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"A Philosophy of Traditional Scouting"

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Tahawk writes:


I suppose it could be that I called it a "fantasy version" of SFB. I did so because it is so different in so many ways from BP's work that is seems silly to use the same title. I am sure you could list dozens of differences.


Dozens? Really?


So please share with us just your Top Ten List of B-P's values-based Scouting for Boys content missing from a contemporary Green Bar Bill's "World Brotherhood Edition."


Just the items significant enough to warrant your use of, um, "values-based" pejoratives such as "fantasy version of SFB," and "seems silly to use the same title."


Yours at 300 feet,






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Kudu & Tahawk


While your debate has been interesting it has now deterioated into a debate of minutia.

Look I think we all agree that the Boy Scout program has lost much of what made it a great program prior to the urban scouting fiasco of the 1970's. Personally I do not see the program ever going back to that outdoor skill and experience emphasis prior to the 70's and that is where and why the boy scout program is in such a downward spiral in membership and troop numbers. If National does not reinstate the outdoor emphasis back into the program and soon it will not matter which book you quote or what BP really meant because traditional scouting will be lost forever.


Eamonn was right in his post stating that boy scout leaders are NOT getting the outdoor training they need to pull off a successful troop program and as a result we now have a generation of armchair scoutmasters who have little interest in the outdoors and as a result are producing scouts with the same lack of interest who are being fast tracked to Eagle with troop programs which are little more than Eagle and MB mills, starting with that assinine program FCFY= First Class First Year. It is extremely rare to find a boy led troop anymore, and IMO that is the real finale to any concept of "traditional scouting".

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BadenP writes:


While your debate has been interesting it has now deteriorated into a debate of minutia.


I agree, and if anything such minutia only discourages Scouters from just taking the experimental plunge of separating their Patrols by Baden-Powell's 50-100 yards.


Thanks for stepping in. I assumed that the only people actually still reading where the moderators :)


Yours at 300 feet,




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I mostly agree with everything you posted; however it is not a justifiable critique of post-1970 Scouting that we see here. It is a charge that Scouting in the U.S. never got it right on the most fundamental concepts of Scouting - the outdoor program, the Patrol method, advancement, adult association, "Scout Spirit" -- the entire purpose of the movement. And that attack is mostly made on the basis of citations of supposed authority.


You do not want questioning of the citations of supposed authority? It is only the other-ethnic javelin team that always elects to "receive."


So leave that all aside. Do we decry and denounce -- or do we do our best to make it better?


I know where I come out on that.


Our Advanced Outdoor Leader Skills course will be held October 7th. It is open to all adults and to all Scout and Venturing leaders and will go well beyond IOLS.


I hope other volunteers in other parts of Scouting will consider restoring advanced outdoors skills training as a step to creating the conditions for a stronger outdoor program


By the way, the Elks, Masons, VFW, American Legion, and American Bowling Congress all report drastic loss of membership since 1970. There are bigger things afoot in the world than even the Scouting that I love, and we can't blame them all on a misreading of what "traditional Scouting" happens to be -- or not be.

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Having lived it, I agree with BadenP's analysis of scouting in the '70s and thereafter.


Today: Too much powerpoint and sitting around. Not enough camp fire smoke or hiking in the rain.


Sure, you'll find adventure-driven programming here and there. But not as a cornerstone of the BSA as a whole, which is too bad because it was the BSA's main selling point.

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I am glad you are trying to make things better in your area. Even if American scouting never got it totally right from the beginning as you state in your post I don't think that anyone would disagree that 1910-1970 were truly the golden moments for the BSA.


Yes there are still a group of troops out there trying to do all they can to preserve "traditional scouting" but as those troop leaders are aging out the troops are falling into the modern scouting model or as Kudu puts it "cupcake scouting". In my Venturing crew we have always emphasized the outdoor skills and experiences over everything else and the crew continues to grow and thrive. The boy scouts wanting to join our crew, most are Star, Life, and Eagle, have lacked enough outdoor skills and experience to handle many of our outings and have to be given more in depth training before they are even allowed to go on the more demanding trips. To me it goes to show just how badly the current boy scout outdoor program has erroded over time.


On a brighter note my district has recently asked if our crew members, youth and adults, would be willing to put on a more advanced outdoor training course for the scouts and scout leaders than is currently being offered. All the crew agreed it would be fun to do and it will be presented late this summer-early fall. We will have a large group in attendance for both the youth and adult sessions, and I have been asked by the SE if he and his DE's could sit in, so it is gonna be fun. As an added note we will be incorporating both BP's and Hillcourt's material from their books in the training.

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Thanks for the good wishes.


I guess it is true that "American scouting never got it totally right from the beginning." No one ever gets it "totally right." BP saw PL's as Squad Leaders appointed by, and under the orders of "officers" and West put us in high-collar military suits. Bill wrote that one ought not drink water on hikes. (As "no water when exercising" was the theory of "trained" "professional" athletic coaches when I was was playing HS football years later, I can hardly be hard on Bill for that.) BP was a product of his age, and so thought the British "race" superior to other "races." I wonder what he would have written in the post-Imperial age had his working life extended so far. Perhaps he would have edited SFB to be what Bill wrote in 1946. Just imperfect clay.


I was happy with the probably imperfect Scouting of my first life in Scouting from 1954 to 1966, and it shapped my view of what "Scouting" should be. Things were very different from what I found when I got "back in" in 1981. My troop was immediately the only troop tenting out at our Klondike Derby (SPL: "Why not?" Klondike Derby Registrar: "What?!"). Boy did that give the troop bragging rights. Soon others were "shamed" into doing it. My troop was soon the only troop with patrol campouts, when that had been the rule before.


So many changes. So many things that seem wrong in Scouting, the sum total of the franchisees and their "customers." So many things wrong with BSA, the franchisor. (Best to remember that McDonalds, the corporation, is not "McDonalds" to the customers.)


But in trying to improve things, in listing all that is "wrong" in this 104th year of Scouting, one can get bogged down in negatives. So if I agree with several here that the level of outdoor skills expected, taught, and displayed has declined, I also propose we who care should do something positive about it. These are our "businesses" - our franchises. Who has a greater stake in success? Some bureaucrat at the home office, or parents and Scouters in the field working with youth (and those Venturing folk too)?


So save what can be saved. If you won't, who will?


Or not, as it suits you.




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Thanks, everyone, for the lively discussion of Troop 238 in South Florida. I was able to contact the Scoutmaster and he is genuinely interested in keeping the fun in Scouting. A most enthusiastic Scouter, indeed.


I have to admit I didn't think this thread would lead to such a lengthy dialogue but I'm glad it did. In fact, I was having a discussion with some other Scouters in my troop and there was talk of a certain amout of fun lacking in some outings and, thus, a dirth of Scouts who attend on a regular basis. I have taken away some ideas from your posts that may help revive my own troop and lead a kind of renaissance, so to speak.


Cheerfully yours,



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I wonder if we can blame the lack of Outdoor Skills on the boondoggle of the 70's or not.


I am not saying that the changes in the 70's were not awful, but consider; in your state, are hunting license applications up or down? How much experience do the new parents have with Camping? When I was a youth the dads all had camping experience. It was called WWII. Then vacations were done mostly by Camping. Now? Its Hotels/Motels.


We have commercials on where little kids expound on the evils of dirt, and germs. Dirt and germs are actually good for us. Keeps our immune system strong. Of course there are the exceptions!


Our society is moving away from the outdoors, free play of kids is almost non-existent and the pool of adults who know how to camp at any level is shrinking.


So, what do we do? BSA has to scrap its present training curriculum. It needs a couple different levels, from the novice never camped to the expert outdoorsman. BSA partners with other groups, we need to partner with some outdoor training groups who can provide actual camping experts


I agree seek adventure, the way we are doing it now encourages mediocre adventure as opposed to high adventure

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Very reflective posts.


As someone who had to tell kids three times that they could not have a troop due to lack of adults to sign the paperwork, I welcomed female Scouters. In theory, it double the poor of potential Scouters. But, years later, few troops here have female Scoutmasters - under 5%, and few female Scouters are visible at district and council outdoor events. So we did not get the doubling of Scouters that we needed - and still need.




Bowling leagues - down

Garden clubs - down

Fraternal organizations - down

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Oh, female Scouters are very much in evidence as participants and staff at Wood Badge here. But the vast majority of the female participants are in Cub program. Did have one SA and one Venturing Adviser in 2010. (No course this year.)


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Yes, but there used to be two seperate WB courses for Cubs and Troops. Now its one generic course for everyone.


And there is a lot more written in the leadership manuals of how all the programs work. Its training adults early for future scout program opperations. Its a logical approach to training adults for future responsibilities.



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While not blaming the 70's scouting program entirely it was definitely a huge contributor to the ongoing errosion of the outdoor program of the BSA. I disagree with you entirely about people not wanting to camp anymore, the state and federal parks were packed this past week, I know I got the last site for our crew in a 200 mile radius, most of the parks in my areaare on a 3 month or more waiting list.


Even if it were true that not as many people in our society camp anymore why should that force a overhaul of the boy scout outdoor program? Look in the 70's the BSA bowed to public whim to make scouting have a more urban emphasis for the inner city kids and we all know the disaster that resulted and forty years later National still is trying to find a new direction to recovery.


The BSA was founded as an organization with the main emphasis on outdoor skills and adventure, along with citizenship and leadership, the more we continue to get further away from that emphasis the more we continue to lose in membership in ever increasing numbers. Kudu's prediction of "cupcake scouting" is alive and well in the BSA today, the result has been the boys get bored from a lack of any real fun or challenges, they get bored and leave. I know this for a fact because there are a dozen of these bored youth who quit boy scouts and are now in my crew, and you know what they are thriving.

Anytime you gut a program at its core it never is the same again, and that is what has happened to the boy scout program, which IMO, is a shell of what it once was. National hasn't got a clue how to fix the problem, especially with a CSE who believes camping and the outdoors are not an important part of scouting anymore.

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