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gwd-scouter

our success scared them away

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I've posted in other threads about our small troop and our efforts to recruit new Scouts. We do not have a 'feeder' pack and we've reached out to Webelos den leaders from many packs in the District. Not much success over the years. We've had increased visits from dens, but no crossovers. We planned campouts and day hikes just for them to help with Outdoorsman and/or AOL. Oh yes, the Webelos came, satisfied their requirements, and then joined other Troops that did nothing to reach out to them. Yes, it's been upsetting, but we continued our efforts.

 

Last year, we were visited by four Webelos dens from three different Packs (three 2nd year and one 1st year). They camped with us, hiked with us, and the three 2nd year dens attended at least two meetings over the past year.

 

Head count and early commitment from parents showed we could possibly receive 18 crossovers in March and April. I have to say, our Scouts were both excited and scared at the prospect. I, too, had some concerns in that 18 new Scouts would triple the size of our Troop. Youth leadership is working very well. Our three oldest Scouts are marvelous at running things, the three in the middle are coming up well, and then we have three newer Scouts still learning how to handle themselves.

 

The den leader for one of the dens called the other night to say they had decided to join a different Troop. He said he was really disappointed and very much wanted to join our Troop. However, he said the parents voted to keep all the boys together and liked the fact that the other Troop had more older Scouts that would help train the new Scouts. Yep, true the other Troop has more older Scouts - they have more Scouts all together. Another concern was that he heard we were getting new Scouts from other dens as well and some of the parents thought that would make our Troop too young.

 

The majority of boys in the other two dens have decided to cross over to our Troop at the end of this month, which brings us at least 8, perhaps 10, new Scouts. A manageable number for our guys. I think they will be a bit relieved when I tell them the news tomorrow night.

 

I am very proud of our Troop. Just the fact that so many dens gave us a look and strongly considered joining our Troop, let's me know we've come a long way from being the little Troop no one knows about.

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Don't be disappointed. I quadrupled my troop the first year and was expecting to triple again this year. I got the quadruple the first year, but only 3 scouts this year. It was a rough year with all new scouts, and we're needing a breather. I'm thinking a slow steady growth would have been a lot easier. Sometimes it's not all that great to get what you think is best. Go with the cards you're dealt, don't worry about the others, do a good job with your program and you'll grow over the years.

 

With 75% of the boys Webelos crossover boys, we went to summer camp and did the patrol-method cooking, New Scout Program, etc. and everything by the book. My boys struggled big time. This time they shopped around until they found a camp that specializes in patrol-method, heavily evaluated the New Scout program and decided on an out-of-council camp. They struggled, but they learned as well. With all the hassles we went through last year, I figured the boys would want to go with the flow and do the mess hall, troop method of our council's camp. Nope, on their own, they are going to stick with the boy-led, patrol-method program even though we got 3 scouts and the adult-led, troop-method program next door picked up 18 new scouts. The three I got are 100% sold on the patrol-method and were not swayed by the high-impact, adult organized glitz of the other troop. One Pack had 19 cross-overs, their CM and 18 of the boys went with him to the other troop. One boy said, no, he's going with us. Now, you tell me about this boy's commitment to the program. Who's the leader and who's the followers here?

 

Stosh

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You know I have seen a little of the same kind of thing in our Troop.

 

Some parents make a decision about which Troop for their son to join, or the Scouts gets to choose boys he wants to "hang" with. I think the Scouts that choose will stay longer anyway.

 

We visited 3 Troops, and my son the one I had "ranked to myself" as #2 or #3 is where he choose to go. I thought they had too many younger Scouts (The Troop was only 2-3 years old).

 

He told me he based "his choice" on the fact there were more guys his age. He is now almost a LIFE Scout after 4 years with this Troop.

 

So, I don't think your troop scared them away. But you may have exposed them to more of what a Boy Scout is expected to do on outings as opposed to Cubs/Webelos. To a new Scout there may appear to be much work as there is fun, but as I still tell his Patrol and the Troop (I'm an ASM) nothing in life that's worth doing comes easy.

 

Good luck with your "recruiting".

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"the parents voted to keep all the boys together" WOW.... so much for the boys signing up with the troop of THEIR choice, did the parents ask the boys which troops they wanted to go to? Who knows...maybe you'll get a couple of them later on when the shine of the MEGA troop dulls a bit.

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Did you ask your DE for the list of sign-ups from your local school again this year?

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We only had one school night this year. The school we've done in the past was given to a different Troop. We were given a small private school and only got two sign ups. Sadly, neither of those (and both actually filled out application forms and paid) ever showed up to a meeting. They signed up last November. For one reason or another, both said they'd start coming to meetings at the beginning of the year. I kept in touch, but eventually they stopped replying.

 

Interesting tidbit: The den leader from one of the dens joining us stopped by last night to drop off his and his son's applications. He told me about their visit to two other troops before deciding to join ours. In his opinion, the other two troops were just too adult led. Even worse, one SM spent most of their meeting lecturing about the rules, and at the other some of the older boys were downright disrespectful to the adults trying to conduct a lesson.

 

So, our boy led Troop is small, messy and requires the guys to work harder, but it is one thing some actually liked about our troop and they are coming soon.

 

In the end I see this as having worked out for the best. The boys and parents that are joining our Troop made the decision because they liked what they saw. When they camped and visited with us, we didn't clean up our act just for visitors. They saw our Troop - warts and all.

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Don't give up. If you feel you are providing a fun, positive experience for the boys, you will eventually find success. Our troop is closing in on our second birthday. We have one year of summer camp under our belt.

 

We gained six new boys last year and only three this year. Available boys from Webelos 2 were just really scarce this year. But, we have picked up boys through transfers. Some of the boys you lost to bigger troops may eventually find they are not happy. Let it be known that the door is always open. Our troop has benefited by transfer boys. One is closing in on Eagle. Another will likely be our SPL shortly.

 

Keep participating in functions that make your troop visible. We have three families visiting our meeting this week. Their den had seen our troop at a Webelos function last fall. But they were from another town with several troops. Turns out we might just fit their need and they may join our troop. An unexpected success and a new source for Webelos in the future.

 

Make it fun, run a good program, and let the boys lead. You may not have the glitz, but in the end you will have more boys participating in what Scouts is really all about. We are not all going to be the biggest troop in town. Quality is more important.

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Congratulations on doing things the right way. Our troop has grown steadily and now has 50 on the roster. We did not set out to become a "mega troop" and are not sure what to do. The recruiting program that has evolved over the years is similar to yours with three weeblo/troop events to work on AOL etc. The boys plan the calendar and they want to camp each month so we camp each month and we get great turnout. I don't know if it is the calendar that attracts them or the recruiting events.

 

Anyway keep up the good work! Good things will happen and you'll get good guys.

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gwd-scouter writes:

 

"We only had one school night this year...We were given a small private school and only got two sign ups."

 

How many sixth-graders? Do you have any contacts with the principal or vice-principals?

 

For those who are interested, the problem with school nights is that they are passive events where a boy must already want to be a "Boy Scout" to sign up. Now REALLY, how many red-blooded American boys not still in Cubs wants to be a Booooy Scouuuut?

 

The trick is to find a contact with the principal or one of the vice-principals and arrange to give a Scouting presentation in the school auditorium during school hours. This allows YOU to define what Scouting is, and what boys love most is Scoutcraft using the methods that were in common use by boy scouts on June 15, 1916.

 

I usually get 66% of an audience (that came in sneering) to sign a list in front of their peers asking me to call their parents so that they can be a Boy Scout.

 

See:

 

http://inquiry.net/adult/recruiting.htm

 

Sometimes these boys make better Boy Scouts than Webelos 2 crossovers, because Cub Scouts tends to filter out outdoor boys who can't stand scissors, paste and sock puppets :)

 

Kudu

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It was a REALLY small private school with only five sixth graders. Yes the principal was involved and his son was one of the two that signed up, paid, and then never showed up and stopped responding to phone calls and emails.

 

An update on the Webelos that are joining our Troop. We will receive 10, six from one den, four from another. Already have the applications for most of them and four new Assistant Scoutmasters signed up, too (one is going to Outdoor Leader training next weekend, the others say they will go in the fall). Crossovers for both dens are next Sunday for one and Monday for the other. We have a campout planned specifically for these new Scouts just one week after they cross over, which makes me very happy that we actually got the new Scouts we hoped and planned for.

 

Good times ahead.

 

 

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