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Scouting changes in your lifetime?

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I was on a church youth retreat a few weeks ago, struck up a conversation with a nice young man (15 or so) turned out he was a scout. We chatted of camping, Philmont,eagle projects etc. then he asked me "what is the biggest change in scouting since you joined?" Well my mind went in a dozen directions at once. 1971-2012?? wow advancement?-uniforms?-scouts with no dads at home?- equipment? OA? (he had never heard of it) I've been mulling it over ever since. What would you guys say? (I'll save my reply 'till later, it was from the heart but very off the cuff and I wish I had been better prepared)

Old Scout

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Great topic! With some breaks in service as an adult, my scouting timeline mirrors yours--71 to present. Where to start?


- Past: "one canteen of water a day should suffice/don't get tricked into thinking you are thirsty"

- Present: drink alot of water...alot


- Past: steel/plastic GI quart canteens...get em from the surplus store for a buck or so

- Present: expensive "hydration systems"


- Past: pioneering projects like giant signal towers and monkey bridges, and sheath knives are okay--just order one from the BSA catalog, if you want an official version

- Present: Sitting around summer camp at a picnic table writing essays and other homework for MBs that could be done on cold winter days


- Past: "You want to make Eagle? Good luck, get to work. Let me know how it works out for you."

- Present: MB universities, T21C day care centers for new scouts at summer camp, etc...drag Johnny across the goal line


- Past: 10 dollar or less Yucca pack

- Present: High-dollar gucci gear to carry sandwiches and extra socks


- Past: OA is an honor reserved for the best outdoorsmen, and being active is not for the lazy

- Present: OA is a participation ribbon, and please active in OA and pay your dues...we've got lots of cool lodge flaps and have fun! Um, gosh, why isn't anyone showing up?


- Past: As a scouter, scoutcraft proficiency and leadership in the outdoors were the hallmarks of success

- Present: Outdoor skills are things to keep the scouts occupied...managerial science is the most important thing about being a scouter


Okay, I painted with a broad brush on some of these...guilty as charged. But there is a grain of truth nonetheless.


There are some things that are vastly better...I applaud the BSA's efforts in better youth protection, separate latrine/shower facilities for adults and scouts...less tolerance for poor behavior on the adult and scout levels (abuse, bullying, etc).


Adventure is still present in scouting, but I think it is downplayed in alot of places. Outdoor adventure is the BSA's best selling draw than transcends generations and fads.

(This message has been edited by desertrat77)

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desertrat77 wrote: "- Past: As a scouter, scoutcraft proficiency and leadership in the outdoors were the hallmarks of success

- Present: Outdoor skills are things to keep the scouts occupied...managerial science is the most important thing about being a scouter "


Fully agree with this point. I've only been involved for ten to twelve years now, but I can see this point. In our city, there are many styles of troops. What I've seen often does not impress me. Good appearing troops, but very bureaucracy oriented. Teaching office management leadership instead of how to work with others and get out and do things.

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Since I joined (1961!?!_)


OA - Used to be 1 or 2 scouts were elected per yer, and they were normally the 15-16 year olds. This year our troop had 9 elected, some just past 13 years old.


Eagle Req'ts - No project required, to a project, and to now where projects are fund raising and engineering monstrosities.



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Started around 1962.

Only women were "den mothers". Only men were Pack leaders and Webelos leaders.

Den meetings were right after school at the den mother's house...we rode our bikes there.

Only men could be troop leaders.

On meeting day, we wore our uniforms to school and were proud of it.

Black kids could be Scouts, but they had their own troops.

1970 - Explorer Post I was in became co-ed.

"Arrowmen" were always male.


It's only a matter of time before girls can become "Boy Scouts"

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THEN: Scouts went camping, hiking, trips to "special" places like national monuments, Scouts asked to go, planned for it. Dad and mom drove.

Advancement and ranks were almost automatic, due to the activities of the Troop. Not "required".

Eagle was a possibility. Merit Badges were available , if you found the MBC, or a father or schoolteacher who would do the requirements with you. But it was up to the boy.

I could play "Morse Code" with my buddies, everyone knew some from First Class.

We had trees we could cut down (Troop had use of a fathers property). Axe and pioneering was USED. Troop gateway lashed up at Camporee, flag tower for brag rights.


NOW: Scouts will go camping, hiking, make trips to "special" places IF the plan is ready to go. Dad and mom will drive and then some.

Advancement and ranks are automatic and expected. You WILL be FIrst Class by first year.

Eagle is almost expected. MeritBadges are planned out, and "Eagle Required" is the watch word. Each Troop has a cadre of MBCs that cover all the ER'ed ones. "First Aid is an ER'd MB and it will be offered after the Troop Meeting next month. And, if you earn it, you automatically pass the SC and FC requirements!"

No more Morse Code. Ever. No Semiphore, either. Texting and Cell are the "secret language", now.

Can't cut down any tree, anywhere, without alot of hassle and permissions and such. Pioneering? Lash a tower? Is it safe? Do we have hardhats? Haven't seen any such anywhere.

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I've been a member since "only" 1983. It occurs to me that I can't relate to most of these changes.


Structural changes with Venturing and 2 years of Webelos. Varsity and Tigers started right when I did.


They've changed some programs at Philmont and added some buildings but its consistent.



But the single biggest change is technology. Whether its cellphones, GPS, digital photos, email, blogs, websites; they've all changed scouting and the way that we organize and undertake scouting. Nobody was posting on scouter.com in 1983.

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It's 30 years now for me and 'Rat hit the most important ones.


Some others were


Then: Had to be in 3rd grade to be Cub Scout, Tiger Cubs was a separate program for 2nd graders that started in August 1982 and packs didn't have to have them since they were an option.


Now: Tigers are fully integrated into the Cub Scout program and the grade has dropped to 1st grade.


Then: Cubs didn't camp except for "Lad and Dad" weekends in the summer at the council camp.


Now: Cub families will quit if you don't go camping.

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I date back to the early 60s. We did actual patrol camping back then. Patrols, not troop. The patrols would organize our own hikes, campouts, and skills development outings. We'd plan them, equip them, and then inform our parents of the plans and then head out into the woods and do them.

But things have changed. One of the reasons I generally never return to places I've left after living there is that places usually change and my old home area changed tremendously. There is no way I'd allow boys to have the kind of freedom we had back then...in that area today. It is now full of risks that we never faced back then, and I wouldn't allow today. I suspect there are still places where boys can still roam as freely as we did back then but for most boys, I don't see today's world as having many of those places. Times have changed.


Other changes: there is now an Eagle project and blacks are now allowed to join. I agree with Desertrat's note that youth protection and intolerance of bullying has improved things as well.

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I was a very young Lad in the UK when the Advanced Party Report came along and changed everything!

The area that seems to have seen the most changes is adult training's both in how it is delivered and content.

What always strikes me as odd is our Council summer camp. It seems to have remained very much the same since I first worked there back in 1977. The big change there is that it's not opened for as many weeks and there are less Scouts enjoying the programs.


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Cito, though it's been almost three decades, I'm still wrapping my mind around the two year Webelos plan...seems too long to me. I recall Webelos as the final, one-year hurdle to being a full fledged Boy Scout, and we couldn't wait join a troop.


Packsaddle: I hear you, there are places in AZ, where I was a scout, that today I would be hesitant to even stay past sunset, much less camp. As a military guy who moves alot, I'm pleased to say there are some places still in the US where a patrol could camp safely. I've been stationed in a few rural locations where some farmers and ranchers would let scouts camp on their land. Lots of firewood, wildlife, and everyone knows each other.


Eamonn: I too have noticed the shrinking of many summer camp schedules. Nice camps that would have been open several weeks back in the day, now fully operational three or four weeks. As you said, less scouts today. Also, I've seen the trend where some troops go to a different camp each year, out of council, which I fully support and understand on one hand. On the other, I'm personally a traditionalist who will attend and support my council camp thru thick and thin.


(This message has been edited by desertrat77)

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Joined Boy Scouts in 1954. I know the world is a different place and some of the things we did in Scouting are just not possible anymore, but still I don't see much real change for the better.


Patrol camping: We used to hike or ride bikes, without adults, miles away from civilization to camp for a few days.


Summer camp: Camp today is unrecognizable from what is was in the Fifties and Sixties. The only merit badges we could earn there were outdoor ones. No computer MB, Cit in the Nation, World, etc. Why not do that at home and have fun at camp.


OA: Goes right back to summer camp. OA was started as a summer camp program. Firecrafters and Mic-O-Say were, too. Every camp had some kind of honor program in the early days. When I was a Scout and camp staffer, all the important OA stuff took place at summer camp. The boys were tapped out, took the Ordeal that night and next day, then came back to their troop decked out with their arrow. Can't do that now. It would take too much time away from merit badges.


Advancement: Nobody ever encouraged us to become Eagle. It was something you wanted and you figured out how to do it. My parents were in favor of it, and would support me in doing what it took, but if I hadn't done it myself, I wouldn't have made it. I was 17. There weren't a lot of 13 year old Eagles. Advancement happened, as SSScout says, almost automatically because of troop activities. You had to go out and hunt up MB counselors if you wanted Citizenship or Law MB. That's part of what the program was designed for.


Youth protection: Again, wasn't a problem, I guess because of community values in leader selection. We went on a lot of campouts with one adult leader. It's different today, but we have really overcomplicated the issue with G2SS, separate bathrooms and such. Does anybody know of a molestation taking place in a camp shower? I guess it has happened, Sandusky is an example from elsewhere, but Scouts and leaders wouldn't ignore it if it happened. I don't know, this one is complicated, but the current solution does not encourage trust of the leaders.


Other stuff: Way too much to hash over here. :)

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Started in the early 70's. We had a scoutmaster in our town that always drove a white station wagon. You would see him going through town every weekend with as many boys as he could stuff in the vehicle. No Seatbelts, only one adult, tour plan??? whats that, but they were going camping somewhere and going to have a great time.


Order of the Arrow: In my lodge, you were led off in the woods after being taped out with just a sleepingbag and a poncho. You slept alone in the woods. You were give a wax paper cup with 2 matches, 1 raw egg, 2 strips of bacan, and a small amoung of aluminum foil to cover the cup. In the morning you had to build your fire, and cook your breakfast with what you were given. Later that day you had a red arrow painted on your forhead. A wooden ice cream spoon with a red arrow painted on it. We worked around camp all morning. If we were caught talking, you had your spoon broken. If you were caught talking again, and you had a broken spoon, you were out, and would have to try again next year. This was all a true right of passage. At he end of the day, we really felt that we had passed a ordeal.

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