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.

117 thoughts on “Give your advice to a parent whose son wants to drop out of Scouting

  1. 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)

  2. 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

  3. 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.

  4. 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

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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!

    • 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.

  9. 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!

  10. 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.

  11. 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!

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

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  18. 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.

  19. 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!

  20. 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

  21. 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”!

  22. 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!

  23. 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!

  24. 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.

  25. 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.

  26. 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.

  27. 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.

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