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scoutermomks

Troop Recruiting

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I have recently taken over as Scoutmaster of my son's troop.  The troop is only 4 years old and our CO does not have a Cub Scout pack.  In the past we've had boys join the troop as crossovers because they already knew some of the boys in the troop and/or our scoutmaster from various district and council events or because they were in the same pack at one time.  For the past year my son has really been the only scout from our troop volunteering at any of the district or council events so our number just hasn't been out there for Cubs to see.  We do currently have two den chiefs for the pack that my son was in, one with the Arrow of Light den and one with the Wolf den.  That pack does have a troop associated with them but they've had a hard time getting any of those scouts to be den chiefs.  I also just stepped down as Cubmaster of that pack and I don't want to seem like I'm too actively recruiting those Cubs because there has already been some hurt feelings over boys from that pack joining my current troop instead of the troop associated with the pack.

 

Our former Scoutmaster decided to not do any active recruiting for this year so we had no crossovers.  I don't want to repeat that next year. I've talked some with other leaders in my district about recruiting but they don't have a lot of ideas other than to go to the closest middle school.  Another troop with the same issue as mine already does recruiting at the closest middle school.  So, in a situation where a troop does not have a "feeder" pack (yes, I know that feeder packs are not a thing, but most of the parents and leaders of Cubs don't seem to know that they have other options besides the troop with the same number as their pack) how do we recruit new scouts that don't just happen to be the little brother of a boy already in the troop? 

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scoutermomks,

 

    Another thought about schools, as yours may be set up differently. Our elementary schools end at the 5th grade, so we've recruited starting in April of each year, the graduating 5th graders. Most are at least 10 years old, and then can join the troop. We have several elementary schools nearby, and it's working great for us, as we haven't had a feeder pack for years. Our district (and DE) has had great relationships with our elementary schools, mainly for Pack recruitment in the fall.

 

Add that to your tool box.

 

sst3rd

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I say gently educate everyone that feeder packs are not a thing and encourage Scouts to visit multiple Troops and find the one that feels right.  This will take time and you will upset some people but it is the right approach.  The units/people who are upset likely feel that they cannot compete with a well-run unit.  I would even say that the ones who are upset do not truly have the Scout's best interest in mind.  Yes, I prefer to get the Scouts in my unit but I'm happy as long as he continues in Scouts instead quiting because he feels stuck in a Troop he doesnt like.

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I just finished 3 years as a Cubmaster for a Pack that didn't have a Troop to feed into.  My son was the first crossover we've had in those three years because we hadn't had a 5th grade den in several years due to problems in the Pack before I became Cubmaster.  You're already doing one of the things that can help strengthen the bonds between a Troop and Pack(s) - supplying Den Chiefs.

 

My son visited a lot of Troops, but ultimately joined the one that he went on his first joint campout with upon becoming a Webelos Scout.  So I'd highly recommend that you invite Webelos Dens from across your town/City on your Troop Campouts.  If they enjoy themselves on a campout, the odds are good that they'll consider your Troop.

 

Quite a few Troops extended invitations to our Pack for various events.  Some were 'pin nights' where each of their patrols taught a certain pin.  Some were fun activities - bowling, trampoline places, lock-ins, etc.  Some were just 'meet the Troop nights' where the Patrols demonstrated and involved the Webelos in some Scout skills, while the adult leaders talked to the Webelos parents'.  I don't know which of these methods is more successful, but I think they are all worth a try.

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Team up with the other troop that visits your middle school.

Try to have an assembly in school, and at the PTA. (Especially at the PTA, bring some of your older scouts to impress the parents.)

Have a flyer with info on both troops (meeting nights, locations, etc...).

Obviously this works best if the troops meet on different nights and the locations are fairly distinct.

 

Lacking success, make a plan for how you all will take care of the youngest boys as they age out. The end of the troop should not mean the end of scouting for these boys.

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Something to help from other side of the Atlantic... Do you have a website with lots of photos of smiling kids doing fun stuff? If not then get one!

 

The first thing that parents will do when their kid wants to be a scout is own X is go to google and type "scouts town X". Make sure your troop comes as high up the list as possible and when they click on it they are impressed with what they see.

 

What that also does is provide material for your existing scouts. When they tell their friends about scouts and try and recruit them they have an instant supply of material to go to to show why scouts is great. And forget photos of ceremonies and formal uniformed events. I mean photos of camps and hikes and climbing and canoeing. Put yourself out there!

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Here in Memphis there might be 3 troops for every school.  There is a signup night where youth and parents go from table to table to determine which troop is the best fit for them.  Is your Council assisting you with "buzzups" signup nights?

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I just finished 3 years as a Cubmaster for a Pack that didn't have a Troop to feed into.  My son was the first crossover we've had in those three years because we hadn't had a 5th grade den in several years due to problems in the Pack before I became Cubmaster.  You're already doing one of the things that can help strengthen the bonds between a Troop and Pack(s) - supplying Den Chiefs.

 

My son visited a lot of Troops, but ultimately joined the one that he went on his first joint campout with upon becoming a Webelos Scout.  So I'd highly recommend that you invite Webelos Dens from across your town/City on your Troop Campouts.  If they enjoy themselves on a campout, the odds are good that they'll consider your Troop.

 

Quite a few Troops extended invitations to our Pack for various events.  Some were 'pin nights' where each of their patrols taught a certain pin.  Some were fun activities - bowling, trampoline places, lock-ins, etc.  Some were just 'meet the Troop nights' where the Patrols demonstrated and involved the Webelos in some Scout skills, while the adult leaders talked to the Webelos parents'.  I don't know which of these methods is more successful, but I think they are all worth a try.

 

Reading these posts makes me think scouting in my area is really dysfunctional. Every boy in our Pack went into the same Troop for 5 years (maybe longer... before our time though) and they never once offered us a den chief or invited us to an event. Pin workshops sound like a great idea! 

 

And you are right, my son joined the Troop that asked him to come along on a camp-out (after we reached out to a bunch of Troops trying to schedule visits). Most other troops acted like they were doing us a favor by allowing a Web to tag along. It's so weird to see what scouting is meant to be and comparing it to my experiences thus far. 

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Some ideas without expanding upon the hurt feelings:

 

Scouts volunteering at Cub Scout Day Camp, Pinewood derby, etc.

 

Den Chiefs which is what you are doing already.

 

Get pics in the newspaper, website, facebook group, etc. Publicity is a good promoter.

 

Have scouts invite their friends.

 

Get a list of all the dropped Scouts/ failed to cross over ex Cubs, have the Scouts look at it, and see who they can talk into visiting.

 

 

 

I can understand your situation completely, i.e. involved in one pack but involved in a different troop. I'm still in it, a pack committee member with one CO and an ASM in another CO. SM of the pack's CO's troop and I are not on speaking terms because I "betrayed" the troop by going to another troop, and then Scouts not happy with that troop transferring into mine. Try to not let it bother you.

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I really like the idea of going into the elementary schools in the spring.  Our council has started getting really into spring recruiting but they always focus on the Cubs and not so much the older scouts.  I'll talk with my DE and see if we can get something special going for the 5th graders for April.

 

I'm all for teaming up with the other troop that recruits from our closest middle school (we already team up with them for hikes and out of state camping trips) but that troop is actually worse off than we are.  They also don't have a pack at their CO and they haven't had a crossover in several years.  The only reason they still have a troop is because they get the random signups from recruiting at the school.  I'd hate to take away the one or two boys a year that they get.

 

The troop does have a website. I just checked and when I Google Boy Scouts in my town we're the first troop that comes up.  I'm not sure if that's because Google knows that's the scout site I visit most often though.  We haven't put pictures any new of the scouts on the website for a long time but that is something I can talk with the webmaster about.

 

My son volunteered at a one day Cub Scout day camp and the district Pinewood Derby this year.  I'm hoping to get more scouts back to volunteering for district events.  We had several earn a district volunteer award last year but with all of the changes we had in the troop this year we weren't doing a good job of letting them know when the events were.

 

Our district roundtable is coming up the first week of August.  I'm going to talk to a couple of the Cubmasters for the packs that I know we've had crossovers from in the last few years and get their contact information so I can invite their Webelos to some of our troop activities.  We have one scout from my old pack that has said he is interested in joining our troop so at least we've got some interest!  He's already been to a couple of meetings and a camp out with us and he said he had a really good time.  I'm hoping to get the rest of his den to join him on one of our campouts this fall.

 

Thanks everyone for all the ideas!  

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SM of the pack's CO's troop and I are not on speaking terms because I "betrayed" the troop by going to another troop, and then Scouts not happy with that troop transferring into mine. Try to not let it bother you.

 

When I hear things like this it really bothers me.  From what I've heard, in most cases we lose over half of our Cub Scouts - they never crossover into a Troop.  Instead of fighting over the boys who are crossing over, it should be the goal of every Scouter to retain as many of the Cub Scouts as we can.  We should all be happy when a boy crosses over to some Troop, even if our own Troops weren't the best fit for that boy.  Sometimes it comes down to the meeting day and time being a better fit for the boy.  Sometimes it is the culture of the Troop. 

 

In any case, as Cub Scout leaders if we aren't making sure that our Webelos visit as many Troops as possible during their 4th-5th grade years, we haven't 'done our best' to make sure that the boys are finding a Troop that is a good fit. As Boy Scout leaders, if we have that attitude when a boy chooses a different Troop, perhaps we should go back to the Scout law and ponder what it means.  If you have a good program, and are helpful, friendly, cheerful, and kind to Webelos, there is a good chance they'll pick your Troop (unless it's a day/time conflict, in which case they may wish they could join your Troop, but can't through no fault of any of the parties).

 

To bring this back on topic and add to my previous post - it is helpful if your Troop has a Webelos liaison to keep in touch with the various Packs in the area.  As a Cub Scout leader, it was helpful for me when Troops reached out, because Cub Scout leaders are busy folks who don't have a lot of time to track down contacts for Boy Scout Troops.

 

One thing our District did which I think really helps is to host an annual "Meet the Troops" night (I hate that name because it makes me think it is a night to honor the military, but I digress...).  All Troops were invited to man a table.  All Cub Scouts and leaders were invited to come and circle the room visiting the tables. 

 

It's interesting to see how different Troops approach this.  Sometimes we have Scoutmasters, ASMs, and Committee Members manning the tables.  Since Boy Scouts should be boy led, I tended to give bonus points to the tables where Boy Scouts represented the  units. 

 

As for what each table was like, some units had slide shows running on a laptop, some had tri-fold boards,  some just had fliers.  One suggestion I made as a Commissioner last year was that each unit should have a 1-2 page flier about their Troop.  If we collected those fliers, we could put them together into a booklet that each Pack in the District could receive.  By having each flier be 1-2 sides of a page, it is easy to photocopy 50 times and hole punch and put into a folder or binder - no electronic editing required.

 

If you have such a flier, it can be another way to get info about your Troop out to the Webelos who visit.  I'd also suggest that your District look into something like we are doing... it's a great way to meet a bunch of Troops in 1-2 hours, and give you an idea of which Troops might be good ones to visit.

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 ... I'm all for teaming up with the other troop that recruits from our closest middle school (we already team up with them for hikes and out of state camping trips) but that troop is actually worse off than we are.  They also don't have a pack at their CO and they haven't had a crossover in several years.  The only reason they still have a troop is because they get the random signups from recruiting at the school.  I'd hate to take away the one or two boys a year that they get. ....

How to fix busted toes: tape them together until they're healed.

Just saying, if together you all can get eight newbies (because the odds of a boy in the audience seeing one of his buddies in a shared presentation could be that much higher)... that's a rising tide to float both boats.

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Our council has started getting really into spring recruiting but they always focus on the Cubs and not so much the older scouts.

 

I believe that's standard across the board in most Councils

Edited by JasonG172

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If someone was poaching from my unit, I wouldn't be on speaking terms with them either.

 

"Poaching", really?  Do you say the same thing when a youth leaves Scouts to play soccer?  Scouts are volunteers - allowing for parent influence, they stay involved in the things that are most fun, match their interests and fit their schedule; they stay with the groups where their friends are and where they feel welcome.  If Scouts were leaving my unit for another unit, I would definitely be talking to both them and the other unit to find out where we came up short.

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