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How would you recruit?

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I have, bit by bit, been won over to the reality that numbers do matter. So I looked into the area we serve with our Cub Scout pack to see what number of students we recruit from. This is by no means comprehensive, but it sure does show that our unit needs to recruit. How would you increase numbers? Would you set goals, set aside funds to help with recruiting, advertise via word of mouth only, etc?


One pack serves a school district that covers 11.12 square miles. In that area, there are four elementary schools for grades K-4, one middle school, and one high school. I did not get the high school numbers or the private school numbers, but we do have at least one private school that serves this same area, and we have at least 3 boys from that school in this pack.


In grades 1 through 4, there is a potential of 500+ potential Cubs. Yet, we have 20: 2 Tigers, 0 Wolf Cubs, 6 Bears, 6 first-year Webelos, and 6 second-year Webelos.


Clearly, many boys are missing out. Clearly, this is an area with potential in the way of numbers. If you were part of the leadership for this pack, what would you do?

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The first thing I would do Laurie is make sure you have a hands-on, fun, recognition filled, Cub Scout Program, with traned leadership and trained committee ready to handle membership growth.


Next I would, have a committe member or members whose task was membership recruitment.


Have rewards for current members that bring in new members.


There are multiple ways to recruit.

> Find out who the current scouts see as the nicest kids in their classroom. Recruit their family (parents as leaders, kids as cubs).


> Make arrangements now to promote Cub Scout Day camp in your local schools.


> Allow families to "invite a friend" on den and pack activiteis. Sell the "activity" let the kids find out it's scouting.


> Have a sign up in the fall at the school orientation nights for the parents.


> Do a cub talk at the schools. Your district professional can get you posters and handouts to publicize it.


> do visible good turn projects in the community.


> Talk about Scouting to EVERYONE.


And of course


> Have a hands-on, fun, recognition filled, Cub Scout Program.


A good do-able goal is to add and retain at least one tiger den of 6 boys each year.


Best Wishes

Bob White


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I believe that the Cub Scout program is excellent and that boys will respond.


A few years ago, I tried an experiment. There was a Cubmaster that lead all activities of the meetings. This meant that the boys were not very involved. I took pictures of the Scouts sitting on the tables and watching during three different meetings. The CM was a very nice person and did a pretty good job overall.


I convinced him that we should use the Cub Scout Program Helps for the next few meetings to relieve him of the burden of doing it all, so, he let some of the dens do different parts of the program. Within a few meetings, we had costumes, games, songs, and involvement, all pretty exciting.


I took pictures of our meetings after that and compared them. What we found were Scouts doing things instead of sitting. This lead to the Scouts telling their friends about what was happening and soon we had pack and den meetings that were very busy. The pack also grew in size.


Now, I believe in recruiting and School Night and encouraging Scouts to tell their friends. I believe in visiting parents to tell them about the program and inviting them to bring their son(s) to the meetings. I believe in the advancement program and Day Camp. Overall though, I believe in program as being the one thing that brings Scouts in and then keeps them.


I also want to say that I personally enjoyed many of the programs that we had in that pack over the three years that I assisted. I can tell you that dressing up as a Knight in cardboard armor and riding a cardboard horse is something that I still find kind of funny for an adult. Yes, I dressed the part. I was also an Indian and some kind of an invention/robot on a couple of occasions. The Scouts did a much better job than me because they had plenty of time to prepare in their den meetings with lots of help.


The Scouts and their parents became interested because of the program(s). Many very talented people came out of that Pack. We also found resources that I still find remarkable. Some of the Scouts and their parents revealed abilities that went far beyond the basics of the program.


I don't want to say that this is the only answer or that we didn't have any problems, including retention or recruitment. There are other programs that young people enjoy. When they go, encourage the Scouts to compare. If they will do that, and they will, they should be able to honestly say that the Cub Scout program is the best. FB


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For the pack side, do the things Bob White and Fuzzy Bear suggest and your pack will grow. Concentrate on filling the Tiger Dend and getting a Wolf Den. As for the Tigers, build on what you have. You have only two tigers, but those parents who did sign their kids up are your best shot to getting some excited parents involved as leaders -- give them all the help you can. The lack of wolves is unusual and merits looking into. Bob and Fuzzy give excellent advice as to what to do to fix those problems.


The 4% market share (taking Laurie's numbers of 20 Cubs in a 500+ kid market) is something that should cause the district membership chairman and district executive to jump on an opportunity.


The first thing I would do as a professional is to find out which of the 4 schools most of your kids (if not all) are coming from. The fact that you're concerned about the numbers would encourage me as a DE to seek your help in looking into starting new units. However, if you were dead set against me working toward that aim, I would be duty-bound to take the pack's roster to each of the school secretaries and inquire which boys go to their school. Then I would begin feeling around at each school (once it is determined which school primarily feeds your pack, I'd leave that one alone) for potential leaders. I would also check out other potential chartered partners in the area.


The area Laurie speaks of does not have enough packs. Even if her pack were to reach a slightly below average market share of 25% of the boys, it would be a 100 boy pack (very large -- hard to give kids proper recognition in such a pack, but that's a topic for another thread) and still leave 400 boys unserved.


Another statistic used by the BSA that gives a good picture of the need for units (or lack thereof, although that's rare) is called "Opportunity to join."


Opportunity to join is the number of available youth divided by 100. I don't have the numbers in front of me, but if recollection served me at all, it's about 1/2 a pack (0.5) per 100 Scouts, nationally. In the case Laurie talked about, the opportunity to join is .04


This is not a judgement of the program put on by the pack with which Laurie is affiliated. It's simply statistics and the need for more packs in order to serve more Cub Scout age youth.



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I just started reading regularly and gathering enough courage to reply a few times, and I hope to add knowledgeable comments -- Bob Whites reply is great -- our pack draws only from vary small area but we have a vary large % in cubs -- a good program ,trained active leaders, good draw at join scout night and activities to keep them happy-- If I had 500 kids to recruit from I wouldn't know what to do? Thanks for the good question -- I'm always impressed with all the great replies RM

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our council was a test pilot for a new recruiting program this year for Cub Scouting - and by all accounts, it was a HUGE success - check with the pros- but I think I heard something about it being initiated thru National in the next year or so -


Basically, the program is called " My best friend is a Scout" and it recruited across ALL age groups on a simple one-on-one basis. I believe the packs came up with activities of interest that the boys could invite a non-scout friend to, periodically throughout the year - in addition to their regular fall/spring school recruitment /parent information nights.


As I am in Boy Scouts and out of the 'Cub' info circle I didn't get alot of the details on the program. What I DO know is that we are a LARGE council, covering most of Northern IL and some of WI - we have everything from rural to inner city youth - and our Cub program has 1/4 of ALL grade school age boys within the council in Cubs. That sounds like a pretty good reach to me!


If you are interested in finding out more, you may try to contact Blackhawk council at

Blackhawk Area Council, BSA

PO Box 4085

Rockford, IL 61110-4085


Telephone: 815-397-0210


the website is kinda mixed up right now - but it is usually http://www.blackhawkscouting.org/ but I looked and there isn't anything on it about the cub recruiting program, still you may be able to reach a council exec by e-mail.




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Thank you to all of you! I have been following this thread, just reading and absorbing the ideas it contains, mentally checking off what we have done, what we need to do, and so on. Thank you for your time. It looks like it's time to map out a strategy. The kids are pretty much evenly divided between all 5 schools represented, so we don't have one particularly active school. Same with leaders, since they come with their own sons. We really do have some work ahead of us, but I'm not alone in wanting to reach more boys. The pack leadership has been expressing a desire to get the word out, but we all agree--we don't quite know what we're doing in that area, particularly as there are so many schools and so few leaders right now. So, many thanks to you for helping us with that!

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Laurie -


A few years ago I took over a pack that was losing membership at a rapid pace. Recruitment was one of our top prioriites. We were geographically a little different than you, serving one area of a county with one elementary school. We were also the only Cub Scout pack associated with the area.


What we did was a heavy recruiting emphasis on the 1st-3rd grades. We went to the school open houses and set a display up right by the front door. We did it for the K-1 Open House and the 2-3 Open House. We had pictures, patches and - of course - Pinewood Derby cars on display. We also had a couple of the Cub Scouts there in uniform.


We had a bunch kids come up to look over the stuff. We gave them the normal propaganda - A mini-Boy's Life, a publication put out by national regarding the values of Scouting, and an information about our pack. Several of the parents mentioned being involved with Scouts or even being an Eagle Scout. I made sure to note the ones that seemed interested and made a follow-up call to them before Roundup. I had my Tiger Cub leaders lined up before walking into Roundup. The only only surprise was getting 20 Tigers instead of the usual 6-8!


Of course, all of this was preceded by us getting our own house in order. I took 9 months of getting the program straightened out before doing that. We wanted a quality program to be in place before we brought in this bunch of new kids. There was still plenty of issues when they arrived, but we were better off than the previous year.


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Hello LauraT7:


Boy Scout Division of the BSA put together some recruiting material last fall although perhaps not as comprehensive as the Cub Scout material you got.


Did you get the Scoutmaster's packet which came in the shape of a backpack. There was a CD included. It was intended for boy-to-boy recruiting. Make a copy and give it to each Troop member. It provides a mechanism for them to invite their friends. Plus they then can get the recruiter badge.

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Hello Laurie,


You have gotten some great suggestions and advice. May I, for a moment, take the "50,000 foot view."


If you aren't getting new members, I believe it is for one of two reasons (or a combination).


1)The potential Cub Scouts don't know about your Pack

2)They do know about your Pack but don't like, aren't interested, etc. in what you do.


Make sure that you have the best show in town both for Cub Scouts and for parents.


Make sure that your best show in town is broadly publicized. Use your local newspapers, cable TV, a newsletter, e-mail, a web page and plenty of word of mouth. Put together a one or two page flyer for parents and potential members which is fun and exciting. Refer them to your web page which contains up to date information on how to join and when your next meetings are.


When somebody does join, make it a big thing.


Make joining easy and leaving difficult.


You'll have a great Pack.

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