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Where Do You See Scouting Membership In The Next 5 Years? What Can We Do To Grow The Program?

Trails End revamps their line up every year, and offers fewer and fewer $10 items each year. This year we only get one product at $10, and one at $15. Everything else is $20 or higher ( I think there’s only one $20 product, too).

I just received our Council’s requirements for in-person popcorn sales… I’m canning the fundraiser; what we actually earned last year will barely cover the cost of the additional requirements for this year.

When you compare Girl Scout Cookies to BSA Popcorn, it’s my belief that getting repeat sales is far more easier with cookies than popcorn. Heck, people look forward to the cookies arrival. You don’t see a lot of people asking when the popcorn drive is beginning, In fact, I think they run for the hills! Going back to the same well to get people to buy grossly overpriced popcorn is much harder than cookies.


If the question is about what policies will actually increase membership we need to roll back policies and failed marketing decisions starting at the beginning:

  • Rescind the ageist policy on rank advancement imposed in the late 60s. Allow adults to continue to earn rank advancement so long as they are registered leaders in a troop.
  • Acknowledge that leaders and youth who may be atheists can also be showing reverence by supporting the religious freedom of their fellow scouts.
  • Remove all professional programs that incentivize membership numbers. A scout is trustworthy, but an executive whose paycheck is on the line may not be.
  • Promote the aspirational concept of being a 1st Class Scout. Declare: First Class, first year is a lie. The skills therein are difficult to master.
  • Get beyond the loggerheads of Seaton and Lowe and publicly invite members of GS/USA to national and world Jamborees.
  • Peg registration fees to the cost of a large pizza and beverage. If it costs a venturer more than that, they will consider using their dimes on hiking and camping independently with their mates.
  • Independent patrol overnights. ‘Nuff said.
  • Report the empirical evidence undergirding each safety rule. The long term risk of cardiovascular disease due to inactivity should also be reported.
  • Drop Scouts BSA, and restore the Boy Scout program. Add a parallel program called BSA for Girls. Treat them as parallel programs until American girls and boys are welcome to be in the same patrol camp under the same tent (personally, I’m fine if that’s a long way off … but that may be my Arab heritage talking).
  • All councils should be named after the largest city in their boundaries. Communities that would rather be named after a nearer, smaller city may assemble the funds and recruit the COs to start their own council.
  • Plain old ascii project workbook book. MB pamphlet covers in two color with minimum cost. Rescind instapalms. And generally be plain spoken. Especially in these 21st century surveys that are intended to promote certain initiatives rather than decide on policy.
  • Finally get us green shirts off our high horses regarding “venturer” and “venture scouts”. The former was born out of some bizarre passion to be different, the latter makes more sense and is a whole lot easier to market.

That’s my short list. Work it from top to bottom. See growth. Otherwise, expect our numbers to halve again in five years.

@Qwazse - I am in agreement most especially on point #2 but on the fence with point #9. But a scout is Brave and you have posted some great things to consider.

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@Stephen_Hornak, I did put the “Scouts BSA” item far down on the list because I’m a fan of substance first, nomenclature second. If the first few items might lead to membership increases of tens of percents, the ones further down might provide increases of fractions of percents.

I know that the aspiration of “Scouts BSA” is hard to set aside. But it’s less deceptive. Objectively, the scouting organizations with the fastest growing market share of youth (e.g., Pakistan, Indonesia, Saudi, Afghanistan) segregate programs by sex. Scouts UK is a unique exception and it took decades to arrive at the current number of boys in the program. But we aren’t them, not by a long shot. There is no shame in saying that we’re imitating models of traditionally conservative oriental countries to a degree. I believe a trademark that is brutally honest will convey clearly what we are offering to young American women.

Maybe it’s my experience, I’ve gotten my price when selling my old cars. And I believe that was partly because I spelled out every dent, scratch, and leak before they even considered driving it. We need to purge any and all marketing doublespeak if we want our brand to ring true.

@Qwazse - thank you for the clarification. I do think though that there are some that may not realize that scouting is a movement not a fixed point in time and that said movement is a world organization. They get seemingly stuck on thinking that it exists here only and/or that ours is the only way to operate. Again I agree with your points.

@SteveCagigas Question what are their requirements? Also which council?

Michigan Crossroads Council.
New requirements (in general):

  • Unit returns restricted to 10% of order
  • Product mix reshuffled with fewer lower-priced items

COVID-specific new requirements:

  • Pictures or posters of the product, or one bag separately wrapped/bagged to show the stock.
  • Face masks and face shields for everyone working at the storefront
  • Additional tables to enforce the 6-ft social distancing
  • Scouts/Scouters cannot touch any product; only customers can pull product after paying

Of course, all irrelevant for storefronts, since here in Michigan pretty much everyone is prohibiting on-stie sellers. WalMart and Sam’s Club have said no, and Kroger will not respond to the question, according to our popcorn kernel’s latest update.

Fellow Rush fan?
Obligatory twenty character padding…

I’ve been a fan most of my life. I was in high school when the Moving Pictures album came out.

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Same here. Saw them for the first time in Albuquerque in 1982 on the Signals tour.

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I did Jacksonville on the Moving Pictures. Fortunately, my son who is in Scouts has picked up my love of classic rock bands and likes Rush. Freewill is his favorite song. I wished I could have taken him to a Rush concert before Neil Peart passed away…

I also saw them in Atlanta on the Exit Stage Left.

Sorry to drift from the main topic but this IS Rush…LOL

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I would like to get people’s thoughts on Scouting For Food this year. I’ve never been a fan of door-to-door events and I wonder how people will respond even if good social distancing measures are used. Some people seem to be very emotional about any potential for of contact. I haven’t seen National or our council come down with any directive and was curious.

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We haven’t been really active with it in the past due to . . . politics. The local Council sends all the food collected to Gleaners in Detroit, even though there’s a chronically under-funded foodbank located in our district that could really use the help. When it’s been brought up in the past that the local place could really use the help, Council’s response was “That’s nice. Keep sending all the food to Gleaners”.

Nothing against Gleaners, but there are one of many foodbanks, and they don’t serve the communities in our local District.

I was contacted by a Committee Chair today. Her boy and girl troop and another troop both chartered by the American Legion were told that they would no longer charter the troops because of BSA national stance on Black Lives Matter.

A petition has been started. " The Boy Scouts of America took a knee by supporting Black Lives Matter Organization"

Wait for it. There will likely be more troops disbanded by the American Legion charter organizations.
Wait for it, many Explorer posts supported by police and fire departments may be dissolved.
Wait for it, the VFW may stop chartering Boy scout as well.

Members of the Scouting family are welcome to provide input to aid in the assessment. Click here to provide feedback about any of the proposed recommendations.

I wasn’t aware the BSA was supporting the organization of Black Lives Matter. I’ve read the official statement many times:

We condemn the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and all those who are not named but are equally important. We hear the anguish, feel the heartbreak, and join the country’s resolve to do better.

The Boy Scouts of America stands with Black families and the Black community because we believe that Black Lives Matter. This is not a political issue; it is a human rights issue and one we all have a duty to address. That is why, as an organization, we commit to:

  • Introducing a specific diversity and inclusion merit badge that will be required for the rank of Eagle Scout. It will build on components within existing merit badges, including the American Cultures and Citizenship in the Community merit badges, which require Scouts to learn about and engage with other groups and cultures to increase understanding and spur positive action.
  • Reviewing every element of our programs to ensure diversity and inclusion are engrained at every level for participants and volunteers by applying a standard that promotes racial equality and denounces racism, discrimination, inequality and injustice.
  • Requiring diversity and inclusion training for all BSA employees starting July 1 and taking immediate action toward introducing a version for volunteers in the coming months.
  • Conducting a review of property names, events and insignia, in partnership with local councils, to build on and enhance the organization’s nearly 30-year ban on use of the Confederate flag and to ensure that symbols of oppression are not in use today or in the future.

I don’t interpret the conclusion that the BSA is supporting the militant organization of Black Lives Matter. The slogan “Black Lives Matter” came before the Organization as I recall. It’s a generic support of equality that is commonly used right now. It’s not a phrase I use but I get it.

It just seems that no matter what, someone wants to fuss about the BSA. All I can say is that we no longer live in Norman Rockwell’s Americana and the sooner certain people realize that and learn how to operate in the new norm the better people will be.


I does not matter what you believe or how you interpret the letter, it is what, in this case, how the American Legion has reacted to it.

Membership is going to go down and registration fees are going to go up in 2021, just how far is unknown.

BSA knows this and that is why the recommendations are

  • “Reinvigorate the on-boarding program for new Scout families and members”
  • “Streamline the unit rechartering process.”
  • “Prioritize National BSA strategic communications and marketing”
  • “Establish a national Chief Communications and Marketing Officer”
  • “Create a membership executive position within councils focused on growth and paid on performance”

What I find curious is that this particular American Legion chapter you are speaking of apparently had no problem sponsoring units given the fact that it allows gay leaders, LGBT Scouts and Girls yet racial equality and diversity training seems to be the straw that broke the camel’s back and decided to kick these kids out in the street.


The Guide to Safe Scouting is one of the most problematic issues for the Boy Scouts of America. The BSA has a culture of negativity. Don’t do this, Don’t do that, Double Don’t do this. The organization is more focused on “rules” than outcomes. As they look at “churchill” for guidance and want better qualifications for councils, they are heading in 100% the opposite direction of where they should be going - micro councils. The BSA is a hierarchical top down leadership organization. While they are issuing “orders” to the “troops” the rest of the world has changed around them to be more agile and reactive and opportunistic to grow and learn.

In our local council they are shutting down a camp because the “National Council Standards” that include luxury hotels instead of camping cabins are part of “safe Scouting” The local council has so enraged people that they are looking to buy their camp and essentially step out on their own and ignore the council entirely. Top down dictation of programming standards is WWII management philosophy and completely disconnected from where the world is going.

Micro councils at neighborhood levels with a strong digital technology to connect them allow people to act locally and still work nationally. The National Council and their Committee on Committees of Committees is redundant and bloated and out of touch with the grassroots Scouting effort. Until that changes, Scouting will continue to decline because people are disconnected from the leaders. Simplification of the program is a must.