Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Beavah

Webelos Recruiting and being Organized

Recommended Posts

Yah, KurtB in da parent thread raised a very common issue.

 

Boy Scout Leaders want boys to lead, and are good at allowing them the freedom to do that... includin' accepting the level of short-term planning and disorganization that entails.

 

Parents coming out of cub programs which are parent-run are looking for something very different, eh? They're looking for competence and organization. Often da most active cub packs, the ones that have the most webelos, benefit from several adults who are very organized and driven types, eh? So that's what they're used to and looking for.

 

I'd love to hear how different folks here manage that dichotomy. How do yeh appear organized enough for the cub parents to attract recruits, while not compromisin' your boy scouting? Yeh can also comment on how you take steps to re-educate the cub parents, but I'm lookin' more for how yeh deal with and overcome the initial impressions that turn people off sometimes.

 

Beavah

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

First they have to grab the idea that the Scouts are running the show, a hard concept for some Cub Scout Parents -

But by multiple exposures to the Troop, making ourselves available to the Prospective Boy Scouts for more than one campout, by sending them Den Chiefs, by having Last years calendar available and explaining that just like many businesses operate on different calendar years we operate on a different calendar year than Cub Scouting or at least different than the packs we work with - But some of them don't even run on the same calendars - and they know it and it helps our case.

 

But by Crossover time hopefully they've seen the method to our particular madness.

It helps when they see that on Campouts the Boys are cleaned up before they cook and eat and that the dishes are actually clean before they are put away.

That common area items are put up before tents.

When they see that if our Boys don't lead it, it doesn't get done. But that they do take care of their responsibilities.

And unlike many of our local Troops the adults are watching, but not directing, that the boys are actually and really convincing the other boys to do their share and that the elected Scouts are really concerned about the younger ones safety and welfare.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just a side comment -- I've now participated in a few troop open houses and Webelos visits. I've spent my time seeking out parents to talk to them about the troop, offering to answer any questions they might have.

 

A common refrain from me is "there's a fundamental difference between Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts" and I go on to explain that while Cub Scouts are centered around parent-child, Boy Scouts is more about personal growth. I explain that while there are several parents involved with the troop, not all parents are, and that it is okay. Either way is fine with us.

 

Guy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is a tough one. For the past couple of years our boy led troop had trouble attracting Webelos. Mostly due to concerns from parents that what they saw as chaos was a boy led troop doing it's thing. Not the neatly organized, overly structured, Den meeting. We basically competed against the big troop (bigger is better) and the adult led troop (those guys really advance fast). There are several other small troops in our District, but the Dens that came to visit us never mentioned visiting those others.

 

I take responsibility for our past struggles because I didn't realize how important it was to make sure the parents understood what we were doing and the big difference between Boy Scouting and Cub Scouting.

 

Gunny has it right about multiple contacts with the Webelos. For the past year or so, we really made a push for ours. We invited dens from three different packs on more than one campout and to several meetings. Day hike coming up, why not ask the Webelos to come? I kept in close touch with the Den Leaders and Cub Masters, always making sure to chat with them at roundtables when I saw them.

 

Most of all, I was honest with the adult visitors. Many asked how fast their son could earn First Class. A common question believe it or not. That gave me the chance to explain that advancement is but one method, we work hard at delivering them all. Our program is not advancement driven, but advancement happens as a result of our program. This year I feel I finally got into the groove of talking about our Troop in a way that Cub parents and leaders can understand. Still, we didn't get all the Webelos that visited us. Some were looking for the quick advancement or more organized adult-led troop, and others still thought bigger had to be better. That's OK.

 

Must have worked. Out of 20 Webelos that visited us over the last year, we had 11 cross over last week (4 from one pack, 6 from another, and 1 that never visited us but heard we were a good troop). I never asked, but the most common reasons I was given as to why these boys/parents picked our troop was that they like how respectful the adults were to the boys and the boys to the adults, how the boys ran things (even when they didn't do a good job), how we encouraged them when they failed, and, most importantly, their Webelos really liked our guys (those guys were fun, I liked those guys).

 

Past Monday was the first meeting for all the new Scouts. Almost all of the parents showed up too. About mid-way through the meeting, we adults were all standing outside talking when from around the back of our Scout hut comes our two Troop Guides followed in line by eleven smiling fifth graders. Older boys in charge of the younger boys. Off to join our mixed-age patrol for a game. Two of our older Scouts wanted to work with the new guys and asked to be Troop Guides. Since we got eleven, they decided to split the group into two to make it a little easier to work with them.

 

We have a campout coming up this weekend and every one of those new Scouts is going. For their very first Scout meeting, they worked on a menu, came up with patrol names and cheers and will be making flags during the campout.

 

All this happened without any adults around - we were all standing on the porch of the Scout Hut.

 

When we circled up to close, the two new scout patrols gave their patrol names and cheer. Oh what a happy bunch.

 

Very cool. I could see the adults were pleased.

 

At the end of the meeting, several parents came up to me and said they could see they made the right choice. Was it something I said, or something the boys did?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The best three practices I've seen along the trail so far:

 

- Troop deploys good young men as DEN CHIEFS. In fact, one troop I know relieves these young men from quite a few Troop DUTIES, whilst letting them participate in the FUN. Den Chiefs, in addition to showing what Boy Scouts could do, also listened for needs of the Pack, and looked for where the Pack could help the Troop (Scouting for Food comes to mind).

 

- Troop deploys an ASM to be a mentor and observer of Den Chiefs, and to coordinate program support between units. This has to be a 2-way street, though. Troops cannot give program without getting some support back, imo.

 

- Troop provides resources to support various Web 1/Web 2 activities. Readyman? Well, the Owl Patrol is working on Emergency Prepardness. Owls, as part of their learning and growth, provide help to the Web 1 Den.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Educating the Webelos Den Leaders that you come in contact with is also key. There is vitually nothing (if anything?) in the Cub Leader literature about boy-run. It's not a concept taught anywhere in training nor is it part of the Cub program (even in the run up to Arrow of Light).

 

If you can engage Webelos Den Leaders at the beginning of the boys' 5th grade year (if not earlier), then that will filter into their Den Meetings and AOL work as well. Hopefully, the last 6 months will be much different than the previous 4 years of Cub scouting for the boys if the Den Leaders back off from adult-led gradually and move in the direction of boy-led. That gets the boys prepared somewhat for what lies ahead.

 

In addition, the Den Leaders have more contact with the parents than the prospective Troop leaders and (if they do a good job) can really get the point to the parents that "we are now transitioning from Cubs to Boy Scouts" and this is how it will be in the future.

 

Without this, don't be surprised if the Den Leaders are just as clueless as the other Cub parents.

 

My son is finishing his 1st Webelos year, and in the fall, I (as a former Cubmaster and Den Leader) will be making sure that the Webelos Den Leaders devote most if not all of their time to the transition to Boy Scouts including the introduction and preparation for a boy-led experience to both the boys AND parents.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

back in the day when CS was only 3 years, graduation was in May as you were a Webelos your 5th grade year and it took all year to get AOL. If you were lucky and had a good WDL they started preparing you for the troop in october or so. Do a campout or two, yada yada yada. One thing my WDL did not do was inform us of the cost of Summer camp or when the troop we were joining was going. It may have been that most of the other kids came from money and that wasn't an issue, but for me finding out about summer camp in may was a bummer. Luckily I stuck withit.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The town I'm in has 3 packs and 5 troops recruitment is always an issue this year we had a great crossover 9 boys out of 14 W2's in town I asked the parents why us this year as we want to continue to improve our troop 3 things came out

1 one of the 17 year olds took a few minutes to talk with a W2 and he decided we were the place for him this young convinced some of his friends to come to us.

2 the adults sat and talked about boyscouts and how it is different from cubscouts Ie: boys doing the leading both the good and not so good(chaos and confusion).

3 the boys had fun at the open house that was put on and run by my boys they did what was fun to them and it showed on the W2's

 

and finally these new parnts could see and did comment who was a eaglemill who was adult run webelos 3.

youcan explain how boyscouts is different from cubs all day but seeing the boys do there thing seemed to make a bigger impresion than anything we could say

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Our troop hosts a Webelos Invitational campout in November at one of the nearby state parks. The patrols set up stations and teach basic skills: knots, first aid, totin chip, fire starting, etc. Vistors rotate through the stations which are completely run and managed by the scouts. The last station before lunch, the visiting Webelos make several box ovens. Then each visitor assembles his own pizza using a tortilla, pizza sause, grated cheese, and a selection of toppings. The pizzas go in the box ovens they just made. They get to eat their pizzas for lunch.

 

While this is going on the parents are encouraged/invited to meet with the SM. The SM explains boy lead vs. adult lead, reviews the trips for last year, the planned trips coming up, the annual high adventure base trips (Philmont, Florida Sea Base, Canada Canoe Trip), typical costs for camping trips, summer camp, etc. Covers the troop equipment (trailer, tents, lanterns, patrol boxes, etc) and what the troop expects from the parents.

 

The troop cooks a traditional thanksgiving feast including several turkeys in dutch ovens, mashed taters, bread baked in the box ovens, sides, and salad. The ASM's serve all. Several cobblers are made in dutch ovens and served after the meal. Since most of the ASM's are involved in the feast preparation and the SM is explaining how things work, the boys must run the show.

 

Parents see Boy Led in action. They hear about the differences between adult vs. boy. They hear about how exciting the program has been and how exciting it will be. They see that the troop has the means, equipment, and leadership to allow their sons to grow, explore and succeed.

 

We do not have any designated feeder packs. The last 3 years we have had 12-14 webelos join the troop from Packs that also had Troops with the same sponser. Probably only 65-75% of those that attend the invitational join our troop.

 

Even so, once they cross over, its obvious parents feel left out after so much involvement in Cubs. The first 4 meetings following crossover, the parents are "required" to attend new parent orientation where all the paperwork is completed and they get another explanation about boy vs. adult, a request to complete Yute Protection Training, as well as common ways in which the troop operates. The first campout we see every crossover parent hovering over the new scouts while the trailer is being loaded and the experienced parents drop and run. We also give the new parents two ASM's contact information who are the designated NSP advisors. The NSP advisors handle most of the questions and hand holding of the parents.

 

Den Leaders are torn between wanting to get involved and breathing a sigh of relief that they are no longer responsible for the little brats. We give them until after summer camp in June and then we start recruiting crossover parents to become involved in troop committee and ASM roles.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

From my experience, the very best Troops don't have to RECRUIT Webelos. They've had a constant presence through Den Chiefs at least since Bear year, and with a little luck, all the way up from Tiger Cubs.

 

H Roe Bartle, for many years the Scout Executive for the Kansas City Area Council, and later Mayor of Kansas City, put it so well:

 

If you give them great program, they will come.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Lots of good ideas. I will pass them along to our newly functioning PLC!

 

A couple of folks mentioned parents not understanding the "organized choas" of a boy run troop. We had four W2's and Dads visit last night. They are visiting eight troops in the district. The boys had a good time, but I don't know if we will meet what many parents envision as a "good" troop. Our boys choose to wear Class B uniforms for most meetings- they go outside and are active and get dirty. We don't have much fancy ceremony with saluting and "ATTENTION!" being shouted.

 

What our visitors saw last night was a 12 year old 1st Class PL leading a class on backpacking, with gear and chalboard diagrams. They saw four youth leaders being presented their "Trained" patch. When one of the Webelos didn't want to go outside for a game, they witnessed a 14 year old Scout lag behind the rest of his buddies to encourage the younger boy to come along. They saw the boys go outside to play without direct adult supervision, and then saw them return back to the meeting at exactly the directed time.

 

In other words, they saw a young, developing, boy led troop. We focus more on fun and adventure than on spit and polish (though those have a time). But I think a lot of parents don't "get" the importance of boy leadership until they give it a chance.

 

We actually have had great success with boys transferring into our troop from other units. We have a couple of older boys who just were not doing well in their original units, but have really blossomed in our troop. I think we are gaining a reputation for this. While not actually recruiting from other troops, I guess it is another alternative for gaining boys. Our soon to be first Eagle Scout is a transfer. Next week we have our first SPL election, and the winner will likely also be a transfer.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Some parents just need to feel safe with the troop and if the adults at least look organized, that helps. But that is subjective. I have always felt our adults are organized, but since our program is boy led, some parents see our adults talking in a different room from the scouts as disorganized.

 

What I found that concerned parents really want is some feeling that the troop has some kind of plan. Boy run is great on the play ground so long as the adults are watching, but what does it mean when if the adults go take a smoke break, so to speak. As been said already, parents dont understand what boy run means. And from my observation of hundreds of troops over the years, neither do more than 50% of troops. Probably less than that. So they compensate by having the adults always stand around in one way or another.

 

You have to prove to visiting concerned adults that there is a method behind the madness. You have to convince them that you know what you are doing. What is your goal and how are you trying to get there. Whats the big deal with boys leading boys? I mean, what does it really do for their son. I find that Eagle Mills are very inviting for concerned parents because that is an adult run program and typically adult run programs look sharp, very organized and they look SAFE. Eagle mills have a goal, it is to get your son his Eagle, plain and simple. That is not are bad thing for the average concerned parent. Eagles are good, so why not.

 

Boy run programs are more difficult because they look less organized and sloppier. The meetings appear more chaotic and louder. The adults can look sharp, but they seem distracted from the boys and appear less concerned, less safe.

 

So you boy run folks better have you game face on. Why is boy run good for my son? What advantage is boy run over an Eagle Mill? Why is your troop a good choice? And practice a good answer for the Mighty Question that always seem to come up How quickly will my son get his Eagle in your Troop?.

 

What I like about this forum is the number of folks with experience who have developed the wisdom of why. Learn the reason why your boy run troop is good for my son. Learn the Aims and Methods and practice how your program uses the methods to achieve the aims. Knowing the Aims and Methods shows that you arent just making it up as you go along, you are following a plan that Troops have been following for years. Once you have a vision of my son as an adult based from your scouting program, then you can explain why the appearance of chaos in a boy run program is superior over the sharp looking organized Eagle Mill. I use to tell concerned parents that our program is preparing their son for the tough choices they have to mke when they are 30 years old.

 

Oh, and let me add that I agree that the program has to have adventure. Not just for the older guys, but all the scouts. If its fun, they will come. I can think to two mothers who did not like our troop because it didnt sharp enough for them. They both wanted the Merit Badge Mills troop down the street, but their sons insisted they join our troop because it look like a lot more fun. Both boys became Eagles in our troop, and both mothers became committee chairs protecting our boy run program.

 

Great discussion. Im sorry I ran off with the key board again. But I love this scouting stuff.

 

Barry

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

At every juncture our troop tries to inform the Webelos II parents about summer camp and getting in some troop campouts prior to summer camp. We hold a webelos outing, supply den chiefs and try to have joint activities. However, if the troop is working through the Cub Master and he is not on top of facilitating the cross over than the information does not get disseminated to the den leaders and even less filters down to the parents.

 

Our recent visitors included four moms and one dad. All knew very little about boy scouting. The ten minutes I spent with them wasn't going to cover the entire program. To our benefit our troop has some older scouts and some that could grow beards if they so chose. To a Cub mom whose boy is still in elementary school our troop looks like its too old for her elementary school child. With overnight canoe outings and backpacking our program is a little ambitious too. Our "this is our program" hand out sheet reads about how we are trying to develop personal reliability and leadership skills.

 

Summer camp scares the beegeebees out of the parents too. Just last night I got, "Scouts go to a week long camp without a parent?" "Yep! all the time." I said.

 

The crux of my what I am saying is that the decisions of who picked our troop and who picked the one on the opposite side of town didn't come down to who was better organized. Heck, they came from cub scouts and den leaders with big hearts but not much training. We are organized enough (12 month calendar, fixed PLC meetings..) No the moms picked the other troop because our program looked too mature for their comfort level. I tried to explain that their boys won't be 10.5 forever and that in a year or so our "more mature program" will be more appealing and hold the scout's interest more. This was to no avail and several choose the other troop.

 

One parent hinted that after a year with the other troop and after getting their feet wet in scouting they will likley come re-visit us. OK, fine but I am not going to be looking for you. I am not interested in fixing more scouts from bad units.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a troop of 15 boys. That means I get 10 boys on meeting nights, and 6 to 8 on campouts. That is pretty consistent. It makes it difficult to do patrol method activities, as often we can get 2 members of a patrol show up for a campout. I would love to have a troop of 25 to 30 scouts.

 

Someone suggested I send Den Chiefs to the packs to help with recruiting. What I found was that the boys who were interested came back and told me that they had no way to get to pack meetings, since the packs held den meetings right after school, and my scouts had no way to get there, since both Mom and Dad work during the day.

 

I don't think many of the Scoutmasters in my district have had much success using Den Chiefs. They tell me the best way they found to attact Webelos was to hold an activity badge fair and invite 4 or 5 Webelos dens to come to it. Troop members or adults teach the activity badge requirements and the Webelos remember having a good experience with that troop. I think this will work for the first 2 or 3 troops that try it, and then as most troops try it, fewer Webelos dens will participate.

 

Any other ideas on how to recruit Webelos?

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×