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Giving Up on Recruting Webelos

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Over the last four years we have had one den cross into our unit and that was not from our CO pack. We have sustained membership through transfers and friends of scouts. The non webelos scouts have been some of my best scouts. They are usually older and in the 6-7th grade. Their parents seem to hover less and they scouts and their parents are less worried about advancement.


We have had den after den come look at us and turn away, our camping is too ambitious, our trips are too far, our boys are too old. The one that I got this year is that our meetings are not structured enough and the parents like a more structured environment with more break outs for MB's and adults working with scouts. They thumbed their nose at our mixed age patrols because they wanted to stay together as a den.


The final one was when I explained how we spend one troop meeting a month to hold a PLC and how the boys run the show, so if it looks a little il-run it is, because that is what the boys are running. A mom looks at me and says "this sounds like my husband's fraternity." I didn't know what to make of that at the time but it turned out to be bad as that den did not cross.


Over the past four years we have scheduled a webelos outing with our troop. We have years where 15 or more webelos come and camp with us. At camp say nice things about us and then join the more structured troop down the road. Not only that but the chain of dens going to another CO is now at such a level that with brothers and families over the last four years going there it will be very hard to break the chain.



I am about to go to the CO and say we won't be recruiting form the pack. No webelos outing or joint unit outings. Instead we will focus on non-scoust in the middle schools.








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That is sad, but I see your viewpoint.


Now my son would have loved to have gone to your troop. He was recruited by a troop who had mixed levels of scout working with him during the visits.. When he joined, he was very, very disappointed when they put all the young scouts into one patrol.. He loved the interaction with the older scouts.


The only thing I would have been concerned about would be if the many trips far away, also had an expensive price tag with them that the parents were expected to foot the bill for.


Maybe not a full out campaign, but keep the door open. Every now and then there is a boy or family that is looking to break from the pack, and going someplace the rest are going to may be the answer for them.

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Hello Thomas,



Sounds like you have an excellent program.



My inclination would be to accomodate Webelos Dens that want to form their own patrol. "New Scout Patrols" seem to be encouraged by BSA, and they can work fine.


As a district membership chair, I'd encourage you to do recruiting among 5th grader in the spring. Some will already be 11 and others can be carried as visitors until June 1st when they will be eligible to join.


You might work to combine recruiting efforts with Cub Scout packs that will be doing recruiting in the spring among elementary school children.


As Cubmaster, I plan a joint recruiting night with the nearby troop in the spring. When I'm in elementary schools recruiting Cub Scouts, all I need to do is wait for later lunches for the 5th and perhaps 6th graders to come to lunch and I talk to them about joining Boy Scouts and hand them a flyer on the Boy Scout recruiting night. That recruits a good population at the right time to participate in spring and summer activities just when their uinterest in Boy Scouts is often peaking.

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I can understand your frustration. Let me ask you a question, though.


What does your troop do to work with the pack on a regular basis?


Do you provide den chiefs?

Do you have any adults who offer to work with the pack on outdoor activities?

Do you strong (or really, any) relationships with pack leadership, den leaders in particular?

Does the pack and troop do any service or community projects together?


What I'm thinking is that there's a disconnect here. The pack isn't closely tied to the troop and the troop isn't effectively communicating its ideals to the pack. That problem is a two-way street and not a matter of blaming anybody. But if they don't know you well then they are less likely to feel comfortable trusting your vision & ideals. And if the den leaders, especially, don't know you, then they can't be good advocates to their den parents for what your troop is all about. I think the DL is the single most influential person in the transition process.


So if I were in your shoes, I might do the following:

1. Get to know the WOLF & BEAR den leaders right now. Focus on building a strong relationship with them so that in a couple of years, you'll have a better shot at recruiting those boys into your troop.

2. If you aren't already, start encouraging den chiefs from your troop to the pack. That will probably include supporting the pack in terms of how to effectively use the den chiefs to everyone's benefit (most pack leaders probably won't know quite how to do this).

3. Pack & Troop leadership might work together to see if you can find a couple of tangible activities where the troop can lend a hand to the pack, or where troop & pack can do something together.


Webelos recruiting is hard. Ideally, it should be an on-going process and not a couple of weekends, an open house, and a cross-over ceremony.


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Lisa and I are in absolute agreement.


It's about ongoing relationships between Packs and Troops. Don't think that simply because you are under the same Partner, Troop A gets the youth from Pack A.


The families of Pack A will go to the Troop that looks like the best fit.


The best way to have a best fit is to have the relationship Lisa suggested.

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Stick with it. You are describing our troop, so I know where you are coming from.


We had a scout and his mother visit us four times when our troop was young. After their third visit, I asked mom what was going on. She admitted her son loved our boy run, less formal, style troop and he was ready to join. But she wanted more structure and like the troop down the street better because the adults dressed sharper. She was trying to show here son the problems with our troop during the visits. Her son won out and all three of her sons earned their Eagle in our troop. But more important, we got the Webelos from her pack for the next six years.


What you might want to consider is looking and maybe changing your recruiting style a little, what ever it is. For us it was basically what you see is what you get. Our troop never planned a single troop activity with Webelos visits in mind, so visitors saw the real deal at meetings and on campouts. I also worked to get better at presenting and explaining why our rag tag looking program was great for developing character, leadership and a more confident man of the future.


It may be that you dont need the pack, but it never hurts to keep good relations. You never know what you will get with a new set of adults.




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I'll offer that, yeah, it's a parent thing, it's a letting go thing, it's a difficult thing to transition from the safety of Cub Scouting to the messy leadership chaos cauldron of Boy Scouts.


And it is harder to demonstrate in a few visits why this works, even if you have a relationship in the Cub Scout environment.


In our Troop's situation, this is the first year where I don't have a kid in the Pack, though I'm still Pack Trainer and have trained all of the leaders (and pinch hit for many when they couldn't do a meeting), and the behind the scenes "prompter" for current Pack Leadership about activities, how to get things done, etc., and we have a very active interface with the Pack through Webelos Winter Camp and other activities, and support from the Troop for Pack activities.


And where we support Pack activities, those are orderly, neat, adult run, but Troop supported.


So we have the relationship.


And yet, that only goes so far.


Just like Thomas54, we're actually facing word that some of the potential families are concerned because our Troop events are disorganized, it's not the neat little package of a Den or Pack event, and other Troops they know of appear to be more orderly and directed and so that seems more comfortable.


Now, we do have a "new Scout Patrol" concept, and not the mixed Dens, so that's not the barrier.


It's just getting across to everyone the concept of the "game". That leadership comes not from doing what the Scoutmaster tells you, but from figuring out what you and the other youth want to do (while the Scoutmaster makes sure the game you make up is played safely and the Chair makes sure that parents are recruited to support the event).


Failures? Sure. Learning? You bet. Better Leaders as a result? We think so.


But it is hard to demonstrate in a visit why this works. Real hard.


Part of me thinks we should do in part of the visits is have some of the older scouts talk about their experiences, how they learned from mistakes, and it's made them better leaders. The other part of me thinks that a Webelos Scout parent will just hear the "failure" part and recoil in horror.


What we are doing is deploying parents who have relationships with the 5th Grade parents, so that we can anticipate issues and structure and/or counsel accordingly.


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As a post-script, let me copy the first part of an email from the cub-l listserv that we use in our "info" section about crossing over into a Troop to try to make it clear why the messy way works:



Date: Tue, 06 Nov 2007 03:09:15 -0500

From: Lorie McGraw

Subject: crossing over and boring Boy Scouts (was Boy Scout Lists)


Hello, I have been watching this discussion with some trepidation and finally just had to join in. First of all, let me confess that my name is Lorie and I am a Scoutaholoc (Hi, Lorie!)


After 12 years in Scouts, starting with Tiger Cubs and moving up through 2 eagle sons, married to the Scoutmaster, Leader in Tiger/Cubs/Webelos, Cub Roundtable, Training Team, Old Boy Scout WoodBadge (one of the last sessions SR330-00 - Fox Patrol), Troop Committee and Webmaster, Associate Editor of American Scouting Digest, Boy Scout Roundtable Commissioner, etc, all I can say to new Webelos moms and Dads is:




Take a breath.


Put down the Scout and slowly back away.


Get a cup of coffee and sit back and observe for at least 2 months. Talk to the other adults. Ask what the plan is. Ask how they do things. Ask to see the annual plan (every troop should have one, even if it is just a general outline). Ask how much interference they allow (if any). Get trained. Go to Roundtable and ask other new parents and olde Scoutmasters how this whole wonderful game of Scouting works.


Boy Scouts is NOT Cub Scouts and really does not even resemble it much. The highly active planned activities are usually reserved for Camporees. And they should be planned and carried out by the boys. Other activities are smaller in scope and run by the Senior Patrol Leader and the Patrol Leaders (part of the Patrol Leaders Council). THEY are the role model for the younger boys. It is the Boy Scouts. Not the Mommy and Daddy Scouts. Not the Let's Pretend that We Are Scouts or the We Only Camp When It Is Sunny Scouts.


If you wish to be useful, stay away from your son's Patrol. Let him struggle a bit. They will learn to help him and he will learn to ask for help from the leaders of the Patrol ---- the BOYS, not the adults. He can suggest a game or activity to his Patrol. But 9 times out of 10, the game that we as adults think is cool the boys will not touch.




1. It is a boy led troop, so let them lead. Don't decide things for them. You may help them see all the important parts of a plan though or suggest an activity if they draw a blank (common) but it is their choice to do it or not. Find opportunities for them and let them make the choice. Yep, yep and nope. You may not suggest an activity to the boys. You may suggest an activity to the Scoutmaster. If he thinks that it fits in with the troop plan he may have you suggest it to the Sr. Patrol Leader (SPL). Or you can meet with the Senior Patrol Leader after a meeting and suggest an activity - but remember that there is likely a plan in place




4. Things will NOT run smoothly...VERY true! If the meeting looks like controlled chaos, then it is likely running as smoothly as it can. Do NOT judge the efficiency of a troop by the apparent jumble and tumble of boys.




I couldn't find an archive with the whole link, so if you want a full copy, I can email it to you; just shoot me a personal message.


Bert Bender

Pack and District Trainer

South Fulton District, Atlanta Area Council

Troop Chair too, so: Put down the Scout and slowly back away.


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I would not give up on Webelos just yet, b/c trust me it can be difficult recruiting via word of mouth. It's definitely doable, but harder b/c yo don't get a regular infusion of new scouts.



You may need to "adapt, improvise, and overcome," as my Leatherneck friends say.


A couple of ideas.


1) While I personally do not like NSPs, that is an option, at least for while. I would not keep an NSP over a year, rather integrating them ASAP, probably after summer camp when they get a chance to know everyone in the troop.


2)Use Den Chiefs, and start recuiting ASMs and MCs from the WDLs ASAP.


3) Do more than just one activity and work with both the 4th and 5th grade Webelos. Some 4th grades, due to age, can join Scouts (i.e the Cub with the late b-day and must be held back) My ex-DC was like that.


4) Talk about the process on those campouts where you take the parents and tyalk up the program and how the youth do the work. I'd suggest the Cubs got to two meetings: one talkign about the trip and preparing them, then one after the trip and run as normal. That way the Cubs get prepared, and you get 2 chances to talk to the parents.


5) Something i thought about, but haven't used yet: Scenes from FOLLOW ME BOYS. I'd use scenes from the troop first hike with Lem leading as an example of what Webelos is like: adults preparing the cubs to become scouts. An alternate would be the scene by the lake where the canoe sinks.


Then I'd use one of two scenes to show how scouting is suppose to be. My first choice would be the scene with Whitey rescuing the scout on the mountain. That may scare the heck out of folks, so an alternate would be the boys taking charge and building their scout hut.


Actually just thinking about it the scout hutscene may be the better of the two. It shows the scouts taking initiative, and screwing up royally with the hut falling down. BUT it is a great learnign expereince for them and they get right back up to do it right. And that is what Scouting is supose to be: letting the Scouts grow on their own, making mistakes in a safe environment, and leanring.


Goo dluck

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Some people need a lot of structure, some a little, and some hardly any. That's why we have different styles of troops.

In my own troop, the NSP is highly structured and adult led. The other patrols, boy led, may have a structure somewhere. Newbies stay in the NSP until they are signed off on T'Foot.

As long as your troop is not shrinking in size, I would say you're doing OK. You might consider sending two den chiefs to that webelos patrol

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Yah, Thomas54, I can understand da frustration.


If yeh go da route you suggest, yeh might see if your membership committee will give yeh the list of lads who dropped out of cub scouting in your area. In recent years, I've come to think that the boys who drop out of cubs make better boy scouts. Their parents "get" youth independence more than da ones who have been playing den mom for 5 years, and the boys tend to be a bit more active and outdoorsy than those who stick with 5 years of PWD and rain gutter regatta.


Another thought to add to the mix is to have a couple of your (well dressed, good speaker) youth leaders give a talk and slideshow about their program. You know - the Eagle scout fellows that every parent sees their kid becoming. I've always felt that those boys sell the youth led program just by breathing, eh? They're so invested in it that they can't help but doin' anything else.



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I agree: Boys who drop out of Cub Scouts (or knew better than to join in the first place) make better Boy Scouts in a Troop based on Baden-Powell's and Green Bar Bill's "old-fashioned" outdoor adventure.


The place to find them is in the public schools. You can easily register 28% of the sixth-graders if you use this recruiting presentation during school hours:




In theory you could use the same presentation in other venues, but it is based on the power of peer-pressure which works better in large groups.


Yours at 300 feet,





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"Do you provide den chiefs? "

Not currently. There are no brothers in the troop and Den and the we are in a suburban sprawl area where distances and subdivisions are far apart.



"Do you have any adults who offer to work with the pack on outdoor activities?"

-Yes, In additional to the annual Webelos - troop campout which we visit the pack a few times to expalin. We have offered our trailer and held rocket days with the pack.



"Do you strong (or really, any) relationships with pack leadership, den leaders in particular?"

A relationship with the cubmaster. I can call and email her. To your point; it could be better.


"Does the pack and troop do any service or community projects together? "

No. There has been a climate of suspect like we are there to steal and eat their young.

Even if we offered they see no need as the other troop is where they plan to go.



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What you described did not happen overnight. Even so, there is now a culture of a wall between the Pack and the Troop.


The only way you are going to tear down that wall is to work on the relationships, over time, from your side.



Since when is there a requirement for Den Chiefs to have brothers in the Den? Let me be blunt, that is a bloody excuse. Den Chiefing has been a Warrant Office and now a POR since before I was a Cub in 1964. You recruit and send forth boys to have fun, to help play games with younger youth, to learn from other adults, to help with activities with the Cubs, to LEAD elements of the program under the supervision of a Den Leader, with overwatch from one of your ASMs.



You call and email the CM. Wow-wee. Have you ever taken her for a cup of coffee and discussed raising youth? Have you visited with her at Roundtable, or offered her a ride? Have you asked her what kind of service projects the Pack is planning and how can the Troop deepen the coverage of the project? To start a relationship, you have to accept responsibility to go the extra miles.



Program support should be synergistic between a Pack and a Troop. Have you ever thought that the Pack might appreciate hall set-up for B&G? Have you thought of hosting a springtime campfire in even the city park, to entertain the Pack?


I'm sorry I'm being blunt. What has happened, happened for a reason. That reason is neither side fed the relationship between Pack and Troop by working on it, month-in and month out.


Extend the hand of friendship and service. Keep extending it. It won't be today, tomorrow, or maybe even next year, but the relationship can change.

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