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Cub Scout Recruitment Night Ideas

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Do you have a pinewood derby track?  if so, set it up and put out a few old cars for people to race.  If not, could still put out some derby cards to look at.  If no cars, you could do some sort of pinewood blue prints that boys could color designs on with crayons as a take away.


Our BSA troop has a nice slide show running on the wall showing great pics from the previous year.  That way parents don't have to imagine things.  They can see summer camp pics and how much fun the boys are having.  Do you have examples of any crafts the boys have done?  set them out for all to see but be aware they may not be intact by the end of the night.


games, songs and skits are always fun.  IMO simple jokes that a young mind would understand are a good way to break the ice. 

As an adult, I have always enjoyed the story of the unknown scout.

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Be sure to promise things like lots of BB gun shooting, archery at every meeting, camping in the local NFL stadium and watching movies on the jumbo-tron..... make it seem like this stuff is done every weekend..... you'll have great success at recruiting....

this is what our council staff did during their school visits when I was CM.

Recruiting was great, retention.... well you didn't ask about that..... :cool:


          OK, sarcasm off now.


A couple years ago, I was gearing up to change our "Round-Up" AWAY from a formal presentation format.  Interestingly enough, that same year our district (or maybe it was council) went the same way with their training.  I wish i could take credit, but I think it was just a case of great minds thinking alike!  They really developed the idea much more than I could have on my own


So, we used to have a set night, place, and time..... folks would gather in auditorium style, while the CM would wag his jaw for a while.  We toyed with some sideshow activities and what not.  It was just a painful event.  It was called "Round-Up Night"


We went to more of a tradeshow or job fair format.....with the event running in a time slot, not starting at a particular time.  Folks would come in whenever they got there, go to table 1, table 2, etc.... very conversational style, and leave when they were done....

I forget the sequence they came up with, but the various tables had scouts and/or leaders with a particular job, and no more than the one adult or a couple scouts per table

I don't remember specifics or order, but maybe 4 or 5 tables, something like this


welcome / introduction / tell them about the format of the evening

talk with them them about the unit

talk with them about the calendar

meet their den leader (depending on their age of course)

help them fill out the application, and someone there to collect money


They didn't want a lot of folks there from the unit, just enough unit adults for the jobs, and no more, and not the whole pack of scouts.  too many adults or scouts they found would be intimidating

the Cub Master would be roaming the floor and available for questions, and the CM was the ONLY one in uniform (the theory being prospective scouts feel out of place, like they are the only ones without the uniform)  I had trouble with this idea, but ultimately see that it makes some sense.


The one thing, maybe the only thing, I did not like was they were strict about a rule saying they only wanted us to collect the BSA national dues.  They didn't want us collecting the pack dues or fees.  didn't want to make it so much about money, and sticker shock I suppose.

They changed the name to "Sign Up Night"

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A few years ago what we did was look at our annual calendar, and figured out fun activities that related to those events, essentially making it into a carnival.  The idea was for the boys to have fun, while at the same time giving a preview of some of the cool things we had planned for the year.  For example:

  • One month we were going to an aviation museum, so we had one 'booth' where boys could make a paper airplane and fly it
  • For Scouting for Food, I think we allowed them to knock over a pyramid of empty food cans by throwing bean bags
  • For our annual Cakewalk, we had cupcakes they could decorate and eat
  • We had nerf guns they could shoot at plastic cups to knock them down to represent BB gun shooting at summer camp
  • We had a plastic bowling set to represent our bowling outing
  • I think we raced matchbox cars down a plastic track to represent our pinewood derby

Now, with the Bear rank being asked to do a Cub Scout carnival, for spring recruiting we tied the Cub Scout carnival to recruiting.  You can take a lot of school carnival games and adapt them to a Scouting theme if you want to get fancy, for example:

  • Pinewood Derby themed Race to the Finish (roll dice, your car moves that many spots on a board) or Bumper Cars (Pinewood derby car on a board with rubber bands on each end, the car bounces back and forth until it stops, win that prize)
  • Cub Scout Sign Ring Toss - throw rope rings at a wooden hand doing the Cub Scout sign, try to get the rings onto the two fingers
  • Cub Scout Salute Frisbee toss - Try to throw the frisbee into the triangular space between the elbow, neck and 'hand to forehead' on a wooden or cardboard cutout doing the Cub Scout salute
  • Arrow of Light Nerf Archery
  • Do - Your - Best Ladderball (put one word on each 'rung' of the 'ladder')

I've also heard of having normal carnival games, but at each station teach them one of the requirements for Bobcat.  When they are done, give them a certificate that they can 'trade-in' at the upcoming Pack Meeting for their Bobcat rank.


I think the main idea is to have more fun and have less talk.  I like BLW2's idea of having stations to talk about Pack Calendar, Den Adventures, Collecting Fees, etc.  I think I'm going to steal that next year when I do Recruitment training.  The only potential drawback is that it requires more people to staff the sign-up night.  In the past, it's often fallen to 1-2 leaders to do it all.  I think the better format would make it worth it though.

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As I read your pos, @ meyer13

I'm thinking these are two very different events.  Your activity event is more like what a unit might do if inviting a group to a "Troop Meeting" a fun evening....sorta like what a troop might do for a visiting WEBELOS den.


What i was describing, is really more of a information gathering and get the application done thing..... where a prospective scout and parent might only be in the room 10-15 minutes, or even less....  It's not meant to be a dragged out time sapping thing.... just to get them signed up and coming to the first meeting.


And while it takes more than your 1 or 2 adults, it doesn't take many.  In fact some might not even be registered scouters..... just positive energy parents would do.  You cold even have a couple WEBELOS or scouts form the troop manning the welcome table for example..... or the table answering questions about the pack.


In my thinking, both ideas compliment each other in a way.  The sign-up night gets them to the 1st meeting.  Then the first meeting could be your fun carnival with the whole pack.  A great start-the-year kind of meeting

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Like the ideas thank you. We did do the "stations" at one recruitment meeting this past spring, and the turnout (6 boys) didn't warrant doing it again with all the setup. 


What are some ways to get parents and cubs "In the door"? We have found ALL of those who show sign up, so curious what you have done, activities, maybe language or talk points you have used in a flyer to lure people in? Handouts to kids at school?

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At the pack level, we do a recruiting push through the parish's school every fall.  well actually the DE or designee gets in and does it.  They visit the classes, and paint this picture that I outlined before..... shooting bb guns, archery, etc.... every weekend.  


They do the same at the government schools around too.  We haven't done much with it, but schools usually have a PTO open house night, and some units set up tables for that....I've seen mostly Girl Scout units doing it.  You could do it at school fall festivals, thanksgiving events, etc. too, I suppose.

It's the misunderstanding of shooting BB guns and the like every weekend that gets them in the door.


Personally though, i think the biggest untapped asset could be the current scouts and word of mouth.

Focus on putting on a really fun program and the word will get out.

but the sad part is, the program as it is is a lot of sitting in classrooms and listening.... scouts have fun here and there mixed in, but doesn't really inspire them to spread the word.... just my 2 cents..... focus on the program.

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What are some ways to get parents and cubs "In the door"? We have found ALL of those who show sign up, so curious what you have done, activities, maybe language or talk points you have used in a flyer to lure people in? Handouts to kids at school?


Great question.  The two main schools our Pack pulled from were very different situations.  At one, we were allowed to send home flyers with the kids, put an announcement in the school newsletter, etc.  At the other, they would let us put up posters/signs, but we couldn't send anything home and couldn't put anything in the newsletter.  So we had to get creative:

  • Setup a staffed table at any registration days, back to school nights, or school-wide events.  I say a 'staffed' table because the first year we did this the Girl Scouts threw some fliers on a table and left.  Nobody stopped at their table.  Meanwhile, I was able to talk to the boys and get them excited about Cub Scouts.  Guess which unit gained more new members?
  • Find out if your school and/or district will release contact information for families.  Our district will produce a list of students and their addresses for a small fee (I think $25).  We asked for all K-5 boys for the three schools we serve.  We then removed the boys who were already in the Pack, and created a post card about our recruitment night and sent that out to the boys' homes.  It helped that we had a graphic artist on our Committee.  All told, including supplies and postage, I think we spent around $100 on this mailing.  We included this as a recruitment cost in our annual Pack budget.  If we picked up a couple of kids and they sold popcorn just to friends/family, we knew we'd recover that cost.
  • A few days before the recruitment event, the District sent someone to the schools to do a boy talk.
  • The day of the event, we stood on the sidewalk outside the school by the two entrances to the playground (all students at the school exit the school at the playground).  As boys were leaving, we handed them a flier and asked them to join us that night for our recruitment event.  Since we were on a public sidewalk, the school couldn't stop us from sending a flier home.  Plus, this worked better than sending something home in their backpack which might not get read immediately.  These fliers went from us to the boys' hands, and from them right to their parents.
  • After our recruitment night, we make one more push using our existing Scouts.  We ask them to give invitations to their friends inviting them to our next meeting.  If their friend joins, they are eligible to earn a special recruiter patch.

These are the main ways we used to get people in the door... and even at two schools with a high level of parent apathy, we had a great turnout.  Did it take a lot of work?  Yes.  Did we spend some money?  Yes, probably around $100 on our postcard mailing effort and enough toner and paper to print out around a couple hundred fliers.  Was it worth it?  Absolutely yes.  Without boys, a Pack dies.  It take a lot of effort to get them in the door.  The key is to make a great first impression to get them to come back.


Per blw2's reply to my earlier post, I'm split on how to handle that first night.  I think too much talking is a bad thing... I like the idea of having different booths/stations to talk about different aspects because it allows for people to come and go.  However, I think the fun is missing.  Our Cub Scout carnival recruitment night had the fun, but conveying the information was a challenge.  I really think we have to have a happy medium of both... have games to hook the kids, and have information booths to convey the information.  The only challenge would be staffing, but if all leaders, committee members, and Scout parents are aware of the date well in advance, scheduling around it should be less challenging.  Another option might be partnering with a Boy Scout troop... it's in their best interest to recruit more Cub Scouts because over 70% of Boy Scouts started out as Cub Scouts - less Cubs means less Boy Scouts 5 years down the road.

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  • 2 months later...

We serve three schools in our area now, so we get three cracks at it every fall. We perfected this over the last couple of years and it seems to be successful for us. But it's also time to create something new to keep things from getting stale.


We have a presence at the "Meet the Teacher" night at each school with tri-fold boards full of photos, derby cars, trophies, Scoutcraft items and our life-size replica of Minecraft Steve in Cub Scout attire to be the initial draw to the table. We collect names of boys and parents, mobile numbers/email addresses. We buy a gross of Cub Scout pencils and give them to every boy who is on our prospect list.

Uisng email and text campiagns, we update parents on upcoming rally nights as appropriate.

"Friday folder" flyers go out to each school after securing approval from the district and dates/facilties at each school. Rally location, dates, and times are on the flyers. We do each on a different weeknight to give everyone three chances to make one of them depending on their other activity schedules.

Sign boards along the dropoff lanes the week before and week of the rally, switching out from he dated version, to TOMORROW and TONIGHT versions.

Older scouts and parents are on hand to help out and show others some familiar faces. Families tend to show up at their school, so it all works out to spread the load.


We start with a quick slide show containing standard BSA program info and goals, pics from past events, some trivia and interesting items. Then I get up front with the campaign hat on, the whole nine yards, and make my 3 minute recruiting pitch, explaining why I volunteer (CM), and how much richer my life as a parent has become since becoming a leader. Then I pump up the potential new Scouts by asking about rockets and who likes them and who wants to make some and shoot them off. Parents stay inside and do a Q&A with the CC, get the particulars, applications, etc. I do the pied piper routine and get the boys outside.


Once outside, along with our current parents and older scouts, we guide them in assembling paper rockets. Our Webelos are in charge of running the launchers (2), which I made from PVC and wooden crates. All supplies are contained inside the crates, so it's reallly a recruiting kit in a box. Colored copy paper, packing and duct tape, playing cards, scissors. That's all that's needed. Everything is already hooked up and the pancake compressor has everything charged. Webelos maintain order and keep the line moving and help out with any difficulties in loading the rockets. They are well versed in the safety procedures and have control of the stations, kill switches and launch buttons.


Boys get to see their rockets sail gloriously, fail spectacularly or they toss their dud in the trash and start over. I've never seen failure handled by young boys so well. Prospects parents see how our boys have progressed to the point they can be be trusted with the responsibilty of running the operation. They see parents offering logistical support. They see their sons interacting with others, cheering and/or being cheered on, learning something new, experimenting, and having fun.


It's three busy, exhausting nights, but worth it. Current Scouts help recruit and lead, current parents lend a hand, new parents see some of what is in store for their sons. We bring the launchers to one of our two yearly campouts because I am asked at every Pack meeting when are rockets going to happen again. Wheels are turning in their heads, they want another shot at building the perfect rocket. 


We have been getting recruits well after the typical recruting season due to word of mouth about the rockets or new Scouts and parents talking to other families. It's been gratifying being able to reach so many people and serve so many boys. But now we've out paced our volunteer staff and are in desperate need of more help, but haven't been nearly as successful in that. I wish it was as easy to get volunteers as it is to get new Scouts.

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Since this popped up, I'll share our Recruiting Tools page, at www.southfultonscouting.com/node/2518, which has a page on Sign Up Events.  And then I'll circle back to harvest ideas from this thread ... 


Over time I'd seen the huge emphasis on Sign Up Nights as (in the minds of some) the alpha and omega (beginning and end) of Recruiting, and I've tried to put that event into context ... 


As noted on that main page, "Recruiting Needs to be Much More than School Sign Up Nights and Buzz Ups.  Successful and Sustainable Recruiting is a Process ... the Pack Leader's Guide to Recruiting describes these six steps:

  1. Make a Calendar of Fun Activities that families like
  2. Recruit More Leaders and Helpers - one by one, find folks who can help your unit out
  3. Let People Know! Let Families and Organizations Know your Pack Fun Event Plan. (Families join Packs that do things ... Boys join Troops that Go Places ... let them know what you're doing ... there are many ways)
  4. School and Community Events -- Show your School and Community the Fun of Cub Scouting. 
  5. Once you've laid that foundation, have Sign Up Events: School Sign Up Night and Fun Events Too!
  6. More Fun Events.  Keep expanding and extending your Calendar of Fun Events … that’s what makes families join!

Hope this helps.  

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We have a presence at the "Meet the Teacher" night at each school with tri-fold boards full of photos, derby cars, trophies, Scoutcraft items and our life-size replica of Minecraft Steve in Cub Scout attire to be the initial draw to the table. We collect names of boys and parents, mobile numbers/email addresses. We buy a gross of Cub Scout pencils and give them to every boy who is on our prospect list.



How well has this worked? Past leadership of the pack has told us "We are not allowed at the meet the teacher night" So we have not done it the last time around (after myself and other parents took the reigns). But a subsequent discussion with the principal has shown this is untrue, so we NEED to be at this event. 


We are recruiting at the 15% level or so, and that seems low to me. Previous leadership let things slip, and it shows. 

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On "How well have 'meet the teacher' events worked", the answers are:  sometimes great, sometimes so so, sort of like all methods.


Factors that make it great are:  

  • it's the very first day of the school year, so you're more likely not to have parents already committed to other after school signups.
  • you can do "one on one" chats with parents, so that you connect with what they care about (e.g., if you get the sense the parent or kid is into the outdoors, play up those parts of your program; if they seem to be worried about that, play up less worrisome activities, like museum trips or pinewood derby). 
  • I noted kids ... since in our neck of the woods, usually kids are in tow ... so you can recruit them at the same time, by playing up what they like.  We usually get a sense of what kids are like in a few seconds, so that the wild child is one you're probably seeing on being out in the woods and staying up late around a campfire, but the kid clinging to mom or dad you'll probably sell on doing things with mom and dad and sisters and brothers that are not scary.  
  • in doing "one on one", you can get a sense of who might be a leader or assistant.
  • it's easy to do ... any parent who "likes the program" can "sell it" to other parents coming to meet and greet.
  • Yeah, if your school is up for it, you can set up promo items, starting with photos/videos, all the way up to hands on stuff to do like Pinewood Derby tracks, or a tent, or even an outside portable campfire pit for s'mores ... if you don't ask, they can't say "yes".  And if you've already cut a deal to make the School Admin's life better, they might say yes more (e.g., "our guys can raise and lower your flag every day" was a selling point, and a "win/win" for kids and admins).

I know of two of our most successful packs that have in several years picked up most of their new members on the meet and greet days using that method ... one of which doesn't even have a cattle call sign up event at all ... 

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How well has this worked? Past leadership of the pack has told us "We are not allowed at the meet the teacher night" So we have not done it the last time around (after myself and other parents took the reigns). But a subsequent discussion with the principal has shown this is untrue, so we NEED to be at this event. 


We are recruiting at the 15% level or so, and that seems low to me. Previous leadership let things slip, and it shows.


One key thing to do is to communicate early and fully with the school staff. We also help out through the school year. One of our service projects is to to a cleanup the day after the school carnival. We work on maintaining good relations, practicing LNT when using school facilities, helping out when appropriate and making a positive appearance and impact through the year. Getting on the good side of the staff and PTA never hurts!


It's worked quite well once we followed up with those families interested enough to give us contact info. I'd say about 85% of those on the list from those nights end up joining if they attend the actual rally. The key is to follow up with enough info to inform, but not be bothersome. Using a text message service with timed releases, etc really helps to ensure everyone is aware. It also helps build confidence with parents that we are on top of things.

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