Retention: Six reasons Scouts drop out and how you can prevent it

Extreme mountain biking and other outdoor activities can help keep Scouts in the program longer. (Photo by Roy Jansen)

What’s the one thing the Scouting program can’t live without? Scouts.

The Boy Scouts of America offers the premier program for youth, but Scouts need the means and desire to stick around.

To help make that possible, I asked your fellow Scouters on Facebook this question:

What’s the biggest reason Scouts drop out of the program, and how can we as Scouters keep that from happening? 

So let’s explore both aspects by presenting six problems and your time-tested solutions.

PROBLEM 1: Sports and other after-school activities get in the way
SOLUTION: Be accommodating

“As a Scoutmaster, I have always encouraged balance. Scouting can work with/around band, orchestra, sports and other activities. We’re still around after the season is over!” (Ron S.)

PROBLEM 2: Your unit’s program has gotten stale
SOLUTION: Don’t do the same thing year after year

“[You need] a program that is boy-led and is dynamic with lots of variety and challenges. Doing a biking trip every summer is still okay, but go somewhere different each time. Don’t allow the program to become stale. If the program is strong, boys will want to do it.” (Janet J.)

PROBLEM 3: Lack of commitment from parents
SOLUTION: Get Mom and Dad invested from the start

“I see so many [Scouts] lose interest when their parents aren’t involved. My husband and I tell new parents that the success of their boy depends on them. When they see how much good the program is doing and the development of fine young men, they are more likely to get behind their boy and help them through the rough patches. When they make Scouts a priority then they succeed.” (Tricia B.)

PROBLEM 4: Poor fit between the Scout and his unit
SOLUTION: Help him find another pack or troop

“Leaders need to humble themselves, and if a family or boy need a change or the night is not a good fit, let them know about other troops or packs that might work out better. The important thing is that you are here for Scouting. ” (Eric T.)

PROBLEM 5: Scouting is too expensive
SOLUTION: Fill your year with money-earning projects and low-cost activities

“The best way to keep kids is have a fun, cheap program.” (Kay E.)

PROBLEM 6: It’s hard to reach today’s kids
SOLUTION: Get your leaders trained

“Training, training, training to empower our committee members, adult leaders, and everyone so they have the tools and resources to go to.” (Kim S.)
“Better training, more continuing education, cross-pollination of best practices are all ways to combat this.” (Skip T.)

Have any more problems or solutions? Leave a comment below.

About Bryan Wendell 2817 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is senior editor of Boys’ Life, Scouting and Eagles’ Call magazines.