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I don't remember when I first seen or heard about Scouts voting with their feet!

I do remember thinking it really seemed to hit the nail on the head.

In our area we have grade schools (I have a hard time with American education and still seem to think in English?? -So forgive me if I get the grades mixed up. Back home after you leave primary school you start out as as First former.)

The little people start off at about age 6 going to kindergarten. Not long after they graduate from kindergarten, we (Packs with the help of the District and some help from the Council) go to great lengths to sign these little fellows up as Tiger Cubs.

While there are of course exceptions to every rule; for the most part the Lad doesn't seem to have a lot of say or choice. His parents decide if they want him to be a Cub Scout (Tiger Cub) or not. Sure I've heard about little fellows who can't wait to join, but I was talking with a Mom who said she bribed her son with a goldfish to ensure that he didn't.

About the same time in our area kids (Boys and girls) start signing up for soccer. We used to have Boys teams and girls teams now it seems we have coed teams that play something that looks like soccer, but they play without a goalie?? And don't keep score. For the most part the skill level is almost nonexistent.

Over the next few years the boys seem to also try different activities. As the boys age they are are asked what they want to do?

Some parents are happy to taxi their children to just about anything and everything, some parents inform the Lad that he can participate in a set number and he can choose two or three activities.

Soccer is big in our area and we have the regular teams that play in the spring and the fall on Saturdays with a practice one night a week. The better players are invited to play on traveling teams and they also play on Sundays going to away games as far away as 300 miles.

Sometime around the time the Lad is a Bear in Cub Scouts, we start to see a good number of Lads quit Cub Scouting.

When I was District Commissioner, I made sure that we contacted each Lad who had been taken off a charter. We invited him back, either to his old Pack or offered him the opportunity to join a different pack. We also tried to find out why he quit?

All sorts of reasons were given. The two that seemed the most popular were "He didn't like it" And Sports.

As a District we seemed (I didn't track the numbers this year.) to do a fair job of retaining Webelos Scouts. The numbers show that most years we seen about 70% of the second year Webelos Scouts cross over and join a Boy Scout Troop.

Our School District has the students who are in Junior High is a separate building. At this age there isn't a lot of after school activities offered by the school (No band, school play, or football) The teams that are not part of the school seem only to be for the Lad's who are good at something and show promise. Homework doesn't seem to be very heavy and for these two years, the Lads who are in Boy Scouts seem to be happy that they are and are very active.

Then they move to the High School and are hit with everything the School has to offer.

OJ, participated in Volley Ball, Soccer, Track,Choir,School plays,the School Newspaper, the Computer Club, the Video Club and some other club that has something to do with Students for Ethical Choices.

Soccer "Camp" started in July and they were expected to be there every day for about four hours till school restarted, then there was a couple of games a week and practices every day when there wasn't a game. Track seemed to be never ending with practices and meetings. The plays while very time consuming didn't really seem to take that long about six weeks from start to finish.

This is when we as a District really noticed that we were losing Scouts. Football and Band seem to really take up a heck of a lot of time.

Band more so than Football.

We as adults in Scouting can sit back and cry in our adult beverages making all sorts of excuses, trying to find reasons, blaming the school districts, video games or competition.

But in our area we have a two year time period when we can really do things that will inspire them and provide the enthusiasms that will keep them in Scouting.

We know from the get go that we are dealing with a lively bunch of kids who want to be doing stuff, they are the kids who want it all.

They are going to be active in lots of other activities as well as Scouts.

I have had Scouts who have made their own travel arrangements to come to a camp out after a school activity. I've Scouts who have come to Troop meetings straight from play practices or other events. They do this not because of some attendance rule but because they don't want to miss anything.

Maybe it's a little like watching your favorite TV show? No one is forcing you to stay home and watch it or record it, you do so because you want to. However if the show becomes boring or you miss too many episodes, the show starts to lose its importance. Or maybe they change the time that it's on and that time isn't good for you?

Where you were once a loyal and devoted watcher, you start to not really care one way or the other.

We can't force our Scouts to do anything. They need to participate because they want to.

If they start to fall off or stop participating, we need to look for the reason.

I have visited a lot of Troop meetings, that really accomplish very little and are just a waste of time. I couldn't wait to get out. I don't see why any normal person would want to go back.

Talk to a group of Lads who have quit and ask why?

Boring meetings is up there at the top of their list.


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Talk to a group of Lads who have quit and ask why?

Boring meetings is up there at the top of their list.


Assuming this data is accurate, and assuming it's the real reason why the boys quit ("boring" is boys' throw-off, easy excuse to give each other and adults, which could mean anything from "I wasn't good at it" to "I was afraid of the older boys" to "my friend Billy quit" to lack of support from home).


Makin' those assumptions though, I have to agree with Eamonn that most parlor scouting meetings I've been to are somewhere between mediocre and dreadful.


Make that all parlor scouting meetings.


Every other activity, when you meet to practice you get to play the activity - soccer, theater, band. Not sit around and talk about the activity. Da BSA's standard example meeting encourages sittin' and yappin' rather than playing. Meeting indoors is probably the worst.



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"most parlor scouting meetings I've been to are somewhere between mediocre and dreadful."


A few years back I was staffing a WB Course hosted by Bucktail Council at Camp Mountain Run.

Each day one of the staffers would post inspirational messages all over the place. One spot he seemed to like a lot was on the mirror over that hand-washing station in the mens room.

One day as I was having a pee I looked at the mirror and the message of the day read:

The future of Scouting is in your hands.

That made me laugh.

Another day the message stated that Scouter's were Imagineers.

That made me think.

We can go to the PLC and ask what they are going to do about attendance at Troop meetings?

Or we can go to the PLC and ask them why attendance at Troop meetings isn't as good as it should be?

If we (the adults) are willing to accept that Troop meetings are "somewhere between mediocre and dreadful" passing a rule to ensure that everyone suffers just seems silly!!

As the imagineers we can do better.

Most meetings seem to lack planning.

Maybe cutting back the meetings from 4 a month to 3, with the PLC meeting to plan the Troop meetings might be the answer?

Maybe just having the plan written down and everyone knowing what and when they are to do would help?

We found that a strong well run inter-patrol competition with points for attendance and a few other things went a long way to improve attendance.

While some Troops like following the same schedule each week, we found that doing the unexpected and catching the Scouts off guard added to the Troop meetings. These normally took a lot more planning.

Random acts of complete silliness added a lot of fun (Race to the nearest Micky Dee's buy each patrol member a milk shake. Winning patrol is the first one back with empty cups -Each member must drink the shake. The money comes from Patrol Dues.)

I'd much sooner see a Scout at a meeting because he wants to be there, than see a Scout attend because of a rule.


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I like your ideas about introducing "the unexpected" and "random acts of complete silliness" into your program. We have also cut back by one meeting a month - last Monday of the month is now PLC meeting not a regular Troop/Patrol meeting night. This has really helped the boys on the PLC to get down to business and do some planning. I have had some opposition to doing this from other adult leaders, but I think it works well.



You are correct, nice post. The whole role model concept can be powerful. I've seen it in action where an older boy (15 years old) became a role model to two younger boys (10 & 11 years old). This was in the Church; a single mother was looking for an adult man to be a mentor to her two sons. This boy stepped in when no men in the Church answered her plea. He had a very positive influence on these younger boys and invited them to be involved with his life. They had two days per week where they would spend an hour or two after school together and then once a month or so they'd get together for the weekend.


In general, I think of our problem here as a cultural problem, as mentioned. My take on this is that our generation has been trained into a very self-centered way of thinking. Getting volunteers is sometimes not too hard, but try to get a volunteer who really cares about seeing the program succeed; when that means sometimes putting someone else's (the troop, the boys) needs in front of their own needs. That's just about impossible! I see my role in Scouting as that of a servant. From that standpoint, it is very easy to be willing to do almost anything to see that the program works. It is also very frustrating when you cannot seem to get anyone else on board with the program.


I think most of you who visit and participate in these forums get it and have a servant's heart as well.

Thanks for all your dedication and willingness to work with all your Scouts...



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