One challenge we always had in our Boy Scout troop is keeping older Scouts interested in the program. We can keep younger Scouts interested with the basics: camping, cooking, building fires, using pocketknives, and so on. But, as they get older, they need something different, something they haven’t done many times before.
I notice the same thing in church youth group. It’s easy to get middle schoolers to go on a retreat, as they are happy just to get away for the weekend, exercise a little independence. However, it’s more of a challenge to get high schoolers to go on a retreat, as they want to know what we’re doing to make it worth going.
Older youth need something different from younger youth, that much is obvious.
So, in our Scout troop, we gathered our older youth and asked them what different things they wanted to do. Only then did we discover the REAL challenge. Older youth not only want to do things different from the younger youth, they want to do things different from each other. Most of them have tried many different things and found that they like certain things more than others. A few want to backpack the Appalachian Trail, a few would rather learn SCUBA, while others would rather do something else. So, the real challenge is not just finding something new and different from the younger youth activities. The real challenge is to either 1) find activities that everyone can agree on, or 2) do enough activities to cover everyone’s interest.
In short, older youth are more selective than younger youth. They are not just looking for activities that appeal to older youth in general, but rather they are looking for activities that appeal to their personal preferences.