Re: Peer Pressure on Scouts
Settummanque, the blackeagle (waltoml@WKUVX1.WKU.EDU)
Thu, 11 Nov 1993 09:43:28 CDT
Hilding Holroyd <hilding@CATFISH.OCPT.CCUR.COM> writes:
>Peer pressure is a "major" pet peeve of mine. I have seen it RUIN a good
>scout when he could not stand up to the ridicule of his classmates.
>We need to help a Scout be strong enough to withstand the pressures. We need
>to make it enjoyable and bring to the program enough to really influence
>him so that he desperately wants to stay.
This is EXACTLY what I am fighting in Frankin, Kentucky. But it's not
peer pressure as much as it is "instituational pressure". Follow
When Chris, Don, Hilding, Scott and I (great company, huh?? There's
others of us in that time period too, but those are some of the folks
I can think of off the top of my balding head) were all Scouts, the
country was different for both youth and adults.
Vietnam was either intensifying or drawing to a close, depending on
the age of the person....the civil rights movement, the Apollo
moonwalk, and even the riots in the late 60s all played a part in our
lives as Americans. We wanted to be known as "patriotic, civic-minded
citizens", not as those "drugged out, give-me-love-or-give-me-death,
weird-looking "hippies". Our television reflected those "positive
values", and suggested that we try to retain as much of the "ethos" of
the late 50s and early 60s as possible.
Every community had a Scout Troop in those days, with more than 12
boys in the Troop and chartered by everyone and their uncles! When a
District held a Camporee, EVERY Troop turned out for it, no matter how
small, how large, or which football or baseball teams were playing in
town that weekend. If you were a player or a booster, you came out
either after the game or in the morning. There was not a "either-or"
mentality to it...you simply did BOTH.
The highlight came as we inaugurated a new President, Gerald Ford,
with a long list of accomphishments including a long stand as a
Congressman and later as Vice President of the United States. But as
he stood there, getting the Oath of Office from the Chief Justice, his
hand was not open-palmed.
It was in the sign of the Scout.
As our media reported this event, kids wanted to be "the President
someday" and joined our program in wide margins. The period 1973-75
was the LARGEST increase in our programs since the mid-50s!
As we moved forward with technology and with a changing of the value
structure, away from "civics" and toward "economics", we started
seeing the loss of many of those "rural" Scouting units. This was our
first clue that something was going on and we'd better do something
about it. Why were we losing those Scouts and those Troops?? "I have
to work at a new job and they want me there, not working with kids".
Farms were being closed, because we've shifted our economy and nobody
told the farmers. We started living in "burbs" because that's where
all of the services - city water and sewage, cable TV and better roads
- were at. Why live in the country and having to drive seven or nine
miles to town when you can live two miles outside of town and still be
next to the shopping center and the movies??
Kids also got this message, assisted by the influx of multi-million
dollar salaries and endorsements by folks like Joe Nameth (sp) and
later by the replacement of "playing for enjoyment" by "playing for
salaries" by our "athletic heroes". The message was emphasized in
schools, when many school systems dumped classes aimed at being
citizens in favor of classes aimed at being productive workers.
The message was "You don't have time to lose. You don't have time to
be a child. You must be ready to take "it" NOW. You must be ready to
The BSA responded during this time by turning their Exploring program
over to the youth members, by emphasizing that the Scouting program
will help you with whatever job you want to do, by the sheer nature of
the program, and by making the outside image (the name, the uniforms,
the patches and insignia) more attractive to the youth and the adults.
The BSA, like many other youth groups, also sought out "athletic
heroes" like Hank Aaron to entice kids to join Scouting. It was too
little, too late.
We started losing kids because the program became stale overall and
not responsive to the message that kids were getting at that time.
Schools started emphasizing sporting activities, because "it's a sure
money raiser for the school...everyone wants to cheer us on!" and
becuase of the media messages of "see, he (or she) makes BIG MONEY.
No song that kids were listening to said it better than the 1982 song
by Men At Work. The Austrailia group chanted "....money for nothin'
and the chicks for free..."
Entire communities stopped supporting Scouting and programs like it
and instead raised monies for new football arenas, for new "convention
centers" to bring in concerts and "professional rasslin'". As kids
like me, started to become active in Scouting, the overall COMMUNITY
message was "Scouting?? Don't waste your time. It's great you want
to go camping and want to wear a nice uniform. But, what will it get
And lots of kids were listening, as they are now listening in Frankin.
Franklin's not a large town, there's about 2000 people living in the
city and another 3000 or so in the county outside the city. But
Frankin has three large shopping centers, a huge football arena, and
a new bypass that goes straight by the schools. The message that we
were giving our kids in the late 60s and early 70s about "Football is
a game but the things we learn here are good for your entire life"
is being replaced with "In order for you to get a good scholarship and
go to school for free, you have to start now and do well in the game
now. You can BUY your schooling later on".
Yeah, Scouts have been made fun of since the founding of the program.
People made fun of the Scouts because it was a "Christian" program
(the YMCA were the first national "chartered partners" of the BSA).
Later it was because of the baggy uniforms (other kids called Scouts
in the 20s and 30s "the baggy boys"). Even later than that we were
called "sissy scouts" because of our concern for the community in the
40s and early 50s. (That changed when the BSA, aided by Disney and
Mutual of Omaha, started showing the public the "rugged road" of
Philmont and later on the excitement of a World Jamboree) We were a
program EVERYONE wanted to be a part of in 60s and early 70s.
But we lost it in the late 70s and 80s.
What can WE do about it?? How can we "take back our kids"?
More next posting....the coffee's done!
Mike L. Walton
Scouter et al.
( Settummanque, the blackeagle... ) )
( (MAJ) Mike L. Walton (among other "endearing" names) ( )
( AIS/MR Recreation Specialist, Lifeskills Inc. ___)_ )
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