Close the back door

back-doorThere are two phrases that absolutely drive me up the wall, First is “Aging out” and the other is “Eagleing Out”.  No where in Scouting are those two terms found.  These are terms founded by lazy leaders that do not understand the entire Scouting program or are not creative enough to keep a Scout interested enough in Scouting to stay.
So what does this have to do with the subject at hand?  Everything.
You can never out recruit you losses.  When we allow Scouts to leave our program, a program designed to keep them through adulthood and reinforce the “Lifetime” of Scouting we lose as an organization.  We allow the institutional knowledge to walk out the door.. institutional knowledge of youth leadership.  We lose the succession of youth leaders passing down the unit traditions, skills, and attitudes.  We lose the ability for youth to train the next group of youth to lead their Troop.
When we let the backdoor swing wide open, we take away the opportunity for the young person to continue in the program.  With Venturing and Sea Scouts providing fantastic co ed adventures, we should be encouraging our Scouts to seek those opportunities while maintaining some level of activity with the Troop.
Our Unit started a program we call “Vertical Scouting”.. I will talk more about that later, but essentially it amounts to providing Scouting opportunities that flow through the spectrum of Scouting programs.  From age 6 to 21 the youth of our program have a vertical look at all that Scouting has to offer.  We form that in a single Scout group that allows the young Scout and his family to see what lays ahead for them in Scouting.  It sets the table for retaining Scouts for a life time of Scouting.  It removes the attitude of “Aging Out”…  it provides an opportunity for an Eagle Scout to stay in Scouts and continue to lead and make a contribution to the unit as a whole.  It introduces young women to the Scouting program and keeps teen aged young men interested in more adventures in a co ed environment.  We often joke about our Scouts getting to that age of getting the “3 G’s”  Girls, Gas, and Goofing Off… Well we know they start driving, that won’t change, doing values based activities with girls is a healthy way of growing their character, and we all know that goofing off with other Scouts is way better than most alternatives.
This program offers excellent opportunities to retain our Scouts.  And that is what our goal is.  Close the back door, start growing tomorrows Scout Adult leaders in the units they are playing the game with a purpose in now.
Think about ways you can close that backdoor in your unit.  Retain Scouts, and stop the “OUT”.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

4 comments

  1. Jerry,
    Great article and you could not be closer to the truth. How do you feel about the new Venturing program as a tool to retain older scouts. I have mix experience over my dozen plus years as a Scoutmaster/Crew Advisor, what is your take?

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    1. To be honest Jim, I do not know the ins and outs of Venturing other that the basics of the program, what it offers etc.
      We have an amazing Advisor for our Crew that knows the Venturing program in and out.
      In so far as the Venturing program as a retention tool.. it is fantastic. It gives the Scouts a place to go once they turn 18. It keeps them active within the Scouting program, and in a unit like ours where we connect the Cub Scout, Boy Scout, and Venturing programs in a vertical Scouting look.. it is a natural progression through their Scouting life.
      Having a Venturing Crew accessible and more importantly visible is a plus for retaining older Scouts. They tend to participate in both the Troop and the Crew and that helps keep them around.
      Thanks for the comment

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  2. Thank you for this post, and this blog. This is my first visit and certainly I’ll be back. I’m a new Assistant Cubmaster, and a Cub and Boy Scout myself back in my younger days. It’s really nice to read your words and know that someone else feels like I do about this. I just hope I have the ability to provide my boys as good of an experience as it sounds like you do, and help them choose scouting over whatever activities that are destructive to youth in my community.

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