Getting them to stay

In my last Podcast I answered 20 questions, it was a lot of fun to get the questions from folks that normally listen to the show and a great opportunity to get in touch with them via the Q&A.  One of the questions in particular I thought needed more time and thought.  The question in a nut shell asked what advice I would give to a Scout that was thinking about quitting Scouting.. or how would I get him to stay essentially?
In the podcast I answered by telling the listener to focus on the benefits of Scouting.  What does the young man get out of this program.
It is not about merit badges and rank patches.  I think if you ask your average Scout, you will find that he is there because of his friends, the adventures, and the good times he has.
I recently had a similar discussion with a friend of mine that is a Scoutmaster of a neighboring troop, we were talking about retention and recruiting and getting in and out of ruts in the program.  What we concluded is that the annual program of any given Troop needed to be dynamic and fun.  I asked how much emphasis he placed on advancement in his Troop, a Troop that continues to grow and thrive.  He said that advancement only played 1/8th of the program.  It is only one of the methods.  I agree.  We talked about Troops that we know that seem to “Crank out” Eagle scouts.  And while this benefits the Scout on paper in the long run, it probably is not doing him any favors in real life application.  We agreed that our programs needed to be fun, Scout led, and full of adventure.  Focused on skills and grounded in the training of character, citizenship, and fitness.
So what benefit does the Scout get out of Scouting?  In the short term he develops leadership and learns some great skills that will carry him through life.  He has fun and participates in things that the average kid in school will never do.  He gets to see new places and test his confidence while hanging out with his friends.  He gets to teach and learn.  He gets to grow into a man that is respected and honored when he finally does earn the Eagle award.
Now this may not seem like the speech you want to give to a Scout that is thinking about getting out of Scouting, but in the right setting, the Scout can see that he is getting more than he gives in Scouting.  He needs to think about the long term effects of being a Scout.  How it does look on a resume, how it can open doors for him in the future and where that will take him.
Sitting down and laying all that out should be convincing, but look at the reasons he wants to quit.  Is it the uniform?  Is it the lack of fun?  Is he tired of “Babysitting” the young boys in the unit? Ask and he will tell you why.  Then you can handle the situation.  Now I know the listener that asked the question knows why… but without me having knowledge of the “why”.. I can only give a general answer.
We all know that Scouting is benefits our young men in many ways.  Focus on the benefits and what’s in it for him.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

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