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asmmike

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About asmmike

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    Thousand Oaks, CA
  1. asmmike

    is this adding requirements or not?

    In my troop, it is sufficient to record the animal's name on the page provided in the Scout Handbook. The book recommends (not require) research of the animals or signs that are observed. It appears that your troop is enforcing this, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Requiring a reference for the research, however, is technically adding a requirement because this is not directly asked for. Why should this practice continue in your troop? The research requirement will allow the scout to better identify the animal when observed (barn owl versus just any owl, for example) or allow him to identify which animal has left its sign. The reference is simply proof of the research. The real issue sounds like the "fun" has been removed from this achievement. It is your mission, if you choose to accept it, to find the fun rather than change the procedure. A good start would be to try a scavenger hunt approach with possible prizes for the fastest turn in.
  2. asmmike

    How to get more members?

    Recruitment is an ongoing process and can be time consuming. Our best results come from four approaches. 1. Den Chiefs. This is the easiest method of recruitment and needs to be used effectively. Just the mere presence of Boy Scouts at the Cub Scout level will bring few boys into the Troop. Using the Den Chiefs to inform the Cubs, Dens, and the Pack about the Troops activities can dramatically increase interest if you involve the younger boys. 2. Involvement. Many Troops do an annual pin college for the Webelos dens in their area. We dont do this because we find that the Cubs show up just to earn their pins and never return. Instead, we have three annual events. We do a special theme oriented campout every year in the fall which is specifically designed to recruit the Webelos and their families. We invite all of the Webelos and their families to our summer picnic. We do a hike and campout every spring. 3. Webelos Woods. This is an annual event where all of the Troops and Webelos in the area are invited to learn about each other. This is a great opportunity to tell local families about your Troop and the opportunities that are provided. 4. Brand Recognition. We have designed our own neckerchiefs and hats with a custom logo, and we are referred to by a name rather than a number because it separates our Troop from the rest. In addition, we dont just show up and talk at the bridging ceremony. We dress up in costume, get into character, and do a short skit to disseminate the information. At the end, we toss some candy to the kids in the crowd in order to create some fun and havoc. This gives the Troop a positive and fun outlook and we are remembered by everybody. All of these efforts combined significantly increased recruitment, and unexpectedly, helped with retention as some scouts became interested in being on the bridging team.
  3. asmmike

    Dwindling Numbers

    Kids these days do not have much unstructured time. They are in sports, band, clubs, and various activities at each level. The 16-17 year olds have jobs and cars, and perhaps you have noticed the 2-3 hours of homework every night. Scouting is not so much a demanding activity; just one night a week and one weekend a month. Many parents provide their kids with balance to include all of these opportunities. It is stressful, but doable. The activities and time pressures are the excuse, not the reason to quit or avoid scouting. The real reason as I see it: just the look on the parents' faces when asked to volunteer their own time to help, told that their son must volunteer service hours, told that their son must also work fundraisers, and then told about the equipment that is required to participate on some outings in addition to the regular fee. Nothing turns the parent away faster than asking for their time too, and then asking for more money. Life is simple when you just pay for a sport, drop the kids off at practice, enjoy the kids successes on the field and blame the coaches for the failures. A parent cannot enjoy these benefits in scouting. The successes of the scout belong to him, and the parents must endure the complaints of failure, which also belong to the scout. In a world where its all about "me", its too easy to dismiss scouting. "It takes too much time" is the excuse I hear. Too much of the parents time and not enough parent award is what I believe to be the real truth. Its not the other activities that are being dropped, and its not the other activities that are asking the parents to contribute time. Sacrifice and giving, a real value taught in scouting, is rare and getting even more so. As for recruitment, the wonderful efforts of the ACLU have frightened the schools to all but ban any semblance of scouting in or around their facilities. This makes it very difficult to attract more boys into the program.
  4. A boy may become a Boy Scout at age 11, Grade 5 Completion, or earned the Arrow of Light. Almost all cubs earn the AoL by February and most of them are ready to join at that point. My own Webelos den completed all 20 pins in October and spent the time until February visiting Troops, going on campouts and completing all of the AoL requirements. They were all excited and ready to bridge when the time came. These boys could certainly have completed the AoL requirements during the summer and bridged in September. There is nothing wrong with this approach, however, the boys would not have completed all 20 pins; they would have missed the Blue and Gold Banquet; and they would have had a reduced opportunity to visit and camp with different Troops. Most outings for Troops in my area tend to be more advanced in the summer, which restricts Webelos participation. These same Troops have many fall activities designed specifically for Webelos. I took advantage of these opportunities to show the boys how different Troops function, how the Patrol method works, and to become familiar with Boy Scout procedures. The months my den spent with Boy Scouts helped them to grow tremendously, and I am not certain that they would have been truly ready for Boy Scouts in September. Because they had spent the time with the Troops, the three boys from my den who joined my Troop had no problem going to winter camp as their second official Boy Scout outing. Joining a Troop between April and August makes it near to impossible for a Scout to go to summer camp. This is because many camps (not all) require numbers and deposits by March. The drop out rate of scouts missing the first year of summer camp is extremely high, and my Troop encourages sign up by February to ensure attendance at summer camp. In summary, the boys can certainly bridge in September if they meet the requirements, but I believe that gives the boys less time to learn from different Troops and find one to bond with. If you have feeder packs where bridging into your Troop is automatic, then this isnt an issue for you. Bridging after March can, but not necessarily, limit summer camp opportunities.
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