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As children grow into teenagers, it can be difficult for organizations they grew up in to hold their attention.
Angie Tinch, program delivery coordinator for the Girl Scouts’ Heartland Service Center, said girls often have a hard time staying as involved in the Scouts by the time they get to high school.
That’s nothing new. Older girls have more academic and extracurricular obligations. They become more involved in sports or begin to think the Scouts aren’t cool, Tinch said.
Now, the Scouts have a plan to retain older girls.
The organization is offering girls the option to choose the activities in which they’ll participate. That means they can go on trips or camping if they want, even if they don’t have time or interest to make regular meetings or participate in some other activities.
That option has been available to girls of all ages to some extent before, but the organization is putting more emphasis on it now to reduce the number of girls who drop out in high school, Tinch said.
The organization wants to retain those girls because they become eligible for scholarship opportunities through the Scouts at that age, she said.
Tinch said she doesn’t know if many Scouts are aware of all the scholarships they lose out on if they drop out during high school.
“I know when I was a freshman in high school, I wasn’t thinking about college,” she said with a laugh. “I was thinking about boys.”
It’s also important to retain older girls because they tend to become leaders in the Scouts and the community, Tinch said.
“It’s not about us entertaining them at that level,” she said. “It’s about what they can do for their community. That’s what we hope to deliver into the world, just that accountability that these girls have because then they go on to be amazing women.”
The Boy Scouts follow a completely different philosophy for retention, said Clint Scharff, director of field services for Boy Scouts of America.
“Instead of making the requirements easier in high school, we tend to make them harder,” he said.
Keeping members engaged by giving them more goals and requirements helps maintain their interest, Scharff said.
The organization loses some members as they get to middle-school age because that’s when children tend to move from participating in a variety of activities to specializing in a few, Scharff said.
“Once we’ve got kids from middle school, we tend to keep them,” he said.
The Boys Scouts also try to prepare boys and girls between 14 and 20 years old for college and careers through the Exploring program, which offers mentoring and helps members make the transition from school to work, Scharff said.
Scharff said all of the things Scouts offers helps retain members.
“The more options you give them, the more likely they are to find something they like,” he said.
Amber Coulter can be reached at (270) 505-1746 or email@example.com.