Would appreciate any feedback (successes, failures, other lessons learned) on motivating older (13 & 14-year old) boys to join/re-join Scouting and, once re-registered, on integrating them into troop activities and the advancement with younger Scouts.
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- Aug 2008
If they are older scouts, i.e. First Class and above, then let them run the meetings and program. They should be the ones who plan, organize, and run meetings and trips. Our job as leaders is to advise and mentor, amkign sure things are doen safely, BUT letting them succeed or fail as the case may be on their own.
Also having them form their own Venture patrol so they can do a few extra activities occassionaly without the rest of the troop is another way to keep them going.
In reflecting on my old troop, while not perfect, it was boy-run adn we had no problem retaining older scouts. Yes we would lose a few to the fumes and jobs, but for the most part we kept them until 18 or they left for college/military.
Sorry if this is duplication - I may have inadvertently sent an incomplete reply.
Thanks for quick reply. Agree with you 100%. Of the two boys who are subject of my post, one dropped out as Cub, so would be a 13- or 14-yr old New Scout; the other dropped out as Second Class Scout, so would be a 14- or 14-yr old Second Class Scout, and this is the challenge.
A few months ago we had a 15 year old former troop member rejoin. He had only been in the troop a few months, not yet a Tenderfoot, when he dropped out. He had gone to summer camp and earned Swimming MB. Handbook and all other advancement records were lost.
I think it may have been friendship with active scouts that led him to return, I am not really sure. He quickly decided he wanted to be part of our summer high adventure trek. Of course he has to be First Class so that lit the fire. He just earned Tenderfoot, most of Second Class is done and he should earn First Class in the next few weeks. He was on a shakedown last week and did great. On the trip down the other scouts drilled him on the requirements for 2C.
The thing is that the high adventure trek is the carrot that is motivating this scout to endure working on the lower ranks just a few weeks ahead of the 10-11 year olds.
Patrick got two of his friends to join the troop when they were 13 and 14. One had been in Cubs and had a miserable time and took some convincing to get him to join. He worked very hard at the early ranks, mostly because he didn't like that younger boys outranked him. He could be seen on campouts reading his handbook - imagine that! That fellow is turning 16, is Star rank, and leaving this morning with my son to work his second summer at camp. The other was in Cub Scouts for a couple of years and crossed over to a troop. He dropped out after his first summer camp. He is now seventeen, a Life Scout, and starting to plan his Eagle project.
A few weeks ago the 13 year old brother of one of our new scouts joined. He was a bit hesitant at first because he thought he'd be put in one of the new scout patrols. Nope. He was put with the middle school guys patrol. SPL and another scout have been working with him to get him trained on Tenderfoot through First Class requirements. All of our new scouts are going through the first year camper program at camp, but not this boy. He's taking merit badges and is really excited about it - especially shotgun shooting. Fun stuff.
It is possible to get and keep older scouts that join. Just be sure not to treat them like they are 11 years old. Yes, they have to have the training needed for camping and high adventure treks (if your troop does such), but in my observations the older boys have a much easier time learning the ropes (pun intended).
- May 2005
we had a 14 year old friend of my son's join who left cubs as a bear. He was real motivated catch up to his peers ranks. Now is 16 and almost Life. Got Eagle on his mind, or at least his parents mind who are his prime motivators.
I was thinking about it reading the other posts. There is something very special about a guy that joins scouts at 13, 14 or 15. The bulk of the scouts bridge from cubs and don't so much make the choice to stay in scouts as they don't make the choice to quit... many are just going with the flow 'cause dad wants him to or their friends are in it or it is just a habit.
Some drop out in the first year but many rise to the challenge and turn out to be fine scouts and gain from the experience. They are patrol leaders at age 12 or 13 and by 14 or 15 they are Life Scouts with their eyes on Eagle.
Others are still coasting at 15, going to meetings and the occasional camp out with no particular interest in leadership or advancement. These guys rarely show up if the camping is more than a hundred feet from the parking lot. They will spend a week at summer camp and maybe earn a merit badge or two but they will rarely sign up for COPE or climbing and high adventure is just too much adventure. The perpetual First Class scout who has forgotten much of the what he learned to get to that rank. Some might get a last minute burst of enthusiasm and go for becoming a "deathbed Eagle" but most will just coast. I wonder if they will coast through the rest of there lives without any spirit of adventure or excitement in their lives.
On the other hand, an older guy who shows up at a scout meeting and says he wants to join is making a very conscious decision to choose scouting. He is choosing to come do something that many of his peers may not think is cool. He is choosing to start with kids considerably younger and to try and catch up to those his own age. That takes dedication and a certain amount of guts. They are worth the extra time that a leader may have to take to get them up to speed.
Hal makes a very good point about the motivation of an older boy joining scouts. He's made a decision to do so rather than just crossing over from cubs or because his parents think it's something he should do.
- Feb 2011
I would like to resurrect this thread.
A family at church is having a hard time and the mom is interested in getting her almost 14 year old son in Scouting so he can have some better role models and he enjoys the outdoors. So mush of scouting now seems oriented to getting the young crossovers into scouts--what about the needs of an older boy?
We have had a few boys like this and they usually turn out to be pretty darn good Life scouts.
(By the way he was inspired after seeing Moonlight Kingdom)
- Jul 2012
The challenge with older boys (14 and older) is they by nature hate change. They are motivated by activities that challenge them physically and mentally. I never had much luck with boys who were not in scouts before age 14 because the administration part of the program like PLC, troop and patrol meetings was boring to them. They didnt really see how administering to the whole program applied to the things they wanted to do like camping, hiking and rappelling. They were bored and eventually left.
However, I have seen a very high success rate with older boys joining Venture Crews because they can do the adventure part and willing to endure the administration because they could see how it directly affected them personally.
The troop program is designed to use the maturity of all the ages to support the basic structure of growth by observing and serving. Younger scouts learn best by watching older scouts. Older scouts grow from the responsibilities of serving. The design works very well when managed correctly.
The Venture program doesnt have the multiple maturity differences to administer and as a result administration is much closer to the each scouts personally.
Long way to say that I think Venture Crews is a better way to go for this young man.
- Apr 2009
I've seen the opposite. Only about 1 in 5 of the boys who came into the crew from outside of scouting (or even outside our troop) got anywhere near as involved as the boys from our troop.
Not sayin' it's a bad idea. Just saying that just because the shirts may be a little greener doesn't mean the grass is.
Son #2 finally got a buddy to come to a troop campout, they were building a foot bridge in muck and mire for a service project. The boy loved it. Came back wanting to join. That was six months ago. Still hasn't completed the app. I offered that he could join the crew. He thinks it's a great idea. Still waiting for that app.
In general, I think if you can give a youth that age an appropriate task and lots of recognition for completing it, his chances of coming back increase. Regarding advancement, tell the boy if he wants to, he can, but what you would really like is that he pick up skills. Challenge him to read the first half of the handbook, and see how much of it he already knows, ask him to have a younger PL test him as a way of "secretly" helping that PL with his skills.
Honestly? I think the biggest factor is if your boys are friendly. The older boys will quickly feel like adopted big brothers in that environment.
>>I've seen the opposite. Only about 1 in 5 of the boys who came into the crew from outside of scouting (or even outside our troop) got anywhere near as involved as the boys from our troop.
- Dec 2004
I was a den leader for 4 years and then an ASM for 2 years. My oldest son had no interest in scouting during all that time. Sports was his thing. One day at lunch in High School, his buddies asked him how he was planning on getting into college. He responded sports. They laughed and replied; No really how are planning on getting into college?
He joined scouts the next week 3 months before his 15th birthday. He decided having Eagle on his application would help him get into college. 3 years 1 month later he earned the rank of Eagle. He continued to play sports, have a girlfriend, and have an active social life. He worked scouts like a job. How many requirements can I complete at this event. What extra outings, events, activities are available to get those lingering requirements/badges. When he was at scouts he had fun with his patrol, but he was always looking to get something signed off. What brought him into the program was a desire get into college.
A boy returning to boy scouts while having been a boy scout before knows what he is getting into. A boy returning from cub scouts has no idea or likely a wrong idea about scouts. Boys want adventure and challenge. Most have no interest in leading and managing the troop. Campouts need to have a planned event besides checking off T-FC requirements. Canoeing, hiking, climbing, cycling, kayaking, rappeling, etc. something to physicaly do. Some challenge to test yourself or new skill to learn. My sons troop treats the monthly camping trip not as a camping trip but as a fun challenging event where they happen to camp to save money on food and shelter. Sleeping in a tent and cooking your own food is a given. What else you got? is what the boys are asking.
Son's troop sends a crew to Philmont, Northern Tier, or scuba diving in the Bahamas every year. Those attending the high adventure trip have to prepare. They usually need some new gear, some time training with the new gear, and some time learning skills to be succesful during the high adventure. Gotta be 14 so it is only the older scouts. They often take alternate camping trips from the troop to build crew morale and hone the specific skills.
Boys join the troop with the idea that in a few years they will be attending at least one but hopefully all 3 high adventure trips. So at least canoe trip is planned every year. At least one backpacking trip every year. Scouts are encouraged to earn Scout Lifeguard so the troop can take water based trips.
- May 2008
But all that was turned around. There were a couple of edicts -- for example, we set an outing schedule well in advance. Same weekend every month, outings are never cancelled due to lack of participation. Outing "themes" and planning were turned back over to the PLC (prior to that, the PLC didn't meet much, because they didn't need to -- they weren't doing anything). And we specifically started planning outings, such as high adventure trips, that would appeal to older Scouts.
Things are a whole lot better now. Outing participation is way up (more than tripled) and the troop size has almost doubled. We get new members -- teens -- all the time. Each one of them is a friend being recruited. Good crossover "class" last year, and now they have a group of older Scouts to look up to.
I really like how the troop is turning out.