You will find some specific discussions on point systems in the forum. The thing is, if there is even marginal parenting and training of a child going on by the time a child is ten years old rewarding good behavior will tend to fail.
First, by age ten the reward for simply doing what is expected has to be pretty steep if it is the only reason the child behaves as to be expected. This means the little things are no longer a motivator. Second you are reinforcing a behavior pattern that will extend through the childs life, a reward dependant sense of self. Someone who, when doing even the most medial tasks will require constant encouragement and disproportional rewards for success. These are not self motivated driven people, they are burdens to be around and hard to get along with.
No do not return to any form a corporal (physical) punishment. When a child performs as he is expected to perform be encouraging and positive; tell him he has done well and you appreciate his participation and having him at the club. Make sure your kids feel welcome and encouraged to attend. The points system is well used for many not as a manner of building reward but for a measurement of minimum performance.
When a points system is used then your kids are accumulating a number of points, at any given time a fixed number of points are possible to achieve. Since these points are a measurement of participation (being on time, in proper uniform, paying dues...) then one can expect each child to maintain a minimum number of points. Points are not given for "fun" outing such as camping and recreational trips. Points are given for Outreach activities and educational outings. Children who do not maintain the minimun thus lose some privilage, the only privilage there is to lose is participation in "fun" outings. In simple terms a child who is not dedicated to Pathfinders does not earn the privilage of showing up every time there is a fun outing and never being present for meetings and other activities.
That is not the whole of the issue though, I know this from experience with clubs and from the number of buts I get from staff who respond to this kind of program. Lets start with the kid related buts:
Parents bring their kids what if they do not, I can not take their points. Oh really? I think otherwise, short of some phenomina a kid can pick up a phone and call his counselor or another staff member and try and get a ride or at least give a reason for not attending ahead of time which ought be worth at least partial points.
Kids should not be excluded. Again, Oh really? Kids should not be excluded from family events, church service, and school. Beyond that a child should want to be a part of what he is involved in, this inlcludes Pathfinders.
But the kids only like the fun outings. What can I say, that reflects on the leadership not the kids, sorry. I know it is not easy, I tell all directors and deputies that leading a ministry is a full-time job and you should expect to spend as much time at it as you will your full-time job. You have to plan, you have to communicate the plan to your staff. You have to be certain your staff understands the plan, and has the ability to execute the plan, You have to lead out in the execution of the plan and if you practice you will get very good at it.
That brings up the leadership. If the kids are disconnected bored, or have disappeared, that is a reflection on your leadership not their interest. That will hurt some peoples feelings, lick your wound and deal with your skill and perception of Pathfinders. If your program is interesting and keeps moving you will have kids who come all of the time, even the ones who never did before. Your club will grow, even when you think there is no one left to join because you are in this small rural church your club will grow. It will grow because kids who are not in your church will come; they will come because their friends like it and talk about it.
If the program is good and the kids want to be their the points will take care of themselves. There will only be the occasional child who is particularly grief causing and after missing out on the trip to the ice skating rink (seasonal reference) this month then by next month he will be working toward being at the "fun" outing of the month. Now if he is falling short but has been making an effort and it is his past poor performance that is holding him down you, the leader can fix it. Not through a few ride but by finding tasks that are truly helpful and that will earn one time bonus points, you know just enough to get him in the door. It is also appropriate to talk with mom and dad from time to time (the counselor's job) to be sure they know how their kid is doing and what they need to do, also the generals of how things are at home and what you can do to help through Pathfinders.
One las little thing I touched on, keep it moving. Any pause in your program, any moment when the kids are not being addressed or occupied by activity is a moment that can and often will lead to chaos. Kids will self entertain if you let them, it only takes a minute or two of ill preparedness and their off. Getting them back will be a painful task remind you of wrangling a rowdy three year old, they will be just about as happy afterward. If you want to avoid boredom keep presentations short and make sure opening and closing are little more than five minutes each. The more hands on the kids are the happier they will be.
Xtreme Youth Resources International