Re: Boy Scout Recruiting help and ideas - Long Post
Neil Lupton (NeilLup@AOL.COM)
Tue, 2 Dec 1997 00:14:57 -0500
In a message dated 12/1/97 9:44:21 AM, Barry_C_Runnels@MMACMAIL.JCCBI.GOV
<<I have been asked to help lead a one hour class on
I believe this is my favorite topic in Scouts (isn't that a scary thought.)
If I lived near you, I would be happy to work with you in teaching the
class. However, since what we have is e-mail, let's do our best.
On your 3 topics
1. In some councils, the fraction of new Boy Scouts are graduating Webelos
Scouts can be as high as 75% or higher. Virtually every council has 50% or
more of its new Boy Scouts as graduating Webelos Scouts. And if you add in
the new boys who were Tiger Cubs or Cub Scouts but didn't earn the AOL and
graduate, the fraction goes much higher.
This isn't saying that we shouldn't try to find the boys who have never been
connected with Scouting, but realistically, they are a very small fraction of
new boys. On the other hand, we can use older Cub Scout rosters as a
potential recruiting tool IF we convince the boys who dropped out that Boy
Scouting is something they want to do and not the same old thing that they
dropped out of.
2. My numbers are a bit old, but I believe they are pretty good. If you
take 100 11 year old Scouts, approximately half (50) will remain at age 12.
If you then keep watching them, the number will be cut in half again at age
13, leaving 25 Scouts. And it will be cut in half again at 14 leaving about
12 Scouts. After that, I believe the drop off is a bit more severe.
3. Here are some tips and principles for recruiting Boy Scouts:
a. Boy join the Boy Scouts because their friends ask them to join. This is
unlike Cub Scouts where a district can hold a School Night for Scouting and
parents will bring their sons and sign them up. By and large, School Nights
do not do much for Boy Scouting. Members must be recruited one-by-one.
This means that you have to convince your current members to risk
embarrassment by asking friends to come to a meeting and then having the
friend reject the invitation or make fun of them. But that is possible.
Boys like Recruiter badges; if your council offers them, make them available
to any boy who recruits another boy who signs up. Maybe you could hold a
special campout or special event for recruiters.
Try to avoid having one boy ask another "Would you like to join the Boy
Scouts?" or "Would you like to join my Boy Scout troop?" as the cold
question. It is much better if it can be "Would you like to come to this ball
game with me?" or "Would you like to come on this hike with me?" I know one
troop which holds a local track meet to which potential new members are
invited. And prizes galore are given.
At the beginning of the Scouting year, you have the 7th grade- 6th grade
problem. If you didn't get any Webelos Scouts, all your Scouts are 7th
graders and you need to get 6th graders who may be at a different school. If
there are any younger brothers or other contacts into the younger grade, you
need to use it. Often 7th graders want nothing to do with 6th graders.
If you did get some Webelos Scouts to transition, they are your best
recruiters. You might actually make recruiting a monthly theme and practice
asking friends to come. You also might want to sit in on patrol meetings or
patrol corners and ask the Webelos Scouts to identify who might be interested
and whom they might ask to participate. Help each boy to make a list and, if
possible, get a commitment that he will ask the boys on his list.
2. The first meeting is key. Make it very friendly, exciting and full of
welcoming adventure. If possible, have a friendly member ready to work with
each recruit. If you have your troop guides picked, let them get to know the
new boys. Toward the end of the meeting, indicate that they will be helping
new members to get settled and welcomed into the troop.
Make sure the new members get to do some kind of Scouting skill they couldn't
do otherwise. One thing I used to like was having a fire made and ready to
make twist on a stick. I made sure that each new boy had a chance to try
baking twist and get it right. This was very special for them. You also
could have a small monkey bridge or other such thing. The idea is to make it
very exciting and very different very quickly.
Play an exciting game where everyone can use up energy and do well.
Toward the end of the meeting, talk about the camping and outdoor plans of
the troop. I am not sure if you want to show slides of where you have been;
maybe a continuous slide show could be part of the preopening. But make it
clear that the troop is going places and new members will get to go.
Talk a little about advancement. Maybe a quick Court of Honor where some
badges are presented even if they have been presented previously or will be
Have a nice closing ceremony and toward the end, personally invite, or if you
have a lot of new members, have some adult personally invite the boy to
return next meeting. No more than that. Of course if he can't make it, be
sure he knows he is welcome at the meeting after that. Be sure that you know
who recruited him and have that person invite him again to the second meeting
a couple of days before the meeting.
At the second meeting, I would consider having the new boys start functioning
as a new boy patrol with a Troop Guide and an ASM-New Boy. Hopefully you
will need more than one Troop Guide and ASM-New Boy
3. You need to decide about parents. You may want to invite them for the
first meeting and some may come anyway. Have some committee members ready to
talk with them about Scouting. They may want to know what they are expected
to do. This is your chance -- don't disappoint them. But don't seem
If you don't have parents at the first meeting, you need to contact the
parents pretty quickly and either get them to the second or third meeting or
meet with them personally to set out reasonable expectations and get
4. Don't necessarily be too quick to sign the boys up. I know one troop
that wouldn't give the troop neckerchief until a boy had attended four
meetings. If we act as though membership is special, it will be. If we act
desperate, they will pick it up. On the other hand, if a boy clearly wants
to join at his first meeting (I know I did) you may choose to sign him up.
5. You might want to have a one page flyer to give to the boys to go to
their parents giving names, troop information, etc. Let them know who to
contact to find out more.
6. Consider phoning each the boys who dropped out of the troop during the
past year and inviting them back (probably at a different meeting). Ask why
they dropped. Most will not come back, but, for a good troop, about 1/3
will. But it is tough and embarrassing for a boy to come back to a place he
quit unless he knows he will be welcome.
7. Occasionally, a new boy will just show up a troop meeting. Have eyes in
the back of your head for such a boy. Make sure he is welcomed and you know
8. Finally, you can do everything right like this and have one boy show up,
or even no new boys for the first meeting. If that happens, make the boy
extremely welcome. and don't be bothered. It does happen. It means that
your boys paid lip service to asking friends but didn't really do it. You
then need to figure out if you can get to the parents of one or two of these
potential new boys to start the ball rolling.
One of the best Scoutmasters I ever knew twice grew troops from about 8 boys
to well over 50 boys. He said that he had two tricks: The first was to get
to know his local cubmaster and pack and get every single Webelos Scout. The
second was to publicize every event that they did. He took a camera on
campouts, took pictures of the boys, wrote an article at home on Sunday night
with the names of every boy participating and made sure it went into the
local papers. I don't know if a troop web page does the same; I suspect that
it doesn't to the same extent. But boys and parents love to see their names
in the paper. We know the extent to which youth sports does this -- we should
If I were running your session, I would probably run a 20-30 minute Effective
Teaching type presentation on these principles of membership and recruiting,
then I would break the group into patrol sized groups for about 15-20 minutes
of developing a plan for recruiting for a troop. I would then have the
groups report ideas one at a time going among the patrols until all good
ideas are out.
I really welcome thoughts from other leaders on how to do this. It is such
an important topic which some troops do really well and some are poor.
I hope this helps you.
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City