Jump to content

Pack Recruiting Fall 2021

Recommended Posts

I was wondering how pack recruiting was going in other areas.  Our Pack (I'm actually dropping out but am still involved now) did well (we nearly doubled our size.  That said, we are still down 40% from a few years ago, so while great compared to 2020, not great compared to 2018.

Our council seems to have done well, hitting its recruiting target.  Now, the key is how many reup in fall of 2021.  Again, I think good recruiting is relative and probably still will show a decline since 2019.

Link to post
Share on other sites

What's recruiting? 

Seriously we have been unable to get into schools for several years. When i was active with the pack,, and could get onto the schools, we would usually be finished recruiting by this point and have 20÷ new cubs. My old pack had 1 new Lion.

Council has not helped in this matter. In the past they would not allow units to do their own recruiting.  Council i came from wanted units to do their own. But this one does not,  and it has been like that for over 20 years.

Link to post
Share on other sites

The cub units that survived has done pretty well with recruitment. Still down relative to 2019, mainly because units folded over covid. 

edit: my impression is that troop numbers are still hurt because they have trouble getting back lost scouts. Hoping that crossover goes well. 

Edited by malraux
  • Upvote 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Our district has done pretty well going up by 425 to a total of about 1525. 

If you compare the council to 2017 or 2018, it is horrible. From almost 14,000 down to just over 7000. Ugh. 

Edited by mrjohns2
Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't know how we looked in 2019.  We joined in October 2020.  After crossover and moving season (Army area), we had 3 active Cubs and 4 semi- to inactive Cubs by August.  We now have 20 currently registered and I'm waiting on applications for 2 more.  Our Webelos den has 7, Bear has 1 inactive and probably won't recharter, Wolf has 7 with 2 on the way, Tiger has 3, and Lion has 2.  One of the kids was a transfer from another pack - he moved across town.  The rest came from FB bombardment, 1 elementary school visit, recruiting/badgering my wife's friend, and the rest - no idea.  

  • Upvote 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

We're in upper Delaware, and recruiting has been a complete failure.

In February 2020, we had 20 Scouts with better than 95% weekly attendance. That was up from 6 in June 2019. We felt so good about ourselves at that time. We had 13 Scouts vanish when the pandemic arrive. One Scout graduated to a troop in December 2020. We started 2021 with 6 Scouts.

One of the Scouts who vanished during the pandemic returned in February 2021. Shortly thereafter, two friends of his joined. Both of those have become inactive, having signed up for martial arts on our meeting nights.

Two Scouts who started 2021 with us became only intermittently active, since their mother will not allow them to attend indoor meetings. We haven't seen them, since they attended a minor league baseball game with us in August.

One other Scout who drifted away during the pandemic showed up for a meeting last month, and his mother said his sister would join as well. However, she did not register either of them and doesn't return messages.

We spent money on a Facebook ad for a Raingutter Regatta recruiting event. Not a single member of the general public showed up, even though more than 1,000 parents of Cub Scout-age children within 10miles of our meeting place saw the ad.

We cannot access any of the local schools.

We have received several inquiries through BeAScout.org. However, the parents never actually show up with their children for a meeting. They say they will, but they don't. I've become sick of wasting time communicating with them. This used to be our most successful tool. We found that when families are looking for Scouting, they usually join. Not anymore. They seem to be just curious. Perhaps this has something to do with quoting higher costs for dues and registration than we did two years ago. Perhaps they read uncomplimentary things about the BSA in the news.

We presently have 5 active Scouts: one fifth grader, three fourth graders, and one Bear. There are four boys and one girl. It is extremely difficult to run a program with those numbers. Every Scout has at least one registered parent. We had to cancel our October camping trip, because the only adult with BALOO is the dad of the girl, and we could not get a registered female adult to attend.

We were expecting our fifth grader to move on to a troop in December. That may not happen until early 2022. Our pack will be 66 years old on December 1. I don't know where we will find any more Scouts.

Our chartered organization has a boys' troop that was founded in 1956. They have three Scouts on the roster. One moved to Utah earlier this year. Another has become inactive. The third serves as our den chief and has no meaningful Scouts BSA program in which he can participate. It is sad to see that troop go. If things don't change, we'll be having those same discussions at this time next year about the pack.

I've seen so many post from folks around the country about solid recruiting in the fall of 2021. Many other are about packs that are on life support or losing their chartered organizations. It doesn't seem to be working the same way everywhere. Here in Delaware, the going is rough.

Link to post
Share on other sites

@PeterHopkins While our recruiting went well, I am still not convinced BSA is on a path to rebound.  I'm stepping down as CC of our Pack (as my daughter is dropping out). 

I had a meeting with our current CM (parent of a 5th grader) and new CC (has many kids so will be in a while).  We all agreed ... for 95%+ of our pack, scouting is not their primary activity.  Sports, school, family all rank higher in the priority list.  I think it dropped further down the list during the pandemic (family time increased in priority).  This is just a hunch from conversations with families, so I'm willing to admit we are wrong.

Our new Committee Chair owns a healthcare IT company and is an executive of two others.  He understands leading businesses, how to raise VC funding, etc.  He believes BSA expects far too much from volunteers.  Parents are willing to help out here and there, but to expect the amount of time BSA expects exceeds most parents willingness to volunteer.   

Our CM is also a GSUSA Troop leader.  She says BSA is much more complex to lead than her GSUSA Troop.  GSUSA is pretty simple, you have a few parents get together and lead their own grade's group of girls.  There is no complexity of Packs, Charter Org/CORs, etc.  She said that stuff is draining energy from just leading your group of kids.

So, even though recruiting went well for us, I am still concerned about the future.  While some here talk about Wood badge, most units barely have volunteers to even have enough YP trained leaders to allow outings to occur.   Your experience is likely not unique and is probably the norm for many units, especially given long term trends.

Link to post
Share on other sites

@Eagle1993 I agree with your assessment that Scouting is not a priority for families nowadays. That's what I see in my pack. The reason we didn't have a female adult for our October camping trip is that we have three active registered female adults. Two of them are moms of one boy, and the third is the mom of another boy. The boy with two moms had a soccer match on Saturday and preferred to play in the match rather than camp. His mothers were both aware that we cannot camp without a female adult. The third mom has never camped before other than on the grounds of our chartered organization, so she was a bit timid about it. She also has two younger-then-Cub Scout-age children and would have needed her husband's cooperation to watch them for the weekend. She just couldn't make it happen.

When you have 100 Scouts, the odds that you can get one registered female adult to attend an activity increase significantly over those of a pack with five active Scouts.

Frankly, sometimes we don't find out no registered female adult will be there until the event happens. We did a shore cleanup in September. The boy with two moms, who are divorced, was there, but the girlfriend of one of his moms brought him, and she's not registered. The other mom texted me that morning that her husband had to work, and she couldn't get a babysitter. That means my daughter is not allowed to pick up trash on the beach according to the Guide to Safe Scouting, and she doesn't know she's not allowed until she arrives there.

Even though packs run far more active and ambitious programs than they did 40 years ago, the level of commitment they get from families is less than it was at that time, Just about everything else is more important. Part of that is because they pay more to play on sports teams they join. The sports seasons also run only a few months, and Scouting will always be there when they want to return. Other programs put pressure on the children to force them to attend every practice and game or risk not playing. Scouting does nothing like that.

While my BSA involvement is measured in decades, I am in my fifth year as a GSUSA volunteer. I agree with your CM that the chartering process introduces a complication BSA leaders need to handle that happens by itself on the GSUSA side. Families reregister their girls for the following year online. There is no chasing after them for money. Girl Scout troops are all "chartered" so to speak by the local council. They simply have meeting places, and they can change those at will. While it is a good idea to have a good relationship with the organization that runs the meeting place, the organization cannot shut down the troop. It can only stop the troop from using the space.

Girl Scout troops typically do not need to charge dues. The cookie program is, in my opinion, the greatest fundraiser ever invented. The fall product programs is incredibly profitable. Our troop, like many, donates part of our profits to charities selected by the girls. I could never imagine having a conversation with my Cub Scouts about what we should do with all this extra money we earned that we don't really need.

I think there are some things the GSUSA does that could be improved by looking at the BSA approach. Girl Scout troops tend to vanish when the troop leader's daughter loses interest. Generally, they do not reach out to parents to engage them in the program once the leadership positions are filled. I was shocked when I took my daughter to her first Daisy meeting, and the troop leader was surprised I planned to stay rather than do a drop and run.

Since most Girl Scout troop have a limited life, a problem arises when their is interest expressed by new Daisies. Once all the girls in the troop are beyond Daisy level, it is not uncommon for the troop to stop accepting Daisies. In other words, it is built in that the troop will eventually see all its girls age out, if the troop makes it that far. So, a new troop leader must be recruited from among the parents of the new Daisies, and this can be very difficult.

The oldest troop in my GSUSA service unit is 14 years old. It started as a Daisy troop. All the girls aged out. It is now a Trailblazer troop that plans high adventure activities. All the girls it has now are cross registered with other regular Senior or Ambassador troops. Its only meetings are for planning its activities or fundraising.

I have my daughter involved in both programs, because I see the value in both. They are vastly different approaches to presenting programs that have a common origin. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

I think this idea of priorities and money investment is misguided.

People have predictable needs: connection, physical well-being, honesty, play, peace, autonomy, meaning. If those in your community are consistently choosing a sports team, it probably means more of their needs are met there with less effort. 

I know sports parents talk regularly about the sense of camaraderie and teamanship, about the active sharing of values, about the positive physical play, about the time hanging on the sidelines bonding with other families. 

Cub Scouts, instead, often feels like assisting in a classroom even if the activity takes place outside. There's tedious organizing and arranging, administration, trainings, and then there's no bonding or camaraderie. It's burdensome and doesn't add value in the list of needs. Why would people prioritize doing more of that?

I'd say it doesn't need more business leaders as forward-facing positions like cubmasters, it needs more people like the coaches who are able to lead a "family." Put the businesspeople in the committee supporting the cubmasters and den leaders. Then support the forward-facing people in getting out in their areas of interest and competence so that they can authentically share of themselves so others are happy to hang around and help out because their needs as a family are getting met with ease.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Interesting reading of all the comments. I think we all agree that the cub scouts is complicated and requires a lot of effort. Some of that effort can be reduced and some of it can't. We can discuss some of those ideas if you want.

But, the part of the discussion where scouting is not as high a priority  is something that might be identifying your program. Families set their priorities by the desire to attend the activities. I learned over the years that the more fun the family is having together as a whole, the higher those activities become on their priority list. I have seen this play out with pack meetings. As the pack meeting minimalized boring agenda items like announcements and long winded awards ceremonies, the the meetings gained more appeal to the scouts, siblings and parents. Also, as parents where included more in the activities like songs, skits and award presentations, they more the parents looked forward to the meetings. Finally, I found less is more. As we got better a running meetings, they became shorter and more efficient. Our 90 minute pack meeting was reduced to a 55 minute pack meeting. That is a huge difference for parents with 2 year old siblings. We found that by the end of the scouting year, parents were scheduling pack meetings as their family night together. Leaders tend to focus on entertaining the scouts, but when they include the scouts' siblings and parents, well the evening becomes a fun night for all.

Pack meetings are just one example, but  it is an example of how den leaders can focus on being more fun and the pack can focus on adding family fun activities. We found by accident that our Scouting for Food Saturday was an activity the families enjoyed simply because we started the day with donuts, hot chocolate and coffee. Those little things made the work of going door to door asking for cans of food an annual fun activity simply by everyone getting together for hot chocolate and donuts . That success led us to doing a night of Christmas caroling. Parents are starving for activities where they can have fun with all their kids. Packs are the place to do that if the leaders can get a little creative.


  • Thanks 1
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
  • Create New...