A question from a Facebook fan:
My son just bridged over into Boy Scouts from Webelos. I feel he is losing interest, he keeps saying he doesn’t want to go to the meetings or camp. My son and I have been active in cub scouts since he was a tiger. How should I help get him and keep him motivated?
There’s usually an adjustment period for any big change like this. When boys go from the Pack to the Troop they may not like the change, just like when they go from elementary school to middle school; it may not be what they expected.
From my point of view parents often give up on Scouting too soon when they meet a little resistance from their sons. A boy’s attitudes, likes and dislikes change very quickly at this age (sometimes from hour to hour!). To temper this volatility I suggest that you set a time period or other goal (six months, six camping trips, twelve Scout meetings) that are non-negotiable – that you require him to attend. Observe and ask questions during that time see if there are issues about the other Scouts, the program of that particular troop, or other things beyond his control that are making him reluctant to continue.
Nobody wants to force their kids to do anything; especially something that other children do as a voluntary activity. Most children go through periods where they are reluctant to go to school or church or participate in family activities. Sometimes it is our role to help them overcome periods of social, emotional or developmental uncertainty with some enforced consistency. I don’t know too many boys who were in my troop for five or six years that didn’t have to overcome some kind of obstacle. Sometimes the way they overcame it was because they were required to by their parents. Some of these Scouts went on to become Eagle Scouts and, almost without exception, when they received their Eagle they thanked their parents for helping them stay on course when they were reluctant to keep going.
Frank Maynard says
The advice given to stick with it for a set number of months, meetings, campouts or whatever is great. Young people need to learn what commitment is all about, and the best way to learn is by committing to something and then following through. They need to learn to finish what they start.
Liken it to being on a sports team. To bring basketball into the picture in another way, you wouldn’t decide midway through the basketball season that you just weren’t that interested in it any more and quit. The coach would be disappointed, the rest of the players on the team would be let down, and the parents probably wouldn’t like it much either.
This is just another reason why the patrol method is so important. A Scout becomes a member of a team and his participation is essential to the success of the patrol and its members. If a Scout is figuratively just going along for the ride in the back seat, he’s not going to feel like he’s a part of the team.
Jay Lash says
I agree that they should stick to it long enough to make an informed decision. But there is a down side giving a deadline. I have one Scout right now who was was given just such a trial period by his folks. Now that he has the deadline his attitude has gone into the toilet. He openly “brags” that he only has X weeks or Y campouts before he can quit. I would rather he leave now than “infect” the other young Scouts.
Clarke Green says
I’d speak to that Scout a.s.a.p. and tell him that he’s already done; call his bluff. “I have heard you say a number of times that you are just waiting out the deadline your folks set for you. This is not going to continue. You are going to do one of two things; either stop bragging about this or stop coming to Scouts. Which will work best for you?”
Walter T says
Again, wonderful prose on a complicated topic.
We I was Webelos Leader, oh so many yeas ago, for my older sons, I had 2 of the Den parents ask me if my sons (twins) would be going on to Boy Scouts. “Sure,” I replied. I informed them (the parents) that I had given my boys the option of dropping frOm Boy Scouts, if they wished, but only after summer camp and the first Court of Honor that following September. I told them at that point they would have enough experience with scouting to make an “informed decision”, but only at that point.
One Dad said I was too soft on my boys. His son was going Boy Scouts and “sticking till Eagle.” his son didn’t make it till June.
The others in the den liked my solution. It seemed to help them decide whether to encourage their sons to continue as well.
My boys stayed. One made Eagle the other lost interest by 17; just short of a project. Yes I was sad, but it was his decision after all.
Thanks again for a great treatment of a complex topic.
Larry Geiger says
Clarke, that’s just about a perfect answer. I especially liked the last sentence. So true!!
Shawn Cleary says
One of the hardest things that I have seen is what you stated about the big transition from 5th grade to 6th grade. In our area, and I would assume that it’s the same with most other schools, 6th grade marks the start of a new school…middle school.
The boys are now thrust into an area where they need to take more responsibility for their studies, where they are now the “little dogs” and where they see people that they haven’t seen in a year or two, and how the scout they knew as little Jimmy, is now 6 feet tall, with a mustache and girlfriend and is now called James.
I have sat with the newer scouts and explained this to them, and told them that I understand what the changes are all about. I in turn tell them that this is still the same great program, except that they will get more input into what they do at meetings.