need, and how they interact when I'm not around. Adults in the Cub program that are boring, and even ones that are female(sorry again), will get into the mode of quitting when they are at that transition age because they see Scouting as boring and because it is "girlie" (i.e. female). If it is something that is really "cool" for them as a kid, when they get to Scout age it will also be cool. And certainly they need to see a lot of "doing stuff!" Particularly outdoors stuff.

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I too do not understand the comments about the outdoors part of the program. If anything, there are more outdoor opportunities and activities today than there were when I was a scout in the late 50's and early 60's; and far more high adventure events. Scout camp though could revert back a bit to more focus on camping, and less merit badge emphasis. Also, National should consider finding ways to not lose more local scout camps, developing ways to support smaller camps that still serve the local councils, but are not able to support themselves due to size and location. There also needs to be a way to help smaller troops compete with the juggernaut troops that have super programs with which the small units cannot compete for membership.


One other thing that needs attention, is taking the pressure off of executives to constantly increase dollars and unit membership, as it demoralizes them, and makes it harder to keep them long enough to develop beyond the initial training levels, where they are more effective. And in some areas, they need to supplement local pay levels for lower level execs to meet the high cost of living.


Finally, we need to find ways to accentuate the positives of scouting in the local communities. Almost everyone I speak with is more positive than negative about the organization, even those with reservations about policies. But, we need to get past the press' tendency to constantly bash the BSA, or just ignore them. We almost all have had the same comments about why do they mention so and so was a scout, or Eagle Scout as part of a headline or lead-in to a story, but you have a hard time finding anything about the huge contributions of scouting to the communities through troop projects and Eagle projects. Even , when you give them the info, they often do not use it.(This message has been edited by skeptic)

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