I forgot to say no...Top 5 for Retention
golden cliff (c60clg1@CORN.CSO.NIU.EDU)
Fri, 12 Dec 1997 19:20:22 -0600
I don't know off hand if there's a top 5 list written in BSA literature
somewhere for retaining new Scouts. If there isn't, there should be.
This is what I think would be the top 5. This is only my opinion. I am
anxious to read what others think about this issue.
Top 5 for New Scout Retention.
1. Adult/Older Boy Mentor
Appoint special older Scout as Troop Guide to be their guardian
angel/big brother. As an older and wiser Scout, he will act to encourage
them, teach them, coach them, and protect them. His charge is to keep
them involved and help them reach First Class Award. An ASM specifically
assigned to the new Webelos. He tracks their involvement and progress.
He looks out for their interest. He is watchful for problems and acts
proactively to avoid/solve any problems encountered.
2. Group Assimilation
Make them feel a part of "their" new unit. They need to assimilate quickly.
The faster they stop feeling like the new kids and start feeling like
they're one of the guys, the better. Usually a major event, preferably
overnight, that includes team building skills integrating them with
other boys in the troop, will do the trick. It must be very well planned
with the PLC stating clear objectives with regards to making it a positive
experience for the newly recruited Webelos. Get all the senior Scouts
onboard with this plan and supporting it. Then give the Webelos a
positive memorable experience with the troop to help them bond with their
new group of "Scouting friends".
3. Investment in the Program
Get them "invested" into the troop. By that I mean they have something
invested in the program that they want to keep and continue. Advancement
can be an important part of this. If they have several things
accomplished towards their upcoming ranks, they will want to continue
building on that and improving it. They have a visible tangible
measurement of their initial success as a Scout. Uniforming is also
important here. Get them into that "troop uniform" as quickly as possible
so they are wearing their involvement and committment for all to see.
Those are things they can take pride in and motivation for their
continuation in the program.
4. Educate and Set Goals
Educate them on the "big picture". Share some troop history and
traditions with them. Let them know where your troop has been and where
it's going and what their place is in all of that. Let them know what
opportunities are waiting for them in the upcoming year, and the great
things in store for them in future years as they get older. Paint them a
picture of Scouting, make it a big picture that is bright and colorful.
If they can see themselves in that picture they will buy deeper into the
program and begin setting goals for themselves. We enjoy things one bite
at a time, but don't just show them one dish, show them the whole buffet.
Let them be impressed and excited about what's waiting for them ahead.
5. Parental Support
Recruit their parents. If you fail to directly recruit them onto the
troop committee, parents group, or whatever, at the very least make sure
they are sold on the importance of the Scouting program. Their support at
home is crucial to the continued success of their son. If they don't
think Scouting is important, it's likely that over time that sentiment
will transfer to the boy as well.
You asked for the top 5 things, there are surely more than what I've
stated above. I think if you can successfully pull off those 5 items,
you're on the road to keeping the interest of a boy.
Of course you've got to have a solid active adventurous outdoor program to
sell. That is a given. How you market that program to the new Scout and
involve him initially will greatly determine his level of involvement.
You don't want him dropping out then years later saying, if I'd only known
you were going to do all that I would have stayed. Sell him the program,
if he buys into it, then you've got several years to instill within that boy
the ideals and aims of Scouting.
Good luck to you.
YIS, Cliff Golden
Scoutmaster Troop 33; DeKalb, Illinois
Three Fires Council BSA
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City