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Late last summer, our district professionals spoke at our kickoff roundtable and told us that less than 50% of Webelos the past two years had crossed over into Boy Scouts. In fact, over a third of the Webelos II leaders had never been contacted by a Scout troop. Much to their credit, our pros put together a plan to make sure no one got overlooked.


I handle the recruiting for my troop. I contacted eight different packs that are within 15 minutes of my troop (about 50-60 second year Webelos between them). A couple came to visit, but so far, we've only had one new Scout cross over. For some reason, Webelos leaders this year were not very good about getting out in the fall to visit troops (despite several invites from myself and other troops).


I've made four visits to den meetings to speak with the Webelos and parents. In the past month, I've had each of these packs (totalling about 30 Webelos) call me and say thanks for coming, but their kids chose another troop.


Don't think that I'm going to gripe hear. Before I went to visit these dens, the Webelos Leader told me that not even half the kids were planning on joining the Boy Scouts. During my visit, I told the kids (and parents) what it was really like to be a Scout. Yes, I told them that it would be a lot of fun. I also told them it would be a lot of work and that it wouldn't always be easy. They needed to know that troop meetings can be fun, but sometimes they are boring and don't go over really well. I emphasixed to them about making a six month commitment (like a sports season) to really learn what Scouting is about.


Apparently, my speech went over well. Instead of half crossing over, all but one or two kids from those packs have crossed over. Each of the leaders has contacted me afterward to say how my speaking to the kids made a big differece. Unfortunately, they also told me my troop was the second choice of all those kids (no silver medal in this race).


While I would have loved to have all those kids join my troop (there were a lot of quality kids and parents among them), it is good to hear the kids are moving on in the program. I just hope they take my idea about making a six month commitment seriously. If they do, I'm sure that most of them will end up sticking around for a long time.


Yes, I'm disappointed that despite all the efforts I put in the recruit for the troop, we only have one new Scout to show for it (fortunately, he's a great kid). However, I hope my efforts have contributed to the overall greater good.

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don't get too discouraged, sounds like you did a great job, ask the Den leaders for any specific reason why the other troop was chosen over yours, maybe it's something you and your boys can work on in the future

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Although I am disappointed for not getting better results from our recruiting efforts, I am not discouraged. The connections I made this year (it was the most extensive recruiting we had done in ten years) will pay off in the next couple of years.


As for the reason why we didn't get picked by the packs we recruited, they varied.

Pack A had ten Webelos. Five went to a troop about 20-25 minutes west of us. The CM of the pack (and father of one of the Webelos) lives in that town and is friends with the troops SM. The other five went to the troop that is a half mile down the road from the neighborhood they live in (we are about three miles away).

Pack B had one Webelo join the troop at his church and the other three go to a troop about 20 minutes south (we are about ten minutes north of them) where one of them had a hockey buddy as a member (parents wanted them to stay in the area, but let their sons decide).

Pack C's CM told me back in the summer they had no 2nd year Webelos. I invited their Webelos I to a COH (they attended) and was pretty surprised when I found out a few weeks back they had picked up two Webelos II this year and both crossed over to a troop about ten minutes away where they were members of the church.

Pack D chose the troop closest to where they meet (although they were only ten minutes from us).

Pack E chose a huge troop (120 Scouts; more on them later) about 25 minutes away or they chose the troop about a mile down the road from them (we are about ten minutes away again).


I have two packs I'm waiting to hear back from. The first is the pack that has fed into us this entire decade. Their Webelos II leader is burned out and is making no effort toward even letting his kids know about the Boy Scouts. I'm working with the CM and CC (both have kids in my troop) to go around the Webelos leader and recruit the couple of kids directly.


The other pack is about five minutes from us and has seven quality kids and two WB-trained adults with them. It is a choice between us and the huge troop 25 minutes away.


This huge troop puts on a big event for Webelos every year and gets about 150-200 to show up from our district. It is a very well run event and the kids have a great time. This troop says it is just an event to get Webelos interested in Boy Scouts in general. However, they have been following up after the event with packs in our area. This troop pulls out all the bells and whistles to impress the kids when they visit. Overall, they are a good troop and run a great program, but a lot of kids each year get lost in the shuffle. The other troops in their area have a hard time getting kids to cross over to their troops because they are so overshadowed (they also put on good programs, but without the bells and whistles). Now, this huge troop is recruiting in our area as well and we are running into the same problem.


My recruiting pitch to Webelos (and their parents) is that with my troop, they will know everyone and have the chance to really make an impact.


We'll keep pushing and hope for better results next year. In the meantime, we'll just focus on making the troop we have that much better.

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I feel for you Chip-29.

In our town we have one Troop and 1 Pack. 10 mi;es to the north, there are 1 or 2 troops im the next council. 5-7 miles to the east, 2 troops; 1 a few miles to the south. There must be an unwriten understanding between us because none of us seem to attempt to recriut near the other troops, even the one just a few miles south.

Our problem has been the large one 10 miles away.

The last 4 or 5 years we've been losing Webelos's to this troop. The reason, the former CM was affiliated with the larger Catholic church and troop down the road. He would tell everyone at the Pack that there is a troop in town, "but I would like to see all the boys down at St. Mary's.

We were lucky if we received 2 or 3 a year, usually siblings. Lucky for us he has moved on with his boys.

The new CM is also a professional, formerly from our council, but now with the next council. He loves the CM position, He helps with the Webelos (he has one of his own) and seems to really enjoy that too. In our discussions he asked why our troop had dropped in numbers over the last several years. He had not been aware of the problem. Since knowing, he has made it clear to the Pack that we are the closest troop and that they are a feeder pack and this is where the Webelos should go. This year we received all 4 Web's II. Next year, hopefully 8. Granted we're trying to make a better impression on the Pack by being more involved with them.

Wish you luck.

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I feel your pain.


in my town there are 3 troops and 2 packs. It really becomes a scamble to recruit and reminds me of a pro sport draft. For a long while the Pack leader of the largest cub pack was also an assistant scoutmaster of one of the troops and conditioned the boys and their parents that the most logical step afterwards was to join her troop.


The trick was to make the troop program stand out. Our backpacking, sports and high adventure trips are a huge contrast to this other troop's dinning hall camping and trips to the virgin islands, along with our private cabin and frequency of campouts. We each have our own identity.


So when, one spring, at the blue and gold cross over we managed an upset and pulled 15 weablos from the pack to this ASM's 1, she was more than shocked and since then the momentum has shifted.


Dont give up. My advice it to keep plugging away at the pack and den level. send out Den chiefs. Invite weablos to meetings and on trips. Craft a unique and appealing program and build an identity and you will get those draft years that are overwhelming (in a good way)

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By the "bells and whistles", the biggest thing is their professional sound system they use for their campfires. It actually belongs to the troop. They've been known to put up a big screen at a campout and show a DVD as part of the campfire on Saturday night.


They'll also have adults (and some older Scouts) go out a day or two before a campout to start setting up displays and pioneering villages. Its almost like a trade show exhibit hall. I'm all for promoting Scouting (they do it probably better than anyone), but when a 10 year old kid sees the big sound system and the show that is put on for them by 110 Scouts and about 25-30 ASM, its very hard to convince the Scout that they can do all the same fun stuff in my troop as they would in the big troop. We do about 90% of the same things they do, in regards to activities, but they put on a show that is very difficult to compete against.


The competition between the troops in my area for Webelos crossing over is pretty tough, but with this mega troop now getting about 6-8 out of the pool of about 50-60 Webelos that cross over each year, that means less for the "local" troops.


Please don't get me wrong. This mega troop runs a great program (they even run their own summer camp with MB counselors from the troop) and does things by the book. I've known some of the adults in their troop for years and they are great guys that really want to help the kids out.


My personal feeling (a sentiment shared by a couple of the adults in the mega troop) is that if they are losing 30-40 Scouts a year (they've been at the same number for several years now), are they really doing the kids a service by being that large and losing the equivalant of a solid sized troop each year? Would the Scouts be better served if that troop split into two or three troops? I know that the SM of the troop only does SM conferences for Star and above. He delegates the SM conferences for lower ranks to his ASM's. Once again, the SM is a great guy, but shouldn't the Scouts have the chance to get to know the SM before they turn First Class?


I've ranted long enough. This may need to be another thread. I respect the fact that this mega troop puts on their activity for Webelos each fall. They are great at promoting Scouting. I also applaud them for being able to use this as a fund raiser for their troop. However, my issue becomes when they use the event to start recruiting in other areas outside of their own when there is more than enough quality troops to fulfill the Scouting needs of those Webelos.

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I guess that is really some bells and whistles.

This doesnt even compare to most of the District events I have gone to.

But if they are losing 30-40 scouts a year and having to replace of the Troop every year, they would need to do something this big.

This seems like a big number of scouts to be losing a year.

Are most Troops seeing this percentage of loss?


I think that what you are doing is great and will pay off in the long run.


I think some of what you are seeing has to do with the thread about the schism between Packs and Troops.


Most Cub Scouts and their parents do not have any real idea of what makes up a good Troop program and the big production just wows them into this Troops program.


I would stress to the WELBELOS (and mostly the parents) the advantage of the smaller troop and getting to know their sons and how they may get lost in a larger Troop. (without mentioning any names or numbers).


Are you supplying Den Chiefs to any Packs?

Getting and knowing the Cubs early is a great way to recruit.

My son was a Den Chief and even the WEBELOS that werent in the Den he was working with ended up joining his Troop just by having him involved with the Cubs at Pack meetings.


Are you having Scouts do any of the recruiting with you?

An older Scout promoting your Troop will go much farther than any adult coming in and talking about a Troop.


How about your Troop and some of the other smaller Troops teaming up to do your own mega-event?


Have each Troop set up there own station and promo material that allows the WEBELOS and the parents to what each Troop is about?



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CNY- Some great suggestions on your part. I've actually done some of them in the past. We have no den chiefs. Most of the kids in my troop are involved in sports, band, church, etc. and we're lucky if we see them every week at troop meetings. We've tried to get kids to be den chiefs, but its been very tough for them to block out an extra night per week. I have taken Scouts with me on recruiting visits. Sometimes, its worked out pretty well. This year, two weeks after leaving a message for a Webelos leader about attending their den meeting, I'd get a call at 9pm saying "go ahead and stop by tomorrow night since its our last den meeting before the crossover."


I've also subtley suggested the benefits of a smaller troop by saying that we currently have 20 Scouts and our goal is to get to 40. My attitude is that if I don't know all the kids and at least one of their parents, the troop is too big. I've also told people that are looking at us versus a huge troop that if they just want to go along for the ride, join the other troop. If they want to really make an impact and help us build a great troop, then join us. I've actually gotten a couple of kids and parents that are big contributors to our troop because of that.


By the way, my troop is actually hosting some Webelo I this May at a campout in our area. We won't have any big sound systems (unless you count a couple of kids in the troop), but we'll have a lot of fun and build some relationships. That should set us up much better for next year. Thank you for all your suggestions, everyone.

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