Scouts-L Mail Archive for December of 1999: Demographics/Why Do Scouts Leave?
Demographics/Why Do Scouts Leave?
Wed, 22 Dec 1999 16:24:22 -0500
I think Bob Riley pinpointed the real key, but I don't think it has much to
do with demographics. In both recruitment and retention, the critical
factor is the parent. And this is true for both Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts.
If the parent doesn't know about Scouting or doesn't see a positive value in
Scouting, he or she won't make the effort to sign the boy up. If the parent
of a Scout doesn't see something positive going on in the Pack or Troop, he
or she won't make the effort to keep the boy in. If little Johnny doesn't
want to go to a meeting and Mom or Dad doesn't care, we'll lose that Scout.
If teenage John is interested in taking a part-time job that will conflict
with Scouts, and Mom or Dad doesn't at least raise the issue, that Scout
will slip away too. And if John is really into it and wants to go camping,
but Dad is tired of paying fees and thinks son is just going camping to hang
out with his friends and get out of mowing the lawn, we'll lose that Scout
too. But if Scouting is important to the parent, single or married, rich or
poor, one child or many, the parent will make the effort to get the boy in
and keep him in.
Parents can see the value of sports and piano lessons, church and school.
Scouting is a harder sell, perhaps in part because it is more subtle. We're
not just teaching a skill, nor are we just teaching a principle. Rather,
we're using skills as the vehicle for teaching principles, and with little
immediate (parental) gratification--when Dad sees son tying two
half-hitches, he doesn't think "Scholarship!"
It's my belief that the first challenge of membership is continually selling
the program to the parents, with a simple message. Cub Scouting is worth
the parent's time, effort, and expense because an hour a week with friends
having fun and learning something at the same time is a lot better than an
hour in front of the TV. Boy Scouting is worth the parent's time, effort,
and expense because it teaches real world teamwork, responsibility,
self-reliance, and leadership. Or in even simpler terms, Scouting teaches
boys how to be good men.
The second challenge, of course, is keeping that promise.
Yours in Scouting,