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Lisabob

why boys join scouts

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We've been talking in various threads about recruiting and retention issues. From the point of view of boys, it is all about fun and adventure, right?

 

Starting from the perspective that most troops have things they do well and things they could do better, still, I think the troop my son joined does have a pretty exciting program. In the last two years they've gone skiing and snow tubing, dog sledding, luging (on the US Olympic training track this weekend - wahoo!), been to Yellowstone, to Michigan's Upper Peninsula, and are going to summer camp in N.C. this summer, had a forensics campout in conjunction with state and local law enforcement, had shotgun, rifle, archery and model rocket camps, and will visit Wright Patterson AFB and the US Naval Academy this spring/summer. They've also done just regular camping, fishing, hiking, canoeing, etc. of course. The other two troops in our town and the two troops in the next town over are similarly active, although each has a different emphasis . But they're all strong troops with pretty good programs and decent leaders and in my district mode, I've felt good about steering boys toward each of these troops.

 

I cannot think of any club that my son could join that would be this active across such a wide array of interests, and for as little money.

 

What I can't figure out? Even after hearing about the kinds of activities listed above, my son claims his friends at school (who are mainly not scouts) still think scouts sounds "dumb" and uninteresting. Sheesh. What else could we offer to grab the interest of middle school aged boys? So it must be in the "packaging."

 

Given a strong program, how do we go about "selling" fun & adventure because I have to tell you, I'm not seeing it working all that well here. As a district, we have about a 15% drop between the % of total available youth we serve in cub scouting and the % we serve in boy scouting. Never mind that we rarely recruit boys directly into boy scouts, if they weren't cubs to start with. The five troops in my town + the town next to us make up just about 1/3 of our district. If I could just unlock the secret to better recruiting...and I don't think it is as simple as "build it and they will come" because it is already built!

 

Sorry this is a bit rambling. I've been turning this over and over and I admit to being a little bit baffled as to where the entry way to this discussion ought to be, at this point.

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Your troop sounds awesome, I wish we could do some of that.

 

I come from a fairly large troop, about 45 scouts, so recruiting has never been a problem. Pretty much all of the cubs come up, probably for more of a social thing. And lately, we've had alot of drop outs, some of them due to lack of interest, and some of them because they didnt like the way our troop was run. You have to remember though, scouting is not for everyone, and I think that your troop would have an edge on recruiting (ok, the college football fan in me has come out) with all of the great activies you guys participate in.

 

And going to the Naval Academy sounds great, hopefully it motivates some guys to get their Eagle, as they love Eagle Scouts when it comes to admissions!

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Yah, I think us old Bobwhites and Beavers aren't goin' to solve this one, eh? You're askin' the wrong crowd.

 

Ask your son's friends who aren't in Scouts. Ask the other boys in your troop if they've invited friends (why or why not), and how their friends have responded.

 

No point in us speculatin'. You have to be willing to see it "fresh" with kids' eyes.

 

 

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Boys join scouts for the same reason most people join any group, to have fun and relax, to have a sense of belonging and to be able to do things they cant do by themselves

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I think boys will join if they have exposure--the problem is getting them to visit the first time if they don't have experience as Cubs, and don't have parents who know about scouting. I think that's where some of the packaging creates a challenge.

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