Scouts-L Mail Archive for September of 1999: Re: Council Communications - Back to Pro Bashing?
Re: Council Communications - Back to Pro Bashing?
Sat, 4 Sep 1999 01:20:03 -0400
Ed Dunn wrote:
> Sorry Anthony to inform you, but there are less Scouts now than > in 1930!
This is nonsense. The 1936 printing of the Scoutmaster Handbook at page 468
states that the total number of boys that have been in Scouts 1910 through
1935 was 5,699,911 and the number in the very new Cub Scout program from
1930 through 1935 was 20,686. Even if you were to assume that in 1930 a
boy's tenure was 4 years, you'd be hard pressed to anywhere near the number
of registered boys today in any year through 1935.
> National won't even release the totals, that's how bad
> it is...so things are all right in your mind...only!
This is also utter and complete nonsense. Each year since its founding BSA
has filed an annual report with Congress giving details of its membership.
These reports are part of the Congressional record. Those numbers are and
have been for years a matter of public record.
Aside from being inaccurate statements, these statements are not
particularly relevant in any case, especially without an understanding of
the historical circumstances of any time period you want to use for
Take 1930 -- a time when most homes did not have electricity, where
communication was largely in printed form and where most people did not live
in urban areas -- and ask how many youth serving organizations existed then.
The answer is not too many. The idea of organizations for kids to help
promote their development was pretty novel in the first part of this
century. Most schools did not have bands for example, debating clubs, and so
forth. A small town might not have any organized sports. For the vast
majority of kids, the only game was the Scouting game.
68 years later the situation is very different. Most kids live in areas
that would be considered urban. Most of these areas have not just one, two
or three sports, but dozens available. Hundreds of clubs and organizations
are there to serve the needs of young people. If anything, the number of
kids involved in youth serving organizations is much, much higher on a per
capita basis now. The difference is that BSA is not the only game in town
for most boys and that it now is in competition for "market share" if you
You can compare apples and oranges, if you want, but it isn't very
productive in understanding much of anything.
What is relevant is whether we as adults do our best to give kids the best
opportunities to grow into responsible adults. Many of us choose to do this
through Scouting and probably a fair number also serve in other
organizations as well; e.g., athletics, band, academic clubs, church
organizations, and so forth.
Within Scouting each of us will have differing experiences depending on
where we are and the people we work with. I've worked with Scouting in
several Councils as an adult volunteer over the last 28 years. With few
exceptions I have found that the biggest communication problems are just
people problems on an individual level that cannot safely be generalized to
any particular group. Within Scouting there are some professionals and some
volunteers that are not good at communication and many more that make
mistakes. Well that is to be expected given that very few, if any can make
much of a claim towards being perfect. However, that does not justify
generalizing to an entire organization based on individual experience.
In any organization communications is a challenge that has to be worked on
all the time. It is even more of a challenge when the organization is
larger and primarily composed of part-time volunteers. Realistically you
have to understand that there will be communication problems - it is bound
to happen. Does this then mean the organization is flawed? or evil? Not at
all. It means that in the real world there will be problems and
challenges -- that there will always be room to do better, whether as a
volunteer in a Troop or as professional sitting in Irving.
We can do a lot better than having a "sky is falling" response to problems
or expressing bitterness with frustrations. Leave those responses to the
weak-minded. Instead we can focus on how each of us as individuals can do
our own personal best with our own talents wherever we are situated to help
the young people we serve.
Mike Bowman, Vice President
U.S. Scouting Service Project, Inc.