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Eamonn

Our Image. Or Can We Ever Be Cool ?

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While I have over the past few weeks made reference to how cool I am. I do know in my heart of hearts that I'm about as cool as a bowl of oatmeal.

In another thread someone said that a Scout Uniform would never be cool as long as it was associated with being a Scout Uniform.

I happen to think that being a Scout can be very cool. I look at the activities that Scouts can do and in many troops do get to do and I think that is really cool.

Of course I know that I'm biased. Maybe what I perceive to be cool just isn't.

We do have an image. I like to think that it is a good one.Over my desk I have two very big prints of Boy Scouts, one with the Scout Law the other with the Scout Oath. The boys /Scouts are very good looking Lads, one blond and one with dark hair and a no nonsense look in his eye. I look at them and I look at my son. Yes he could be one of those two Lads, but maybe we might need to tweak it a little. The Scouts are pictured in the great outdoors. Well - maybe but OJ is more at home in his bedroom. When I was a kid we used the bedroom to sleep in and read the odd book. He has everything that he needs in his other then the fridge. One Lad in the picture has a Scout stave. We might need to change this. OJ got lost on a hike and text messaged a ASM on his cell phone. He rarely leaves the house without his Walkman and never without his cell phone.He has taken his laptop to camp - I have no idea why.

I bought the two prints on e-bay I don't really know how old they are. I do know that I like them even if they are a little bit too "Rockwell" to show what my home grown Scout is really like. My Scout is a great kid, who is getting a lot out of this organization and has plans to get a lot more. He is as cool as he wants to be. The last thing he wants is a cool friend as a Dad. He just wants a Dad.

Eamonn

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Kids worship independence. That's why the 17 year old kid with the Porsche is as cool as the kid with cigarettes and a skateboard. They appear to be independent. Scouting recognizes that kids want to be independent (or at least appear to be) but the road to independence through scouting is more charted. Independence through scouting is systematic and drawn out. So no matter how cool the activities in scouting are, no matter how cool the uniform is, scouts will not be seen as cool by the kids who worship independence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I'm not sure the BSA needs to be cool, but it's a thought-provoking question. It leads to: what do we want to show the youth about the BSA?

 

As for independence. The boy leaning on a Porsche might have a better chance of getting from point A to point B, but how well will he do if he gets lost? The Scout leaning on a Porsche...or an old clunker ... he may have a far more exciting time once on the road with fewer problems because he has learned to grow into independence. But this is just my opinion :)

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No Bob, that has never been our goal or purpose...it is just a reality that comes with being a part of the organization.

 

It's funny this post came up today. I wrote a paper (handing it in today) on how the Boy Scouts of America's Image has changed due to America's changing views on what masculinity is and how it relates to American Boys. Also how no matter how much the image changes, we expect scouts of today to embody what Scouts of yesterday stood for, and what scouts of tomorrow will inherit and uphold. The paper was not a research paper, so I do not answer may questions in it. I discuss ideas of what has changed in Scouting, and what will continue to change. It is a study, on how one WOULD find an answer to the question. My sources include as much Boy Scout literature I could find and academic journals that give their 2 cents on what masculinity is, and how it changes through the years. The paper is sort of a mini study, just scratching the surface.

 

My conclusion came to be that yes, The Boy Scouts of America have changed due to America's changing views of masculinity. But I stessed the fact that as much as the IMAGE changes, through unifoms,new and different activites, and changing perceptions of what an American boy should represent, the core values of a Scout stay constant.

 

Eamonn, I have Normal Rockewells all over my room. His image of what Scouts should portray is awesome.

 

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While I agree that being seen as cool has never been our goal or our purpose.It could be argued that without an attractive image the youth that we would hope to serve might not want to join. This could also lead us to ask who are we "Selling" Scouting too? The youth? The parents? or the Chartering Organizations?

Eamonn

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Define cool.

 

If cool means wearing our pants so low most of our boxers (in my case) are hanging out then no Boy Scouts isn't cool. If cool means referring to women in a derogatory manner then no Boy Scouts isn't cool. If cool means learning why a chameleon changes color, then Boy Scouts is cool. If cool means hanging out with you friends by the campfire roasting weenies, then Boy Scouts is cool.

 

Define cool.

 

Ed Mori

Troop 1

1 Peter 4:10

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Eamonn, do you have ideas on how the image can be made attractive to those not currently seeing it so?

 

I was invited to take part in a council-wide Cub Scout Focus Group. This is one of the areas we all agreed on: the image is foggy (what are we exactly?) and the purpose is just not clear (why should anyone want to join--what's this all about?). There were some great ideas on turning this perspective around, and a big part of it includes updating and modernizing the recruiting tools. For Cubs, the recruiting fliers all are addressed to the boys rather than to the families. However, we were talking about Cubs being a family program. This was just one item; there were more. Over and over again though, no matter if was a representative unit that is large or small, wealthy or struggling, city or suburbs--the image and purpose are not clear.

 

So, what can we do now? Do we aim for cool? Or do we take what we have and show it fits today's kids and families?

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I'm just thinking that in the very, very near future, we'll be getting our 16' Tri-Hull out on the River for every possible meeting. We're going to learn inland navigation, basic motors, rules of the road, and how to operate it. We can also get some skiis and tubes out on the River Illini. A day trip will get us from home up to Lake Michigan. Going south between Starved Rock and Lake Peoria is a scenic as it gets.

 

We'll be flying our Sea Scout flag.

 

Where would you rather be? Smoking a butt playing with a skateboard or out Cruising the River with the Sea Scouts?

 

I think we're Kewlerr.

 

 

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It's been my experience that the kids who make fun of the Boy Scouts as being un-cool, nerds, etc. is that they're a bit jealous and are usually showing off in front of their peers.

 

Sure there's some of the "goody two-shoes" and "helping the little old lady" across the street mentality, but I think the public does know that there's more to the Boy Scouts than all of that.

 

As an example I cite, to anyone who's been in an urban setting recently, that the wearing of vintage 1970's uniform shirts, replete with patches is now "cool."

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I can't define "cool", but it is a thing that as leaders we should be aware of, because it impacts recruiting and retention. If they are not here, they will get no benefit from the program.

 

Being way older than the current crop of Cub and Boy Scouts, I asked the resident expert on "cool" in our house for help - my nine year old daughter.

 

She said my son is "cool" because he is a fifth grader. Therefore, since he is the "big fish", being in Cub Scouts doesn't detract from that. And no one in elementary school comments on it very much. Cub Scouts isn't cool or uncool, it just is. Like band or chorus or being in a school play, all of which are fun, but may become "cool" or "uncool" in the next great phase.

Middle school.

In our town there are five public elementaty schools. So there are five sets of fifth graders, who are "cool" and looked up to, in spite of what activities they are involved in, because they are fifth graders.

There are only two middle schools in town, and all of those "big fish" fifth graders become the "little minnow" sixth graders, in a much bigger pond. Fitting in becomes more important. Peer pressure is greater. Being different is not "cool". Boy Scouts are a minority which, coupled with the "goody-two-shoes" image, suddenly makes them "un-cool".

But, her brother will still be "cool", even though he teases her too much, because in addition to being a Boy Scout, he is really smart, he will play baseball and soccer, be on the newspaper, probabaly be class president, go camping, be nice and kind and help people.

(There were many "omigosh"es and "like"s in her explanation, which I editted out).

 

I find it interesting that the purposes of Scouting - leadership, physical and mental fitness, good character - would be the things that my daughter would identify as outweighing the "uncoolness" of Scouting.

My son is oblivious to all of this, and says it is just his sister's blatherings. But I think she is probably a little more in tune then he.

Part of me thinks that we should be marketing it that way - Scouting is so beyond "cool" that it looks "uncool" to you. Sort of Elvis Costello cool.

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"...scouts will not be seen as cool by the kids who worship independence...."

 

Lets see, when its done by the book (Arragant pedantic thumpers notwithstanding)the troop:

 

Elects its own leaders

 

Sets its own activity schedule

 

Plans, organizes and runs events which may range from a week at summer camp to a ski trip to a wilderness surivial weekend, camping, fishing, kite flying, whatever they want.

 

The adults associated with them have as a goal to be as uninvovled as possible

 

 

Sounds pretty darn independent to me

 

 

 

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Cool, if I remember correctly from so many years ago, is a personally feeling of social acceptance by your peers. The challenge to adults both in and out of scouting is to help guide youth to choose peers wisely, and to teach them to have the self confidence to not need peer approval to feel fulfilled.

 

I totally disagree that scouting needs to be cool, if by cool you mean that everyone accept and look up to us. There are portions of the population to whom scouting will only be cool if we lower ourselves to their values or lack of values.

 

The scouting program was never meant to march to the same beat as everyone in the community. What scout leaders need to do, IMHO, is to help scouts find and thrive in a peer group whose skills and moral attitudes are ahead of where many other youth their age are in development.

 

As Bill Cosby PhD. says, "The surest way to failure is to try and please everyone." Forget about being cool. Teach them to be scouts and carry their coolness inside them without the need to get their "coolness" from others.

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Laurie

Sorry I nearly missed your question.

I am not sure if Cool is the right word, I know that "Hip." Isn't.

Maybe the correct wording would be " How can we make Scouting more attractive?

For a minute lets forget that we are talking about Scouting.

In my business experience I found that we needed a quality product. In fact we needed a lot of products, but all had to be good quality and well prepared. We found that while a certain amount of change was good, there were things that people didn't want taken away or changed.

When it came to marketing by far the cheapest way to manage it was to keep the customers we had and look after them, not only did they spend money on a regular basis the word and mouth advertising was invaluable. All the time we were very aware that when we stopped growing we were dying.

So in Scouting: I like to think that we do have a quality product, in the programs that we offer. If we have trained leaders with imagination that can deliver them. There are some things that we do very well and there is no need to mess with success. We need to keep on doing the things that we do well. But adding new and exciting activities and broadening the horizons of our members is a good thing.

While recruiting is very important we need to make sure that we are retaining those that we already have, we need them to be the salesperson we want them to bring in their pals. We need to make sure that their entire family is part of our Scouting family. Moms talking to other Moms about how much little Al is enjoying his time in Troop 99 is worth its weight in gold.

As we all know the Troops, Packs, and Crews are living things when they stop growing they are starting to die.

My vision for our district doesn't have every available youth joining the program. It does have units doing everything that they can to make the program work.

In 2001 I sat next to some Lads on the grass as the rest of the 42,000 Scouts arrived for the opening ceremony for the Jamboree filed in. The Lad sitting next to me looked at the sea of Scouts and said COOL.

Eamonn

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