Re: Stats, etc.
Settummanque, the blackeagle (waltoml@WKUVX1.WKU.EDU)
Thu, 18 Nov 1993 10:19:34 CDT
Steve Tobin <srtobin@MMM.COM> writes:
>I am new to this list, and am struck by the concern over issues that
>have been troubling me, my troop leaders, and other leaders in my
>district. The most disturbing is the trend to establish policies and
>programs based on the numbers game, and not on the basis of what is
>best for the scouts.
Me too, Steve, but from a differing angle. I'll explain in a few.
>Prime example is the "1st Class in the first year" emphasis. I did this
>the first 2 years I was scoutmaster, and was very unhappy with the results.
>Even though the requirements have been reduced for the various ranks, it
>was a real push to do it. The result was a very poor mastery of the
>outdoor skills (retention), and a limited appreciation for the ideals of
>scouting supposedly instilled during the process of attaining 1st Class.
It's NOT the "First Class in the First Year" emphasis...the BSA is
merely returning to the standard of getting Scouts to First Class
Scout in their first year of Scouting. To illustrate this point, one
only need to find a Scout Hanbook from 1970 (I have one, that's how I
know about it...) and look at the requirements for Tenderfoot, Second
and First Class.
I personally remembering it taking longer than these periods, but to
become a Tenderfoot took about two months (the requirement is that as
soon as the "joining skills" have been gained, the Scout is inducted
as a Tenderfoot). It took me two months to become Second Class (the
standard requirement is 1 month service after earning Tenderfoot). It
took me seven and a half months to become First Class (the standard
requirement then was 2 months after becoming a Second Class Scout).
Let's go four years later, and look at the "improved Scouting
program", where we somehow went wrong.....
In the 1972 Scout Handbook, the time period between Scout (the new
joining status and NOT A RANK....a real mistake there, IMO) and
Tenderfoot was 2 months...between Tenderfoot and Second Class 2
months, and between Second Class and First Class, 2 months.
So it was possible, then as now, for Scouts to reach First Classs
inside of a year's time. The DIFFERENCE was in the Scoutmaster's and
Patrol Leaders' roles in making sure that the Scout MET the
requirements COMPLETELY before a Board of Review was conviened for the
>And after it was all over, there was still a 50% + drop-out rate. After
>several years of observation, and discussion with other troops, the
>primary factor controlling retention (assuming a resonably decent program)
>is parental support. The troop can jump through hoops for these boys, but
>if there is no support from home to stay with it, getting to meetings and
>other activities, the boy is going to drop out. A small percentage
>of drops is due to conficts with other activities and the decision to
>go with them (again, due to parental emphasis usually), but the vast
>majority is just a slow withering of involvment.
I would have to disagree with your observations. While yes, strong
parental support is needed, the OVERALL difference is that Troops that
have Scouts that understand and IMPLEMENT the Scouting principles and
know the Scouting skills are those Troops with a strong youth
leadership and a trained, willing Scoutmaster and several Assistant
Scoutmasters that know the program AND the boys in their Troop. While
much can be said for Momma and Papaw "encouraging their son toward
Eagle" there is also a lot of hazard associated with this
"encouragement". On the other hand, if the Scoutmaster is "gently
moving" (read that as "kicking their butts") Scouts and their youth
leadership is insuring that Scouting skills are being taught (and not
just "get-arounds", but the real things that Scouts NEED to know), the
Troop will be stronger, the membership feel that they are part of a
strong team, and even though they don't have money, or a great
chartered partner, or even a lot of parental support, the Troop will
grow and be respected for those factors.
It all goes back to that of IMPLEMENTING THE SCOUTING PROGRAM AS
WRITTEN AND AS EXPLAINED DURING THE SCOUTMASTER/JUNIOR LEADER TRAINING
Now, can I address this "numbers game" (placing former Parapro hat
on). My boss, the Field Director, is looking for trends when we are
asked for the numbers of First Class Scouts. The First Class Scout is
one of several indicators of whether or not the program is being
implmented in the Troop. It is NOT the BSA's intention on "cranking
out the largest number of First Class Scouts" in the world...it IS the
BSA's collective experience that those Scouts that make it to First
Class will continue onward to Eagle IF the following is done in
connection with their attainment to First Class:
If the Scout is publicily recognized for that acheievement (we have
returned to presenting First Class Scout Certificates, in it's own
folder, to First Class Scouts...I don't have the catalog number
available, but your local Council office should have them on the
shelves. If they don't, shame on them for failure to live up to their
end of this emphasis!). If the Scout is presented his First Class
Badge by a Eagle Scout in your Troop or in a neighboring Troop (please
note, Steve, that I did *not* mention the Scoutmaster or any other
adult doing the presentation...First Class Scouts need to be visibly
reminded of the "ultimate goal", by a YOUTH member!!), and If the
Scout receives a good Scoutmaster's Conference/Personal Growth
Agreement Conference that encourages his leadership in the Troop and
moving on forward toward Eagle!
The Scouting numbers, according to Kathie's report from the BSA, only
dropped slightly. I wonder if her report divides the membership by
rank (I doubt it...does it Kathie??). The BSA wants boys to progress
toward First Class or Eagle or even toward Bobcat (from our recent
discussion) at their OWN PACE AND SPEED. It is part of the Personal
Growth component in our program. Therefore, when I said that when my
boss wants a number of First Class Scouts, and I said it as one of
several *indicators*, that's exactly how those "numbers" are used.
>I also see an increasing investment in Cub Scouting, both in dollars
>and support. This is again, I think, due to the fact that this is where
>the big numbers are. Lots of boys sign up for Cub Scouts, have a great
>time, and then wonder why there are no comparable facilites for
>Boy Scouts; i.e. swimming pools, dining halls, bunk houses, etc. Both
>area councils are building million dollar cub facilities, while my
>local council is investing nothing in the Boy Scout camps. Exploring
>is virtually non-existant.
What you are seeing, Steve, is NOT a sudden "shifting" toward Cub
Scouting and away from Scouting. What you are witnessing is the
awareness of the impact of the family onto the Scouting program
overall. When we were more "personal-centered" and not many families
were involved in the Boy Scouting program, we saw that facilities were
built nation-wide to attract and retain the Boy Scout. We built
camping facilities (many now which are being closed) in as best a
primiative state as possible BECAUSE THAT WAS PART OF THE EXCITEMENT
OF BEING A SCOUT...the idea of backpacking into a "wilderness area"
and starting to build a Troop or Patrol site. It was part of the game
we played then.
Somewhere (and I don't really know when this trend moved...if you give
me some time, I could find out) in the time...the idea of camping at a
"wilderness" camp faded and camps were pushing each other in line to
get monies to build dining halls, swimming pools and massive
administration buildings. Entire local Councils DUMPED their previous
wilderness camping facilities in favor of "brand new camping centers"
complete with man-made (or located close to a natural water source),
aquatic centers and all of the "things of home". It was thought that
the "big money people" don't want to see rustic (historic) shacks and
old rutted-out (from years and years of Scouts traveling down those)
trails...they wanted to see new, sharp buildings. They wanted to see
the clear, clean lake or stream and the motorboat on the lake. They
wanted to be entertained not on a hillside but on a nice arena with
In other words, they wanted to see a state part completed by the
Scouts...not a Scout camp. What you are seeing now is the next phase,
getting the families to use those "expensive, multi-dollar" facilities
(because, as you and I know, the more people use the facility, the
more money that can be made (and repayed) on the facility and the more
usage the facility will have!
So, it's not just a shifting from Scout to Cub...it is a shifting from
person to family-centered.
As far as Exploring is concerned, my survey of Exploring leaders in
1991 revealed that only 17 percent of ALL Explorer Posts have ever
used their local Council camp for a Superactivity in the past ten
years or since their Post or Ship was organized...and that only a
third (34%) even went to the local Council camp as a Post or as part
of a local Council Exploring event or activity. With the emphasis on
career development, many Explorer Posts and Ships find other locations
to do their camping *if* they want to camp...and there are lots of
other Outdoor Adventure bases that they can attend (and do!).
Sorry to be so short, but I have to leave for work pretty soon. I
hope that this places this discussion in the proper context so that we
can go on from there... (hat off).
Besides, Steve, there are several other factors that you need to
remember here....there's a new Federal law which states that access to
Scouting facilities must be made for disabled Americans...the Scouting
program has changed to add females as Scoutmasters and to allow Cub
Scouts to do overnight camping at the local camp....those things
require more facility building and adapting....
Mike L. Walton
( Settummanque, the blackeagle... ) )
( (MAJ) Mike L. Walton (among other "endearing" names) ( )
( AIS/MR Recreation Specialist, Lifeskills Inc. ___)_ )
( Voice 502-782-7992 (home) 502-842-2274 (office) |-=-|] )
( 3201-D Cave Springs Avenue -- Greenwood, KY 42104-4439 -------- )
( "Not speaking for Lifeskills, Inc. or WKU...but I do speeches !!!!" )
( WALTOML@WKUVX1.WKU.EDU (Internet) KYBLKEAGLE@AOL.COM (America Online) )
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City