The BSA's annual report for 2008 shows that membership numbers are continuing to decline as the ratios of Scouts to leaders remain steady. The table below reports membership changes from the past four years and analyzes the sizes of units and leadership ratios.
I am counting on more mathematically talented folks to check my work and the assumptions I draw from the numbers.
|Total Cub Scouts
|Cub Scout Packs||51,469||51,077||50,780||50,213||-1,256||-2%|
|Boy Scout Troops||42,811||42,269||41,947||41,628||-1,183||-3%|
|Total Traditional Units||122,582||121,530||121,034||120,262||-2,320||-2%|
|Cub Scout Leaders||493,165||480,457||480,316||470,400||-22,765||-5%|
|Boy Scout Leaders||520,591||519,557||524,962||528,534||7,943||2%|
|Scouts per Troop||20.6||20.4||20.3||20.3|
|Leaders per Troop||12.2||12.3||12.5||12.7|
|Scouts per Leader||1.7||1.7||1.6||1.6|
|Cub Scouts per Pack||33.9||33.3||33.2||33.2|
|Leader per Pack||9.6||9.4||9.5||9.4|
|Cubs per Leader||3.5||3.5||3.5||3.5|
|Venturers per Crew||12.4||12.3||12.8||13.1|
|Leaders per Crew||3.2||3.2||3.3||3.3|
|Venturers Per Leader||3.9||3.8||3.9||4.0|
Leadership ratios and unit sizes have remained steady as membership has declined.
I am curious that the ratio of Scouts to leaders is basically half of that as Cubs per leader. Although the decrease in Cubs and Scouts from 2005-2008 is about the same the ten year trend (below) represents that we have lost twice as many Cubs as Scouts. I wonder if the leadership ratios are a factor?
There also seems to be a retention problem in Cub Scouts as they approach Webelos. From what I have seen there is a fair amount of attrition from Tiger to Wolf and from Bear to Webelos. I can't find any numbers for the Webelos to Scout transition. I can extrapolate that since there are twice as many Cub Scouts as Boy Scouts we are only transitioning half of the boys who join Cubs into Scout Troops.
Here is a look at the ten year trend showing a net loss of 16% but a more shocking loss of nearly a quarter of Cub Scouts while Boy Scouts shows the lowest losses.
|Total Cub Scouts||2,171,987||1,665,635||-506,352||-23%|
|Total Boy Scouts||1,023,442||905,879||-117,563||-11%|
I know that our Troop has had to extend a great deal of effort to recruit Webelos and other boys to become members. The 'good old days' where we could expect eight or ten new members from local Packs are over.
The ratios of leadership indicate that Troops are top-heavy with adult leadership. Cub and Venture leaders have about twice the number of youth members to care for. It would seem to me that Troops should detail a number of their leaders to work directly with Packs to support their program and help to increase retention and transition.