Boy Scout retention: Four things you can do so they’ll stick around

If you recruit new Boy Scouts into your troop without a plan for retaining your existing members, you’re just spinning your wheels.

Help Boy Scouts get the most out of this life-changing organization with a program that keeps them coming back week after week.

Boy Scout retention requires a long-term plan where adult leaders and youth leaders work together to create compelling troop meetings and memorable outings.

But there are four things you can do right now to boost retention.

I’ve taken these from the February 2017 episode of ScoutCast. Our guest for the episode is Charles “Doc” Goodwin, Scoutmaster of Troop 236 in Kettering, Ohio. For more than 30 years, Doc’s troop consistently has had more than 100 Scouts.

1. Make each Scout feel important

“I really try to get to know each Scout,” Doc says. “I know every boy’s birthday, and at every meeting the senior patrol leader recognizes each Scout’s birthday.”

At each meeting, Doc goes around and tries to speak individually with each boy.

2. Begin a “big brother” program

Each new Scout in Doc’s troop gets a “big brother” assigned to him. This older Scout must be at least First Class.

“Their job is to get to know the boys that they have, and I expect them to know at least as much about them as I do,” Doc says. “That Scout’s job is to be their friend, their mentor, and help guide them up to First Class.”

At court of honor time, the “big brother” joins the Scout and his parents at the front of the room to present the new Scout with his rank badges.

3. Get your youth leaders trained — but keep it fun

Doc’s troop tries to put several junior leaders — senior patrol leader, assistant senior patrol leader, patrol leaders and more — through National Youth Leadership Training (NYLT) each year.

ILST, the Introduction to Leadership Skills for Troops, is a prerequisite to NYLT.

“Train the Scouts and let them lead, let them run the show,” he says.

But Doc reminds us that training should be conducted with an emphasis on fun.

“Boys don’t join Scouts to say, ‘I want to be a leader.’ They join to have a good time,” Doc says. “Fun is what’s going to keep them in it.”

4. Make sure all boys get Boys’ Life

A study has shown that boys who read BL stay in Scouting two-and-a-half times longer than those who don’t.

“You’re right,” Doc says. “It’s good information in there.”

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More to the story

For more, listen to the February 2017 episode of ScoutCast, the monthly podcast for Boy Scout leaders. Find it on your favorite podcasting app or by clicking here.

Photo by W. Garth Dowling

About Bryan Wendell 3282 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is the founder of Bryan on Scouting and a contributing writer.