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The Invisible Scout

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I have been moved to open the discussion on how , assuming we SCOUTER.COM posters agree that Scouting is something to promote for our youth to participate in, we can eliminate the Invisibility of Scouting.

I have seen suggested service projects, wearing the uniform more, school presentations, ... I will open things by posting a collection we gathered at our RT: ~~Stuff To Do To Spread The Scout Gospel,

And Invite Boys (and parents!) To Your Troop

It’s not JUST for September!

If Scouting is such a good thing, why are you keeping it a secret?

And don’t do it (recruit!) just once a year! Boys can join any time! Get your Committee to work!

They can’t (and won’t) join if they don’t know you’re there. Suggestions we have collected:

1. Article in local community newspaper. Did you go to Philmont? The Summit? AT hike? Call the Gazette or the Sentinel! Don’t forget the photo and contact number!

2. Let Church members know about the Troop. Church Bulletin? YOUR House of Worship, not only the CO!

3. Flyer/ table at local middle school's Back to School Night. (Coordinate with Cub Scouts!) Check for Public School Disclaimer paragraph!

4. Letter sent to all graduating 5th graders inviting them to join Boy Scouts (check with the Principal, see above)

5. Boy-to-boy recruiting - most successful method for us. Create a card to pass out to friends.

6. Web site that people can find by Googling ( Is your http://www.BeAScout.org account accurate? If not, inquiries go to the Council office.)

7. Pass out cards @ sporting events, parades.

8. Flag ceremony for PTA. Presentation to PTA.

9. Sign outside your CO: “Home of Troop , Crew, Ship XYZâ€Â

10. Make contact with the Middle School Counseling Office.

11. Demonstration/exhibit at Library. Check with Head Librarian/ Media Specialist.

12 Sponsor /Donate a Boys’ Life subscription to the Library.

13. Speak to Scouts about their “angst†at wearing uniform “in publicâ€Â.

14. Make sure everybody has “Class B “ T-shirts or sweaters. They can be worn anytime, not just to Scout events.

15. Listen to Scoutcast podcast. See Brians Blog: http://blog.scoutingmagazine.org/2014/08/05/recruit-older-scouts-venturers/#more-28161

16. Make sure you have a “Boy Led “ Troop, and a quality, high energy program. The successful, large Troops are active, going places and doing stuff every month. If a boy joins your Troop, why should he stay? Your Patrols should be encouraged to do stuff AS A PATROL, don’t wait for the Troop to go out.

17. The Adults can wear their Scout belt, cap, jacket outside of “campâ€Â. Conversation starter.

18. Den Chiefs. Appoint to local Pack. Make that connection. Cubs watching and looking up to “big brother†Scouts in their Cub Dens.

19. Offer to do a “Whittlin’ Chit†class for the Pack’s Webelos and Bears.

 

 

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I'm going to comment on some of these. And I'm doing so from the perspective of being a scouter in the UK.

 

In the last 15 years things have changed considerably in terms of demand for scouting and most importantly its image. One of the reasons behind that is that HQ have proactively tried to coach groups at the front line in how to promote themselves properly. So in terms of SS's suggestions.....

 

1. Yes. But don't expect it to work for scout age youth. Teenagers are not likely to read the local news paper. This channel is for recruiting adults and also for advertising to parents of potential cubs. And make sure it's positive. Don't make it "this unit will close if we don't recruit an adult". You say "this unit does these amazing things. We want more adults to make more of it happen"

 

2. Same as for 1.

 

3. If you are advertising direct to school age kids get the input of your scouts into how it looks. Remember that if you put out an image that is makes your troop look (insert current popular insult among teens in your area here) then the damage you can do is very very hard to undo. So ask the kids. Most importantly ask the ones that are "cool". Their view is important.

 

4. Same as for 3.

 

5. Yes. Nothing beats it, don't ever under estimate word of mouth.

 

6. Yes! We are rapidly reaching an era where if you are not on the internet you don't exist. And photos. Lots of photos. And make sure they are photos of doing fun stuff. Forget parades, flag ceremonies or other formal moments. Photos of rock climbing or kayaking are the way forward. Set up a Facebook like page, You can get plug ins to automatically put new page content on your facebook feed..

 

7. Yes but again see 3. above.

 

8. What's a PTA? Anyway with formal moments if you are going to do them do them properly. Better to do that or nothing than a scruffy looking half measure with kids who look bored/don't want to be there.

 

9. Yes. With a phone number, email address and web address too. All very well knowing where you are but they need to know how to contact you.

 

10. No idea what a counseling office is?

 

11. See 1. above

 

12. Depends how much money you've got to throw at it. How much do kids in your area use the library? Might cost you a lot for minimal exposure.

 

13. Yes! Boy/girl lead is more than just the programme. Find out what they think and act upon it.

 

14. Again yes but for different reasons. Don't expect them to be worn outside scouts. But when you put photos on your website of kids doing the good stuff then having them in more casual clothes is a far more attractive image.

 

15. will listen in due course.

 

16. Most important thing on here. You can all the promotion you want but if there is no end product it will be a lot of effort for nothing. Programme is a must.

 

17. Yes no maybe. I'll be blunt. Take a long hard look at yourself. Do you personally appeal to teenagers? Or will a teenager look at you and think scouts sucks? Think about that before publicly idenitfying yourself as a scouter. This bit of our website has photos of our leaders. Take a guess who we most take the opportunity to push forward in public. Clue..... it's not me!

 

18/19 Different system here due to the group system but yes, make contact with the cub packs and get the scouts to do the talking to the scouts!

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One can market Scouting anyway one wishes, but the political climate we find ourselves in and the current societal norms being changed is not going to bring back Scouting to the glory days of the 60's. Everyone knows that 100 good stories about scouting can hit the internet and go viral, but one negative story will wipe it all out. And it's not just scouts. Other groups face this challenge as well. When I was a kid the police were pigs and our military personnel were baby-killers, now they're heroes. Christians and Jews have drawn negative media attention and as with the PC thread indicates, unless you are in the Junior High "In Club" you're a nobody loser. The maturity and sophistication level of the US society in general has pretty much declined over the past couple of generations.

 

Stosh

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This is probably too pessimistic a view. While it's true that "bad" stories damage Scouting and undermine any positive effort to some degree, the truth is that most people don't really know anything about Scouting, either positive or negative. The ones who are not now and never have been involved in Scouting are much more likely to remember the last thing they heard, good or bad. It's easy, when you're involved in something that you care about, to assume that everyone at least knows about this great thing you're involved with, even if they don't directly participate.

 

It also provides a self-filling prophecy - if all our efforts will go to waste with bad publicity, then why make the effort? I can guarantee (because they've told me this themselves) that Scouting's enemies in our society are absolutely counting on enough people involved in Scouting to think this way so the organization cannot survive.

 

My recruiting experiences have all been positive. I have never had an angry Adult come up to me at a school or community event and chew me out for my support of homophobia, or patriotism or paedophilia or whatever disinformation they happen to be operating on.

 

I would encourage everybody to focus their efforts on Cub Scout recruiting. It is probably a million times easier to get a first grader to become a Tiger than an 8th grader to become a Boy Scout. I've posted several things that have worked for me in various threads so won't repeat them. But the main thing is in the opening part of the OP's post - it's not just for September. Recruiting, whether Boy Scout or Cub Scout, is a year-round effort.

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1/3rd of my boys did not come from the Cub Scout program. Mass marketing in today's society is far less effective than the one-on-one approach of personal contact. But getting new faces through the door and keeping them are two entirely different animals and must be viewed as such. Too often we feel that simply relying on feeder packs is the way to recruit. Unfortunately people are a bit more sophisticated today.

 

Yes, BSA has a long standing reputation of honesty and helping old ladies cross the street. That's what the majority of people think of when they think Boy Scouts. But that's the program of yesterday and what the BSA promotes today doesn't seem to be anything like the old version. So what's the new version? Heck, even most scouters don't know what it is. In spite of all that I run the old program.

 

I promote maturity, character and leadership development and I have people coming forward and seeking out our troop. No, we don't recruit. We're young, we're developing and a huge influx of boys at this point would be very disruptive. Did a new boy orientation last week and I've just gotten a contact request to come visit tomorrow from another new boy (11 year old, non-Cub Scout).

 

How these people are hearing about our program, I don't know, but they do. Maybe people still rely on local reputations rather than national ones for their boys.

 

Stosh

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17. Yes no maybe. I'll be blunt. Take a long hard look at yourself. Do you personally appeal to teenagers? Or will a teenager look at you and think scouts sucks? Think about that before publicly idenitfying yourself as a scouter. This bit of our website has photos of our leaders. Take a guess who we most take the opportunity to push forward in public. Clue..... it's not me!

 

Yea, everyone looks young, except, Roger, who is ....? Santa Claus?

 

My guess is every one of us has lots of stories about the good things that kids get from scouts. If not we wouldn't be here. My guess is many parents would respond to those stories. I'm not sure how to get them out but if half of all kids are being raised in single parent homes then there are a lot of single parents that are praying for help in raising their kids.

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If Scouting is such a good thing' date=' why are you keeping it a secret?[/quote']

Here's a quick story and then my blunt feelings on the subject...

 

About 20 years ago I was out shopping and saw a mother and son pass by the camping section of the store (I was there checking out camp gear for my next Scouting adventure). I saw the kid's eyes light up when he say the big display with a tent, a little faux-campfire ring, and some fake trees. I overheard him ask his mom if they could go camping sometime. The mother seemed reluctant (she didn't seem like much of the outdoorsy type) and she said "well maybe." I jumped in and said, "If you want to go camping, have you considered joining the Boy Scouts?" I gave the basic sales pitch and some information to the mother and the boy actually ended up joining a troop and going camping and being exposed to all the benefits of Scouting! Hooray! :D

 

Now would I do that today? Truthfully, I'd be very reluctant to go up to a women in a store and tell her she should sign her son up for the Boy Scouts. Scouting has become very politicized and too taboo (at least in my area). I would feel just about as comfortable going up to a stranger in a department store and asking them if they'd like to join my troop as I would be asking them if they would join my political party or convert to my religion.

 

I'm not ashamed to be a Scout -- nor am I ashamed of my political affiliations or my religious beliefs -- I have bumper stickers promoting all 3 on my car. ;) I don't hide the fact that I'm a Scout, but I don't go around trying to convert every person I see on the street... it's just too awkward (and going around and offending and aggravating people is counterproductive and seems somewhat un-Scoutlike).

 

I would not go to a dinner party as start up a conversation with someone I barely know by saying "so do you believe in Jesus Christ? Do your kids go to Sunday School?" nor would I kick off a conversation with someone I just met by asking "so who did you vote for last November? And where do you stand on the abortion issue and gun control?"... likewise I would feel uneasy going up to someone I didn't know and asking "so are your sons Cub Scouts? Have you considered joining the BSA?" (I've done that and unleashed a fury about discrimination, hate, bigotry, and not wanting to support such a conservative organization... and I've also done it and gotten an earful about how the organization has turned its back on traditional values and is "too liberal" for their family. Plus in the wake of sexual abuse headlines and perversion files, there's the awkward looks questioning why a grown man is so interested in getting boys to sign up to go off into the woods for a weekend.) Overall it's too much of a social faux pas to ask strangers off the street to join and support the BSA.

 

Due to the current membership issues (which I really don't know how to defend), it's just too politically awkward and controversial to go around preaching Scouting to the masses without feeling like a political evangelist (and having people feel uncomfortable, irritated or offended).

 

I have no problem going around preaching the values of joining little league or the high school band... but going around asking families off the street to sign-up with the BSA is like walking through a field full of politically- and socially-charged landmines.

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The issues you raise feel like they are about you. You feel there will be a negative reaction. You would be - what? - embarassed? - afraid to offend? (Try selling candy for a non-profit laterly? [Did you know that a candy bar is a "Death Stick"?])

 

 

Is Scouting, with what you see as its defects, worth saving?

 

If not, why belong?

 

If "yes," consider risking hurt feelings and promote membership. ("Scouts in my troop go camping every month. Interested?")

 

Or, if "yes," who do you believe should be trying to "sell" Scouting? The "other"?

 

 

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The issues you raise feel like they are about you. You feel there will be a negative reaction. You would be - what? - embarassed? - afraid to offend?

 

Again, I'm not ashamed to be a Scout nor do I see the program as "broken" by any means... but going around upsetting people on the street is not a worthwhile use of my time or energy.

 

Our district had a recruitment table at a "back to school" fair hosted by a local elementary school last year. We were hoping to find some families interest in joining Cub Scouting. But only two types of people came up to the table: (1) people who were already in Scouting and just stopped by to say "hi" to some familiar faces, and (2) people who came up and politely listened to our sales pitch but then questioned the "hypocrisy" of the BSA's policies or voiced concern over supporting an organization that discriminates, and there were even a few who came to simply criticize or berated us for promoting hate or bigotry. We didn't get a single new recruit (not even a "maybe" or "we'll think about it")... 200+ families were there but it was a total waste of a Tuesday evening. The BSA has yet to provide any "talking points" or support to help volunteers in the trenches combat the frequently asked questions on the issue (I still don't know how to defend the policy or the organization when people ask certain questions).

 

Over 90% of the conversations that I have with non-Scouts about Scouting are negative... they aren't Scouts because they haven't been invited or been handed a flyer, or received the right sales pitch... they aren't Scouts because they don't want to associate their family with the BSA.

 

Again, it may just be the area that I'm in and other communities and parts of the country may react differently.

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Matthew: As a College student, when I'm discussing what I do with my life and Scouting comes up, very few people jump down my throat about the Boy Scouts of America's membership policy. More often that not, people who are polite, engaging people would ask "What do you think of the membership policy?"

 

To which I reply something to the effect of, "I believe in Scouting, and what it gives to teenagers, but I don't support the BSA's membership policies excluding homosexuals. If people like me quit the organization, the kids will suffer, and the organization will take even longer to change. Besides, what point is there opening the BSA up to homosexuals/atheists/girls, if there isn't anything left afterwards?"

 

Maybe the people in your area are just exceedingly rude, or you've just been unlucky. I live in a pretty conservative area, and it's normally not an issue. You are trying to give your son and his friends the best experience possible, if people are jumping down your throat about a policy you don't make, you probably don't want them to be involved in the program anyways.

 

Sentinel947

 

 

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I have seen what is discussed by the media from time to time, but I have never had anyone make any comments to me about BSA membership policies. The most discussion has been on this forum. I really don't think 99% of the people out there care one way or another. At least that's been my experience and there are a lot of people who are fully aware of my background in scouting.

 

Stosh

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You're right, bringing up politics or religion at a party is a sure way to get labeled as a creeper. However, if your religion or politics come up as a side light to something really cool you've done, then you're good as long as you don't push it. So, forget about politics (there is nothing cool about it). Religion is okay in the context of doing some good. Boy Scouts is easy to bring up. Just tell them what great things you're doing and don't mention Boy Scouts until they ask, and they will. If they want to talk more about it then talk more. If not, leave it at that. You'd be surprised how many people think what we do is cool. Service projects. Eagle projects. Helping kids that have screwed up parents. High adventure. People enjoy talking about all of those things. After you tell someone you helped collect 2500 pounds of food for the local food bank, or that you biked Moab, they most likely will not complain too loudly when you then say it was with the Boy Scouts. The usual response is "really?" and then they tell you you're doing something great with the kids.

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You know how Lem wears the First Class pin on his sweet, sweet plaid shirts in Follow Me Boys? Well, I started doing that exact same thing (even with plaid shirts...but not because of Lem...I'm apparently a "lumbersexual") when I go to social outings. People always notice the First Class pin and ask, "hey, why are you wearing that Boy Scout pin?" When I say, 'well, I'm a Scoutmaster here in M...and I help change lives'. They really can't argue with that! It's been a positive thing and I continue to sport that pin more and more.

 

Matthew, those folks who ride your donkey about the membership policy just don't know how to have a civil conversation. I know that some of my Scouts have been harassed by civvies for offering to sell them popcorn. Truth is, I don't like the discrimination either but folks don't have to be butts about it to my Scouts! :cool:

 

LeCastor

 

 

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My son wears BSA/troop/camp t-shirts to school, but he'd never wear his uniform. Get some nifty branded gear, pass them out free/cheap (not overpriced from the scout shop), and you have walking billboards. Make t-shirts prizes for Packs/Troops, for such things like meeting a recruiting or Friends of Scouting goal. Bump the price of camp $5 and give everyone attending camp the T-shirt, rather then making it a separate purchase.

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We're talking "opportunity" here. Nothing ventured , nothing gained. If we think the Scouting idea/program is worth while, then we need to offer the "opportunity" to those youth and parents that might benefit from it. Otherwise, the kids who are looking for an "opportunity" will find another. It might be 4H, it might be Little League, it might be Debate Club, it might be throwing rocks thru a synagogue window. If the opportunity is not known and offered, it won't be availed of.

A Scout belt buckle, a Tshirt, a service project, an article in the newspaper/facebook, It starts the conversation. How that conversation is continued or finished, is then up to us. Politics? Religion? Follow your spirit where it might lead, but if you don't yet have an answer to the question for your own satisfaction , perhaps you need to find that first. What is YOUR Scouting all about? "I don't know about that, but I do know..." is always a promising start.

 

How many out there have tried to recruit a Merit Badge Counselor lately? Know a local museum, workshop, airport, anywhere that might lend itself to a Merit Badge Day?

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