Charlie Thorpe (charlie2@RO.COM)
Fri, 8 Dec 1995 14:48:22 -0600
Hello Steve -
I have been following this thread ("uniforming" as it evolved into the
broader issue of "methods") with interest. IMHO, the questions that you
have raised are important and you have certainly gotten a variety of
>How do you know that the methods are working? What is the objective
>standard by which you measure success? What are the measurement
>standards that BSA uses to assess the effectiveness of these methods.
>I see a lot of subjective assertions but little in the actual long
>term measure of their effectiveness.
As I see it, these good questions should be applied to our program delivery
"methods" from two differing viewpoints:
how effective are we at actually using the methods of Scouting in the "boy
contact" parts of the Boy Scouting program: the Troop program AND the
District program (OA Chapter, camporees, etc.) AND the Council program (OA
Lodge, JLTC, summer camp, etc.) AND the national program (Jamborees, NOAC,
NJLIC, hi-adventure bases, etc.);
how effective do the methods of Scouting continue to be (in today's real
world) in providing a realistic opportunity (for all boys who sign up) to
meet the aims of Scouting.
Both questions are interesting and both are outstanding topics for
discussion in this forum. Lets take a look at the second question first.
The general issue of overall effectiveness is, by its very scope, a tough
question to quantify objectively. The last serious effort that I have any
knowledge of (I hope there are more, I just don't know about them!) is the
study that preceded the introduction of the "New Troop Operations Plan" in
1990. BSA commissioned a study which (among other things) conducted a
nationwide survey among:
Scouts and parents currently enrolled,
Scouts and parents who dropped out,
boys and parents who never joined Scouting, and
leaders of Troops with high and low drop-out rates.
The findings led to refinements in the recommended "models" for both the
Troop organization (new Scout patrol, new Scout SA, Troop Guide,
Venture/Varsity Crew/Team, Venture/Varsity SA) and the Troop program
("three ring circus" type meeting, separate Venture/Varsity program within
the Troop). Follow-up evaluations indicated fairly good acceptance by
Troops throughout BSA and retention numbers went up! I haven't seen any
figures for the last few years, but I would be very interested to find out
how the "New Troop Operations Plan" has improved our overall effectiveness
in the five-plus years that it has been in general use.
So, the second question has a semi-positive answer: our organization IS
both willing and able to measure its effectiveness in delivering its
product to its customers.....its just not so willing to broadcast its
findings to the world! Most of us in the trenches have to rely on more
subjective evidence (watching our Scouts make their way in the real world,
"made a difference" stories from other Scouters, feedback from other folks
in the kid-biz, etc.).
I am still real new to Scouts-L and am not sure what problems can be caused
by long messages, so I will address the first question (how do we measure
how well are we using the methods?) in another message.
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City