Re: Back to School Night
settummanque, or blackeagle (blkeagle@DYNASTY.NET)
Tue, 29 Jul 1997 17:25:21 -0500
>The Committee Chairperson and the Cub Master are both new at this, and
>are looking at the all knowing Scoutmaster (please don't give me away)
>for instruction as to what to do next. Well, I've never been involved
>with registration night before and I'm not sure if there is anything I
>should pay close attention to. All I was going to do was set the mood
>with a mock up camp site (maybe some Dutch Oven Cooking and Camp
>Gadget demos) and Games for the kids while parents are asking >questions.
First off, BIG OL' KUDOS to your Senior Patrol Leader for coming up with
using your Troop meeting place for a Back to School Night program. This
speaks highly on him and I'm hoping that you've let him know that (in
addition to causing him some minor headaches here and there!) he's done great!
And by all means, extend that hand over to the Girl Scouting leaders in your
area as well....they would welcome the chance to work alongside and with Boy
Scouting and Cub Scouting, and those that may not want to be Boy Scouting
leaders would certainly be welcomed as Girl Scouting leaders!
"Back to School Night" should be a way for your units to demonstrate what
Scouting is all about and to convince FAMILIES that they need to be a part
of the program. I've capped the word "families" because as we all know,
it's almost a given that we can get kids to join Scouting; it's getting Mom,
Dad and Granny to rail behind the Scout that's a hard sell.
What should happen and how should it happen?
First, assign some Scouts and parents together to do these critical items:
*Registration: Everyone that comes in the door should be noted on a pad and
paper. Why?? Because there's a lot of parents that come to the School
Night, but don't have time to stick around for the "whole shooting match".
Others will be handed applications but that's all we see of them.
Still others will give us a phone number or address, but it's even harder to
reach them. So, give them a chance to get their names down on paper, along
with a phone number and the age of their kid. In exchange, give them a
nametag with their first name and color-coded: parents of potential Cubs,
blue; parents of potential Scouts, red; other adults and youth, black.
Make sure that ALL of your staff people and ALL of your Scouts are wearing a
nametag. One of the most frustrating things that parents tell me is that "I
don't know who to talk to about my kid....I went to you because you have the
uniform with all of the stuff, and you seem to know what's going on (even
though I don't).
That first name will allow those answering questions to directly address
those parents by their (first) name.
*Activities: You need to have something going on for the parents (talk,
yeah, but some hands-on stuff for parents to do that'll give them some idea
of what Cub Scouting is all about) and for the kids (that includes the
"tag-along" girls and younger boys that will come with Mom and/or Dad.
Otherwise, you'll have a lot more "walkouts" because it'll be hard to deal
with squirming younger sibs and listening to how Scouting will bring your
family together!). Think small, not huge. Remember, you're wanting to give
them an IDEA of what Scouting is about, you don't want to immerse them into
*Memories and Things We've Done: THIS is the time to bring out those memory
books for Tiger Cubs, the slides and photos for Cub Scouting, and the
videotapes and photos and websites and all of the rest that tells your
unit's story. This is the place to bring those "brag vests", the blanket
full of patches, the "trappings"...if you feel unconfortable about wearing
the stuff around, borrow a couple of maniquins from a local store (better
yet, in addition, ask them if you can display a complete Scout uniform and a
card stating when and where your School Night for Scouting will be held and
place it in the window!!) and use them there!
When I was a District Commissioner, I made arrangements with all of our
District's retail stores (Wal-Mart, K-Mart, the Post Exchange, the other
children's clothing store)
to display either a Cub Scout or Boy Scout uniform (I would come in there
the day before the week of the School Nights and dress them) along with a
card I'd made with the dates and locations of the School Nights. During the
School Nights, we would GIVE THE UNIFORM AWAY (actually a coupon good for
the uniform the next day at the retailer...that's so I didn't have to go in
the next day and take it all down!!) to a new Cub or Boy Scout. The Council
didn't like it (they didnt' think of it), and my wife didn't like it (you've
done WHAT??), but it sure brought in a lot of kids AND THEIR PARENTS that
hoped to at least win a uniform!
*Technical Arrangements: You need to insure that there's enough seating
there for all parents; you need to make sure that the AC's working, and that
there's enough parking. You wouldn't believe what a bunch of Scouts waiting
around to find a parking place for you, to show you where to go inside, and
to help you find a seat will do for a new parent ("Man, if Scouts will do
this for MY CHILD...."). You need to also make sure that you have a "Plan
B" in case it rains outside while you're doing the food demos; that you have
a way to contact the police or fire department (it happens sometimes, and
it's NOT the kids that it happens to!); and that you have a way that
everyone knows when "they are on".
Keep the demos and the talking down to 15 minutes or less a person.
That way, parents don't get "bunsitis", squiming kids don't get too busy,
and the content "sinks in". Make sure that you give some time to your
Commissioner and the District's Executive if they want it.
Offer some songs. Play some songs for the "singing incapable". Use a
portion of one of the BSA's Jamboree or other special event videotapes.
Plan the program in a lot of ways just like you would a unit meeting.
Afterwards, STICK AROUND. Those questions and concerns that parents won't
ask during the regular session WILL be asked during the standing-around
while folks are leaving. Make sure to have lots of applications, lots of
pens (that works!! *grinning*) and try to get those registrations filled out
and money collected THAT NIGHT (it's harder with every day afterwards to get
that money!) and given to ONE person (staplers are a MUST here; you can
staple the money in a baggie to the application so that they don't get lost.
That ONE person should also have $50 in change (fives and ones) so that
those "only have a ten; can I pay you later on" can be answered with "we
have change...see Sally over there!!"
That person should take those applications and money down to the Council
office the NEXT DAY.
The event should take up two to three hours, not an hour and half as the
"books" will tell you....the actual School Night should take up the hour and
a half; the other time before and after are spent getting things ready and
getting things back to "normal". Afterwards, don't forget to thank those
coming to the event, by a note, a letter or a phone call. Make sure to
followup on those attending but left early or didn't have "the money" to
join right now, and make sure that your District's Executive and
Commissioner have a listing of those attended so that he or she can followup
after your followup (it always sounds better with someone not connected to
your unit calling up)!!
Hope this all helps you out, Allen!! Let us know how it turned out!
(c) 1997 Mike Walton ("no such thing as strong coffee,...") (502) 827-9201
(settummanque, the blackeagle) http://dynasty.net/users/blkeagle
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