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Why Should A Boy Join Your Pack Or Troop?

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Recruitment is the topic today. 

 

If Scouting is deemed a good thing for boys,  why is YOUR unit the one they should join to get that "Good Thing"?

 

If the Troop only depends on Crossing Over Webelos for it's "new blood", what is the real reason for that Troop's existence? 

 

If a Cub Pack recruits from the general school population,  what's to stop a Boy Troop from doing the same thing?  Does your Troop make any effort (posters, handouts, presence at PTA meetings, back to school nights,  school assemblies?) to give 5,6,7,8 grade boys the opportunity , the reasons to consider Scouting along with sports, band, debate club, etc.? 

 

What is the reason some boys "jump ship" to another unit ?  Why the jealousy between Scout Leaders if we are all (officially)  bent to the same task ?  What was that mission statement again?

 

If a Troop depends on ( a ) Pack for it's "new blood", shouldn't it help that Pack recruit Cubs?  Shouldn't it make itself attractive to those Cubs ?

 

If a boy LIKES being a Scout (Cub, Boy) , how can we, the ADULT Leaders, make it easy for the Scout to invite his friends to join too?  Assuming , that is, that we want "outsiders" to join.....

 

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We are active in the packs and work with them well. We do events with them and for them. We provide program support and Den Chiefs. We have liaisons at the adult level that build and maintain those relationships. We have Scouts that do the same (Guides and Instructors).

 

As for those who leave, we do exit interviews. Mostly the reasons we hear are:

  • Scouts takes up too much time. These kids usually have way too much going on and are over-subscribed.
  • Lost interest. Most of the time these are kids that were pushed in to crossing over. Most are in the 11-13 range. Few are ever older than that.
  • Unit is too active. We do a lot of outdoor stuff and some kids (very small percentage) are in to less high adventure and more "swat-n-camp" type stuff.
  • Age out, turn 18 and head off to college.

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We get more than we can take - due to great relationships with a few Packs. We get walk-ins that we sometimes have to push to other units. Our reason for existence is that boys seem to like our Troop, and inertia. Another Troop could compete, and there is one in the area that pulls from one of our Packs as well. We welcome boys looking at more than one location. We also get a lot of boys due to expats in our area (Chinese and Korean). There is a large community of these folks, and our troop is known as one where we welcome the boys, and the boys get a little more of that All American experience. 

 

Older Scout recruiting is encouraged with our older Scouts who are in Middle School and High School. This usually comes in via our annual shooting campout, our ski trip, and our climbing runs. 

 

Boys leave: Too busy with other activities (we keep the door open for them), helicopter parents who decide that life in the woods is too rough and too undisciplined for their son (makes me sad), or they switch Troops to one that has more friends.

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Recruitment is the topic today. 

 

If Scouting is deemed a good thing for boys,  why is YOUR unit the one they should join to get that "Good Thing"?

 

If the Troop only depends on Crossing Over Webelos for it's "new blood", what is the real reason for that Troop's existence? 

 

If a Cub Pack recruits from the general school population,  what's to stop a Boy Troop from doing the same thing?  Does your Troop make any effort (posters, handouts, presence at PTA meetings, back to school nights,  school assemblies?) to give 5,6,7,8 grade boys the opportunity , the reasons to consider Scouting along with sports, band, debate club, etc.? 

 

What is the reason some boys "jump ship" to another unit ?  Why the jealousy between Scout Leaders if we are all (officially)  bent to the same task ?  What was that mission statement again?

 

If a Troop depends on ( a ) Pack for it's "new blood", shouldn't it help that Pack recruit Cubs?  Shouldn't it make itself attractive to those Cubs ?

 

If a boy LIKES being a Scout (Cub, Boy) , how can we, the ADULT Leaders, make it easy for the Scout to invite his friends to join too?  Assuming , that is, that we want "outsiders" to join.....

 

Why join my troop? It depends.  The main questions the Scout should ask are  1) Are you meeting my needs, and 2) Am I having fun?

 

We are a "hiking and camping troop" with boating thrown in during the summer. We are doing some outdoor activity every month, except January. That's becasue of all the Crossovers we get in December. So we have a lock in with a trip to the climbing wall, and some other activity.

 

Why we exist?  Old pastor saw a need for the Scouting program in the church. He viewed it as an outreach program.  New pastor is A) and Eagle, B) father of a Scout, and C) Loves the outdoors. He knows what Scouting can do, not only for his church but also the community, and is behind it 110% Heck he's going to Philmont again with his son next year.

 

Do we do school recruiting? Not really. We have flyers posted around the church, and do have article inteh newspaper. But a lof of our non-prior Cub Scout  Boy Scouts come from word of mouth.

 

Have we had folks jump ship? Yes we have. Some folks had friends in another troop. One Cub who went to a different troop because his older brother was already there, but htey didn't have a pack. And sometimes another troop is a better fit. My troop is not advancement oriented, as evidenced by the folks who are still Tenderfoots after 3 years. We focus on providing the advancement opportunities. One Scout, or more likely the parent, wanted a "high speed, low drag" approach to Eagle. So they transferred.

 

However we are getting a bit more advancement oriented. We have a crew going to Philmont next year, so we are focusing on advancemt a bit. Monday's meeting was split between getting ready for the camp out next week, and having folks buddy up to work on Scout and Tenderfoot badges.

 

And sometimes  folks lose interest.

 

As for jealosy, we are not if someone transfers. We are actually happy for them that they are still with the program.

 

BUT what we are jealous of is one established Troop that is the best in the district. They are a true model of the patrol method, and we are jealous that they have older scouts who are working with and mentoring their younger ones. But we are workin gon that ;)

 

Pack - Troop Relationships?  Troop I grew up in didn't have a feeder pack until I almsot aged out, so we recruited primarily through word of mouth. I've seen first hand what happens when a CO's pack and troop do not work together, eventually the troop and possibly even the pack folds.  Unfortunately I'm seeing this with my pack's CO's troop: they don't do anything with the pack.

 

My troop's CO's pack is a completely different story. We share the same committee, and the CM is also an ASM with the troop. Plus several of the troop's parents are DLs with the pack. So there is a very strong bond between the two.

 

Inviting Friends?  We have an open door policy, so freinds and Scout age siblings are invited. My son's PL, who is now a CIT on summer camp, got into the troop becasue his younger brother kept buggint he heck out of him to try out the troop. Canoe trip did the brother in, and he's suppose to go to Philmont next year, if he can get First  Class. ;) 

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My job is to run a good troop program.  I'm neither a Cub Scout volunteer nor district membership chairman.  I do my job and expect those folks to do theirs.

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Why join our Troop?

 

We are Scout led.

 

We vary our camping--we do everything from backpacking to day trip kayaking to just plop camping to snorkeling.  We camp every month, except occasionally December (we have camped then as well, but more often we don't camp then). 

 

We have handsome, dashing leaders (and me) who have Scout spirit in our daily lives. 

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2Cub.

 

But do you invite Webelos to meetings, camp outs, etc? Are there any district/council activities that encourage Troops to bring Webelos to?  Are there any service projects and other CO activities that both the pack and the troop participate in?

 

I ask because in my neck of the woods the district and council camporees encourage troops to invite Webelos ( you get points towards your score). Most packs and troops work together on Scouting for Food and our district's Memorial Day Service Project. What about Scout Sunday?

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My job is to run a good troop program.  I'm neither a Cub Scout volunteer nor district membership chairman.  I do my job and expect those folks to do theirs.

 

Isn't "addressing the needs of the troop" part of keeping the troop viable, which may include recruiting?

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We average around 60 Scouts, so we've never felt active recruiting is necessary or especially effective.  We usually get 10-12 Webelos a year and 3-5 by word of mouth.  That's enough.

 

Yes, we invite the Web2s to our November campout every year and put on a really good program for the boys and their parents.  We work out a visit to a troop meeting at everyone's convenience.  Both are part of the job.

 

No, there are no other district events where troops are encouraged to bring Webelos.  We don't attend either of the two annual district camporees anyway.  We have a robust outdoor program without putting up with district nonsense.  That's part of the job, too.

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Gotcha. We're fortunate in that the camproees are actually rather good in my neck of the woods. Except for the year it was MBs, specifically the Scouts had to chose from 4 MBs to work on. Several units skipped out, and the district learned their lesson when most of the Scouts complained.

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My job is to run a good troop program.  I'm neither a Cub Scout volunteer nor district membership chairman.  I do my job and expect those folks to do theirs.

 

Isn't "addressing the needs of the troop" part of keeping the troop viable, which may include recruiting?

 

I disagree.  Our job is to run a good troop program and to provide as rich and complete of a scouting experience to each and every scout as possible.  If we get more scouts, great.  If not, so be it.  Even when we don't get any new scouts, it's still our job to provide as great of an experience as possible.  Just after that, I'd argue our next priority is to support our brother pack, our charter organization and the community.  Along with other supporting any other pack too. 

 

IMHO, the best troops do not overly emphasize recruitment.  I say this as our city has many troops and they have each up'ed their recruitment game each year for fewer and fewer cub scouts.  It creates stress.  At the same time, a new troop was created under a major church.  They are drawing many of the cross overs.  At this point, I want to make sure each and every of our 20 scouts has a great experience.  If we get more, great.  If not, fine.  If we are 50 scouts or 15 scouts it doesn't matter.  

 

If the scouts want to camp, we need to help them run a camping program.  If they want to socialize, we help them socialize.  If merit badges, we provide opportunities.  If they want to become Eagle, then we help them advance.  

 

AND ... in each and every thing we do, we look for small friendly lessons to teach and we try to be the examples we want them to become.  

 

----------------------------------------------------

 

My job is to support our scouts and provide as great of an experience as possible.  

Edited by fred johnson

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First off, if it sound like I am criticizing anyone, I want to apologize. That wasn't my intent. I know different troops do different things, and I am trying to understand what's going on and getting some clarification.

 

Second off, I am a program freak, and firmly believe that if you have a good program, they will come. My troop didn't have a CS pack for the bulk of my tenure as a youth. We survived becasue we had a very active program. Really broke my hear to find out that my troop folded after Katrina.

 

So program is right up there.

 

Third, I honestly believe that the key to everything is the Patrol Method. I cannot emphasize that enough.

 

Fourth, in my neckof the woods now, it seems as if every troop that has a feeder pack, save my pack, has a very good relationship with their CO's troop. There are district/council service projects that everyone in the district takes part in. Or at least almost every unit.

 

I do think that while it should not be a #1 priotity, I do think Scout Sunday, or Scout Sabbath for our Jewish brethen, should be a joint event with all of a CO's units taking part in. I know that prior to me joing the pack, the CO had a crew as well. And the pack, troop, and crew  did Scout Sunday. heck even the Girl Scouts that meet at the church attended.

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I ask scouts why they like our troop. Some responses: We do a lot. Events have fun or challenge but there is time to just hang out. We have scouts that are Den Chiefs and the webelos really liked them. We run the haunted house for the Council every year and some Webs join us just for that. We have a lot of high adventure trips. This boy led thing is new but they like it and they like their patrols. Scouts feel welcome when they visit. Every campout other than klondike, high adventure, and summer camp is open to cub scouts and their parents (we ignore rules about requirements for cub scouts at those campouts). They think it's cool when I defend their choices in front of the other adults. The outdoors are such a great break from the usual grind and drama of high school. They learn skills and do things they would never do outside of scouts. I hear these last two a lot from older scouts.

 

There's a lot of tough love going on in my troop. I treat the older scouts the same way I want them to treat the younger scouts. I tell the older scouts they will not get Eagle if the younger scouts don't look up to them. They look at me funny when I tell them the best way to get the younger scouts to notice them is to have fun with them and/or have their own adventure so the younger scouts can see it. After that, teaching skills is easy. Those scouts, that are looking out for the younger scouts, are the best recruitment tool.

 

Maybe the bottom line here is recruitment is no different than retaining scouts by giving them age appropriate challenges.

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I hope you don't mind some musings from across the pond, as this is something my group has been pondering recently. First bear in mind we have a group system here where Beavers, Cubs, Scouts and sort of Explorers (it's complicated for Explorers) are all technically part of the same group and you automatically feed through from one to another and it's all coordinated.

 

However..... historically our scout troop has been full. We ran at a max of 35ish scouts as this is the largest number we can realistically have in the main hall in our building doing something active. There was a waiting list for those wanting to join from outside of cubs, and we did get those joining from externally. We never had to recruit so never thought about it.

 

Over the last year or so though we recruited several more adult leaders, sufficient to open a second scout troop by clearing our waiting list in one fell swoop and that now has around 20 scouts. We are looking at opening a second cub pack to feed it. Until we do so we are needing to recruit externally which is something we've not had to think about before.

 

When we ask kids why they join they typically tell us because they want to be with their friends and that "it sounded fun". Hmmm..... nice to hear but not very helpful in terms of pinning down what our USP is! When we ask the kids what the highlights of a given term have been the ones that constantly come up is anything involving food and fire. Also they love patrol camps where they camp without leaders.

 

The question is what channel do you use to put the message across and actually get them signed up? Do it wrong and you can actually cause a lot of damage. It can a fine line to tread. 

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