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Scouts don't want to recruit

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  • Scouts don't want to recruit

    Overall I have been very optimistic with my new SM/ASM but I have hit a major snag. Traditionally the district Fall Camporee is where troops invite Webelos to a joint campout and the activities are a bunch of stations the patrols rotate through. Admittedly it isn't the most fun or adventurous event. Given our climate scouting for food in November we really only have September and October to have a joint event in the fall. Well the boys have voted on a Watersports outing in September and a out of state backpacking trip in October that will require missing a day of school and both will be a bit pricey and limited capacity. The new SM has proposed a campout at a local park in the middle of suburbia and maybe a bike ride or trip to a historic site as the joint event because it would be cheap and easy. He doesn't want to do a cram down on the scouts citing "boy led, adult advise" and they just don't seem to care all that much. The current Webelos II has been struggling and last year attended a rocket outing with one of premier big troops nearby, we did nothing. My stake in this issue is as IH, CM, temp CC of troop, and a parent and DL of a Webelos 1 as well. Thoughts?

  • #2
    I think your conflating two things: recruiting and what outings the Troop goes on.

    If the Camporee isn't fun or adventurous for the Troop what is the benefit of inviting Webelos to attend it? It sounds like the boys have put together a decent plan for the fall so no there's no real reason to intervene and change it.

    Now the scouts have to be challenged to figure out how best to recruit Webelos into the Troop. A joint outing is a good way, but there are others. The best recruitment, I believe, is having personal connections between the scouts and the webelos. Whatever first connection or activity you have together is not as important as the follow up. Do a local campout, make sure it's fun, but then make sure your scouts are making an individual outreach as a follow up. Have the boys call and encourage the Webelos to come out to a meeting that you know is going to be fun, have them call and just check on the Webelos progress towards AOL. Invite the Webelos to have their meetings concurrent with the Troop so the older and younger boys make more of a personal connection. And then when it's time for crossover make sure the scouts have personally invited the Webelos, as individuals, to join the Troop.

    Just as importantly, all of this personal outreach should be mirrored the adults of the Troop getting to now and following up with The Webelos' parents.


    • #3
      You've got a lot going on in your brief post, to make sure I follow let me restate:

      As an IH, who is also the Troops acting CC, and a DL with the pack your concerned the PLC has neglected to plan activities either based around recruiting, or friendly with Webelo visitation. To further compound things you have a new SM, who has not used his influence with the PLC to make recruiting a priority? Is that roughly what's happening?

      If my read is correct the choices being made may not be the best ones, but that isn't to say anything is broke. I get that your frustrated, and your brain is possibly overheating from wearing so many hats BTW, hat off the CC hat soon, that way your new CC and SM can support each other as they learn, and hopefully form a strong partnership.

      Ok, lets chuck all the hats off but IH (I assume your the Charter Org Head). From the Charter Org point of view here are the questions to ask:

      1. Are all my units healthy?
      2. Are my units supporting each other (not the same as feeding every scout)?
      3. Are my unit leaders communicating?
      4. Is the charter or serving all the youth it has planned to serve (Church, school, community - varies)?

      Summary: Do we have a shared vision of success; a plan to achieve the vision; and leadership in place to carry out the plan, who are communicating and have the required support/resources?

      Do remember you have to give your leaders time to develop, youth and adult, and this will require some trial and error under the watchful eye of the Charter Org, Unit Commissioner, and DE; I dope all three of these players are In place, and everyone in question is trained for the position they hold.


      • #4
        Trust the SM's gut. Have the Webs join the boys for Scouting for Food in November. Ask the boys about setting up a campfire and talking to the webelos about their last two trips. Cook something insanely yummy over a dutch oven. THEN have the boys ask the Webelos if they want to pay a visit during one of your winter activities.


        • #5
          While I appreciate that the local climate can shut down or make difficult winter outings that you'd want to take a Webelos group on, we use that to our advantage. We rent a large lodge (sleeps 80) at a very nice State Park for a long weekend in December or January. We invite all the local Webelos II's to join us. If the weather is fine, we do an outside service project, the Patrols take the Webelos on hikes through the Park, we play games outside, work on Webelos advancement, etc. If it snows, we play in the snow. If it's rainy and cold, we hike anyway, and work on Advancement and play board and card games inside. Although it's not a "normal" Troop outing or a "campout," the Webelos love it to death and I'm convinced this event is a huge "plus" to our recruiting efforts.


          • #6
            Well, you need to relay to the Scouts that keeping the Troop going is their duty. If you don't keep the Troop going, then others aren't going to have the fun you did, and if the boys ahead of them had thought like they are thinking, their wouldn't be a troop today. Remember, it's "boy led" not "boy led into the ground."


            • #7
              My approach is a bit different. Whereas the Webelos book says for the Webelos boys to go and visit, I have my PL's take charge and get themselves and their patrol invited to a Webelos den meeting. They run the meeting doing something really nice like rope making, or knots, or both or something they know the Webelos boys would like. While there, they keep the conversation going about how things are done in the troop and as the evening wraps up, they hit them with the sales pitch of attending a scout meeting and outing. Ask them what they might like to do during the meeting and outing. When they say, "I dunno" it opens up the door for the boy-led discussion where when you join up, "I dunno" doesn't fly very well and everyone's idea of a great time is always considered for a patrol activity. Then they discuss menus for the campout, what they like to eat what they don't who wants to help cook and get involved, who knows something about fire starting so they can help get the campfire going, maybe have them help with other camp chores, one-on-one with different scouts so they get exposed to a few new friends, etc. etc. etc. My boys introduce themselves, "Hi, I'm John Smith and I'm going to be going to get water for tonight"s supper." Points to a boy with his hands in his pockets, and says, "How about you, I don't know your name yet. C'm on, it'll be fun."

              If the scouts don't know the Webelos boys BEFORE they come to "visit" then one is already behind the 8-Ball.

              Seriously, one is always in competition with other troops for their boys. There is no such thing as "moving into someone else's territory to recruit boys. If your program is better than theirs, the Webelos boys should have the opportunity to know that.



              • #8
                Every year my troop has a Webelos campout with our two feeder packs. We break up our patrols and everyone becomes a patrol leader and assistant for the weekend incharge of up to 6 Webelos I/II's. The Webelos get to experience Boy Scout camping and I use the time to prep the cub leaders on what the transition will be like, for them and the Webelos. My ASM's and CC are there to help. This event is planned by the boy scouts and adult leaders. The following month the troop plans a big trip or high adventure as the reward for hosting the Cubscout campout. The scouts know this will happen every year. If a troop does not have a good recruitment program it will die out. A troop is adult led and boy run. The boys do not have the option of blowing off important activities because they are not fun. Remind the scouts that dinner must be eaten prior to dessert.


                • #9
                  SM Bob, Adult led, Boy ran isn't the way I'd put it, or the way I'd ran a unit. I'd put it this way:

                  A Boy Scout troop is a large scale experimental learning lab, but like all with experiments, boundaries and expectations must be set and adhered to.

                  The best approach I've found to setting boundaries and expectations is creating an expected program template. This fits into the initial SPL/SM talk where they create a "shared vision of success", following the SPL's election, and prior to the SPL making officer appointments, and partnering with the SM to put on ILST.

                  Simple start by saying: "we have six a year ahead of us, what do you feel the correct balance of events should be?" Lead a discussion about what needs accomplished in the year, and what the SPL would like to accomplish. Come up with an expected number of troop and patrol events, and the purpose of each event, based on needs and wants. You should end up with a template that might look like:
                  12 monthly events, 2 of which will be recruiting, 1 summer camp, 1 high adventure, 2 service, 4 patrol competitions/scout skills, 2 training/team building. The formula will obviously vary unit to unit, and SPL to SPL. My point is, here's the place to the SM to set his expectations, not at a PLC meeting. At a PLC the SM should be reminding the SPL of the purpose of the outings his leaders are planning, if they stray, and asking them how the planned event accomplishes the established goal, to prompt reflection on decision making.

                  You'll not this is not adult led, it's a product of coaching and mentoring.

                  You'll also notice this is the province of the SM, not the CC or IH. The CC or IH might better spend his time coaching, mentoring, and developing his new SM's skills and understanding. Part of developing a good SM is sitting down at the beginning of the program year and together establishing a framework for the program, and a template for events ... ect. I would expect the IH would have a similar discussion with the CC at the beginning of the program year. The plan and template states out as vague, tentative, very general at the IH/CC level, and gets more detailed as it moves down the line, until the PL and his patrol members are putting the finishing touches on it.

                  Green Bar Bill did a much better job of explaining this, but I hope this helps.

                  Never adult led or ran ... never
                  Last edited by Old_OX_Eagle83; 08-06-2014, 01:05 PM.


                  • #10
                    Everyone's points are good. But it also makes me cringe because it's another broken part of BSA's program ... having charter orgs re-recruit the same kids yet again and compete against each other for scouts.

                    Why wouldn't it be in a scout's interest to go to the "premiere big troop" in the area? More opportunities. Better support. Obviously a better program because they are bigger and look better ... right? Why should parents ever stay with a struggling troop. It is not in the scout. Scouts should go to the best troop they can find and let the other troops die quickly so that new troops can be formed ... right?

                    It's BSA Darwinism.
                    Last edited by fred johnson; 08-06-2014, 02:53 PM.


                    • #11
                      Big premiere troops aren't always the epitome of Scouting.

                      I have seen both big and small boy-led, patrol-method, and I have seen big and small adult-led, troop-method programs. In many respects they all have something to offer to a variety of different scouts.

                      Unfortunately Cub Packs are not homogenized and each den is a mix of all kinds of boys. Thus tossing them into a one size fits all troops is not something that will always work out for all of the boys. Some boys really don't want to learn a lot about leadership and are willing to simply go with the flow and enjoy what's being offered, and a big adult-led program is right up his alley. Others want more opportunity, closer comradeship, and intimacy of a small group with more hands on with what's happening.

                      Then there's the whole thing about boy-led which tends to appear to be far less organized than a spit and polish run adult-led program. If all one is interested in is appearance, this is an easy choice. I have seen people select for just that reason.

                      In a small town it's kinda nice to have the mom and pop grocery store where you don't always have much selection, but it's convenient and friendly. Then there's the Walmart down the street where if the greeter isn't sitting on his/her stool you can actually go in get what you want (again not much selection, but a bit more) and go through the self-serve check out and never have to say anything to anyone! Then there's the unique grocery stores that have local organic produce and stuff you never heard of on the store shelves. An adventure in shopping. Then there's the regional mega store that if they don't have it, it doesn't exist. Not everyone will want to shop in all of these stores and will eventually settle in with just one. But they have had to shop around to find what works best for them. Obviously no one ever starves, but the options to each individual is important.

                      Why would a parent just automatically send his boy to a certain troop without first shopping around for the best fit for their kid? This isn't Henry Ford's world anymore.

                      And from the boy's perspective?... What do I have to offer a mega troop that has everything nailed down to perfection and it doesn't make a bit of difference to them whether I join or not? And what do I have to offer a small struggling troop where I can roll up my sleeves and offer up something to make things better because they need me?



                      • #12
                        jblake47 ... I didn't meant to hijack the thread away from scouts not wanting to recruit. Probably best for another branch ... and it has already been discussed into painful detail. Agreed that big premiere troops are not always best. And yours is the standard defense given for troop shopping. I just don't buy it. Troops competing against each other is destructive for everyone. Heck, just the simple fact that leaders that join other units often subvert their own CO's efforts later is just not healthy. CO wants an healthy running troop, but the CO's own leaders end up recruiting / marketing for the other troop. It's a bad model.

                        Scout's can always switch units at any rank if it is a bad match. I just think there are WAY WAY WAY more negatives to the current troop shopping design than there are any positives. Period.

                        Plus in recruiting ... it's not about one troop being better than another troop. It is very much looking better than the other troop to the scouts ... and very very much so to their parents too. IMHO, it is appearance over substance. Even worse, it's often about temporary features such as the current SPL or how well one specific event went.

                        KDD ... original post ... Every group of scouts is different. Some really care about recruiting. Some don't. Some want to work with cubs. Some don't.

                        IMHO, if you care about the long term viability of your troop, the SM needs to continually coach and the troop leaders (all together ... committee, SM, ASMs) need to feed back into the planning process through the SM coaching. For example, the adult leaders need to approve the calendar. IMHO, the troop leaders should not approve a calendar that conflicts with school days. Similar, the troop leaders should not approval a calendar that does not support the long term health of the troop ... lacking recruitment.

                        Sure it's boy led and boy run, but it is not anarchy.


                        • #13
                          I'm not defending scout shopping, I'm only commenting that a lot of recruiting effort goes into wasted energy. The Webelos DL that takes his boys to a couple of very different troops does a better job of making sure his boys get the best out of the program. I don't like the age old tradition of checking out one troop and then telling the boys to take it or leave it because as we all know during that shaky transition into Boy Scouts, a ton of boys just leave it.

                          One does recognize that a special event for the recruiting process is often contrived and not indicative of what the troop normally is. That too is wasted effort.

                          Feeder Packs is also misleading for the boys and parents. Are they ever given the option of looking at different opportunities or are the buffaloed into going with the traditional troop nearby.

                          I'm thinking more along the lines of having a good program and then one doesn't have to spend a lot of time recruiting and the time they do is better served.

                          Why would a troop 12 miles out of town draw all the kids from town away from the troop in town unless they had a more attractive program? I've seen it done. 40 boys out in the middle of nowhere and 5 boys struggling two blocks from where the boys live.

                          I have boys from all over town and there must be 15 other troops they drive by to get to where my troop is. I also have boys in the troop that started out in one troop, became disillusioned and quit only to come and check out the troop and join.

                          Only the troops that don't focus on a good program seem to suffer in the market of competition. And believe it or not, my program is not the result of any long term viability plan by the adults. We start from the premise of boy-led and then let the boys lead. That's something very unique in our area and we draw kids just because of it. Anarchy? No, we did not turn into the Lord of the Flies overnight. Instead we have a great start to a new troop that has already gotten the attention of a number of different "feeder" packs none of which are ours. We have no feeder pack. We rely solely on providing a good program, spreading the news about it and inviting those that might be interested to come check us out. On the first cross over event when I started, one boy "joined". It wasn't enough to register the troop, but we continued meeting anyway. The next year we heard that one boy might be interested and he crossed over and "joined". We now had two. We went to another pack crossover hoping for another one or two and we got three, we immediately registered. The next boy was referred to us by the council office, the mom was looking for a different troop for her challenged boy. I called, and now we have six. A boy got his buddy to check us out and we are now 7.

                          We got invitations from 2 packs to come and do a Webelos Den meeting.... The boys are gearing up for that. See my post above to see how the boy will be handling that. My 11 year old PL has already contacted the council office for the names of the Webelos DL's and went fishing for an invite.

                          These are the same Lord of the Flies boys that have said we need to gear up for popcorn, wreaths, bratwurst sales, etc. because the new boys will need money for summer camp next year.

                          I seriously don't want the adults getting in there, making up a bunch of stupid rules and discouraging the boys. The PL last week was on family vacation and so the APL was running the show. He announced he didn't know what he was doing, so I suggested some fun training, like the GBB material. I gave him the website and I'm sure the curriculum will be there next Monday. I gave an overview and two of the boys started arguing about who got to be GrubMaster. They decided to have a cookoff next outing and the rest of the patrol will decide. I thought that was a really good way of deciding it.



                          • #14
                            I don't have time for a detailed response. I agree troops need to focus on a good program. But with so many troops competing for so many fewer cubs, it just compounds a badly designed unneeded transition. If I had time, I could respond in detail yet again. but I don't.

                            Troop shopping is a bad idea. Switch when you want or need. But troop shopping is a bad BSA concept.


                            • #15
                              How does one know where to switch when they need or want to unless they shop? I might hate tea, but if I don't go and try coffee or Koolaid, how will I ever know? And why should I accept tea to begin with and have to put up with it thinking it's the only game in town?

                              I guess I'm to much of a capitalist that prefers competition to insure a better option rather than accept the state designated bureaucracy solution of one size fits all, take it or leave it.