How Do I Keep and Retain Youth Members?

Once A Scout, Always A Scout

A question often asked is, "how do we keep or retain the youth we have in our unit from one year to the next?"

The answers to this question are as varied as the reasons why families drop out of Scouting. Conflicting schedules, cost, or a lack of programs they'd like to participate in are some reasons people might leave.

Ideas To Keep Kids Engaged

Each year, all of our units (Cub Scout packs, Boy Scout troops and Venturing crews) are encouraged to survey the youth and families in their unit to find out several things they'd like to do throughout the upcoming year, and even ask if they have a willingness to help.

Every unit should also be conducting an annual program plan. This should include meetings, activities, and events should be put on a calendar and shared with everyone in the unit. This gives families ample time to review their family calendar and plan to attend.


During the annual planning session, costs for activities should be determined, and also shared with all families. This way they have time to prepare to pay for the activity, and even plan to participate in any unit fund raising events to cover costs.

The annual program planning session should address which advancements or recognitions could be earned. All of our Scouts and Venturers enjoy being recognized for their accomplishments, and it should be a goal to provide immediate recognition at the next pack meeting for Cub Scouts or court of honor for Boy Scouts and Venturers.


Another key component is for unit leaders to be trained for their position. Training is available on-line for all positions, and every October and every April the Northern Star Council holds a University of Scouting, where anyone can register to attend and participate in a wide variety of trainings to help keep programs fresh, organized and FUN for our Scouts. Some examples include: position training, outdoor activities, program planning, unit fund raising ideas, outdoor cooking, places to go/things to do, and far more. On-line training is available at:

Final Ideas

Lastly, throughout your Scouting year, leaders should be communicating with their Scouts and families to discuss the following year. It's important for families to know that Scouting is an age appropriate, grade specific program. So every year the challenges, experiences, and adventures will grow to meet their needs and interests. Scouting is a trail of fun and adventure that can easily last a life time!