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Lisabob

troop recruiting

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What John-in-KC said hit the nail on the head. The boys are your best recruiting tool. Part of their advantage is that they can do it one-on-one. That''s important. Recruinting works best when it''s personal. Work on small groups at a time.

 

Our SM is having a Recruiting Jamboree at the local middle school this month. Plans to have displays and demos and such. Not really the personal touch I think works best but he''s got a strategy. He doing it during parent/teacher conferences. Nothing like a little captivity to get an audience.

 

 

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The best recruiting program for Webelos I''ve seen has involved Boy Scouts offering instruction and hands-on training for Webelos activity badges. The Boy Scouts can man a series of booths training different aspects of a single badge and the Webelos rotate between them.

 

The Webelos really like to work with boys just a little older than them, and the Webelos parents get a chance to see how Boy Scouts works. This gives the troop adult leaders a chance to talk to the Webelos parents, as well. And the Webelos den leader appreciates someone else doing the work. If this is part of the den''s work on that badge, the den members are strongly motivated to attend.

 

While the Boy Scouts should prepare their training and material, it is important for the adults to ensure the level is appropriate for the Webelos and the scouts are prepared for working with the younger Webelos.

 

Don

 

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"We had it at a well-known and centrally located venue." It''s hard to tell, but if you expected non-scouting families to take time out of their weekday schedule to come to you I''m not suprised at the response.

 

Anyway, you deserve credit for the time, effort and dedication to put on an event.

 

We have had limited success with open house type events by having scout units in the town set up displays and activities in the center of town near the central shopping area on a Saturday. It is a high traffic area and highly visible from the major intersection in town. Go to where the people will be, don''t expect them to come to you. The displays are eye catching, flags, tents, cooking fires, signal towers, rope bridges, Pinewood Derby tracks, big screen videos of summer camp and unit outings etc. Even with all this, the cubs generally do pretty well. The Boy Scout units usually pick up one or two boys they would not have reached through Cub Scouts or other recruiting.

 

We also have to turn away one or two girls every year who are under 14, interested in the outdoors, tried Girl Scouts and found they didn''t do the outdoor stuff to the extent they wanted to be challenged.

 

SA

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Hi, Lisabob!

 

You gave me some wise and understanding advice a year and a half ago when I was trying to find a new pack for my den. Now that the scouts of my den are second year Webelos, maybe I can offer you the perspective from the other side of troop recruiting. I am very much in the process of trying to arrange for my den to visit Boy Scouts for the Arrow of Light requirements as well as speaking extensively with SM and visiting three different troops to try to find the best one for my son.

 

I think DonM has a good suggestion for attracting Webelos. I recently learned how much "fulfilling a requirement" motivated one of my den's families to attend events. I had encouraged my den's families to attend a big Council Camporee just a few weeks ago which invited Webelos to come either just for the day on Saturday or to also camp for one night. I told the parents that this would be a good way to fulfill the AoL requirement of "visit a Boy Scout-oriented outdoor activity" for those scouts who had not attended our district's "Webelos Woods" (hosted by Boy Scout troops) last year. The Camporee was only an hour away, and I told the parents that although our affiliated troop has welcomed our Webelos to visit ANY meeting or activity (they are a very small troop and really hope to gain new members), most of their camping trips are much further away. So the Camporee was really one of the "easiest" ways to fulfill the requirement (and that they'd have to make their own arrangements with a BS troop if they didn't attend this event). In addition, I stressed how much I thought the boys would enjoy the advertised activities such as catapults and tower building. The day before the event, a mother called to ask me, "What is the minimum time that my son has to spend at the Camporee for it to 'count' for the Arrow of Light award?" Before then I hadn't realized just how much motivation "fulfilling a requirement" was for that family. Clearly, the son would not have attended the event just on the merits of the activities. In fact, the mom has told me that her son is not planning to cross over to Boy Scouts. My feeling is that the Camporee was the best chance to "sell" Boy Scouts to them. Her son doesn't really like outdoor or physically active activities in general, but if there was any chance to convince him (and his parents) to reconsider, it would have been the Camporee with all its exciting and fun activities.

 

Anyway, I think you should also try to make your recruiting efforts attractive to the Webelos leaders. It can be tiring to plan and get ready for den meeting after den meeting. So I would set up a meeting for Webelos with Boy Scouts that would be a "freebie" for the den leader---the BS troop would provide all the planning, materials, and leadership for a meeting in which the Webelos would fulfill requirements for a badge and/or AoL. Ideally, it would be at the same time that the den meets anyway, so scheduling is not a problem. To avoid being "stood up" again, I'd first get some Webelos den(s) to commit to coming before you publicize the event really widely.

 

I "feel your pain" about having such a poor turn out at a recruiting event. A couple of years ago, I attended three different Cub Scout recruiting nights for two different packs at two different elementary schools (in two different councils because we live near the border). Each of those had a turn out between zero and one! For the first night, we thought the zero turnout was due to a snow-storm. But the other nights were also duds. The second low turn-out was despite the fact that my son said that there was a very good presentation at the school given by a district staff person. He handed out mini-"Boys Life" magazines and got the boys so excited that many of them left the assembly saying that they wanted to go join Cub Scouts. The reason they didn't show was probably their parents. Many at our school have limited English or come from other cultures where they might not want their son to join or not understand that CS is really open to all boys. Others probably felt that their schedules were already too full from soccer, music lessons, Hebrew school, etc.

 

For non-scouts, I agree with other posters who suggested you should offer something other than presentations to lure them in. Best would be something that the boys you want to attract would go out of their way to do and might even come for even if they aren't (or don't think they are) interested in scouting---like the rappelling tower idea. Also, as I saw mentioned in a thread about Cub Scout recruiting, food is a good lure. Make dutch oven doughnuts or hand-cranked ice-cream, for example, and be sure to advertise that you'll have food.

 

I believe that our district's "Webelos Woods" hosted by BS troops and offering either camping with a parent or day participation with den or parent is reasonably successful. I think quite a few BS troops participated, so I'm assuming that they find it valuable for recruiting. When my ADL's son and husband camped with our affiliated troop at Webelos Woods, they liked the troop enough that the family has decided that the son will cross over to that troop this spring. Families can also see more than one troop in action which is good. This program does have a small fee of $10 per person. I think it would also be possible to invite scout-aged non-scouts to visit with a parent as well.

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We, too, had several open houses that yielded no recruits. A few Webelos showed up, but the parents confessed that they were already committed to the troop fed by their pack. We have also done advertising that didn't even result in any phone calls. The only thing that has worked has been individual recruiting, both by boys and parents. This can lead to a very nice chain reaction. Recently, one of our adult leaders asked a mom if her son might be interested. He came, and a year later his younger brother joined, the younger brother brought a friend, and that friend has now brought another friend. Make sure you have Recruiter strips to give out.

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I want to thank everybody for your input here. Admittedly I was feeling a little sorry for myself when I originally posted this thread - especially because, on the same night in the next town over, the community open house there brought in upwards of 50 people (all cub scouts/cub families though - they failed to get any non-scouting families to attend too)! We had precisely the same advertising strategy (worked it out and carried it out together) - theirs worked, mine fell flat. Boo Hoo. Guess I'll go eat some worms...

 

Well ok, I'm over that. I'm still surprised that area webelos den leaders - who I know pretty well - didn't take advantage of our event, which would have "saved" them from having to plan a meeting! But, it didn't happen. I do think it would be great if our district would host a Webelos Woods. No one in our council has done that in recent memory. That's a big undertaking though and I'll need to sell the idea to other parts of the district committee (this is not a membership committee undertaking). We're also talking about making this event a "Webelos-Meet-the-Troops" night in the future, rather than a general community event. And area troops are talking about coordinating to do a downtown campout in the winter, complete with snow huts and lots of dutch oven cooking. That's not likely to result in many new recruits but it may help to raise boy scouting's profile in the area. We'll see how things develop.

 

Again, I really appreciate everyone's feedback!

 

 

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As a SM, I always try and reach back to the Webelos dens from the Packs in our neighborhood. We schedule a campout each October for the Webelos to go with us and do "Boy Scout" stuff. I get the names of the current WDLs and I know the Cubmasters and I personally invite the Webs to come to the campout. This year we had six Webs come with us (Out of a potential 14). I was a little disappointed, especially since I spoke several times with the WDL of a pack that nobody attended from (he was my son's soccer coach). All of the kids that came were from a den whose leaders have kids in the troop and are involved in the troop.

 

I will continue to have this in the future, however, as a troop's future is only as strong as the boys coming in.

 

Bill

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"He climbs the rather large soapbox and proclaims.."

Maybe instead of just looking at the Webelos dens at bridging time the SM's or a recruiting coordinater should start being more visible to the packs to establish more of a rapport with the leaders AND the boys. When I became a tiger leader (was it that long ago?) the SM's of the surrounding troops were these mystical figures shrouded in fog that came down from on high to pluck deserving webelos into their fold .... or so it seemed, I was one of the lucky ones and was befriended by a longtime scouter, who took me to meet those exalted beings.I found out that we all had a lot in common, among them was a desire to see the boys grow into mature, intelligent (although this is sometimes questioned), well rounded young men, so I took this desire, and communicated it to the SM's and thus was born the relationships I have with the SM's of my surrounding troops. I have 10 boys in my den and all the SM's know that there are no guarantees, but they do have an idea of how many will be coming to them because they have all talked to my boys on a personal level (the fog has been lifted!). Another plus of this is that because my boys already know these SM's by name (Mr. Smith troop 1, Mr. Jones troop 2) they feel comfortable talking to them and letting the SM's know what they want from scouting.

"He steps down from the rather large soapbox...allowing the next person to take the floor."

YIS

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Elyria,

 

I agree with you completely. To start talking with the boys, three months before bridging is really, to me, a slap in the face to the CS leaders and boys, especially since I was a CS leader at one point. Getting to know the boys and their leaders at a minimum 18 months before they decide to bridge is important. We only invite the Web 2s on the overnight campout just because of space. However, I have invited leaders and their boys to come to any of our meetings or campouts to just observe and meet the boys. I have also volunteered to come and speak to the boys, and bring my two scouts along to talk with them about Boy Scouts.

 

I think it is really important as they get into their last 18 months to 2 years of Cub Scouts to show them what Boy Scouts is really like. I think a lot of the boys get bored the last couple of years of Cub Scouts and that is where a lot of attrition is. If they see what Boy Scouts is like as they get into the last two years, they might stick it out through the "boring stuff" (no offense to any CS leader here, just SOME of the boys' perspectives)to get to Boy Scouts. There is a very fine line, however, of making them Boy Scouts too early, and thus, bridging over loses some of its excitement. You know, "been there, done that".

 

Bill

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Oh and on another recruiting front, we have had two boys actually recruit their friends into our troop as 6th and 7th graders, having not been in Cub Scouts. As they get older, as has been said here before, the boys really are the greatest source of recruiting.

 

Bill

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