Re: So I'm crazy (troop revival)
Fri, 12 Dec 1997 14:54:29 +0000
> So my request to the listmembers is for any suggestions you might have
> of things you've seen work (or seen fail) in reviving an essentially
> dead troop. What sorts of goals should be set, what kind of timeline
> is reasonable, how do you get Webelos to join an unknown situation,
> how do you reach other boys to flesh out the age groups, etc.? I know
> there is a lot of experience in these situations out there, and I
> figure I'll need all the help I can get, so I appreciate any ideas you
> might have.
Congratulations on your new position! And it certainly is reason to celebrate...you
will be able to share your knowledge and experience with a struggling troop.
Just about two years ago I took on the responsibility of reviving a dormant
troop. They dissolved three years earlier after some very disappointing situations.
They evidently almost burned down a camp, they evidently got kicked out of their
sponsorer's meeting area and the did in fact create a bad name for Scouting in the
small community which they were located. So as you can imagine, I had more
opportunities than just recruitment to deal with.
I went in with a very good knowledge of how to have fun since I had been a program
director for five years at a pretty good summer camp. My Scouting
knowledge had just been rekindled after the wood badge experience a few months
earlier. I had two Scouts for our first meeting and now our troop is over 20
members and we're growing larger each month. I don't know if what I did will
work in all cases, but, it may give you some ideas.
1. Set your personal goals for the troop very high. Dream about what you want the
troop to be like in 2 or 3 years.
2. Do lots of stuff- insist on going camping each month. Never, have I had a child
join Scouting by coming to a meeting.
3. Keep your events open to all kids- let them bring friends. If it's a concern of
yours, have the prospective Scout's parents sign the back of the application so at
least you can provide first aid in an emergency.
4. Do new stuff- go places those three kids haven't gone before. Those three kids
might see the "old troop" as a failure. You need to make sure they know that the
future is bright. Get out the cobwebs!
5. Make sure the Scouts are involved in planning. I guarantee that if you leave it
solely up to them your troop will fail. What you need to do is help them "see the
light". Using the your dreams from point number 1., help them envision those
same dreams or to dream even higher.
6. Give incentives for recruiting other friends like: prizes for the top recruiter,
the recruiter strip, a free event, pizza party for every five new kids, etc.
7. Did I mention to keep your events open? Well, if not - KEEP THEM OPEN! Every
event should be a "try Scouting for a day or weekend" type of event. And don't
charge the kids for trying!
8. Go into your school(s). Talk to the kids during their lunch hour, at recess or
whenever they will let you. If the principle won't let you come in at least get
them to hand out flyers, which leads to point number 9.
9. Get a marketing plan! If you camp each month, you have a wonderful selling point
already- now put it on paper. Make up a "cool" two-fold flyer (if you like I can
send you the one I made using Microsoft Publisher- by request). And you have to use
10. Involve your Cub Pack- invite them to a campout to spend a Saturday with you
and let the Webelos sleep over. Do a fun night at the School for both the troop and
the pack and just play games.
11. Now the final point is one that many troops seem to fail on. It is a very
simple concept and we are hearing it very often recently, but, so many seem to
forget that "If you build it- YES, they will indeed come"!!! If you have a good
program... the Scouts will do all the recruiting you will ever need. They will sell
the troop and not even know they're doing it. They'll tell their friends about all
the fun the had the past weekend and their friends will wonder how they can get
Jon, I'm not sure if their is a magic formula or not. However, I know these
some of the things have worked for a little town in Central Wisconsin. As far as a
timeline- I suggest getting one boy a month and then when cross-over time rolls
around, those kids are just a "bonus". Does it sound too simple? Well, believe me
it certainly isn't that difficult. All you need is one or two planning meetings to
schedule your troop through the next year. Then with the SPL figure out what you're
gonna do. I won't get into that here, but, I think it's obvious that your troop
meetings need to also be well organized. There are hundreds if not thousands of
resources to help you plan a program.
In two or so years when you have accomplished your membership goals and have
established your troop, I suggest that where you see the word "you" in the above
suggestions you insert "your Scouts" instead and LET THE BOYS DO IT!!! By then you
will have taught them well:)
Again, congratulations and thank you for taking on such an important responsibility.
But that's just my 2 cents...and since my troop, council and camp can't afford it,
I'll have to pay for it all myself. In other words - these are my own words and
thoughts and do not represent the views of any others...
For A Better Future Through Scouting,
cjm (aka Chris J. Martin)
Camp Director, Tesomas Scout Camp - Rhinelander WI
Scoutmaster, Troop 200 - Rosholt Wisconsin
c-17L-95 A Wild Eagle
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City