Son Doesn't Want to Join Boy Scouts

Updated on October 09, 2013
E.P. asks from Tampa, FL
35 answers

Last week, I took my son to a Boy Scouts meeting. He does not have prior scouting experience. I thought it would be good for him to hang out with some decent kids and it's a great organization.

The kids who he currently hangs out with are not good for him. I won't bore with the long stories.

Anyway, he attended a meeting last week, which he wasn't happy about. A bunch of the boys recognized him from school and were more than welcoming. My son acted polite but he still had the "I would rather not be here" attitude.

After the 1 1/2 meeting, which was boring by the way, he said he had no interest. I was annoyed and told him that he needed to find out more about it before giving up on it.

Well tonight is our second meeting and he is in a bad mood. He wanted to go to his friend's baseball game instead. His friend is one of the bad influences. I talked about him a few times in previous posts.

My husband and I want him to try the Scouts for a few months. If after that, he still despises it, then we'll let him quit.

We've never forced our kids to do anything they don't want to do except school. However, I really think this group will be good for him. What would you do if this was your son? He has nothing else going on now as far as extracurricular activities. He did baseball last year, but we realized it wasn't his strength.

PS- We "forced" him to go to a religious program (CCD) at our church years ago. He hated it at first. Now he loves it. So, I don't think he has an idea of what the scouts are about from one meeting.

What can I do next?

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So What Happened?

Thanks for the responses. I decided that after last night's meeting that if he still wanted no part of it, we would not pursue it. Surprisingly, he came out of the meeting excited and wanted to go camping THIS WEEKEND. I talked to my husband and we can't make it happen that fast. We will consider the next camping trip when we have more info. Unfortunately my son is disappointed now that he can't go.

As far as the Boy Scouts and gays- Last I heard was they were letting gays into the scouts. Has something changed?

PS- Reason we can't send him this weekend- husband can't get off work to go with him and I can't because I have to watch the siblings. Husband doesn't want to send him off an hour away with strangers. We don't anyone that well enough yet. Also, we were given no list of what we need. Other parents have no clue what's going on. I have tried emailing the scout leader numerous times and she has ignored all but one of my emails. She didn't show up for the last meeting. Nobody knew where she was. We are considering going to a different troop that is more organized at our church. They have invited us on a camping trip in early November.

Featured Answers


answers from Portland on

I would never force my kid do something she didn't want to.
I am also a firm believer that the more you try and force kids in one direction, the more they will run in the other.
I think there has to be a way to occupy him so that he has less time witht he kids you don't like, with out forcing him to do soemthing he clearly doesn't like.
Plus boy scouts are a bigoted group anyway. Learn to tie knots AND hate gays, yea!

Sports? Swimming? Chess club? Can he play baseball too?
Just my opinion.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Salinas on

Not a boy scout fan myself. It's a bigoted organization and honestly it never sounded like much fun to me.

Why not insist that he try something new. Play a sport, take up an instrument join a club he is interested in. Can't force a kid to like something and you also can't choose his friends for him. Be careful saying the friends are a bad influence, you'll drive him right to 'em.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Reading on

Middle school/junior high is when most kids start dropping out of scouting because it's not "cool" or because their interests are broadening. It's good to be involved, but don't micromanage him. If you push something he doesn't want, he's going to cleave to those friends you don't like even more and become more secretive.

5 moms found this helpful

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answers from Columbus on

As a girl scout and cub scout leader, please trust me when I say DO NOT force this child to be there. If he doesn't want to be there, we don't want him to be! It benefits no one to have a kid not want to be there. Honor your child's choice. It's not for everyone and it doesn't need to be.

10 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Careful what you ask for.
I'd never encourage my son to do BSA.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

Sounds like he doesn't want to join. Why ruin it for the other boys who want to be there.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Why would you want to force your son to join a group of bigots - especially when you yourself admit that the meeting was boring. WHY would he want to go to ANOTHER boring meeting?

Are you planning to teach your son that being gay is wrong? That's what he's going to learn there. That should really help him in the future, huh?

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Count your blessings. Scouting is a pain. And then there's the whole offensive take on homosexuality thing. I'm THRILLED that my boys had no interest in it.

Tell him that he needs to do *something* and that what he does is his choice (within reason). Present a bunch of options to him and let him pick. The alternative if he doesn't choose something to do is that you will choose for him and pile on the chores.

Some kids take a while to find their niche. Let him know what's out there. My oldest tried a bunch of sports in early elementary school, didn't love any of them, and decided in 5th grade that he wanted to play hockey. That's an insanely late start to hockey and I tried to dissuade him but 5 years later, he's still doing it an loving it.

Keep an open mind - if traditional sports aren't his thing, how about parkour or stunt biking or skate boarding? There are places in my area that teach those things (who knew?). How about music? Chess? Theater? A robotics club? Fencing? There are a million things to try. Let him choose.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

What about a park and rec program with a finite end instead? If Scouts doesn't seem to be his thing (my mom wanted me to do 4H and it wasn't my thing), then challenge him to pick something you find appropriate and offer you an alternative. If your district makes kids earn service hours, what could he do toward that requirement? Or what could dad do with him? Is there a hobby they could share? Something where Dad could spend that extra man to man time with him?

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

i just can't wrap my head around this.
yes, i encouraged my kids to try things they didn't necessarily crave. but why would anyone force a kid into an activity for which they've actually expressed dislike?

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Spokane on

If it were my son I would not force him to go. You will be met with resistance every step of the way. How much fun will that be for any of you?

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

It's not for everyone. Find something else. You were lucky in regards to the church program.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Chattanooga on

There are other groups than Boy Scouts...

You can get him into a sport, martial arts, or whatever.

Besides, just because they are Boy Scouts doesn't mean they are necessarily going to be better friends... One of my brothers was bullied horribly in his Boy Scout troop. My other brother was in a different troop, and had a wonderful time... It's truly the luck of the draw.

And yes, their take on homosexuality is very contradictory to the values I want my children to learn... Like accepting people for who they are....

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Barbara on

Your son is twelve, if scouting can't brainwash him by seven it's too late!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

12 is old to join scouts.. most boys start in first or second grade..

The boys that have been scouts for years will have so much for experience.He might feel really clueless for a long long time...

Not sure if I would do this to him.. maybe another activity??

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

What Gracie said.

I'd keep searching for something he'd like to do that (bonus!) keeps him away from the "bad influences."

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Tampa on

Sounds like he REALLY is not interested in this. Why would you put him through that or even the other kids in the pack? This is the kind of thing that really isn't fun unless everyone wants to be there. Find him another activity...this one is not for him.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Baton Rouge on

I wouldn't force my kid into any extra-curricular activity that she wasn't interested in.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

How old is he?

He has bad friends?
Well, he needs to learn how to choose, friends.
Kids do not inherently nor automatically, "know" how to do that.
I have seen, some REAL nice kids... get caught up in icky-icky-yucky groups/cliques/friends. And they don't know any better. They are just followers and they don't know themselves. I work at my kids' school. I see this all the time. Many kids just do not know how... to be their own person. Regardless if they are in Boy Scouts or not.
And they get caught up in crappy friends.

WHAT exactly is your son interested in?
Let him get into that.
ie: Lego Robotics? Tennis? Art? Music? Computer programming? Yes, even kids can learn that. My kids are 7 and 10 and they have learned that.
Your son does not have to do all the "sports" that the other boys do just because all the other boys do, it. So, if he doesn't want to do the usual baseball or football or soccer thing, then don't.
See, what HE has an interest in or what his strengths is.
Does he even know, himself, that way?
He needs to know himself. So that he can navigate himself.... even in light of "bad" influences, and learn how to discern friends.

Or maybe have him do volunteering?
Even at a pet shelter or something.

I know a family who has a boy. The boy has a tendency to get caught up in "bad" friends and trouble. But, instead, the Dad... spends a LOT of time with him... takes him out, does activities with him, they do the same sports together, they do father/son races and hikes etc. And by doing that, the Dad "teaches" his son about life and about character and about leading... his life. Not having his life led for him, by other icky friends. The boy is a Tween.
The family does not only rely, on "groups" to teach their son things. The Dad is directly involved in his son's life. And the Mom too, in her own way. The son has really turned around.
Because he has learned, that HE... decides his own fate and quality of life.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

If he isn't interested in Boy Scouts it's ok.
His ne'er-do-well friend has an activity so it's not unreasonable for your son to get involved in some activity of his own.
Sign him up for taekwondo.
If he wants to quit after 6 months then he can as long as he joins something else as long as you're reasonably sure that one friend isn't part of it.
There's a long list of things he can try out one after the other (it ought to keep him busy for a few years at least):

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Boy Scouts is not something you force.

Either he likes it or not. You can try a different troop.

The first 2 years can be boring as they are learning the ropes. It's in the 3 and later years that they get to do the fun stuff - kayaking, harder camping, etc.

If you have the money to fork over for the dues - then ask him to try. If not? Let him have his say. If he doesn't know any of the boys there? It doesn't help. Find one that has at least one of his friends in it!!

good luck!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

I want to give my political two cents. Boy scouts will only continue to change for the better if people DO join who believe in acceptance of everyone. My son's troop/pack leaders make statements saying EVERYONE is welcome and we don't discriminate here. We do not believe in god and it is no issue at all. So, it depends on the leaders. I guess they can do whatever they want and if you happen to join a closed minded group you will see that sort of thing. I say make your son do it for a year...find a super active troop that likes to camp and do lots of fun stuff. Our son just loves it. They make meetings really fun with games and skits and they do a lot of activities, field trips, and camping. They are a great influence and focus on being the best person you can be, taking responsibility, helping your community...stuff like that.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I wouldn't push it...sounds like it's not for him...stick with the church...that's different since it's a family commitment.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

I think you did the right thing by having him try out more than one meeting. So much depends on who runs the meeting and what kind of activity is planned. And yes, it is a bigoted organization, but not everyone in it feels the same way, and there are many adult volunteers in BSA that are trying to bring about change.

But I do agree with Veronica P below - as a Girl Scout leader I can say that having to deal with a kid that is forced to attend is no fun at all and can really affect the dynamics of the meeting. So if after giving it a good try he decides it's not for him, then definitely let him out of it.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Tampa on

You've gotten a lot of answers. I know scouting has a lot of advantages, even down the road when thinking about college. Our girl scout leader has explained how when you have scouting on your college application, that application may get more priority than an application that does not. Given that, if your son has been in scouting and now decided didn't want to continue, then I would say he should stay and see it through as long as possible (I know in girl scouts, you can be a member, and not HAVE to go to all the meetings, but you need commitment and contribution, still). BUT since your son has not been in scouts, and doesn't seem to have the desire, it's probably best to find something else for him. I am not sure how old your boy is, but if you and your husband sat down with him and had a list, or had him make a list of all his interests, then approached it asking him what 3 things would he most like to get involved in? Then all of you can research, get involved in finding out information on the activity, and discuss the options. In the end, you are the parents, but and especially if he's older (10 plus), he really needs to feel he has a say in some of the decisions. You guys get the final decision, but he needs validity and encouragement. Remember, also, to empathize and make sure he gives you his reasons for not wanting to do scouts. Sit down and talk with him or go on a walk or for some ice cream. Make it light and he will lighten up.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

It sounds like you are trying to determine what you want your son to do vs what he wants to do. So he will buck the system every time. Find out what he wants to do. You say baseball wasn't his strength but did you give it a good shot? Does he enjoy it? Can you work with him at home so he is better at it? Maybe there is something else he wants to try. Also know that the more you get him in activities he wants to be in, he will make new friends within those activities and move on from the ones you don't want him to be around..

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

How old is your son? If he is 10+ I probably wouldn't make him do boyscouts but I would tell him he must do something (basketball, band, set crew, yearbook, swimming... something)

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Anchorage on

If he is not interested then he is not interested. We tried scouts, my son thought it was okay but nothing special, and he has made better friends through sports anyways. Even though I hate the scouts and think they are discriminatory I still let my son go because it was HIS choice, I don't think it is right to force a child to be in a program they simply are not interested in just because you think it is good. Also, you can not choose his friends for him. My mom thought my friends were "bad" when I was growing up, but they were all good people who actually accepted me for me rather then who they (or my parents) thought I should be. You will find that when it comes to his friends and things like scouting (if he has no interest) all the pushing will simply push him away.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbia on

I wouldn't force it.

I'm curious about just why his friends are bad influences, and why you don't approve of ANY of them.

Here's the thing about "bad influences:"

We teach our kids good values and morals beginning at a young age. We show them the difference between good people and not so good people. And then we let them make choices in actions and friends.

If this kid isn't a "good influence," that doesn't mean that you should immediately pull your son away. You should gently ensure that your son is aware of the inappropriate things this kid is involved in, and ensure that your son understands that it's not okay. You should have this kid over to hopefully have a good influence upon HIM, and keep (quiet) tabs on what sort of relationship he has with your son.

At 12, it's time for your son to start learning to choose rightly for himself, with some gentle guidance.

Ask him what sort of activities he'd like to be involved in. Why can't he be on a sports team with his friends? Why not involve him where he's interested?

ETA: I'd call the scout leader and find out if there is some way that they can help make the camping trip happen for your son. I think it'd be good for him and he'd really love you for trying.

"Reason we can't send him this weekend- husband can't get off work to go with him and I can't because I have to watch the siblings. Husband doesn't want to send him off an hour away with strangers."

He's a boyscout! He goes to school 8 hours every day with strangers. He NEEDS to be able to participate without mommy and daddy. Contact some of the other parents for the list. I'm sorry for sounding mean, but I think your reason for not sending him is lame.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Tampa on

I was going to chime in but saw that your son has made the decision to stay in Scouts. I would try to do what you can to make the camping trip. He is finally excited, and now he might have to wait a month to go again. Is it about getting all the camping equipment needs so quickly? Can you talk to the scout leader and see if you can borrow some equipment?

My son dropped out of Boy Scouts after being a Cub Scout for five years and then a Boy Scout for about 6 months. He said the meetings were boring, but I thought he was being dramatic. We tried a different troop and sat in the meeting myself and it was painful. They had kids making presentations that they had supposedly prepared. Some were not prepared and just sat up there saying stupid stuff just to fill the time.

I still think Boy Scouts is a good organization and becoming an Eagle Scout is very impressive for college admissions purposes. My son replaced Boy Scouts with Sea Cadets, which is like a junior Navy. My son also does martial arts and I'm looking into an entrepreneurs club and Teen Court. He does school sports some seasons but I was trying to find him opportunities that provided such enrichment outside of school.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

Why can't you make it happen for him to go camping? Finances? Seems like your prayer was answered and now you have dropped the ball.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

We tried Scouts too, for a few years, and I was even a den leader! But my son never really got into it. He did it because he had friends who did it, and he wanted to go camping. But honestly a lot of it WAS boring. We had a good Pack and I did my best to keep things interesting and engaging but unless your child is REALLY into badge work and community service then it's hard to keep them going. The camping was only twice of year and even that was mostly boring. My son wanted to hike and stargaze but they spent a lot of time doing things like talking about outdoor safety and working on knots (which they never actually used.)
My son was never into team sports, but he liked tennis, hiking and running. In high school he ran track and cross country.
There are MANY things out there to try. Is he into music? What about learning how to play the guitar, or drums?
Or he could just spend more time with his dad. My son loved that too, they played video games all the time, went to Costco and Home Depot together and drove out to the range and hit golf balls, just for fun.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

My daughters are in Girl Scouts. Most of the meetings are boring, but most of the activities they do are fun, as the meetings are spent planning and preparing for those fun events. It's hard to make a judgment based on one meeting. However, if your son goes with a bad attitude, then he won't be open to all the great things scouting has to offer.

I would sit down and talk to him about what he wants to do. Explain to him that you want him to choose an activity, give him suggestions.... karate, scouts, music lessons, etc.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

Can you have the other boys in scouts talk to him about what kinds of things they do and what they enjoy about it? Nothing like having other kids tell you about something rather than hearing it from an adult. I would tell him he needs to attend x amount of meetings and that if he truly does not want to do it then you can find another activity or class for him to take.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Cleveland on

I think its reasonable to give him a time limit like 3 months, talk to the leader see what upcoming events are planned that your ds might like. If he is into something, like watching sports see if your local team has a scout night. Our boys got to spend the night at the hockey arena after a game. The meetings might be a bit dull but usually the field trip stuff is fun.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Tampa on

I'm just now seeing your son is 12. While one meeting is probably not enough, that might be late to join. Have him pick another organized activity. That way as long as he is busy with soccer, karate, etc. he won't be spending time with the bad influence kids. You are right to fill his time in a positive, constructive way and introduce him to good kids.

1 mom found this helpful
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