Re: Ken Weir and Scouts Canada
Jim Carter - HCI Project (hci@CS.USASK.CA)
Fri, 26 May 1995 11:24:36 -0700
Scouter Weir has said:
>We in Canada have recently found out that the Canadian Scouting Program is
>so far gone from what our youth consider to be "acceptable" that immediate
>drastic restructuring is taking place.
>As leaders we have been told that unless the program changes from its
>current form Scouts Canada will not exist in 5 years time.
I beg to disagree. The Canadian Scouting program has experienced two types
of changes over the last three decades:
* revolutionary changes brought on by scare mongering as refered to above
* evolutionary changes brought on by taking what BP gave us and tuning it to
Guess what? Evolutionary changes work much better than revolutionary ones!
"Scouts '68" was the name of the big revolution that took the OUT out of
SCoutING. Yes it transformed the badge system from a (second class, first
class, Queen Scout) progression to one where youth could jump in at any
level, BUT that wasn't the bigest change it made. In fact in thinking back
(and I was there with my Queen Scout in 1967 and being a Scoutmaster
[underage but otherwise the troop would have folded] in 1969) the bigest
change was in attitude. We were all told that Scouting wasn't relevant and
we had to go searching for the holy grail of relevance (refer to the
stories of limited success in classical grail quests). Psychologists
(mostly tea groupies) and other pollsters convinced lots of people to
abandon the outdoors in an attempt to be "relevant". The result was a
disaster. People who knew little or nothing about Scouting came in to boss
around those who did. Many (but thankfully not all) good Scouters were let
go from the professional ranks and replaced with people who had university
degrees as their first requirement of employment (many of whom thankfully
are no longer around). Volunteer Scouters were told off and turned off by
the visionaries of the new relevant program. THE RESULTS WERE A DISASTER!
And it took most of the '70's to get back to the Spirit of Scouting. By the
'80's when the outdoors was becoming a big thing (read very "relevant")
much of Scouting's leadership role in this field was given up (in many, but
not all, groups). In some places Scouters ADAPTED to the new badge scheme
while keeping on doing SCOUTING.
Yes, I know the statistics of declining enrolments nation wide. I also know
that the district that I'm former DC of here in Saskatoon has grown every
year for the past five. That's because we've got lots of good dedicated
Scouters who not only provide the program for their own kids (as so many
good leaders do) but they keep trying to expand it ot the kids of others,
as well. Grass roots growth does work - but it needs the right kind of
encouragement. You need to convince "Leaders" to act, not just as leaders
would in any other organization, but as "Scouters" in the Scouting
movement. And to do this you need to focus on pride and accomplishment
rather than on the doom sayers who keep telling us we're not relevant and
that we're not doing a good job. I see good Scouting all around, but I see
very little reinforcement of it. It's easier to criticize something than to
help make it happen.
Speaking about evolutionary changes, the current changes to the Canadian
Wolf Cub program that take place this fall are an excellent example to
consider. If one analyzes what they include:
* a long needed 6th star to balance the program for two stars per year rotations
* lots of new badges, especially OUTdoor Scoutcraft related ones
* a recognition that it's ok (and now encouraged) to do badges in the regular
program - which leads to more Cubs earning more recognition
(which has value in positive reinforcement that BP recognized)
* a linking level of "award" badges to encourage Cubs to move into Scouts
The "new" program is EXCELLENT. The bigest problem is in it's perception as
a "new" program as opposed to a logical evolution of the existing program.
People get their backs up against the wall and defend the old against the
unknown new, even in cases where the new is just an improvement on the old.
I've seen it happen locally. I've also seen many people locally more
willing to welcome the "new" program when it was explained to them in terms
of how it kept but enhanced the program that they were used to (which is
also the program that they had to feel that they were doing a good job on
or else they would likely want to quit).
I'm not saying that the Canadian program is perfect. We can always use
improvement. What I am saying is that the well meaning doom sayers and
revolutionaries should be strung up by their most tender parts till they
realize how much they're hurting (both themselves and the rest of us).
Akela 64 "A" Cubs & Advisor 64th Knights of the Lake Rover Scout Crew
Cree Dist., NSR
Please address flames to: Jim Carter <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City