To Sacrifice our Principles for Popularity

February 26, 2013

I am glad to see the BSA Home Office finally getting their PR straightened out on this membership mess.

Scouting Magazine‘s Bryan on Scouting blog today published a well-written defense of the national Key 3′s fiasco.  No matter how you feel about the content, at least they’re communicating.

I do disagree with the premise that this is a “family discussion”.  Call it what it is—outside agitators for political correctness.  The “family” settled this matter last year when National Council recommitted to existing membership standards.

Why would our leaders reopen this wound?  I believe this quote from National Commissioner Tico Perez is insightful:

The Key 3 has “one singular purpose in mind: to grow Scouting,” Perez explained. “To take Scouting to as many boys and girls as we can in America…

It’s all about the numbers.  That is the root threat to our organization, much much more important than this smokescreen of membership.

We all know Packs and Troops that look great on paper.  They recharter dozens and dozens of Scouts and Scouters.  They have fun at their meetings, but they don’t ask much of anybody.  Its not too hard to earn ranks, but not too many boys learn very much.  They are popular, but they don’t accomplish much.  That’s not to say we shouldn’t have fun, but at some point we’re compromising the quality of the program in the quest for numbers.

Growth for the sake of growth is no solution for Scouting.  We can not sacrifice our principles for popularity.

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6 Responses to “To Sacrifice our Principles for Popularity”


  1. After nearly 30 years as a Scouting volunteer I think that the policy should change.
    There are many, many thousands of Scouters who share my opinion, we aren’t outside agitators.


  2. When you hear CEO’s wanting growth (for their company) realize that it is usually tied to their paychecks. That is when the less modern standards are going to be changed. It is called the New Economics of growth. In another day not so long ago this was called Greed. Scouting stood for a standard not easily skirted, which made being a scout something honorable. If standards change…will it be just another one of many, many Service Organization’s out there?

  3. Julie Says:

    Scouting’s core values are apparently up for sale. That’s the bottom line. Paychecks nearing half a million dollar paychecks are on the line – we certainly wouldn’t want to do anything that would cause them to drop, would we?


  4. [...] To Sacrifice our Principles for Popularity [...]

  5. Paul F Says:

    From 1911 BSA Handbook; “The aim of the Boy Scouts is to supplement the various existing educational agencies, and to promote the ability in boys to do things for themselves and others. It is not the aim to set up a new organization to parallel in its purposes others already established.”

    And yet, there are no less than four parallel organizations that have sprung up around scouting which are wholly inclusive and supportive of the membership policies which some would change. Camp Fire USA, Navigators USA, Baden-Powell Service Association and Spiral Scouts offer what is being sought — an alternative to “traditional values” wrapped up in outdoors, service to community and advancement recognition. Kudos to those pioneers for following their hearts and putting in the effort to build programs for a segment of the population who have different ideals from many in BSA. I have no problem with that and am sincere in my best wishes that they continue to serve others cheerfully.

    BSA ended 2011 with approximately 2.8 million registered youth — the aims of scouting say nothing of needing to grow the organization and indeed, with birthrates in USA on the decline since 1972 (with only one blip of an exception) there’s no way to make such a growth goal sustainable without changing the eligibility requirements to include all previously excluded groups including opening the gender door, too. So it may very well be “growth by expanding popularity at the expense of the expressive message (i.e. principles)”

    “Groupthink” was just as scary when I first read 1984 by Orwell in high school – now it’s really here – everyone must agree or else. I guess I have a date with Room 101 for speaking against the grain.


  6. […] To Sacrifice our Principles for Popularity […]


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