Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
swilliams

Troop Recruiting Ideas and Help

Recommended Posts

Found a few things while browsing  old threads, but could use some specific tips for recruiting.  I recently agreed to take on recruiting, as we haven’t had much luck in finding another adult to step into a formal recruiting position.  Here’s a little info about what’s up in our troop. 

We had previously drawn from two towns, but the neighboring  town has been able to get its own troop up and running, and they seem to be doing well. As a result, we won’t see any new scouts from that town. In addition, the packs in town have been going through some pretty major changes, and have seen their numbers drop to half of what they were when my family first moved here four years ago. This is also cutting down on the troop’s numbers, since we’ve had fewer cross over - three this year, and only one the previous year. One last drop in our numbers will happen in the next year, as 11 of our current 44 scouts age out. 

We held an open house last year, but despite advertising with flyers and on our town’s community forum, we only had two boys show up. We’ll have our invitational camping trip coming up, which is usually AOL scouts and maybe one other boy who is a friend of a scout in the troop. We’ll also be at out town’s Winter Walk a week from Saturday, making Smacos (s’mores in a flour tortilla) for attendees. We have signs showing some pictures of our high-adventure trips and other info that we’ll put up.  

Here’s what I’ve come up with so far for us to try. Ive gotten permission to put an electronic ‘flyer’ in the schools’ Friday Folder email that goes out to all parents. 

I’ve asked the SM, and he’s agreed, to request that our younger scouts try to get the ‘Invite a Friend’ requirement done sooner than later, so that if a boy does want to join he’s not too far behind what his friends are working on.

I’m currently working with one of the Packs to either have them visit the troop as a group, or have a group of our scouts visit the troop. The scouts will come up with ideas as to what to do at their next PLC meeting. (The second pack only has scouts up to Wolf, so less of a priority right now.)

Other ideas?  Thoughts on what I’ve proposed so far?  Any help is appreciated.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We haven’t tried this yet but I have heard it works for a local unit. They host a youth activity event at the local school.  They invite all clubs and activities in the area to attend.  Then all advertise that date to try and have youth and parents go.  At the event, they have pictures or videos showing scouts.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Why be so limited.... Make it a whole state:   https://www.cornhuskercouncil.org/programs/activities.html/article/2017/12/14/big-idea-2018

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Networking" is the buzzword you hear in marketing circles.  Parents probably already have a "network" of fellow parents that they've built up over the years from play dates, little league, soccer camps, school friends, etc.  Constantly talking up scouts in a friendly, casual, non-threatening way is a great way to let your friends and neighbors know that you care about scouting and that scouts is fun.  Scouts inviting their friends to a scouting event is a classic way to get new members (and is expected as part of First Class requirement 10).

An excellent way of leveraging "networking" is to encourage your scouts to take Den Chief positions in local Cub Scout packs.  This can be used towards their Position of Responsibility requirements for rank advancement, but from a marketing perspective, it lets you have a troop representative in the pack as a role model and as ambassador for the troop.

I know it doesn't seem as sexy as coming up with a new flyer or a special event, but understanding and using networking strategically can pay dividends.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Another strategy that might work for you is some kind of DEMO event.

The key to making that work is to focus on something FUN and adventurous. Don't hand out your tired old flyers that have a gazillion words saying nothing....just SHOW a sample campsite. Or have a public campfire in a local park, cooking smores for the kids....something like that.

There is a great discussion in Bryan on Scouting about Scouting Show and Tell, especially related to holidays.  See the article:
https://blog.scoutingmagazine.org/2019/12/03/scouting-show-and-tell-holiday-decor/ 

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Flyers and events are both passive marketing. They require folks to make the effort to come to you. If few show up, then more active marketing is required. Some suggestions already like utilizing existing networks, and scouts inviting 1-on-1 are good starts. The next level which has also been hinted at, including your community event, is based on the adage "bring the mountain to mohammed". Scouts should go to where kids are already and do scouting activities there inviting others to join in. Then invite them to the next meeting, hike, campout, etc... For example, if kids are congregating at a local park for soccer, skateboarding, basketball, whatever... have the scouts go to the park and lash a tripod, cook lunch, do stretcher relays. Invite the other kids to join in. 

 

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If all you are offering are fun activities (camping, making s'mores, high adventure trips), then you are competing with every other fun activity available to boys in your town.  (It looks like you don't have a girls troop.)  You have to have a different kind of appeal.  I'm not talking about "character" -- no one ever joined Scouts to have their character developed.  What do 10-, 11-, and 12-year old boys have in abundance?  Imagination.  What kinds of games do they play?  Games where they can be heroes.  Show them that as Scouts, they can become local heroes almost immediately through the contributions they make to the community through their service (and have fun doing it of course -- like when they pull big tires out of the water during a stream cleanup).  And show them that as Scouts, they will develop knowledge, skills, and abilities that other guys will not have -- and that will make it possible for them to be heroes in emergency situations, like firefighters and EMTs and Coast Guard members.  And that they can develop the skills and courage that, as adults, can lead them to even more extraordinary things, like walking on Mars, or saving an endangered species.  You have to show them that as Scouts, they can change the world.  

But you have to have a troop program that (1) provides frequent highly visible and significant public service in the community in a way that develops expertise of some kind, such as environmental cleanup or wildlife protection, and (2) that focuses on skills like first aid, emergency response, survival, climbing, and lifesaving.  You'll still do all the camping and cooking and merit badge earning, but as part of a bigger vision.

Scouts change the world.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
15 minutes ago, dkurtenbach said:

If all you are offering are fun activities (camping, making s'mores, high adventure trips), then you are competing with every other fun activity available to boys in your town.  (It looks like you don't have a girls troop.)  You have to have a different kind of appeal.  ...

I'm not sure you're really making a valid point.

When I look around town at all those "other" youth groups, it seems that they're focused on "fun" things like sports, STEM, karate (mostly sports though).  

It's really camping, hiking, paddling and high adventure outdoor activities that separate scouting from everything else.

Sure, the church youth group does camping once a year as part of their retreat ---- but it's never their focus. Sports teams?  They NEVER camp. Ditto with all the activities that center around school-related things like STEM or theatre.

Camping etc. *IS* the "different kind of appeal" that troops (or packs or crews) can leverage to differentiate themselves.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, mrkstvns said:

I'm not sure you're really making a valid point.

When I look around town at all those "other" youth groups, it seems that they're focused on "fun" things like sports, STEM, karate (mostly sports though).  

It's really camping, hiking, paddling and high adventure outdoor activities that separate scouting from everything else.

Sure, the church youth group does camping once a year as part of their retreat ---- but it's never their focus. Sports teams?  They NEVER camp. Ditto with all the activities that center around school-related things like STEM or theatre.

Camping etc. *IS* the "different kind of appeal" that troops (or packs or crews) can leverage to differentiate themselves.

My point is that camping, etc. are just different kinds of fun activities.  If your appeal is to a youth's interest in having fun by offering them fun activity type (C), you are directly competing with the fun offered by other organizations doing activity types (A), (B), (D), (E), (F), and so on.  That's fine -- youth have lots of different likes when it comes to fun activities.  I'm suggesting that to really set Scouting apart, offering just another type of fun activity isn't enough.  You have to go beyond the youth's interest in doing something fun.  You have to appeal to some other interest of the youth that aligns with what Scouting offers.  The interest I suggest appealing to is the desire to be a hero.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, dkurtenbach said:

My point is that camping, etc. are just different kinds of fun activities. ...  The interest I suggest appealing to is the desire to be a hero.

Fulfilling the vision of the pinnacle experience hiking and camping independently with your mates ... this has several implications, one of which is becoming epic. When I talk to veterans who weren't in scouting, for example, they will often tell me about "those Eagle scouts" who handled basic training so much better than they did. There is a bit of a swagger to a 1st class scout (the concept, not the patch) that cannot be denied. I've seen it in my adult children, so I know what these guys are talking about.

But, there's also the other thing: consecutive hours in the elements. Football players might be on the grid-iron (i.e., the ones not under a dome) for three hours, skiers may be on the slopes all day, but precious few will countenance 24 hours with one another under any circumstances ... let alone when it's time to bed down under the stars. We offer the ability to go out with like-minded souls and build a home away from home for a day or ten and come back with a smile. Or, at least, that's what we should offer. Why, because being prepared for all that may befall one outside is what gives a scout the tools to become epic.

  • Like 1
  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The topic is "recruiting for Scouting".

If the folks on this eDebate are , as I must assume, of the opinion that Scouting is one of the best opportunities a kid may have , one must consider three things:

1) What is "Scouting" ? What EXACTLY sets this activity apart from , say, 4H, MYF,  Boys/Girls Club,  school drama club,  intermural football, SoccerUSA,  etc. ?

2) How would any kid (and his parents?) learn of this "special"  opportunity?

3) How can we , old fogies,  help with #1 and #2 ?  And yet NOT limit #1? 

 

Let's get personal.  I joined a Cub Scout Pack , and earned my Anklyosaurus badge thru the encouragement of my parents,  I went on to Boy Scouts because I liked the fun and (didn't call it this back then) "safe adventure" and gained some good friends.  My Scoutson Joe joined because mom and I encouraged him, and it seems to have stuck. 

I was active thru school in dramatics, band, debate, other stuff.  These activities didn't set up tents and cook over an open fire or learn how to bandage a bloody (ketchup! ) broken leg.... The popular video made and presented by the South African Scout Association (boy saves young girl from surf, which morphs into the dad saving the daughter...) is the kind of thing I mean.  I can truthfully say I have only had to remember first aid and CPR once in my life, but once is enough. Knowing the skill gives one the courage to step in and deal with situations that others might only stare at.   The fun part that lets the kid WANT to stick around and learn the DANGEROUS part. That has to be included to. 

SO, let's interpret the 3 things another way....

1)  A good program that encourages the youth to have that "safe adventure",  become confident in their ability to deal with strange activities (chopping wood?   Lighting fire and using it to cook one's food? Finding out that yep, I can hike 5 or 10 or 20 miles in a day,  I can give a name to that tree,  that animal,  I can solder a pipe and tie up a canoe that I will later paddle down a lake).  One can gain knowledge and confidence thru 4H and Pop Warner football,  but as was said above,  staying out of a permanent house for 2 or three or ten days can affect one's unconsciousness, differently.  

So:  #2:  Personal invite,  media attention,  publicity,  If the world around us has a certain opinion of Scouting, gleaned from some unfortunate events,  these can be, MUST be countered by touting the good stuff.   We do not say all of America needs to be abandoned due to a few unfortunate events, we look around and smile at the good stuff and work to correct and make the unfortunate stuff impossible in the future.  

3)  Us "old dinosaurs"  as one of my friends termed us, need to step up whenever we can and share our experience, our memories, our hopes with the young whipper snappers (they don't snap whips any more. We need a new metaphor).  Go out and teach IOLS, BALOO,  NAYLE,     Share Totin Chip and Whitlin Chip .   Help with CSDC as Scout Skills Pavilion,  Archery Range Officer,  be the "First Assistant Everything Else" that the CSDC Director needs.  To mention a well known story, we can help a few starfish...

I will now share a "pithy saying" .  This is from a man who lived 200 plus years ago, and I try to remember his prayer often.  Stephen Grellet:  ""I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good, therefore, that I can do or any kindness I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it for I shall not pass this way again.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Another aspect of Scouting that fits with this appeal to the epic and heroic is the idea of the uniform of service.  No, not food service.  Not the uniform of sports or the uniform of parade and ceremony.  Rather, a working uniform like the ones that we see on our servant-heroes -- firefighters, police, military, EMTs.  The kind of uniform that you have to earn by facing and overcoming challenges.  The kind that says, I know how to help you, I know how to do things that ordinary people can't do, you can count on me.  

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×