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Stosh

Acceptable Attrition Rate?

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Why is it that we start out with hundreds of Tiger Cubs and attrition down to 1 or 2 Eagles and feel that this is an acceptable loss?

 

BSA prides itself on being flexible to handle any and all boys throughout this process. They don't have to excel in academics or sports so there shouldn't be any dropping out because it's too hard.

 

Every single Tiger comes in totally blown away with excitement and hope, and then they leave.

 

Without passing out blame or such, what is it that we aren't doing to retain these boys? Are we not providing the promises made to the Tiger Cubs for unlimited adventure? Are we boring them out of the program? Are we not meeting what they need?

 

Your ideas? I'm thinking the only one's interested in retention seems to be National because of the $$'s involved.

 

Stosh

 

 

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Several possibilities come to mind as age increases:

 

1) Change in time commitment needed for Scouting... camping, MB's, service projects.

 

2) Change in interests of boy....music, sports, other school organizations.

 

3) Parents idealogical conflict with Boy Scouts vs. Cub Scouts...i.e. faith-based vs. agnostic.

 

4) Cost.. uniforms, fees, equipment.

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First off, Scouting isn't for everyone....boys or their families. Losing boys should not be perceived as a failure. Boys getting nothing from their time in the program should be.

 

Second, it was never the goal of BSA to have every boy who joins as a Tiger to move on to Boy Scouts and earn his Eagle Scout. Just as it is not a goal for all Eagles to join Venturing and earn their Silver Award, join Sea Scouting and earn their Quatermaster or Varsity to earn their Denali. If that were the metric for success, we have all failed.

 

Third...earning Eagle Scout is not for everyone, nor should it be. It if for those boys who are dedicated over a long-term period who are lucky enough to achieve that honor.

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Stosh,

I feel your pain.

Our local mega-troop has horrible retention numbers, but those are ignored because they are - well - big, therefore must be successful and have a lot of stroke at District and Council.

Instead of digging in to understand some meaningful measures of merit, like percentage of 3rd year boys remaining who recharter, or percentage who join who eventually make Eagle, we publish (publish!!) total numbers of Eagle by troop. "Troop A has 150 Eagles, they must be good!" Nevermind that 15000+ scouts joined that troop and didn't make it to Eagle. Cripes - it's not about Eagle - it's about growing young men. But they keep going back to the Eagle number.

Boys leave scouting for lots of reasons. The biggest is a value choice they make between scouts and band/sports/cars/girlfriends/X-Box/jobs/drugs/homework/etc. If the scouts (and parents) think we offer time well spent, they make their choice accordingly.

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Lie other posters point out, the BSA goal is not to have all the Scouts reach Eagle.

 

And I also believe 1st Class rank is the main target.

 

Your Cub to Eagle Analogy is like asking:

"how come out of 10,000 6th grade Football players only 10 make a Pro team, isn't the goal of Middle School Football Pro Ball?"

 

That is a ridiculous notion.

 

Scouting builds citizens with character, leadership skills and personal responsibility. Some take it farther than others, but the process is what counts no matter how far along they go.

 

 

(This message has been edited by dg98adams)

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Stosh,

 

I understand the point, but I think the best analogy is to rec sports. In the rec soccer league my sons play in, the number of players decreases every age level. By U-14, we have gone from the 12 teams of U-6 to 2 teams. Part of being young is figuring out what you like and what you don't like. Scouting is no different. Also, a lot of us who aren't Eagles got something out of even two years of Scouts. I'm a 2yr scout veteran, who made Tenderfoot and earned a single merit badge. Scouting still aided me. It taught me the basis of most of my camping skills.

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The only real solution to improving retention is Program.

 

If the kid is excited and wants to do Program, the parents will find a way, brushing aside time, cost and all that other stuff.

 

So what's Program?

 

It's the sum total experience of everything a Cub, Boy Scout or Venturer does in Scouting. It's patrol hikes. It's weekend camping trips with the troop. It's resident summer camp with hundreds of other Scouts. It's a PL being trusted to check the troop in at a camporee. It's taco day at summer camp. It's kayaking on a pristine lake on a 50-miler.

 

It's also pack meetings that bore the crap out of adults, let alone kids. It's the B&G banquet where half the stage time is taken up by adult recognition and an FOS presentation. It's an excited young man getting elected Patrol Leader and then not getting any training, guidance or feedback from the SM. It's going to summer camp and not being able to shoot at the archery range more than once a day because there aren't enough arrows in good repair.

 

If we don't have good Program, we don't deliver the promise. Where I come from, that's called lying. And boys of all ages can pick up on when an adult is lying pretty quickly.

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Shortridge - I agree completely. However, what I struggled with going from Tiger Den leader to Den Leader to Webelos Den Leader to Scoutmaster is the adult / youth roles wrt program. I know what it is supposed to be.

 

As a Tiger Den Leader (actually, I'm lying, their were no den leaders then, only partners and a secretary) I'd help arrange the "events" - fire station trips, etc. that the kids enjoyed tremendously. Same for Wolf, Bear and to a slightly lesser extent Webelos. When Boy Scouts came and I asked them what they wanted to do, I sometimes got lots of blank stares. Entertain us like before was the usual response I got (but of course not in those words). When I helped them get through that stage and then prodded them to start taking on bigger and bigger role in planning these events/outings - more resistance.

 

Some of the parents and scouts "got it" but many did not. We built trbuchets. One group (two patrols) built a fine one out of spare lumber, a metal bar, weights, etc. The other group (two other patrols) stood around as the parents built a supreme, $500 contraption. Yes it was better but they still had the Cub mentality. One of my sons were on different groups. One was enthused, one not (guess).

 

Some of the boys dropped out. Others, stayed and went to Jambo, Philmont, Sea Base, Double H and other exciting places and had a fantastic time - and they did the planning and leading. Yes, I did my best to train them and had my ups and downs but some of the boys just seemed to be resistant to taking it to the next level and dropped out.

 

I think we, as Scouters should not blindly accept attrition and I think it is way to high but I also feel that Boy Scouts is not necessarily for all boys up to age 18.

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Greater adventure is more easily had elsewhere - 4H, AMC, Conservation camps, even ole dad.

 

My 8 yr old shoots his own recurve bow(JOAD program) and his own 22 rifle. How long before he could use those skills at a scout activity? Doesn't matter really, when he found out Cub Scouts cannot camp out like he does, he lost interest. "Dad they wouldn't let me start a campfire like I do with you." Sad.

 

Drop the B.S., get the Adventure back.

 

 

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AMEN to lone ranger...

 

Largest hurdle I see is between the Webelos I year and the Boy Scouting expireince. Hard to keep the Webs going when most of what they want to do BSA will not let them touch until age 14.

 

Cope - nope

.22 cal - nope

firebuilding - maybe

BB-gun / recurve archery - yes, been doing that since Wolf year

 

While I understand BSA's commitment to safety, I often wonder how much the lawyers and litigation minimizers have undermined the "adventure" part that BSA promises? One generation ago, my pool at summer camp HAD a diving board and one of the highlights of the week was the belly flop contest. Not a high drive, but a 1 meter springboard. All the public pools in our area still have them. However, there is not a SINGLE council pool in the country that even has a diving board at there pool anymore.

 

At scout camp, we swam in the lake, we swam in the river, we built rope bridges across (gasp)WATER ! If you fell off, you fell in. We sometimes fell off on purpose! For OA, we had TAP-OUT, not some B.S. watered down version labelled CALL-OUT. Yes, we got roughed up a bit, but noone really got hurt, maybe a little scared, but once you were in, you were in. It was still supervised and no long term damage was ever done to anybody.

 

But you know what it DID provide? Adventure. A sense of beating the unknown. OA gave a sense of belonging to a "secret" society that others only knew about via folk-lore. Now, mommy and daddy can go along and hold Johnny's hand through Ordeal if they want to.... Oohhh, lots of adventure and unknown mysteries there.

 

We camped in snow caves and had winter rondevous, had snowball fights, stick fights, heck even some rock fights with other Troops. Not saying it was always PC or a little rough, but you LEARNED how to be a man, how to be tough, how to stretch yourself a little and how to lick your wounds and carry on. I don't see much of that going on anymore. We had special campouts specifically for staying out without a tent in below-freezing weather. No one ever died, no one even got frostbite or hypothermia that I remember.

 

Last summer camp, the camp director cancelled the "rugged-O" the final night. It was an event where the entire camp took their sleeping bags out and slept under the stars on the parade field, no tents allowed. It was 1/2 the reason most of the cubs signed up because their buddies had talked so much cool stuff about it. They also had tomahawk throwing the year before.

 

Both Rugged-O and tomahawk are gone now. Not at cub resident camp, not at webelos woods. Comment overheard this past weekend at Web Woods, "Yea, I had fun, OK. It sucked they didn't have tomahawks or rugged-O this year."

 

Water down the kool-aid enough, the kids will stop calling it bug-juice and will tell you its really just colored water. Most will go find some other Kool-Aid to drink.

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I'm thinking the gentleman who wrote the book "Last Child in the Woods" might be right. We have placed so many rules against what one cannot do in the woods, that the whole realm of what CAN you do is limited and unimaginative.

 

Camping and no fires? only back pack stoves? Where's the adventure in that? If I wanted to cook on gas, I would have stayed at home.

 

Dealing with bears? I see them all the time at the zoo, and it's a real rush to see them in the woods where there are no bars. The bears I saw at Philmont were being trapped and taken out of the area so the boys would be safe. Where's the adventure in that?

 

Whitewater canoeing/kayaking? The rush, the rocks, the ability to fight nature in an active way. No, still water, 50-miles of lake after lake and a few muddy portages. Where's the adventure in that?

 

Marathon trek watching the trail every step of the way so we can get to the next site were there's blackpowder shooting and pole climbing. Where's the adventure in that? Why can't I just sit and watch the deer for a while?

 

Why can't I just sit with my feet in the stream a bit longer and watch the birds nearby?

 

Why can't I eat nettles or cattails?

 

Why can't I use a hand ax to build my fire?

 

Why do the adults have to drag themselves along in herds?

 

1950 Scout handbook had as 2nd class requirement, go on a hike with patrol and or one other 2nd class buddy cook a meal and do it all on your own. 1st class requirement was the same but with an overnighter and 24 hours. How many of our 21st Century boys would be ALLOWED to earn rank from 70 years ago? NONE.

 

We have taken the outdoor adventure out of scouting, legalized it, "criminalized" it, and disconnected our boys from the outing in Scouting. Why is it our boys know more about environmental ecology than they do about the grass they walk in? I thought I might say that the only nature our kids get today is the walk to school, but that isn't even the norm anymore.

 

All I can say is I'm glad I'm not a kid today.

 

Stosh

 

 

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Stosh,

 

Good points. I do agree that the adventure has been mostly taken out of Scouting. We are having this same issue in our own troop, and sometimes get to the point where advancement is more important than fun. Well, without fun, we aren't going to have many scouts for long.

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Why can't I just sit with my feet in the stream a bit longer and watch the birds nearby?

Why can't I eat nettles or cattails?

Why can't I use a hand ax to build my fire?

Why do the adults have to drag themselves along in herds?

 

Where do you find these written as rules?

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Stosh wrote:

Why can't I just sit with my feet in the stream a bit longer and watch the birds nearby?

Why can't I eat nettles or cattails?

Why can't I use a hand ax to build my fire?

Why do the adults have to drag themselves along in herds?

 

Shortridge wrote:

Where do you find these written as rules?

 

My response.

 

The first is not usually allowed due to campouts having an agenda.

The second and third violate "Leave no trace."

The fourth is a consequence of YPT. If adults are there, they are in a herd (well at least a duo).

 

 

 

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"Why do the adults have to drag themselves along in herds?"

 

That sounds like my current ship, the adults usually outnumber us at meetings and events. Sometimes even as much as 2:1

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