Keepin's Easier Than Marketing

Date: Fri, 23 Jun 1995 14:20:30 -0400

By: Craig Bond

Recently, retention and drop-outs at various levels have been discussed. I thought some of you might be interested in the outline of a presentation I made to a recent staff planning conference. FWIW.

Where to Cub Scouts come from?

Rallies and roundups.

The highest drop-out rate (lowest retention) is in the second grade -- attributed to low levels of den leader training.

The next highest is at the crossover from Cub Scouts to Webelos -- attributed to low Webelos leader training, difficulty finding Webelos leaders, and the change of den leaders at that level.

Where to Boy Scouts come from?

  • eligible Webelos Scouts join Boy Scouting
  • join with their Webelos Den
  • join with a friend
  • join the troop at their church or school

Where do Explorers come from?

Primarily, invitations to join, from friends or organizations.

What programs do Explorers join?
General interest 11.7
Health careers 11.3
Law enforcement 10.4
Law/gov't/public svc 8.7
Science/engineering 5.3
Outdoor/field sports 4.4
Fire/emergency svc 4.2
TOTAL 56.0


Trial Rate is the percentage of TAY (total available youth, or total youth eligible to join within a given district/council) who enroll each year. It is determined by dividing the number of new applications each year by the TAY. It may be evaluated by grade, by program, or by area.


Retention is the percentage of members who re-enroll, or recharter, annually. It is determined by dividing the youth membership at recharter by the youth membership before recharter, excluding any new members enrolled at recharter.


People buy a product the first time as a result of advertising -- whether point-of-purchase, preconditioning, couponing, or other enticement; they buy it the second and succeeding times because of their satisfaction with the product.

Parents sign their sons up for Cub Scouts or Boy Scouts because of our reputation, our program promise; they re-enroll because we have delivered the promise.

Boys join packs and quit dens. They quit dens because they aren't getting program. They aren't getting program because their leaders don't plan and/or aren't trained.


  1. It is easier for us to keep a Cub Scout or Explorer than to replace him/her.
  2. Our best source of Boy Scouts is retained Cub Scouts. If we can increase our Cub Scout retention in the first two years, particularly by training and then retaining the den leaders through the Webelos program, we can dramatically increase our Boy Scout membership.

Sources: various, BSA surveys, literature.

My apologies for this poor documentation. I will work on tracking down the exact documentation of the statistics when I return from vacation ("You spend all that time in the woods and they still give you a vacation?!?<GGG>". The observations and implications drawn are IMHO and are not official BSA position statements.


Craig Bond, Mandeville, LA, Istrouma Area Council

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