What to do when older Scouts just want to hang out

Scouter S.C.’s troop tries to keep older Scouts busy teaching skills to younger boys, but a few just want to hang out with their friends. He’s looking for suggestions to keep these older Scouts engaged in the troop program.

I would share your concern with the older Scouts, saying: “I expect you to work with the younger Scouts, but I don’t want to cut into your time with your friends. How can we come up with a plan that accomplishes both goals?” I’ll bet that a few minutes’ discussion will yield some interesting solutions.

Kennett Square, Pa.

We attempt to put special activities into our monthly outings or provide opportunities for older Scouts that are completely separate from the younger Scouts. These extra activities give them the time and opportunity to “hang out together.”

Scoutmaster R.P.
Evergreen, Colo.

Instead of having our senior Scouts teach classes they don’t want to teach, we put them in charge of games and activities. Now, instead of complaining about being bored, they come up and ask if they can start a game or activity.

New Britain, Conn.

One of our assistant Scoutmasters hit on an interesting way to handle this problem. He would sit those Scouts who were just goofing off down in a quiet corner and get them to talk. He would ask them what was going on in school, how things were at home, what was the last movie they saw—things like that.

He would also get them talking about Scouting: which camping trip or merit badge they liked best, what they thought the troop could do better, what they would like to see the troop do the next year.

When the troop’s adult leaders met each month, it was amazing to hear what the assistant Scoutmaster had learned.

Assistant Scoutmaster R.P.
Baltimore, Md.

Program is part of the answer. Scouting is supposed to be fun and interesting. This is easy for the new Scout; just coming to the meeting is exciting. But as boys get older, the glitter can fade. What’s interesting to the new Scout becomes “old hat” to the older boy.

Using the patrol method and creating a Venture patrol within the troop gives the older boys that are just standing around [both] a goal and their own program.

Scoutmaster D.W.
Shapleigh, Me.

There is a reason older Scouts keep showing up at troop meetings. Perhaps some want to advance, perhaps some just want to be with their friends, perhaps some enjoy camping and other high adventure activities.

It’s great that you still have older Scouts interested in the Scouting program. You just need to do a little digging to determine how best to meet [each’s] needs.

Chartered Organization Representative W.W.
San Antonio, Tex.

We are fortunate to have several assistant Scoutmasters between the ages of 18 and 21. They seem to have the ability to motivate this type of Scout, something the older adults could never achieve—which shows that a troop using all its resources is able to overcome most problems.

Scoutmaster D.J.W.
Cincinnati, Ohio

Web Exclusive Responses

The following responses do not appear in the print edition …

Keep your older boys interested and active by forming a Venture patrol. Such a patrol is still part of the troop, but the members can do their own big adventure or activity.

Make it challenging for them, and they’ll be eager to work harder to achieve the level of preparation they need for this adventure, setting a good example for the younger Scouts.

Valparaiso, Ind.

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