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Keeping youth involved/Bringing Them Back

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This past weekend was our lodges Fall Ordeal Weekend and work days. (BTW I also got my Brotherhood) and while we were sitting around waiting for our new Ordeal members to return from their meeting with the Lodge Chief, the Adults and youth started talking about our low youth membership. We brought up the question of how to bring youth back into the OA.


So I ask, what kind of things does your chapters do to encourage the youth to come back to the Chapter/Lodge. We are battling a misconception in the chapter that the OA is just "Free Child Labor."


To give you an idea of the annual calendar, Spring, Summer and Fall Ordeals, Fall Fellowship (No Work, Just fun and learning), Lodge Banquet, and LOdge NOAC Contingent.


Has anyone tried Chapter outings. Special Activities during meetings. Twenty years ago our chapter was the strongest in youth numbers. Now I think we are the lowest. What can we advise the youth to organize to change this.

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Won't tell you congrats again, did that already at the ceremony ;)

that link is VERY good.


one thing I need to add, since I listed a bunch of comments on that link. You need a motivated adult and youth to pump things up. And those "cheerleaders" need to keep it up. And if you lose one, replace 'em ASAP!


You know I'm being stretched too thin and I haven't been as big the "cheerleader" as I have been in the past. But you need a cheerleader.


Now As for activities. We visited SJAFB in Goldsboro. We were suppsioe to go tot eh SpecForces museum at Bragg, but we timed it too poorly with the bulk of our troops prepping for Summercamp. That is being resceduled. Also there is talk about going to a powwow. Two nearest ones will be the 3rd weekend in Nov at ECU (a sm.-med. one) and the NCSSM Powwow in Durham the first weekend in Feb. That is the largest in the area as they have between 8-10 druma and 150-200 dancers. Hopefully SWMBO will let me go, esp. since the OA banquet is the same night at teh same lcoation ;)


You are so correct in your "missing scouts" comment during our discusssion. Get OA invovled in CS activities and the CS will want to join OA when they become scouts

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One other thing, and this I learned the hard way, especially this weekend. No matter what you do, no matter what fun you have, there will be "Sash and dashers." I saw this with a few folks during my tenure as CA, and I have a bad feelign one of our new members will not been seen again. At the post ceremony dinner, instead of joining the rest of us, he sat by himself, ignoring attempts at communication, and texting away (how I wish all units had the same policy on that one). Also during the car ride home, he didn't join in the convesations, but was on the phone texting or talking.

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My chapter has had the misunderstanding by parents and other Scouters as well. That we are nothing more than "Free Child Labor". We attempt to demonstrate that we are that, plus more.


I ask for 50/50... Half work and half fun. And try to get the chapters buy in. Many of our youth Arrowmen don't drive themselves, so we have to find a draw for the parents (some are Arrowmen, some are not).


During business meeting and script rehearsal, they drink rootbeer and eat beef jerky. After business meeting we watch maybe 30 minutes of Last of the Mohicans (okay it is the Hollywood version of the book based on the French-Indian wars (actually French vs British Colonist in the New York, Canadian border area). It is definitely not the history channel version, its Hollywood, but its just for the fun and entertainment.


On other events, the Chapter has gone for pizza and to the movies before. And has also had a work day, and gaming afternoon at the local campsite.


It is a challenge. But we try to find what is both fun and will draw the Arrowmen out.


Scouting Forever and Venture On!

Crew21 Adv


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Thanks for the advise so far.


I brought somethign up last night after our chapter meeting. I mentioned how there were several youth members at the Ordeal that showed some interest in my hiking stick. Nothing too fancy about it except I have used a wood burning kit and burned the indian head logo into it and have plans on doing an arrow. The youth thourhg it was interesting, but when I asked some of the other adult leaders, they said "That is more of a wood badge thing than an OA thing."


Seems that if there is anything outside of Camp Promotions or getting Quality Chapter, then they do not want to hear it.


Does anyone have any other ideas for activities. They are talking about starting practice for ceremonies. They also talked briefly about some chapter fellowship doing some service projects at our local camp.

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(Sorry for the yelling, but I had to let it out after that comment above ;) )


If the youth are interested in doing something, LET THE DO IT, provided it is not contradicted by the G2SS, i.e. Lazertag.


SJAFB is right up the road from you. talk to their PA folks abotu if a unit wuld be willing to give you a tour, as they do not do full base tours on weekends. OR schedule the base tour during the holidays.


Have a Chapter Kayaking or Sailing expedition through PSB.


Have a Pizza Nite.


Have a Christmas party.




What ever you do, LET THE YOUTH DO THE TALKING AND IGNORE THE OLD FOGEYS!!!!!!! (Except me 'cause I got your back)


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Some of the things that they do have planned to do are things like getting the ceremony team back up and running. They are going to start with the Pre-o team.


They are also talking about working on some regalia. I think that would be interesting.


THe reason why I brought up the staff issue is that I had some interest from some of the youth in how I did it. So I just thought it would be a good idea to try it out. But one of the things that I know that we will have to be cautious of is the fact that right now our chapter is meeting in a school, so they are going to have to make sure that any shaving of bark and stuff is done before the meeting so we do not get in trouble for weapons on school campus. (Yes a knife is a weapon and you can get arrested even if it is after hours)


I think I may try to bring up the idea of the staff again to the youth specifically. Maybe while some are working on the regalia others can work on a staff. It could be a good time.

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The trick is to get the aspects of Brotherhood, Cheerfulness, and Service working together.


Too much of the time, the Ordeals are drudgery and they never want to come back. This is even worse in those Lodges who do their final ceremony early on Saturday and send everyone home. If they miss out on the comraderie on Saturday night with the other Arrowmen they saw also working throughout the weekend, you'll almost never see them again.


Having some fun is important, but my observation is that it's more important to have work which is meaningful. If the boys have a gut feeling that their scout camp couldn't function without their dedication and support, they are more likely to feel the pull to keep coming back.


If you can't get your Lodge moving in this direction, you certainly can with your Chapter. Talk to your camp ranger about a portion of camp, some campsites, or some project which you guys can take on as your own. Take your Chapter Chief and a few officers out for a walk about camp with the ranger to get some ideas. Then go home and build it up. "Guys, our camp needs us and it's time to mobilize our forces."


Make it meaningful! Racking pine needles while they rain down from above is immediately recognized as fruitless. Building a new dock, clearing some dangerous trees, or clearing a new campsite can be exciting.


Guys really don't mind working hard if there's a reason. Keep the spirits high, feed them well, and break out some guitars around a fire in the evening. Don't force them to join the music - just gather a few players and start playing and singing. Have a stack of song books for those who wander up to see what's going on. You'll be amazed.

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  • 2 months later...

I'm a latecomer to the thread.

I took over as CA back in February. Youngest son had been CVC of Activities from the prvious October. The meetings are held at the Roundtable. Back in the spring, we were lucky if we had 2 to 4 members present. the CC, my son and I, contacted the Council Pro. that handled OA. We asked for a list of Chpater members. She gave us lists for 2007-09. The membership had dropped by 50%.


We started off by creating an email list of the members, and the SMs of Troops in the Chpater. We then started a mass information campaign about Chapter & LEC meetings, Lodge events, opportunities for Brotherhood conversion, opportunities to work the Ordeal Weekends, etc. My son sent out personal invites to each ordeal member that was eligible for Brotherhood to attend & help with the Ordeal Weekends, then go for Brotherhood on Saturday evening. We also sent the same invite letter to the SMs, along with a list of names of their eligible Ordeal members, and to encourage them to take advantage of the Brotherhood opportunities. We also supplied the SMs a list of their scouts that had let their membership lapse, and to encourage them to rejoin.


Slowly but surely, we started having memebrs start showing up to help with the Ordeals. We're still working with the Fellowships. With the Ordeals, and opportunities for Brotherhood at summercamp, we had around a 60% conversion of eligble members. Our Chpater membership also grew from 60 to 86 this summer. 7 of those from the same troop and having let their memberships lapse, all reregistering and taking their Brotherhood.


Our Chapter has an annual Christmas party at RT. We also have a Climb Night during Christmas break at a local climbing gym. We have performed a couple of community service projects, followed by a swim after lunch. The turnouts are small, but growing. The last project was covered by the local press.


I'm trying to talk the Lodge into a more meaningful Ordeal, not just camp setup and teardown. Talk about pulling teeth. Next step, talking them into splitting the clans up into two groups. One working in the morning on camp stuff while the other works on a meaningful project, then switch them after lunch. That way everyone gets to do both, and see that it isn't all slave labor.


Good luck SctDad.

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H Roe Bartle, Scout Executive for Kansas City and later Mayor of Kansas City: "If you give them great program, they will come." That was uttered over a half century ago and it's still true today.


Our Lodge has a year-round program at the Lodge level: Winter is Banquet season. Spring is induction weekends (2 of them), but there is crackerbarrel Saturday night and COPE/Climbing, black powder shooting, and other activities Sunday. After the camping season there's another induction weeekend as well as Fall Fellowship ... and the only work done then is cooking!


Chapters need to be active as well. I've seen chapter bowling nights, chapter campouts, even chapter clinics on various subjects. I've seen a chapter organize its own Scouting for Food drive.


Encourage the youth members to plan and do stuff. The more they plan, the more they do, the more fun they'll have.


The ethic is Cheerful service ... not chained service ;)

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  • 2 months later...

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