Recruiting into Explorers
David D. Miller +49 6221 404415 (DDM@DHDIBM1.BITNET)
Fri, 13 Nov 1992 11:50:20 -0500
Some more ideas: (About 140 lines)
o Have the Post/Ship actively help out with the Troop programs. As a
first step, see what Merit Badges you can help with. Later on, how
about a Venture Crew or Varsity Team, with an experienced Ship member
as Coach, working with the small boats only. (Look at how a
Webelos Den relates to a Scout Troop.)
o Arrange to run an activity base at the District Camporee, using a
Sea Exploring theme: Knotting, Signalling, etc. At some camps, you
may get the opportunity to take a group of Scouts away for a couple
of hours to visit your base, look over the ships and go for a short
o Don't forget that your Post is also open to those who weren't Boy
Scouts. Check if your members have anything else in common, like
the same school, same part of town, skateboarding, liking pizza.
Once you build up a profile of a 'typical member' go out and find
more of the same.
At the same time, go for the potential members who don't share these
common interests. Go out and find something totally new to do as a
Post, and invite friends to take part. Is there any reason why a
Sea Scout Unit shouldn't spend an evening at the opera? Or Air
Scouts taking part in a raft race?
You may decide to spend 50% of the winter meetings and 25% of the
summer meetings doing land-based activities, and use the increased
social time at these to welcome new members.
(One of my most memorable events on an incident hike for Venture
Scouts was teaching them a couple of Scottish country dances in
preparation for the evening's Ceilidh: Teaching them to dance while
they were all wearing their heavy, muddy, winter hiking boots!)
o If there's an APO chapter near you, go and remind them that you're
part of BSA (& WOSM). Many college students are still under 21, and
therefore prospective members. Yes, APO will get most of them, but
every year there will be a couple who want to bypass APO and get back
into real Scouting in the local community.
o Arrange some notice board space where your potential members can see.
And use it! Always keep an up-to-date list of contact points posted,
along with a list of upcoming events. The week before each event
add a notice with full details, and highlight this with "Tomorrow!"
or "Today!" as appropriate. Never leave out-of-date information
on the board: always look to the future.
My former Venture Scout Unit got hold of an A3 (16"x12") space on
the main school notice board, with 800 potential members reading the
official school notices right beside it on a daily basis.
We were often surprised at how much non-Ventures knew about the Unit
and what it did. Although we had well under 5% of the students
registered, we had such a high profile through the board that other
clubs and organizations began to plan to avoid our published program
dates. (And date conflicts _was_ one of the primary reasons given
for not joining...)
o Don't rely on nationally provided promotional posters. Your audience
may not know, or care, what Exploring is, but they might be attracted
by specific activities of a given Post or Ship. Sell the program that
you provide to the youth, and don't try to push Exploring till
you've already recruited them.
I seem to remember hearing somewhere that "Program equals advancement"
for Boy Scouts, and I don't see why it shouldn't hold true for
Explorers as well. After all, the first step of advancement is
o Unless you have separate Exploring Roundtables, see if you can
attend the Boy Scout Roundtable. Also, if any of your Explorers
also work as ASM or as adults in Cubbing, arrange to all turn up in
your Exploring uniform. You can't wear both shirts at once, so take
turn about and raise the profile of Exploring in the District.
o When putting on demos for other organizations, or for friends and
parents, go out of your way to make an impression. If necessary, put
one of your boats on a trailer and push it to the demo site. (Take
down the mast before going under any power lines!) There's nothing
more attention getting than a small sailboat, fully rigged, parked
where it shouldn't be. Just let the sails flap loose so that
there's no chance of blowing over, but also be aware of the danger
of swinging booms over dry land: point it into wind.
o Choose your meeting times and places to allow potential members to
get there and back easily. There's no point in virtually requiring
each and every member to own a car before he can get to the meetings.
If you do hold meetings in unusual places, arrange to meet somewhere
centrally first, and car pool from there. You might need to meet
15-20 minutes earlier, but if that allows four additional people to
take part, it could easily make it worthwhile.
One of the older-boy programs in Heidelberg always meets at the same
time and place as Roundtable. With leaders converging on PHV from
every corner of the community, they have no excuse for not finding
o From the Troops, or otherwise, build up a record of youth too young
for Exploring. Send each and every prospective member in your area
a 14th Birthday card, together with details of the program and
contact points. If they had wanted to be an Explorer when they were
still too young, a gentle and friendly reminder might be enough to
bring them into the fold.
How much does a birthday card cost? How much is a new member worth?
o Instead of paying for advertisements in the local press, why not send
them a Press Release. Give them some news to report, and they should
be happy to report it. In Scotland, we found that a well worded press
release was often printed word for word, and, for things affecting
the whole community (e.g., Scoutpost), on the front page too. With
local papers exchanging 'community interest' stories, some of our
press releases were included in local papers 50 miles away.
Don't forget student papers at the High Schools, but don't expect
too much from them either. One of our A4 (11x8) press releases was
reprinted exactly, reduced to A7 (an eighth of the size) and totally
o Arrange for the Scoutmasters to keep an eye on good Scouts who simply
drop out of the program at age 14+. Once it's been decided that the
Troop can't hold him, pass the name on to the Ship/Post so that they
can 'actively' recruit without a danger of 'poaching'.
Reviewing what I've just typed, together with the notes from Sam and
Mike, there seem to be three basic themes:
- Get the program working as it should
- Publicize everything that you do
- Identify potential membership and target your recruitment energy
Hope these ideas are useful, and successful!
David D. Miller
Scouting in Europe - A Unique Experience
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City