Spring and summer are great seasons for Sections to share linking adventures. This time of year not only lends itself to a wide variety of fun outdoor adventures, it’s also the ideal time for youth moving from one Section to another to better get to know the program they will be part of come fall.
Youth are most likely to quit Scouting as they age out of their Section or shortly after joining the next Section up. This is because senior youth in a Section may begin to find their program routine and less appropriate for their age than when they were younger. Similarly, youth who are new to a Section might feel overwhelmed with more challenging adventures, as well as a more demanding pace set by older youth. Making things even more intimidating, the youth have to acquaint themselves with a new symbolic framework, new Scouters and new ceremonies. It can be a lot to take in!
Sharing linking adventures can do a lot to make youth more comfortable with the transition. Broadly speaking, linking adventures come in two forms: either youth from an older Section join (or, better yet, plan) an adventure with a younger Section or senior youth from a younger Section join the older Section on one of its adventures. Both of these approaches to linking are worthwhile, and active Sections can even plan both kinds of adventures.
The linking adventure is an opportunity to begin making new friendships
For the former, youth from an older Section might plan to attend a younger Section’s regular meeting to lead a game or two. They can take advantage of the warm weather to plan an outdoor activity, such as tag, kickball (soccer baseball) or ultimate. For a more ambitious linking adventure, youth from the older Section can plan a special outing for the younger Section, like a weekend afternoon paddle or hike. Whether the adventure is shared on a weeknight or on a weekend afternoon, the youth and Scouters from the older Section should take some time to get to know the youth who will be moving up in the fall. The older youth can let the youth moving up know what kinds of adventures are part of their program and what kinds of skills they’ve acquired over the past Scouting Year. More importantly, the linking adventure is an opportunity to begin making new friendships, ensuring the youth moving up are both comfortable and excited for the next Scouting Year.
Perhaps an even easier way for an older Section to link with the youth moving up from a younger Section is simply to invite them to take part in their own program. For example, a Scout Troop can invite Howler Cub Scouts to some of its evening meetings. This is a great opportunity for the Howlers to take in the Scout opening and closing ceremonies, play some new games, contribute to the planning of adventures, and (most importantly) get to know the Scouts and Troop Scouters. There may even be an overnight adventure or two that would be appropriate for the Cubs to join.
There’s no need for linking to be very complicated or formal. The important thing is to build relationships and make youth who are moving up to a new Section feel welcome and eager to continue their Scouting adventures. These youth and their parents should have every opportunity to ask questions, and they should be invited to register for the next Scouting Year.