Earlier today I received an email from a “fan of the blog and podcast”.. his email is certainly appreciated and I am glad that he took the time to express his thoughts, but…
I will not post the email here, but let me share with you the part that got me to write this post.
“OK Captain Obvious, we all know the ‘Methods of Scouting’ and use them, please tell us something we don’t know.. after all, if it isn’t broke we are not going to fix it”.
Really now.. it isn’t broke. Well good timing my friend. Last night at the Top Team meeting our Scout Executive presented the 2011 Progress review to the District Chairman. I was floored by the results of the audit at both the National level and our Council. Let me tell you that we have work to do.. at both the National Level… and the Council level. Now our SE said we are going to “Celebrate our short comings.. and work to fixing the issues”.. I would suggest, strictly from “Captain Obvious’s” point of view that we need to work and work hard to get some of these things fixed. So, tell us something we don’t know he said. Let me tell you that the discussion on Methods is exactly what we don’t know.
Let me share some National numbers with you..
MEMBERSHIP- In my last post on the Outdoor program, I suggested that PROGRAM, PROGRAM, PROGRAM, and working the Outdoor program method was a key point in getting Scouts to join and stay in Scouting. It is what gets Webelos to cross over and invite their friends to join. When I was at the National Meetings last year in San Diego, Rex Tillerson the BSA President talked to us about “the Main thing”. that Main thing is delivering Scouting to young men. They can’t do Scouting if they are not in Scouting.
In our Council we are seeing a terrible trend in Cub Scout market share (market share is how the BSA measures growth). Our Council is pretty much average with the Nation, but here are the numbers from 2007 thru 2011. In 2007 we had 15,022 Cub Scouts in the program, 14,465 in 2008, 13, 902 and 13, 303 in the next two years and in 2011 we ended the year with only 12,600 Cub Scouts. That is a significant loss. The reason that I find this alarming is that without Cub Scouts you drastically reduce the ranks of Boy Scouts.
Boy Scout membership in 2007 in our Council was 11,960 and in 2011 it dropped to 11, 731. Now this may not seem significant but long term, the Cub Scout numbers will catch up. Boys are in the Boy Scout program longer than their Cub Scout years, so we have not felt the impact of the dropping number yet.
I would suggest that this is broke and the question first is why? Could it be programs? Could it be the lack of leaders not trained.. we will get into that in a second. Could it be that methods are not being followed? I wish I had the answer.. but Captain Obvious here knows broke when he sees it.
Now the good news is that our Retention numbers are looking pretty good.. but only pretty good. The National Average in retention is 70.6%. We have way too many Scouts going out the back door. Our Council’s retention rate is 76%.. still not a great number.. so why are they leaving? Is it that they don’t agree with our values? are they bored? are they not getting the bang for their buck?
The average size of a Boy Scout Troop in America is 21 Scouts and we recruit about 9 a year on average… so where are they?
Ok.. lets move on to Advancement.. yeah.. remember that’s one of the methods also.. How are we doing?
Only 39.8% of the Boy Scouts in the Nation advanced a rank last year. Need we say more? Captain Obvious says we need to work a little harder on this.
Now get ready to treat for shock.. TRAINING!
Only.. and I hope you are sitting down for this.. ONLY 34.4% of Direct Contact leaders, that’s Tiger Leaders, Den Leaders, Webelos Leaders, Cub Masters, Scoutmasters, and Venturing Advisors are Trained in their positions! As my daughter would say OMG! And we are taking these boys in the woods and asking parents to feel good about it. I would not allow my sons to be in a unit with untrained leaders. 34.4 % is the National Average of trained leaders and I would suggest this needs immediate fixing. There is no excuse what so ever for an adult to be un trained. NONE. In an age where the BSA has made Training easier than ever to access, District and Council training committees are holding multiple training events annually… why are we not trained? How do we have “Adult Association” and mentoring for “Leadership development”. How does an adult who is not trained teach, coach, train and mentor a Scout? Captain Obvious is shocked.
So once again, I would like to thank the reader for the email and suggest that we revisit the “Main thing” and the Methods of Scouting. maybe, just maybe we can fix some of these issues… nay.. we have to fix these issues and the methods will help you and your unit fix what you think is not broke. Here is what I think. Those that don’t know.. don’t know. Those that are untrained, will not know. There are no excuses for this. We all love Scouting and for the most part will do what ever it takes to deliver the promise of Scouting. Scouting is alive and well, but has some work to do to deliver that promise. It’s obvious what we need to do. ON MY HONOR I will do my part!
What are your thoughts? I am curious to know what you think. drop an email, leave a comment, or send me smoke signals.
Have a Great Scouting day!
- Follow The Scoutmaster Minute on WordPress.com
Go To Wood Badge