Scouts-L Mail Archive for September of 1999: Re: New Scouts. How to get 'em? How to keep 'em??
Re: New Scouts. How to get 'em? How to keep 'em??
Thu, 9 Sep 1999 11:32:08 -0400
Those are the questions, aren't they. Indeed our troop had a couple of
weak recruiting years and with the loss of boys to sports and other
activities we got down to about 5 Scouts. Clearly we needed some fresh
One of our committee memebers took it upon himslef to jump start our
recruiting efforts. He did several things. Most of which revolved
around getting Webelos familiar with our troop. He did such things as:
1. Sought out activities for our troop to be seen at Cub/Webelos
activities. We now help the organizers of such things as
Webelos Woods and our District Cub campout. We put up our
monkey bridge, lash signal towers and serve as the "model
campsite" at any such function that will have us. That gets
the troop in front of a lot of possible recruits. We credit
our Scouts with service credit for the time they put in. We
are, in fact, serving Scouting when we do these things.
2. He got active with the pack that was sponsored by his church. That
institution does not sponsor a Scout Troop. For that pack we
(Scouts and leaders) have helped run the Pinewood Derby and done
other service to enrich the pack's activities.
3. We now sponsor a campout in March where we host Webelos. Whether the
Webe's might join our troop or not they are invited. Both first
and second year Webelos are invited. Our Scouts set up a
program of Scoutcraft activities such as cooking, pioneering,
fire building and orienteering for the Webelos to participate
in. We try to hold it where fishing is available and encourage
the Webelos and their adult partners to enjoy the area and have
a good time.
What winds up happening is that we demonstrate what Boy Scouting is
about to MANY of the guys who will be joining a troop in the next two
year. Only a very few of the Webelos that see us actually join OUR
troop, but I think more of them join A troop after seeing what we show.
Since we have started these programs we do seem to get a lot more
visits from Webelos who are about to cross over.
We try to be ready for these visits and have an activity, led by a
Troop Guide or other youth leader, like fire building, rope making, or
making friendship bracelets. It is particularly good if the Webelos
can take something that they made home. While they are busy with our
Scouts I take the time to orient the parents. I describe the kind
of activities our troop does, what a typical yearly schecule and the
administrative things like dues, registration fees and escrow accounts.
I also give the parents a short comparison on how Cubs/Webelos is
different from Boy Scouts. How advancement works. Who signs off on
requirements. Summer Camp. How the boy is expected to take more
responsibility for keeping up with his advancement needs. Even if the
Webe does not join our troop his parents are better informed on how to
get him off to a good start in Boy Scouting.
There are other good sources of new members for a Scout troop, but
every year a fresh crop of Webelos graduate. They are an important
source of memebers and if we encourage as many of them to continue in
Scouting as possible it will help fill the ranks of ALL of our troops.
Of course once you get 'em holding them is a different problem. I
think a good strong program run by youth leaders as much as possible
will retain Scouts best. Our troop is located in a fairly urban area
with plenty of other activities available to Scout age youth. We do
have a greater drop out rate than I would prefer, but I look at Scouting
as a chance to serve whatever youth we can in whatever way we can. Do
your best and remember that a boy who is only in the troop for a year
or two still benefits from the experience.
Yours in the spirit of Scouting,
Dan O'Canna Lexington, Kentucky