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Give your advice to a parent whose son wants to drop out of Scouting

If your son told you tomorrow that he’s thinking of leaving Scouting, what would you say?

For “Dave,” a concerned parent from an East Coast troop, that’s no hypothetical question.

The parent, whose name I changed to conceal his identity, writes:

My son is 15 and has been in Scouting since he was a Tiger Cub Scout, and over the past year, has been increasingly vocal about wanting to quit. He’s not “passionate” about the majority of Scouting activities and is finding our large troop with many younger scouts (some with emotional issues) “a waste of time.”

I am an active committee member and have been strongly encouraging him to stick with it, but it’s getting to the point where I don’t know what to say or do to keep him in.

We’ve explained the benefits of attaining Eagle Scout and that if he drops out, we won’t continue spending money on his non-Scouting interests (sports camps, going to watch pro games, music concerts, etc). I don’t like this approach but feel strongly about him getting to Eagle.

I think we have a very good Scoutmaster and assistant Scoutmasters and a diverse variety of activities.

He’s a tremendous boy who does well in school, plays sports and music, and has many friends. Any advice to help me keep him in Scouting?

Based on Dave’s e-mail, it looks like there’s still time to keep his son in the program. But how?

What would you do?

How would you respond if your son said he’d like to quit? What should Dave tell his son to convince him to stay? Have you successfully “saved” a Scout who considered dropping out? Offer your advice by leaving a comment below.

Dave will be reading your comments — as will others in a similar predicament.

116 Comments on Give your advice to a parent whose son wants to drop out of Scouting

  1. Dan Kurtenbach // June 25, 2012 at 1:48 pm // Reply

    Two words: Venturing crew. Negative incentives (withholding things) are a surefire way to make getting Eagle a negative experience.

  2. Does he have a youth position of leadership in the troop? If the troop is “a waste of time” to him, he holds the key to solving the problem himself. Even if he doesn’t, he can still talk to his SPL about his concerns and suggest ideas that would make the troop more interesting to him.

  3. I feel the biggest issue your son is probably facing is loneliness and frustration. He is a teenager and he wants to forge his one identity and be with his peers. What 15 year old wants to be with a bunch of little kids? May be instead of “fighting him” try and find some parents of teenage boys that are having the same problems. May be you could get a group together of older scouts and find what they may like. One of the best things about scouting is how diverse the activities can be. I think if he could find some boys his own age that he clicks with it might just keep him in scouts. Remember, give them flexible options. They are young adults and are really seeking freedom.

  4. Bill Stewart // June 25, 2012 at 1:51 pm // Reply

    First thing I would do is try to pin down the exact things he doesn’t like. Second, I would not curtail other activities just because he doesn’t like Scouting. He may have found other interests that he doesn’t have time to do because of his Scouting time. Also, he may need to move up into a Venturing Crew. It just might be he doesn’t want to be around the “little kids”.

  5. I went through a similar phase when I was a scout (now 22) and because of it I was unable to obtain the rank of Eagle. I really regret that I did not reach the rank. You said you son is in sports, maybe you can relate it to sports. Tell him that the troop is like a team and that he is one of the strongest players and it would hurt the team if he quit. Everyone has their role in the team just like they do in the troop.

  6. David Lowell // June 25, 2012 at 1:52 pm // Reply

    I have given this problem a lot of thought over the 15 years I have been a Scouter. Recently it came to me that with so many Scouts in business who know what it takes to be a Scout and stay with the program I would not want to tell a job interviewer “I quit”. At 15 a boy has no idea of the benefits of Scouting after 21. There is not a box to mark on a job application for baseball, band, in a band, soccer ect. There is for scouts and other youth organizations who do community service a personal development and leadership training. If you mark the Scout box on an application and then tell the interviewer ‘I quit, what does it tell the interviewer about your ability to follow through?

    If there is another troop or crew in the area he may want to investigate that route.

    When my son interviewed for his job he was one of 3 Eagle Scouts who applied. It was noted positively in his interview. An old Eagle Scout business man once told me that “Being and Eagle may not get you a job, bit it won’t loose you a job.”

  7. sharon sherwood // June 25, 2012 at 1:54 pm // Reply

    Son, Dont give up on Scouting. It gives you good strong values and goals. You may not see the light at the end now. But as adult Scouting on everything you fill out will have a meaning. The things you are doing and learning today a skills you will have for the rest of your life and to teach your kids. So please do not give up on scouting. Think about the things you get to do that others are not.

  8. mike marti // June 25, 2012 at 1:55 pm // Reply

    Sometimes we want what is best for our kids than they do. While that is good in some areas it doesn’t always produce the results we desire. Right now he can’t see it and if you continue to press you might get what you want, an Eagle Scout, but will he have learned and grown with it? Maybe what he needs is a father son only camping trip, a way to recollect with you on a personal level and just let Scouts be for awhile. Also, while the troop might be an excellent one, it might be too big for him? Where he finds it hard to make a personal connection. This is not about you, Scouts or the troop, this is about your son making a matare decision on what he wants to do, and his he wants to do it.

  9. I would begin by engaging him on what his key gripes are. Then ask him what he would like to see changed in the program. For some reason the program is not holding his interest. Your challenge is to find ways it can regain his interest. That sounds easier than it is. SOMETHING is pulling his interest away. Maybe some flexibility can help him do both?

    When I was a youth in scouts, some 20 years ago, my interest was pulled away by the allure of winning a place on the varsity football team, and the inability to do both practice, AND scout meetings with overlapping schedules. Perhaps there is an interest he is passionate about that is not even part of the scouting program that could be. Or, maybe he is not feeling like his concerns are being addressed? In my case, I think my whole scout troop would have done far better had the meeting schedule been flexible around the school year, and athletic practices. We lost a lot of scouts to athletics, and competitive music programs at the high school, simply because the meeting times were incompatible. We scouts had to chose between scouting, or athletics, or music.

  10. Gary Roach // June 25, 2012 at 1:56 pm // Reply

    I am glad that I have not been faced with a question like this. I understand your concern and as a parent and Eagle Scout, but I feel that it is imposible to make someone do something that they don’t wish to do anymore. I have always told my son in any situation like this that “we all make choices, some good some bad, but in the end you are the one who has to live with the choice that you make”.
    I can’t help and think that there is an underlying issue if your son is happy doing the activities that the Troop is doing, but doesn’t want to be a part of it. Have you asked someone besides yourself to find the real answer? I find that it is better to do it this way to get the real answer, not the answer that he is giving me.

  11. i would encourage him to run for a position of leadership and start making the changes he would like to see in the troop, if that does not work out, he can take a break from meeting and work on his eagle requirements (merit badges and application) from home for few weeks. i myself went through the same phase, i became busy with my social life and got sick of having to go to a meeting a sit and deal with 11 and 12 year olds running around,

  12. I agree Venturing progam, maybe the Explorer program – also check other troops. Sometimes they just need a change from the troop they’re in.

  13. My son just finished his Eagle project and will wrap up his last merit badge tonight. We just had a delightful discussion of “Are you mad? You’re done.” :-)

    For the father in the article, if the son is already First Class, look at the local Venture crews. He can wrap up merit badges on the side but be with older scouts with interests more closely matching his own.

    Is this a boy-run troop where the scouts are choosing and planning the activities? Has the scout suggested activities he would like to do? Is he involved in Order of the Arrow activities?

    There are many ways to be involved in scouting and work toward Eagle. But the son has to want to work toward Eagle. I wouldn’t threaten to not support him in other activities. We’ve had scouts come back after being away. Not many, but some.

  14. Venturing program in an are of interest. Sea Scouts is great, but there are others. Check your local council (and neighboring councils if you live a reasonable distance) for a program of interest. My youngest earned Eagle, then went on to earn Quartermaster, and is currently Skipper for the Ship. He has been Scouting since he was 5 mos. Quitting is NOT an option.

  15. It may be the size of the troop and the younger Scouts with emotional issues. Either find him a new troop, or perhaps emphasize how much he’s helping the younger kids. Emotional problems are such a challenge, and he may not know how to cope with them.

    My brother switched troops. He says today he would not have gotten his Eagle had he stayed with his original troop.

  16. I sympathize with you in this matter. I feel you should really find out the root cause of why he is no longer interested. Maybe a change of venue is in order? Maybe he needs more older boys that he can relate to better? Are there any Venturing Crews around? As disappointed as you may be, you probably should not force him into staying in Scouts. This for that is probably not a good choice either. As far as him getting to Eagle, that is a road HE must choose and achieve on his own. I agree, he may regret it later if he does not; however, It MUST be his choice! Remember, Scouting is a game with a purpose, make sure he is having FUN. After all that is the first rule of Scouting!

    • Another great experience would be NYLT, it will really bring out the leader in any boy!

  17. First thing is what rank is he and how close is he to finishing that rank? You need to show him how close he is to being done. Set time lines so he can see it in his head. Get the older boys that are close to him in rank and look to see what they can all work on together to get completed. Once they are a Life Scout get them working on the Eagle Project paperwork. Sometime a troop gets so involved in the new kids that the older kids don’t feel like they are getting anywhere. We have an Assistant Scoutmasters just to get the older boys over that hump.

  18. Marta Mullin // June 25, 2012 at 2:03 pm // Reply

    You cannot force someone to Eagle, that is not scouting. Some of the boys in our troop do not stay once they hit high school. It is a big world out there and he may want to try other things.
    We had a boy leave after webelos and come back when he was older. Does he have any friends in scouting? Are they in another troop? It could be the troop is focusing on more of the younger boys.
    There are lots of worthwhile activities available that will let him focus on his interests and let him gain the skills of scouting.

  19. There are two letters that Mike Rowe has written that directly address this Scout… And both the Scout and his Father should read them together.

    I would also add that many Scouts have these same feelings and a growing desire to just stop “being Scouts”… Which is very scarey for both the Parents as well as the Scout. Because, quitting is easy.

    Not looking for things in the Scouting Program that excite you, that you can become motivated by, have more fun participating in, is easy. Digging in and doing the things you like more deeply, discovering other aspects of the Scouting Experience (Order of the Arrow, for example) where you can make a difference, take more responsibility, and have more fun, is hard.

    But don’t take only my word on it… Read the two following letters from Mike Rowe…

    The First is Here… http://www.mikeroweworks.com/scrap-yard/eagle-scout-letter/
    The Second is Here… http://www.mikeroweworks.com/2010/06/mike-replies-to-a-slightly-offended-not-very-enthusiastic-scout/

  20. Lou Kaletsky // June 25, 2012 at 2:04 pm // Reply

    Two more words….”High Adventure!”

  21. Hmm, quite a bit of things to think about here. I know at 15 he isn’t quite ready to make a lot of decisions, especially ones that might carry into his adulthood. But, also at 15 there are things occupying our minds that turn our attentions elsewhere. Kids at school might be making him feel uncomfortable about his Scouting, a girl maybe?, peer pressure?, all these need to be taken under consideration and discussed with him.

    1st what are his actual reasons for wanting to quit Scouts? Is he really good at sports and finds himself more interested in that path. If one of the main reasons is the makeup of the troop, then why not explore other troops in your area. You don’t have to stay at that one. When I first began Scouts we went to our local troop and that wasn’t working for me. We ended up going to a troop in a different town and that was a great move and kept me interested in Scouting. Try that, you can be an active committee person in another troop if that will help your son.

    2nd who is more interested in Scouts you or your son. Let him sit out for a bit and see what fun you keep having by staying involved. Just because he would want to leave doesn’t mean you have to. He might need a break having been in it for so long, and that is understandable. Are you pushing him too much and he doesn’t enjoy it? I rebelled against my parents when I felt they were pushing it more than I wanted to at the time. I had almost completed my Eagle when we moved in the middle of my junior year in HS and rebelled by not wanting to complete my Eagle. I regret that decision now, but I also haven’t found that my life has suffered. Eagle is important, but it should be important to him more than anyone or anything else.

    3rd I wouldn’t punish him if he is not wanting to continue in Scouts. But, if sports is his thing why not check into Venturing Scouts? They are athletic minded and high adventure, might be something to keep his interest. But, if he truly wants to quit then you can’t force him to stay and punishing him might affect the other parts of his life as well.
    But, try a break for a bit and let him take a breather maybe and see what happens.

  22. Wasim Akram // June 25, 2012 at 2:08 pm // Reply

    If its possible read this to the kid.
    Dear (Dave)’s Son,
    ” I’m sure you’re thinking of quitting scouting because you see no point in it, you may think camping, backwoodsman activities, teamwork are just a waste of time.
    But hold on a second, have you ever, as a 15 ear old, looked back at some point of your younger life and thought “Oh what I would give to go back and do that again” or “I miss those days like hell”? Well I’m certain you have.
    So let me make it brief, this is exactly how, after a couple of years, you will feel about scouting. You will be wondering what on earth could have possibly given me the experience and enthusiasm which scouting gave me. And the answer would be none other than scouting alone. Its not just about building your tent and cooking your food. Its all about making yourself more flexible and energetic than you normally are. Its all about attitude brother. End of the day you may forget the law, the promise, the knots, the instruments but mark my words, you will never, ever, ever forget all those golden memories which your scouting life gave you. I myself wish, with all my heart, that I’d be your age, and experience all the invaluable memories of scouting have all over again. OH! God if it were only possible……….! To close my eyes and feel the breez at the ighest point of the only rain forest in my country (my first outdoor camp back when I was 14), to re sing all those amazingly twisted songs we sang together as little kids, to build the gadgets we so reluctantly did every year at our annual district camp, to be at n international jamboree, to be a patrol leader, to boss around younger scouts, to bathe from the river in the middle of a forest at the outdoor camps, to stay awake with your friends until past mid night at those camps, the fun-filled campfires and so on……….. Neither any person, nor anything could ever replace or give the memories scouting can give you!!!”

  23. IMO, it depends why he wants to leave – I agree with previous comments that most boys his age do not want to be the Troop babysitter so another Troop or a Venturing crew (with or without staying in a Troop) can keep him connected to the value of Scouting. Or there could be other problems within the Troop the adults are ignoring or unaware of. When the Troop committee refused to address some serious problems, my three boys left a Troop rife with bullying and favoritism and went to a new one – problem solved.

    However, while an Eagle Rank is VERY important (VERY proud of my Eagle!), I think it is worse for the boys who wear the rank when their parents FORCED them (yes, I did my share of pushing, but he made every phone call – it was more painful on me to WATCH! LOL) or even did a good portion FOR them to make sure they could put it on a resume. I think it is better for him to go without the Eagle and count it up to a hard lesson learned than to be ashamed later knowing he didn’t earn it. I can spot a man who is an Eagle Scout at a distance, and you don’t want your son to be the one people see and say, “REALLY? He’s an Eagle Scout?!” because he didn’t learn the lessons WITH the ranks. And realistically, if it isn’t his goal, it won’t mean much.

    That having been said, I had a friend whose child wanted to quit Scouts and her response was, “Sure! When you find another activity that offers the values and character-building that Scouts does!” That got the kiddo through that stage and he ended up LOVING it and being one of the best Scouts I know!

  24. As a Commissioner I see this a lot, especially around this age. This young man isn’t saying ‘I don’t want to be in Scouts’. He is saying ‘this unit isn’t right for me’.

    Are you willing to work with him to look at other Troops in your area that might have a more appealing program for him, or even Crews? If he has earned First Class rank and joins a Crew he can still earn Eagle (see pg 26 of Guide to Advancement 2011, sec 4.3.1.4 for details.) Changing units does mean his current Troop would miss him. (But, in a Crew, many of the awards you earn require sharing the skills. If he is enjoying himself, he might be willing to go share skills with his ‘old Troop’.) As an adult, your involvement with the current Troop might change. But in the end this is about him staying in Scouting and it being a positive experience for him, as well as your family. If you “force” him to stay in the current troop where he isn’t enjoying Scouting – he is far less likely to care about Eagle. If you support him in finding a way for Scouting to be fun again, even if it means going into a different Troop, or being involved through Venturing, you are much more likely to have an Eagle on your hands in the future.

    Just my two cents. Wishing you all the best outcome!

  25. James Michael Hinson // June 25, 2012 at 2:11 pm // Reply

    In my years of Scouting (mine and my two sons) I have seen this scenario all too often. There’s just no way to address all the issues raised by this topic in this short space, but my simple and blunt advice is that parents should be parents and not just be buddies with their children. That doesn’t mean loving your children any less, but they need parenting much more than they need friendship.

    You already know the benefits of Scouting. You probably know from your own experience that staying in the program is no guarantee to earn Eagle, but the experience is worth every minute and cent it cost. You cave into your son’s wish to leave Scouting and who knows what his next whim will be. High School? Sports? College? While you may not be able to guarantee his “success” doesn’t mean that he won’t benefit from the experience.

    My experience with this goes back to when I wanted to quit Scouting because I was having the fits learning the Morse Code for First Class. When I told my Dad that I wanted to quit, he just said no and for me to suck it up. At 63 I only wish my Dad was still around to properly thank him for being my Dad and not just a pal who wanted me to do “my thing”.

    You didn’t mention if your son was in the OA. If yes, then start getting him involved in the best leadership organization I have ever witnessed. Get in there with him and both of you can share another Scouting experience that makes the program second to none.

  26. Mark Huber // June 25, 2012 at 2:12 pm // Reply

    The decision to stay in Scouting must ultimately be up to the Scout himself. The Scouts are the ultimate volunteers. You can’t force him to stay, nor should you attempt to coerce him by threatening to “pull the funding” from his other interests. (He’ll never forget it if you do.) It sounds like his troop’s program isn’t meeting his needs/interests. If he’s fifteen then he crossed over from Webelos at least four years ago, and presumably by now he’s a Star or Life Scout. If the troop’s membership is mostly younger Scouts and the program is geared more toward them (i.e. Tenderfoot to First Class), it’s no surprise if he’s getting bored after four years of the same old thing. How well does his troop provide leadership opportunities for the older Scouts? Is it truly a boy-run program? Does he have a leadership position and does he actively practice the role of leading the younger Scouts? Are the Scoutmaster and Assistant Scoutmasters guiding him to success in his leadership role? Maybe he needs to hook up with (or even transfer to) a troop that has a more active high-adventure program for older Scouts. Or better yet he can join a Venturing Crew. The BSA’s program works wonders to keep the interests of Scouts of all ages and abilities, but only when it’s executed properly!

  27. Bill McMahon // June 25, 2012 at 2:16 pm // Reply

    In my experience as a Scoutmaster, if he does not want to stay he won’t. Have you involved the Scoutmaster in the conversation? He may have some insight from his experience with other boys and he may be able to sell the parts of the program that your son enjoys. As someone else suggested a Venturing Crew might be the way to go. Sometimes involvement in the OA can reignite interest in Scouting. I hate to loose kids but there have been occasions that they just did nott want to do what we did. I had a young fella who was not coming to things and when I asked him why he said we did too much stuff outdoors. When I asked him what he liked to do he said sing, dance and drama. Well I made him the Songmaster and we sang some more than we used to but in the end he left us to spend his time in a Drama Club where he took center stage. Today he studies Theater Arts in College and has been in so many local Theater productions I have lost track. Yes we lost him but I’m not sure we ever had him to begin with. Scouting may work for most kids but not all.

  28. You might want to have a talk with your son, and ask him what he really wants, and wants out of life. Maybe what he thinks he wants is different than scouting. I find that what your son wants is probably valid but needs direction on how to achieve his goals.

  29. Many boys go through short phases in scouting where their interest wanes or an issue has come up that perhaps they haven’t dealt with well, and they choose to make noises about quitting. Try to get to the heart of the issue.

    I would also add that maybe this troop no longer fits his scout. Joining a scout troop is not a blood bond as much as we might like it to be one. Sometimes a scout joins a troop because a group of his friends do, or because his den did, or because the parent chose it, or becuase a “cool” group of boys was already there.
    But as time passes, those friends leave, or the boy changes, or perhaps the troop is not meeting his needs. rather than lose the boy to scouting…perhaps he should look around at other troops. Ask, are you staying at a troop for his needs or yours?

    In my own case, we were driving some distance to go to a troop my oldest chose and where I was also an ASM and enjoying the role… At 11 he had made friends with the 14-15 year olds. Now 3+ years later, they’ve aged out and are heading off to college soon and stopped showing at meetings and outings a year ago. He also was getting the push to ‘slow down’ and that “its not his turn to run for SPL or be an ASPL, the older boys ‘need it’” which was very frustrating to him. Which led to his desire to change troops when an opportunity to begin a new troop came up, he jumped on it. And so we did. Turns out that others were likewise frustrated, and several came with us as well as a crop of first years.

  30. My experience has been that Scouts become re-energized when they expand their Scouting universe. By this I mean experiences that show him Scouting beyond the unit level. When they meet and interact with other Scouts and begin to see how far the Scouting universe extends, they get the excitement back. Early on it’s things like Summer Camp and camporees, but I suspect you’re past that. Local participation and involvement with things like OA, NYLT, Camp Staff and such are the next step. Regional and National events like Section Conclaves, NLS, High Adventure trips, NOAC or Jamborees take it to another level. If his frustration is centered around the younger Scouts, these things address that as well. And don’t forget to look up a Venturing Crew in your area!

  31. Jayne Dowdy // June 25, 2012 at 2:31 pm // Reply

    I have two boys 18 & 13 that have been in scouting since tiger cubs. I always asked my boys to give it 6 more months when they wanted to quit (which has happened more than once). Then I encouraged, guided, and gave them the opportunities (summer camp, merit badge univ, trip to the capital, etc) they needed to advance with a nice reward for each advancement (dinner at a favorite restaurant, those new shoes that are $50 more than I would normally spend, etc). I never restricted them from other activities, but scout night was a priority. My 18 year old was an Eagle Scout at the age of 13. He played football and was in band also. He just graduated high school and has a job as a supervisor over the summer because of the awesome skills he learned in scouting. He also has a lawn business on the weekends and will be attending a local college in the fall. The first thing he said to me the morning after his Eagle board of review is thanks for pushing me mom! My 13 year old is a life scout looking for a project and doing great, but he also has wanted to quit at times. The closer to eagle you get the tougher it gets and they will never see the value of the hard work until they have attained the rank and see for themselves the benefits. Help him make short term goals and keep on pushing!!

  32. Some years ago our SM had a parent meeting on this topic. He told us that he had quit at Life, to spite his parents & how he regretted it. He is about 63 now. After that, I talked to some of the ASMs & it turns out that most of them did not Eagle either, for various reasons. None of the men who quit were glad they did. I told my son that I would do everything in my power to see that he didn’t become a man who regretted quitting later in life. I asked the ASMs to continue encouraging him & they did, as did older Scouts in his troop. Eagle Scout is one thing he will put on his resume’s throughout life, unlike drum major, athlete, etc.
    Good luck with your son!

  33. Leslie Sanborn // June 25, 2012 at 2:38 pm // Reply

    Been there: with both of my two sons, who did stick with it and reach Eagle; and with subsequent Scouts in the Troop (which I’m now unit commissioner for). This is a not-uncommon situation with this age group. In addition to the occasional “drag to the meeting by the hair” that sometimes has to happen (because they WILL tell you after the fact that they had a good time), two things kept my sons in. The first was the friends they had in the Troop. It is important for unit health to have a good mix of older/middle/younger youth who can bond as peers, and have fun together “doing Scouts”. Recruiting older Scouts to keep this dynamic is challenging, but not to be overlooked.
    Second, it is important to establish unit long-term goals: in our case, the Committee encouraged the Troop to plan a Seabase Adventure two years out. This high-adventure trip was attractive to all the youth, and required that they commit to fundraising activities to get there. A similar goal can pull boys through a time like this, and rekindle the Scouting spark. We’re using the same “carrot” now with the older boys in our Troop, only this time it’s Jambo 2013. If similar activities are planned on a regular basis, younger Scouts will help the older ones fundraise, knowing that their turn will come.
    If the above seems impossible for your unit, do look into Venturing. However, the success of that tact as a means to get your son to Eagle will depend on the Crew. I’m a Crew Associate Advisor, and most youth in our program, Council-wide, aren’t that interested in “advancement.” It may be difficult to keep the eye on the prize if this peer group (who ARE the leaders in Venturing) isn’t supportive of individual achievement.

  34. Mark Reiter // June 25, 2012 at 2:40 pm // Reply

    Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs says it best:

    Kelby, Your Dad asked me to drop you a line and say something inspirational that might persuade you to dig down deep and find the determination to make the rank of Eagle Scout. It’s a reasonable request, from a father who obviously wants to see his son succeed. But here’s the thing – The Eagle Award is not really meant for people who need to be dragged across the finish line. It’s meant for a select few, and I have no idea if you have the guts to see it through. Statistically, I suspect you do not. Only one out of a hundred Scouts make Eagle, so if you fail, there will be lots of other people with whom you can share excuses. Quitting now might disappoint your Dad, but I doubt that he or anyone else will be overly surprised. Anytime 99 out of 100 people do the same thing, it’s not exactly a shock. I’m not trying to be cute with a bunch of reverse psychology. When I was 15, there was nothing that anyone could have said to me that would have inspired me to do something I didn’t want to do, especially a stranger with a TV show. So I’m not going to assume you’re any different, or pretend that I have some influence or insight that you haven’t already heard from a dozen other people who actually know and care about you. I’ll just tell you straight up, that doing something extraordinary can be very lonely, and most people simply aren’t cut out for it. Being an Eagle Scout requires you to be different than most everyone around you, and being different is really, really hard. That’s why the award is called “an accomplishment.” Personally, and for whatever it’s worth, the best decisions I’ve made in my own life, are those decisions that put me on the outside of being cool. Singing in the Opera, working in home shopping, staring in the school play when the entire football team laughed at me, and especially earning my Eagle, were all choices that required sacrifice, hard work, and delayed gratification. I have no idea if you possess those qualities, or even envy them. But I can tell you for certain, that NOT getting your Eagle, will be one of the easiest things you’ve ever done. Anyway, I have no idea if you would prefer an easy life of predictability and mediocrity, or if have [you] the passion to follow the road less traveled. Only you get to decide that.
    Good Luck,
    Mike
    November 12, 2008

  35. Eric McNew // June 25, 2012 at 2:48 pm // Reply

    As a youth, I was active in Cub Scouts and attained by Arrow of Light in Webelos. Then life happened and for whatever reasons, I didn’t continue onto Boy Scouts. Looking back today, I regret the missed opportunities. Now today, I have my own children. My oldest is a 13 year old Life Scout. Do I get frustrated and wish he was more motivated in scouting… sure. However, I have come to accept that if he wants his Eagle he is going to have to want it and earn it. I cannot do that for him. I would encourage you to look into the Mike Rowe responses already referenced in other’s comments, and countless other interviews and responses that Bryan has featured on this blog from Eagle Scouts: http://blog.scoutingmagazine.org/2012/02/09/from-scouting-to-the-super-bowl-eagle-scout-slackliner-shares-his-story/ http://blog.scoutingmagazine.org/2012/02/17/i-interview-the-eagle-scout-on-the-voice-and-he-hits-all-the-right-notes/

  36. Let’s be real. At fifteen years of age, he is not thinking about how the Eagle Rank and Scouting is going to affect his life after he gets out of High School. There is something missing from the program, he is not finding his Scouting activities engaging or fun if he sees it as a waste of time. And let’s face facts, not every boy is cut out to complete the rank of Eagle. Either he is motivated towards it or not, and taking away other activities is only going to make him resent the Boy Scout program.

    I have heard a lot of Scouts complain that they aren’t happy in their Troop. That the Troop was too large, they felt like they were wasting their time, that they weren’t having fun on outings. I hear these things because the boys know that I understand their frustration and I am not going to give them the party-line answer. Scouting should not only be about merit badges, rank advancements and making Eagle. It must be fun and engaging. There is a time for work and a time for play, and the play has to be within their own age group because … well … as a Boy Scout adult would have enjoy Scouting if you had to play with the Cub Scouts every week? Wouldn’t you rather be with the older boys or the adults?

    So, let’s talk solutions. Let me play my part as a Unit Commissioner and let’s use your ideas to sort this out. What does he like about Scouting? What activities is he into, not into? Is his Troop the perfect match for him? Is there another Troop that he could go to that would be a better match for him?

    The solution to this problem is finding the perfect match, wouldn’t you agree? And if that means moving to another Troop, then you might want to consider moving him. If the Scoutmaster is there for the right reasons, they should be more than understanding that the object here is to keep your son in Scouting, not trapped in an environment he’s not happy in.

    Finally, let’s talk Venturing. Venturing may offer what your son is looking for that you may not be able to find in a Troop. Crews can specialize, and if done properly, its a more laid back approach to Scouting. Crews are often smaller groups that feel more like a family unit. Again, its a matter of finding the perfect match, but don’t discount what Venturing can offer.

    And as far as your son’s Eagle Rank is concerned. He can earn the ranks of Star, Life and Eagle as a Venturing Scout. You still do the merit badges, you have access to the counselors and programs. You can find more information about how to work Eagle on that path from your local council office.

    Again, don’t punish him because he’s lost interest. Don’t put him into the position of resenting Scouting to the point that your grandchildren will never have the chance to experience the programs. Work with him, see if you can find what’s missing and then try to match him to a unit that will give him back what he’s lost.

  37. I don’t think telling him why Scouts is beneficial or important is going to do much. Nor will offering him various incentives (negative or positive). As a matter of fact preaching Scouts to him will likely strengthen his resolve to quit.

    For a boy to continue in Scouting he needs to have his friends involved, he needs to have real responsibility for leading his patrol and troop, he needs to have the latitude to map his own way forward and he needs to enjoy doing the things that Scouts do.

    If one of these four things is missing there’s not a lot that is going to keep them around.

    Being 15 is intense. Some 15-year-olds are able to make reasoned decisions and some are not. Some will listen, some will not.

    In the end you’ll have to decide what is best. Either you’ll let him make this decision or you will decide for him. I’d sit down and talk this out and let him know that this is difficult for you too.

    You want him to become an Eagle Scout. You value your son’s ability to make his own decisions and lead his own life. These two things are not mutually exclusive.
    It may take some time but with enough talking and (more importantly) listening you can find a way forward.

  38. As a Scoutmaster with a 17 year old who just missed some critical deadlines and will now be a Life for Life, I feel your pain and possible sense of, not so much disappointment (he’s a great kid), regret for what could have been. But the thing here is to remember it isn’t about us, it’s not our Scouting career or our Eagle. It’s HIS opportunity and once we ensure they understand what they are walking away from, it’s their decision. Hopefully we have been preparing them to make decisions their entire life and not just been leading them thru the steps of doing things but showing them how to evaluate and make choices instead. If that’s the case and he’s decided to quit this activity, my only question for him would be what’s next? And then at that point I might evaluate the support I’m willing to put in vice what he’s going to have to do to support his new activity – ’cause if it’s sitting at home gaming – he’s paying for it… if it’s some varsity sport that he evidences talent for, well I’ve already been the VP of our Wrestling booster club for 3 years in addition to holding the SM spot at a Troop…

  39. What stands out the most to me here, is that you are not supporting your son’s desire and right to make his own decisions. As a former, long-active scout who never did attain the rank of Eagle, I still am very thankful for the lessons I learned from scouting and the memories and experiences that it has afforded me. When I was your son’s age, I too allowed other interests to steer me away from scouting. I still camped and went to meetings but never finished all the requirements and NOT finishing will likely be my lifes greatest regret . Never the less, I still am a registered scouter and I help out and support scouting in every way possible. Therefore, I believe that it would be best to explain the benefits of staying active in scouting but that its more important to trust your son. He sounds like a reasonable and very bright young man and you should have faith that your parenting and the lessons that scouting has given him will STILL lead him to great things in life . No doubt, he too may somehow grow to regret this but when he does,he will have someone to talk to about it. The scouting spirit within him will NEVER die.

  40. As a long time scout, scoutmaster I wish my parents, family, friends, teachers. preachers, adults had spoke to me when I expressed about quitting scouts around a similar age Star-Life rank 15-16 and all they said was “okay” and I did and have regretted it ever since. My oldest age 30 obtained Eagle scout and it made the difference with his first serious job because the decision maker was an eagle….they gave my son the consideration and he was given the job and is still there 5 years later! Otherwise, he would have had to start and obtain experience in a smaller market before being able to be where he is today. My youngest is a Life scout age 14 and desires to be an eagle. Stay in scouts and be involved for life, when you have kids you will then be happy you did!

  41. Check out Varsity Scouting! I had not heard of it until Wood Badge last year. But I researched it to do my part in my patrol presentation. It sounds like just the thing a sports-interested boy would be interested in. And he can recruit his team to join Scouting! Plus he still gets to pursue merit badges and rank advancements!

  42. Dianna Benson // June 25, 2012 at 3:20 pm // Reply

    My son is 16. I have had the same problem with his frustration with the troop… the next oldest scout is 14 and they really have nothing in common. My son is in “all things music” he even left soccer of 7 years for Music (Band, Choir, Show Choir, Guys Choir, Orchestra, etc you get the picture). All of his friends are there. I put my son in a Venture Crew. It helped. But the fact that he is in both it just makes it more difficult. The way I see it …. they need to want it themselves…. all the pushing in the world will not work… Support him in what he feels is important. That will bring you to a point where you can talk and find out the real “why” and possibly let him come up with a solution. With my son it wasn’t just the lack of commonality…. it was the frustration of the Merit Badges… some of them are writing extensive… or time consuming… in an age where we have instant answers sometimes it’s the simple lack of speed that is the problem. Communication starts at the home. Let him communicate …. have an open mind… yes Eagle is important to a Scouter… but not everyone needs a badge to be successful in life. I told my son that I want him to be successful in what ever he desires to do. It may not be what I want for him. But at least I will be here to back him. As I said, he is all things music…. I decided to work with him to find ways to make scouting fun for him… Pears are important… and at that age interaction with like minded people is the most important. My son is bright. Very intelegent and active. But totally is against “babysitting” as he puts it. But I told him when he made 1st class. He can make his eagle in the venture crew if he has outgrown the troop. Just something to think about.

  43. First, question is not one to ask of him, but of yourself. Is this your dream or his? Would you quit scouting so he could succeed on HIS OWN WITHOUT YOU. As dads, we often live vicariously through our children to a point where our dreams are not theirs. My dad loved baseball. I did not. My athleticism was fine, but he made me hate the game to this day. He went off and umpired, but I went and lettered in cross country running. His dream was not mine. No 15 year old wants to have a helicopter dad. I don’t know if you are or aren’t. You have to really look in the mirror on that topic.

    Your son may simply not like the program. I have a strong sense of what you are inferring by “kids with emotional issues”. My son deals with the same thing. Scouting is inclusive (and should be), but kids that are popular and athletic can be very offput by kids who have those types of problems. That’s an image problem that troops and councils need to deal with. He probably thinks Scouting is for “geeks”, but what is he doing to get guys and girls like him to participate? Unfortunately, most kids will not take the socials risks of recruiting, so they look around the program they are in and decide whether they fit or don’t. We can only do so much to affect that dynamic.

    A tactic you might try is to get out of the way. Let one of a friend of his or a trusted Scouter talk to him. Allow him to be involved in another program (Venturing may be a perfect one to try at his age) that allows him to make his own path. He may have decided he no longer is a fit in the current program, so allowing that new opportunity to inspire the next leg of his journey.

    You have to temper your emotions. You son just may be one of those boys that statistically doesn’t get to the Eagle Award. The Mike Rowe articles mentioned above are great. We do not punish people that do not become Generals, Admirals and Presidents, do we? You must accept that someday, his scouting journey in this guise will end. He must understand that the consequences for quitting will be his own. Give him a month off, but make sure he has a caring conversation with that 22 year old that made it or did not make it to Eagle. What does he want to do with his Eagle? It may help him on a job, but that’s not on many HR department checkboxes. A lot of HR people don’t even understand the magnitude of the award. Does he want to go to the military? If so, take him on a trip to an academy or base that he plans. That will influence him more than any punishment you can dole out.

    In the end, he must want it. That’s the most important lesson in life. He should understand that whatever he should pursue: career, athletics, academics, music, etc., that it is up to his own initiative, passion and talent to become a high achiever. We as parents can only support a young man at that point.

  44. If you wish to keep him in the Troop, I suggest leading “high adventure” troop outings. For example, take the White Water Merit Badge or hold a white water trip and the scout must have a certain level of ability or rank in order to attend. These trips keeps the more skilled boys active and gives the younger scouts encouragement to advance. A troop is supposed to run this way.

  45. Joey Goodknight // June 25, 2012 at 3:42 pm // Reply

    Let him quit! Forcing anyone to stay in the program who clearly doesn’t want to keep doing it is a detriment to not just the boy being forced but also to the troop! His negative feelings regarding being forced to stay will cause nothing but trouble with the other kids; I saw it far too often when I was a youth.

    We need to be able to admit that while we think the program is awesome, that it is not for everyone, and we shouldn’t force kids who don’t have fun doing scouting-type things or being with the kids in their troop to keep doing scouting-type things and hanging out with kids they don’t like.

  46. Lots of great advice you have received already. I have two young sons, one a Webelos and the other a Boy Scout age 12 Second Class. I wanted them to have fun and enjoy opportunities in Scouting they might not otherwise have. Scout offers chances for them to grow and expand their leadership roles/qualities as they get older.
    Sounds like your son is in a good position to be a role model and leader in his troop.
    These leadership skills will serve him well through high school, college and beyond.

  47. Brian Littrel // June 25, 2012 at 3:45 pm // Reply

    If he is intrested in sport, Varsiy maybe a better option for him. Venturing would put him with older youths/young adults, but Varsity keeps him in sports. Add to the mix, you may have to start a Varsity team, and he can be involved in the recruiting and establishment of the team. This would provide a big challenge for him, and it would be something you would do together.

  48. Matthew S. // June 25, 2012 at 4:18 pm // Reply

    Give him the opportunity to have the scouting adventure of a lifetime by sending him to the 2013 Natioanl Scout Jamboree or one of the BSA high adventure bases. I went to the 2010 National Jamboree and it was the best experience I have ever had in Scouting. Another idea is to get him involved in the Order of the Arrow.

  49. Hi.. Im with a great lakes council troop. My question to you is,Is he in scouting for you to have him get his eagle… Or for him to get his eagle. Not that I want him to drop out, but ..as a committee member, I have seen scouts that are in to get an eagle rank ONLY because their parent wants them to. This makes it very hard on the troop, the scout and the adults.
    My son is pretty over it from time to time. I tell him he can’t leave till he grows out of his uniform… Then buy it a bit big. :).

  50. “A very large troop” might say it all. When there are many younger Scouts, the attention of Troop Leadership gets sent to the younger boys. Maybe finding a smaller Troop with Scouts more his age might help. He may just be getting bored and feeling neglected..

  51. It sounds like you are in a good position with this troop, but is it the right troop for him?

    Ask him what it would take to keep him in scouting. Are there troops that spport that interest? Is he in OA? Has he worked on staff at a camp?

    Can he move into a position that can affect change?

  52. Stop looking at your son’s decision as your own. It’s not yours. Ask him what he really wants to do. Have him give you a couple of different options that will continue to engage him. If he decides to stop participating it’s his decision and he will have to live with it. This is how we teach the boys, not by making the decisions for them. Although we try to “guide” them to make the appropriate decision they need to come to that conclusion on their own. Remember, most of us Scout parents are in our mid forties to early fifties. We have lived our lives and learned from our mistakes, so we see things differently than these young boys do. Think about this, if you have had opportunities to learn from your own mistakes, do you let your son do the same? Or, do you give him every opportunity to succeed without sacrifice?

    My son made Eagle a year ago. He had wanted to quit. Both my wife and I said NO WAY. By this point he was a Life scout and we felt he didn’t get that far to just up and quit. I was also his Scoutmaster during this period. I tried very hard to give him his room and let him try and complete things in his own time. In the end I became a harassing parent and he retreated from the very thing he should have been excited to earn. The one thing that helped him was that he decided to play football in school during his sophomore year. During the three seasons he played, I was not allowed to discuss Scouting with him. He was also allowed to miss some troop meetings and troop trips during this time. This helped but in the end he resented my nagging him to get things done and the stress was thick enough to cut with a knife.

    These boys need to live their lives and find out about themselves. They can do it in other activities other than Scouting. But, because we have invested so much of OUR time and effort into the program we forget who the program is for. Trust me, my relationship suffered terribly with my son because he felt I was forcing him. Today he is glad he earned it but is not proud of it. Earlier someone wrote that if your son quits it will look poorly on his work application. Really?? I was a First Class Scout and dropped out to play football and work. I also served in an elite military unit after high school and I have never been un-employed since high school and have never had trouble finding a job. I think that statement is an excuse to instill fear into the scout to stay active.

    Talk with your son, not to him and not at him. Listen to everything he has to say. If the two of you discuss this on his terms you may find a solution that works for him that satisfies you.

  53. My thoughts.

    1) Do not force the issue as it will come back to bite you. I knew a guy who was pushed and pushed by his parents and they did incentives like you are giving. Guess what, with 62 merit badges and everything but the service project needed for Eagle, he quit just to rebel.

    2) Have a hear to heart and find out what the issues are. Is it the younger kids? Is it lack of adventure for him? Is it the peer pressure form his teammates or coaches?

    As others mentioned, look at Sea Scout ships and Venturing crews, as long as he’s First Class he can continue on Eagle. Or look at other troops.

    Also look at other opportunities like Summer camp staff, OA, council HA treks, etc.

  54. I’ve seen it both ways, make him stay and he really gets to hate everyone involved or let him make up his own mind and he regrets it later in life. I’m an Eagle and have been a Scoutmaster in the 80′s for 15 years with 25 Eagle’s. Some have mentioned Ventures or Explorers, maybe finding out what he really likes could be a benefit. Maybe he is not challenged enough, I have found kids in school who hated it mainly because they were bored. Maybe find someone he is close to and they could mentor him (cause you know Mom and Dad) are always wrong. Some good ideas here in the earlier comments. Best of Luck!

  55. Gary Wilson // June 25, 2012 at 6:55 pm // Reply

    Guys. Advancement is only one of the Methods of Scouting; not an aim. If the boy had a good Scouting experience for 5 years but would have a bad one if forced to stay in for 7, then his staying in Scouting is actually counter-productive.

    Making Eagle is nice but not the primary goal nor even the secondary goal of being in Scouting. As a commissioner, we don’t look at the number of Eagles a troop has to judge its success; we look at the percentage of new Scouts who make First Class in a year.

    Why? Because those who make First Class in that timeframe tend to stay in Scouting for three years or more and that’s the time surveys have said is necessary to have the ideals of the Scout Oath and Law inculcated in the persons character as an adult.

    Creating “useful citizens” is in the BSA’s mission statement; making Eagle Scouts isn’t. We don’t consider the 98% of Scouts who don’t become Eagle failures. But those who only achieve Eagle just to add it to their resume or please their parents and don’t take the ideals of the Oath and Law to heart down the road as adults probably are.

  56. I’ve read excellent advice in most of the comments. Is there a Venturing Unit nearby?
    Perhaps one that specializes in sports or vocation. What are his future career interests. Many Venturing Units focus on careers. Talk with your District Commissioner maybe he/she can help. Talk with him not at him. Listen to what he has to say. This is an age where peer pressure in school can be difficult to handle.

  57. I suggest you go to visit other troops and possibly find one with either a Venture Patrol/Venture Crew, that does ‘high adventure’ activities, but stick with it and finish your “Trail to Eagle”. The unseen/unknown benefits far outweigh the ‘final push’ and work involved in the project. Looking back after will also give him a terrific sense of accomplishment that will follow him always. “Once an Eagle, always an Eagle.” (An Eagle Scout mom) Add this comment to those posted before me, they all go hand-in-hand.

  58. What are his feelings about the troop? Have you asked him what he would like to do to make your troop what he want? It’s his troop too, empower him!! Give him some ownership in the troop. Is it that he wants more of a certain activity? Have him organize something. Is it the younger kids? Reward the older kids who actively mentor the younger boys with an outing that is for 1st class and up.

  59. I know just how you feel my son droped that one me a few months ago. Here is what my husband and I did.. First, I talked to him about why he wanted to quit and part of the problem was he was feeling like he did not fit in and he was getting lost in the troop. He was in a big troop of over 80 boys. So we looked for a smaller troop and found one that was pretty new and most of the boys were young and looking for a few older scouts to help guide the boys.. He wwas also involved in several activities at school that were taking up his time and he was starting to feel stressed to do everything. Then we went to a merit badge workshop that just happen to be at the college he wants to attend. There were COR guys and that is also something he is into. While he was in class I started to talk to some of the COR guys that just happen to be Eagle Scouts. I ask them to help talk to him at the end of the day and they did. A few days latter after talking to his Scoutmaster he told me that he has decided to stay in and get this he now wants to get his Eagle.

    I can only tell you what I was told, Try to find out why he wants to quit the try to help him find reasons to stay in. My son does not know how I worked background to help find his way back. The one thing is don’t push it he will resent you and scouts. Remeber that goal for scouting is not to get their Eagle but to grow boys into strong independment men.
    Hope it helps

  60. Jim Kangas // June 25, 2012 at 10:09 pm // Reply

    My oldest son, now 22, dropped out of Scouting as a Star Scout. At the time he had a part-time job, was involved in school projects and convinced me he had Scout spirit, just little time for Scouting and no further interest in camping. He has recently voiced misgivings about not pursuing Eagle.

    My second son, a senior in high school, also has a part-time job, but is also involved in several Advanced Placement courses, is in the process of building the next super computer (literally, the thing is the size of a small refrigerator) and a member of the Quiz-Bowl team. He doesn’t want to give up his hours at work and the income.

    I still have one chance in my youngest son, now a freshman in high school — we’ll see.

  61. Put yourself in his shoes, what would help you stay in scouting or any other activity it has to be intersting, I just found out that on my son first sumer camp last week, he lost his patrol leader position, 2 older scouts were escort out of the camp, the troop voted out the Scout master then all cry for him to be their master again, one kid got his arm broken, I ask Him do you want to continue? From his lips shouted “Absolutely yes”

    • have you looked into what is going on in the troop? Is there a way to make the troop more interesting do more exciting things? Some older scouts might want to try the high adventure activities. Maybe he and other older scouts could do that. Some scouts do Venturing or Exploring. We had a scout get first class as a Boy Scout and then go on to finish through to Eagle by doing Exploring with our local fire department. Maybe he would like that? I would not refuse all other activities because then he could do nothing and get into trouble. In the end HE needs to want to be EAGLE. Not you! Him. So think about how to help him be more interested (Maybe even try a different troop)

  62. Neil Rasmussen // June 26, 2012 at 12:55 am // Reply

    We must remember that a boy has seven years to complete the boy scout program, yet a boy in a good troop, and if motivated, can actually earn his eagle in less than three years. So, what do we do with a boy who becomes disinterested half way through his scouting tenure? Its a good question. Often we make mistakes as leaders such as crambing to much into their early years in the program. The first three years boy need to go BSA summer camps. There shoudl be NO high adventure until they are fourteen or older. Twelve year olds on high adventure activities cause early burnout from the program. We see it a lot. The vast majority of all scouts who drop out, do so at around fourteen or fifteen years of age. They often repond to everything with a “been there, done that” attitude. We also see a very large number get back involved around sixteen or seventeen to finish their Eagles. Half of Eagles are awarded around the scouts 18th birthday. The BSA has done a lot of research around this drop out problem. If I remeber correctly, the answer they got back is that wanting to drop out as this age is normal. He may just need a break, just be burned out, or just tired of the same thing year after. If he wants to finish, he’ll come back. If he doesn’t…. Its ultimately his choice. I don’t think the words ” Eagle Scout’ appears anywhere in th BSA mission statement. However, great words like character and values are there. Is this scout a person of great values, character and integrity? If he is, then we’ve acheived our goal, and scouting has served him well. He’s not a failure if he never makes Eagle or drops out and never returns.

    Retired Professional Scouter

  63. Daniel Martin // June 26, 2012 at 5:50 am // Reply

    Most of the comments have the same ‘feel’ to them and mine is going to be similar but I thought I would add to the list.

    I’m reminded of the Mike Rowe video I watched last week from his talk at the annual meeting. In it he talked about is infamous letter he writes to Scouts. I have to agree with him. At the end of the day, it’s the Scouts choice and none of us, parent or otherwise, should force the Scouts into doing anything. It has to be his choice to finish (or not).

    I firmly believe that every boy (and girl when you look at Venturing) should try Scouting and see if they like it. It may not be for everyone but we have enough “stuff” in Scouting that we can find some area of interest for everyone.

    Talk to him and find out what he really means by “waste of time”. Is he just not interested? Is he bored? Does he need something different to be energized? High adventure trips? More active in the OA? The list is endless. Have a heart to heart with him and find out what is at the root of the issue.

  64. Jack Duncan // June 26, 2012 at 7:09 am // Reply

    My Son received his Eagle this spring. I’m a very proud parent.

    But I also agree in what Mike Rowe said in his video speech.
    We are not here as parents or adult leaders to drag the Scout across the “finish line”.

    As the Scouts get older- they have more “distractions” ; gasoline and perfume.-Being two.
    The outside peer pressure that scouting’s not cool enough
    And the pressure of homework, sports and other school activities

    But one of the traits that Scouting helped my son develop- was TIME MANAGEMENT
    (Besides Scouting- James was involved in- National Honor Society- 12 HS Varsity Letters- School wind ensemble- High Honor Roll)

    Couple that with the tenants of the Scout Law and Oath.
    Those “Life Lessons” will carry him far – no matter where he goes or what he does

    I strongly disagree with the approach of “punishing” him by denying his other interests ( if he drops out of scouting)

    He is 15 years old-The path to Eagle is a marathon-not a sprint-

    He may need a break- or find another path- perhaps Venturing or a new Troop
    Scouting should be a positive experience- not a chore to “achieve” Eagle

  65. Ron Blaisdell // June 26, 2012 at 7:17 am // Reply

    How about just sharing Mike Rowe’s “letter of encouragement” with him:
    https://www.box.com/shared/g79kv6p8va

  66. Ed Donovan // June 26, 2012 at 7:23 am // Reply

    Scouting is not for everyone. The fact he has been in scouting so long does point to the fact he did enjoy scouting. I can relate to the younger new scouts bit. Some younger scout can irritate older scouts.

    In my troop we put new scouts in there own patrol with a more mature younger new scout or a young but a year or two of experienced scout as the patrol leader.

    If the troops program has the older scout baby sitting these new young scouts, they will begin to feel they are wasting their time.

    Evaluate the troops programs, challenge older scouts, have a senior patrol. We try to let the older scouts think of and plan as many events and outings as they can as this is what scouting is all about, a boy run leader supported group.

    I am an Eagle scout, but not every scout will be an Eagle. One of the best scout I have known did not get Eagle, he had other things that required his time. I and other leaders offered to work with him if he wanted be he was OK with not getting Eagle Scout.

    I have had talks with numerous scout I felt on the edge of quitting. Often all they need is a good ear, some compassion and a challenge or two. See if there is a problem you can fix, offer another point of view but remember in the end the boy has to make his own decision whether to stay or go.

  67. More excellent ideas…but I like Ron’s…
    How about just sharing Mike Rowe’s “letter of encouragement” with him:
    https://www.box.com/shared/g79kv6p8va

  68. He’s not “passionate” about the majority of Scouting activities and is finding our large troop with many younger scouts (some with emotional issues) “a waste of time.”

    Okay this is the key of the letter. It doesn’t sound like the other kids are special needs Scouts but more disciplinary issues. If they were Special needs I would of hoped that you all had a briefing on Disability Awareness merit badge and other great things to help bond the boys together. As a higher rank or older Scout he needs to see his voice is heard at the Year in Planning meeting which should be in the next month or 2. If its a personality issue between him and a few Scouts who have these “emotional Issues” they could be using it against him at School as well.

    Ask him what would make it better? Are they harassing him at meetings or after? Is his voice being heard for activities? Is he a Patrol Leader? What is his position and what could make it better?

    If its a conflict of personalities etc.. I do recommend visiting at least 3 other troops. A choice. Especially if you are in an area that has that many choices? I have Scouts who come from 20 miles away. I have Scouts who came and visited and found a better fit. I have had a few leave and do the same. There is no animosity. Its all about the fit. I tell each Webelo: “I don’t care what troop you pick. I just want you to be happy. Visit at least 3 troops. You can use the ideas you observe in the troop you do choose. If you get there and over time you are not happy. Quitting is not an option. Then its time to go visit other troops and find your fit. You are all brothers an if they foster brotherhood and support each other you will be happy.” Each troop is unique. I have 3 boys who are 14 and seen the new transfer 16 yr old come in working on his Eagle. This has blazed the spirit in my younger Scouts to pursue that as well. They see older Scouts working on something and want it too. Its the ripple affect. Just as the negative causes it the positive does too. If your troop is not advancing the ripple affect is hitting your son in a negative way. Find one with positive ripples. It maybe farther to get to but he will make life long friends and be happier if he has a choice.

  69. Bill Stewart // June 26, 2012 at 8:53 am // Reply

    Yep, I would follow Ron’s idea too. And do some of the other things. Just remember that this is a decision that has to be made by your son. Give him all the possible choices then let him decide.

  70. Pamela Anno has the “ammo”! This sounds like a well thought out answer, certainly
    worth the consideration! I’ve been in Scouting over 60 years. Pamela’s method would have worked for my troop back in the ’50′s! So you see, this problem is not new…
    it’s been around for a very long time!

  71. No Eagle, no driver’s liscense is our troops mantra.

    • I am not a fan of a “no wings, no wheels” policy. It’s their choice. I have 4 sons; 3 chose to be Eagles and 1 chose not to be. It’s their award and their decision. It means nothing if they don’t take ownership of it.

  72. Hi Dave!!

    Probably by now, you’re read all of the above comments, some written by parents similiar to you in families kinda like yours. There are encouragements to listen to your son, to seek other Troops or perhaps Venturing as an alternative to what he feels is something “dragging him down”, or to just hit the “pause button”.

    Some folks already beat me to what I was originally going to say — have him to hear/see Mike Rowe’s conversation with a bunch of us adults during the recent BSA National meeting.

    I struggle with providing advice like this mainly because a good part of my body says “let it go…there’s other things than Scouts…” which goes against my emotional being saying “are you CRAZY? What drugs are you on this morning? He NEEDS Scouting!!”

    Not if Scouting will make him nothing but miseable.

    What I would suggest is the following. First, sit down with your son and listen — take notes if you have to interject things but shut up and let him vent. Non-attibutional — don’t hold it over his head afterward but do pay attention to what he’s saying about his Scouting experience.

    We in Scouting call this a “Mentor’s conference” — or more particularily, a Scoutmasters’ Conference. Ask him leading questions starting with “if you were not doing Scouts, can you tell me what you would be doing instead?”

    Follow it up with questions about the enviroment of Scouting there. Does he have a good time there? Are people “bugging the (explitive) out of him”? — and why? Give him the opportunity to express “if he was the BSA king, how would HE change things?” I’m going to go there — ask him if anyone has threatened him, bullied him, or said or did anything inappropriate to him.

    Again. Non-attributional. Let him speak his peace. That’s one of those skills that Scoutmasters like myself pride ourselves on: the ability to listen and hear what he’s saying — and also what he’s not saying. This is how we are supposed to gauge whether or not he’s getting the Scouting ideals or if there’s something systemic going on which the Scoutmaster needs to fix — or tweek — or let others know about.

    When he’s done — not in the middle of things, but really when he’s done (ask him!), take what he’s stated and with your son, develop an “action plan.”

    -first, reassure him of your affection and committment to your son. This is a tough thing — even if you have a great relationship with your son. Scouts who leave my Scoutmaster conferences leave me with either a lump in my throat or a lump in their throats. There’s times I simply want to hug them (I can’t, you know) and my former wife sometimes doesn’t understand why after Scouts I just want her to hold me after I’ve come through the doorway.

    - next, address immediately anything which is IMPORTANT TO HIM. “I don’t like going to the same place all of the time…”, “I don’t really like Mr. Walton — he creeps me out sometimes…” “Maybe a change of Troops is what I need.” Assure him that together you’re work through those issues.

    - DON’T STRESS “how important Eagle is” or “We want you to earn Eagle”. If you’ve read the postings, many of them pointed to Mike Rowe’s discussion on “becoming Eagle”. If you haven’t seen it, take the time to view it — BY YOURSELF — before talking with your son. Sometimes another adult — who’s “been there, done that” as a kid — has more of an impact on how you can work through your family’s desires with your son’s interest.

    As Mike Rowe stated, “there’s no way I’m gonna drag him across the finish line…”

    Your son will want to do this HIMSELF. It will mean much more to him then — more importantly later in his life and those around him.

    - Finally, act upon the plan. Meet with current leaders and work through your son’s concerns. This may mean an investigation into other Troops, or perhaps Venturing (or Varsity, if there’s a Varsity Team in your surroundings). I had a Scout to come 17 miles round-trip to be a part of my Troop. He would ride his bike in the spring and fall; and would get rides from his family or other Scouts’ families in the winter and summer. Seventeen miles because he wanted to be a part of a Troop that “actually did stuff all year round and don’t just do car washes and hot dog sales.” Let HIM figure this out with your guidance and coaching — but as several wrote here, this needs to be HIM doing this and not you pushing and prodding him to do it.

    Sometimes we give our youth less “credit” than they deserve. They, more than anything else, can tell us “what’s right” and “what’s not” — way before we are aware. This is why I bank “big bucks” in the “Mentor’s Conference” — whether I was a Scoutmaster, an Explorer Advisor, a Sea Scout Skipper or a Varsity Coach. That one-on-one meeting, overseen by other adults and youth, gave me insight into what I was doing right — and most times what I needed to “jump up on my game” with. And it gives me the opportunity to be real with each youth member and encourage them to continue to do their best — which I’ve never allowed them to do anything less.

    I hope that my comments, coupled with everyone else’ comments and suggestions, will be of use to you and your family!

  73. What is it about the activities he doesn’t find interesting? What activities does he want to do? Is it because they’ve been doing the same thing for the last 3 years? Is he just burned out? Maybe offer a 6 month break. Is there a Venturing Crew nearby doing activities he would enjoy? There are over 100 areas of emphasis for Crews. Maybe have him take an active role in starting another Crew in an area of interest he would enjoy. Have you visited other troops, even if you have to go to another town? Has he been to NYLT? It’s amazing how much fun participants have, and can be a great battery charger.

    Basically, rather than trying to force him to stay in a situation he’s not happy in, create one he would be happy in. Change is inevitable. You have more control over it when you lead it.

  74. Mike (Blackeagle): You are one dedicated Scouter!
    You are quite thorough with your advice! I think Dave and his son will appreciate your advice…in fact all of us will, and should share it with other Scoutmasters and Scouters! Thanks for taking the time, it was well invested!

  75. Don’t forget – he’s the Scout. You can’t MAKE him earn Eagle, and if you do, it’s not his Eagle – it’s yours.

    Visit some other troops, show him the Mike Rowe letter, and try all you can for a while, but in the end, it’s HIS life. An Eagle not earned, but forced on a boy is not an Eagle at all, and if your committee, his Eagle counselor, and the district advancement committee are doing their jobs, he would never earn Eagle. We are trained to spot things like this and stop them. That’s where the “Scout Spirit” comes in.

    Hopefully, he’ll come around, but threats, cajoling, and refusal to let him do what he is passionate about is not a way to keep a boy in Scouting, and it just demeans all of the boys who really did earn their Eagle themselves.

    • I agree. You don’t make Eagles. You help them become eagles.

  76. I don’t think your son has told you the whole story about why he wants to quite. Is it really the younger and weaker in the troop driving him out or is there someone else? Someone bigger or stronger, a bully maybe. Or maybe he has a girl friend and she is intentionally or not is causing him to have second thoughts about his Scouting career. If its the last thing then go with Venturing, have both of them join the program. Find a Crew or start one that does things they both enjoy. Eagle Class can still be on the table.

    If on the other hand he really doesn’t enjoy Scouts anymore. Then forcing or coxing him to stay is not appropriate. Scouts is NOT for everyone and if he decides to give it up, then all you can do is support his decision.

    I’ve saved two Scouts over the years from dropping out. I usually take them on a time travel trip. Forward 10, 15, 20 years maybe further. I ask them about the children they have, and how they will feel about telling them the story about how they chose to drop out. I ask them to pretend I was one of those boys and how he would explain to me that he gave up and why shouldn’t I?

    I’m very interested in hearing the result of all this advise. I’ve not read any of the above (yet) so I’m not sure if I doubled up on someone else’s ideas or not. Let us know.

  77. One of the most beneficial and exceptional aspects of the Scouting program is teaching leadership skills. These skills are critical regardless of the youngster’s chosen career path. It’s experience in leadership positions and leading a significant project that hones these skills. Sports teaches some of this but far less than can be learned in Scouting. Far too often, these life skills are undervalued when the experience is available.

  78. I think the most important thing to do is listen to what your son is saying. I actually had a similar experience where we moved and I dropped out at life and 21 merit badges. I made what I consider to be a mistake, but I couldn’t swim 440 yds, or float so I knew I couldn’t become an Eagle. Times were different in the 60s and 70s, but sports pressure, cars, and dating come into play and they have a lot of attraction for young men. If there was a high adventure Venture Crew or Explorer Post around that might get his attention. When you push all you get is push back. Search out the things that motivate him now and see if there is any compatibility with Scouting. I spent 10 weeks at a summer camp as a counselor when I was 15 and it was a fantastic experience. There should still be something the BSA can offer that he would be interested in.

  79. Deaf Scouter & Eagle Mom // June 26, 2012 at 3:04 pm // Reply

    First STOP with the BRIBING!!! That just causes MORE rebelling. From experience with my own son, pushing is counterproductive so best to STOP altogether. I did and believe me when i say it works as now they see it as doing for themselves and not for mom or dad. Teens need and want their own sense of accomplishments.
    Maybe letting him have another mentor within your Troop or checking out other Troops would be better for your son. Who says your son has to be in the same Troop as you. Also don’t make the Eagle YOUR goal. It has to be your son’s.

  80. It is sad to see other scouts leave the troop. I have also been in scouts since I was a Tiger Cub, but sometimes people just lose interest. I would suggest trying to get into something such as OA or NYLT.

    Honestly, most of my friends I have are those from scouts, and I would hate to never see them again. I like sharing the bonding moments, participating in the brotherhood of scouting, and being in an environment where everyone is living life on the same values.

    If he does want to quit, let him. He might miss it, and rejoin, but don’t ever force people to do things. It will never work out the way you want it to.

  81. Pete Paras // June 27, 2012 at 9:43 am // Reply

    Dave, I wouldn’t use Scouting as punishment, he will only resent it. I understand your frustration. I had scouts from tigers and he went all the way to Life. I was asking him about plans for his eagle project when his mom sent and email saying he was done with Scouting, and to take them off all emails. I was unable to find out what happened as they never replied.

    A Scout has to want to make Eagle, it’s a disappointment to parents but we are in a battle for the hearts and minds of our youth with anti scouting values being taught in school and on all media outlets.

    We can’t win all the battles. The other day at camp, my Eagle son (SPL) asked me if I was yelling at him as my son, or as his scoutmaster. I had to retreat to my tent and review Baden Powell’s “Guide to Scoutmastership”.

    The answer: “never yell at Scouts”. Even though they know it all.

    Pray on it!

  82. Jay Vankirk // June 27, 2012 at 2:01 pm // Reply

    I agree with all those who say it must be your son’s choice. That being said, I also agree that Scouting is an outstanding experience for boys …IF the Troop provides the quality and variety of outdoor experiences that older boys would enjoy. Pressure, though, is never the answer. No worthwhile young man takes well to being forced to do something – even if it is something he likes! Is there a way for Scouting to adapt to follow HIS path?

    Consider changing resident camps, change up your other camping venues, try to arrange backpacking and camping with different themes and purposes. Your overall program should not repeat itself much until you are through a three to five year cycle of places to go and things to do, unless the boys have strong favorites. Maybe you should even consider caving in on the “no electronics” thing once in a while. Who knows how an occasional “under the stars” video game or movie might turn out?

    An upcoming outing we have planned will involve camping for five nights on the C&O Canal. We will bike into Washington D. C. a couple of days to see the monuments and Smithsonian exhibits. Another day will be to bike to the Billy Goat Trail and hike that. We will save one “goof-off day for local exploration and to work on advancement. This makes quite a variety just in one outing!

    Finally, the best advice of all came from your very first respondant – talk WITH your son and listen carefully to his feelings. Don’t try to settle things in one big “Gidderdun” sitting. Talk a little, talk often, listen, and think. It is hard to remember how the world looked when our eyes were as young as his. And it’s a different world on the technological and societal “one hand” and the same world on the Earth and Scout Law “other hand.” Find your common ground. Find the things that you both agree on. Carefully build on that together. Be willing to let that lead wherever it may. Trust him. He is learning from you every time you change your tone and demeanor and he watches what you DO. Little of what you “say” will be remembered, but he will ALWAYS remember how you make him feel. …Sincere Best Wishes

  83. Mom of 2 "Almost Eagle Scouts" // June 28, 2012 at 8:34 am // Reply

    My husband stopped right before Eagle when he got his driver’s license in the
    1980′s – 1 badge short.

    Our 2 boys have been in Scouts since Tiger Cubs and their Dad has always been on the journey with them as an involved-in-meetings scout parent, and now leader. It helps to ask your sons to make a trip that you are willing to take with them. MY HUSBAND HAS REGRETTED HIS CHOICE FOR HIS ENTIRE LIFE NOT TO FINISH. I t is much harder to drop your son off and say “Here, go to this.” It is important. If it is important to him – go with him. We don’t drop our kids off at Church and leave – we sit with them in the pew. If your schedule doesn’t work for that, find a troop where it does. That is what we did.

    Since day 1 of scouting, he shared his regret and told the boys if they wavered, they would not be able to get their driver’s license until they finished – jokingly when they were young, and more sternly in those few “teenage moments.” You cannot “make decisions for them” but you can present consequences for their actions (no license) when the goal – in your aged wisdom – is worth it. If you value the goal, and take the time investment with them, hopefully they will see your effort and come with your. Our 15 year old will get his Eagle this fall, and our 13 year old is doing his project this summer, with the last badges to be earned at camp next summer. Good luck.

    BTW – when all else fails, I remind the boys that 90% of the police officers I ever worked with were former Eagle Scouts, or former military men. That rank “certifies” they hold the values needed to succeed in life. Good luck.
    “Midwest Mom”

    • Mom of 2 “Almost Eagle Scouts”:
      You did it right….you husbands personal experience helped.
      I liked your closing statement: “values needed to succeed in life”!

  84. I have two Eagles. The oldest set his goals and worked hard to meet all his goals. We NEVER had to push him. He wanted to be in scouts very much. He is now working at Philmont and has for 6 years. Our youngest was a different story. He is very laid back, just wanted to have fun and got merit badges almost by accident! My husband went with them to meetings, camp outs, and did most everything with them but never forced them to do things. Our youngest liked basketball and wanted to play in high school. So during basketball season he pretty much dropped out of scouts because of games and practice. Then he got right back into scouts as soon as the season ended. As it got closer to his 18th birthday several family members encouraged him to get his Eagle. But the thing that finally helped him want to get it was doing something he really wanted to do-a Rayado trek at Philmont. He was 17, he was very close to Eagle but hadn’t planned his project. He came back from Rayado different. They challenged him and helped him grow up. Most everybody on his trek was Eagle. They started encouraging him to finish. We let him know we wanted him to get Eagle, but we did not punish him for not working towards it. We told him it was his choice. He did finish 10 days before his 18th birthday!! He spoke during his court of honor and cried, he said he was so glad he did push to finish. He is a very fine young man. All kids are different. You need to find out what is holding him back, it might just be the troop isn’t right for him. I would think a large troop could be easy to get lost in for some boys. Stop talking at him and really listen. Be involved in the fun things in his life. Boys talk better when they are DOING things. Not just sitting in a chair like a lecture. My boys are 20 and 23 years old. They make me so proud! And they are so different!! They are both working at Philmont this summer!! I hope I helped some! Philmont Mom!

    • Congratulations! You did it right! Your 2 Eagles are proof of that!
      Your advice though very similar to many others, really hit home on many more points!

  85. If your 15-year old was going to make another sort of choice that would affect the rest of his life negatively, would you still let HIM make it? I wouldn’t. I know every family is different, but I can’t imagine letting mine drop just before earning their Eagle. Instead of the choice being quit-or-don’t-quit, make the choice between troop A, troop B or crew C.

    It sounds to me that he is having to deal with boys who have no self-discipline and are disruptive. Or a troop that has shifted focus to the younger ones at the expense of the older ones (I know the mantra that it doesn’t hurt to refresh your skills, but it gets old). Or maybe he just needs a change. With a Venture Crew, he can be dual registered — still maintaining his rank and status in his Boy Scout troop. He can earn his Eagle as a Venturer without whatever it is that is making him miserable in his troop.

    No way would I let mine just quit, though. There are times when every person just has to “push through”.

    • Everyone has given just about the same good advice.
      Most important, don’t give up, find a better group to do your Scouting/Venturing with
      that best suits your needs, and doesn’t interfere with your quest for Eagle.
      If you don’t, you’ll be making a mistake that will follow you for the rest of your life!

  86. It is pretty hard to “make” your son do anything, and there is always the possibility of causing some serious animosity between parent and son if you are adamant about not “letting” them quit, or forcing them to do anything they don’t want to.

    It is a tough call, as a teenager, once a young person gets the “vapors” (gasoline and perfume) it is hard to keep them interested in the program. I agree with many of the comments about high adventure and a better program (or another troop) that may keep a person interested.

    A good heart to heart is also something I would suggest. Every adult leader I have ever met that did not finish scouting or quit, has told me they regretted that decision later on. Maybe see if you could recruit another adult to participate in a discussion with some first hand experience. Also, I would recommend googling “quitting” or “quotes on quitting” to get some ammo and info for a good discussion. Quitting and giving up is a hard habit to break once you start doing it.

    I wish there was an easy answer for this one.

  87. My son is dis-satisifed with his present troop but has stated he wants to stay in scouting if he can change Troops. If he finds one he likes, what’s actually involved in leaving his current Troop and joining the new Troop?

    • Todd asked what specifically is involved in having his son leave his current Troop and joining a new Troop.

      It’s a lot like leaving one school district and moving to a new one. It starts with the decision to leave as opposed to just “sitting out” for a while. Your son makes the decision, Todd. We adults support the youth’s decision.

      Your son should have a Scoutmaster’s Conference before he departs. Some Troops also allow the Scout to say some departing words in lieu of the regular Scoutmaster Minutes toward the end of the meeting. Your son doesn’t have to participate in either; but the Scoutmaster’s Conference allows your son’s present Scoutmaster to “close the binder” on your son’s participation in the Troop – and wish him well as he moves onward to the new Troop.

      He should “be prepared” to provide documentation as to his Scouting status to the new Troop. This is done in several ways; but the manner *I* personally like is through the BSA Transfer Form, which is available online and also through your local Council office. This one page form, when signed by the outgoing adult mentorship, is a great data entry form for the new unit to use. The thing I like about it is that it is attached to the registration application and sent to the local Council for posting — alerting the Registrar that the Scout has indeed transferred to a new unit (and updating the records as to his progress).

      Some Troops have electronic records which they will provide to you and to the new unit.

      If your unit has established one of those “savings accounts” for your son, ask them to transfer the funds to the new Troop. This is NOT automatic, which is why I personally do not like such accounts. However, most well-established Troops will set something like this up and will have no problem in transferring the money your son earned to another Troop, especially if they are doing something similar. If they refuse to transfer the money — please DO NOT make a “federal case” out of it, because officially and legally, the funds *belong to the unit* (even if it’s “parceled out” into separate “individual savings accounts”) and they are under no obligation to “give” any or all of it to your son, you or the new Troop (see why I don’t like this method of accounting?)

      Finally, insure that whatever equipment is borrowed or broken is returned or replaced. Scouts tear some stuff up and they do misplace things — after all, they are boys!

    • Well-said, Mike – great reply!!!

      I have only one comment. My three boys left a Troop with a Scoutmaster that made it uncomfortable for any transfer of records or membership through him. The details are unimportant, but the boys would have left Scouts entirely if forced to confront the Scoutmaster, so we went to the new Troop, filled out the Membership form and contacted the Advancements Chair for records which were cheerfully sent. We did lose some participation records because the Scoutmaster kept them on his own, but redoing activities is never harmful and he had neglected their ranks so badly that it was a minor part of catching up with their age level in the new Troop. So while it may be feasible to have that Conference, I will say it is not always possible.

      I am so grateful that Todd is listening to his son and allowing him to find the perfect fit for him. I hate to hear of parents who just let the boy drop without even VISITING a different Troop. We are very lucky here to have several options for all personalities!

      Best of luck, Todd!

      • I agree with Anna on some points. We actually had a scoutmaster tell us our son should NOT be in scouts and should have a 6 month absence. We were so surprised, because our son had been so wonderfully happy and now was not. It turned out that the scoutmaster’s son was a bully and could do no wrong and anything that went wrong, was blamed on our son. At one point, on a camp out that my husband could not make due to work, our son tried to leave a bad situation and was thought, by the leaders, that by trying to leave that he was ‘taking off’ instead of just trying to ‘cool down’ so he didn’t go off on the kid (our son was 14 at the time). The bully was 2 years older and 50 lbs heavier and 6 inches taller. We agreed that our son needed some time away from them, and gave our son time to talk to us. It only took a week before it all came out. Our reaction was horror.

        We met with the COR and IH, after getting nowhere with the CC and the SM, and let them know why we were leaving (our troop met at our church). Eventually this bully targeted another scout, the scoutmaster refused to listen, again, and he was removed as SM.

        Meanwhile, we told our son to just enjoy his OA meetings and we’d go from there. We suggested, to him, that he visit other troops. At that time he was leery about doing that.

        At the next OA meeting he was talking with a couple of friends from another troop and asked if he could visit. It was in a troop a town over from us, but not too far to be feasible. So he went, and came back and asked if we would like to go. I knew the scoutmaster from various trainings that I’ve been to, and said we’d go to the next one, with him, if he’d like. We did, he joined them and he made his eagle because of the competition with his friends (he was one of 3 in 1 year) and because of the support of his scoutmaster’s from this troop and because we heard him when he told us the ‘real’ problem. When he learned that we were his best advocate, and that we wouldn’t ignore the problem (unlike his previous leaders), he opened up to us and we worked together on the solution. Our son is a happy, well adjusted 24 yr old, who is proud of his eagle and of his troop (where he is now an assistant scoutmaster) – and we are proud of him as well.

  88. It is sometimes tough to keep a youth member interested in Scouting, especially when they begin to get to the age where other “distractions” start proving too much for them to ignore. The key, in my opinion, is to find out why they joined in the first place. Did he join because his friends did? Did he stay just because his parent wanted him to? Did he ever enjoy the program? I can also understand the frustrations of older Scouts when it comes to dealing with younger Scouts. I always try to remind the boys in our Troop that they were the younger Scouts at one point. They were the ones that seemed like a “waste of time” to the older Scouts, but those older Scouts still provided leadership and training for their younger Scouting brothers. Bribery and taking away spending money for non-Scouting activities is not the answer, in my opinion. It is not about rewards or the lack thereof, to me that sounds like the parent is trying to keep their son in Scouting for them, not for thier child. Think about them. Will they regret the decision later on in life if they do not continue? Yes, most assuredly, but that is their decision and a parent should be supportive, no matter what decision they make. Encourage them to find what they loved about Scouting in the first place. Encourage them to find a way to divide their time between their outside activies and Scouting. Encourage them to give back to Scouting because Scouting gave to them. But never punish them for making a decision about their life, no matter how much you disagree.

  89. Jen Applegate // June 18, 2013 at 12:11 pm // Reply

    If the Scouts aren’t interested in the activities, I always ask them who is planning the activities? The boys are doing the planning! If you don’t like the activities, plan better ones. Show up to the PLC meetings, plan what you want to do, then do it! Older Scouts can do different activities than the younger patrols.

  90. James Mikko // June 18, 2013 at 12:52 pm // Reply

    I, an Eagle Scout myself, believe that it is the son’s responsibility to choose whether or not he wishes to become an Eagle Scout. Scouting did not just give me a fancy title, it gave me friends that will last a lifetime. Sit and talk with your son Dave and listen to his side and try to figure out where scouting has impacted his life. When this is complete, maybe offer him another path that remains in scouting but does not have to deal with the younger scouts that he sees as immature. Try Venturing, Varsity, or Sea Scouting. If your son becomes that leader in his troop, Dave, maybe a nomination into the Order of the Arrow. These other paths offer many experiences that often times do not involve the younger scouts and are fun and offer the opportunity to meet people from around the Nation and maybe even offer your son the opportunity to experience other cultures.

    • Matt (kitty) // June 18, 2013 at 4:20 pm // Reply

      Outstanding answer, an Eagle Scout myself and a true believer in the program and what is does for youth and ultimately builds our future leaders, never give up on a scout who may have lost there interest, instead suggest alternative programs such as James said. Although there is usually the goal to make it to Eagle, That is not the most important aspect of the program. The values, leadership skills, and responsibility are. In this case, he may just need to be challenged, as I did. A single challenge to become involved in other aspects and take on responsibility within the troop propelled me to the end. I am still actively involved in the troop and am often found doing volunteer work at our councils resident summer camp. Just because, I believe in the program, It works.

      • Toni-Lee Crawley // June 19, 2013 at 11:20 am // Reply

        I agree with James and Matt. It sounds like older boy programs would be best at this point. He may well come back to the troop later. In addition, if your son is 1st Class or above, he can continue to work toward Eagle in the Sea Scout program (he still must complete his ranks by age 18 though). My son faded out of Scouting for about 6 months at one point and then came back stronger than ever. Sometimes you just need a break, but beware, it can be hard to get started again the longer the break!

  91. Try to find some young men in their 20′s that can relate what it has meant to them to have achieved the rank of eagle. Parents are often the least effective source of inspiration on this subject when a kid has “made up their mind”. A good example is someone that has gone in the service and got the automatic grade increase because of it.

  92. Ronald McCalip // June 18, 2013 at 12:54 pm // Reply

    Wow! For the longest time I thought I was the only one with that problem! When My eldest son was about 15, he started withdrawing from scouting. He made Star, and was almost complete with Life requirements and he wanted to drop out. I was involved with the troop and local counsel. Most of his buddies had made Eagle. As much as I pushed and threatened him… He was just not into it. I do realize the honor it is to be an Eagle scout, to be counted with other great leaders, and I will say that it is a worthy goal to achieve! But lets face some facts. Not attaining Eagle will not make your son less of a man. I love my son regardless of what he has done and I respect him for the works and feats he has accomplished in life, on his own, with a proven work ethic. None of the scouts with Eagle badges from that troop can boast a better station in life than can my son.

    So, is it solely for the sake of finishing what was started that a father wants his son to get that Eagle badge? Remember that pride goeth before the fall! Is it perhaps dad wants that badge more than Jr.? What’s really important here? In my case, I think I discovered that my son doesn’t have to be a ME 2.0. All I ask is that he does his best.

  93. Tom petrik // June 18, 2013 at 1:08 pm // Reply

    I don’t worry about boys making eagle, I worry about them becoming leaders.

    If the boy has achieved that, let him move to whatever interests him. But the interests better exist before he leaves.

    If there aren’t any, go the other route. My sons troop has a cc who complains all the time that he works “for himself” by staffing NYLT, day camp, resident camp for cub scouting, going to jamboree, etc. We aren’t rich, but we sacrifice for him to go to the things he needs to achieve. He also is active in band and jazz band and in honors classes now that he’s in school. The further he gets into school, the more meetings and outings he misses. They plan big trips every other year but we don’t go because he has the other events and they also expensive. Did I mention we aren’t rich?

    He’s proving that doing everything only for the unit isn’t what matters as much as living the 12 in all aspects of your life. If he achieves Eagle, all the better, but while I am encouraging it it doesn’t determine everything in scouting for him, nor should it. I remember a youth when I was a boy had been tenderfoot for several years, and was just about to got osecond class. But he was happy and having fun. And we, as a patrol, encouraged, but didn’t push him.

    Should it be any different for any other boy?

  94. Scott Neil // June 18, 2013 at 2:16 pm // Reply

    A few years back I attended the 50th anniversary celebration of the troop in which I had been active while a Scout. While meeting and sharing stories with old friends, I encountered a young man (OK, we had both been young at one point) who had just missed earning his Eagle Scout rank. He started the conversation by apologizing. He apologized because I had once been his Patrol Leader and SPL, and he felt that he had let me down by not completing his Eagle Scout rank advancement. I stated that the process was a journey, and he had been an active and integral part of the journey for many Scouts and Scouters. My friend stated that he felt ashamed now when he told people where he first learned about his values. He said that people would assume that he was an Eagle Scout by the way that he spoke about the influence of Scouting on his life. My friend would always correct the listener, stating that he had not quite earned the Eagle Scout award.
    He still carries the guilt of missing the advancement 25 years after we aged out of being Scouts.
    You truly get to be the master of your own destiny in life. You decide what to do, who to do it with, and what you learn from each experience. I think my friend learned the lessons that Scouting had to teach him, but he did not earn the rank that is instantly recognizable by the general public as a mark of distinction. He performed well, and was a great mentor for younger Scouts, but cannot claim that he is an Eagle Scout. Ask your son “What do You want to do instead of Scouts?” If they have learned what they can from Scouting, and they have a constructive idea for how they will spend their time (instead of Scouting) then support them, but advise them that Scouting is always available to them.
    Whatever your son’s reason, listen to him. Work with him. Help him understand that you want what is best for him.
    Scouting is fun, with a purpose. Scouting is not the only place where a youth can learn leadership, self-reliance, solid values, and a vast array of life skills. However, adults who were active Scouts (Eagle Scouts or no) have proven that they are more likely to take on leadership, be active in their community, and be active with youth programs such as Scouting. However you slice it: time involved, monetary cost, or opportunities lost because of participation in Scouting; Scouting tends to provide the most to gain for the amount of resources required. Those who participate in the program who go on to earn its highest honor receive motivation and a pedigree that can last well into their adult years.
    The choice belongs to your son: a life with a nagging regret of what could have been, or weathering the current storm in order to enrich his Scouting experience. The choice is his, as will be the rewards.

  95. I can’t speak to what other parent do, but with our children, we discuss the nature of a commitment. When they “join” anything, sports, scouts, etc. our requirement is they honor their commitment. Our son started Scouts as a second year Webelos. We had the discussion that if he started, he had to finish the year out as a Webelos. Then when he crossed over, the discussion happened again, what were his goals, what was his plan… if it was to hang out and have fun… then we would have invested our time accordingly, but our son’s goal was to become an Eagle Scout. We covered the amount of responsibility and commitment he would have to have and he agreed. We make no excuses in our house about them “only being children, and they can’t be expected to commit at that age.” We say why not, when are you old enough to commit to a goal and see it through? So in our case, when our son starts grumbling about going to a meeting, or not wanting to participate (which doesn’t happen often) our response is, “finish up your Eagle requirements…. then you can move on…. ” But, if you don’t have those conversations, and have a conscious decision to commit, your options are few, because if they truly don’t want to be there, and don’t have a purpose and a goal… they will move on, whether they are still physically there or not…

    • Ronald McCalip // June 18, 2013 at 2:49 pm // Reply

      I think this is a fine idea, but how do you teach them to re-evaluate goals then? Things in life that are outside of our control can change the way we look at, and value our goals.

  96. You are not wrong to insist that your son stay in scouting. Just as you are not wrong to insist that he stay in school or get a job or go to college. This is your job as a parent: to guide your child in the path that he should go until he is old enough to choose his own path. I knew a boy whose enthusiasm for scouting waned at this age. His father insisted that he earn the eagle award before he could have his drivers license. The young man failed to earn the award by his 16th birthday even though all his friends had. He was the only 16-year-old left in the troop, but he was the only 16-year-old without a license, so he buckled down, made some hard choices and got it done. I plan on using the same incentive for my sone. He is stubborn enough to test me, but if he doesn’t drive ’til he’s 18, that will be okay with me. Driving is dangerous.

  97. He prob. wants to drop b/c of the lift of the ban of Gays, If I was still in scouting i would walk out too. I dont know why in the world that the Delegates would vote this way.

  98. Rob Johnston // June 18, 2013 at 6:46 pm // Reply

    Almost 10% of the kids in the small scout troop I belonged to as a boy made Eagle.

    The kid who got the most out of it was a First Class Scout who was still involved and having a good time in his mid teens.

    I really like Karen W and Tom Petrick’s answer’s, though.

  99. I am my troop’s Committee Chair, my husband is an ASM, my oldest son is an Eagle, my father is an ASM, my mother is the committee secretary, and my brother is an Eagle. My youngest son wants nothing to do with scouting. He’s a first class scout. Part of the problem is that he’s living in his brother’s shadow. Part of the problem is that the troop has grown quite a bit and has gotten much louder and rowdy (triple the number of youth and yes – it gets louder and rowdier). We keep him involved in activities with a close group of friends outside of the troop. He is going to Jamboree this summer.

    We are going to revisit the issue of scouting after Jamboree. I think we are at the point of finding him another troop – smaller, quieter, calmer – one that fits him a little better. I know this sounds weird, but a friend has a Jewish troop that he really likes. They meet on Sundays every other week.

    Talk with your son – really drill down to what the problem is. My first suggestions would be a venture patrol with an older age and rank requirement. It’s very, very hard on the older scouts to be constantly expected to do all the leadership and never just be scouts. They need activities that are geared towards their skill level and that they don’t have to constantly be the leaders/teachers. Venturing is definitely an option if you have a good strong active crew. Also, district training teams, OA, NYLT staff, etc. are oppurtunities for him to shine away from the troop and away from the younger scouts.

    Please know that yours is not a unique problem. Some units do a better job than others – holding on to their older scouts.

    But, at the end of the day – they have to want it a whole lot more than we do.

  100. As an outsider “not in scouting”, I can give you a different perspective. We allowed our children to try many activities (scouts included). Each came with the commitment that you start what you finish. They were not to quit, whine or complain. When that season completed we reevaluated what they wanted to do and why. How do we know what their true passions and talents will be unless we let them try new things. As valuable as some things may be to us, it may not be the same for them. If you have a good kid and they want to try new things, why not? I have seen kids that the parents slot into a specific sport or activity because mom or dad did it or because mom or dad thinks that is where they should be. Sadly, I have seen how miserable some of these kids are and have seen how this hurts the relationship with the parents. Sounds like you probably have a pretty good kid. Maybe finding out why he feels this way is a good place to start. I personally don’t agree with forcing it, judging them negatively for wanting something different or punishing. Good luck. I am sure things will work out well.

    • Ronald McCalip // June 19, 2013 at 10:50 am // Reply

      Well Said!

  101. Nicki Wright // June 19, 2013 at 10:46 pm // Reply

    I am proud to say that our son has just received approval to do his Eagle Scout project. It has been quite the pull to get him this far, and at 16, he finally understands the overall value of becoming an Eagle Scout. We have withheld his testing for his driver’s license until his Eagle project is completed. This has been a great motivator. We have explained that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity that he needs to see to the end inorder to appreciate the future pay-off. That said, I encourage your son to take on a leadership role within the troop and to mentor those he finds immature – he was their age once and can better understand their their need for goal setting, etc. We encourage our troop members to really apply themselves to learning their survival skills because it will be the local Boy Scout(s) that the neighbors will be calling on to help with tying the knott that secures the protection tarps and outdoor cooking skills should a disaster disrupt their neighborhood and lifestyle. Our nation needs more accomplished scouts – continue your encouragement.

  102. I am a parent of a UK Scout son who wishes to leave. I support his decision entirely, not because he has lost interest but because as a young adult he has to start taking responsibility for his decisions as early as possible in life. He may live to regret the decision but that will only serve to make him think harder about future choices I believe. I am ex army so fully understand the ideals behind commitment but at the end of the day it wouldn’t be fair on the rest of his group if his lack of commitment were to interfere with their progress. No parent should EVER force their children to continue leisure time activities simply because of the emotional and financial commitment of the parents and to punish your kids because they don’t understand or agree with YOUR enthusiasm for a subject is simply not the right way forward to raising a child.

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