Help! My Son Doesn’t Want to Be a Scout

A Question about a Son Who Doesn’t Want to Be A Scout Anymore

Elizabeth sent in this question

My son will be crossing over in a few weeks. He has worked hard to get his arrow of light and is proud of it. But he is flatly refusing to continue with scouting. I’m heartbroken about it. His personality is such that he doesn’t want to “do” anything. I kid you not, he balks at being given the opportunity to go to his favorite theme park!  He was required to be in scouts until now and has always said he wouldn’t continue, or he’d take a year off or something. So, my question is for advice. I have tried to make it sounds really cool, he’s got friends moving up and friends in a troop now but it doesn’t seem to make a difference. I can’t force him so am I doomed to this disappointment?

This is a difficult situation. Anyone who has ever had a pre-teen or teenager knows that you can’t force them to enjoy an activity. This is the age when they are becoming more independent. And they often assert that independence by expressing which activities they want to participate in and which they don’t. So that might be part of the reason he is telling you he doesn’t want to be a Scout.

What Makes a Youth Want to Be a Scout?

The three main factors I have observed in whether youth stick with Scouts BSA are not are

  1. A good program with activities the youth enjoy. This is where the youth-led troop is key.
  2. Friends in the program will help them want to be a Scout
  3. A parent who is actively involved in the program and fully participates in outings and meetings.

These seem to all be factors which impact whether a young man or woman will want to be a Scout or not.

Program

If the program is good, but he still doesn’t want to be a Scout and participate, there is little you can do. Sometimes there are things which are competing for a boy’s attention which are also good for his development – sports, theater, band, etc.

On the other hand, if he does not want to be a Scout but wants to stay home and play video games and watch TV, maybe he needs some limits put on that. If he has a lot of free time and cannot engage in those activities, he might be more willing to fill the void with Scouting. But it should not be presented as a punishment for not participating. He needs to understand the importance of being well rounded.

Friends

It sounds like point #2 is already covered. He has friends in the troop. One of the best recruiting tools is when boys come back from a campout and tell their friends about all of the fun things they did. So if he does decide to “take a year off” that might be the encouragement he needs to get involved.

Parental Involvement

If your son does join the troop, I encourage you to get involved. By far, the sons of the parents who are actively involved in the troop seem to stay with the program a lot more. You might need to attend some training or learn how to hike and camp. But if you are asking your son to do something he isn’t comfortable with, shouldn’t you be willing to do the same?

Motivation

Some kids just need a little additional motivation. I knew a parent who took his son out for ice cream after meetings. Sure, it was a bribe. This particular young man was an introvert and just needed a little extra incentive to get out of his comfort zone. He did stick with it long enough to get his Eagle.

Readers, what do you think? Add your ideas to the comments below about what makes a young person want to be a Scout.

Do you have a question about Scouting? Ask it here.

Losing Interest in Scouts BSA

This is a similar question from another reader, but it relates to a whole troop. “My son has just crossed over into Scouts BSA with 11 other boys. Since this group has crossed over in Feb. the boys are dropping out fast. Of the 11 there are 4 or 5 left. The same complaint is being heard by all the parents. The fun is gone. I know Scouts BSA is different than Cubs, but is it supposed to be no fun? Is there a suggestion I can take to the Scoutmaster that might help him keep these boys interested?”

Encouraging a New Scout

And this is another question and answer along the same line. “I have looked over the book and am kind of trying to get a feel for where to start. I am struggling with trying to be a supportive mom, yet not overly do for him. But he needs a starting point. I wonder if you have any advice for a mom of a new, kind of nervous, scout. Actually, I am amazed he’s going through with joining. I don’t want him to lose enthusiasm but he seems kind of lost at the moment.”


Scout Retention: Four Things

From Scouting Magazine.

If you recruit new Scouts into your troop without a plan for retaining your existing members, you’re just spinning your wheels.

Help Scouts get the most out of this life-changing organization with a program that keeps them coming back week after week.

Scout retention requires a long-term plan where adult leaders and youth leaders work together to create compelling troop meetings and memorable outings.


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44 responses to “Help! My Son Doesn’t Want to Be a Scout”

  1. kathy sharman Avatar
    kathy sharman

    My son wanted to quit after Cub Scouts as well. I made a deal with him that if he stayed in thru his first summer camp and still wanted to quit then I would let him. I knew the independence that he experienced at camp would keep him involved. He stayed and its an Eagle Scout.

  2. Cris Avatar
    Cris

    I had a somewhat similar problem with my son a couple of years ago when he was a Wolf. He said he didn’t want to go to Cub Scouts anymore and was completely done with it.

    I didn’t fight him. I told him that since I was the Den Leader I had to stick with it until at least the end of the year, so he was probably going to have to come to the Den Meetings and Pack Meetings anyway, but he wouldn’t have to participate if he didn’t want to. The next Den Meeting I planned some fun games and after sitting on the sides for a few minutes he jumped in and had a great time.

    But that wasn’t enough. After that I planned an overnight camping trip for just the 2 of us. We whittled, fished, cooked over an open fire, and used our compasses to find our way around the woods. We never specifically talked about Scouts, but I did mention that it’d be really cool if we could go camping more often.

    That worked. He came back from the weekend more gung-ho than ever. He’s a Webelos now and last night we visited a grear local Troop. He walked out of there pretty sure of where he’d be crossing over to.

  3. Elizabeth Avatar
    Elizabeth

    Thanks so much. We are really active with our pack and I’m the outdoorsy one of the family so that hadn’t been the big problem. But I totally agree that parent involvement is key. He is introverted and he is persistent when he has decided to do or not do something. So this challenge will be a big one. He knows that he has to “do something” and that staying home to play games won’t be happening but I’m not above bribing!!!

  4. Heather Avatar
    Heather

    First, I beg to differ. You can absolutely require your son to Scout. It is less than ideal but if quitting isn’t presented as an option you might be suprised, since he is in a good Troop with friends and an active parent, that he makes a better go of it. I have 2 Scouts. One is kind of luke warm about it but not Scouting has never been an option, unless replaced with a different activity – and this caveat they do not know. Last I checked, we are the parents until adulthood. If I can force my kids to brush their teeth & make their beds I can certainly force them to participate in a healthy character building activity like Scouts.
    Secondly you shared your son lacks interest in “doing” anything at all. I would suggest you have your son evaluated for depression and or anxiety. In which case Scouting is an excellent opportunity to overcome the symptoms and loneliness associated with depression.

    1. Michelle Avatar
      Michelle

      Sorry, but no. A parent absolutely should NOT require her son to remain a Boy Scout if he is no longer interested in the program and has expressed a desire to leave. Why would you require your child to continue participating in an activity that he no longer wished to do? My ultimate goal is to raise both my children to be kind and positively impact others. But that goal can be done with other activities including sports. As parents we need to allow our children to learn to make decisions for themselves as they grow older and become responsible young adults. Scouting may be a great program but it’s not for everyone.

      1. Bruce Avatar
        Bruce

        Should a parent ever require their child to do anything? Go to School? Church? not cheat on exams?

        1. Laura Rich Avatar
          Laura Rich

          I don’t believe parents should determine how a child should spend most of their waking hours. We expect them to go to school, of course, and do their homework and then possibly church but why do you feel like they have to do scouts. As much as I love my sons being in the scouting program the question is why do you think its so crucial that they stay in scouts? Is it about you and what you get from him being in scouts or is it about just him and his relationship with scouts? Spending time with just your child and you and the great outdoors can offer your son a lot of those special experiences while building an excellent relationship with him. Scouts shouldn’t be a chore it should be about doing something you enjoy.

          1. Maria Avatar
            Maria

            Here is what I think, if the child is already involved in other activities, i.e. sports, youth group/club, and he/she is not just sitting at home doing nothing constructive, spending it playing video games and such or just hanging out on the streets with friends, then yes, the parent can step in and say no to him/her for wanting to quit. As parents, we still have that authority over our children. While we want our boys and girls to be independent thinkers, learning to make their own choices, the decision to quit scouts, without providing an alternative to it, should not be an option. I do believe too much emphasis is put on these kids achieving EAGLE as the ultimate goal, which is not for every kid. I have a fourteen year-old, who, this year told me he did not want to continue with scouts. We had to change troops due to the church we met at not willing to re-charter our troop any longer and also due to disbanding of the pack, which fed into the troop. To make a long story short, my grandson loves going on the camping trips, he loves doing the fun activities scouts do. He just does not want to work on the merit badges and such. He has a couple friends who moved to this current troop, which is why we joined it. It wasn’t enough for him to stay. However, now the troop is starting to get out and doing the camping and such, and now his interest is peaked again. Not sure I can get him to commit 100%, but I will likely sign him back up, let him join whatever activities he wants to participate in, and let him be. A little scouting, in my opinion, is better than no scouting for this particular child. He needs it more than he thinks. And it helps him more than he cares to admit. Sorry to go on a tangent.

    2. Ryan Richter Avatar
      Ryan Richter

      Do you have any suggestions for other activities?

    3. Ed Semple Avatar
      Ed Semple

      Heather, please don’t send your son to my troop. I might make an exception if you come along as a volunteer leader. I have been the Scoutmaster of too many Scouts who did not want to be there, and they all too often spread their bad attitude around freely. I will agree with parents who strike a “time” deal with the boy to stick it out for a year or through summer camp, but please don’t put the burden of a malcontent on me or the rest of my troop.

    4. Austin Parker Avatar
      Austin Parker

      A parent has absolutely NO right to force a kid to be part of something if they don’t like it, none of their friends are in it, or they would rather be in sports and 4H. They only thing you get out of forcing a kid to be in scouts is a angry child, a sour relationship between parent and son, and heated arguments which destroy the parent-son bond. I think you are insane for saying they should be evaluated for depression and anxiety. JUST BECAUSE YOU WERE A SCOUT DOESN’T MEAN HE HAS TO. Let him quit. Theirs NO benefits of keeping your son in organization he doesn’t like. The bottem line is, if your kid is in the same situation, let them quit, and move on with their passions and intrests.

  5. Sonny Wm. E. McCraw Avatar
    Sonny Wm. E. McCraw

    Never barter, nor bribe a child. This tactic only leads to a false sense of entitlement; as well as it leaves the child with the expectation that there is some form of reward or gift at the end of each task they perform- whether mundane, routine, or monumental.

    A child’s greatest rewards are the one’s no one can place intrinsic value on, nor take from them. This reward is the life lesson of pride in their work and knowledge of finishing a job well done. This is something he can carry with him beyond patch or medals.

    Bridging over from Arrow of Light to the Trail to Eagle is difficult for some children.
    The Boy Scout Program has several aspects that appeal to both parent and child. –
    1.)- Service to the community.
    2.)- Leadership Training
    3.)- Merit badges that encourage him to learn anything from Astronomy to Welding and gaming.
    4.)- Outdoor ethics and conservation of our natural resources
    5.)- Patrols
    6.)- Camp-outs and cookouts
    7). The Order of Arrow
    8.)- Religious Emblem Programs that help the scout explore his faith,
    9.)- Service projects like the Messenger of Peace
    10.)- Earning the Rank of Eagle Scout
    11.)- week long summer camps
    12.)- BSA Family Fun Programs
    13.)- the BSA NOVA STEM Programs
    14.)- History
    15.)- Character building
    16.)- teaching others using the EDGE Method and so much more.

    The value of this can be seen in the success of the 4 % of boy scout who earn the rank of Eagle Scout…

    Eagle Scouts like Neil Armstrong, US President Gerald Ford, Jordan Devey, offensive tackle for the New England Patriots and 2014 Super Bowl champion, Maroon 5 guitarist James Valentine, and Rock Legend Jim Morrison of the Doors…

    By showing my son the proud Scouting Alumni who earned the Rank of Eagle and the opportunities Scouting had to offer him; My son gained momentum and proudly earned his Eagle.

    There were massive obstacles he faced and persevered to overcome… It was not easy. but now you can read about his success and how he helped.

    http://www.sltrib.com/news/1806911-155/veterans-benjamin-homeless-ogden-scout-center

    http://www.icatholic.org/article/girl-boy-scouts-and-adult-leaders-are-honored-5516449

    http://www.icatholic.org/article/five-boy-scouts-receive-the-thomas-s-monson-award-3336470

    http://icatholic.org/article/eagle-scout-project-helps-homeless-veterans-become-selfsufficient-3787378

    1. Jj Avatar
      Jj

      Umm Jim Morrison was a Boy Scout. There is no correlation to success and whether or not someone makes eagle.

      1. Mark B in Tennessee Avatar

        There have actually been multiple studies showing a strong correlation of success to the attainment of the Eagle Scout rank. While obtaining the Eagle Rank is not a guarantee of future success in adult life, the organization, leadership, persistence, planning and service to community involved in obtaining the rank requirements and completing the Eagle Service Project ensures that recipients understand the impact their actions can have on others for the greater good. For those that don’t have a Scouting background, obtainment of the Eagle rank by the top 4% of Scouts means a lot more than earning badges, eating smores and going on campouts. Although I’ll be the first to admit those things can all be a lot of fun.

        If parents want to know empirically why their son or daughter might want to choose Scouting as a character development tool, take a look at the study conducted by Baylor University https://www.scouting.org/about/research/eagle-scouts. In summary it showed
        Eagle Scouts are more likely than men who have never been in Scouting to:
        “- Have higher levels of planning and preparation skills, be goal-oriented, and network with others
        – Be in a leadership position at their place of employment or local community
        – Report having closer relationships with family and friends
        – Volunteer for religious and nonreligious organizations
        – Donate money to charitable groups
        – Work with others to improve their neighborhoods”

        For those interested, this blog helps break the findings into categories https://blog.scoutingmagazine.org/2012/04/10/new-study-shows-46-ways-eagle-scouts-are-different/

        This independent research was funded by the Templeton Foundation and conducted by Baylor University./ It was described in detail in the study “Merit Beyond the Badge” and the complete study is located here – https://filestore.scouting.org/filestore/pdf/210-045_WB.pdf

        So bottom line, while lots of organizations can demonstrate teamwork to deliver success toward their group or personal goals … how many of those same organizations can say they intentionally point their youth toward developing skills specifically enabling them to directly help their local communities? How many youth organizations charge those youth at the pinnacle of their organization’s success to continue on as an adult with the goal of giving of themselves and helping the underserved in their communities? There are few that come immediately to mind other than Scouting.

        If success is measured not by salary sizes but by the continued influence of its members in community as volunteers and engaged citizens, I think Scouting offers a fairly compelling model for more parents to consider offering their children. Volunteer for a year in a Cub Scout Pack, Scouts BSA troop, Venturing or Sea Scout Crew and I believe you’ll find it’s fundamentally different in its approach to youth character development. Stop by a BSA Scout store and look through a leader or youth handbook, field guide or Eagle Scout ceremony script and I think you’ll find character development as the centerpiece of everything Scouts do.

        Are there other ways parents can achieve the same goals? I’m sure there are, but as a parent with limited resources, I like to utilize the frameworks and tools that have already been put in place to accomplish these goals, rather than struggle to recreate the same experiences without a support network of other Scout-age friends and like-minded adult leaders.

        Am I biased? Perhaps. I came from a family where my parents supported Scouting but didn’t know much about it themselves … they ended up raising two Eagle Scouts, my brother and I. My brother and I have had different circumstances and I’ve volunteered in Scouts for many years for many years with my son and recently our daughter has joined us. My son recently had his Eagle Court of Honor. I don’t carry any illusions about whether this makes his life easier or not in days ahead, but rather hope that it has given him the grit to persevere and the courage to look beyond himself to a world community that can hopefully benefit from his volunteer involvement rather than his retreat.

  6. Veronica Avatar
    Veronica

    Elizabeth,

    Thank you for submitting this question. I have the same situation. My son has earned his Arrow of Light and his Super Achiever award, but now he says his done.

    I think some of it is anxiety about him being there alone. He just turned 10 in November and he’ll be crossing over this May. So, maybe it won’t be such a hardship if he waits a year.

    We’ll see. Good luck to you.

  7. connie Avatar
    connie

    I have 2 son’s who went thru scouting one who truly loves it and at the age of 12 is a star scout and one like who will cross over in a few weeks who truly hated everything about scouting. I told him he had no choice but to finish cub scouts because we come such a long way but he didn’t have to go to boy scouts if he didn’t want to. He attends the boy scout meetings either way because I stay with his brother. Just recently he asked the scout master of he could attend a merit badge class all the kids were taking. The scout master agreed and my son had a blast he earned his first aid merit badge but he also refund his enjoyment in scouts and is now excited to crossover. Have him attend some troop meetings and events he may like it

  8. janice Avatar
    janice

    Look for a Venture Crew in your area. Venturing is a co-ed division of BSA. for ages 14-20. I have seen boys who were loosing interest in their troop renew their enthusiasm when they learned they can do high adventure stuff with girls. Venturers can do some things that the Troop cannot, such as pistol shooting and hunting. Boy Scouts who are on the Eagle trail can complete their Eagle Award as a Venturer. There are still awards and leadership skills to be had, but with the youth leading the way & the adults stepping back & just advising them.

  9. Jebecka Avatar
    Jebecka

    I’m not writing with an answer, but another question. My son also dropped out of Scouts after earning his Arrow of Light and crossing over. I was his den leader for his Webelos II year. I know he would be more likely to stick with it if I am involved however, being his mom, I’m not sure how involved I should be with Boy Scouts? I stepped back a bit because I feel I should because this is a boy/man/father thing. How involved are mom’s ususally in Boy Scouts? Are they seen as hovering helicopter mom’s if they want to go on the campouts?

    1. Scouter Mom Avatar

      There are plenty of women involved in Boy Scouting. In today’s world, boys need to learn to interact with women as well as men. Your sons will have women as fellow students, coworkers and supervisors. But you must remember that you are there as a unit leader, not as a mother. You will need to be able to sit back and let the boys do. I strongly recommend that you attend Boy Scout Leader Training in your area. This will help you understand the program. If you understand the role of adults in Boy Scouts, there is no reason you can’t be an asset to the troop.

      1. scouter mom 316 Avatar
        scouter mom 316

        I was also my son’s Webelos leader and completed the training to be an Assistant Scout Master before he crossed into Boy Scouts. An adult from an area troop worked hard to recruit my son, even calling him at home a number of times, which is against BSA recruiting guidelines, creating a feeling that the man really had our son’s interests at heart, so my husband and I decided to let our son join that troop and hoped we made a good decision. When I signed him up I also completed the application to be an Assistant Scout Master with the troop. Before I even attended a troop meeting the Committee Chair suggested I give the Scout Master a call to introduce myself-which I did -and was invited to his Law Office to meet. Upon arrival the Scout Master lectured me for an hour about why there was no place for women in Boy Scouts except as a behind the scenes Committee Member. Unfortunately for them I already knew this was not BSA National policy and stayed to give them a chance. During the next three months men in the troop found additional ways to intimate me. Example: driving five hours to transport scouts to a campout to be told I could not camp over night after I arrived and hollering at me for calling a vendor about the utilities available at a local campground even though I attended the organizational meeting and was asked to do so. After three months of this, my husband and I decided this troop’s leadership did not practice the interpersonal skills and qualities appropriate for being positive role models to youth and transferred our family to a more tolerant troop that practiced equality as described in the U.S. Constitution, and where we were all greeted and appreciated for the individuals we were and what we brought to the Scouting program. I advise anyone signing up your son or daughter in Scouting to visit a troop a number of times before signing up, and if things are not as they should be after signing up, know National has no problem with scouts transferring to another troop and they will not be panelized for doing so. If members of a troop harass, haze, or intimidate a scout or adult in anyway call your Council Executive immediately!

    2. Michael Avatar
      Michael

      There are no rules about what roles women can or should fill in the troop. So this is really up to you. you mentioned being viewed as the helicopter mom, that would also be up to you, depending on how you interact on the trips. Also, dad’s can be guilty of it too. Don’t be afraid to left him fail. It happens a lot, and they learn from it. Sit back be hands off, and supervise. Step it only if an action is likely to get someone hurt. I do think for the most part males have an easier time letting this happen, but there are severalgreat female leaders in scout too. Treat your scout as any other, put them in tents with the other scouts not in yours. Help him pack before a trip, don’t then switch from mom to leader on the trip. If you think that would be difficult to do but still want to be involved, troop committee, advancement coordinator or many other roles may be an option.

  10. m p Avatar
    m p

    This is a question that comes up routinely every year, specifically around crossover, but throughout all levels and ranks of cubscouts and scouts.

    My son does not want to crossover/continue in scouting. All the advice here has been very supportive and helpful. Having an active pack/troop. Having active parents/leaders. Having an invested cubscout/scout.

    The below website is Mike Rowe (eagle Scout) advice to a parent when asked to help persuade a writers son to continue in scouts and earn his eagle.

    I presented this story to a mom of a cubscout and several scouts. Her eldest son was only a few merit badges shy of eagle and in High school. His clock was ticking and due to HS commitments had dropped out of scouting. Needless to say after this story he rejoined scouts and is working again with his troop as well as his younger siblings (cubscout and scouts). He decided to rejoin and he will decide if he finishes and at this point and his age that’s how it should be if we as leaders have done our job correctly.

    Once again only 4% reach eagle scout, and this may be a goal, but it is not the only goal.

    If link does not work, just google mike rowes response to a perspective eagle scout parent.

    mike-offers-a-potential-eagle-scout-his-eagle-perspective.

    hope this helps

  11. Diane M. Hale Avatar
    Diane M. Hale

    Hi. I have enjoyed the questions and answers. My son, of course, also wants to quit Scouts. He just earned his Tender Foot, and says he is done. His meetings are once a week, and they last pretty long, an hour and 45 minutes.
    They really do not accomplish much at them, and my son feels like they are a waste of his time. He does like most of the camping trips, if the one boy in the troop whom he likes, goes on the trip.
    He is not involved in too many other activities except altar servers, and a club at school called Liturgical Ministry, which involves helping out with weekly school masses. Scouts is the organization that provides the camping, the activities, and the opportunities that nothing else in his life provides. This is the second or third time he has told me he wanted to quit. The last time this came up, my husband talked him back into staying. The time before that, we told him he just had to get the Arrow of Light, then he could quit if he wanted to. The truth is I never intended to give in to him quitting for any reason, I always thought he would like it enough to stick it out.
    I am heartbroken at this. I know if he quits, it will just give him more time to play on his phone/I-Pad with his “best friend” who thinks Scouts is stupid!
    One of the scoutmasters mentioned that he should bring a friend to one of the meetings, as it is a requirement for the next rank, which is Second Class.
    This would be an idea, but I am having trouble thinking of a friend to suggest.
    My last resort is bribery, which I think is not really a good idea, and it would mean staying in Scouts for the wrong reasons. If anyone has any new advice for me and my stubborn 12-year-old, I am listening.
    Also is forcing your child to stay in a form of abuse in some ways if he really dislikes it that much?

    Thanks!

  12. Diane Hale Avatar
    Diane Hale

    Very uplifting to hear that the boy re-joined the troop.
    I hope he can finish the requirements for Eagle.

  13. James Lehman Avatar
    James Lehman

    *Son does not want to join/continue/be active in Scouts….
    DO NOT let him get away with this so easily. Sit him down, and ASK HIM WHY. You are the parent, you have his best interests at heart (from your perspective?). What is it about the idea/the Troop/the activities (or lack of)/the perceived promise vs the reality….
    Does he fear the “bugs and dirt of camping”? Are the meetings boring and dorky? Is the uniform “stupid”? Is there a bully in his unit? Is he expecting BOY Scouts to be as childish/artsy-craftsy as CUB Scouts? Does he REALLY want to concentrate on his “Music/computer games/girl friend/science project/debate club because he thinks he can get a Scholarship/to third base/get famous/be a “BMOC”… ?
    DO NOT let him just vegetate in front of the TV/Comp console/schmart phone.
    What would he like Scouts to be?? Can he see the ideal and make it happen? I am always amazed at how some kids ALLOW the Scout experience to be degraded by adult that THINK they know what it should be when it is the BOYS (and now the girls !) that know exactly what it CAN be…
    When President Truman was once asked how he thought a parent could help their child be successful, he said the parent should find out what the child likes to do, and if it isn’t dangerous, encourage them in it.
    See you on the trail.

  14. Rhino Avatar
    Rhino

    I’m speaking as someone who was once in your son’s position. I had finished Cub Scouts, and Weeblos, and, after two years, had decided I had had enough. My now late mother was a control freak, who told me I HAD to join the Boy Scouts for at least a year. She also kept saying, even though it wasn’t true, the only reason I wanted to quit was because the person who convinced me to join, whose mother was our den leader, also decided to quit. All the begging, pleading, and reasoning on my part had fallen on deaf ears. The day I turned in the form, which my mother had my sister fill out for me becuase she knew I would have said no to the question, “Do you want to be a Boy Scout?” I was so angry and bitter. I managed to get out of having to go in, but it required me to do something sneaky. My mom made sure to lay the guilt trip on me for about the next 6-8 months afterwards. There is a lot more I could say about this, but, speaking as someone who was once in your son’s position, I think the real issue here is your afraid to relinquish control over your son’s life, and allow him to make choices for himself. I have no problem with you trying to encourage him to stay on, but, he’s of the age where he knows what he wants, and needs to be allowed the opportunity to be respected by you if his decision is not the one you want hi. To make. Forcing him to go in will only make him bitter and resentful.

    1. eploppy Avatar
      eploppy

      I agree with Rhino. I too am a former Eagle Scout and I only got it because I wasn’t allowed to have my drivers license. Now 10 year later I regret it terribly. I only got it for my mother’s sake and because I knew how much it meant to HER. The Eagle Scout Award has done nothing for my leadership skills and nor has it helped me get a job, in fact many people not from America are highly offended by the Eagle Scout Award and program because some men and mothers make it seem like having the Eagle Scout Award makes them better than those who don’t.

      By forcing your son to get it can cause great resentment, fights in the future and even a rift between you and his future family. Let him decide and support him on his effort, there are many other ways to show the aspects you are looking for you son that are found outside of scouting and are even better than scouting.

      Another thing to think of is the wording in your question: “I WANT HIM, I’M Heart broken, I’VE tried making it cool.” Are you getting the Eagle Scout Award or is your son? A wise mother and wife said this to her husband when he wanted to by her gifts she didn’t wand or that they couldn’t afford “Are you doing this for me or for you? (In other words are you trying to show that you love me or that your prominent provider?” So to you are you having your son get this award because it shows that that the scouting organization is helping him become who he wants to be and respecting his choices of life or are you wanting him to get it to make YOU happy and to show that YOUR being a good mother? Are you wanting him to get it because HE knows it’s helping him or so that you can tell everyone your son is an Eagle Scout?

      Your son loves you and will always remember the respect you have for his decision than an piece of cheap metal and cloth. Let him use his agency and trust him. He will have wonderful memories when you let him be who he is and not chicken pecking him about the award. Yes, you may be heartbroken, but will him getting an Eagle Scout Award, and you being happy, worth him living to regret it?

      I say this because I had a similar problem and I wish I never got it. In fact this award is so horrible that the BSA is refusing to let be records be terminated. This can happen to your son if you don’t let him decide and you supporting him no matter how much you hate it.

      By do this he will have more confidence in himself and the bond between the both of you will be stronger than if he was an Eagle Scout.

      1. Rhino Avatar
        Rhino

        So perfectly said Eploppy!!! There are certain things parents should require of their children (homework, chores, dress, language, etc.) but forcing them to do something they don’t want to do with their social life is definitely not one of them!!! It sounds to me the real reason your mother made you stay in, was so she could brag about how she saw her son through Boy Scouts, and had a hand in all of his accomplishments!!! She holding not getting your drivers license over your head was nothing short of 100% manipulative blackmail!!!

        Mine was the same way!! Whenever I posed the question to her about the Boy Scout code of being honest, and how it was a lie saying yes to the wanting to be a Boy Scouts, she would just tell me to, “Shut up!” The night I handed in the form, my Scout Master was surprised. When he asked me about my joining, I was totally honest about what was going on. When he offered to call my mother, I told him it would only lead to a lecture when I got home. He then told me I had then better change my attitude, because if it stayed the way it was, they didn’t want me! The sneaky thing I did to get out of it was, unlike the Cub Scouts and Weeblos, Boy Scouts went year round. My birthday was in the middle of the summer, so, I could not become a B.S. until then. I lied to my mom and told her they would be contacting us in the fall about when Scouts will be meeting again. When she finally asked me about it in the middle of October, I told her the truth. She got pissed at me! My best friend had decided to go in, and, every time he was over, she’d, in a very condescending and targeting me tone, would ask him about the Scouts, what they were doing, and how she had wished she could me to join! Well, I decided two could play at that game!! When my friend who she kept saying talked me into quitting was over, I did the same thing to her, and even told him what she was saying! She walked out of the room pouting mad, and told me later how she didn’t appreciate me embarrassing her. When I posed to her a favorite quote of, “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander!”, she told me don’t get smart or I’d get the back of her hand! But, it also was the last I ever heard about the Boy Scout issue!!

  15. Kenneth Schauer Avatar
    Kenneth Schauer

    Let your child decide. Forcing them to do things they are not interested in will only breed contempt in him for authoritative figures. that can cause him problems all his life. Find out his interests and encourage him to pursue them. I am not saying to let him run things. Children need some discipline. I enjoyed martial arts classes, dirt bike riding and cooking. Martial arts helped as it teaches self discipline and to use violence as a last resort. In the latest news they are taking the boy out of the title and just calling it “The scouts” and letting girls in so it is not the same organization it was. They have forgone logic and dignity and bowed down to the SJW’s.

  16. Bruce Kennedy Avatar
    Bruce Kennedy

    My youngest son said he wanted to drop out of scouts. I handled it like this. I said NO. We require them to go to school. We require them to go to church. Because we as parents believe it is what they need to be a successful adult. I feel the same way about scouts. For you parents who want to let your child decide, raising your family the way you see fit is your business. I say raising mine the way I see fit is my business. BTW he is almost Eagle. His Brother is Eagle. His oldest sister is a successful and loved School counselor and his other sister is a very successful Physician. It is my belief that our job as parents is to guide our children and place requirements on them when needed.

    1. Rhino Avatar
      Rhino

      I respect your right to raise your children the way you see fit Bruce! But, part of parenting, in my opinion, is to allow them to make choices on their own! Yes, parents should require certain things of children, but I don’t think they should force recreational free time events upon them! Had my sneakiness not have gotten me out of the Boy Scouts, I had decided I was going to one of two things! The first was to tell the command leader I was only there because my mother was forcing me to be, and ask if it would be okay if I could just go in the other room and read magazines. If he wouldn’t have allowed me to, I would probably have done something to have gotten myself kicked out! Nothing overly serious mind you, just maybe something like swearing quite a bit, having a bad attitude, excetera. Bottom line though, I think back on that incident,, and it created some very serious bitter feelings between my mother and I which lingered on into my adult life! Something to think about when your children get older!

  17. Laura Rich Avatar
    Laura Rich

    I think the problem is as adults we think our children will regret leaving Boy Scouts before getting their Eagle. We make it too much about ourselves instead of what might actually be best for our kids.

    1. James Lehman Avatar
      James Lehman

      There ya go. “…getting their Eagle”. Scouting is not/should not be/ cannot only be about “getting their Eagle.” Cub Scouts have a motto/mantra: “Keep It Simple, Make It Fun.” KiS MiF. If the child (yep, girls too, now!) doesn’t see the fun of Scouting, there is no use in requiring it. The child will get very little out of the Scouting experience if the parent makes it “about getting their Eagle”. The earning of the Scout ranks is “One ” of the methods of Scouting, but ONLY one. The outdoor stuff, the uniform, the consideration of the Scout Promise and Law, the team work inherent in the “Patrol Method”, and all the others , if the Scout Unit is a GOOD one (another discussion), it will allow (and that is the word) the boy (and now the girl?) to learn and develop and grow and mature thru their playing “The Game With A Purpose.” Harry Truman was once asked his advice on having successful children. His response was (paraphrased) to find out what they like to do, and if it is not injurious or too dangerous, encourage them in it. Here’s Scouting. Encourage, support,,,,, require? ummmmm.. . . . . .

  18. Diane Avatar
    Diane

    My son didn’t want to continue in Scouts either, but we told him it was important to us that he stick with it and it would benefit him later in life. All he wants to do is sit at home and play on his computer or XBox. He absolutely hated summer camp, but has since attended and enjoyed a canoe trip and a couple other camp outs. He is slowly growing to enjoy scouting and as he grows he is becoming more and more interested in doing things with the older boys in his troop. So, yes, we are making him stick it out. Teaching perseverance isn’t easy, but I think it’s important.

  19. Wee Below Avatar
    Wee Below

    He must not agree with the way he is being reared.

  20. Lon Avatar
    Lon

    My oldest son crossed over and then quit the next year. We didn’t make a big deal out of it, despite the fact that my wife and I are the committee chair and cub master for his old pack (little brother is still there). We told him that a forced Boy Scout was no true Boy Scout and casually kept him informed of the troops goings on. Within a year he was back in and actually more devoted to it. Will this work for everyone? No, but it will work for boys who really belong in scouts and just need a break but don’t understand that you can do that rather than quit.

  21. Sam Brown Avatar
    Sam Brown

    Don’t make the kid be a Boy Scout, he may actually know better than you. My dad was a big Boy Scout, an eagle. His dad was his scoutmaster and he actually went to the world jamboree in France in the 40’s.

    My troop was large and popular in the community. But, I grew up in a company town and there was a definite cast system ranked by which patrol you were in. It was full of kids who cheated to get merit badges And other recognition. My first experiences with hard drugs and alcohol came on camp it’s. My first observance of really odd gay boys and leaders (without my participation) was in scouting. Talk about character building.

    So, there’s your good troop, parent involvement and oh yes, I guess I did have a couple of “bad boy” friends stuck in scouts with me. I was in order of the arrow (a popularity contest) and made it to life rank (didn’t see the need in finishing off those eagle requirements since camp out partying was the only good thing about Scouts).

    I won’t add anything else to these notes except to say my experience was not in the least uncommon. I made it out ok, I’ve been successful in business, been married to the same woman for over 30 years, etc. All without being an Eagle Scout. Don’t force your kid to be a Boy Scout.

  22. Ellane Litten Avatar
    Ellane Litten

    hello! Here’s who I am, I am a trans woman 18 years old, but I used to be a Boy Scout. Now when I came out as trans my father forced me to be in the Boy Scouts, I was already in the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts all throughout my schooling. I had to go to a depression hospital in order for him to back off (and my father is homophobic transphobic and a emotional abuser)so if your child does not want to go through Boy Scouts, don’t force your child or encourage your child to be in Boy Scouts if your child is not interested anymore.

  23. Scoutermom316 Avatar
    Scoutermom316

    Parent’s trying to force a child to do something for their own good is common, but not necessarily in the best interest of the child. As a previous Scout Leader and Educator my experience has taught me it is very important not to force a child to do anything. I applaud you for trying so hard, but have you asked yourself the question is this something that I and my son need professional help with, especially considering that your child is resistant to doing anything? Scouting is a good program, but remember all the adults involved in a scout troop are volunteers not professions, and may not offer the help that is really needed. Suggest you try counselling first to try to establish what the underlying cause of his anti-social behavior is. Then proceed with a plan put together by a medical professional, it may be recommended by your son’s counsellor that he join a youth program, then let him choose what he wants to do within the program – don’t force him to go on trips or do anything out of his comfort range – this may take years, but may lead to his becoming a more rounded individual-which is one of Scouting’s goals.

  24. Former Scoutmaster and Parent/Mom Avatar
    Former Scoutmaster and Parent/Mom

    Based on the limited information provided in the request, it sounds like your son does not want to do ANYTHING.
    A discussion with your son as to why he is not interested would be a starting point.

    My suggestion would be to require that he participate in something–Scouts, Church Youth Group, Theater, Dance, a Band–that will get him out of the house and provide opportunities to socialize with peers. You might want to obtain the Personal Fitness Merit Badge pamphlet and review with your son the different types of fitness–physical, mental, social, spiritual–and have him participate in activities that will help him develop in ALL areas.

    I firmly believe that the Scouting program is one of the best vehicles to facilitate the development of the whole child but it may not be for your son.

  25. Suzie Q Avatar
    Suzie Q

    My now 22yr old son was this way and he never went back.
    I deeply regret not encouraging him in Scouts more as his life now is miserable; if I had gently pushed more he would have the coping skills & self confidence to have avoided some major decision based problems he now has. It was my stewardship to help him learn what he needed to know to be an adult in the world and I failed him as a parent.

    1. Stephanie StClair Avatar
      Stephanie StClair

      Don’t beat yourself up. He’s only 22. There is still time to get “back on track” if he so desires. You can offer him guidance/advice to help him achieve in life. (Not enable, but direction and support). He does have his own agency now, and it is also up to him to seek help. You can encourage that. Good luck!

  26. Ron Ellis Avatar

    A useful topic!

    The following sentence deserves a re-write:

    The three main factors I have observed in whether youth stick with Scouts BSA are not are
    ————-

    Maybe to something like?
    The three main factors I have observed in determining whether youth stick with a ‘Cub Scouts’ or ‘Scouts BSA’ programs include:

  27. Stephanie StClair Avatar
    Stephanie StClair

    I found this whole discussion very interesting. I can really see the argument from both sides. On the one hand, as parents, I DO agree that it is your job to help guide and direct your child so that s/he can grow into a responsible, civic-minded adult. Scouts can definitely offer that more readily than most any other program. I do believe that parents can insist a child participate in one or more activities outside of school. My mother insisted that my siblings and I all had to learn an instrument, taking private lessons, and play in the school band/orchestra. We were allowed to pick the instrument (oboe in my case), but we had to do it. As a result, all four of us have a strong love/passion/appreciation for music of all kinds. Even though I did not enjoy my lessons, or band for that matter, I still learned valuable lessons of responsibility to others. I could not show up to a performance not knowing my part. I also had to learn to work with/get along with others with whom I would not normally be friends, but we sat together five days a week in band class, so it was best to get along. Despite my lack of interest overall, it pushed me to mature. Sometimes in life, we have to do things we don’t like. And sometimes, for those of you complaining about overbearing mothers, parents are pushing activities because they want you to build character that is so important in life. It’s not necessarily just about the Eagle Scout, though that does seem to embody the idea that it is the ultimate expression of good parenting. Scouting provides SO MANY learning opportunities, and character-building scenarios. Good, bad, or mediocre, you would not have experienced those if not for a parent insisting on scouts. I DO agree that a parent can insist on participation in an activity.

    Here’s where the other side weighs in:
    By insisting on an activity that your child does not want to do, will s/he just show up with a bad attitude and infect the other participants? Very likely. As a parent, are you taking away an opportunity for your child to demonstrate independence, perseverance, and self-motivation? Possibly. And in extreme cases, are you breeding extreme resentment from your child? Yes, it can happen. We can see some posts here that show that.

    Possibly the answer is to “let go” of the desire for your child to be an Eagle Scout. Insist upon one to three activities (depending on your schedule, costs, etc.) and give a few suggestions that work for your family and budget. Then out of those suggestions, let the child decide, with the understanding that quitting is not an option (at least not without a lengthy discussion and the child choosing a different activity to replace the one they no longer want to do). In this way, you are being both the parent (giving guidance and direction) while allowing the child to carve a path for himself within certain parameters.

    In our case, I feel this is the best solution. Left to his own devices, our son would simply choose video games, all day, every day. That is not balanced or healthy. He has also tried many sports and activities, always quitting after one season. He is now in 7th grade and I’ve told him recently that he needs to do at least one sport (I gave him a long list to choose from – he chose swimming) and one other activity. The choices here were scouting, chorus, an instrument/lessons, art class, or creative writing. (He is still deciding). He also babysits once a week and as soon as Covid is under control, he knows he will be taking a “Babysitter’s Course” offered by the fire department. This class teaches CPR as well as other important skills.

    I think this straddles the fence in a healthy way, and allows me to “let go” of my dream of him becoming an Eagle Scout.

    I was really at an impasse as to what I should do, and I feel this discussion helped me form my conclusion. Thank you!

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