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Stosh

Acceptable Attrition Rate?

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Our troop meetings look more like an adult drop-in center. They arrive early and setup tables and chairs. The problem is they won't shut-up, but the SM and Troop Committee say it's ok. Adult-run.

 

Agree that the adventure is mostly gone from BSA and that other organizations have lured away boys who should have been scouts. Our loss.

 

Even something a simple as swimming we no longer get right. Remember when all scouts were taught to swim at camp, just like 4-H and Y camps still do. Maybe if you teach an 8 yr old boy to swim, he will want to kayak next. Can't have that. Meanwhile the paddle boards remain stacked and unused in the camp cabana.

 

My $0.02(This message has been edited by RememberSchiff)

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One of the best times I ever had at scout camp was when I took the boys out into a big field and we laid in the grass and found constellations, counted satellites, and just looked at the sky for about 2 hours in silence.

 

I also remember being yelled at by my mom because I was 45 minutes late for lunch one day because I stopped and watched an ant hill. :)

 

Today I have to remember that it's okay to sleep in a floating canoe, but not a kayak.

 

Ever notice that the cliff you're climbing has bugs and little plants all over it?

 

Vetch is a member of the Pea Family.

 

Poison Ivy can grow 30' up the side of a tree.

 

You can grab salmon out of the stream with your bare hands.

 

I've never sat on my sofa and the thought, "Just another day in paradise."

 

When you pull the trigger during a deer hunt, the fun's over.

 

What's the difference between a Lady Bug and an Asian Beetle?

 

Waking up and going outside to be greeted by a mass migration of Monarch Butterflies is really neat.

 

Starting a fire with flint and steel is cooler than with a match.

 

How many of my boys will never experience what I have?

 

I've played sports, not very well, but I had fun. I've been a musician in high school, college and professionally. I haven't shot hoops for many years, I don't own my horn anymore and I went camping within the last 2 weeks. I had lunch today sitting on the edge of a pond, in the sunlight, getting covered with Asian Beetles, eating a yogurt and getting my dress pants dirty. Loved it~

 

The adventure is there, it's just that no one ever points it out.

 

Ever wonder why God put Adam and Eve in a garden instead of a house?

 

Stosh(This message has been edited by jblake47)

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I tell scouts that join our troop that my job is to kick them out the door - when they turn 18. Pretty much everything I do up to that point is intended to help me fulfill my job, and the only way I can do it is to have them still involved at 18. So, acceptable attrition is 0% in my book. Anything above that is failure to some degree, for whatever reason.

 

If a scout troop is not delivering the promise of adventure, I don't think it's because of BSA rules. Peak at http://www.troop479.org/ad.htm - I think adventure is still out there waiting. Maybe we need to push scouts towards it, but the BSA is not stopping us from experiencing it.

 

The "adventure" is not MY adventure, it is the scouts' adventure. It's no longer exciting for me to shoot a .22 but every year it is the coolest thing for a new scout that never did it before.

 

Scout On

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Good discussion.

 

I personally don't think adventure is the big problem.

 

For Cub Scouts, the program is too hard for adults to maintain. We burn out adults by the third year.

 

For troop ages, the first year of the troop experience is the BSA's worst year for loosing scouts and the cause is the big leap from being managed by adults to being managed by scouts. Its a problem that Scouting has always had.

 

The following years is a simple matter of a boring program. You could blame that on adventure (or lack there of), but its more than that, its the inabiltiy of the program to challenge boys both mentally and physically at all ages. Adding more adventure will not fix that problem

 

Barry

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I told our Tiger Cubs (and their parents) that the great thing about Scouting was one of the few places where they will get to do dangerous stuff. Then, I quietly told the parents that it's really not very dangerous, after all.

 

From what I can tell, they still get to do about the same amount of dangerous stuff as I did in the 1970's. (And no, my troop didn't take the "improved scouting" too seriously, so for us, it was about the same as what had been done in the 1960's.) A few dangerous things are gone, but there seem to be a few new dangerous activities.

 

Cub scouts get to do a few "dangerous" things that I didn't get to do, such as BB guns, archery, etc. In fact, when I was a Cub Scout, we didn't even go camping, other than one night when I was in Webelos. Yes, there are rules that go along with those things, some of which might be slightly more strict than they need to be, but they seem to be rules that can be worked with without much difficulty.

 

>>>>>>We had special campouts specifically for staying out without a tent in below-freezing weather.

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Is dangerous really synonymous with adventure? Maybe watching a bear in the woods is more dangerous than watching a deer. Maybe wading a creek is more dangerous than taking the bridge. Maybe climbing a sheer wall is more dangerous than going up the backside of Mt. Baldy, but there's still a lot of adventure in the alternatives.

 

I'm a firm believer that being outside of four walls has become quite an adventure for most youth in today's society. Walking to school is now dangerous according to most parents.

 

Even the hiking aspects of physical fitness has lost it's adventure. Instead of taking a different route to see what's out there, people go to gyms, walk the malls and play b-ball at the YMCA. Where's the adventure in that. Taking a walk on a rainy day just to enjoy the smells of clean air is still an adventure for me.

 

With roofs, screens, AC/furnaces, electronics, appliances, we have taken the adventure out of life. If the electricity went out in your house, could you go out in the back yard and make dinner? Sleep? Survive? I'm thinking most kids today can't. The natural world is a place of danger to them. In that respect, maybe adventure and danger are synonymous. :)

 

Stosh

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>>>>>>If the electricity went out in your house, could you go out in the back yard and make dinner? Sleep? Survive? I'm thinking most kids today can't.

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Money is also a factor in dropping out of Boy Scouts. Boy Scouting can be expensive or simply alot more expensive than Cub Scouts and payment shock occurs. Dues are typically higher and an active schedule of camping trips, summer camp, and various outings demand money and resources. We're struggling with that in our Troop today. We have pretty good retention and an active Trail to 1st class program, but we have lost some boys from families that did not want to pay. We have "Scout Accounts" to defray the costs, but if a Scout does not have a good fundraiser then he has very little money in his account.

 

 

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I hear you Jeffrey H, but it doesn't cost anything to go out into the nearby woods, camp and hang out. You needed to eat anyway, so that's a wash. If it's a nice night, a blanket from home will do.

 

Too often we think High Adventure has to be expensive and/or extravagant.

 

If the boys got an opportunity for the football play-offs, they'd figure out how to pay for it. Just need to make it worth their time and money.

 

Stosh

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Stosh,

 

I agree with you on most things - including being against the HA-is-expensive mindset - but do want to point out that many of the items in your list are not the subject of BSA "rules."

 

Camping and no fires? only back pack stoves? Where's the adventure in that? If I wanted to cook on gas, I would have stayed at home.

 

No rule against it! Sure, some areas have burn bans, but that's a local rule for fire safety. Seems smart to me.

 

Dealing with bears? I see them all the time at the zoo, and it's a real rush to see them in the woods where there are no bars. The bears I saw at Philmont were being trapped and taken out of the area so the boys would be safe. Where's the adventure in that?

 

No rule against bears! There are plenty of places to go outdoors where they live and roam. Just don't go to Philmont if you want bears.

 

Whitewater canoeing/kayaking? The rush, the rocks, the ability to fight nature in an active way. No, still water, 50-miles of lake after lake and a few muddy portages. Where's the adventure in that?

 

No rule against it! In fact, there's a Whitewater merit badge ... which would seem to encourage it.

 

Marathon trek watching the trail every step of the way so we can get to the next site were there's blackpowder shooting and pole climbing. Where's the adventure in that? Why can't I just sit and watch the deer for a while?

 

No rule against it! Poor planning and program? Yeah, sounds like it.

 

Why can't I just sit with my feet in the stream a bit longer and watch the birds nearby?

 

No rule against it! (See "Poor planning and program," above.)

 

Why can't I eat nettles or cattails?

 

No rule against it! Sure, you don't want an entire troop scavenging the marshes and woods for five meals on a weekend-long campout in one small location, as it would devastate the area, but eating edibles is perfectly fine. My copy of the Wilderness Survival MBP, in fact, mentions edible plants, while of course cautioning Scouts to know their plants well before consuming them.

 

Why can't I use a hand ax to build my fire?

 

No rule against it! Splitting a little firewood, creating fuzz sticks or making logs fit in a fire ring? Go ahead. Just don't go chopping down a bunch of trees and ruining the place for everybody else.

 

Why do the adults have to drag themselves along in herds?

 

Two is hardly a herd. And patrols don't even need that.

 

1950 Scout handbook had as 2nd class requirement, go on a hike with patrol and or one other 2nd class buddy cook a meal and do it all on your own. 1st class requirement was the same but with an overnighter and 24 hours. How many of our 21st Century boys would be ALLOWED to earn rank from 70 years ago? NONE.

 

I feel like a bit of a broken record ... but there's no rule against it.

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RememberSchiff wrote: Remember when all scouts were taught to swim at camp, just like 4-H and Y camps still do. Maybe if you teach an 8 yr old boy to swim, he will want to kayak next. Can't have that. Meanwhile the paddle boards remain stacked and unused in the camp cabana.

 

What camp are you attending where swimming isn't taught? That's hardly a BSA rule. Sounds more like a serious program or staffing problem (i.e., not enough lifeguards to look out and teach simultaneously) with your camp.

 

= = = =

 

Overall, I think BSA allows us a great deal of flexibility in what we do. Yeah, I agree that Cubs could certainly do more with outdoor adventure. Too often that program gets watered down into arts & crafts & Pinewood Derby heats. But there's simply not enough structure and training for den leaders and Cubmasters to teach them how to do outdoor adventure properly and safely - and that's more of a structural problem than a program one, IMO. We don't want to release several thousand untrained den leaders into state parks across the country building massive 10-foot-tall bonfires and teaching kids that all mushrooms are safe to eat.

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//Overall, I think BSA allows us a great deal of flexibility in what we do. Yeah, I agree that Cubs could certainly do more with outdoor adventure. Too often that program gets watered down into arts & crafts & Pinewood Derby heats. But there's simply not enough structure and training for den leaders and Cubmasters to teach them how to do outdoor adventure properly and safely - and that's more of a structural problem than a program one, IMO. We don't want to release several thousand untrained den leaders into state parks across the country building massive 10-foot-tall bonfires and teaching kids that all mushrooms are safe to eat. //

 

Doesn't really matter as far as numbers go, the Cub program suffers from "too much overhead" on the adults, Not a lack of adventure. If you change the cub program to a three year program, I think you would see a 40percent inrease in the cub program inside 10 years, and 25 percent increase in the troops. If you want excited boys, you need excited parents.

 

I am big fan of in adding more adventure at all the ages, but if you sit down with scouts who are not happy with scouts, it's not usually lack of adventure that is the problem. It's boredom and that is not the same.

 

And I understand how us old coggers can apply our experiences to boys today and assume the problem is not enough of the activities we had in our day. But it's relative, they don't know what they are missing. They only know they are bored. If you want to relate that to needing more adventure, you are wrong. 4 out of 5 new Venturing programs fail in 5 years. The problem at the troop level is scouts get tired of being treated like boys. After puberty, scouts are no longer boys, they are adults and they know the differ difference.

 

As I said before, the cub program is a simpler problem, "Adult burnout". But nobody has the courage to make the right fix there.

 

Barry

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Shortridge,

 

Whereas one can find an exception for every rule, they can find a rule for every exception.

 

At the premier high adventure camp for BSA, yes there are rules for open burns, there are rules for axes and sheath knives, etc. etc. and we can debate forever on where and when.

 

What bothers me is that a lot of the adventure is trying to find real natural areas instead of the contrived ones we have created.

 

If one canoes the Yukon, I'm thinking there are less rules than other rivers in the US. In the BWCA there are no fire restrictions other than they have to be in official sites and in the fire grates. At least you get to have a fire there. In Ontario CA, one can camp anywhere on the Queen's Land. It's restricted to their own citizens in the southern areas, but eventually when one has gone far enough, they can just stop along the road, set up camp and spend the night in the Canadian outdoors!

 

And still, I have been asked to keep my BSA belt ax and sheath in the camp office because they are not allowed at that particular BSA camp.

 

All I'm saying is that by all the various restrictions one may chance upon, it can in fact take it's toll on the "adventure" aspects of the trip.

 

And who's really going to complain about the boys (hundreds of them) eating nettles. :) Just don't collect wild rice because there are state laws against doing so.

 

Never thought that it would someday be illegal to go out into the woods like I used to do as a kid. Better make sure one knows all the rules before they leave or they could end up doing something illegal.

 

I had an interesting "brush" with the law once. I was traveling with my brother to an event and as we had our camping gear along, we pulled into a rest area to "rest". We could have slept in the car or we could take a blanket and stretch out on the nice soft grass of the park area. Duh! Easy decision. Well at about 4 o'clock we get awakened by a state trooper asking what we were doing. Resting is what we told him. He insisted we were "camping" and it wasn't allowed in the rest area. He said we would have to move along or sleep in the car. I asked him his name and badge number, his squad car plate number, etc. and all these identification stuff I wrote down on a piece of paper. I asked him if he had a piece of tape so I could tape it on the steering wheel of my car in case I was in an accident when this officer sent me out on the road in no condition to drive. He looked at it and smile and asked about what time I would be rested enough to drive. I said, by 6:00 am. He said he would check back at that time. :)

 

All I'm inquiring about with this thread is how many of these rules may in fact contribute to the attrition rates in the BSA program? How many of the rules reduce the level of adventure and excitement necessary for our boys to simply enjoy the great-outdoors without having to go to Alaska all the time?

 

I'm thinking the biggest obstacle to retention is boredom and the lack of exciting adventure is primary on the list of what's missing.

 

Stosh

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Never thought that it would someday be illegal to go out into the woods like I used to do as a kid. Better make sure one knows all the rules before they leave or they could end up doing something illegal.

 

Hold that train just a second. It's not illegal to go out into the woods. Some landowners and land managers do have specific rules, sure. That's their prerogative. So yeah, you might not be able to randomly chop down trees in the nearby patch of woods like you did when you were a kid. That's life. Private landowners have private property rights. And public land managers have to develop some rules to cope with the herds of visitors and keep the land from being trampled and burned up inside of a decade. Stupid, careless visitors far outnumber the smart, conscientious ones.

 

All I'm inquiring about with this thread is how many of these rules may in fact contribute to the attrition rates in the BSA program? How many of the rules reduce the level of adventure and excitement necessary for our boys to simply enjoy the great-outdoors without having to go to Alaska all the time?

 

How many of those rules are from the BSA? Very few of the items you've mentioned are Scouting policies. (And no, just because Philmont does something doesn't make it a Scouting rule. Philmont is not the Perfect Place. Nor is it Scouting's premier high adventure camp, IMHO.)

 

The fire restrictions and other non-Scouting rules you decry haven't had a huge impact on the number of people heading into the woods. (National park visitor numbers last year, for example, were up 10 million over 2008 - 285 million. That's just shy of the all-time record of 287.2 million in 1987.) So why do you think they're boring kids out of Scouting?

 

All I'm saying is that by all the various restrictions one may chance upon, it can in fact take it's toll on the "adventure" aspects of the trip.

 

You seem to be advocating a no-rule, anything-goes system. Am I understanding you right?

 

= = = =

 

Scouting and safety rules haven't crowded out adventure. Yes, Cubs are going to be disappointed if their den leaders and parents promise them shotgun-shooting, mountain-climbing and sailing right away. But that's not Scouting's fault - that's the fault of ignorant adults.

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I don't know if I'm advocating anything or not, just pointing out the smaller one makes the box, the more cramped it's going to feel.

 

Since when has Scouting ever taught irresponsibility and since when did Scouting ever have to make a ton of rules to keep the boys responsible? If a boy is taught to be responsible, there isn't a whole lot of need for volumes of the rules that seem to grow daily in our neck of the woods.

 

I practice LNT long before it became the latest/greatest vogue in the scouting community. 20 years ago the boys were complaining because I suggested to them to police up their campsite after camping. Heck, because I was driving I once suggested they clean up a whole city park they were camping in because it needed it. Did I sit them down, give them a little lecture and show them a video, then have them memorize the LNT little blurb? No, I suggested they clean up every cigarette butt even after another leader told them not to. I was picking them up and I had gloves from my first aid kit. I then suggested they get out their gloves from their first aid kits, put them on and pick up butts. It sorted out the sheep from the goats (those with first aid kits and those without) rather quickly and gloves were shared.

 

Well today I don't have to remind them to police up their area, nor do I need to remind them to have gloves in their first aid kits, and to this day I don't think any of my boys have the LNT blurb memorized.

 

"You seem to be advocating a no-rule, anything-goes system. Am I understanding you right?"

 

Yep, I teach responsibility for the world of nature around them, they are caretakers of it, they maintain it, and they don't need any rules to tell them what it is or how to do it. If it's dry and windy, they know enough not to start a fire/stove regardless of whether there's a burn ban or not. One can have a no-rule, anything goes system when one is dealing with mature, responsible people, i.e. the goal I have set for my scouts. Otherwise, if people aren't mature and responsible then you need the babysitting rules to keep them corralled in and controlled. Mega rules/nothing goes systems are required for irresponsible people. Understandably it's more difficult to teach responsibility than merely following the rules, too, kinda like the difference between leading and following.

 

My boys use my hand axes all the time to start their fires. I have yet to see anyone of them threaten a live tree or bush with it. I have also seen my boys check the ground below their tent site and move accordingly around any seedlings that have cropped up. That's one I never taught them. :)

 

Stosh

 

PS. The secret to having the boys police up the campsite afterward is because the crazy SM isn't going to personally leave a mess. So, because he's one of the drivers, if we want to get out of here any time soon, we all need to pitch in and get this cleaned up. :)

 

(This message has been edited by jblake47)

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