skautai_3The Survey on retention of young people in Scouting was designed and executed by the Growth through Quality Working Group members, with the objective to map and explore the issue of retention of young people in the European Scout Region, at a first, basic level. 54 Scout leaders from 18 countries responded to the survey. Two of these leaders came from countries outside of European Scout Region, so their answers were excluded from the analysis.

Working Group members will be using data stemming from this research project in order to drawing recommendations concerning ways of improving the retention patterns of young people, relevant to the Region’s NSOs and NSAs.


  • According to the majority of participants, young people leave Scouting for 5 main reasons; The Scout Program fails to meet their needs, there is lack of good leadership, Scouting does not enjoy a good social profile or it fails to provide what it promises to (that is communicated by the media), there is an ever increased competition for young people’s free time, and an ever growing variety of choices on how to spend it and, transition processes are either missing or inadequate.
  • 65% of participants mentioned that their NSAs/ NSOs have been growing in numbers in the last 2 years.
  • A third of participants stated that the membership data in their NSO/NSA monitors the number of young people leaving Scouting, in contrast with providing data about the total Scout population.
  • The vast majority of participants reported to have official procedures in dealing with young people leaving Scouting (84%). Procedures mentioned by participants included: direct, personal contact (visiting homes, writing letters, calling home) and exit interviews.
  • When asked how useful official procedures are in dealing with young people leaving Scouting, most participants supported the value of undertaking such practices, because it aids the NSO/NSA to understand why a person is leaving. However, some thought that such practices are very impersonal and should not be considered useful. It is important to say however, that those who perceived such official procedures to be unsuitable were pronominally individuals coming from NSAs/ NSOs that do not have established such official practices.
  • Concerning transition processes from one group to the following i.e. from Cub Scouts to Scouts, from Rovers to Leaders etc that NSOs/NSAs follow, participants gave a very wide variety of answers (even participants coming from the same NSO/NSA). Most of them reported informal, locally-based ceremonial-like activities and celebration-themed events.
  • 56% of participants did not know when was the last time that transition processes from one group to the following were renewed in their NSO/ NSA, whereas 30% reported that they have renewed it in the last 5 years or are now on the process of renewing it.
  • There was a vast consensus among participants that transition processes from one group to the following, are very important concerning the retention of young people.
  • When asked who should be taking care of the retention of young people, 63% of participants agreed that it should be the local unit, 20% of participants stated that this responsibility should be taken upon the district/county level and the remaining 17% reported that this should be the national level’s responsibility.

Some conclusions

The fact that participants named transition processes at the top 5 reasons of why young people leave Scouting illustrates that when dealing with the retention of young people, the importance of transition processes should not be underestimated.

The growth trend that participants observe is supported by the most recent membership data that the Region has collected (see Membership Report 2011).

The fact that only one third of participants stated that the membership data in their NSO/NSA monitors the number of young people leaving Scouting, whereas one third stated that membership data in their NSO/NSA provides data about the total Scout population is indeed alarming (the rest stated that they did not know), since membership data analysis is a very important tool and a first step in analyzing membership trends and building a growth strategy, as it has been argued (see Action for Growth Report).

We can anticipate individuals who participated in this research to be involved in the local level and this can in part at least explain their focus on the more informal transition processes and their aspiration for the retention of young people to rely at the local level. This does not mean however, that good practices of formal transition processes are absent in the Region, nor that the regional or national levels should not take up the responsibility of young people’s retention processes. It is most probably the case that a better interconnection and cooperation between the different management levels is needed in order to achieve maximum results.

Participants’ profile might also explain the fact that although the majority of participants stated that they have some sort of official procedures in dealing with young people leaving Scouting, they could not really name a variety of them, but on the contrary, they focused on rather unofficial procedures.

The tension of unofficial versus official procedures in dealing with young people leaving Scouting was not initially anticipated by the research team. These research results point to the direction of utilizing both forms of procedures, one acting as complementary to the other, so that young people leaving Scouting feel as much appreciated and valued as possible and also stand a better chance of returning to the Movement, when and if they decide to do so.

Further research focused on the various NSOs/ NSAs that have recently renewed their transition processes would complement this research greatly and this represents a clear direction for future research.

The Working Group should continue encouraging NSOs/ NSAs to study at a greater depth the already existing toolkits that the Region has provided in dealing with growth though quality (including but not restricted to the 2 documents mentioned above).

Full results from the survey are provided in the document Survey on retention of young people – results from the survey.

GQWG team

Results from the Survey on retention of young people in Scouting by EuroScoutInfo


Tagged with:
Jordan Bajraktarov
About The Author

Jordan Bajraktarov

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

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *