Lets talk about membership.
We all know that we need members to keep Scouting alive. There are many different angles and directions to answer the membership question. I am not going to solve this issue in this post, rather, I am opening up the dialogue to see what you all think.
Scouting in the United States if a bit different from the rest of the World Organization of the Scouting Movement (WOSM).
First, we are not Coed, until you get to the Venturing Program.
Second, our programs are not connected. Yes, Cub Scouts go to Boy Scout etc… but in most cases outside of the US, a Scout group is made up of youth from 7 to 21. The units are formed from a group. This allows for continuity in the program and allows for leadership and example to be promoted from within the group. Personally, I like this idea. I think it solves a few of the issues we have in Scouting in the US. Namely keeping youth in Scouting.
I have become pen pals of sorts with some Scouters from outside of the United States. While they do have their own issues it seems that young people stay in Scouting longer and have a great Scouting experience along the way.
Starting off as a young 7-year-old and staying in Scouting till they are in their young adulthood. I think this creates a better Scouting life for them.
Anyway, as stated, I am not going to answer the question, just start the discussion.
I think that the BSA will need to explore the COED option sooner than later. With declining membership and the Girl Scout program not what most girls want… I think that opening the doors to a COOED program may go along way to saving Scouting in America.
So how does that work? Will we lose our values and program? I don’t think so. I think we can move forward with the program we have. We need not tailor the program to girls, they will fit right in. Look at the Venturing program as it is? It would be much better if it were filled with young people and adventure.
OK, membership at the core.
I think that our professionals at the National and Council level have the very best of intentions when they talk membership. It is a simple equation. Get more youth in and membership will fix itself.
A few things that I know for sure.
You will never be able to out recruit your losses. You will never be able to keep Scouts in a program that is floundering.
When I was a young Scoutmaster I was told the three keys to a successful troop were Program, Program, and Program. If you build it they will come. Boys do not join Scouts for Monday night meetings. They join for cool programs and camp outs. Parents bring their sons to our program. Not to our meetings. They need to be able to see value in the program.
Program will drive membership. So I think sometimes we put the cart before the horse. The horse is our program, the cart is membership and money. Now, you can’t have one without the other, but if your priority is not program, you won’t get members. That, I know for sure.
So where is our effort more effective? Building programs or recruiting? I think we build programs and let them come.
There are more factors to this discussion to be sure. It is not always that simple I understand. At the unit level programs need to be the priority. Build it and they will come. Recruiting efforts need to be a part of the annual plan. Focusing on Cub Scouts is not the only answer. We need to sell Scouting to all eligible youth.
This is where I see other WOSM get it. They appeal to youth of all ages and keep them in longer. There is a coolness factor about hanging out with their peers and they longer they stay, so do their friends. I think this is an important part of our membership issue.
So.. lets take a few posts and explore this issue?
What do you think? Let’s discuss this.
Here is a little video I stumbled on that really got me thinking. It is from the Scouts in Germany. I would love to see our youth in American Scouting like this one day. I got to see Scouting like this when I was a kid in the Transatlantic Council as we did many International Scouting activities.
Also take a moment to check out the Kandersteg International Scout Center videos. See what they look like and lets see how we can implement some of this here.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
Lets talk about membership.