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How do you retain in the winter?

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  • How do you retain in the winter?

    We had great recruiting, came on strong with our Dens in October. People were excited, joining each week, new people coming, everything was great. We had solid campouts, everything went smooth.

    We hit November, the clocks changed, and things started to fall apart. Leadership team hit strong, then we hit a snag in one of the Dens. We didn't have our communications super strong, and we lost a few Scouts. We're rechartering and not sure how many people should still be on the roster.

    Administratively, I think I'm going to drop anyone that looks gone, and if they show back up in January, fill out a replacement application for them (with our Unit Copy), and have the parent sign and blame it on a paperwork snafu.

    But for next year, I hate to see awesome recruiting go to pot.

    Extra fun, it's South Florida, so the weather is good year round, but we campout in October, January, February and either March or April, so 4 times/year. So November/December is the slowest part of the program year. Add Thanksgiving, December Holidays, and other commitments, and we have BAD attrition this time of year. I think the kids also go a little batty showing up at meetings in the dark.

    Any advice would be appreciated.

  • #2
    We would often combine the November and December pack meetings due to holiday scheduling. You might want to theme your winter meetings to activities that are done in the dark like a sound scavenger hunt, all activities having something to do with phosphorescence, astronomy, intro to flashlight tag. November is when reality hits for a lot of families that have been running on euphoria since August. Get through the trough and pump up the boys for January camp out, PWD, and a big B&G party. You might also consider a leaders only event, not on the Pack's dime if you can't afford it, to say thanks for getting our year off to a great start. And we always included recharter fees in yearly dues due on November 1. You had to tell us not to recharter you.


    • #3
      P18A, I suspect you all got derailed by an early Chanukah.

      Our pack has "reindeer games" and our troop usually ends with a Christmas party -- including caroling in the neighborhood -- on the last meeting night that the public school's in session (our CO is a church but the occasional non-Christian scout is always welcome and has fun regardless).

      That usually brings the "rats out of the woodwork" so you can confirm their registration. You need one more pack meeting this month. Something that might interest the kids, like "pie throwing at the CM". Get whoever is there but hasn't committed on a payment plan. The no-shows, call and tell them if you don't see payment from them in 4 days, they'll be dropped.

      For our crew, it's E-mails and phone calls to every person who does not turn in $ otherwise send in paperwork on or before "dues day". Which is next week. I expect several venturers will ask to be dropped from the rolls because of finances, and some of those will join up again mid year if there's an activity that interests them: pro-rated dues at the cost of a little more paperwork.


      • #4

        Last year I suspected people gone, but had no official word, and they didn't answer emails or phone calls.. But it was due to a blowup, that happened after they paid for the years recharter.. I have money, you aren't going to tell me you are not going to recharter, so that you can get your money back.. Well they were put on the charter. I kindof thought it would be unethical for the pack to keep the money and use it for other purposes then intended, and the people were given opportunity to verbally tell us they wanted a refund. Their problem, I didn't loose sleep over it.. I even was nice enough to leave them on emails inviting them to the jan & feb pack meetings, then I slowly faded out of sending communications.

        Qwazse- What "reindeer games" did you play? Our Dec. meeting is also a Christmas party. We are pretty planned out, but any new ideas that we may use for next year will be helpful. The Pack is new, and I don't want it falling into doing the same old same old for each month.. This year it is a Christmas party, with an overnight sleepover at the church. But, if we do a sleepover next year, it will not be in December. We are lucking out that our pack meeting will be on a night of a meteor shower. So we are hoping for a clear star studded night. We have binoculars, to do that piece of an astronomy belt loop activity, but that is all we will do, as the rest of the belt loop seems to be a sleeper for doing at a party.. Also helping for a cold night. We want to blow bubbles outside and if cold enough the bubbles are suppose to freeze like frosted windows, if real cold they even break like glass (so I am told.), The one I am most looking forward to though is the levitating orb.. Floating Christmas tree tinsel over a pvc pipe by rubbing the pvc pipe in your hair and giving it static (I had to order the tinsel though, you needed real thin tinsel. I was surprised I couldn't find stores selling any tinsel).. We are doing and indoor snowball fight, maybe we'll make taffy (but I have to first try it at home.).. A few other things. A lot of prep-work for this, but I am very excited about it. Cross-fingers on the two that will depend on weather..

        By the way any ideas to make cheap easy bubble blower wands.. I am looking at maybe just using zip ties creating a loop at one end. the rest being the handle.
        Last edited by moosetracker; 12-05-2013, 10:04 AM.


        • qwazse
          qwazse commented
          Editing a comment
          It sounds like you're on target for a barrel of fun.

          I haven't been to one in years, but the little gompers still talk about them around town. Ours is simply a pack meeting with announcements kept to a minimum and awards postponed until January.

          Each den makes a game and the boys split duties hosting their game or visiting the other dens' tables.
          They are all table games along the lines of a fireman's carnival (pin the nose on the reindeer, candy cane toss, marshmallow snowman building, etc ...)
          Every year is a little different.

          One year, the CM offered whip cream pies for the den who sold the most popcorn to throw at him. That was the most work (laying tarps, clean-up, etc ...).

        • moosetracker
          moosetracker commented
          Editing a comment
          Ahhhh... That sounds fun too.. I kind of had something like that in the back of my mind for a few years from now. Right now with only a Tiger den and a wolf den, something like that will wait a few years so that we can have more then two den tables.. But if they stay on task to make this a fun pack they will get there..

          Next year perhaps we will do a bunch of minute to win it style games that have a Christmas theme, I found enough of those to have those for two years without repeating a single game.. But also Christmas caroling might be a different, fun idea, then coming back for hot chocolate.. So far we haven't gotten a family who does not celebrate Christmas. A non-Christmas thought, but it depends on snow which for the past 5 years is rare around here in December is to have them build snow forts and and outside snowball fight, or some sort of snowman building contest between dens.

      • #5
        The key is taking off strong and not backing off. Your cubs joined to have fun, give it to them! From my experience the biggest mistake you can make is not meeting, and not having activities because it's winter. You will have to give some thought to likely weather conditions for outdoor activities, but there's plenty of fun to be had indoors when prolonged outdoor actives aren't appropriate of the age groups in question. As far as the holidays, I would not set a meeting on a actual holiday, but short of that, business as usual; don't make the error of not meeting this soon after recruiting.


        • #6
          You use the Annual Planning session to map out the entire year of Meetings. Most are cut/paste from last year. Den's can modify as needed. The Pack Meetings, Outings and Events are plotted out on the Calendar, handed out to the Parents and communicated. If Scouts start not showing up, you ask what's going on. Come re-Charter Time, which is just after Join Night, you have their Join Fees and register them. Keep after them as to why they are not coming if it's an issue. Ask why. If it's the program, then you fine tune it.

          If they do not come back after Summer and to Join Night, you call/ask if they are. If no response, you drop. No check for the next year, drop.

          Alaska has Winter more than most areas and they still meet. Be creative.


          • #7
            Qwanze, Early Chanukah didn't help at all, but our problems crept up before that.

            Reviewing with the Cubmaster, I think that part was a decision we made over the summer that needed to be revisited. We only really had two active leaders last year, the Cubmaster and myself. In prior years, the Pack had skipped the meeting before or after a Camp Out to let the leaders recharge. Last year, we didn't do that, and the Cubmaster and I burned out. This year we reinstated it, and I think it created confusion as to when we were meeting or not. Also, we scheduled an October Camp Out, and chose to participate in Cub Fun Day two weeks earlier (since they opened a camp-over option for us), so two campouts in one month killed us.

            So between meeting confusion and 2 campouts 14 days apart and we lost steam. Chanukah in November KILLED us... we normally have a Chanukah project as a meeting theme, and because of Thanksgiving Break, we took off that week, and had conflicting Chanukah parties with sparse turnout. Hopefully we can reconvene. I know we lost a few people, but we're hoping to get back on track.

            We also need to plan out more fun Pack Meetings. We've been doing a Den Breakout to prep a skit, doing skits, announcements, and awards. Last year we didn't do a Pack Meeting each month, so it was 3:1 Den:Pack Meetings, this year we are so it's 2:1 Den:Pack Meetings, which I think is too much administration to fun time.

            This year we have about 10 active leaders and 20 Active Cubs (a BIG uptick from 2 leaders, 12 cubs), so even if we've dropped off from our 30 Cubs at the beginning, we're looking good.

            The Pack after September just didn't look like the Pack we had in August at our last planning meeting (we did 3 summer planning meetings to put it all together). I think we'll be okay, I just don't want to lose more Scouts before year end.

            Thank you for the feedback everyone, I reviewed this before a discussion with our Cubmaster.


            • qwazse
              qwazse commented
              Editing a comment
              So, is he up for being on the receiving end of some tossed pies?