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Stosh

Cross-over Mess

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20 years ago when I was doing my WB ticket one of the items was to usher over Webelos boys into Boy Scouts.

 

The feeder pack didn't have any Webelos II boys, so I went way back and picked up the Webelos I boys and crossed all 6 over and they all eventually Eagled.

 

Well, here's how things are shaking out today.  3 packs feeding 2 traditional troops and my new start up.  All in the same relative area of town and the boys will basically all be attending the same middle school together next year.

 

34 boys in Webelos II of the three combined packs.   Pack 1 didn't really have much of a program and there were about 7 or 8 boys.  Pack 2 was the one closest to us, they have about 7 or 8 boys but the WDL was kinda burned out and as just going to let the boys get Webelos and forego the AOL.  Pack 3 had 15 boys and were crossing over to the one troop they traditionally went with (same # et. al.)   So it was kind of a scramble for boys this year.  The 15 boys strongly connected to the one troop we kinda wrote off because they were all going to do well with their AOL program.  We as a troop went back and set up a push drive for any boys from the three packs that wanted to go for AOL, we'd make that opportunity available.  With 15 going straight to their traditional troop, that left us with a few more at about 19 boys.  We did a major push and now tomorrow we do the crossover for whoever went where and whoever got AOL, etc. and the results were kinda surprising and disappointing. 

 

Troop 1 the traditional one (Eagle mill) with 15 possible boys kinda all wrapped up ended up with 5 boys crossing over.

 

Troop 2 (struggling with leadership and membership issues) picked up 2 or 3.

 

Troop 3 (mine) with the AOL push program picked up 9 boys.

 

A tad under 1/3 came to us, 1/3 split between the other two troops and the other 1/3 didn't cross over.

 

The 10 boys who didn't go with their traditional troop who have AOL will get a direct invite from us.  We'll see if we can pick up one or two. 

 

As the non-AOL boys from the other two packs turn 11 they, too will get an invite to join our troop.

 

One of the boys has recruited a friend who was not in Cub Scouts.  So that means we will pick up 10 boys this time around.  Leave us with 2 patrols of 6 boys each.  :)  2 NSP with TF PL's (maybe) and no TG's.  Should be interesting.

 

But my overall question is:  Are other cross over situations showing such large numbers of Webelos not going into Boy Scouts or is it just something in our drinking water here in my neck of the woods?  This isn't the first time we've had such losses during the cross over.

Edited by Stosh

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Sounds kinda steep, but I think we see similar drops.

 

Nothing new, I think.nabout half the dads I know went only as far as Cubs.

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We see about 1/3 to 1/4 of W2 dens not crossing over. That's up from 5-7 years ago. That's me neck of the woods.

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Wow!  20 years ago we lost maybe 10%-15% of the boys at cross-over.  That's why I did the ticket to understand the dynamics.  Then for the next 20 years I merely welcomed boys into the troop and didn't ask questions.  I kind of suspected a more serious problem over the years thinking things weren't as good as they could have been, but with the numbers approaching 50% loss it's kind of disheartening.  

 

The council does well with the Cub recruiting, but for 3-4 years now I have been harassing the council about Boy Scout recruitment at middle school orientations.  This year, we are going to just go ahead and have a booth there with or without the council's support.

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From what I've observed those numbers don't seem out of the ordinary.  I wonder if many just see that time as a good "jumping off point".

 

We have a pretty tightly linked Pack and Troop (same CO, unit numbers, several shared leaders, etc.).  Our troop rarely gets boys from other packs, but does pick up some who were not in cubs form time to time.  We've tried to downplay the whole "end of the Cub Scout road" aspect of crossover--end result is that most boys do cross from the pack to the troop, but we still lose a similar number after a few months.

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But my overall question is:  Are other cross over situations showing such large numbers of Webelos not going into Boy Scouts or is it just something in our drinking water here in my neck of the woods?  This isn't the first time we've had such losses during the cross over.

 

 

@@Stosh, your numbers seem to be typical of my experience.  In my son's den, it was 50% even with a lot of adult involvement and a lot of fun.  We knew the guys that would cross over -- three of them earned the Webelos Super Achiever award, one of them loved camping and the other was really into all the activities.  The guys who didn't were not a surprise - they didn't like to camp, weren't that into it, had other interests and you could tell they were just seeing Cub Scouts through to the end.  Over the past two years, I've seen a similar trend -- I know a lot of the boys from being the former CM and I could tell you who was really into the program and who was just doing it to finish up.  I'm really happy that we picked up one specific kid this year -- his mom said he said that he wasn't interested in joining Boy Scouts until he visited our Troop (two other boys from his den went to the Troop with the same unit number as the pack).  He's been on two outings so far and has loved both of them.  I'm pretty sure my son is close to adopting him as a little brother.  

 

It will be interesting to see what happens next year.  The Webelos 2 Den has a great leader (an Eagle who was involved as a Scouter well before his son joined as a Tiger) and my son is the Den Leader (providing a great link to our troop).  My son and I were talking about how he could run the Scouting Adventure and about how he could possibly do the Castaway Adventure on the same weekend the Troop is doing the Wilderness Survival Merit Badge (my son is working with me to develop the teaching materials for wilderness survival and will teach it with me for our Troop as well as for some neighboring Troops).  

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I will amend my comment with this: There is a *HIGH* correlation between Scouts that move on to Boy Scouts and the level of involvement of their parents in Scouting.

 

We observed that when parents are actively involved in helping their Cubs complete requirements and activities (and not just let the DL and Pack do all the work), the boys were more likely to move on. If the parents were leaders the correlation was even higher.

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Our pack is a little different when it comes to cross over successes and failures. I've been Cubmaster for a couple of years. Our previous Cubmaster was great. Well liked for good reason, and her business skills made for a well run pack. She admittedly wasn't super into the outdoors and or well versed in Scouting as a whole. Anyway, we have 100% cross over every year. Mostly because until recently the two Webelos years weren't any different than, say, Bears. The Webelos weren't getting a taste of making their own decisions. They weren't ramping up towards Scouting. They showed up for Blue & Gold because they were told to and they crossed over to a troop because they were told to previously pick one. Anyway, the downside to our 100% cross over rate was a significant drop out rate. Our cross over is no longer at Blue & gold, but that's besides the point. I am also the Webelos den leader and try to gently influence the Arrow of Light den leader (I get the idea he's generally not my biggest fan). The new Webelos hear a lot about Boy Scouts and how they are getting ready for a much bigger adventure. They hear a lot about how the Scouts run the troop. As a pack, we get outdoors a lot more. I don't doubt we'll still cross over 100%, but hopefully we'll have a lot fewer drop out due to culture shock.

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It sounds like a win for your Scouts' troop, Stosh.  That's a great pick-up for them!

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With the two different programs, the BSA does fine with recruiting into the arts/crafts and family camping, but these might not the the types of boys that @@MattHiggins is talking about.  So how many people out there have the middle school Boy Scout recruiting night to focus more on those interested in Boy Scout type of activity.

 

20 years ago, I worked heavily with the Webelos boys doing the Boy Scout things.  We had a mock camporee outing where the boys practiced what they would have been doing for competition for a camporee, fire building, first aid, etc.  The final event for these boys before they crossed over was a major campout where they did the planning and running of a campout weekend.  

 

I took them on after B&G at the end of the Bear year.  They met every other week and shut down over the summer as a pack.  Well, I went to weekly meetings and kept on over the summer that by the time they got to B&G their first year as Webelos they got their Webelos patch and AOL.  Parents weren't too happy that they were so far advanced.

 

Yeah, well. the boys were having fun.  They began right after that B&G planning their "big summer outing"  Menus, activities, etc. They chose an abandoned island, set up camp after canoeing out there, dug latrines, set up tents, did just about everything that was new and different for the boys.  Pizza in a box, Dutch oven, and the big Saturday night supper was steak, baked potatoes and corn on the cob with a cobbler for desert.  These were Webelos boys doing it all.

 

Back in the day, if the SM approved it, they could come into the troop on a cross-over as TF scouts.  They were all tested by the SM and when they crossed over, they were issued the Scout and TF badges.  Some of them were not yet 10 1/2 years old to join the Boy Scouts, so the Scout meeting after each boy turned 10 1/2 is when he crossed over during a ceremony conducted by the troop.  Technically they couldn't be registered in Boy Scouts, but attended as guests until they could cross over by age and get their TF rank.

 

SM was VERY concerned that they wouldn't find Boy Scouting exciting if they were already "been there, done that" while a Webelos.  Needless to say all 6 boys eventually Eagled.

 

It will be interesting to see how well the hang in or whether along with the non-cross over attrition whether or not we get more once the boys get into Boy Scouts with the Boy Scouts basically running the AOL section of Webelos II for the packs.

 

I don't know about the 10 that dropped out of the 15 going over to the one troop, but when boys did not care enough to come to the AOL oriented meetings with the troop, it was pretty obvious they had already checked out at the beginning of their 2nd year of Webelos and no one in the packs really cared too much about it.  They had no plans for any outdoor/Boy Scout types of activities for the boys, just once a month pack meeting and pack activities that the DL's didn't have to do anything to get ready for.

 

It was kinda sad to learn all this which the Webelos program has evolved into in our area and would appear is more universal than I even thought.

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It sounds like a win for your Scouts' troop, Stosh.  That's a great pick-up for them!

 

Had I known at the beginning what I know now, I would have pressed harder for parents to commit.  Our premise was to hold AOL Webelos advancement for "any boys that want it"  With the one troop that crossed over 5 of 15 those 5 had AOL  Even some of them attended our meetings because we published our schedule of events and they would pop in for guest speakers or specialty things like Whittling Chip and bird house building, etc.  We just assumed they were getting the full program.  Obviously they weren't. 

 

I don't know what we're going to do next year, but losing 50%+ boys is really not acceptable.

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Anyway, the downside to our 100% cross over rate was a significant drop out rate.

The troops bear some responsibility here. We usually talk with the guys crossing over to see what type of fit they will be for Boy Scouts. It does not happen often, but there are times we actually talk guys out of going in to Scouts. By that I mean there are obviously a few kids that are only signing up because they think they should or that's what comes next, not because they love or even like Scouting.

 

Our first year retention rate is about 90-95%. Second year rate is about 85%. This year we have 70% of our guys who joined in 2010 still in Scouting. Nearly all made Eagle. Of that lot nearly all stayed active during their entire career in Scouting.

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I don't have the latest numbers handy, but in our Council, as of a couple of years ago we were only seeing 45% crossover into Boy Scouts.  When I hear these high percentages of crossovers and high percentages of first year Boy Scout drop-outs, it makes me think that instead of giving the boys and their families a choice, that some areas are just pushing the paperwork through whether the boy and his family are interested in Boy Scouting or not.

 

Don't get me wrong, I don't think our Council is doing great, why would over half the boys stick with Cub Scouts and then disappear right when the good stuff is starting?  But at the same time, I don't believe 90-100% is believable - at least not on a District or Council wide basis.

 

We've done a lot of thinking on this topic, because we want our numbers to be higher.  One thing we've observed is that when the boys go to Cub Scout resident camp, they idolize the Boy Scouts who work on camp staff.  So why aren't those same boys interested in following in their footsteps? 

 

We think a big part of the problem is that most Troops aren't doing what Stosh's has done.  Most Troops aren't reaching out to the Packs.  They aren't supplying Den Chiefs to the Packs, inviting Packs on campouts, inviting Packs to Troop Meetings, etc.  When it comes time for a boy to crossover, he is faced with going from a 'senior' in the Cub Scout program to being a 'freshman' in the Troop.  He probably doesn't know any boys in the Troop if he hasn't been camping with them, attending Troop meetings and events, or had a Boy Scout from the Troop as a Den Chief.  That's a scary prospect for these boys.

 

So why aren't the Troops reaching out to the Packs?  Well, we've though about that as well.  I think one reason is that in many cases we don't know each other.  We often get a group of parents who join around the same time and fill many leadership roles in the Pack (Cubmaster, Committee Chair, Committee, etc.).  When that group of parents moves off to a Troop or Troops, the next generation barely knew them.  Then, our Roundtable for Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts is separate.  So we have almost no bonds between our Packs and Troops, unless they both happen to be chartered by the same organization.

 

It's a problem, and I have a meeting tonight to plan out Roundtable for next year and I intend to bring this up again.  I don't know if I can influence change or not, but we need to do more to build bridges between Packs and Troops so that we can make the prospect of crossing over less scary and more fun for the boys.

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But my overall question is:  Are other cross over situations showing such large numbers of Webelos not going into Boy Scouts or is it just something in our drinking water here in my neck of the woods?  This isn't the first time we've had such losses during the cross over.

 

Yes, even here in Memphis!  Chickasaw Council had 185 Webelos II cross over last year of those 185 only 75 signed up with a troop.  Closer to home, the troop my son chose has a very strong pack and out of the 8 that crossed over only 3 have come to the meetings and not even regularly.

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