Along the Scouting trail, boys join and boys drop. Interests wax and wain. The perennial problem for units is maximizing retention and minimizing attrition so that scouts can benefit more from the program. In order to gain ground on the problem, we need to identify ways to make significant impact with minimal effort. Once the big, easy fixes are in place, then incremental improvements can be made.
On the trail from Tiger Cub to Eagle Scout, I believe the biggest black hole that swallows up the most potential is the Webelos Graduation
. Around February in 5th grade is when I've consistently seen the most scouts drop from the program. They've reached the end of Cub Scouts, parents are tired of Pack meetings, scouts have made 4 or 5 pinewood derby cars, and the luster of Scouting has worn thin. To top it all off, the Pack holds an extravagant Graduation Ceremony
to congratulate the Webelos on their achievements in Cub Scouts and their completing the trail.
- the culmination of years of hard work. A perfect time to find something new to do. No wonder boys use this event to leave Scouting.
By changing the emphasis on the end of the Webelos program from graduating to transitioning, the attrition drops. I've seen this first-hand. When leaders, parents, and scouts understand that the reason for Cub Scouts is to have fun while preparing to be a Boy Scout, Webelos is not thought of as an end
, but as a stepping stone to greater adventure. A good example of this is this Webelos Ceremony
. It explains that the skills learned in Cub Scouts are meant to be used as tools in Boy Scouts. Without moving ahead and using them, they are worthless souvenirs.
The BSA has been making efforts to improve the Webelos transition. See this scouting.org page
for specific advice for Pack and Troop volunteers. All interested parties (Cubmaster, Webelos Den Leader, Scoutmaster) should be working as a team to make the Scouting experience seamless through all levels. There are many resources to use, including Troop Open Houses, Den Chiefs, OA ceremony teams, and recruitment events.
How about setting a new 2012 resolution: No Webelos Left Behind
Posted: 16:27 01-23-2012 736 Previous Post Next Post
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