The Scout Association UK recently undertook some research into the issues which impact on developing Cub Scouting.  The NSO used an external research company to carry out interviews with Cubs, their parents, former Cubs and also carried out focus groups with Leaders and young people.  They were concerned that whilst the Cub Scout section was growing in the UK, it was developing slower than other age ranges and wanted to understand why that might be.

The research indicated that are a number of factors which lead to a Cub Scout pack being seen as “good” by young people and their parents:

  • Good leaders, who are fun, engaged and have the leadership skills to manage a large group of 8-10.5 year olds
  • A fun and challenging programme of activities. This needs to include plenty of time spent outdoors, both at weekly meetings and at camps.
  • Programme delivery needs to ensure variation, be practical and leaders need to be open to feedback from young members
  • Well-managed communications between leaders, Cubs and parents.. Family involvement: this can both encourage membership and ensure continued involvement
  • Other hobbies: there is a lot of competition from other hobbies, but flexibility and good communication on the part of leaders can prevent this becoming an obstacle to membership
  • Friends and socialising are central to a positive Cubs experience. Unfortunately, if a friend/s leave a group, this can lead to a departure
  • Scouting still retains a traditional image. For some this can be a barrier, especially as Cubs grow older.

The three critical factors identified by the research are perhaps not a surprise but are worth emphasising as a focus for future work.  They are;

  • The Leader – a good Leader who is able to engage with the young people, maintain discipline and who is enthusiastic and knowledgeable.  The reverse is also true where a leader is poor, unable to maintain disciple and communicate with parents the membership declines.
  • Programme delivery – It is vital that leaders deliver the programme in an engaging and practical way rather than as a lecture. As well as being able to deliver the Cub Scouting programme in a practical manner, leaders also need to be flexible in how they approach programme delivery and respond to feedback from the young people
  • Programme content – the research made it clear that young people perceived a “good” programme as one which focussed on challenge and achievement, badges, fun, trying new things and (most importantly) outdoors and camping.  Overall, variety and the outdoors were identified as being critical to success and continued development.

The full results were published earlier this year and can be found here (

Written by: Stephen Peck


Jordan Bajraktarov
About The Author

Jordan Bajraktarov

Jordan is a Director of Organisational Development at the World Scout Bureau - Europe Support Centre, Geneva

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