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CubScoutJo

Making new scouts feel welcome

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We have a only a few new scouts planning on crossing over from 3 different packs. We will have their crossover ceremony as a Troop event with all 3 packs invited to attend.

 

I've noticed that sometimes boys in the troop don't pay much attention to Webelos who are visiting. I hate to say but the boys in our troop can be rather clique-ish at times, preferring only to associate with those who are their friends in the troop. I want the new boys who have chosen our troop to feel welcome the night of their crossover and also to feel comfortable with each other (since they aren't from the same Webelos dens).

 

If the ceremony is held at a campfire, what would be some suggestions for immediately afterwards that would help integrate the boys into the troop? How can we encourage the old scouts to welcome the new scouts, especially that first night?

 

I've been to crossovers where the boys camp out that night with their new troop, but to me that can be quite overwhelming for the boys who have not helped plan the campout and who have maybe only camped out with the troop once (or in some cases not at all).

 

Looking forward to hearing what's worked for other troops.

 

YiS,

jo

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Desserts. Can you have dutch oven cobblers, hot iron pies, smores, something? Food is a way to bring people together and besides that's what many kids think of when they hear the words "camp fire."

 

Do you have troop guides or something like that? If so, are any assigned to work with the new scouts? They can serve as the bridge between your new members and existing social groups in the troop. If you don't have a formal troop guide structure in place, maybe a couple of scouts would be good choices to do this on an informal basis.

 

Don't forget to make sure your adults mingle with the new scouts' parents too. I've found adults are just as clique-ish as kids, although they may not realize it. Simply mentioning it ahead of time to the adults in your troop may be all you need to do there.

 

 

 

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In my mind, a lot depends on which patrol model your troop uses - age cohort or mixed age patrols. I say this because it is more important to integrate the new guys into their patrol than the troop as a whole.

 

Regardless, your SPL should identify a key scout to makes the fellows welcome. This can be a troop guide or another fellow, but their only job that night would be to shepherd the new guys that evening, get to know them, introduce them around, make sure none become wallflowers, shadow them, be their buddy. It's essential that this scout WANT the job and be the extra friendy and outgoing type.

 

Depending on the evening's schedule, after the campfire it might be fun to do some fun introduction activities/games in which everyone can participate on a level basis, regardless of age or skill. Some of the COPE first night activities come to mind. (If you haven't done COPE, talk to one of your Council's facilitators - I'm sure they'll give you some ideas.)

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I would not just second Trevorum's idea, I'd say MORE THAN ONE!!

 

Lisa's idea (food) is good as well. Is there a kid on this planet who does not like dessert?

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Not sure if I have any good info as this is only my second bridging of new scouts into the troop. There has been two scouts (one an Eagle Candidate and the other a Life working on his Eagle) assigned as troop guides to this new scout patrol. We keep the scouts together so they can advance together. An adult leader has also come forward to be the mentor of the troop guides and point contact for the new scouts parents. Oh, both of the assigned troop guides volunteered for this duty.

 

One thing that I have noticed is that my enthusiasm as SM to welcome the new scouts has caught hold of the other memebers of the troop, explaining the need of the troop for new scouts and how this helps ensure the future of the troop has gotten 13 of our scouts to sign up to attend the crossover. (almost half!) Hope this works out as planned and will know how it goes after the Blue and Gold and then a year from now.

 

Letting the scouts of the troop know the importance of new scouts and explaining to them that the future of the troop is in the hands of the scouts allows them to take 'ownership' of the troops future. Kinda neat how scouts will step up to expectations.

 

yis

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The statistics on the Webelos remaining show that retention is difficult, regardless of approach.

 

Food, Fun and Fellowship is a good combination for welcoming new Scouts and parents.

 

Forming a new Patrol for the newcomers and adding a Guide and an ASM is also good.

 

Integrating new Scouts into established Patrols with traditions can also work.

 

I would add that a good Boy-led program that is consistently evaluated along with solid committee support and requesting that one parent per Scout do one thing (i.e., office, event or fulfilling one need) per year works.

 

I have also used the SM minute and SM conferences to let each Scout know that this is their unit. If they are proud of their unit, then it is their responsibility to reach out to others, including their friends. fb

 

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Even as an older scout, I always try to get in a quick "hi, whatsup man" or "hows your week going" to the younger scouts. My friends and I even include some of them in our card games, trips to the lake, etc.

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What I am going to describe is the extreme, you can modify it any way you want to. First, get a copy of "Are you ready for this" by 2Unlimited. Next a huge sound system, they used to be called Boom Boxes, but ever since Ipods have been put out by the pod people, I hardly seem them anymore. Next, you need some huge flashlights, floodlights really, the kind that take the huge battery to power. Then, at the Campfire, you have the SPL, or perhaps a happenin' guy like C-bolt to very loudly and with excitement in his voice start by saying

 

"ladies and gentlemen, tonight we introduce and welcome the 2007 crossover class of Troop XXX!

 

First, from Pack XXX we have Old GreyEagle, he goes to East Hills Middle school and has a dog named Rex!

 

From Pack XXA we have Pack Saddle, he goes to Lincoln West Middle School and want to be an Eagle Scout!

 

From Pack XXB we have SR540 Beaver, he goes to Washington Elementary and wants to be Chief Scout Executive some day!

 

Do it really wild like they do before basketball games, have the scouts come out in full dress uniform and stand in front of the campfire, then after all the introductions have the scoutmaster and SPL come forward, say the boys name and place the troop neckerchief on the scout. After all have had neckerchiefs placed, a rousing cheer for all is given.

 

It has possibilities

 

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On another note, and separate from the Introduction ceremony I have another activity. It is done before the Crossovers arrive, perhaps the month before.

 

I start off by saying in the next month the Troop will be adding new members to the troop. Then I ask them all to remember the first meetings they attended when they started with the troop. How nervous and excited and maybe a little scared they all were. How much they each admired the older, cooler scouts and how much they wanted to be like them. I ask them to think back and remember who those older scouts were. And how much they wanted to be like those older guys, well, some of them anyway because there were some guys who just didnt seem to belong in scouting, they were mean, nasty, not caring. Every Troop has them (from the youths standpoint, if not from the adults) Each new scout saw a boy they wanted to be like, and a few they didnt. The question I pose to the established scouts is, 'Who do you want to be?"

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When Webelos visit, try to capture contact info. Have the SM and/or CC send a letter to the parents. Have the SPL send a letter to the scout. A phone call before the next event is helpful.

 

Once they visit, assign a "sponsor" to the scout and adult like mentioned above.

 

Stay in contact.

 

 

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After reading all of the remarks,you get a good range of info. Here is my two cents worth -- work closly with the pack, with den cheifs, pinewood berby help, scouting for food, scout night, camping activites( pack overnight and webelos 1&2 over nights)and the blue and gold dinner/ transsion with the OA team. The cubscouts see the boy scouts in action and they get to interact with them...A good written first year program(tenderfoot to 1st class) really helps. This year my troop got 13 webelos. RM

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Something we tried last year is having the crossover on a friday evening and then going on a campout that night with lots of run up to the event it worked well enough we are doing it again this year

 

AK-Eagle

aka

Phillip Martin

Scoutmaster Troop 700

Juneau Alaska

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FWIW, I'm no expert keep in mind. This is my experience. First off a lot depends on the "culture" of the troop. Cliquish behavior can be ignored or we can give it some reasonable competition. Giving each of the clique members jobs that make them responsible for welcoming the newer boys, perhaps becoming a troop guide for the new scout patrol, or for the patrols they're put in may help. Make them own the program that incorporates new boys.

 

Most older boys will work hard on welcoming new kids faced with the reality that if they don't promote their unit, it will die and nobody wants to see that happen. A scout will want to come back and visit the little scouties and show that at one time he's been there, done that. whenever we have an alumni visit, I put them to work and they Love it.

 

If I have older boys acting like they don't want to socialize with the younger boys (happens all the time) I sit them down and explain how important it is that they give them the time their due, and I ask how they responded to the older boys when they joined and how they were treated. It really makes them think about their actions.

 

I also make a point of talking with each boy every meeting or campout. It may only be a "Hey Johnny, how's the trumpet playing" or "Fred, missed you last week, boy did we have fun". I make an effort to watch a game they're playing in, for some reason most of the boys in my troop into sports are into swimming and water polo. Almost like the soccer illness that's spreading (BG). That way I can see them in another venue and support them that way. They respond to this very well.

 

I am also a very hands on kinda guy. I will give and take hugs from the kids, I offer them a comforting pat on the shoulder, I make a big deal about birthdays, report cards, any other achievements...one year one of my boys was the US Soapbox Derby Champ. #1 in the Nation, that's big stuff. We put up a display of that in the meeting room and he's a celebrity. I try to impress that each boy has something to offer the unit and that they're all very important to the whole.

 

 

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AK-E,

What time of year was the campout? I suggested the same thing for next year, maybe late Apr. or May with a combined pack/troop campout. The only problem that keeps being brought up is, If we do it that late is there is enough time before summer camp to get the boys ready?

I love OGE's ideas. Our problem is that our feeder pack has always done crossover in Feb.

Has anyone here managed to talk the pack into having crossover later in the spring? If so how did you approach them, and how did it work out for the troop with summercamp approaching fast?

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I know there have been a couple of threads about earlier vs later cross overs and the pros and cons of each. My sense is that if packs typically do their cross over in Feb, they aren't going to want to change it to April/May just to accommodate you. The Webelos program is already 18 months long (the way most packs do it) and adding another 2-3 months may result in boys who are bored and leaders who are burned out past what they can bear. I might be wrong - but that's my opinion (as a former Webelos DL and current troop committee member).

 

As for doing a campout on cross-over night. There's a troop in our area who used to do that but after some bad experiences, they no longer do so. In February or March or even April in Michigan (or OH either for that matter) the weather can be a serious issue and taking cubs camping on their very first night of being a boy scout may backfire if they're not well prepared, don't have the right gear, or aren't used to being out in somewhat rougher conditions. Also there's the issue of exhaustion. A lot of B&G/cross over ceremonies around here are BIG DEALS for which the kids get really psyched up. These often don't end until 9:30-10pm and by that point the webelos II boys (and their parents and leaders) are both physically and emotionally tired.

 

I'm sure it can work. But I think it requires some very careful thought, planning, etc., to make sure that everyone (webelos leaders and parents especially!) is on board and that your new scouts have a good experience.

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