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What is your Council doing to address declining Membership?

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Our Council has offered incentives/rewards for Packs who increase their membership numbers each year. New Cubs were given a fishing lure at the time of registration last Fall, and were invited to go fishing for free at a Council sponsored event. (I don't know if this was National or just local "Hooked on Scouting") They were also given a voucher from our Scout Shop for 10% off the cost of their uniform.


I agree that competent leaders are the best defense against retention problems.


I'm not sure what incentives they had for troops.

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For what it's worth here are my thoughts on the subject.....

First, we have to accept the fact that when we talk about new membership, we really mean Cub Scouts. That's where the meat and potatoes or, bread and butter of BSA membership is. Virtually everyone in this organization comes out of the Cub Scout program. Forget about Venturing; forget about Explorers or Learning for Life, or even the Boy Scout program. Even the adult that gets involved after his son bridges to a Troop, ultimately comes out of the Cub Scout Program.

Next, we have to forget the notion that advertising for new members will have any real results. Sure, we'll get some new members as a result of the advertising. But the numbers wont be that much greater than they would have been without the advertising.

Now were back in the realm of reality and have the chance to start over. So what do we do?


1. Assign district people to help the unit in their district promote themselves. Cub Scout and Boy Scout activities should flood the local newspapers and weekly publications of the religious based COs. All that good fun stuff we do should be constantly in the public eye.

2. Weak units should be folded. I personally believe that this is where the vast majority of scouts are lost. Not only do we loss members as a result of these weak units, but we build a tremendous amount of ill will as a result of the weak units. People are no longer saying, It just wasnt my sons thing. They now say, all they did was run around like a bunch of lunatics. There was no control, and it was a waste of time. Very negative! And we all know that it takes 25 positives to counter 1 negative.

3. Units should be required to submit yearly activity calendars to their DE. Yes, this would really put the DEs to work. This would provide an opportunity for someone (commissioner) to help the units that need help. We would be able to target those units that need help, but have not yet fallen into the abyss.

4. District and council events should be promoted as the outdoor activity that many units dont do. Promotions should be direct to the family. This concept of promoting at Roundtable is worthless.

5. Finally, mandatory training.

So by now youve figured out that my concept of attracting new members is more of an effort directed toward greater retention. I recognize my Councils effort to do some advertising. But without other measures, we are back to square one.

So thats my two cents.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Don't agree with your synopsis that Cub Scouts is the end all and be all of the BSA. First of all, Cub scouts and Boy Scouts are entirely two different beasts. Cub scouts is a home centered and family program. Boy Scouts is not, it is patrol (not troop!) centered. I've seen many boys thrive in Cubs and dislike Boy Scouts and vice versa.


However, your comment that most Boy Scouts were Cubs rings true. We do a lousy job of recruiting boys for BoyScouts who were not Cubs. The emphasis is on Webelos transition and not getting new boys. From a unit perspective, I don't care that much about the BSA enrollment, just the health of our troop. From a district volunteer perspective, I care about numbers but realize that the best recruitment is healthy units. Yes, I'd like to see more support go the "average" units and stop wasting so much resources trying to keep dying, poor units alive. One bad apple can poison the barrel.


And how come nobody tried to answer my questions on the previous post?

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  • 2 weeks later...

acco -


Since no one else answered your questions, let me give it a shot.


7) Yes, it should be allowed as long as group size is not prohibitive. Scouting activities are always open to parents and siblings. Yes, they should be added to the roster, as they are still the responsibility of leadership.


8) The Eagle candidate is responsible for approval at ALL levels.



Did I pass? I have a spot free on my patch vest!

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Our Scout Executive has laid it out very clearly: An emphasis on fun and adventure. That is whay boys come, that is why they stay. You can trace all of our membership issues to poorly delivered programs. No marketing plan or recruitment incentive can overcome a boring program.


Dan Kurtenbach

Fairfax, VA

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Our Scout Executive is implementing through the Districts a new recruitment plan. It is to coincide with Back to School Nights and involves both volunteers and professionals from the District getting involved with each Back to School Night and getting recruitment buy-in from school district leadership and individual school principles. Some areas of the plan look great, others do not and have irritated and frustrated some Packs. One of the key changes that is most unliked is our school recruitment targets. Previously, each Pack recruited from 3 schools. There was some overlap with other Packs. Each Pack is now allowed only 1 school - in essence, cutting our recruitment pool by 2/3.


Some areas we will be taking a "wait and see" approach. A recent Adventures in Scouting newsletter stated that District personnel will be "assigning boys to Packs and Dens." We don't mind the involvement but when a District Volunteer begins assigning boys to dens within a Pack I would say they have overstepped their boundaries.


Suffice it to say, many think this is a big gamble. We typically recuit 10-20 new scouts each Spring and Fall based on the old system. A lot of this new plan depends on District and Pack leaders getting buy-in from school district personnel some of which really don't like the scouts and do not allow them to actively recruit in the schools. As with many things in Scouting, there was no solicitation for input from the Unit level. It was hatched and disseminated at the Council level.


We'll see what happens.

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Did you pass? Let's see.


7.) Your troop is planning an outing and you have invited a Webelos Den to accompany your troop. Some of the Webelos parents want to attend and bring along a younger (Bear Scout) and daughter (11 years old). Is that allowed? Should they be added to the tour permit?


Yes, it should be allowed as long as group size is not prohibitive. Scouting activities are always open to parents and siblings. Yes, they should be added to the roster, as they are still the responsibility of leadership.

incorrect Overnight camping by Tiger, Wolf, and Bear Cub Scout dens as dens is not approved and certificates of liability insurance will not be provided by the Boy Scouts of America. If Webelos parents want to bring siblings, they, not the troop, are responsible for them. As such, I would not add them to the tour permit. A Webelos Scout may participate in overnight den camping when supervised by an adult. In most cases, the Webelos Scout should be under the supervision of his parent or guardian. It is essential that each Webelos Scout be under the supervision of a parent-approved adult. Webelos den leaders may only have the responsibility for one Webelos Scout. Joint Webelos den-troop campouts including the parents of the Webelos Scouts are encouraged to strengthen ties between the pack and troop. Den leaders, pack leaders, and parents are expected to accompany the boys on approved trips.


8.) A Scout who is just starting organizing his Eagle project has gotten unit approval (his Scoutmaster and Troop commitee both approved his project.) He now need his Council/District approval. Who initiates contact with the Council/

District advancement committee?

a) Scoutmaster b) Troop Committee Chair c) Life Scout d) Troop Advancement Chair


The Eagle candidate is responsible for approval at ALL levels correct actually, the Eagle candidate is not responsible for approval but he is responsible for initiating contact



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