What to do when … Boys sneak out of activities which they are expected to attend

View a list of all the problems covered in this series.


A common frustration of many leaders is finding boys in places where they are not supposed to be (e.g. bathroom, other parts of the church building) at the wrong times (e.g. during squad meetings, Council Rings or Story Circles). If the group is large enough, it is likely that several boys will occasionally be found absent from the whole group. When I was in Stockade as a boy there was a Safeway next door and this was a common destination for boys feeling a bit rebellious.

Boys may sneak out for several reasons.

  • The sheer delight of eluding the watchful eyes of an adult leader. A boy earns recognition points from his peers if he gets away with something
  • Boys are bored with the group’s activity and decide to find some fun elsewhere.
  • A boy has a personal problem that in some way he is trying to hide from the group (e.g. hurt feelings as result of ridicule from others). Few leaders enjoy acting as policemen chasing down errant boys hidden in the nooks and crannies of the church.

Some positive steps of action Include:

  1. Work hard to make each part of the weekly meeting exciting and action-filled. When boys are busy enjoying themselves, they are not inclined to sneak away. This requires careful planning of each meeting so that activities move along promptly and efficiently. Boys will often disappear during lulls between activities when nobody is apparently in charge. Counteract this by having one activity start right on the heels of the previous one.
  1. Use formations at appropriate times to check attendance and keep an atmosphere of organization. Before the Council Ring or Story Circle is a good time as well as after squad or post meetings.
  1. Emphasize to rangers and noncoms their responsibility to know where their boys are at all times. They should be in close contact all through the meeting.
  1. Determine areas of the church building that are off-limits to boys (e.g. sanctuary, women’s washrooms, etc.) and be firm in penalizing offenders (e.g. sitting out one or more game). The more leaders are consistent in enforcing these rules the less trouble you will find.
  1. Boys who are caught should be talked with privately. Respect their reasons for sneaking out, but let them know that you are bound to enforce the standards which you set. Seek the suggestions of the boy for ways to make the meeting more interesting to him.


This series was adapted from a resource that has been used by Brigade leaders for decades.

View a list of all the problems covered in this series.


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