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How to reach more youth

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Many of recent threads have said the exclusion of gay leaders is not contributing to the drop in membership. None of us can prove if it is or not. Many have touched on the fact the program should be reaching more youth and doing more to keep boys in scouting.


Let's discuss how to get more youth in scouting and keep them. What is BSA doing now about that? How is BSA changing to address some current issues such as demographics changing, attitudes changing, single parent families, etc.?


One program Girl Scouting has is specifically for girls whose mother is in prison. Would this be a good thing for BSA to do for boys?


How to we get more charter organizations?


How do we recruit the parents to sign their boys up? In my area most Cub packs are chartered by the schools, someone goes and talks up the program to the boys. If the kid forgets to tell the parents or just isn't paying attention, they don't get in. Some of the kids might enjoy it with a push from the parents.


Targeting specific ethnic groups does not mean you have to change the program (as someone mentioned). It means you have to sell the parents that the program ties in with THEIR values and what they want for their kids. Is BSA doing this? Can they do this?




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From the cub scout perspective:


Our local pack uses a scout night in the fall - the week before this meeting, a flier is sent home to the parents as well as having a table set up at the back to school nights along with the league of women voters, and other civic organizations.


I think it still comes down to FUN for the boys - put on a good program and they will come. Of course, the first step in putting on a good program is having EVERY adult leader involved in the program trained for their position as well as attending as many roundtables as possible.




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You ask some good questions. My recommendation?

As Unit volunteers we have the most effect on the growth of the Scouting movement.


The answer is the Unit Program. Membership growth, membership retention and the spread of scouting comes down to this; How good was the last meeting? What am I doing to make the next meeting better?


If more adults got trained, followed the scouting program, made the most of their time with the scouts, the program will continue to grow.


Bob White

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IMHO, Irving needs to develop a stronger relationship with Madison Avenue. I can still remember that commercial with the dark street, a worried man, and two scouts. Boy Scouts ina nutshell. The modern one with the lost wallet on the mountain is also memorable.


With all due respect, it is the parents who start a boy's path in Scouting. Reach them. Wouldn't you love to see a 60 second spot during halftime of the Superbowl starring NFL'ers who are former Scouts/Scouters saying all the right stuff? Or a father lecturing his daughter about the date she is going on, and the boy turns out to be a Scout saying and doing all the right things, to his visible relief? At $1,000,000. per minute, that's $.30 ea. per member.

How about Nascar, NCAA, etc.? Go where your targets are, and tell them about it. Surely Hollywood, mass media, news organizations are not void of Scouting supporters. Find'em and use'em. Hire a pro and put him/her to work on the macro level. Target anyone you wish - latino youth, urban areas; heck, develop a plan to go after entire soccer teams, en bloc.



Make an enriched recruiting module part of SM/ASM and CM training. Is the 12-Months of Recruiting syllabus part of JLTC, Wood Badge, other advanced training programs? Are they emphasized? Insist that every Council Scouting University have BA, MA and PhD. level membership development courses, run by advertising pros whenever possible. Create/energize District PR chairs to get the word out.


In the Troop? Make Den Chief an official rank requirement for Star, maybe. Reward a Scout for bringing guests, make Recruiter a much bigger deal. Develop a package a SM can take to pricipals and pastors to provide a little topical damage control when pitching Scout Nights. Try and find an outgoing parent, sign 'em up, and turn 'em loose on local youth organizations for a shot at recruiting. There are lots of ideas, but only just so much a SM/ASM can do. Grassroots are the most widespread and influential, but they need a little fertilizer from above every now and then.


Bob, I agree on the importance of a strong program, but it is geared more toward retention than recruiting. The issue is important enough to require special emphasis outside the program at many levels.




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bigbeard suggests, among other things:


Make Den Chief an official rank requirement for Star, maybe.


I assume you don't mean to require every boy to be a Den Chief to make Star. I assume you do mean to make it a position that will satisfy the position-of-responsibility requirement; but it already is, for Star, Life and Eagle.

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I agree with Big Beard, BSA needs more advertising. The program can be the most fun a boy ever has, but if the parents don't see a "need" then he will not get there. If a kid is hearing "oh, I have to drive you scouts AGAIN tonight?" or things like that, he will drop out.


What about the kids who don't want high adventure? That have no interest in climbing, long distance backpacking trips or white water rafting. What do you offer them?


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I have wondered about the specific subject of minority interest in Scouting, in the context of my own unit. About 99 percent of my pack is from the area that sends its students to the elementary school whose PTA is our CO, and where we meet. We probably have 80 percent or more of the Cubs who live in this school's sending-area. In other words, we are pretty-much tied to one geographic (suburban) area and are not really competing with other packs for the boys in this area.


My guess would be that 10 to 15 percent of the population is black and a similar percentage is Hispanic. Every family, every fall, gets a "School night for Scouting" flyer sent home with their son, and sometimes there is recruitment in the spring as well. Kindergartners and first-graders are pretty good about getting flyers home to their parents, and second through fourth graders aren't that bad either (though after that it begins to drop off, and by high school you're lucky if you know anything about what's going on at school.) This is all to say that the "advertising" is pretty well covered, and is across-the-board to all of our "target population."


And yet, in the four years I have been involved with the pack, I have not seen a single black Cub Scout in our pack. There had been two Hispanic boys (twins, actually) who graduated last spring, and two (brothers) who joined last fall, so I guess our Hispanic percentage is steady at about 4 percent (with 50 boys plus or minus.) There usually also are 3 or 4 Asians (Chinese and Indian.) But it's the complete absence of black Scouts that baffles me.


By the way, I suspect that about 30-40 percent of the black residents in this area live in one neighborhood that is within easy walking distance from the school. And everybody has cars anyway, this is the suburbs. So it's not a question of transportation.


I guess I could understand if a black family attended School Night but wanted to pay us a visit before joining, saw a room full of white faces and felt uncomfortable and didn't join. But they don't even get that far.


I wonder what the boys in our pack think about this, though I wouldn't "make trouble" by asking. After all, when they go to school, the kids come in all "colors," but when they attend Cub Scout meetings at the same school, with other boys all from the same school, it's lily-white (except for Ramon and his brother, I forget his name.) Maybe kids don't notice these things.


I wonder if this is true in other units in similar demographic areas. I am not talking about an impoverished urban area where societal pressures make it difficult for Scouting to take root at all. As I say, we have a pretty consistent 50 boys (of a potential population of maybe 400, which I suspect is somewhere in the middle in terms of "reach".) I think our program is not spectacular but ok (not enough of those white parents get involved), and we have a relatively small number of dropouts (our Webelos 2 den started as 14 Tigers and is graduating with 13, though there have been 1 or 2 replacements along the way.) So it's probably not our program. It's just that one portion of the population is absent.


Has Scouting become just a "white thing?" I say that not to be negative or argumentative, and I know it is not literally true. I just don't know why this is happening.

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I don't know what's happening in your council's by in most, my own included, there is a volunteer committee in each District and a professional in the council assigned to ScoutReach. A program focused on bringing groups traditionally considered minorities into the scouting movement. We are a very rurual council, but as in most areas of the country there is a growing and changing population. We have been very successful and have a large number of minority families in the program, my son's troop included.


We have from time to time produced local ads for scouting using "real" scouts. Some of the national ads and the new Fast Start video uses real scouts as well.


Bob White

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Have you spoken to the PTA to see if there is a specific black mom or dad who might be able to give you insight into why the situation is as it is? Or, perhaps could even play a large role in changing it.

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NJ, in brainstorm mode I was thinking of Den Chief for everyone, a National change to current requirements. Might be difficult to work out the numbers, Scouts vs. Dens. Might be dangerous too. Some Scouts might just not be cut out for it. On the other hand, if more Cubs get to know Boy Scouts better, maybe more would make the transition. Also introduces to concept of paying back at an earlier age. Just an idea.


Most respected Bob White, help me out. Our program, long adult-run, is in a stage of transition to the Eight Methods. We are young, disorganized, a little helter-skelter, last minute and scrambling. We are also now boy run. After this weekends OLT, all four of our ASM's will be trained (Amen!)for the first time in memory. Our ASM's, CC and I meet twice a month to work on the 1001 thing that need to be done to speed the transition we are committed to. Our Spring and early Summer are chock full of Scout-selected events. The Troop's first Eagle COH in more than two years is May 5th. Our program is getting to where is should be. In all honesty, it was alot easier when the last SM ran things and I was just a Dad, but we're getting there (due in no small part to the experience and eloquence of yourself and the other members of this forum).


I acknowledge the importance of boy-to-boy recruiting, Den Chief-ing (3 of my 13 boys are currently serving), and other Troop level activities aimed at membership development. In community based efforts - Scout Night, school presentations, high visibility community service, etc. - we are hard presssed to compete. Other Troops in this area, all larger and of long standing (some adult run - and very popular, by the way) give us a poor relation look in comparison.


Our focus has been on our own house. We are doing what we know and can do to recruit, eating the elephant one spoonful at a time. In what way does our developing program provide what we need to grow? How does it communicate the Aims to parents who have many outlets to let their boys have fun? Parents want their boys to develop character, citizenship, mental and physical toughness. Outside of the Scouting community and its immediate circle, (groups that need no convincing) how does the program spread that word to those parents?


The Program can and does speak for itself. It's the voice that's lacking. Present the nations premire youth development organization in the right way and in a larger/national forum.

If a parent brings the boy, the program may well capture him. If the parent does not understand the opportunity, that boy won't have the chance to be captured.

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I like the idea of emphasizing den chiefs more, but in my area it's hard to find a den to welcome a chief. My son got his training a couple months ago and would really like to be a den chief, he used to be a teacher's aide in a special ed class and liked working with younger kids. But I can't find a den that wants him (and no one has even met him so I know it's not personal). I know it is late in the year but still, a willing volunteer with no place to go is kinda sad.



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Success breeds success, our troop is at 90 scouts, parents see our calender, see how much adult involvment we have while still being youth led and they want to come and of course, we dont refuse anyone. They come for the program and stay for the program. (now if we could just get them thinking planning in 2-3 year cycles, but they are still not quite there yet)


How do you reach more youth? On a local level be sure your troop attends first night or scout night and show pitures of what you have done and what you plan to do. Our District devoted one Roundtable as an Open house to Webelous parents,or any parent of scouting aged youth, each troop had a display, with power point presentations, posters, schedule, etc. It was advertised locally as a public service ad and we got a good response. (our Rountable is held in a church so there were no "First Amendment" issues)


On a national level, has there ever been a documentary on Philmont, Sea Base or the Boundary Waters that could be shown on the travel channel, TLC or Discovery. If not, why not? Wouldnt scenes of scouts in the mountains of New Mexico, paddling the waters of the Northern Tier or snorkling in the Keys be a real draw? Or for that matter just a "regular" troop going on a camp out, cooking over an open fire, sleeping under the stars, and youth making decisions for themselves


Boys Life has run Scouts in Action for years (ever since I was a bobcat, boyslife was the first magazine I ever read cover to cover, perhaps the only one as well)


Why not a series of Scouts in Action made into public service like announcement to run on TV during sports events , either football, basketball etc. (Cartoon network even.)


Scouts has so much positive to offer, lets put the good news out there even if we have to pay for it. Infomercials anybody? Heck they must work judging by the number of them I see, couldnt we get some company to fund a spot or two ?


Our Venture Crew spent a night watching "Adventure" films, I cant name it right now, but a Canadian company runs a film competition each year and then takes the winners on the road. This year there were stories about guys base jumping in the artic circle, three guys who took a sailboat to Antartica, a story about how the residents arounf Mt Baker, Washington coped with 140 inches of snow in 1999.


BSA should enter a film about the positive aspects of the program and what it does, Follow a Philmont Trek, or something of that nature. The point is, lets show just how cool scouting is...


(This message has been edited by OldGreyEagle)

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