One thing that is a major issue with my Troop is retention. We’ve lost a lot of boys in the last year. Some of it is to sports and other outside activities, and some of it – well, I just don’t really know. Seems like parents these days either make the Scout choose between sports and Scouting – or they choose it for them. Typically, Scouts loses that battle.
I think now more than ever we as Scouting leaders need to look outside of the box and find ways to retain and recruit new youth to our units. I keep reading about technology versus Scouting – and I have to say that if we don’t (as adult leaders) change how we communicate and allow some technology into our program we’re bound to lose more and more boys. I think that by letting technology into our units to some degree may help keep some of the boys who might not otherwise stick around. There’s some good technology articles on Scouting over at Scoutmaster Steve’s blog: http://www.melrosetroop68.org/blog/.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about campfire skits by the light of cellphones here, but there needs to be a time and a place for them to use these types of things in the Scouting program. I know that at least one of our Council’s Troops at the National Jamboree this last year not only allowed cell phone use, but encouraged it so the leaders could keep tabs on where the boys were during the day. I realize this doesn’t apply to most typical camp-outs, but I’m curious how Troops deal with this, if at all? I already text-message my SPL on occasion, as it’s the quickest and easiest way to get in touch with him when I need to.
Please, let me know your thoughts on retention and if you feel the technology part of it has anything to do with it.