In explaining scouts, we do best when we ask what a mother would like to see her child grow to be. If she wants an athlete, we can discuss athletic activities in Cub Scouts and athletic merit badges in boy scouts.
If a father wants a STEM focused child, we can focus on those activities.
Scouting can meet those needs because scouting is the only liberal arts activity for youth. We serve all interests.
More importantly we encourage our scouts to expand their interests. An athletic scout may show little initial curiosity about the stars. Yet a little introduction to astronomy in Cub Scouts may open his eyes to the skies. That exposure to ideas and concepts that they never had considered is only part of why scouting works.
We know what a scout needs to develop because it has been well studied over the last century.
One of the summations of what a youth needs has been compiled by the Search Institute. They have summarized the skills and experiences that a youth needs at each age level in order to develop into a well-rounded and upstanding citizen. For each age level, the Search Institute has developed a chart of 40 Developmental Assets appropriate for the child’s age.
In reviewing these assets, place a checkmark next to each developmental asset that scouting touches. Then repeat the exercise for each activity that you child participates in. You will find an average Cub Scout Pack or Scout Troop outscores most other activities.
When you are talking to parents who don’t know scouting, these charts are a great method for the parents to formulate questions and independently determine that scouting is worth their family’s time.
For parents who are considering withdrawing their son from scouting, these charts are a perfect method to diplomatically challenge their thinking.
If you cannot explain how scouting serves most of the developmental assets, talk to your unit commissioner or the district membership committee. You may be losing scouts because you are struggling to explain “Why Scouting?”