The REAL problem
John M. Woltz, Jr. (JWoltz@compuserve.com)
Mon Jun 15 16:34:56 1998
I can relate to and empathize with Kevin Buffington's frustration with
trying to maintain a ship. I also found the respondents advice to the
query to be lacking in depth as to what the real problem is , and having a
genuine and lasting solution.
I became a Sea Scout at age 15 in 1948. That was the minimum age at the
time. A time of less affluence, when people had to pool their rescources
of time and money. No credit cards, very few extra curricula activities,
no TV, and only a few automobiles owned by teenagers. In brief, Scouting
was the accepted extra curricula. Also, Sea Scouting was an adjunct to the
Boy Scout program and not looked upon as an adversary as it is by most
Scoutmasters today. Then in 1959 the sociologist and the National BSA
office made a study to determine ..."to what extent the Exploring program
suited the modern boy and what changes were needed to make it more
acceptable and more effective." The major result was the age of admittance
was reduced to 14 and 21 was the age one had to leave the program as a
member. That's almost 40 years ago!! The "modern boy" is not living in
1959. Times have changed and the BSA is still in 1959.
I have been involved in junior sailing and US Sailing for several years.
Most junior prorams will start with youth who are 8 or 9 years old and
continue through high school. My experience is that for the most part,
they will begin to drop out of the programs around 15 to 16 years old. The
reason being, just as in Sea Scouting, they enter high school where there
are more extra curricula activities, they get a driver's license and a car,
and the more responsible ones have to carefully spend their time on what is
important. They are working and/or trying to make good grades in order to
enter a college of their choice.
We have found that career interest suveys conducted by the BSA and the high
schools are not helpful to our program, even though the BSA continues to
push them. We find that 8 - 10% will attend a first nighter if they are
sent a letter and a follow-up is made by telephone. If we are lucky, 3-5%
enroll. I find this seems to follow the national trend. When these
percentages are applied to 100 youth on a survey who have an interest in
boating, seamanship, and sailing, then the frustration of the adults begin.
Keep in mind these are youth 14 to 18 years old. Try to appeal to older
boys in a scout troop, and you get stone walled. Keep in mind that
Scoutmasters don't realize the older youth has to continue to "grow" and
that the boy has very little in common with an 11 year old.
There is nothing in common between a 14 year old and a 21 year old, yet the
BSA clings to these ages. It is my opinion, that the BSA needs to have Sea
Scouting for 12 or 13 years olds to 17 or 18 year olds. For the most part,
the law now considers an 18 year old to be an adult. It use to be 21.
The younger ages are more receptive to the Sea Scout program just as I have
found in junior sailing programs, We will continue to have adults who are
giving their all for the program only to leave in frustration in two or
three years with the present age structure. I have seen five ships in my
area "sink" because of this frustration during the years I have been a
Wake up BSA! You have a good program and responsible adults who have an
interest in the program, but the ages of enrollment are 40 years out of
date. Try 12 to 17 for the age spread.
SSS Davy Jones