Local Scouts experience spike in membership
Scouting’s local Pontiac-Manito District has experienced a large increase in membership this fall, with registered youth increasing by 27% over the beginning of the year.
According to the district, which spans much of Oakland County, the sudden growth suggests a reversal of the negative trends experienced by many extracurriculars during the pandemic. With around 850 active participants, Pontiac-Manito is one of the larger districts in Michigan.
“I think everyone’s ready to get outside again,” Cathy Cowger, a volunteer commissioner for Scouting in White Lake and Waterford, said. “I think this program offers them an opportunity to do that.”
Much of the increase is concentrated within the Cub Scouts program, which serves boys and girls from kindergarten through fifth grade. Cubmaster Eric Stevens of Pack 59 in Lake Orion said he watched his unit more than double in size during the fall.
“Through a very difficult year, Scouting continues to be a great value to the families in our area,” Stevens said. “Our growth in membership proves that the fundamentals of our program remain relevant and exciting for everyone involved.”
While most new registrants have signed up for the Cub Scouts, the district’s Scouts BSA program for middle and high schoolers boasts one of the highest retention rates in the country at over 95%. In August, youth representatives from across the region gathered for a “Youth Leaders Membership Summit,” which laid some of the groundwork for the fall membership drive. This included an initiative to support Cub Scout packs and their programs, bolstering retention and crossover rates.
The newly recruited cubs will have the opportunity to experience their first scout trip at Camp Agawam in Orion Township later this month. The district’s Fall Camporee will include a “Cub Fun Day” on October 23 from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m., featuring archery, field games and a robotics demonstration. The event is open to the public, and families from the community may attend and experience Scouting at no charge.