Retention: A symptom or a cause

Discussions about the 2012 Program Review
awallwork
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Retention: A symptom or a cause

Post by awallwork » Tue Oct 23, 2012 10:59 pm

Edward Brierley posted on the facebook group

One of the first questions that came out of the Program Review Conference was: We have a 50% attrition rate, how we can solve this? A question was raised in another thread: Is this a problem or a symptom of a larger problem? If it is seen as a symptom, what is/are the real problems?

Needless to say, it turned into quite a good thread, that makes sense to reference in the future. As facebook tends to hide things after a while, I figured we could move things here, and have an more permanent conversation record.
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awallwork
Posts: 66
Joined: Sat Oct 17, 2009 7:37 pm
anti_spambot: 7

Re: Retention: A symptom or a cause

Post by awallwork » Tue Oct 23, 2012 11:01 pm

The conversation so far... hopefully copy/paste hasn't lost too much of the discussion.

John Dis Melissen Is it even a problem?
Yesterday at 2:04pm · Like · 1

John Dis Melissen If so... Why?
Yesterday at 2:05pm · Like · 1

Andrew Brown Good question one that I have asked myself and my leaders over the years. on the figures what is the age group We are loosing I know in the Sr Scouts/Ventures drop out rate is due to high school most youth do not have the time any more they cannot make the meetings. and homework
Yesterday at 2:05pm · Like · 2

Ron Boyd Cohesivness within a group really helps! More linking group activities so that Scouting is more of a flow from section to section. These would help with some of the attrition.
Yesterday at 2:06pm · Like · 4

Andrew Paterson Sam, John : OK... here's a fact... the highest attrition (don't renew) is among those youth at their last year in the section. Same pattern for Scouters.
Yesterday at 2:07pm · Like · 1

Sam Wallis If we are seeing a large drop at the ages of our senior sections, yet cadets doesnt even start till then, do they see a drop as youth age thru the program?
Yesterday at 2:07pm · Like · 1

Andrew Paterson Were I selling Scouting programs as services from a commercial venture, I would be asking: "what is it about what and how we're selling that causes our customers to revisit their decision to buy, just as we're selling them the next product". Of course, those of you who have been in this kind of business situation should recognize the problem immediately. Some how, the customer thinks they are making a new purchase decision, not purchasing more of what they already are using and liking... and that's a fixable problem if you['re willing to package things a little differently.
Yesterday at 2:08pm · Like · 3

Sam Wallis are scouters typicaly here to folow their kids thru, or for a different reason?
Yesterday at 2:09pm · Like · 3

Andrew Paterson The majority follow their kids through. (and they are entitled to have their own stages of life, no?)
Yesterday at 2:10pm · Like · 2

Sam Wallis I think the ideal state would be to have a core group of scouters at each level, in each group that are there to give something, with no kids. they could ensure a standard program is folowed. there, now that I solved our issues I am going out to ride my unicorn.
Yesterday at 2:13pm · Like · 2

Andrew Paterson Sam - There isn't really disproportionate attrition in the senior sections. If anything, a little lower attrition. It's just the cumulative effect over the program and lower rates of recruiting that create markedly lower numbers.
Yesterday at 2:15pm · Like · 1

Alex Ecclestone Venturers are the age were most members are lost, to slove this scouts Canada must. Make membership cheaper for Venturers and give the groups a little more headroom to decide what they want to do for themselves. A Venturer company needs to be self governing in order to coincide with the schedules of highschool students. Venturer companies also need a defined purpose, a goal they wish to acheive, or a common interest in order to function properly and keep members.
Yesterday at 2:16pm · Like · 2

Tracy Forsyth Diverse cultures and ppl new to the county arent aware of the Scout program in Canada Some dont agree with coed
Yesterday at 2:16pm · Like · 1

Jim Brown As Steve Kent put it, "We are great at recruitment, but terrible at retention".
Yesterday at 2:16pm · Like · 2

Alex Ecclestone Program is the key, it is up to the individual group, and how they operate whether people stay or not. No ammount of policy made by someone flying a desk in the Toronto office is going to affect membership the way the leadership of individual groups will.
Yesterday at 2:19pm · Like · 2

Sam Wallis What is our cost to recruit? in my job we figure the cost to recruit a new employee at 1500 bucks. Each new customer costs more than that.
Yesterday at 2:20pm · Like · 1

Andrew Paterson Sam - you seem to be engaging the unsubstantiated theory that there is somehow the "ideal Scouter" (ideal training, etc.) that will somehow solve all of the problem. I can tell you that lower attrition does correlate with Scouters that have more experience, but it isn't a 100% correlation and a question to ask is "why any correlation". From my own experience (and yes, I have over a decade and high retention), it's more about how I've gone about working around what's missing than anything else. If that stuff weren't missing, I think that it would take a lot less experience to get the same results.
Yesterday at 2:21pm · Like · 1

Tracy Forsyth I really dont think parents see the Scouting program as an activity that theor kids can be in from 5- 18 they change up ant want the over all change up and do everything Buffet .
Yesterday at 2:22pm · Like · 3

Andrew Paterson Alex - Actually... not true. We loose more at the Beaver to Cub and Cub to Scout transition. It's just really noticeable at Venturers.
Yesterday at 2:22pm · Like · 1

Jim Brown Sadly, tracy, too many parents look at us as a way to get 1 1/2 hours per week without the kids. I don't know about you, or others, but I am damned sure I am not a Scouter to be an unpaid babysitter.
Yesterday at 2:24pm · Like · 3

Andrew Paterson We can't control parents reasons for putting kids in Scouting. We can give them reason to see us as helping develop their whole kid from 5 to 18 if we choose to. More than that, we do control what we do for that kid while we have them.
Yesterday at 2:27pm · Like

Jim Brown Oh, I know, Andrew. Just venting a bit.
Yesterday at 2:28pm · Like · 1

Andrew Paterson :-) Vent accepted.
Yesterday at 2:30pm · Like · 1

John Dis Melissen I still question why membership drop is assumed to be negative.
Until that question is answered, it really isn't a symptom of a problem.

One response to the question was that we won't be here in 10 years.
- to which I ultimately reply... "So what?"
Yesterday at 2:31pm · Like

Sam Wallis No, I dont think there is an ideal scouter (unicorn coment was suposed to reflect that it was a bit pie in the sky). What we need to do is ask, should we exist, who should we serve, and do we do that well? at our peak, were there hundreds of kids who didnt want to be in scouting whos parents stuck them with it or who were in it because mom said do something and it was the least objectionable thing to them. thats not good membership. I have no idea if that was the case, and I suspect that no one knows. but, we have very limited facts, a great many asumptions.
Yesterday at 2:35pm · Like

Andrew Paterson OK John, by way of answering, let me turn your question around if you don't mind: why is attrition OK and in particular, when the rates are high (50% annually) and when it means that we're only reaching about 3% of Canadian youth now and, if the decline continues, we won't be able to reach any?
Yesterday at 2:36pm · Like

Jim Brown John, some of us have dedicated our lives to Scouting, and DON'T want to see it vanish. We enjoy the programs and the comraderie of other Scouters. We believe in what we are doing, and believe that the kids need Scouting. I will go down fighting for Scouting instead of saying, "Oh well. It was fun while it lasted."
Yesterday at 2:38pm · Like · 3

Andrew Paterson Sam - and you just added a bunch of beliefs, not facts. Please don't do that. I am trying to stick to facts, as much as I can.

I think that you did ask some good questions "who should we serve, and do we do that well?". I would add "how do we serve them?" (i.e. our value proposition) and change the last question to "how can we do that well?".
Yesterday at 2:40pm · Like

Erica-Jason Nault We can't neccessarily control parents reasons for putting kids in scouting, but if we are more clear about what we add to a youth's life I think we will attract more parents that do actually want to better their kids instead of just want a babysitter. People stay in swimming lessons because they want to learn to swim and it's fun; people stay in hockey because they want to learn to play hockey and it's fun; people stay in Scouting because... and it's fun! If we delivery properly on our mission and the original intent of the movement, people will stay in Scouting because they want to become better citizens, leaders, and people... and of course, because it's fun :)
Yesterday at 2:41pm · Like · 1

John Dis Melissen Jim Brown I am not meaning any disrespect - I'm hoping to pull out of people why it is important that Scouts even exists. Until we know that, then nothing else matters.
Andrew Paterson now we're getting somewhere - Let me keep asking the leading questions that Sam Wallis was starting to think about.
Ultimately shouldn't we ask why we are trying to reach them? What are we trying to reach them with?

Is it possible that some of the changes cause people to leave? Is it possible that the youth are looking for more of the challenge adventure, and not just a social club that they could get elsewhere?

Why did BP start scouting? Go back to origins and figure out why it is even important for Scouting to exist.
Yesterday at 2:42pm · Like · 1

Jim Brown John, i didn't take it as disrespectful. I was merely saying what a great many of us feel.
Yesterday at 2:43pm · Like · 2

John Dis Melissen Erica-Jason Nault people also leave swimming lessons, 'cause they have a boyfriend, they leave hockey because they lose interest, or won't get any farther. Or maybe they leave league hockey to play recreational hockey with friends? Much like some people may leave Scouting to go hiking without a registration fee?
Yesterday at 2:45pm · Like · 3

Erica-Jason Nault All true John, but MORE people would leave swimming if no one was teaching them how to swim and MORE people would leave hockey if their skills were not being developed. Delivering a relevant program and educating/developing the youth will not ensure every youth stays in the movement, but I'm certain will convince more youth to stay
Yesterday at 2:49pm · Edited · Like · 1

Ralph Barnes I pleased to report my Venturer Company had a 100% RETENTION rate this year. I find if you have fun and plan a program the youth want they keep coming back each year.
Yesterday at 2:52pm · Like · 3

Sam Wallis I added questions, no facts. anecdotal evidence is not evidence. thats one of the hardest things to learn.
Yesterday at 2:54pm · Like · 1

Andrew Paterson Ralph - that's awesome. Well done.

May I ask, if you were going to move on (leave) tomorrow for whatever reason, what would you give to your successor that they could use to replicate your results?
Yesterday at 2:54pm · Like · 3

Sam Wallis Better still, if you were to leave tomorow, is there a successor who could do what you do? or at least most of it. People want to be irreplaceable, but the ideal state is every leader (not just scouter, but a leader in any organization) needs their replacement to be ready to go. We lost our Akela at the start of the last scouting year, Baloo is doing a great job trying to fill the role, and next year cubs could well fold without another leader taking it on. I am sure someone will, and I would love to help them take on that role. no I cant do it myself, dont have the time...
Yesterday at 2:59pm · Like · 2

Ralph Barnes Andrew Paterson, All I've ever done is to challenge the youth to plan their own program. If left on their own they usually end up planning a program that far exceeds the Quality Program Standards. I've found the older youth are looking for the chance to step-up and make a difference, it's all about making sure they have the chance. That being said I've had to endure my fair share of xbox nights and trips to the bowling alley. I guess in the end it's all about balance.
Yesterday at 3:02pm · Like · 3

Ron Boyd Love the points Alex Ecclestone raised there.. program goes a LONG way to retention (Growth trough program excellence!).. in the Senior sections providing more roadmaps on how to operate, make decisions, plan etc. might help with that... The process of taking ideas through to implementation is often beyond their (youth) skill set and I believe is something we should seek to resolve, give the youth the tools to do what they want...
Yesterday at 3:28pm · Like · 1

Andrew Brown I look around my town through the summer and see hundreds of beaver and cub age youth playing all over why are the numbers going down?? maybe national could help us advertise better to our own areas
Yesterday at 3:35pm · Like

Erica-Jason Nault Andrew, I would have to agree that part of the problem is also that Scouting is sometimes a well kept secret. We do need to be much louder about what it is that we offer youth :)
Yesterday at 3:39pm · Like

Jim Brown We also need to shout out "WE ARE CO-ED!!". Even after more than 15 years of our being co-ed, people are surprised when I tell them we take the young ladies as well.
Yesterday at 4:14pm · Like · 5

Sherrie Schreiber-Gosche I definitely think part of the problem is that parents don't see Scouts as a long-term package.. They line up Scouts with soccer, and hockey and that painting class at the community hall and... And then pick the one they think their little darling will have the most fun at for THIS season.. They don't think "Scouts is a chance for me to invest in my child.. Give him something to do that will help him grow and learn while he has adventures now, and builds and learns morality etc for the future.." I think WE need to remind the public of what our point is.. (And perhaps we need to remind ourselves..)
Yesterday at 4:19pm · Like · 2

Edward Brierley That's so true Jim Brown. Even now national news stations refer to us as "Boy Scouts of Canada"
Yesterday at 4:23pm · Like · 1

Courtney Schram I like to comment on news articles and videos that say that that it's 'Scouts Canada' ;) [in a nice way of course!]
Yesterday at 4:24pm · Like

Allan Yates "Is it even a problem?"

This question can be looked at from two perspectives, that of Scouts Canada the corporation, and that of Scouting the Movement. Scouts Canada cannot exist without Scouting, well I guess they can with ScoutsAbout and such, but Scouting can (and does) exist without Scouts Canada.

Scouts Canada the corporation cares about membership numbers dropping because kids mean membership fees, and that pays the salaries of all the staff and their gold plated pensions. That is their primary concern.

From the perspective of Scouting, we have to ask the question whether we believe Scouting provides a benefit to the kids in this country. If so, and I believe it does, then a dropping membership means fewer kids are getting the benefit of Scouting. We could also postulate that the low retention rate is an indicator of the kids actually in the program are receiving a poor excuse for Scouting.

Since, I believe, the other Scout organisations in the country are growing, I would also postulate that Scouting in Canada would not die out; in 2017 or any other year in the foreseeable future.

"Make membership cheaper for Venturers and give the groups a little more headroom to decide what they want to do for themselves. A Venturer company needs to be self governing in order to coincide with the schedules of highschool students. Venturer companies also need a defined purpose, a goal they wish to acheive, or a common interest in order to function properly and keep members."

I don't see any reason to make Venturer membership less expensive than everybody else. The parents cough up for them just like little kids. Venturers, and Scouts even, can do what ever they want now. What more headroom do you think is needed? I do completely agree with the need to work around the kids social/academic/work schedules, and with the defined common interest.

"I really dont think parents see the Scouting program as an activity that theor kids can be in from 5- 18"

Absolutely correct. The parents don't think about what the kids get to do in Cubs when they put them in Beavers, let alone what they might do in Venturers. And neither do the kids. And the earlier they start, the less likely they will be there at the end. From my experience, 70% is a reasonable retention objective, year over year. Even with a "perfect" program, some kids will move away, switch to hockey, etc.

"Program is the key, it is up to the individual group, and how they operate whether people stay or not. No ammount of policy made by someone flying a desk in the Toronto office is going to affect membership the way the leadership of individual groups will."

Absolutely 100% correct.

"I've had to endure my fair share of xbox nights and trips to the bowling alley."

I, as a Venturer leader, could never handle that. The kids pick what they want to do, but some areas wouldn't cut it. If they want to do stuff like that, they can go off and do it outside of Venturers.

"if you were going to move on (leave) tomorrow for whatever reason, what would you give to your successor that they could use to replicate your results?"

In my experience, it is the person that matters, not what tools/etc they are given. A good leader can make gold from hay, a bad leader will wash gold down the drain.

"I look around my town through the summer and see hundreds of beaver and cub age youth playing all over why are the numbers going down?"

I have found that local marketing is incredibly important. Word of mouth between the kids happened very little, though parents seemed to talk at times. School talks are the cats meow for Beaver/Cub aged kids.
Yesterday at 4:29pm · Like · 1

Allan Yates "I definitely think part of the problem is that parents don't see Scouts as a long-term package."

And I don't think they ever will. Some generalisations: Parents put their kids in Beavers for socialisation skills. Parents put their kids in Cubs either because the kids says he wants to join, or because they have heard good things about the program. From Scouts on up, it's the kids decision to join.

With a good program, Beavers and Cubs are easy to get off the street. Scouts I have found to be much more dependent on Cubs. But that could also be since we never had a concerted marketing effort at that age range; everybody was too scared to go into those school classes :) Though there is a good article on it here http://inquiry.net/adult/recruiting.htm
Yesterday at 4:39pm · Like · 1

Sam Wallis Perhaps we should start a marketing campain, Beaver scouts, its not a socialization activity. then from there we might get someones attention and we can explain what beavers is, and that as a minor byproduct they get socialization skills, not the main goal or outcome. of course to do that we need a standard beavers program.... then find the cub myth and go with that, then scouts, then so on and so on.
Yesterday at 6:20pm · Like · 2

Sherrie Schreiber-Gosche Going back to the original questions.. I don't know what the real problem is, but I would like to suggest all the "turmoil" and "passion" that is found here in all these discussions is another symptom of the problem..
Yesterday at 6:26pm · Like

Valinda Bennett Personally I think that Beavers is a social program. They need the badge program in it. Right now they play games, do a craft and have tours and learn a bit. But they don't get anything of an achievement out of it. Even the youngest section in guides has badges, why not beavers???? Another problem is parents who don't like the outdoors but put their kid into a outdoor program. I had scouts last year who's parents never camped or went out for hikes because they didn't like it, then why put your kid into a program where they can't show you what they learnt in their section.
Yesterday at 6:28pm · Like · 1

Sherrie Schreiber-Gosche Valinda Bennett one of the reasons those parents put their kids in is because we can give their kids something they can't.. I've had parents tell me outright "I put my kids in Cubs because I know kids should go camping, but there's no way I'll ever take them.."
Yesterday at 6:29pm · Like · 4

Sam Wallis perhaps the passion and turmoil are a sign of everyone here wanting to help?
Yesterday at 6:31pm · Like · 5

Tracy Forsyth Yes I was going to say the same thing we teach them things that the parents cant/wont and give them a different outlook on things that the parents dont.
Yesterday at 6:31pm · Like · 2

Valinda Bennett You were lucky then. The parents I had said outright we don't do this and never will and they didn't even realize why their kid wanted to go into scouting. I think it was the 2 hour babysitter thing as their kid had attention problems.
Yesterday at 6:31pm · Like

Sam Wallis Sure beavers is a social program, but is it just that? could it be that and something else? soccer, hockey, etc all help socialization.
Yesterday at 6:31pm · Like

Valinda Bennett I personally used to tell parents that Scouts is a bargain. You need a uniform and a book. No cleats, expensive skates, no ice time fees, no expenive unfiroms like in hockey/football. No 6am practice times. And your kids learns to up an upstanding citizen. what's wrong with that?
Yesterday at 6:34pm · Like · 4

Tracy Forsyth I always put my kids in Scouting and Guiding as it was cheaper and my kids didnt like sports?
Yesterday at 6:38pm · Like · 1

Sam Wallis I did sports and Junior forest wardens, but back then it was 20 bucks a season for soccer (spring)
Yesterday at 6:42pm · Like

Tammy Taylor Relevance: yes, we need to make sure that we respect the program, but we also need to meet the kids' other interests. Some kids are there because the parents want them in scouting, not because they want to be in scouting. We need to be understanding, and give them a reason to stay by meeting them halfway (like having a hockey night or something like). Every case is different, so tailoring is necessarily if you incorporate relevancy. Warning: it's not as easy at it seems. But it only takes two hours a week...
12 hours ago · Like · 2

Jim Brown I agree with Tammy Taylor. We do need to work on making Scouting relevant to ALL youth. That includes youth with disbilities as well. I have seen kids turned away from groups because they are unable to endure some of the physical activities. That folks, is just plain WRONG!
11 hours ago · Like · 1

Ram Selvarajah We need to make scouting affordable. National has to come up with a strategy to fundraise and make the program free. Scouting has become elitist it needs to be accessible to all.
10 hours ago · Like · 3

Micheal Artindale It was $25 when I was a cub in 1989. That is about $75 in today's dollars. Lets make that the most that any group can charge. That would increase our numbers.
10 hours ago · Like · 1

Sam Wallis Tammy Taylor, the question becomes, how to meet all the interests, while maintaining the core of scouting. I know I struggle with that.
10 hours ago · Like

John Dis Melissen Is the purpose of Scouting to be all things to all kids? (Like the Boys & Girls Club) Or is it to introduce the original concepts of Scouting to youth who are interested?
If a youth is in scouting because their parents are looking for a babysitter, I think it's great if we can get them interested in the program. BUT I'm not going to adjust the program to make them interested.
10 hours ago · Like · 4

John Woodger I would say we need to pare down the programme - we do waaaaay too much in too shallow a manner. Nothing was more frustrating than having to cover Area's requirements that the kids earn two starte s year, regardless of indiviudal effort put in (more or less.)

If we focused on physcial fitness, outdoor skills and learning more about distant corners - from another province ot another continent - we would do far better. We're way to heavy, there is not enogh flexibility built into the structure of SC and the programme is too shallow. It's better to do a few things well than a lot of things poorly.
9 hours ago · Like · 5

John Woodger (a bit more context)

Given that there a skyrocketing obesity rate and kids are increasingly bombarded with targeted marketing, giving kids the skills to stay healthy and slow down a bit would eb greatly valued.
9 hours ago · Like · 2

Bernard Loken You should read the David Suzuki Foundation report. Quite interesting, and Scouts Canada could help out here.

http://www.davidsuzuki.org/publications ... ummary.pdf
9 hours ago via mobile · Like · 1

Sam Wallis I dont mind playing dodgeball every once in a while, but I am not doing it every week. I will also for sure not give a kid a badge they didnt earn, much less a star. thats crap. if you dont work hard over three years you wont get six stars.
9 hours ago · Like

Mike Stewart I've got to agree with John on that one - I think the Cub star system is broken. Not only does it cover everything under the sun, but there's a lot of overlap with what kids learn in school. We need less school-like requirements of research and presentations, and more learning by doing.

I also think the 2 stars a year approach is a challenge, as it doesn't encourage a balanced program.
9 hours ago · Like · 4

Bernard Loken Now, Mike I disagree. I have run Pack for 5 year running the two stars a year, and what a success. It is quite easy to run the program and youth are doing. By the way, I was always able to have 24 plus youth, and most of them were able to achieve their six stars.... The program does complement the school curriculum and what is done at school for me count for stuff at Pack....
9 hours ago via mobile · Like · 2

Edward Brierley Bernard Loken, I have not seen that publication before, and I really thank you for it. A copy of it has been sent to all members of the Program Review Committee. Thanks again to everyone for sharing all your ideas and comments. This is what we need. Your comments are being noted, and discussed by the Program Review Committees. None of all have all the answers, but together, perhaps, we can get closer to having them...
9 hours ago · Like

Sam Wallis Bernard, that may be the first usefull thing from suzuki in 20 years. I dont agree with it all, but its got some interesting ideas.
9 hours ago · Like

Bernard Loken I am not a big Suzuki fan, but some time the foundation does hit a chord.
9 hours ago via mobile · Like

Sam Wallis Edward Brierley it seems that publication sugests that different groups want different things, which is good to note. would the idea of less stars be on the cub review team radar? even as a discussion point.
9 hours ago · Like · 1

Sam Wallis hey, even a broken clock is right twice a day. I never ignore something based on the source, I never believe 100% based on the source either.
9 hours ago · Like

Mike Stewart Bernard: sounds like a successful pack! I wouldn't argue that the 2 star system couldn't be run effectively (especially by an experienced Scouter), but what do you think of it as a system run by inexperienced Scouters? Does it lend itself to having a balanced program every year?
9 hours ago · Like · 1

Bernard Loken The hardest star I find is the purple star. The green star just happens over the three years anyways. That leave four star to work on easily, then the purple star.
9 hours ago via mobile · Like

Sam Wallis if the green star doesnt hapen naturaly then to me the pack isnt doing their job. so why bother? I struggle with a bit of Tawney, and the purple, although there are componats of all I like more than others...
9 hours ago · Like

Bernard Loken Mike, in my first year of Scouting, I was Akela, inexperienced in pack. I went from 18 kids to 24 without even starting. Just on my program. I was greener than green, ears were terribly wet. But a good fun program did it for me.
9 hours ago via mobile · Like · 3

Edward Brierley Much of what has been discussed here has been discussed with the Review Teams, and will continue to be discussed. We are Scouters, just like everyone else here. I personally have been a Cub Leader for 25 years, and a member of my Area Service Team (currently an Assistant Area Commissioner Cub Scouts) for 20 years. As a youth, I started as a Beaver and went through Scouts. I am a Woodbadge Trainer level 2. On the teams we have people like myself, and yourselves. There are some with little to no experience with Scouting, some from outside agencies, some who are youth members. We are hearing from everyone many exceptional ideas, and many exceptional questions that need to be asked. This is an important discussion and it will continue throughout the review process and beyond.
9 hours ago · Edited · Like · 2

Mike Stewart Thanks Bernard for posting that study! I'm reviewing it now, and I see some interesting insights that I'm going to share with the Program Review team. I find it particularly interesting that older youth are among the most interested in getting involved in outdoor-based community organizations. They are also the ones looking for leadership programming.
9 hours ago · Like

Allan Yates "Nothing was more frustrating than having to cover Area's requirements that the kids earn two starte s year, regardless of indiviudal effort put in"

This is just nasty. Cubs was run in our group for at least 9 years, never doing that two star a year thing. In fact, star (or badge) work was never purposely done in a meeting. We had averaged 30 Cubs and 70% retention. But we never bothered trying to make a "balanced" program, we just did what ever we felt would interest the Cubs (and the leaders).
9 hours ago · Like · 2

Nora Bugeaud Please take this for what it is, a comment based on what I have witnessed over the years, both as a Parent and a Leader.
I was a parent only at first and would never have even thought of Scouting or Guiding for my older children if it was not for my partner who is definitely one of the best examples of how Scouting can influence our Youth. I have now been a Leader for over ten years and I have both moved on with my child and stayed on in a section once that child moved on.
Scouting is seen as an outdoor program and that is what it should remain, there are other groups and activities out there that can provide the other aspects of life.
Looking at things from the other side of the change coin perhaps the time has come to examine the roots of Scouting and move back in that direction, sure we would likely lose a lot of kids and families but I personally believe we would also gain and retain a huge number. The truly dedicated Parents and Youth tend to be ones that had some exposure to the program in the past and that is what they expect when they enroll, perhaps some of the attrition could be attributed to the fact that they are not getting what they initially expected?
When asked whether she wanted to be a Spark or a Beaver, a little girl once answered "a Beaver of Course they camp more." A case of from the mouths of Babes perhaps?
I am proud to say, that same little 5 year old is now an extremely self assured 16 year old. She is a Six star and seven Award Cub, holder of the Chief Scout Award, Venturer and Athlete with great Leadership Skills. It is definitely the Outdoor and Leadership aspects of the program that she excels at, the more bookish ones are agony for all.
We thoroughly believe that Scouting and the great Leaders she has had have greatly helped us raise such a caring individual and we say a big THANK YOU to you all.
8 hours ago · Edited · Like · 3

Bernard Loken I will tell you one experience that almost made me quit my second weekend of WB2 Troop. The curriculum states for troop, to creat a three year program for the troop. To this I said, sorry I can't do it, as my program is developed by Scouts for Scouts, I tell them what it is they are require to achieve this year and give them the direction they need to creat the program. Yes I have to fill in some blanks, but the program is developed by the youth. I can't develop one without youth. I argued over this, and then bent to the needs of my WB2 requirements. My main argument was National want the youth to creat their program. Msecretly Imwas trying to not do this section of the course, as I found it un-helpful.....
9 hours ago via mobile · Like · 6

Tracy Forsyth Bernard Loken I often wonder about the programs that are planned in pen ( stone) in August when the section is closed
9 hours ago · Like · 1

Kelly Hilton Tracy Forsyth our 4 sections leaders plan a program direction in Aug every year in pen, but never in stone! In the first couple of meetings, the youth are asked what they would like to do in that section, then the program is fine tuned with all their inputs. We also do a section review every month with the youth to see what they liked did not like/why/why not. We also take the time to give them a fast run down of what meetings detail for the upcoming month and we take their expressions, comments, body language very seriously in making any necessary changed to the program plans if we see there is a possibility it might not work just by the signs the youth show when we share upcoming plans with them. There is always room to improve, fix or learn. I love changes it keeps things interesting, keeps me on my toes and the rest of the team. Never a dull moment or old bored routine other then the traditional ones and even then we spring in changes once in a while , the youth get inspected week after week, but no one inspects the leaders.. so I make an announced visit as GC and I announce it is Leader Inspection time, I gather up all the Sixers and we inspect all the leaders..Leaders know this will happen they just do not know when.. kids love it, leaders have fun with it.. and I enjoy the laughter and big smiling faces I get each time.
8 hours ago · Like · 3

Monika Webster- Gloor We start planning in June, with youth input, Tracy Forsyth, so we have a plan ready for Sep when youth return. We don't plan the entire year, but the first three months or so, yes, while the section is closed. Works for us, and a lot better than scrambling in September for the first several weeks. This is for cubs, for troop, I agree, it really cannot be planned beforehand.
8 hours ago · Edited · Like · 2

Bernard Loken I also plan in July & August, but the only things I plan are the possible camps, area events, council events, and in September the youth review what it is I want to them to achieve, and they set the program.
8 hours ago via mobile · Like · 2

Tracy Forsyth Those types of plans are good as you need to have a direction. Ive heard of a group ( which has since closed....) which planned every activity of every meeting and booked camps special events before they started in September
8 hours ago · Like

Tracy Forsyth Purple Star why do so many ppl find that star the hard one ...I loved doing that one when I was a Cub Leader
7 hours ago · Like · 1

Erica-Jason Nault I don't find purple very hard... it's just that let's be honest, some stars are much more fun than others. I find it a bit difficult to stick to the two stars per year. For example, all our Tenderpads earned their Green Star just by attending two Cub camps. We earn Green star at least twice over every year :) From a program planning stand point I have always found the stars more hinderance than help... but to be honest, I'm only in my second year of pack, so what do I know, lol!
7 hours ago · Like · 1

Bernard Loken Erica, you already know more than you give yourself credit for. Just doing what you are doing changes the life of a youth. Power to you for doing what you know best. There is no secret formula for this, except keep it fun, and they will learn and enjoy what you do for them.
7 hours ago via mobile · Like · 1

Norma Thompson i can see expecting the cubs to 'earn 2 stars a year' but to program ONLY 2 stars a year and have all the cubs earn the SAME stars a year is the thing ... i guess it depends on how you read and interpret the requirement ... you can do all 6 stars every year ... but every year each youth will only expected to have completed 2 stars ... the leaders have interpreted it that they are to do '2 stars (and only 2 stars) a year' ... instead of saying well you do green every year (cause its outdoors and every year should have outdoors) so the first years will get this as its fairly straight forward ... then also do red star as you always need fitness ... and black cause you need some nature stuff ... some of the tawny because you should do it creatively ... purple star because you need the world and citizenship but maybe need all 3 years to get 'enough' to get this done by doing a 'bit a year' and there should be some blue in there as the home and community are important ... so the 2nd and 3rd are 'repeating' the same stars but their focus is adjusted to check off a few different things that they didnt get in the past years ... so first years would get green and something ... then second years would be aiming for a couple other ones depending on what they did their first year ... and 3rd years would be tieing up the lose ends to get their last two ...
7 hours ago · Like · 1

Allan Yates We had at most one or two Cubs (out of 30) earn all six stars aver their three years.
7 hours ago · Like

Sherrie Schreiber-Gosche I saw a comment somewhere about not liking the idea of the staged awards that travel through the sections.. I think for some things, these are the best awards ever! In the UK, there were 2 in particular that I thought were perfect.. One was "Nights Away"... Each night you spend at a camp as a Scout builds on something.. Whether you join as a Beaver or a Scout, your first night is recognized as something special.. Then I think it's 5 total... And the 5th level is somewhere around 150 or something like that.. Recognizing the growth and development of the individual over time, regardless of how old they starts is part of the point, is it not? The other one I liked was swimming.. I never took swimming lessons as a younger kid, so I could never achieve my swimming badge with our system, even if I did progress through several levels, I was always too far behind.. In the UK, the swimmers badge reflects your approximate level in swimming, regardless of age, so your improvement is shown, not that you are "at least average for kids who took lessons all the way through for your age"..
7 hours ago · Like

Bernard Loken If a youth is full of energy and wants to do all six stars, I will assist where I can. What I used to do is concentrate my program around two stars every year. That makes for a repeatable program every three year, and any youth that joins for any three year period will end up with all six stars. The two stars we pick and the associated badges are what we concentrate on for the year. The Awards are completely up to them to do. Those are the extra mile cubs had to go for me.
7 hours ago via mobile · Like · 1

Tracy Forsyth Allan Yates was that due to absenteism? not interested ? but yeah then again my son was the only in a group of 7 leaving hmmm
7 hours ago · Like

Sherrie Schreiber-Gosche Norma Thompson, I've just copied and pasted your words there over to my new Akela.. I think she can learn tonnes from how you described the approach! (The lack of this kind of information was one of the things she was highly disappointed with in her WB1 course!)
7 hours ago · Like

Ron Boyd we found it easiest to stick with two theme's a year (based on 2 stars) gave a bit more focus (imo) to the program.. we would have meetings working on things, pick a few of the badges from that theme eg. black star astronomy - bring in the Royal Astronomical Society for a star lesson (they do almost all the badges) follow up to complete that badge and black star requirements at a camp night hike laying in a field looking up ... Also gives more variations each year.. like one year we would visit more regional and municipal places like water treatment, fire, police.. other years we might be doing trips to conservation areas more...
Most important is to find things that work and build from there... have some parts of your program that are fairly static (like always doing remembrance day parade, or fall camp always here) then have other parts of the program flow and grow and change, eg. don't always do the exact same things every 3 years for requirement X... one time have Royal Astronomical Society in for Astronomy badge, another time do it outdoors, another time at a camp, another time visit an observatory... OR don't do that badge one cycle, pick a different one.
Have fun though!
7 hours ago · Like

Ron Boyd Has anyone ever done a 3 stars / year program? I've thought about this, but haven't gotten around to logistics, the idea would be to provide more opportunity to work with 3rd year cubs on their awards...
7 hours ago · Like

Bernard Loken Yes.... I can get you that....
7 hours ago via mobile · Like

Norma Thompson you could still rotate through some of the proficiency badges in order to give 'focus' to the program ... but really the program should have bits and pieces from all 6 stars every year ... you can aim that you want more to be finishing this than that this year as most are 'almost' done ... but to work on 2 to the exclusion of the other 4 never made sense to me ...
7 hours ago · Like · 2

Bernard Loken Norma. I agree... There is nothing like a good game of AKELA Says, and running thru the Atheltic badge.. Lost of running, push-up, sit up, right after all the stretches..... Good steam off game, before I do some purple star....
7 hours ago via mobile · Like · 2

Patricia Mason-Slade I have contemplated an idea where every year we so the red star, with the excerise/health stuff, we rotate blue/purple/tawny/black as an alternating 2 year cycle and green star is worked on over the course of a Cub "career" depends how much camping and hiking and such they can be involved in....
7 hours ago via mobile · Like · 1

Tracy Forsyth oh yes the purple star ... my favorite :)
7 hours ago · Like

Sherrie Schreiber-Gosche Lots of purple star could be done in an "Around the World" themed camp!
6 hours ago · Like

Sherrie Schreiber-Gosche And then there's "Shoreline Clean-up" for the enviro project.. (They send a crest out to all the Scout groups that particpate too..)
6 hours ago · Like

Sherrie Schreiber-Gosche And of course a food drive.. We started making "Birthday kits" for our local food bank.. The kids make up packages of stuff so that needy families can host a birthday party for a child.. We do it in conjunction with BP week and the celebrations of BPs birthday..
6 hours ago · Like

Sam Wallis The problem with 2 stars a year, or three is that you have to either split into 3 groups, for the 3 different ages, or you have 10 year olds doing the same thing as 8 year olds. thus, a hard requirement for red star for an 8 year old could be a simple one for a 10 year old.

Doing 3 per year seems harder to balance.

I am going to sugest that starting next year our pack ditch the stars. of course we need a new Akela, otherwise we wont have a pack...
6 hours ago via · Like

Bernard Loken Sam, think about this.... Cub motto is "Do Your Best". When I did the athletic badge I had one youth that could not do regular push up. So I made him do twice the amount off the wall.... Do your best
6 hours ago via mobile · Like · 1

Sam Wallis I killed more than half of tawny star in our heavy metal camp. that might be the hardest star to me.
6 hours ago via · Like

Bernard Loken Now there is a camp I would love to see..... Can you tell me more.
6 hours ago via mobile · Like

Sam Wallis for sure. but group activities, especialy the ones that can end up with the group sitting in a circle learning, which are the worst things generaly.
6 hours ago via · Like · 1

Bernard Loken Sam, try and break up the group into three session, and the pack in three session, that way, you are teaching a smaller group, and three things are knocked off the badge.... We did the world religion for cub, by teaching three religion ( important beliefs, holidays , books, moral ) than we all got together to discuss the similarities.... Nice evening and they all go the world religion badge.
6 hours ago via mobile · Like · 2

Sam Wallis Bernard. email me at head_banger_yyc(at)yahoo.ca.

will send you all I have. should be enough to make it plug and play for you, or anyone else interested.
6 hours ago via · Like

John Woodger There's nothing wrong with running through a couple of badges, however, when you create an expectation that kids will get badges merely by showing up (and maybe doing one or two small projects at home) it prevents us from imparting outdoor skills that make camps more rewarding.
40 minutes ago · Like · 3

Sam Wallis Badges that are not earned thru effort are not worth anything, and devalue the whole program, both to that child and all the other kids.
21 minutes ago · Like

Sam Wallis one of the first things I did in cubs was start testing kids for badges rather than giving them anything their parent signed off. this upset one parent who wanted her kid to get every badge. he had never seen a canoe, but the watercraft badge was the next in the book. She never did get my point
20 minutes ago · Like

Andrew Wallwork I think it comes down to how we see badges, are they a means or an end?

Personally I've always seen badges as a means, an reason as it were to try some new things, to get the youth into a Canoe, to try yachting, to go geocaching, to go dive. We likel...See More
6 minutes ago · Like
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Re: Retention: A symptom or a cause

Post by rikkidog » Wed Oct 24, 2012 12:24 am

when I was a Brownie leader the collector badge requirements were to have a stamp collection with X number of stamps or a coin collection of 50 coins displayed neatly or any other collection displayed neatly. SOO the girl brought in a roll of pennys and I said I couldnt accept it that way as they werent displayed , The commissioner said that collection was ok we settled on her displaying the pennys on a piece of paper and using a whole roll of scotch tape to tape them down. She didnt even have them in cronilical order. So what about the kid with post card collection and the teaspoon collection from around the world ,,,that was fun and memorable for me :?

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Re: Retention: A symptom or a cause

Post by firedog_53 » Wed Oct 24, 2012 8:14 am

Gosh, I know I must be old! Trying to follow or find topics is strange on Face book. Probably suits the younger folks, though. Forty words or less ...

great topic though and something that should be looked at.

FD

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Re: Retention: A symptom or a cause

Post by LoyalistMang » Wed Oct 24, 2012 9:16 am

rikkidog wrote:when I was a Brownie leader the collector badge requirements were to have a stamp collection with X number of stamps or a coin collection of 50 coins displayed neatly or any other collection displayed neatly. SOO the girl brought in a roll of pennys and I said I couldnt accept it that way as they werent displayed , The commissioner said that collection was ok we settled on her displaying the pennys on a piece of paper and using a whole roll of scotch tape to tape them down. She didnt even have them in cronilical order. So what about the kid with post card collection and the teaspoon collection from around the world ,,,that was fun and memorable for me :?
I know a Cub leader who's barely better than that right now with most badges. She's all about badges and doesn't see the effect that this has on the other youth in the pack who actually do the required work as it's laid out. As was mentioned on one Facebook thread, "badges are a souvenir of the journey, not the reason for it".

Moving from one section to another is supposed to progressively add more challenge. Handing out badges like tictacs cheapens the entire exercise.
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Re: Retention: A symptom or a cause

Post by ayates » Wed Oct 24, 2012 9:45 am

awallwork wrote:We have a 50% attrition rate, how we can solve this? A question was raised in another thread: Is this a problem or a symptom of a larger problem? If it is seen as a symptom, what is/are the real problems?
John, I think, made a comment somewhere about quantity versus quality. I would propose that a small number of quality programs is preferable to a large number of mediocre. But could we ever settle on a definition of quality? Some people believe you can have a quality program with a single Scout, I submit that is an oxymoron.

Is 50% attrition a symptom of a problem (and if so, what is the problem) or is it just a fact of life. Given that I have seen good programs (IMHO) maintain a 70% retention (i.e. 30% attrition), I would submit that we can do better (i.e. provide a worthwhile Scouting experience to more kids). I think, but I don't have any empirical evidence, that a boring non challenging program being delivered is the main trigger for a kid leaving. Note that I said trigger, as there maybe something deeper that is the root cause (i.e. leader training, etc).
John Dis Melissen wrote:Much like some people may leave Scouting to go hiking without a registration fee?
I actually consider this a success when kids take the skills they have learned or the interests they have gained and start applying it outside of Scouting. It's like a bird leaving the nest. My Venturers (and ex-Venturers) now go rock climbing and whitewater kayaking on their own time, sometimes they even send me a trip report :)
Tammy Taylor wrote:Some kids are there because the parents want them in scouting, not because they want to be in scouting. We need to be understanding, and give them a reason to stay by meeting them halfway (like having a hockey night or something like)
I absolutely disagree. Scouting needs to have it's objectives and program (what they actually are can be left for a separate thread) and if kid's aren't interested in that they they can either learn to like it or go find something else to do. Watering down our program, try to be all inclusive, and being liked by everybody, just means we will be nothing to nobody.
Micheal Artindale wrote:It was $25 when I was a cub in 1989. That is about $75 in today's dollars.
According the Bank of Canada, it's actually worth $40 today.
awallwork wrote:I think it comes down to how we see badges, are they a means or an end? Personally I've always seen badges as a means, an reason as it were to try some new things
Exactly! That has been my opinion too, and from my research actually appears to have been their original intent.
John Woodger wrote:when you create an expectation that kids will get badges merely by showing up
Absolutely. Handing badges out for having a pulse does nothing for nobody. I could never understand everybody at a meeting or a camp coming home with the same badge. There is no way they all actually put in the effort and learned the subject matter.
Tracy Forsyth wrote:was that due to absenteism? not interested ? but yeah then again my son was the only in a group of 7 leaving
The kids just weren't interested and/or motivated to put in the effort. While we periodically went through the Cub handbook showing the kids what they had done and which badges/stars they went towards, it was up to them to come to us and say they had met the requirements. It is typically leader's kids who put in the effort, probably because their parents showed an interest and helped motivate them. Our six star Cubs go this award when then went to Scouts: http://1stmerrickville.ca/cubs/awards/sixstar.jpg


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Re: Retention: A symptom or a cause

Post by Sam Wallis » Wed Oct 24, 2012 10:15 am

I think we should put out there, this group does XYZ. if you dont want your kid to do that or your kid doesnt want to, come give it a go and if you dont change your mind, dont come back. if the group is going hiking 12 times a year, dont show up and ask to play floor hockey, we want to plan a hike.

being all things for all peopledoes mean we are nothing for nobody, and will eventualy close. pick a focus and go at it. if that means there are 30000 youth in the program in 10 years instead of 200000 20 years ago, so be it, as long as they are fully engaged, learning and loving it. beter that than 200000 who dont want to be here.
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Re: Retention: A symptom or a cause

Post by LoyalistMang » Wed Oct 24, 2012 10:52 am

ayates wrote:
John Dis Melissen wrote:Much like some people may leave Scouting to go hiking without a registration fee?
I actually consider this a success when kids take the skills they have learned or the interests they have gained and start applying it outside of Scouting. It's like a bird leaving the nest. My Venturers (and ex-Venturers) now go rock climbing and whitewater kayaking on their own time, sometimes they even send me a trip report :)
Allan, I agree with you 100%. What I don't know is the definition of success is for the organization. As far as the retention issue goes, what will it take for it to be deemed to be solved? A 10% increase in retention? 20% or will retention continue to be viewed as an issue until not a single youth ever leaves? Scouting is a movement and and organization. What qualifies as a success for one (youth using what they've learned on their own, but not necessarily as part of the org) can be seen as abject failure to the other (They left the program).
ayates wrote:
Tammy Taylor wrote:Some kids are there because the parents want them in scouting, not because they want to be in scouting. We need to be understanding, and give them a reason to stay by meeting them halfway (like having a hockey night or something like)
I absolutely disagree. Scouting needs to have it's objectives and program (what they actually are can be left for a separate thread) and if kid's aren't interested in that they they can either learn to like it or go find something else to do. Watering down our program, try to be all inclusive, and being liked by everybody, just means we will be nothing to nobody.
Again, I agree. Scouting has been around for more that 100 years. If we want it to be around for another 100, it has to continue to be something distinct. Otherwise, why bother?
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Re: Retention: A symptom or a cause

Post by ayates » Wed Oct 24, 2012 11:37 am

1stBayridgeMang wrote:What I don't know is the definition of success is for the organization. As far as the retention issue goes, what will it take for it to be deemed to be solved?
Regardless of total membership, should we be measuring the quality of the program given to the kids? If so, is retention a good indicator or is there something better? I have retention records going back to 1935 for our group:

Image

While this may make for interesting viewing, and tells us that while retention can jump up and down while the average is pretty constant, beware of making any large scale conclusions on such a small sample.

From my knowledge of the program during certain periods, I can say that a boring program correlates with kids not returning. However, a program which keeps the kids may not be be the "Scouting program". i.e. We have had both good retention and poor retention in the past 10 years of our troop, but during none of that time did we run a proper patrol based program.

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Re: Retention: A symptom or a cause

Post by kaa27th » Wed Oct 24, 2012 12:27 pm

I just wanted to add that the 2 stars per year works for our group. We use them as a guideline for our program. Our program is not unbalanced because of it, but it does give those cubs that are here for three years a chance to do different things every year that they have not done before, even if leadership changes, the new leaders will know where we are in the cycle. It also forces us a leaders to go see or do something that we may not have thought of.
The green star is one that you automatically do parts of every year, but our tours or "field trips" work into whatever other star we are working on. Last year we focused on tawny and purple, we still went camping and did things that work into the other stars as well. But we went to the TV station and an artist's studio, for instance, we made traditional food from another country, which worked into purple. Cuboree last year covered a lot of black star requirements, so we had some of that, too.
We never cover each and every requirement, so that those that want the stars still have to put in individual effort. The things we do are usually things that they would not necessarily do on their own, like building an obstacle course for the red star, which is so much more fun as a group. We also don't hand the stars out to every cub, they still have to come to us and test for it. I'd say about 1/3 ended up earning their two stars last year, some just one or the other. All of them could have, if they put in some effort. And some are sitting at 80-90% done, and could probably test for them but haven't made the effort to look at their book. They aren't getting them until they do. Two keeners now have earned all their stars in their 2nd year, they will still have fun with what we do, and are now working on awards.
I think it's ok to have one or two badges that are really easy to get, like the collector's, and it's also ok to do a badge as a group over time. It gives cubs an idea of ow little effort is actually needed for some of the badges, which hopefully will spur them on to try for harder ones. I use scoutstracker (which makes this easy) to track requirements completed, and if a cub puts in absolutely no effort (had this happen at cub camp two weeks ago) I don't mark it as complete for that particular kid (and I told him I could not mark it as complete if he did not participate, he chose not to, we were making maps).

So that's my two cents, now off to cook some spaghetti, aka monster brains with eyeballs.... for our Halloween Party tonight! :D
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Re: Retention: A symptom or a cause

Post by LoyalistMang » Wed Oct 24, 2012 12:59 pm

Every review process needs to start with a *detailed* consultation. In this case, with Scouters, bureaucrats, parents and youth. If the point of program review is to increase retention, it would be wise to find out in advance if the program is a problem, the problem, one of many problems or no problem at all. Can we really afford to throw away all the resources that are being focused on this? I don't think we can. To WHICH program are we referring? The overall program from National, the program as it's delivered on the ground or both? The best program in the world can be completely undermined by sub-par delivery.

IMHO, the overall program is fine for the moment. But, I'm just one Scouter working a part of an excellent team. What gives us numbers that are normally growing isn't necessarily what will work elsewhere. From what I see around our Area, we need resources available to support, train and enliven the Scouters. We have a DAC Program, though. Not every area does.
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Re: Retention: A symptom or a cause

Post by ayates » Wed Oct 24, 2012 1:12 pm

1stBayridgeMang wrote:we need resources available to support, train and enliven the Scouters.
Emphasis mine. This might be hitting the nail on the head. Not only do we need to teach adults how to be leaders, but maybe will also need to motivate and energise them. I've been thinking mentoring is the key, and maybe it is, but perhaps its more than just the knowledge/experience transfer I thought it was. High energy, enthusiastic individuals is perhaps what is needed.

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Re: Retention: A symptom or a cause

Post by jkeess » Wed Oct 24, 2012 1:18 pm

Perhaps there is the uncomfortable fact that retention and attrition is largely driven by the kids and their parents.

An example: If, despite kit inspections before leaving for camp (upon which I insist - not exhaustive, but a definite check for extra socks, raingear, warm clothing, etc....) cubs STILL show up without the proper equipment, then we have a problem that the best planned camp can simply not defeat. We need to set realisitic expectations for those joining and focus on building sustainable, well-motivated units rather than large and cumbersome ones.

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Re: Retention: A symptom or a cause

Post by LoyalistMang » Wed Oct 24, 2012 1:23 pm

ayates wrote:
1stBayridgeMang wrote:we need resources available to support, train and enliven the Scouters.
Emphasis mine. This might be hitting the nail on the head. Not only do we need to teach adults how to be leaders, but maybe will also need to motivate and energise them. I've been thinking mentoring is the key, and maybe it is, but perhaps its more than just the knowledge/experience transfer I thought it was. High energy, enthusiastic individuals is perhaps what is needed.
The charge that I got out of WBII was amazing. Face-face contact with other leaders is invaluable. Trainers or not, we all have skills to share. That's a big part of the reason why I don't think it should be possible to complete your WB1 online. Just shooting the bull with other leaders, new and experienced, is important.

Heck, I think a lot of leaders could be livened up just by being asked for their opinions.
jkeess wrote:An example: If, despite kit inspections before leaving for camp (upon which I insist - not exhaustive, but a definite check for extra socks, raingear, warm clothing, etc....) cubs STILL show up without the proper equipment, then we have a problem that the best planned camp can simply not defeat. We need to set realisitic expectations for those joining and focus on building sustainable, well-motivated units rather than large and cumbersome ones.
We've long since given up on going to camp without a full kit inspection. If there's anything missing, the parent gets a list and a gentle reminder that we put these things on the list for a reason.
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Re: Retention: A symptom or a cause

Post by Angus Bickerton » Wed Oct 24, 2012 1:28 pm

I know this is anecdotal, but...

Our Troop had a lack-luster car-camping program for about 10 years, and it languished.

Fall 2011, new troop scouter, with only three scouts. Two other leaders recruited. Program sputters, but some good things happening. Spring 2012, 5 scubs join, along with 3 of their parents. Instant consensus about getting the program outdoors as much as possible. Numbers up to 8. 2 camps in the spring, with scouts and scubs doing some really tough camping for their experience level. One summer fishing night, year-end BBQ swimming party.

Fall 2012: Lost one of the 3 from 2011, and 1 of the scubs, but neither really liked scouts anyway. 5 non-scouting recruits, three of them girls. Full attendance at meetings is the norm. 2 months in and we've done a paddle camp and a pioneering camp. FAST camp in November. Challenge badges going like crazy, and Voyageur awards for the 6 that were around in the spring will be earned by mid-winter. Last weekend, had all 11 scouts at camp, and did one of the coolest investitures ever. Darkness, large fire, kerosene lanterns, and tiki torches, you can guess the rest.

Likely to have more recruits as these kids keep inviting friends. Why are we growing? We took Allan's advice and kicked our program in the a$$. We will have done 8 camps by next June, with a major canoe trip planned for July, and a 3 night hike for August.

THAT is what makes scouting grow. Same thing is occurring with our cubs and beavers: getting more camping and outside activities makes parents realize that this isn't a babysitting service, its a serious activity and lifestyle choice.

I agree with Sam and Allan above, in that Scouting needs to be distinctly focused as a youth outdoors program. We shouldn't do a bunch of hockey nights, because hockey associations across Canada already do that. We should do scouting, not something else. I'd rather have a smaller Scouts Canada that was much better at doing outdoor activities right down to the Beaver level, where senior Scouts and Venturers regularly do extreme outdoor activities, and beavers and cubs are doing a lot of car camping and being groomed for the more extreme adventures they'll get when they pull on that green shirt. Do this, and link lots, and retention becomes less of an issue.

BTW, our retention rates for our White Tail beavers and for our senior cubs was 80%. Outdoors, fun meetings, and lots of linking. It works.

I agree wholeheartedly with training, supporting and ENLIVENING our leaders. Too many do the same thing over and over again, simply because that is the way they have always done it.
Angus Bickerton
Troop Scouter
Brockville Troop
1st Brockville Group Committee
1st Gilwell 2011 (Colony) 2013 (Pack)

There is no armour made that can withstand the truth - Karsa Orlong

awallwork
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Re: Retention: A symptom or a cause

Post by awallwork » Wed Oct 24, 2012 2:43 pm

Angus, I think you're really onto something with the outdoors aspect.

We do have a meeting hall, but I find the troop is the happiest when we are NOT using it. Standing instructions for the troop are "dress to go outside and bring a headlamp." About the only time I wouldn't go outside is if the windchill puts it beyond -40 or so, and frostbite tends to get a bit dangerous.

Plenty to do outside, hikes are just the start of things one can do in a couple hours on a meeting night.

Ultimately, the youth are cooped up enough at school, leaders are (often) cooped up at the office. Putting the OUT in Scouting tends to lead to happier leaders and happier youth.
pccrovers.com | andrew.wallwork AT pccrovers (the one character) com | twitter @scoutscanada @awallwork

rikkidog
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Re: Retention: A symptom or a cause

Post by rikkidog » Wed Oct 24, 2012 3:24 pm

I was just talking to a friend about the new parent screenings and some groups are screening all parents including a PRC for all parents even if they are attending less then 3-5 events...what about the parent that cant pass the PRC for a charge that is unrelated to being a role model at a Beaver meeting or camp (drunken friday night disater a few years prior to being aparent etc) .its not manitory for parents of Beavers to have a PRC to attend camp with their own child only if they are helping the whole section at the camp but not to attend to assist their own child.
these groups are doing the screening anyway... so with this unneccessary PRC demand parents will pull their kids out if they know they cant pass a PRC. or not have the child join if they know the PRC could come up

norma
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Re: Retention: A symptom or a cause

Post by norma » Wed Oct 24, 2012 3:38 pm

rikkidog wrote:its not manitory for parents of Beavers to have a PRC to attend camp with their own child only if they are helping the whole section at the camp but not to attend to assist their own child.
It is mandatory if the parent attends more than 5 events ...

Our group has more than 5 events BEFORE Christmas ...
Apple Day
Investiture
Fall Camp
Halloween Party
Night Hike
Movie Night
Christmas Party

So all our parents would need to be 'fully screened' as a registered member in order to join in as they have in the past ...
All these events are 'family' events in that all the Beavers attend with a parent, but as they are coming to the scouting events, they are required to be 'registered' since, of course, the Beavers will associate their friends parents with Scouting. Even though its everyones parents coming to the event ...

So our parents have a choice: have a PRC done now, or do a "drop and run".

ayates
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Re: Retention: A symptom or a cause

Post by ayates » Wed Oct 24, 2012 4:08 pm

norma wrote:It is mandatory if the parent attends more than 5 events ...
Only if they are helping out. Not if they are just attending with their child.

I strongly recommend the groups do not put additional barriers in front of kids trying to join. SC places enough barriers as it is, without us adding more.


Allan.

norma
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Re: Retention: A symptom or a cause

Post by norma » Wed Oct 24, 2012 11:19 pm

ayates wrote:
norma wrote:It is mandatory if the parent attends more than 5 events ...
Only if they are helping out. Not if they are just attending with their child.

I strongly recommend the groups do not put additional barriers in front of kids trying to join. SC places enough barriers as it is, without us adding more.


Allan.
2) Q: Do Beaver parents need to be 'registered' if they attend more than 5 'family' events? (Family events are where every Beaver (or nearly every) is accompanied by a parent. Beaver standard states minimum 4 opportunities for parental involvement, so if we 'exceed' the minimum do the parents now have to be registered)
A: (by Jessica) Yes, if a parent is attending more than five events then he/she needs to be registered as a leader and fully screened/trained before any more participation. Please see my answer to #9 for some background on this.

3) Q: Do parents need to be 'registered' if they are sitting at the side of the meeting hall for more than 5 meetings? (Our Beaver parents sit on the edge of the stage waiting for the meeting to end, they are not participating, though their own child does at time go to them to get water (they have to bring a water bottle as we do not have a water fountain) or show off a completed craft or to get a hug from mom/dad when they are over emotional)
A: No, parents who are only sitting on the sidelines are not required to sign a Code of Conduct, be screened, or take training. Only if they are actively helping with program activities on more than five occasions do the screening rules apply. This is because at that point the youth start to see them as an authority figure, so it is important to make sure they understand the expectations of a volunteer with Scouts Canada.

9) Q: To clarify #3, if a parent goes on a one or two activities with us, they do not need to sign the code? And for events where the whole family is involved such as investature or Thinking Day celebration where the parents are participating as guests, do we need to do the code of conduct if the number of activities throughout the year excede 5? Thanks for your time.
A) (by Jessica) Parents/guests who are participating in an event always need to sign the Code of Conduct and have a discussion about expectations, as per the training and screening matrix (this does not include parents who are sitting and observing on the sidelines). Even if they are only attending one event, this is an important step so that everyone is on the same page in terms of appropriate behaviour. Regarding your second question, parents/guests may not participate in more than five activities per year. If they wish to participate in more than five activities a year they would need to become registered as a Leader and fulfill all the screening/training requirements (VSS, PRC, interview, ref checks, CYS and accessibility training, WB1 core modules and full WB1 by end of year).

I realize this is a big leap and a point of contention, but I will explain to you the rationale. We want to avoid grooming behaviour and avoid allowing youth to becoming too familiar with unscreened individuals through Scouting. This might seem like a crazy overreaction if you are only picturing the sweet soccer mom from down the street being limited to five activities, but it starts to make more sense if you realize that it's easy to hit a grey area. What about when Jimmy's mom's new boyfriend starts showing up at every activity and making friends with one particular Scout? Or Sally's dad's cousin? Some of you will say this is alarmist and paranoid, I get that, but we made a commitment Nationally that we would do everything we could to keep youth safe, and that is why we are taking a hard line here.
So when they come on the Night Hike and are hiking with us that counts as one event.
When they come to the Halloween Party and are helping their child out with the crafts, that counts as one event.
When they come to the Movie Night and are sitting with their Beaver surrounded by the other Beavers and their parents, that counts as one event.
When they come to 'be with their child' at a camp, that still counts as attending an event.

When they get to 5 events, they cannot 'attend' another event without being registered. So they cannot attend camp under the 'parent attending with their child' level of screening, they need the full registration screening. Which includes a PRC.

If they are sitting at the side they do not count as 'attending the event' once they get up and join their child in the event, they are now 'attending' the event and can only attend 4 more before they have to register.

The 'justification' does not match to me as the Beavers know that the person is attending as 'Billys parent' and not a 'Scouting adult' at these events as their parent is there too and so is Johnnys parent and Sallys parent and everyone elses parent.
The same as there is the differentiation between a 'parent attending overnight' and an 'adult attending overnight'
But for Scouts Canada there is no differentiation between an 'adult attending 5 events' and a 'parent attending 5 family events' even though we are supposed to provide opportunities for family/parent involvement, with the minimum standard (for Beavers) being 4 events annually.

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