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Why Did You Leave Scouts ?

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Posted (edited)

Most of the time Troop age scouts feel intimidated by adults asking why they are dropping out, so I always talked with parents as well. Parents know what's going on and tend to give a more completed explanation. I also would ask my sons or scouts who knew them well.

Our troop program was a growing program, so in most cases (not all) the parents pulled their sons from our program because they had different expectations than ours. Most of the time it was because they wanted a more ambitious Eagle program. Which is ironic because our troop average an Eagle every 2.5 months.

At the pack level, I only questioned the Webelos because, believe it or not, that is the most critical age for measuring the future of troop programs. But, I found that parents usually are the reason for cubs dropping out, so I talked with the parents. I would guess that 95% of our cubs who dropped were pulled out by their parents for parents' personal reasons. I learned over the years that the most successful packs attend to the needs of the parents first, then their sons. So, build an adult friendly pack, and you will have a cub friendly program. The opposite is true for Troops.

I will say that a troop age scouts dropping out was rarely a surprise. If the adult leaders are talking to their scouts and parents, they will see it coming.

Barry

Edited by Eagledad
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On ‎3‎/‎10‎/‎2018 at 9:40 AM, SSScout said:

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
BSA 
*  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.
*  

Nearly all of the above seem to be a symptom of the problem and not the problem itself.

The problem is that it wasn't fun. If the SM is a jerk, it wasn't fun. If the scout sees it as dorky, then it wasn't fun, if they don't like dirt and bugs, then it wasn't fun, not enough camping, it wasn't fun, A bully wasn't making it fun, I am involved in other activities that are more fun, the requirements are not fun, lack of leadership is not fun, summer camp was not fun.

I push my son hard in scouts and there are many times I question whether he is still having fun. I know when he says he isn't having fun, something is wrong and either I need to change or the program does. Perhaps not enough Packs are asking each scout what they want to do to have fun and then designing a program (that includes the requirements, leadership, etc.) that emphasizes fun.

 

*Shrug*

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On 3/12/2018 at 10:23 AM, Eagledad said:

Most of the time Troop age scouts feel intimidated by adults asking why they are dropping out, so I always talked with parents as well. Parents know what's going on and tend to give a more completed explanation. I also would ask my sons or scouts who knew them well.

good point... I should have qualified in my example, 98% of the time I was talking to parents either face to face or by email or similar.  I would have loved to talk with the scout....but after they are gone that's often not practical.

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23 hours ago, Hawkwin said:

Nearly all of the above seem to be a symptom of the problem and not the problem itself.

The problem is that it wasn't fun. If the SM is a jerk, it wasn't fun. If the scout sees it as dorky, then it wasn't fun, if they don't like dirt and bugs, then it wasn't fun, not enough camping, it wasn't fun, A bully wasn't making it fun, I am involved in other activities that are more fun, the requirements are not fun, lack of leadership is not fun, summer camp was not fun.

I push my son hard in scouts and there are many times I question whether he is still having fun. I know when he says he isn't having fun, something is wrong and either I need to change or the program does. Perhaps not enough Packs are asking each scout what they want to do to have fun and then designing a program (that includes the requirements, leadership, etc.) that emphasizes fun.

 

*Shrug*

I'm still new to this, but this seems pretty spot-on.  As our den has grown more disorganized over the two years we've been here, one of the boys has dropped (others come sporadically).  His family has said it's because he has swimming, but my daughter is in the same swimming program, so I know you can choose which days of the week you practice.  If he were having fun in scouts (Cub), I think the family would be more willing to arrange his swim schedule to make time for the two-ish hours a month we have den meetings.

At the Cub level, I agree that the adults are what can make or break the program.  Right now, I think our den is too big for the boys to be getting all they could.  We have eleven on paper (the swimming scout is still listed, and came to the Pinewood Derby.)  We had ten boys at our house last night.  We built cardboard box ovens last night - to be used once we get rid of some of this dang snow - and even with two separate groups building two separate ovens, I could see that a couple of the quieter boys sat back and didn't participate.  I don't think it was because they didn't want to, there just wasn't enough space for five boys to work on an oven at one time and they got edged out.  With ten boys and copious amounts of tinfoil flying around, I had my hands full keeping them working on the boxes instead of making balls and throwing them at each other.  Which brings up the fun aspect again.  If I had five or six boys instead, I could let them ball up the tinfoil and throw it around for a bit.

This one is up to the adults to fix.  I texted our regular den leader again this morning, asking him to reconsider his stance on not breaking up the den.  Told him if he wanted to keep the original group together, that I'd take the boys who transferred to us from another pack that folded, and the one boy who recently moved in.  They're a wild bunch, and my own son would be in the other den, but in the end I want my kid to be happy and not groan when I say it's time for the den meetings.

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On 3/12/2018 at 10:23 AM, Eagledad said:

 I learned over the years that the most successful packs attend to the needs of the parents first, then their sons. So, build an adult friendly pack, and you will have a cub friendly program. The opposite is true for Troops.

another really great point.....

on the other hand though,  a huge part of making it adult friendly is making the boys want to come.  No parent wants to drag their kid out of the house to do something that neither really wants to do....

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35 minutes ago, blw2 said:

another really great point.....

on the other hand though,  a huge part of making it adult friendly is making the boys want to come.  No parent wants to drag their kid out of the house to do something that neither really wants to do....

Adult friendly also means giving Den Leaders priority over their program. It they need help, recruit for them. If the need a meeting place, find one for them. Make committee meetings short and to the point. Provide news letter to help spread pack information. I could go on and  on, but you see my point. Make the leaders happy, and they will make the scouts happy. Make the parents happy, and they will bring their sons. It works.

Barry

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16 minutes ago, Eagledad said:

Adult friendly also means giving Den Leaders priority over their program. It they need help, recruit for them. If the need a meeting place, find one for them. Make committee meetings short and to the point. Provide news letter to help spread pack information. I could go on and  on, but you see my point. Make the leaders happy, and they will make the scouts happy. Make the parents happy, and they will bring their sons. It works.

Barry

100% agree.  I would add make sure you find the right den leaders.  I’ve seen den’s collapse when we had a den leader who was overextended and did a poor job proactively scheduling/canceling  meetings.  I can deal with suboptimal CMs and committee members, good den leaders are critical.

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I totally agree.  When I was Cub Master, I ALWAYS tried to advocate for the den Leaders.  I always looked at them as having the hardest job in the pack.  I frequently would try to ask if they needed anything, look for ways to help them, tried really hard to recruit an advancement chair person to take that chore off their backs, and so on.  Still I had a few that just skated by doing the absolute minimum, with infrequent meetings, poor attendance, etc... but I was still thankful for them.  It was hard...no nearly impossible to recruit help in my pack at the time.  We had den leaders but not much else.

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I always found it best to recruit an assistant den leader too.  Being a den leader is so much easier when you're doing it as a team.

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10 minutes ago, ParkMan said:

I always found it best to recruit an assistant den leader too.  Being a den leader is so much easier when you're doing it as a team.

And you have someone already identified to fill in if the den leader can't make a meeting / activity for some reason.

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I never thought about this before, but thinking back, in our 5 years through my son's pack...I want to say that I was the only one in any of the dens that ever stepped up as an ADL.

I tried to encourage it for other dens, and for son's den when I was recruited away for packwide positions, but I can't think of a single other one....

Is that normal?

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4 minutes ago, blw2 said:

I never thought about this before, but thinking back, in our 5 years through my son's pack...I want to say that I was the only one in any of the dens that ever stepped up as an ADL.

I tried to encourage it for other dens, and for son's den when I was recruited away for packwide positions, but I can't think of a single other one....

Is that normal?

All but one of our dens have ADLs.  Some of our ADLs also handle some Packwide activities (planning a B&G, etc).  They have been immensely helpful.

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Posted (edited)
27 minutes ago, blw2 said:

I never thought about this before, but thinking back, in our 5 years through my son's pack...I want to say that I was the only one in any of the dens that ever stepped up as an ADL.

I tried to encourage it for other dens, and for son's den when I was recruited away for packwide positions, but I can't think of a single other one....

Is that normal?

All our dens had at least two leaders, some had more. But we recruited that way. Recruiting a co-leader is a lot easier than recruiting a den-leader. Sharing the load 50/50 doesn't appear as challenging (scary) as taking on the whole den program by yourself hoping and the assistant will take off some of the pressure. Co-leaders plan together and assume equal ownership. Personalities take over after a couple months exposing the true doers who typically stepped up to carry the load.

Because of burnout, we combined a few Webelos dens with a minimum of three adults during the meetings. I only accepted leading a Webelos Den of 16 scouts when I was promised at least 4 other adults at meetings.

We all joke about the one hour a week, but we tried hard to reduce workloads to a minimum. I admit I'm pretty good at recruiting. Not all the leaders are great, but we managed to get thru the year. We had a very high crossover rate at all ages.

Barry

Edited by Eagledad
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11 hours ago, Pselb said:

If an organization doesn't have the resources to run the program, why does it think it has the right to continue?  Businesses go out of business every day.  Organizations close down all the time.  Churches stand vacant all around the country.  It's the cycle of life.  Things come and go.  Why in the world does BSA think it is exempt from such things anymore than General Motors thought itself to be too big to fail at one time.  Maybe with the emphasis on adult involvement, adult volunteerism, etc. the boys think it's dorky and not fun and too expensive, could it be said that the organization is really not in a position any longer to sustain itself?

I think this may be the start of a new thread.

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Posted (edited)
10 minutes ago, Tampa Turtle said:

I think this may be the start of a new thread.

Good point, moved to. Thanks.

 

Edited by RememberSchiff

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