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What makes them stay with Scouting?


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#21 Col. Flagg

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Posted 08 August 2017 - 08:44 AM

Since the question was asked...what makes my guys stay in Scouting is because it for boys. It's the same reason my Venturers stay in Venturing, because it's coed. If the former were to change I know most of my Life Scouts would stay to make Eagle and leave. My younger guys would just play sports and the troop would fold.


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#22 blw2

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Posted 08 August 2017 - 01:26 PM

I couldn't agree more about the friend thing.  It's one of the many nuances that i was trying to get at earlier....and it's so nuanced that it's hard to even put a finger on which ones will work and which ones won't....

 ....

 

One thing that my troop is lucky with is our age, founded 1909 (we think, some say 1911, but either way we're old!) we have a lot of history. We have lots of old trophies and photos hung up everywhere. It helps with that sense of them being part of something bigger......

 

I think this is another very interesting almost "outside" variable.

 

I have often thought just how totally great it would be to have a scout hut.  A place where the unit could have total access and total control.  A place to hang up their pictures, trophies, treasures and finds, etc...

instead, I guess we are more like what I guess to be the situation that most troops are in.  We fight to get on the CO's schedule for room access, competing against many other groups and events for the space.  We're not even always in the same room.  We have nothing hung up or displayed, except the troops flags which get squirreled away in this corner or that closet....We are lucky to have a place to park our trailer and a few feet of shelf space in the CO's shed.


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#23 Ankylus

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Posted 18 August 2017 - 03:39 PM

Is it something else? The program? Leaders? Parents? Scouts and their friends? Just random luck that kids want to keep doing it? 

 

I think the single greatest factor is experiencing good program with a group of friends. I think it is more likely that they will stay in scouts if their friends are also there and I think they are more likely to stay if they find the program fun and interesting. Put the two together and I think you have a real winning hand.

 

One huge problem is, of course, that individual scouts will find different things fun and interesting. 

 

I also think it helps a great deal if the scout's personality and the troop's personality are a good match.  For example, there is a very large, very successful troop very close to our home. (Lots of "very" there, but it's the right word.) But it was highly regimented and not boy led. (At least within my definition.) Neither of my sons would have been happy in that troop. And fortunately neither would their friends have been.

 

And, of course, parents, leaders and such are integral parts of all this. It takes the package to make it work for any boy. But I think the best bet is the scout experiencing fun and interesting program with his friends.


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#24 Ankylus

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Posted 18 August 2017 - 03:43 PM

I have often thought just how totally great it would be to have a scout hut.  A place where the unit could have total access and total control.  A place to hang up their pictures, trophies, treasures and finds, etc...

instead, I guess we are more like what I guess to be the situation that most troops are in.  We fight to get on the CO's schedule for room access, competing against many other groups and events for the space.  We're not even always in the same room.  We have nothing hung up or displayed, except the troops flags which get squirreled away in this corner or that closet....We are lucky to have a place to park our trailer and a few feet of shelf space in the CO's shed.

 

We are fortunate that our CO has provided us with a "scout house". And it eases some of your concerns like storage space and such. But we still have many of the problems you do for our CO does not reserve it solely for our use. Sometimes they even kick us out of it for some special function the church is having. Even now we are having to fend off a dance program in there that will severely restrict its availability to us. My oldest son's troop's CO did the same exact thing to them. Don't get me wrong, it's an improvement over what you describe. But it's not a cure all.  I hope the commiseration helps some.


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#25 qwazse

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Posted 19 August 2017 - 06:05 AM

Scout house: growing up we had the entire basement of a mansion next to the church. Entirely ours to renovate and maintain. Upstairs was for the senior center and youth group. To my knowledge, nobody else ever used it. Best part: SM lived two doors up.

I visited recently. It's a parking lot now. :(
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#26 HelpfulTracks

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Posted 19 August 2017 - 08:23 PM

I'll attempt to keep this short, even though it is a complex subject with complex issues. It really depends on how you define strong leadership. Visibly strong adult leadership CAN be a negative, if it is quashing the boys ability to be strong leaders.

 

In my mind, it is a strong program lead by scouts. The scouts take charge and create, lead and maintain a program that they enjoy and will participate in regularly and for an extended period. Scouts will figure out what they like to do and do it. 

 

In many really strong units, there always seems to be 1 or 2 or 5 or so really good youth leaders that the others youth really latch on to and follow. It is fun to watch the young patrols look at the SPL and older scouts as if they are super heroes, emulating their every move.

 

In many strong troops, adult leadership seems almost non-existent. But it is not absent, just subtle and tailored. The adults guide and advise but take a back seat in the active leadership of the youth, letting the scouts do the leading. They help the older scouts be the super heroes by coaching them off to the side where it is less apparent to the other scouts. The good youth leaders will pass that guidance on to the younger ones.

 

To be sure it is cyclical, there will be times that there is more need for adults to step up, but the sooner they can step back into the background and let the boys run things the better. With the right mix of guidance and hands off the boys will create programs that they like and continue to participate in as they get older. From the outside it may even seem the adults are not really leading, but they almost certainly are doing a good job of leading.

 

Just my two cents, your mileage may vary.

Hopefully Helpful Tracks


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#27 Sentinel947

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Posted 19 August 2017 - 08:41 PM

Friends. I joined because my friends did. I stayed in the troop because my friends did. I became an ASM to stay involved in the troop while my younger friends finished.

If my friends had quit when I was a youth, I would have too.
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#28 Stosh

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Posted 21 August 2017 - 10:00 AM

When I was in Scouting as a youth, my whole patrol quit and we continued with "scouting" activities on our own.  Eventually we joined Civil Air Patrol as a group.  Often times it is the group, not the activity, that holds the key to successful maintenance of a group of boys at that age.


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#29 mashmaster

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Posted 21 August 2017 - 02:32 PM

My scouts stay in because it is fun and they get to choose what fun things they want to do.  The minute they have to stare at some old guy with a power point.....yawn


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#30 CA Scout Mom

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Posted 25 August 2017 - 08:09 PM

I've written a books worth of stuff on this forum for this very subject. I will try and be brief to keep it short (yah right!).

 

At the Cub Level we must understand that while the program is for the boys, success depends on keeping the adults interested. If the adults (parents and leaders) are having fun and enjoying the program, there is a 99% likelihood of the boys reaching Webelos and crossing over to the Troops.

 

In my research, the primary reason for the membership drop at the cub level is adult burnout. Burnout is the loss of motivation and energy to provide a fun program. Five years is way way way too much to expect from volunteers.

 

At the troop level there are two areas of large membership losses.

 

The first is the first year scout. More scouts are lost in this age group than any other age group of scouts in all of the BSA. The reason I found is because the huge jump of a 10 year going from a adult guided lifestyle to a patrol method independent decision making lifestyle is terrifying. Imagine a boy who may have never camped in his life being told to pack up for a campout with a troop of strangers. These boys need some time to spool up the confidence that they are safe in the troop even while setting up a tent in the deep dark woods.

 

The other larger problem I found in my research are the loss of older scouts. I believe the success of the whole troop program is based from the success of the 14 and older part of the program. The over all problem with the 'majority' of troops is they tend to drive their program toward what I call is a First Class Advancement program. The vast majority of the troops activities are designed for scouts to advance up to a First Class level. Actually many troops drive it toward Eagle, but it is the same problem. 

 

A troop that develops activities for advancement works out OK for 10 to 13 year old scouts because they are basically followers and the activities that to them are new and fun. But scouts after puberty have a different natural instinct that drives them more toward taking care of their gang and controlling their future. They simply have the same instincts as adults. The problem with most troops is they don't know how to use that instinct because they still think of older scouts as adolescent boys. So the adults typically assign the older scout to only teach, what, FIRST CLASS SKILLS. Yep, the older scouts are repeating their first three years all over again. Older scouts want responsibility in developing boys into men, not babysitting scouts in classroom type settings.

 

The problem is we are told over and over to let the older scouts teach so they are doing adult responsibilities. But teaching in a class room type of environment isn't really an adult responsibility. It is just plain boring. So the older scouts drop out and the older scouts of the troop don't typically last longer than age 14.

 

Troop adults need to develop the program so that First Class skills are not developed in class room type setting, but instead through passive actions during adventure activities. The program needs to get away from advancement themes so that the scout develop more of their survival skills like backpacking, canoeing, camping, hiking, bicycle riding and on and on. You know, the fun stuff. The older scouts leading those activities don't feel trapped in the same ol same ol program of previous years and they aren't babysitters. The program needs to be developed so that younger scouts learn "everything" from the role models of older scouts. That may sound simple, but it goes against the nature of a protective parent. It takes as much practice for the adults to stand back as it does for scouts to step forward. But in short, it comes down to a fun program. And it's the older scouts who define fun, not the younger ones. Like the Cub program, if the older scouts are excited about the program, the younger ones will follow.

 

That is a very brief in my limited time description of my experience and research of how units succeed and fail. I can fill in the gaps if you would like more detail.

 

Barry

Great analysis...I just posted a reply (well, rant really...) on how our older and small Scout cohort disappeared to the Venture crew and left the younger Scouts (ages 12 and below primarily) high and dry and then one of them came back to get his Eagle at age 17 3/4 and accused the troop of being too adult-led!  Anyway, our troop  is maintaining--not growing, not decreasing.  We're sandwiched between two super-troops of about 100 Scouts each in our area so they tend to attract most Scouts into their orbits.


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#31 Phrogger

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Posted 10 September 2017 - 12:47 PM

Agree with Eagledad on the first year Scout issue. My son is starting his second year and near quitting. We did Wolves all the way through Webelos but the transition to the troop was a shock. He doesn't find it fun. I think they ought to break out the tween-age group and give them their own activities.


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#32 Old Eagle 73

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Posted 21 September 2017 - 09:13 AM

I agree with you that Scouts over 14 quit because programs can be boring – and Scouting is competing with other High School activities. If their friends quit – there is even less of a reason to stay with scouting.

I would like to make 2 points: 

 

I don’t think that getting a new scout to 1st class in a year to 18 months is the principle purpose of scouting for this age group.  I have always thought that the goal was for the scouts that are generally 14+ old to learn leadership by ensuring they train the younger scouts – and if the older scouts have developed an adequate training curriculum – the younger scouts should be able to reach 1st class within a year to 18 months. Just as they will need to do 10-15 years from now when they are leaders in the workplace, older scouts need to begin to learn how to work with different personality types, scouts that don’t show up regularly at meetings, and what it takes to motivate different individuals to succeed and “do their best”.  This is a lot of work for a 14-year old – and he may not view it as “fun”.  My son is 11 and in a Friendship patrol.  At one of his first campouts with the troop, he asked his Guide if they were going to get their Totin’ Chip on this campout.  The Guide said “Don’t worry – you will get that at Scout Camp this summer”. Older scouts should not abdicate their training responsibilities to summer camp – or they are not learning leadership.

 

Scouting does a great job recognizing individuals that are being promoted – but may not do enough to recognized the older scouts that are doing the training.  It’s hard work and they don’t feel that they are recognized for their service – other than wearing a PL or SPL patch on their shoulder. I have suggested to our scoutmaster that during the court of honor – he recognized the PL, SPL, and other youth leaders who worked to help the younger scouts achieve success in their advancement.  Perhaps have the PL introduce the individual scouts in his patrol that are being promoted that evening.

 

Second, the other way to help keep the older scouts engaged is by doing new activities – going on the same canoe trip on the same river each year can get very boring. I suspect that under the concept of “scout led troop”, some troop leaders let the youth leaders initiate all the planning of outdoor activities for the coming year. But is it reasonable to expect a 14-15 year old boys to come up with new fun ideas, contact outfitters, judge how easy/difficult the outing may be for scouts of various ages and skill levels, etc.? It is just too easy for scouts at the planning meeting to just do what they did last year. I am not advocating that adult leaders do all of this – but without fresh ideas and outings a program can become stale and older scouts will lose interest. Given technology – it would not be difficult for a District or Council web site to have a “Best Outings” link – where they post summaries and reviews of outings submitted by troop members in the District or Council.  It could be a great resource page that the youth Scout Leaders in a troop could use to get new ideas for outdoor activities.

 

My nephew recently made Eagle – and the older scouts in his troop call the Eagle Court of Honor the “Eagle Retirement Ceremony”.  That is most unfortunate.  Troops across the country have difficulty retaining older scouts and keeping younger scouts interested.  I think that forums like this can help generate new ideas to help scouting.


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#33 Old Eagle 73

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Posted 21 September 2017 - 09:13 AM

I agree with you that Scouts over 14 quit because programs can be boring – and Scouting is competing with other High School activities. If their friends quit – there is even less of a reason to stay with scouting.

I would like to make 2 points: 

 

I don’t think that getting a new scout to 1st class in a year to 18 months is the principle purpose of scouting for this age group.  I have always thought that the goal was for the scouts that are generally 14+ old to learn leadership by ensuring they train the younger scouts – and if the older scouts have developed an adequate training curriculum – the younger scouts should be able to reach 1st class within a year to 18 months. Just as they will need to do 10-15 years from now when they are leaders in the workplace, older scouts need to begin to learn how to work with different personality types, scouts that don’t show up regularly at meetings, and what it takes to motivate different individuals to succeed and “do their best”.  This is a lot of work for a 14-year old – and he may not view it as “fun”.  My son is 11 and in a Friendship patrol.  At one of his first campouts with the troop, he asked his Guide if they were going to get their Totin’ Chip on this campout.  The Guide said “Don’t worry – you will get that at Scout Camp this summer”. Older scouts should not abdicate their training responsibilities to summer camp – or they are not learning leadership.

 

Scouting does a great job recognizing individuals that are being promoted – but may not do enough to recognized the older scouts that are doing the training.  It’s hard work and they don’t feel that they are recognized for their service – other than wearing a PL or SPL patch on their shoulder. I have suggested to our scoutmaster that during the court of honor – he recognized the PL, SPL, and other youth leaders who worked to help the younger scouts achieve success in their advancement.  Perhaps have the PL introduce the individual scouts in his patrol that are being promoted that evening.

 

Second, the other way to help keep the older scouts engaged is by doing new activities – going on the same canoe trip on the same river each year can get very boring. I suspect that under the concept of “scout led troop”, some troop leaders let the youth leaders initiate all the planning of outdoor activities for the coming year. But is it reasonable to expect a 14-15 year old boys to come up with new fun ideas, contact outfitters, judge how easy/difficult the outing may be for scouts of various ages and skill levels, etc.? It is just too easy for scouts at the planning meeting to just do what they did last year. I am not advocating that adult leaders do all of this – but without fresh ideas and outings a program can become stale and older scouts will lose interest. Given technology – it would not be difficult for a District or Council web site to have a “Best Outings” link – where they post summaries and reviews of outings submitted by troop members in the District or Council.  It could be a great resource page that the youth Scout Leaders in a troop could use to get new ideas for outdoor activities.

 

My nephew recently made Eagle – and the older scouts in his troop call the Eagle Court of Honor the “Eagle Retirement Ceremony”.  That is most unfortunate.  Troops across the country have difficulty retaining older scouts and keeping younger scouts interested.  I think that forums like this can help generate new ideas to help scouting.


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#34 cocomax

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Posted 24 September 2017 - 03:45 PM

I was a scout in the 1970's. I was in from age 11 to age 17 and I made First Class, I earned only merit badges that interested me. I was not at all worried about advancement, I was too busy having fun with my friends and going on adventure after adventure. Quitting never crossed my mind back then, scouting was too much fun to give up. Scouting changed my life and made me a leader, it happened naturally, without me even realizing it at the time. There was no EDGE method and exact methods of teaching.    It was just a group of Boys making the adventure happen, our adventures that we picked and we shared leadership naturally.  The eagles in your troop didn't quit, they stayed around, they were having fun.

 

What happened?  What is this Cyberchip thing? What does Cyberchip have to do with Scouting? It is nothing more than an extension of what is already taught in schools.

What is with all this paperwork, powerpoint, flip charts, lectures? Did scouts turn into a school program?

 

What happened to the merit badge system?  How are scouts getting cooking merit badges without cooking? How are scouts getting welding merit badges for using a welder for no more than 5 seconds? And then not knowing what type of welder they were using let alone the first thing about welding.  Why are there merit badge mills that will pass out 3 merit badges to anyone that sits through a weekend of lectures and does some paperwork. . .

 

Advancement for advancements sake is boring, no wonder Boys are quitting and joining sports instead, at least they get to do something when they are part of sports.

 

If it is all about advancement then when you are done advancing then you are done.  

 

Scouts need to be outside doing scouting things.  Advancement and learning leadership should come naturally and joyfully as just part of the game of scouting.


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#35 RememberSchiff

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Posted 24 September 2017 - 03:52 PM

@cocomax welcome to scouter.com. I see we share the same pain. :(


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#36 Stosh

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Posted 24 September 2017 - 03:56 PM

cocomax Welcome to the "good old days".  We are only a small minority of people on the forum, but that's okay.  Maybe someone will someday listen to what we have to say.  I only made 2nd Class, but what I learned has stayed with me all my life.


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#37 cocomax

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Posted 24 September 2017 - 04:05 PM

How do you get 14-15 year old boys to come up with new fun ideas?

 

Good question. . . 

 

The answer, the scouter has got to be a scout and do some scouting.  Grab some books about interesting placing near your location and go and scout them out. Look for odd and interesting places with a story, great places to hike to and camp at. Then when you are sitting around the campfire with the boys tell them some stories of your grand adventures, get them inspired with ideas of what is possible. . .  I have seen this method work wonders. . .

 

or 

 

Make a big list of possible things your troop could do and give it to your SPL and PLs have them research the list themselves tell them they can add to the list.  They simply might not know what is out there that the troop can do and can not come up with any new ideas. They might have the idea in their heads that they can only do the thing that the troop has done in the past because that is what the adults want and they want to please the adults.   

 

The boys in our troop came up with the idea taking part in a "MUD RUN" this last week and that is something we have never done before, they came up with that idea all on their own and the adults welcomed it.


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#38 Eagledad

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Posted 24 September 2017 - 04:55 PM

Adults are just as bad with creativity as Scouts. That is why most troops rely on a Scouts skills advancement program. Even when new ideas are presented, many units nixed them because they don't fit in with the advancement theme.

Education of understanding that advancement is a byproduct of adventure would be one way to encourage creativity of activities. And if the only way to get adults on board with an adventure program is compromising with some instructive advancement, then add a couple hours of free time before loading the cars for home.

Barry

Edited by Eagledad, 24 September 2017 - 04:55 PM.

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"Experience is the hardest teacher. It gives the test first, then the lesson."


#39 ScouterStephen

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Posted 24 September 2017 - 07:13 PM

I skimmed through this topic, and from what I could tell, the points are spot on. My troop is loosing lots of people, and reading through these responses, it makes a lot more sense as to why.


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#40 Stosh

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Posted 24 September 2017 - 07:40 PM

The Mrs. is out of town and she didn't take my credit card away from me.  :)  I just purchased $100 worth of books on living off the grid.  Basically they are books on how people survived in the world before electricity and modern conveniences.  Yeah, yeah, Stosh is at it again.  BUT jerking beef, making pemican, foraging for food or medicines, etc. will go a long way to lighten the load on any backpacking trek.  Going to the local camp store to buy freeze-dried foods at ridiculous prices vs. making your own at home for pennies on the dollar?  Our grandparents did this all the time and survived quite well.  Unfortunately today's scouts will starve to death in the Walmart parking lot if the electricity goes out.

 

These books will give suggestions on hunting, trapping, foraging, preserving foods, etc. all those things that are oriented to the outdoors where electrical plug-ins are non-existent.  Sure, for a few bucks one can buy a solar charger, but if the electricity to run cell phones and internet goes out, the iPhones and chargers are just a boat anchor in the pack.

 

Well, if we are teaching boys to be avid outdoorsmen, then we better teach them useful skills beyond S->FC advancement requirements.  After all, my homemade teriyaki venison jerky is better than anything one buys in the store.  It would be a shame to have Boy Scouts starving to death sitting in the middle of nature's grocery store.

 

Oh, but you say, that will never happen.  Well check it out with the people of Texas and Florida who went 3-4 weeks without eating anything other than what was salvaged out of their refrigerators and freezers if they could even get to them.  Water, water, everywhere, not a drop to drink. 

 

Yes, this can happen even today and if it's your neighborhood are you prepared?


Edited by Stosh, 24 September 2017 - 07:45 PM.

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