Declining members hurts Scouting

Participation in Scouting is declining in Hillsboro, and that?s concerning Scout leaders.

Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts have both experienced a decrease in numbers in recent years.

?We lost a lot of the senior end because of other activities and a couple moved away,? said Edith Darting, neighborhood chair of the Girl Scouts.

Misty Luthi, Brownies leader, has nine members this year?down from 12 last year.

Sherri Buller, Cadettes leader, said she has four members.

The Junior Girl Scouts have eight members, according to Anne Janzen, leader, down four from last year.

?I think once girls are into Scouting, you either like it or don?t like it,? Darting said. ?Once you get involved in Scouting, you stay involved.?

Janzen said one of the reasons for the lower numbers is the amount of things for young people to do in Hillsboro.

?Sometimes I think parents have to decide on one to two activities,? she said.

Luthi said students also have a lot more homework. Another reason she said kids don?t join is they often don?t fully know what?s involved or what is offered through Girl Scouts.

The Girl Scouts are involved in a number of activities, including cookie sales and earning badges for various activities.

The Brownies got the residents at Parkside Homes Christmas gifts and delivered them. They also attended a fall event at Emporia with other troops.

?There?s all kinds of stuff that?s offered,? Luthi said.

Upcoming activities include a spring event. This year it will be a fishing derby.

The Cadettes have been completing interest projects for their badges and for a holiday service project they chose to babysit.

Next spring the group will be going on a camping trip.

The juniors bought stuffed animals with money raised from cookie sales and took them to children in the emergency room as their service project.

They also made tray favors for the long-term care unit at Hillsboro Community Medical Center and are learning about health and fitness.

Scholarships also are offered through Girl Scouts.

?It gives girls a social group and someone to connect to,? Janzen said.

She said it promotes teamwork among the girls.

Buller said Scouting also helps build social skills and getting along with others.

Janzen and Buller agree the biggest problem is getting parents involved. Some parents help with the groups and most parents are helpful, Janzen said.

To attract new members, they hold a fall registration session and send notes to all children in the lower grades.

Although they hold registration in fall, children can join at any time.

The Boy Scouts have even fewer participants than the Girl Scouts. The boys? roster includes only five active members.

Todd Jost took over as Scout master last September. He said there really isn?t any way for him to judge changes in membership, except he knows it is less than when he was in Boy Scouts.

?What is really unfortunate is there is a lot more we could do if we had more people,? Jost said.

Jost said one reason for the decrease is competition Scouting has with FFA, 4-H and athletics.

?There are a lot of demands on kids? time,? Jost said.

He also said there is not a lot of Scouting background in Hillsboro among parents. Because of this, he feels parents just see it as one more thing their children can do.

?It would be nice to have more kids,? Jost said.

One way Jost is trying to increase interest is through summer activities. He said previously it had shut down in the summer.

Jost received permission from the city to use the ponds at the Adobe House for canoeing.

He also will hold a registration in the future to attract new members.

Jost would also like to increase the camping outings. He feels it is vital to Scouting, as well as learning first aid and water safety.

Boy Scouts also expose members to a lot of different careers.

One of their activities to earn a merit badge is going to the Cosmosphere in Hutchinson. They also will be going on a winter camp out in January.

In addition to Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts also is seeing a decrease in participation. Hillsboro has only one Cub Scout den left.

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