Monday, June 26, 2017

5 ways to keep your scouts interested

My troop typically doesn't meet over the Summer months. We meet during the school year and then when school ends, scouts ends.. until the next Fall.

This year we are doing something new. We are going to get together to complete a Journey in a Day. Senior Journey Mission: Sisterhood. A couple reasons for this.
1) They are BUSY!!! My girls are going into High School and I am full aware that our meeting frequency will be drastically different. Two of the girls are in Marching Band (you should see that schedule!). Two are in cheer. All have multiple clubs and things they do besides scouts.
2) The older they get, the harder it gets to keep them interested in scouting. They are torn in a million different directions. I'm chuckling to myself here a tad, because I realize this is only the beginning of our young women having to make choices and feeling pulled in different ways. It doesn't get any easier, does it? What's worse is that a lot of times it's our own gender criticizing the  most... stop that, okay? 

If you want to keep them in scouts, you have to keep them interested. Here are the 5 ways I hope to keep my scouts interested through their Senior year in High School. 

1. Keep it easy
The first thing we need to realize is, scouting is only one option they have. ONE of many. Scouting is awesome because you don't have to practice every day like sports. You don't have to take expensive trips. You don't have to have a set in stone schedule. We can be flexible and we should be. 

This is their Freshman year. I hope to meet with them one time a month. The theme of the month will be different and they will be setting that schedule and theme for the year at our first meeting this Fall. If they miss a meeting, it isn't the end of the world. Do I want them there? Absolutely! But, keep perspective and understand they are beginning their transition into the "real world" where schedules get tricky. Choices have to be made. You can't be in two places at once, no matter how hard we wish we could.

You want to keep them in scouts? Keep it easy! 

2. Keep it fun
They are in school all day long. Scouting should be fun. You can learn through playing at any age. Don't forget that. Get them outside as much as possible. Get them laughing and playing. Yes. Playing. We're not jump roping and hopscotching, but you can and if your girls want to do that... do it. But, find ways to let them let loose and have a good time. 

If they feel like they are going to sit and stare at a book for the whole meeting, they aren't going to want to be there... and let's be honest... I don't want to be there either. 

My girls got on a Sculpey clay kick for a while. Each meeting their plans included making something out of clay. They loved it. They were tying it in with their badge, so let's do it. The one thing we did this past year that was requested time and time again... Uno and Spot It. They would plan their badge work to get done early, so they could play games. Game time would erupt in laughter and memories. Time well spent. 

It doesn't have to be about earning a badge all the time. Promise. Life skills where they are learning how to let themselves be silly and relieve stress... those are skills that will pay off time and time again. 

Keep it fun to keep them in. 

3. Keep it girl-led
Starting with their 7th grade year, the girls started planning all of their meetings. My co-leader and I helped them come of with ideas when they didn't like the suggested activities. WI have helped them organize thoughts by giving them a sheet for planning. It also helps me know what supplies they are requesting. 

I'm sure we have all heard "if you want a child to eat something new, have them help prepare it." Well, that mindset transcends into scouts. You want them to stick around? Make sure they are involved with the planning and decisions. You are more likely to show up if you take ownership in the activity. 

Yes, I do plan the large things for them, such as the Journey in a Day programs. But, they still give me direction. I listen to what they like and don't like. I pay attention to what they have really enjoyed and the stuff they could do without. In fact, they asked me to put the day program together for them. They still enjoy being able to show up and participate without all the prep. I'm fine with that, because I still like to feel needed. 

Girl-led doesn't mean they have to do all of it. Girl-led means they give input and set the direction and make decisions together. Remember, these girls are BUSY. Don't pile "one more thing" on them all the time. They'll choose to leave, if you don't help them out. Plus, let's be honest, they are entering into a world where they will have so many things dumped on them... cut them a little slack. Prepare them, but don't overwhelm them!

Follow their lead. If they want and ask for your help, then that is still girl-led!

4. Keep it low-stress
As they enter High School, they enter a new world. They are immediately expected to start thinking about college, career, and life choices. Not to mention all the scholarships and advanced placement classes students are just expected to do. It's a lot different than when I was a High School Freshman. They also have to think about how to make themselves most interesting to perspective colleges. No more is it just about the grades and the course work. It's about the extracurricular activities and volunteer work. They have a lot to think about. For the most part, college isn't an option... it's a requirement.

When it comes to scouting, keep it low stress. Work with them and ask them what works. Ask how you can help relieve the stress of their every day life. Encourage them to keep that line of communication open as their lives change. Don't pressure them to do everything and be at everything. Remind them you want them there, but you also understand. 

5. Keep it engaging
Let me tell you something brutally honest... if you are bored at a meeting, so are they! Help them plan activities that inspire and motivate. I don't know about you, but I have enough things I "have" to do that aren't fun. When it comes to scouts, it needs to be engaging.

Bring in some patch programs to learn some life skills where they have something to show for it. If they like cooking, check out Share the Season. Do they love singing? Complete Just Sing. Are they artsy? Ask them about Handmade Treasures.

Want to know my summer plan? This is the bare bones list: 

This is what I'm hoping to do...
  • Journey in a Day meeting over the summer (July; planned)
  • Dinner and Movie night (August; before school starts)
  • Mailed note card to just check in
  • Convention trip (October; planned)
  • and...I gave them an option of a Summer Patch Program to help them have a little fun

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