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Rooster, all the reasons you list are quite valid reasons that a boy would drop out of scouts. Any one or combination could do it. At the risk of repeating myself,(cuz I am going to) If a troop has a well run program they wont need a list of "could it be ..." They will know why each scout dropped out. They will know why each scout dropped out because everytime a scout didnt attend a meeting the patrol leader, or in a new scout patrol, the troop guide called the scout, told him how much he was missed and filled the scout in on the announcements that the scout missed. If the scout says he didnt come cause he quit, the patrol leader/guide asks why and just listens. This is communicated to the scoutmaster who calls and talks to scout and parents. Our troop knows why we lose the scouts we do. And the scouts who leave know they are wanted and welcome to come back anytime they want, and some do.

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So; if the parents and boys believe the Scouting Program to be of value - having come through Cub Scouts and all - can I assume that if they leave one troop due to a poor troop program, they end up in another troop with a good program? Similar to the way they switch soccer teams if they don't like the way a team is coached? If that's what's happening, there's a problem with your troop's program. If not, either your program is so bad that it gives the entire scouting program a very bad name (and won't survive) or it's time to look at other things.


Yes, there will be a few who over the years will become totally disengaged from the entire scouting program due to a bad experience with one troop, but my personal experience is that more often than not, if they are interested in the scouting experience in the first place, they switch troops.


Loosing some boys would be a clue (red flag) to examine your program, but not necessarilly a sign that yours is a bad program. I have on occassion, suggested to parent and boy that they try another troop. Some have left and then come back. Troop programs vary in our area - some place emphasis on high-adventure types of activities, some place emphasis on long trips, some place emphasis on advancement/merit badges, some (like ours) try to provide a taste of everything. Maybe another troop is a better match for the boy.


Bob & OldGreyEagle, while I agree with your premise that a notable drop-out rate deserves, actually demands, a close look at your program, I think that your resistance to even acknowledge other factors hurts your stance. Using my two sons as a first-hand example; during the Cub Scouting age years not nearly as many competing activities presented themselves as when they reached Boy Scout age. My commitment to and firm belief in the principles that scouting espouses is what kept them in scouting rather than in soccer, baseball, swimming, chess club, climbing club, ski club, bowling league, marching band, pep band, girls, exploring, church youth program, and on and on at the expense of scouting. The fact that I was personally involved and thoroughly enjoy scouting certainly helped.


One place to look is at the parents' commitment to the scouting program once all of the competing activities become available. In today's society, moreso than when I was a Boy Scout, parents think it much more cool (read self-satisfying for the parent) for their sons to excel in sports than in scouting.

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I do appreciate what your saying Eagle74, but it has been my experience over the years that what actually happening in the field is very different.


First most scouts when they leave a troop leave scouting, and that happens for a couple of reasons. First, most boys think that what they experienced is scouting, because they have trust that the tyroop they joined followed the program. And since they think all troops are alike theu see no point in moving to another unit. The other problem is that going into a strange troop with kids they don't know is frieghtening, so they just quit the program.


The other thing to keep in mind is that kids continue to do whatever they enjoy the most. Adults are the same way, we are animals. We respond positively to thinks that make us feel good. We repeat behaviours that bring us positive rewards.


What we are discussing here aren't the random boys who leave the program, but units who continually experience high turnovers. As a commissioner of many years you begin to notice warning signs at a very early stage. A unit that routinely loses more than 10% of youth members annually gets my attention. We are talking of units that say they routinely lose 40% or 50% of new scouts.


The only scouter on this board that had a real excuse is Koreascouter who is on a military base and families are constantly transfered. Other than that I guarantee that a unit experiencing the exodus of youth that some are blaming on parental support, outside activities, not meant for the program, can't swim...Too be blunt I don't buy it. I know from my experience it's program.


Kids do not leave a good scout program because there is nothing else like it in their lives. Nowhere else do they get the control, the adventure, the recognition, the fullfillment that they get from a real scouting program. We seen it from the posters on this board. the ones who are losing large numbers of boys and aren't retaining older ones and aren't getting new ones in the numbers that others in their area get all have commonalities. They use bits and pieces of the program but they are missing vital chunks. They assign Patrol Leaders, they cook as troops, they don't follow policies, they aren't trained or haven't stayed current on training, they don't provide adequate advancement opportunities, they alter the uniform, they don't involve families. They run programs in scout uniforms but not Scouting programs.


Jerry Sienfeld said about TV laundry soap commercials "if your clothes are covered in blood stains, maybe laundry isn't your biggest problem!" :)


If you are losing 40% or more of your new scouts every year, maybe parental support isn't your biggest problem! It's time to look at the scouting program and how you can do more of it every week. It's all in the program.


Bob White


(This message has been edited by Bob White)

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I will try to state my position one more time. I accept that boys drop out for all the reasons Rooster posted. What I am saying is rather than fumble for reasons why you have a 50%(or abouts) drop out rate, why not have a system in place so you know for sure?

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I have found that the easy way to run a troop is the BSA method. Every time I have tried to do something different it ended up being harder on me.

Some of the methods took me a little longer to understand why it worked but the BSA method has almost 100 years of improvement built into it.

I found that by reading some of the history and the early days of scouting I realized that I was underestimating my scouts. They really can do all that stuff. Yearly planning gets easy when you have a basic tradition of one service project a month, one or two merit badges, a campout, and preparation for the quarterly big campout.

it is easy for the scouts to plan.

JLT is fantastic.


For you new to scouting try the program first. Then modify it if needed. Remember we are teaching leadership and remember many of the modifications are still within the program.



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