scouts-l Mail Archive for November of 1999: Recruiting Boy Scouts in Schools
Rick Seymour (Rick@KUDU.NET
Sun Nov 14 1999 - 23:12:32 CST
Bruce McCrea writes:
> Have list members had success recruiting Boy Scouts with
> such classroom presentations? What specific topics have
> been discussed? What handouts have been used?
Most importantly, remember that the boys' Three Aims of Scouting are:
CAMPING, CAMPING, CAMPING!
Our Troop does not have a "feeder pack" so we do ALL of our recruiting in
one 30 minute presentation at the school in which we meet. Follow these
suggestions and you may be successful beyond your wildest dreams!
But before that, why are you going to meet in a *classroom*? Yuk! Call
the Principal and try to get the auditorium. Don't be timid! See if there
is a study hall last period of a normal school day in which you can make
your presentation. Did you say these six graders have only a half day of
school? No red-blooded American boy is going to miss out on a half day of
vacation to learn about "Boy Scouts".
The most important ground rule is to bring lots of toys. Long before he
invented Boy Scouts, Baden-Powell said that camping equipment is nothing
less than the instrument through which we may come to understand our Maker.
Don't skimp on this, especially with six graders!
You will need:
1) Authentic pine incense. Arrive about an hour early and light some
right away (you might want to mention it to the Principal first). Close
the auditorium doors so as not to alert anyone with the smell of smoke.
2) An Artificial Campfire. We use a couple dozen neon "candle flame"
bulbs which are more expensive than regular Christmas Bulbs but never burn
out. They are easy to find at this time of year when many suburban
nurseries convert into "Christmas Stores." A flickering red bulb inside a
teepee or log cabin arrangement of sticks will also work. Don't
underestimate this one, I had four boys ask if we used the incense and
campfire at every Troop meeting (we do, but that is another post).
3) One or more free-standing Backpacking Tents. Set this up on the stage
with the campfire (you will be standing down on the floor, a couple feet
from the first row).
4) Back Pack, sleeping bag, stoves, pump water filters, etc.
5) A Real Canoe (of course).
6) CD & Portable CD Player: Find a non-musical environmental sound
recording of a forest at night or a pond at night.
7) Microphone: (They will be excited and difficult for your Scouts to
control during Q&A).
8) 4-6 Clipboards, each with a pen tied to it.
9) A sign-up sheet for each clipboard titled: "YES, I WANT TO GO
CAMPING!!!" include four columns, one each for boy's name, phone number,
parent's names, and favorite camping skill. Leave wide margins for notes
when you call the parents.
10) Boy Scout Handbook
11) Troop Activity Uniforms (This year we all wore our Olive Drab nylon
"zip off" cargo pants with a BSA Uniform Shirt). Dress like you are ready
for Adventure and not a Court of Honor (of course in our Troop that is the
same thing, but that is another post).
Dim the house lights WAY down (to dusk level) before the boys arrive.
This year our SPL was 11 years old, so I handled the first part of the
presentation myself as a Scoutmaster's Ten Minutes. Make sure that you get
them pumped up on High Adventure. Remember the 3 B's: stress anything that
BITES, BURNS, or BREAKS.
Try to devote no more than a half-sentence to the Adult Aims of Scouting
(see www.kudu.net/adults). I tell them "The goal of Scouting is for you to
become a good citizen as a man, but don't worry about that now because you
will be busy learning how to avoid the wild animals."
I hold up a Scout Handbook and tell them that when "you" (all of them, of
course) become Scouts, this will be your "Book of Rules". Rules about how
to handle bears, rattlesnakes, and white water. Rules about how to sharpen
your knife, use an ax, rappel down a cliff, and follow a map & compass into
the wilderness with a backpack. Rules about how to apply first aid so that
you can save a life (I hold up the BSA Certificate of Merit that one of our
Scouts was presented for saving his Dad's life with CPR). Rules about how
to start a campfire with flint and steel (I pull out my BSA Hot Spark and
strike the steel against the flint a couple times. It looks dramatic in
the dim light).
At that point, I tell them they will all need to buy one of these Hot
Sparks, a knife, pack, and clothing for the wilderness (I point to our way
kewl $20 Olive Drab Nylon Zip-Off Cargo Pants, and my polypropylene). I
say that they will have to learn how to use other tools like camp stoves,
water filters, etc (holding them up). I mention at that point that we have
fund-raising events where they can earn the money to buy them.
I finish my Scoutmaster's Ten Minutes (OK, maybe 20) by telling them that
we camp every month, and that we have weekly meetings to learn the camping
skills that we will be using that month. I list the trips we have planned,
and that the Scouts planed these trips, and that the Scouts run the
program. I ask for a show of hands of who "thinks they might want to go
camping next week."
At that point I hand off to my SPL for Questions and Answers while I
circulate the clip boards. Q & A is perfect for boys who are scared of
public speaking because after a year of camping they already know the
answers to all of the questions that will be asked. Even if they can't get
a whole sentence out, there are still another 20 arms staining in the air,
desperately trying to ask a question that just can't wait.
The most important part of the process comes next. That night I call all
of these parents "to see if they have any questions." I keep notes in the
margins of the sign up sheets, and I make sure to follow up if they say
call back. About 15% of the parents will say no right away, and another
15-20% will "forget" to show up the following night.
We arrange our school presentation for the day before our Troop Meeting, so
that there is no lag between their initial excitement and that important
first meeting. The parents bring their sons into the meeting to get our
application forms, Class 2 Physical Forms, and our "Your First Campout
Equipment List." This list is designed to get the boys to camp without
buying any new equipment, while heading off the purchase of any clothing
with cotton content. We do require a closed-cell foam mat ($7) right away.
At this first meeting the SPL shows his pack and explains what they need to
bring camping. Next week's meeting is a shakedown in which the SPL signs
them off on Requirement 1 in their new Scout Handbooks. 24 hours after
that, they are in the woods.
The Scout Handbook is included in the joining fee ($28) so most of them
have their Handbook with them. On the first campout we cover all of the
Tenderfoot Requirements, most of which should be done outdoors anyway
("what to do if lost" is a good example). Getting tested on these
requirements is optional (up to the boys), since it is so time-consuming.
They leave exhausted on Sunday but with a bunch of new skills. A few
Scouts will quit at that point, but the ones who stay seem to like camping
Hope that helps!
Yours in Scouting,
Scoutmaster, Troop 252,
Buffalo, a Beaver, and the Kudu Net too!
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