- Due to the official BSA policy of refusing membership to homosexuals and atheists, many (all?) public schools now prohibit Scouts from recruiting on campus. When I was a kid, mimeographed leaflets were handed out to let the boys know about pack meetings. Rallies were held in the gym. No more. The BSA has lost their best recruiting tool.
- Too many parents don't have (or won't make) the time to participate. Scouting is not short-term day care where you can drop your kid off for an hour or two while you go shopping. When your son becomes a Scout, you are also committing yourself. Many parents don't realize this, and after a while they get tired of it. (I'll wager that most of them don't really have more important things to do, Scouting just interferes with their TV time.)
- It's intimidating for volunteers. Say you're a dad who wants to help out. Your son belongs to the pack. You still have to go through a background check, you must provide character references, and then you must pass a series of tests and finally take a class, just to prove you aren't a danger. This goes for all volunteers.
While the few remaining parents who are active with their sons in Scouting struggle with an endless series of popcorn sales and other fund raising drives, those at the top work in a nice new office building filled with paid staffers (PDF file). Nice salaries for an organization with declining membership, too. The packs provide their own funding for all of their activities, so why the palace on the North Loop? And what do these people do? I never saw one of the top leaders come out to us in the 3 years my son and I have been in Scouting. When it came to recruiting we were told, "You're on your own." But we still had to send in our dues.
If I had been in charge, I would have leased space in a cheap office warehouse somewhere to run the basic necessary operations. The BSA is supposed to be about helping our sons, it's not about nice offices. With the money saved I would have started a permanent fund so that the local BSA could run advertising campaigns to recruit members before the start of each school year. We need more effective membership drives and fewer United Way begathons. When was the last time your son saw an ad promoting the BSA on Saturday morning TV?