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  • Recruitment!

    I am the advisor for our small but active crew... I challenge our officers to make recruitment a priority, but not much success, even with targeted events... ideas? What's worked for you?

  • #2
    We often hear now that the Boy Scout program is too early to introduce adventure, that boys should wait until Venturing before doing the kinds of things that once made Scouting so incredibly popular.

    When you present Scouting as the kind of Scoutcraft adventure described in our 1916 Charter, 70% of sixth-grade boys will (in front of their peers!) sign a list asking you to call their parents so they can be a Boy Scout.

    Of the total audience, 28% have parents that will let them register with the BSA just to go camping (without ANY promise of office "leadership" theory, homework citizenship, or Eagle on their business resume).

    For me that 28% translated to about 15 new registered Boy Scouts per year. I wonder how it would work with 14 year-olds?

    http://inquiry.net/adult/recruiting.htm

    Yours at 300 feet,

    Kudu
    http://kudu.net


    Comment


    • #3
      Hi Scouterabouter
      Welcome.
      I'm not a great fan of the Venturing program as it now stands.
      That was one of the reasons I opted to get involved in Sea Scouting, which suited me better.
      Putting that aside.

      Most of the Crews in the area where I live tend to be very closely connected to Boy Scout Troops.
      While this looks like a good idea it does have its drawbacks. The Boy Scouts seem unsure what program they want to follow and at times are pushed for time what with all that is going on with Troop and OA activities.
      When it came to recruiting for the Ship.
      We really done everything possible to ensure that the Ship was youth led.
      A good many of the activities that the Quarterdeck came up with, while being fun were in ways about attracting new members.
      We held dances at the local VFW,with all the planning and the entire event coming from the youth members. They plastered the local high schools with posters and fliers.
      We lost money on the first dance, because they paid a DJ.
      The ones that followed went far better when they provided the music themselves.
      All night bowling followed by early morning breakfast proved to be very popular and they invited a lot of friends to bowl and join the Ship.
      We had several Sea Scouts serve on Summer Camp Staff, wearing their Sea Scout uniform, this sparked a lot of interest in the Ship.
      The guys (With a little prodding!) Kept the local newspaper aware of what they were doing sending in articles and photos.
      Our CO, the local Elks allowed us to have a notice board in the entry way and we kept the Elks up to date with what we were up to.
      The Quarterdeck also seen that many of the things that they wanted to do was more affordable and doable when there were more people involved. -Driving full buses is cheaper than driving one half full. Having more people selling stuff, brought in more money!
      For the adults involved (Mainly me at the start!) It did mean allowing them to plan and do things that I might not have been as ready to accept as a Boy Scout leader.
      We found that in our area girls don't get the same opportunities to participate in outdoor and high adventure activities that boys do.
      We tried working with the local Girl Scouts, but their leaders didn't seem that open to co-ed activities as we were.
      While we didn't in any way go out to poach their members, we did attract a few of their members.
      I thin rather than challenging the members to recruit, challenge them to plan an outstanding and adventurous program.
      Good Luck,
      Ea.

      Comment


      • #4
        In response to what Eamonn says ANY Venturing crew closely tied to a troop is a receipe for disaster. After nine years in working with a crew let me tell you what does work with that age group, suitable age appropriate fun and exciting activities as a crew is NOT an extension of boy scouts, if you want to attract members on an ongoing basis make your crew coed as it works well with this age group, let your youth officers really plan the events with you lending advice as needed, make sure your program is focused on some set goals, and high expectations set by the crew and yourself. Our crew goes on caravan trips to different cities and sites, mountain climbing, sailing, beach camping, etc,etc. We started with 10 youth and as of this week we are at 65 members so we must be doing something right.

        WHATEVER else you do DO NOT make or run your crew the same way you would a troop if you really want a dynamic crew. Venturing allows you creative freedom to create your own program rather than force your members to follow a set program like a troop does. So few venturing advisors seem to understand that and those are the crews that fail in a year or two. Venturing allows your teens to work on advancement awards if they wish and also allows them to decide on their own uniform or to have none. Your crew is what you allow it to be, you can let it be dynamic and watch it flourish or try to control every aspect and watch it perish, the choice is yours. Finally, our crew has never done a formal recruitment drive, word of mouth, crew members bringing friends, and some well placed posters, ads, and literature is all we have ever done and it has worked great.

        To paraphrase Barry: I love this Venturing stuff!(This message has been edited by BadenP)

        Comment


        • #5
          My crew being one of those closely related to a partner troop, I guess we've been cooking up disaster for the past 6 years!

          One of the ways we've "dodged bullets" is to make very clear to the troop that enrolling in the crew is not automatic. I invite 8th grade boys once at the end of the year. The first step is to fill out *your own* youth application. The only thing they are to do is get their parent's signature. I give out a lot of applications, but don't follow up and don't worry about getting them back. This keeps our older boys from feeling like they have to commit to more than they can handle.

          This means we lean on other youth as our recruitment base.
          Works: Active members recruiting friends. Set aside one or two evenings a year for an open house involving a campfire or picnic.
          Works half-way: Asking active venturers to invite younger sibs coming of age.
          Hardly ever works: Boys inviting girlfriends to join for a night camping!

          What I found is our crew can provide a unique service by holding campfires throughout the summer (even on Halloween). We devote about 15 minutes to going over program. The rest of the time is spent watching wood burn. A lot of youth show up, (parents are ok with girlfriends going out to a supervised evening) a few eventually sign on.

          Obviously your youth will have their own specialty activity that would fit into an evening.

          Just like scouts, have a fun program, attract youth. Beyond that, unless the youth have told you THEY want to make recruiting a priority, it wont fly.

          Comment


          • #6
            To be fair to the Crews in our area that are very close to Troops.
            Many of these were started at the request of the Key 3,in order that the District would end the year with plus one units.
            With hindsight, I can now look back. - Yes I was one of the twits who was putting pressure on these Troops to start a Crew. And see how daffy it was.
            Most of the Troops in the area where I live are not very big. In fact very few have more than 20 members. Most don't have a lot of Lads over 15.
            So they just don't have enough members that would really make having an active Crew work.
            Add the fact that nearly all of our Boy Scout Leaders tend to have been Boy Scouting for well over 20 years, with the only new faces being the guys who cross over with their son's and you see that having these SM's and ASM's are not going to embrace change that easily.
            In the Council, there are a few Troops that offer wonderful programs for older Scouts, but the mindset of the adults is still very much about doing things the Boy Scout way of doing them.
            Have to admit that I don't have what it takes to be a good adult in Venturing. I like the structure that Boy Scouting and Sea Scouting has to offer.
            I was a Venture Scout back in the UK.
            While a great deal of our time was spent messing around with cars and motor bikes along with the quest to find real ale (Drinking age in the UK is 18 years of age.) We were active doing outdoor activities like the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme and Queen's Scout Award
            Ea.

            Comment


            • #7
              One of the things my Ship did backin the day, was create a display in the local mall. Got about 5 new members if memory serves. brought in a boat on a trailer, had different displays set up, and had fun.

              Just make sure the mall is a lively one and not dying. Another crew, a bunch of troops, and one pack did that at the local mall, and it was not very sucessful b/c the mall is dying and few folks were there.

              BUT on the bright side, it was a good PR event as many older folks who use the mall as a walking track stopped by and talked about their days as a scout and/or leader.

              Comment


              • #8
                Ya Ea. I've met a few SM's who retired from the Advisor business a couple years after they were leaned on by a DE to start a crew.

                We, on the other hand, were leaned on by a few young women who wanted to do the high adventure that the scouts at their lunch table were talking about.

                Scouterabouter, in which category does your crew fall?

                Another question: what is your crew's favorite service project?

                Comment


                • #9
                  Thanks for the great info and suggestions! Our crew had a great meeting last night... planned upcoming meetings include burger night, service project cleaning up shut-in yards, helping support a local bike race (SAG station) and campout with pack & troop.... we have 8 active youth and 3 adult leaders... I too believe consistent, frequent quality events will grow our numbers...

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I'd like to give this thread a push as it has everything to do with a crew my daughter is in. For those that have an active crew going, what types of events will bring in a coed group of high school kids that have no idea about Boy Scouts? And how do you advertise it? How much time does it take to get the word out? I'd really like to hear from those that have started a new crew or rebuilt a crew.

                    The crew my daughter is in needs to be rebuilt. It's down to half a dozen kids, none of which are too interested in leading. I think that's because they don't see a successful program. I'm not that active but am willing to give it a try, assuming I can come up with a vision of success that my daughter and the crew adviser likes.

                    I have a lot of experience with a troop but not with a crew. My idea of what a crew should be is that giving the scouts more leeway is fine by me. I'd be fine without advancement as along as the scouts are having a healthy good time with some challenges and service mixed in. My troop doesn't have to have anything to do with the crew. I don't want to be the crew adviser. I believe the crew adviser has the same idea.

                    I appreciate constructive feedback.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Matt

                      I think you hit the nail on the head in your statement, "none of the kids want to lead".

                      Without a core of solid crew officers who have a vision of what kind of crew speciality and what kind of activities you want to focus on the group is stuck in neutral.

                      What has worked in my crew is a group of adult associate advisors with a wide range of outdoor interests, sailing, mountain climbing, backpacking, kayaking, etc. who offer their expertise to the teens, along with a group of teen officers who are focused on having a dynamic and fun program. You really need both of these present to have a truly successful venturing crew. Otherwise you wind up with an adult led crew and the teens get bored and leave. Remember in a crew it is up to the teens to develop a program catered to the interests of the members.

                      As for recruitment this crew and its reputation are well known in the local high schools, the members bring their friends as guests to meetings, talk it up at school, and the membership keeps growing. Activities that have worked for us are overnight beach camping trips, snow trips, road rallies, on and on.... We started with ten teens and today we have over 65, it may take some time but it will happen. Forget the naysayers here who say Venturing doesn't work because if it is done right it works fantasically. Just do not try to do it all yourself, get a few Assoc Advisors, and remember it is the teens program. Good Luck!!!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        This may sound hockey but ...

                        Step 1: LOVE THE KIDS

                        You have six. Get to know each one and their interest. If they like to watch wood burn, burn wood. If they like to swim, meet at the pool. If they like walks, find a local hike for the afternoon. If one is in a top-noch dance class, go to their recital.

                        In the process you will hear the conversations you need to hear to plan the "next big thing".

                        Step 2: FEED THE KIDS

                        Smores (a variety of chocolate keeps their interest), Pizza, a special trail snack, the local coffee shop.

                        Step 3: ASK WHO's MISSING?

                        They each probably could name someone who would enjoy an activity. Get them to think about that.


                        Well anyway, that's a start. The key thing is to make sure those six are getting something out of the program. If you're not the advisor, let the crew president know you could be available to help a youth prepare a weekend of .

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I'm starting a new Venturing Crew at my daughter's middle school. She and I have made the pitch to the PTO and they have agreed to sponsor the crew. Now comes the tough part, getting kids to join. We are holding an Information and Sign-up Night in 3-weeks and will hold a First-Nighter event at the local indoor rock-climbing gym a week later.

                          While I have read and heard that this is not necessarily the best time of year (Spring) to recruit, Im inclined to disagree, at least a little. Since it is a middle school our target audience is going to be the 8th graders who will already be eligible because they are already 14 or will become eligible in a few weeks when they graduate. Next school year we will proceed to try to pick-up kids (next years 8th Graders) as they turn 14.

                          I keep having this recurring night-mare of no one showing up to our sign-up night so we have been trying to do everything possible to heighten the awareness of the program in the school and surrounding area. Here are some of the things we have done:

                          Weve setup a website where people can get more information
                          Directly asking youth and adults our family knows in the area
                          Weve put up professionally made posters throughout the school announcing the date of the sign-up night, with a VR Code (the bar codes kids scan with their phones) pointing them to a video about Venturing and another one directing them to our website
                          We had really nice bookmarks printed with Venturing colors and color-photos of kids in action doing Outdoor Venturing type activities. They also have the same VR Codes mentioned above. We have kids at the school, as well as at the high school passing them out in class and at after-school activities
                          The principal is going to announce our sign-up night in his weekly newsletter
                          The school marquee will show JOIN VENTURING HERE, May 10th 6-7pm for a couple of days before the event
                          We mailed invitations (including a 3-month look-ahead calendar of events and a bookmark mentioned above) to over 50 boys and girls who are of Venturing age in our zip code, who have left Scouting in the last 3-years, highlighting on the invitations to boys, if they made it to 1st Class or above in Boy Scouts, that they can get back on the Trail to Eagle in the crew.
                          Mailed invitations including the items mentioned in the mailing above to eligible youth from the school, only limited to those we had addresses for.
                          Hung 8x10 color flyers, using graphics produced by the National Office and the VR Codes mentioned above, in local grocery stores, coffee shops, restaurants and stores.
                          Used Patch.com, a local on-line newspaper to announce the formation of the crew and will used that sites event calendar to post our sign-up event.

                          I cant really think of anything else to do. Unfortunately, the most effective will be members talking to friends at school, but we dont have any members to do that just yet.

                          If anyone has any other suggestions, I am very interested and will try almost anything to help my no-show-nightmares not come true.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Good luck!
                            You have your daughter,that's a start.
                            Spring is prime time for recruiting venturers.
                            Does your council have a VOA? A word or two from other seasoned venturers would go a long way itoward inspiring your daughter and her friends.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Thanks qwazse. That's a good idea.

                              I had thought about having someone like that come and be part of our charter presentation or some other type of award presentation, but I like that idea a lot. A couple of the young woman they had speaking in the Venturing classes at our University of Scouting really impressed me and I'm sure would have the same impact on prospects and their parents.

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