As a Scoutmaster for almost five years I have been front and center on everything associated with my scouts – the good and the bad.
During a discipline issue at summer camp one of my ASMs made a statement that he suspects half of these scouts are here against their will, i.e. their parents pushed them to be here. That got me thinking, why do boys, and now girls, join Scouting? I gave that a lot of thought and came up with the following reasons why kids join Scouting. Scouts may have some overlap in the categories, but here they are:
They really enjoys it – While I would hope that all Scouts fall into this category, I know that some of them do not. Scouts may like the camping and related outdoor activities, or the rank advancements and Merit Badges, or the weekly Troop meetings and social interaction, or all three.
Parent is looking for a father figure – My Troop has some single mothers who I strongly suspect got their kids into Cub Scouts for this reason and then naturally bridged into Boy Scouts. Some of them, but not all, do fit into the first category as well as they do enjoy Scouting.
Kid has challenges, and the parent wants help or a distraction – This is the most difficult category, where the kid has a challenge and the parent believes that Scouting would help. Over the years I have seen mental issues and troubles with the law. What makes this very difficult on the Troop is that the parent(s) never disclose the issue up front. When it becomes obvious after some incident, the Scout stops coming to Troop meetings and the parent(s) do not return calls or email. They just disappear.
Parent or kid wants the Eagle Scout rank distinction – I have seen some Scouts put up with Scouting for many years to earn the Eagle Scout rank. Some of them seem to be self-motivated while others have their parent pushing for it, expressing the benefits on a college application that come from that Eagle rank distinction.
That’s just my observations, and I would love your feedback.