Welcome! This forum has a treasure trove of great info – Scouters helping Scouters! Just a heads up, though - all content, information, and opinions shared on this forum are those of the author, not the BSA.

Scouting Forums

Improving advancement and retention

When a youth joins a Troop or Crew, chances are that they are not thinking about the impact that the program can have on their future. Parents are also important in the grand scheme of things. Now Advancement, Citizenship, Character Building and all of the core values of Scouting are not the reasons young people join. They join for fun; adventure, friends and events and activities not a part of their normal routine. All the values and advancement sort of sneaks up on them. This does not mean that they shouldn’t pay attention to all of that.

Meeting 3 or 4 times a year for a SM/Leader conference is generally a good idea. Don’t put it off until an advancement is earned. Help the youth member build a resume bucket list and a time frame to go with it. Periodic reviews and revisions can help a youth stay on track and lets them know that they have help and support. Here is a partial Scout resume that a youth can use as a starting point. Other awards and experiences can be and should be added by the youth.



National Medal for Outdoor Achievement

Graduate BSA National Youth Leadership Training

Eagle Scout with Palms

Senior Patrol Leader

Venture Crew President

Member National Eagle Scout Association

BSA World Conservation Award

Distinguished Conservation Award

Summer Camp Staff # of Seasons & Position

Order of the Arrow, Brotherhood Member & Lodge Officer

Venturing Leadership Award

Ranger Award, Quest Award, TRUST Award, and Nova Awards

Summit Award the top Venturing recognition

Participant: Florida Sea Base, Philmont Ranch, NM, National Jamboree-Bechtel Summit W.V.

Perhaps you have a few thoughts about things to add to the list. Of course Venturing extends to age 20 for youths and from 18 on youths can register as Assistant Scoutmasters and take all the adult leader training including Woodbadge. I look forward to your feedback.


Imagine the impact on an employer or a school/college/university admissions officer when reading such a resume with, of course, additional information under each heading explaining what was done to earn said awards. Scouts (After graduating grade 8 and being 13 or older) can be dual registered in Crews at no additional expense and Troops can actually form Crews that have their own program while remaining with the troop as a leadership corps/senior patrol.

1 Like

If you only focus on Advancement you will not have retention. Advancement is just one tool of Scouting, I have scouts that Advance, I have Scouts that Camp, I have Scouts that Teach, I have Scouts that Serve. I allow each to scout in the way that they choose to scout. Most skilled Camper I have seen was an 18 yr old second class scout, he could do everything and anything in camp, and would gladly share the knowledge.


I totally agree… that is why each scout should make their own bucket list… It could easily include camping, canoeing, boating, scuba, skiing, and all the fun stuff. The idea of an advancement plan is to provide them with a path to follow. Kids join for fun, and for many, getting awarded the badges they have earned is part of that fun. Recognition feels good. But you are correct, advancement should not be the sole focus. However, it is valuable to point out to Scouts how keeping track and participating in training and other aspects of the program can be quite valuable. I would hope that your outdoor scout was fully aware of all the recognitions that he/she could have picked up while having a great time.


Mission, Vision, Aims, and Methods

There are 8 methods of Scouting in the Scouts BSA program: Ideals, Patrols, Outdoor Programs, Advancement, Association with Adults, Personal Growth, Leadership Development, and Uniform. For more see:

1 Like

This showed up on my post in the Cub section but I felt it worth sharing here… Really good discussion and ideas on how to help retention.

I agree with many of the points listed above.

At the Troop level, it is important to keep the Scouts actively involved and interested by offering a variety of activities and events. We are always looking for our Patrol Leaders Council to come up with new ideas and talking to their Patrol members on what they would like to do. As the Scouts get older, high adventure options are great retention tools for.

What have we done?

Leverage the Patrol Method, this provides the younger Scouts mentors that they can look up to. The older Scouts also benefit from learning Leadership and responsibility to mentoring the younger Scouts.
Monthly camping or other event.
Summer camp coupled with a high adventure option during the summer months.
Try new ideas : we did a bike campout in the Fall… last month we did BSA Snorkeling… we’ve done snowshoeing, etc
Community service: setup volunteer events, the Scouts feel a sense of contribution and belonging.
Civic duties: talk to your American Legion or VFW, setting up these events also helps the Scouts with contributing to their community and keeping them involved. When they know they are being counted on to provide a flag ceremony, or march in the parade, etc, they are more bound to stay active.
Had our youth invite their friends < this has been a key area of our growth.
Worked with our local School district to send out electronic fliers to the students.
What challenges do I see?

Council to Council variation. We benefit a lot due to the proximity of living close to 4 different states. With this, I see a lot of variation in the resources and events that Councils have and can provide. Many of the events and resources that one Council has would be a tremendous way to retain talent, but are not available in other Councils.
Adult Training. I agree with the comment above about adult training. Having adults trained properly helps them understand the Scouting program, how to build and deliver robust programs, and understand and provide the training required so higher adventure events can be offered to the Scouts. The BSA training should be universally available no matter what Council you are in (IOLS, Wood Badge, Wilderness First Aid & CPR, Water Safety, Powderhorn, etc).
Solely focusing on requirements and advancement. Scouting provides a great opportunity to learn new skills, have adventures with friends as well as earning advancement. But advancement and earning Eagle is not every Scout’s goal. I’ve seen in the past when a program focuses on just advancement and some of the Scouts feel it becomes just like school and lose interest and stop attending.
Our Troop has benefitted over the past couple of years of seeing growth.

Keep your Troops/Den/Packs active and offer a variety of activities and events!

Looking forward to reading more ideas from this thread.


1 Like

This topic was automatically closed 7 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.