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pack330

Recruitment into Boy Scouts

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Does anyone our there know what to do with a group of boys who want to shop around for the "right" Boy Scout Troop? The Boy Scout Troop in our home town is upset that our Cub Scout boys want to this. Some people want the boys to pick the best Troop that has the most to offer. The Boy Scout Troop is very upset that the boys want to look around. I don't know what to say to my Webelos Den Leaders? How should I deal with this issue? HELP.....

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This can be a very sensitive issue, especially if the troop that's "upset" with you invested time and effort in their Webelos-to-Scout transition, expecting they'd bridge into their troop. From a "helpful" standpoint, no troop would willfully turn away a den that needs troop involvement for AOL, etc. Having said that, bridging Webelos Scouts are a major source of new Boy Scouts, and troop growth is a Quality Unit criteria.

 

Did anyone promise the Troop you'd bridge over to them? Did your Webelos den participate in joint activities with the Troop? Have you had SM conferences with them? Are you traditionally considered their "feeder pack"? If any of the above are true, you may have a fence or two to mend.

 

That said, a boy can join any Troop that can take him. Your local troop's feelings may be hurt, perhaps with good reason. But, if your Scouts join another one, they'll have to get over it, ultimately.

 

I've been in a District where a District Troop Roster, with contact information and areas of program emphasis, was provided to each Cubmaster at the first Roundtable of the year, to help individual Webelos Scouts decide which troop they wanted to visit and eventually join. For example, a car-camping family probably wouldn't want to join a backpacking troop, and vice versa.

 

Bottom line: a good program and a well-run/led troop will attract and keep new Scouts on its own, without this kind of drama.

 

KS

 

 

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Pack330 ... this is what exactly what we are doing. We have two troops within the 3 miles radius of our Pack. They normally expected that our Pack and our Brother Pack feed into them automatically. So they became complacent. They do not do any active recruiting. They do not attempt to "get to know" the Packs. Last year, 11 of our Webelos 2 went to another troop 10 miles away in another District and the remaining 10 went to one of the two troops. This year we started to look at all of the troops within the 10 miles radius (about 8 troops). That woke the local troops up. So to me, it is beneficial to look at other troops. At the best case, your son and his fellows Webelos will find a great troop to join. At the worst case, you have giving the local troop the wake up call ... free-enterprise system is alive and prospering! They are not the only game in town! Also by looking at other troops, you can take back the elements of what you and your Webelos like and try to implement them at the local troop! Remember, if the reason for your looking at other troop is the way that the troop is being run, you and the incoming parents can help to fix that!

 

As for us, we simply told our local troops that there are other troops that the boys would like to visit and leave it at that! If they are upset with you then it is only because they are realizing that they may no longer have the monopoly over your Pack! I (as a Cubmaster) told my Webelos Den Leaders that they should not influence the kids decision. They should only facilitate the visits and the interaction with the troops. They should advice the parents and the boys on what to look for in choosing a troop and what questions to ask.

 

It is important that you stress these points to the Webelos parents and the Webelos. It is not the Webelos Den Leader's decision. It is not the Webelos parents' decision. It is the Webelos' decision as to which troop that he would like to join, because he is the one who will be having fun and his definition of fun is definitely different from that of any adult!

 

One final point from one of the scoutmaster, he said that "We would love to keep the boys in our troops and within our District; however, if there is another troop in another troop and District that the boys like better, then that's great, because the bottom line is to keep the boys in scouting!"

 

As KoreaScouter indicated, a good program will automatically attract new scouts.

 

Good luck.

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I can understand not wanting to ruin a relationship with the local troop, but it sounds kind of one-sided. Troops are no different than churches, colleges or even datable girls. It is all in what they have to offer that makes them attractive. If they show no interest in you, why should you be interested in them? I for one want my son to go to a troop he will enjoy....but also to one that is properly run and provides the best program. If that isn't the one who just expects the kids to come to them automatically, too bad. They should have a desirable program and put forth some interest early on.

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I'd be leary of a troop that doesn't want you to look around. Are they afraid you will see something better?

 

Selecting a troop is up to each boy and his family. The few Scoutmasters I have dealt with usually say they WANT the Webelos to look at other troops. Their main concern is that the boy stays in scouting somewhere. If it is not a good fit, then the boy will just drop out.

 

I encourage Webelos to visit troops as a den and as individuals.

 

As someone else said, it's a lot like dating. The troops need to be courting the Webelos and not afraid of the competition.

 

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Within a 5 mile radius we have at least 5 troops. My pack has a history of visiting three or more of them each year. Each is very different. One very structured , one very unstructured, one very new, one very old, one not so new, one very intent on promoting itself.. etc. The program varies from one to another, as does the amount and type (trained vs untrained) of adult leadership.

 

This year I accompanied our Sr. Webelos den leader on these visits. Now, after having thought about it for a few weeks Ive come to the conclusion that it was, at this time, a very unnecessary adventure. Now hold on before you start in on me, let me explain why. Please note that I make the conclusion here that all of our boys move together.With the exception of parents with ties to a specific troop our boys always seem to move as a group.

 

First, lets remember that we are talking about 5th graders. Unless they come from a family thats heavy into outdoor activities, they dont know if they want to join a backpacking troop or a tailgate camping troop, or a troop that concentrates on canoeing/kayaking, or a even a troop that concentrates on high adventure activities. The idea for new scouts is to give them a broad view of whats available to them. So the concept of asking 10-11 year olds to choose a troop based on its program seems, to me anyway, to be just a little to mature for them. To the boys the concepts of Patrol Method, New Scout Patrol, trained leaders, strong committee mean nothing, so I wont even add them to the discussion.

 

Secondly, our den leader was asking the boys if they felt comfortable with the older boys in the Boy Scout troop. In a busy visit that lasted not more than two hours, how would a bunch of 10-11 year olds make this determination? If you remember my earlier comment that one of the troops was very new, you wont be surprised that all of our boys liked that troop. None of the boy in that troop was more than two years older than our oldest boy. It was very comfortable for them. In fact it was more like a SuperPack than a troop.

 

Thirdly, as our den leader talked to the our boys at the end of each troop meeting, she would ask them how they liked the troop. One boy would chirp up and say, I like that they go backpacking, another would add, me too, then they would all agree. Then one of boys would offer that he also liked troop xzy because they went family camping, now another boy would say, yeah, I like that troop also. And soon they all would comment that they liked the troop that went family camping. The best was when one of the boys opined that he liked troop abc because his friend Mikey was in that troop. Some of the other boys then agreed because they also knew Mikey, ( I asked one of them to tell me how he knew Mikey, basically the answer was that he knew of Mikey as someone that his den-mate also knew of.

 

In the end, I got the distinct impression that the alpha male in the den would prevail and that all the boys would follow him to whichever troop he decided to go with.

 

Getting back to my comment about this exercise being unnecessary, our boys ultimately choose to join our local troop, the troop that we share our numbers with. For the most part, the boys, and their parents, dont have a clue about what scouting has in store for them. As they grow and learn more about the program they are free to move into other troops that offer an opportunity for other adventures, but for now, for the new scout, the lesson should be to support your community.

 

Obviously, if there are real problems with the local troop other alternative need to be evaluated. As a closing note, last year our Sr. Webelos did the same drill, they choose to join a troop two towns away. Six of the eight boys that bridged have left scouting.

(This message has been edited by fotoscout)(This message has been edited by fotoscout)(This message has been edited by fotoscout)

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I honestly don't know. The father of one of those six boys was the Webelos DL. He was very on the ball. I'll try to follow and let you know how it turns out.

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foto,

 

I hear what you say and understand it to some degree. I don't totally agree with everything though. My son is a 10 year old Webelos 1 who just joined last September. We have about a year left until his crossover. My son has always been mature for his age and pretty intelligent. While I can see the same thing in our den that you describe of boys not really able to make a mature informed decisions, I think it is the job of a parent to help them see the differences. I talk frequently with my son about what to expect in Boy Scouts. I explain the patrol method and boy led and having to do all the work themseleves. While he is still a 10 year old and will still most likely want to make a choice based on following his friends or having fun, I'm trying to educate him on what makes a good scout program that will ultimately give him the best experience and fun.

 

I've learned my lesson the hard way. We walked into our pack sight unseen. While I have eased into it somewhat, I find it pretty unorganized. Don't get me wrong, the leadership are nice people and I appreciate their willingness to volunteer. But we seem to be pretty relaxed and not in control of meetings. Sometimes I feel we spend more time making sure the boys are having fun at the expense of teaching them how to apply the scout oath and law in their lives. I've had people remind me that our motto is to "Do Your Best" and it is OK if they don't fulfill a requirement satisfactorily for an activity pin. If it says do 10 sit-ups and the kid pops his head up and down 8 times, some feel he tried his best and passes. There have been times that I felt I had wasted an hour out of my evening bringing my son to a "free for all" den meeting. But hey! At least he had fun!

 

I do want him to have fun when he moves to Boy Scouts. I intend to be by his side having fun too. But he can have fun hanging out with his buddies in the neighborhood too. I want him in a well run troop that will instill scouting values while having that fun. I will let him decide what troop he wants to go to, but It will be with my parental guidance and experience assisting him.

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Upset?...they should be glad the boys want to make the right decision for them. If this Troop has a good outdoor program and 1st class emphasis has a troop guide there as they come in that's all you can do can be upset because they want to look elsewhere. We have a small troop of about 20-25 boys while a troop that meets at the same place as us have about 65-75 there are pros and cons to each. Like I said if the program is followed the boys will come

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Kwc,

 

You're right. Those of us that do this will spend more time dwelling on the transition that many other people. On another thread I commented about one of the troops we visited. The SM of that troop told the parents that they were not allowed on outings. To me this would raise a red flag, even if it were my local troop.

 

But all things being equal, barring any red flags I will stay in my community. All the troops we visited appeared to be well run, but different, even the most unstructured. By this I don't mean to say that the meeting was chaotic, it wasn't. It moved along and eveything got done in an orderly fashion, but not with military percision.

 

 

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By this I don't mean to say that the meeting was chaotic, it wasn't. It moved along and eveything got done in an orderly fashion, but not with military percision

 

Thats the one you should try to get your son to join!! Most likely that is the one that is most boy run!!!

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Dan,

 

Yes it was! It was the oldest troop, not the showyest(sp) but a good solid troop. With the most adult participation, and did I mention that all the adult leaders were trained. Clearly this troop was a mature troop. Not the boys, the troop. It is also the troop that is in my community.

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IMHO feeder packs should NOT exist. The Complacent attitude promoted by "feeder pack" mentality is a big factor in losing so many boys at the Webelos to scout transition year.

 

It may be convenient for a CO to sponsor both a pack and a troop, and if they work well together and a large group of boys move up into that troop each year, than that's fine.

IF the boys are happy,(and I judge that by if a majority STAY in scouting) and IF the troop and pack don't put limitations on the boys - such as giving them the idea they are expected to go into that troop automatically.

 

You will always get kids and parents that 'go with the flow' and follow their friend or popular choice in making these decisions. It is the RESPONSIBILITY of the Pack AND the TROOP to give the boys every opportunity to make an informed choice.

 

Troops should make an effort to invite packs and do things to involve cubs & webelos - and packs should encourage the dens to participate in more than the minimum requirement of 1 BS meeting and 1 BS activity to complete their AOL. The intent of that requirement is to GIVE the boys a choice, and too many take it as the LIMIT of interaction - not a minimum START.

 

We have 5 troops and 5 packs in our 10m radius town limits. 4 sets are with the same CO. Our CO does not have a pack, and a local catholic church does not have a troop. A few years ago our council stirred things up by finally adhering with a BSA rule that in the past they ignored - not allowing Webelos to attend BS Klondike. This threw the pack and troops into a tizzy. Now they had to think up events that the webelos could attend, and most didn't have clue how to do that!

 

our troop came up with a quarterly plan for an activity each quarter that we could invite not only 5th grade webelos to - but also some events that were appropriate for 4th grade and younger cubs. Our intent was to create an ongoing series of events that the packs could depend on for AOL and for program highlights - to BUILD RELATIONSHIPS with the packs.

 

I am proud to say that in the last two years, before our "plan" was implemented, we only got 1 new boy a year. this year we have 7 SO FAR! from 3 different packs! (seeing as we only had 20 boys - 7 is a tremendous boon!)

 

you said in you post that "Some people want the boys to pick the best Troop that has the most to offer." Well, that is the RIGHT idea - and if the "troop" doesn't like that, then maybe it will teach them to get off their hands and DO something about it!

 

lauraT

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When i was crossing over to boy scouts our towns troop wasn't as active as i desired .Me and my brother joined another troop from a town next to ours. It ended up being the best choice i ever made. When searching for a troop its all about the individual scout,Once your there its all about the troop.

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