Suggestions for Future Research

This study identified a number of variables important to membership retention and raises a number of questions which would benefit from more research. A similar study with longitudinal design would allow a more detailed analysis and would get around problem of poor recall. This would allow more detailed information about the nature of camps, for example, to be collected.

Linking from Cubs to Scouts and Scouts to Venturers should be looked at separately. The Secretary General of the WOSM has speculated that young people who have been in Beavers are less likely to continue to Scouts because they have already spent so much time in Scouting that it may have lost its appeal (Moreillon 2000). A study of Cub to Scout linking could ask senior Cubs whether or not they were in Beavers to discover if that has any impact on retention to Scouts.

Scout autonomy should be looked at in more detail. In particular, a study could attempt to discover if there is a variable underlying the Scouts-on-their-own measure used above. A larger sample, which includes many troops which use the Court of Honour, could discover what impact this has on retention.

Research could be directed towards testing the hypothesis about the uniform advanced above. Does full use of the uniform lead to greater Scout identity and retention? What factors influence whether or not the Scouts take pride in their uniform or dislike it?

Related to uniforms are badges. One Scouter suggested that Scouts earn more badges on their own if they can only apply for them at one meeting a month, rather that at every meeting, since this creates a sense of urgency. This and other variables could be examined to find out what encourages Scouts to make full use of the badge program.

Many troops included a number of ritual elements in their program. For example, most break the flag at the start of each meeting. Many recite the Scout Promise or Law. What impact do these have on the troop? Do troops which recite the Scout Law have better formal knowledge of the Law? Are there fewer behaviour problems in troops which have better knowledge of the Scout Law?

Researchers could look in more detail at regular troop programs. Activities at regular meetings were of three major types: games, like dodge ball; physical activities, such as doing knots or lashings; and talking activities, where Scouts sit in a group and talk about, for example, rights of citizenship. What impact do different ratios of these activities have on retention? What is the impact of patrol-on-patrol competition?

Much of these questions can also be applied to the other sections, Beavers, Wolf Cubs, Ventures, and Rovers. There could also be valuable research done on retention of Scouters and on the management of volunteer resources.

Liam Morland