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Why Did You Leave Scouts ?

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I think I'll put this thread here, rather than Open Discussion.   It is , after all , about "Working With Kids", yes?  Or not working with them....

There is a new discussion in our District,  about why our Cub Packs seem to be oozing life.   not growing, disappearing.  This led to some talk about why kids join  (and depart?) Scouts. 

The Council is interested in the "Departure Interview", and there is a section on the Field Sheets that can record some of the reasons heard.   But not all.  

Here is a list, anecdotal, for sure, of some of the reasons I have heard over the years  from the boys,  the parents.   I can add another list of reasons why girls haven't joined (or left) Girl Scouts, for another time....

An "Exit" interview is always nice, if sad.   "Why did you leave our Scout Troop?"   Here are some of the things I have heard thru the  years :::
* Our family moved.
* The Scoutmaster is a jerk.
* I was expecting a fun, adventurous time and we only got lectures.
* I was put on the Varsity/Concert Band/Chorus.
*  Scouting is dorky.
* I finally had enough backbone to tell my dad no.
* Never did like dirt and bugs.
* Our family does more camping than this Troop. 
* Meeting times interfere with my kung fu/Hebrew/chorus/pre-med/ class.
*  I can't deal with the bully.
* No one understood/helped with/allowed for our autistic/handicapped son.
*  I can't agree with the religious requirement/allowing homosexuals/girls/leftist/rightist/militaristic/too liberal/not Christian as I expected ... tendencies of
*  Don't see the need for all the "requirements".
* Too expensive.   (I never understood this one)
* No leadership in the unit. What did we pay for if not "leadership"?
*    Summer camp was losey, bath house was filthy, merit badge classes were not well taught, food was poor. 
*  They lost too many of my paper forms.

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I am skeptical of any survey with multiple choice responses. It should be open response only with a follow-up.

My $0.02

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1 hour ago, SSScout said:


* Meeting times interfere with my kung fu/Hebrew/chorus/pre-med/ class.


This ^^^. Three troops eventually spun off from ours, in addition to one that met a little to north. (Some of our scouts have worn three different #s.) One for each night of the week ... you'd think. BUT NO!!! All chose the same night and time. :mad: At least scouts from two of the troops asked us to consider the idiocy of it all, and we merged back together.

Still, there's no options to youth who might be free the other nights of the week.

Edited by qwazse

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I've seen several packs close recently. The issue is not the scouts, it's the adults (not) volunteering. Add that category. Also, all of your reasons relate to scouts, not cubs. Another category is repetition, or "I'm sick of advancement."

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I find it interesting when the boys that were really into it don't return. We use recharter as an excuse to contact them even though we know they aren't coming back. It's usually along the lines of, "Jimmy didn't think it was fun". Which we interpret as, it isn't fun for the parents as we ask them to invest themselves into it as well. 

Then there is sports. Select teams seem to be the norm in this area, requiring hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars and thrice weekly practices in addition to multiple games every weekend. Makes me shake my head and wonder why parents one-dimension their kids so much or leave so little time for being a kid. Especially in light of the statistics of kids in sports past the age of 13-14. Their choice of course. But being a stud ball player at 9 doesn't mean much to me, but so many people bank on it for some reason. 

The most ironic excuse is, "I can teach my kid all that stuff on my own". Which may be true. But most of the time I later encounter them and the kid is nothing like our Scouts. Which leads me to the conclusion that Ma and Pa can't/arent teaching them that stuff, not doing it the way Scouting does, and in addition to missing out on the group environment.

Then there are the ones it just isn't for them and they aren't into it. It's not for everyone. I understand and respect that. Especially when you are honest and tell me that.

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The difference nowadays in contrast to when I was a youth is the length of seasons for these sports.  Previously Little League ran from April till July.  Now there is fall ball.  Hockey is a 12 month sport now.  Football just isn't fall anymore, with year long conditioning and mandatory workouts all spring and summer.  

Plus I've heard many parents saying Johnny will get a college scholarship and become a professional and they see  $$$$$$.  Unfortunately that happens very rarely. 

I tell my scouts "You have 20 practices and 8 games a month. We have one campout.  Give Scouting the priority once in a while"  Doesn't always work.



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From our exit discussions, most of our families view Boy Scouts as a middle school extra-curricular activity. Some of those families are in full press for Eagle before high school starts and they depart. A few may stick around for a year or so to complete Eagle. The 18th birthday deadline is irrelevant, as Eagle or not, they leave by 16. Summer SAT-prep and pre-college courses for high school students are very popular, despite the expense. Why go to Philmont when you can spend a week at hopefully your #1 pick college living the college life away from Mom and Dad.

With one exception, Scouts is just not part of their "pathway" (not trail) forward after middle school and we scouters are not  viewed as "stakeholders" . I think these buzzwords came from a school district meeting. The exception is those Scouts who want to attend the service academies.

Another $0.02,


Edited by RememberSchiff

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The scouts in our troop tend to stay with our troop from age 11 all the way to age 18, one older scout left us at three years ago, but says he really misses us.   He quit because he did not have the time due to sports.  We had one scout quit and return after 2 years because he missed us so much and he has to travel 30 miles to come to our meetings.

All the older scouts are in sports.

We have a bunch of 16 year old scouts with the rank of Life that almost have their Eagle.

Our main focus is "playing the game of scouting" and not advancement.  Advancement is a byproduct of doing scouting things.

Our scouts run their own meetings and have fun at the meetings. The adults spend 90% of the time just staying out of the boys way.

There are many meetings were ALL the boys are at the meeting. At most we will have 1 or 2 boys missing a meeting, but it is almost always for a good reason.

All the boys are going to camp this year.

The older scouts value the younger scouts and want more younger scouts to join, because they know how great scouting program can be. They enjoy teaching the younger scouts new skills.

I ask the scouts from time to time why they stay. . . why they love scouts so much.

They tell me things like:

Our troop is a family.

The guys here are my closest friends.

We have each others back.

We trust each other.

These are the guys I can really talk to about anything.

The guys can always cheer me up.

We are very close friends outside of scouting.




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I have had a few parents complain that sports give their kids something to do every day, but scouts is only once a week.

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We have seen feedback that Cubs then Webelos gets waayyy redundant (how many times to a Fire Station).  Also the pack meetings are sometimes challenging, there is a pretty big difference between a 1st grader (now a kindergartner) and the 5th graders.  There have been some Cubs that leave and then join the troop when they are 11

For the ones in the troop we have seen this feedback

  • My friends are not involved
  • Do not like camping
  • Sports (though we do realize they may be gone for a season)
  • Needs more structure (guess the whole boy led and may fail not seen as value)
  • Too many outings (once a month...seriously??)
  • Just really not my thing
  • Upvote 1

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3 hours ago, eagle90 said:

I tell my scouts "You have 20 practices and 8 games a month. We have one campout.  

You can't compare a game with a campout. A campout is an all weekend affair. 

I can fairly easily schedule my other work and family responsibilities around a game/practice schedule. Scheduling around weekend campouts and week long summer camps is really tough. 


Edited by David CO

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I'm surprised nobody mentioned pets. One of the reasons why I was restricted in some of my scouting activity choices was my dog. I could leave my dog alone in the back yard for a couple hours during a ballgame or a meeting, but not for a weekend or a week.  He was a good doggie...yes he was...yes he was.

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On 3/10/2018 at 4:29 PM, ItsBrian said:

I see where scouting can be expensive. Summer camp, camporee, etc. especially in low income communities.

yeah, I can too....not only in low income.  the way my son's troop did it, it was $100 dues..... then $20 here, $10 there, ok no lets do some fund raising, then $20 again....then $200 deposit for summer camp....then $20, etc....  Oh, almost forgot about the silly $1 a week thing they were doing on top of it all....

I always felt it ridiculous the amount of nickle and diming that happened, especially knowing how much money the troop had in the bank....but I went along with it.

I like the troops that either do the fundraising or just charge dues enough to cover it all....then actually use that money to pay for all the campouts and grub money.  Much less focus on money.


As scouter in the pack, i always asked that question, why did you leave?

never really felt that I got a completely honest and full answer.... except for a couple that moved away. 

answers such as

just not his thing

sports is more his focus

or joined another pack/troop to be with his friends.

I always tried to have a conversation about it to try to learn what could have been better for them, but it seems like most folks just want to move on.


I sorta like cocomax's approach, asking why do you stay....focusing on the positive instead of the negative.



My son left because "it was boring"....which I know translates into too much talking to, too much being read to, too much be taught what I already know, too much talking about what we're going to do rather than going to do it.

I left cub scouts back in the 1970's because we moved, but I hated it....too much arts and crafts stuff, so probably wouldn't have lasted much longer anyway if my mom hadn't been den mother

then two moves later I joined a troop with a buddy, to be with friends.  My buddy & I were in 9th grade I think it was so coming in older than many scouts that were younger and higher rank....with our friends that were already in much higher ranked than us....being taught stuff by them that I already knew...it all just seemed so silly, being more mature and more qualified than the guy signing you off....so I lasted about a year I think and one summer camp.... too much boring book work...but I always regretted not sticking through the boring stuff for more of the fun adventure stuff, at least to 1st class...but sadly there just wasn't enough adventure

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