"So, NOW we have to meet this figure. How?"
Wed, 27 Nov 1996 20:22:41 -0600
This is a contination of my previous posting on the Quality Unit Award
change and how you can become a Quality Unit with a LITTLE bit of
NO, this does NOT involve "splitting dens", patrols or crews. All that does
is "buy you time", because the REAL problem is that we don't have as many
boys (and young girls) that want to become a part of our program as we used
The pool, which used to be larger than life, it seemed, has finally caught
up with life in the 90s, and you can almost see the murky bottom of the pool
from the surface!
This won't work if your unit is less than three months from rechartering.
I'm sorry, but you just won't be a Quality Unit in 1997. That's NOT a
"death sentence", no
matter who says it is.....
Quality Unit/District/Council was originally designed to do ONE thing and
only ONE thing for the movement: make us aware that it takes MORE than
bodies and money to have a successful program at each level. It takes
PROGRAM, and all of the elements of programming (which includes membership
to a point). That's why you had the Boys' Life goal, the advancement goal,
the trained leadership goals and the outdoor activity goals in the Quality
COMMITTMENT sheet (note the word).
You and your unit were COMMITTING yourselves to making your program better
each year by meeting as many of the requirements as you can.
Somehow, "Quality" got intertwined with "SUPERIOR" as in "exceeding the best".
Your unit can be a terrible unit program-wise and STILL be a Quality Unit.
That was one of my *beefs* (complaints) with the program and it still is.
As long as you
went to summer camp, had two adults, and said that you allowed your boys to
plan their program (there was no proof that they did the program planning!),
you could truck down to the Council office with your blue copy, pick up all
of the QU stuff your unit account can handle, hand it all out and chalk up
another year for Scouting!
So, you have a Troop or Pack and you are three months from Quality
Unit/Recharter status. What do we do and how do we meet it?
Start with a "critical meeting" of ALL of the adults in your unit, even
those that have NEVER attended anything else. Explain the problem: We need
to find ways to keep the number of boys in our unit and at the same time,
attract a couple more.
There will be LOTS of suggestions, and you should do your best to capture
them on a whiteboard, chalkboard, butcher paper, or on tape. Then, you will
need to turn around, look each person in the eyes and say "Do I have YOUR
support?" You will need every adult's support before you move onward, so if
you don't have it...you will need it.
Next, sit down with the senior boys in your Troop or the Den Leaders in your
Pack. Explain to them what you've explained to the adults earlier. This
will mean that you will need to get committements from each boy within the
next month (you can call it a pre-charter). This means that you need to
inventory each and every family EARLY and find out "who's staying" and
At the same time, ask your leadership to plan some special activities for
in addition to the ones that were previously planned (or if there were none
planned, plan some!!). There's two emphasis here: one is on attracting the
youth that you will potentially lose at rechartering time and the other is
letting those members know that they are valued and a part of a "winning
team", as Quality Unit becomes
the "goal" (it should be all year round, but not many Scouters pay it any
attention until a month before recharter time).
The second month should include some sort of fun contest or game which is
designed to "keep the group together". If Scouts and Scouters know that
they are appreciated, they will tend to stick around longer EVEN if they had
plans to "move onward" to another unit. Of course, there's nothing that can
be done for those moving to another community. But there IS something you
can do to retain those that are still there.... also, during this time, you
should be approaching local newspapers and newsletters (leave the TV and
radio to the Council...most times,
unless you live in a small community and have the benefit of a local radio
or TV station, you are competing with several other Scouting units and
possibily (depending on rechartering time) your Council itself). Go local.
Use those local resources that you KNOW that some parents and young people
will hear or see.
Tell your UNIT's story...what you did at summer camp, what do you did at
Troop or Pack meetings, the great guest that came to visit your unit, the
and your Eagle Scouts. Keep it LOCAL, keep it upbeat, and don't mention
"we're recruiting". Let your PROGRAM SELL YOUR UNIT. When that reporter or
editor ask "are you recruiting?" simply state: "We're ALWAYS open for new
members and adults whom are looking for fun and excitement all year round."
The highlight of the second month should be either a Court of Honor or a
special campout in which the parents are invited to come out for. Again,
this should be something you've planned with the youth of your unit or in
the case of Cub Scouters, with your Den Leaders. While a campout would be
nice for Cubbers, a special Pack Meeting with an outdoor theme would work
just as well. The message here is that "Scouting is outing", and that if
you want more outing, just stick around.
The third month is recharter month. Everyone's running around trying to
collect money and insuring that applications are complete. Try to
accomphish this BEFORE this month....like at that Court of Honor or Pack
Meeting, when you have the parents there and their money (and they *see* the
benefit of another year's Scouting!). This month should be spent on
"getting last-minute" applications and
A word about "prepayment of registration fees", and this is *my* opinion:
Don't. When a unit prepays everyone's fees, it assures them Quality Unit.
KNOW this. What it also insures is a lackluster program somewhere in the
middle of the coming year, which is part of the root of our program. When I
don't have to
pay for Scouting with REAL DOLLARS that I or my parents have to fork over,
WHY CONTINUE TO COME? Okay, so I wash a few cars and flip some burgers to
get my registration fees paid....what if I refuse to participate?? We've
talked about that problem here a few weeks back....the important thing here
is, from *my
perspective*, is that everyone....youth members, parents, and adult
leaders....must "buy into the program" and believe that their program is the
BEST program in town.
It may not be. It may be one of several BEST programs. But the kids in
your unit don't need to know that...they need to know and be constantly told
that what they are doing is important, what they are doing is worth the time
and money, and the UNIT needs them.
Yes, this is a carefully crafted recruting plan, but its something that all
units should be doing all year round. The renewed interest in increasing
the BSA's membership and unit figures has forced us to relook at the way
that we "gear up" for rechartering. My approach is one of several, and I
encourage others out there to come up with plans that have worked for
them...that way, you can "pick and choose" and put together the strategies
which will work best for YOUR unit.
Don't mislead your youth or adults: Quality Unit is a GOAL, but it is ONLY
a GOAL. If you don't meet it this year, there's next year and the year
The OVERALL, FAR REACHING, IMPORTANT EMPHASIS is on "delivering the Promise"
to every youth member that comes through the doorway of your meeting place.
Quality Unit/District/Council will get your there....but it's PROGRAM...your
unit's program, planned and coordinated by youth members at all times when
possible...THAT is what is going to turn those numbers back around.
Not all of the commercials and favorable press is going to do what you and I can
do as Scouters...create and maintain the environment for a QUALITY PROGRAM.
Finally, some words about the importance of Quality Unit in the next posting!
(MAJ) Mike L. Walton (Settummanque, the blackeagle)
(Brigade) Signal Officer, TF 21, 21st Theater Army Area Command
Kaiserslautern, Federal Republic of Germany
"everything I say is "on the record"; speaking ONLY for myself unless indicated"
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Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City