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Cub Scouting Hurting Boy Scouting?

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I don't think you can attribute the difficulty in retaining Boy Scouts entirely or even primarily to Cub Scouting, but I do think it is a factor. Of the five or six packs that our troop has drawn from over the years, I think the boys with the highest "first year quit rate" have been from the pack that emphasizes camping the most. I think by the time they hit the troop, outdoor activities SEEM like "old hat" to them. I say "seem" because, of course, there are many adventures that those kids have NOT experienced, but some of them don't stick around long enough to find out. On the other hand, when I look around the troop, most of the leaders who have stuck around after their (actually, "our") own sons have aged out are from that same pack. Go figure. In the past couple of years that pack has found greener pastures as far as troops to join, so my "data" is a few years old.


I also think that parents are a major factor here. There are quite a few parents who have "had enough" after Cub Scouting and really don't encourage their sons to move on to a troop or to stick with it for very long. This includes both leaders and non-leaders in the pack. Of course part of it may be that by the age of 11, some of the boys are showing "star quality" at sports and the parents are starting to imagine that mansion that their son is going to buy them with his first contract with the Knicks or Jets or Yankees or whoever, and Scouting gets pushed to the side. (I'm exaggerating here, but not much; maybe some of you have met those parents as well, though the teams may be different.)


I also agree with Acco, the age range in Boy Scouts has gotten a bit out of hand. At that age, a year really can make a huge difference in terms of maturity. In doing Boards of Review I have come across a few 11-year-old FIRST CLASS Scouts who really should still be in Webelos, in my opinion. (Of course the "older" boys have their own maturity issues, especially if a girl wanders by, but that's a different subject and part of the "fun" of that age group.)

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When I was a Scoutmaster, one of the things I encouraged from all of the parents, especially those who were Cub Scout leaders was to take a break and not take on any Boy Scout positions until after their son was in the troop for a year.


It was not a hard and fast rule but it helped to prevent burn-out and it also limited the kibbitzing of "how to run the troop better" from individuals who had no idea on the concepts of Boy Scouts. The worst were the "when I was a Boy Scout" types. :)


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Yes many boys play when they should help set up camp; I have noticed some shocked scout newbies.


I tried to get boys to always set up family tents by Bear and help other families when they are Webelos. They get to tend fire by Webelos (usually watched by parents and instructed by a Boy Scout) and by end of Webelos do the majority of the work at a Pack campout. Also by then they have done a Brownsea like program and have a better idea of what Boy Scouts is about. Usually lose one or two over that but firm up more shaky scouts.

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>>When I was a Scoutmaster, one of the things I encouraged from all of the parents, especially those who were Cub Scout leaders was to take a break and not take on any Boy Scout positions until after their son was in the troop for a year.

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A former Cub/Webelos leader should, at best, be a "junior" ASM the first 6 months. Boy Scouts is fundamentally different and learning the Troop culture, as well as getting trained up, is essential. Best to be assisting where you can and not trying to run things. Best would be a break but I know in my case they needed help.

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First, I do think that the former WDL (if interested) should be encouraged to help out. That said, I don't think that ASM is a good role for at least a year. I am a former WDL, and I became a committee member initially. I had a specific role--advancement chair. This was good because it kept me from interfering with the New Scout patrol, aka my former Webelos (and before that Bear) den. I've done all the online committee training, and have done IOLS. I'm going to slowly work my way towards being an ASM, but not just yet--I was a WDL II leader two years in a row.

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To get back to the original issue I think too much Pack camping does affect Boy Scout first year retention. I have noticed the boys whose families are really, really into camping and hiking come with decent skills but get bored by the 3rd or 4th campout. They want to graduate into more "High Adventure" activities.


I would say that Sports has picked off more good scout candidates at our Troop. During the season there just is too many practices...but that is a well worn subject. I do not recall little league or football having as many or as intense practice regimens when I was a kid...

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I have never been a fan of having a herd of parents hanging around with the Troop.

I'm not sure why, but in the area where I live when a little Lad crosses over into the Troop Dad seems to have to tag along.

The little fellow is allowed to go anyplace unless the old fellow is going also.

This adds a lot of pressure to the family.

I have ran a good number of outdoor trainings with a goodly number of these Dads in attendance.

Some seem to sit there not really wanting to come away with very much.

Kinda like I'm teaching German when they are going to France.

Some of this might because the Troops have already gotten to these guys and given them the "We don't do it that way." Speech.

Some seem happy to think that being a Scout Leader is just about sitting around the camp fire while the "Real" Leaders deal with the Troop.

The "Real" Leaders seem happy in the knowledge that at least for a while they have found a new driver to get the Scouts to and from.

Having Dad gone and using his vacation time for his son seems like a good idea for the first year or so, but when the grass isn't mowed and chores around the house aren't being done. Mum starts to get a little upset.

To be fair I'm not sure if the training's are at fault?

It's far to easy for a guy who doesn't know anything to hide behind the Super Dad who knows more about the outdoors than I do and just coast by.


I would like the BSA to take a look at what is happening in the UK with different age groupings. But I don't see any change coming anytime soon.


Another problem I have noticed is that adults in Packs seem to have more disagreements and fights than the Boy Scout Troops have. This of course might be because there are as a rule a lot more of them (Adults.) And because the leadership at the top is always in motion.

Parents who are involved in Pack fighting look for someone or someplace to go. They think that the Council or the District is going to come in on a big white horse and save the day.

The truth is that the Council and the District are going to do as much as they can not to get involved. This is made worse with the breakdown of the Commissioner staff in our area.

Parents come away thinking that we, the Council and the District don't care and if we can't be bothered why should they bother?


I like most the BSA publications that deal with how things are set up and I think given half a chance and a little support the way the BSA has it can and does work.

Still in the area where I live a lot of the names on a charter are just names on a charter.

The Troop Committee is maybe a couple of guys who are mates of the SM. The COR is someone who was last seen at a PTA meeting when the kids were in first grade and the CO only signs off on the charter once a year and will go through his pocket looking for some change to pay the fee.

People who get involved in Troops and Packs expect something which just isn't there from the BSA and when the District passes the buck to the CO there still isn't anyone home.

We do very little to support new leaders or leaders who are at odds.

It takes a long time to come to grips with how things work and understand what is happening in the real world.


I also firmly believe that by just being a parent and having a boy child does not automatically qualify you as being a good youth leader.

HWMBO freely admits that if she was left with a Den of Cub Scouts, there is a chance that a couple of them might never see their home again.

Maybe it's a sign of our times that we don't ever want to let our kids out of our sight and feel we need to be right there when ever.

HWMBO was like this when it came to soccer.

She felt some kind of a need to be at each and every soccer match that OJ was playing. She would have her work schedule changed in order to ensure that she was there.

She knows nothing about soccer and at times would embarrass the heck out of me, when he was young by yelling "Good kick" when he'd kicked the ball the wrong way.

I thought that the cardboard bridge in the New Leaders Essentials was silly but on the whole that presentation did give new leaders some idea of how things are done. I was sad to see that presentation go.


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It is not too much cub camping that hurts boy scouts it is that too many troop camping trips are at the same level as cub camping. Why, because too many Troop leaders lack the outdoor skills to offer their boys a really challenging outdoor program. I think Kudu is very correct when he says that the first class scout of today is equal to a webelos scout of 30+ years ago. All SM's, ASM's, Advisors, and Assoc. Advisors need to get throughly trained in high adventure activities in order to bring to their teens new and exciting programs that truly will excite them and keep them coming back.


IMO there is absolutely no excuse to car camp in boy scouts, this is one of the primary reasons boy scouts continue to diminish in alarming numbers. Any SM that uses car camping as the norm or other than in an emergency should be forced to step down immediately. Time will prove that the Mazzuca plan for the boy scout program will not work. Emphasizing an indoor high tech program, which I am seeing more of in some local troops, and continuing to diminish the level of outdoor training troop leaders receive, and the diminishing amount and level of outdoor opportunities for troops and crews can only lead to the final demise of scouting as we know it.(This message has been edited by BadenP)(This message has been edited by BadenP)

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I can't believe you are even asking such obvious questions.


Diminishing Boy Scout numbers: just compare the figures for the last four or five decades, the numbers speak for themselves.


Car camping: driving the cars into the campsite itself and allowing the boys to sleep in them, with bathrooms and showers right there at the site, typical cub scout stuff.

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You make an excellent point about lack of outdoor skills in leaders, BadenP. It's a forgotten art! Everything being taught now are management and youth protection skills! My favorite part of the basic training I took as a leader was when outdoor skills were taught! Heck, if I wanted management course I woulda signed up with Dale Carnegie!

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I agree with Ed and BadenP. I think the quesiton is, can we find leaders who either have the skills to do high adventure or have the inclination to learn how to do high adventure and have the time and money to get the required training/experience and coin to buy the equipment and time away from family to make the unit work.


I would second BadenP's assertion regarding Scoutmasters who car camp need to go away, but I am afraid that would cut perhaps 50% of the scoutmasters in the District I serve. We have energetic younger parents coming in, but few want to learn to sleep outdoors, it may be a generational thing. Now, in parts of the ccountry I am sure there will be amusement in some who read these word, but the urban population is not all that ahankerin' to get in the woods, least from what I can see(This message has been edited by OldGreyEagle)

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If what you state about boy scout leaders is becoming the norm rather than the exception I am so glad to be out of that mess and in with a great venturing crew whose members and leaders all love the outdoors with a passion. At least the last connection in my scouting career will be a long term joy instead of dreading what change is National making now with the outdoor program for the troop. I think thats why I love Venturing, no mandatory program, voluntary advancement awards, the crew chooses the uniform or not. Yet our crew is constantly earning Silver, Ranger, and Quest awards each year, coming up with new fun activities for the outdoors and traveling around the USA.


IMHO, the same should also hold true for older boy scouts as well and that is why in my experience we see more boy scouts coming over to our crew as soon as they are old enough. We had 3 more Eagles last year in our crew who told the Advisor they probably would have never finished if they had stayed in their troops.


Bottom Line: Don't blame the Cubs blame your own lack of creativity, lazy leadership, and straying away from the very foundation of boy scouts (outdoors) if your troop keeps losing members.

To paraphrase a famous quote, I love it when a plan and a great crew comes together.

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