Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Motivating Scout Participation

I have recently been discouraged by the lack of motivation to participate felt by my Scouts. I don't think it's that the Scouts aren't having fun at meetings (some would probably beg to differ depending on the meeting, though) I just feel like there isn't a general excitement and anticipation about going to a Scout meeting. At this age I think a lot of it is the parents not finding Scouting to be a high enough priority, but that's another issue entirely. I am instituting a plan this year that I hope will help encourage a little better participation from my Scouts.

I can't take full credit for my new plan. It's nothing new and I got turned on to it by reading a post on the LDS-Scouts Yahoo! group. The general idea of the program is to award beads for a variety of participation-related items. Here is the list I've come up with so far:

  • Red - attending a meeting

  • Yellow - attending an activity (non-meeting, non-campout)

  • Green - attending a campout

  • Purple - exceptional participation at a meeting, activity or campout

  • White - exceptional display of Scout spirit, service, etc.

The purple and white beads are awarded on a discretionary basis. I decided that we should award at least one purple bead every meeting determined by a quick leader discussion. If more than one is deserved more are awarded, but at least one should be awarded. I made certain to stipulate to the Scouts that the participation bead was earned by paying attention, answering questions and not having to be "reeled in" every few minutes.

I needed some way for the Scouts to display the beads on their uniform and my wife suggested a piece of string or leather thong that could be worn on the shoulder next to the epaulette. With the size beads I got, a 10-inch loop of leather string can hold about 35 beads.

The last piece of the plan is awards for earning a certain number of beads. I kept it simple and said that for every 20 beads earned the Scout would get a $5 gift certificate to McDonald's. If the Scout earned 75 beads he would get a pocketknife. Based on the level of participation needed for 75 beads, I only expect a few scouts to get the pocketknife. I also figured that I should be able to find a knife for around $10-$15.

This will be my first time running a plan like this and I may see a few surprises, but my hope is that this will get the Scouts' interest flowing and motivate them to want to come to meetings and participate. I guess I'll see how it goes.

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