Re: Recruiting for National/World Jamborees and Explorer Conferences
Amick Robert (amick@spot.Colorado.EDU)
Wed, 17 Sep 1997 17:13:19 -0600 (MDT)
We have found that direct marketing to the youth and their parents works
best both for world and national jamborees and for National Explorer
Leadership Conferences. National Law Enforcement Explorer Conference
seems to take care of itself because the Law Enforcement posts have been
doing these for a long time (20+ years) and they are always "sold out"
with a waiting list. The old Explorer Congresses and Explorer Olympics
similarly had huge participation because they were established as "the
events to go to" and were held in opposing years. Both were
discontinued in the early 80's and are only now starting to regain
momentum in the form of the NELC.
Our greatest successes for jamboree and NELC were presentations by youth
who had been to a previous jamboree or NELC. To implement the
presentation, we made an appointment with the unit to bring a "dog and
pony" show to their meeting, and made sure the parents would be present
with the youth so they could see first hand what was involved, what the
benefits were and what the costs would be. Additionally, we provided
literature and handouts about how to raise money, what the probable up
front and "hidden" costs would be, and shared success stories of other
scouts/explorers who completely or partially financed their own trip.
As others have pointed out, the key to successful recruiting lies mainly
in getting the individual scout or explorer interested and excited about
the trip. Showing the Jamboree Video (world and national) and equivalent
video/slides from NELC has been the
real "hook" to get them interested. Then we "set the hook" by having
their fellow Scouts/Explorers relate their own experiences at the previous
events, show off "jamboree junk" (patches, traded international uniforms,
explorer post tee-shirts, etc.) Lots of photo albums, awards, displays,
etc. are also useful.
It is recommended that the jamboree/NELC promotions chairs recruit teams
of youth and adults willing to go out and make custom presentations to as
many units as will have them as "guest speakers." Our experience was that
we only had to offer and units jumped at the chance. It is rare that a
unit leader will turn down an opportunity for a ready-made program brought
to their unit meeting. It is still OK to do presentations at roundtables,
summer camps, Explorer events/EOA meetings, but remember that the folks
you are trying to reach directly are most available at unit meetings.
If you have a geographically large council, it may be advisable to recruit
teams from other districts to be responsible for the units in their
district. Develop a "strategic plan" to make presentations to all units
on a calendared basis. You can get a list of all current unit leaders and
committee chairs from the district/council offices and then start setting
up appointments with them. Sometimes you can combine presentations for
small units into one evening. We have found that just doing a "jamboree
rallye" night or equivalent NELC group presentation is not well attended
and misses many youth and parents that otherwise might be interested.
Naturally, the more expertise and enthusiasm the presenters have, the more
likely it is that Scouts/Explorers and their parents are likely to get
caught up in the excitement and to commit to a trip.
The remarkable recruiting success of the Cascade Pacific and Utah National
Parks Councils et al, were a testimony of the effectiveness of early and
intensive recruiting. This "once-in-a-lifetime" experience should be made
available to as many Scouts/Explorers who may have the interest, desire,
and ability to attend.
Obviously, the importance of a "standing national/world jamboree
committee" and an equivalent counterpart for NELC in the Council Exploring
Committee are important to maintaining the continuity and momentum for the
next event. Those committees that only "start up" about 18 months before
the event are already way behind the "power curve" on filling their
One of the really big competitors for Jamboree and NELC are the school
trips. Parents will often say that "well, our school is doing a trip to DC
and it doesn't cost as much as jambo/NELC, so why should we pay more to go
to the same area." This of course is a golden opportunity to point out
that the schools simply cannot offer the jamboree/NELC experience which is
far more enriching and meaningful to the youth than an ordinary school
tour of the east coast (or wherever).
One very effective way to overcome the "huge cost" argument is to show
creative ways of saving so much each month toward the trip, and starting
early enough to make it feasible for even the disadvantaged to go. We were
able to scholarship one of our minority Scouts who otherwise would have
had no chance to attend, and I can tell you that he was just ecstatic
about the whole trip..it has literally changed his life.
Other possibilities are scholarships or grants from various community
service groups or businesses. You have to clear this with Council to
avoid "stepping on toes" of their prime FOS contributors, but often if the
need is shown to various service clubs or other philanthropic groups, they
will help. It is important to stress that only Scouts/Explorers who have
no other resources should benefit from such opportunities. Most
Scouts/Explorers can start a fund-raising campaign through a variety of
fundraisers, such as popcorn sales, odd-jobs, car washes, etc.;
(one of ours raised the entire cost of his national jambo trip through BSA
popcorn sales in just a few months...another raised his entire world
jamboree cost by selling aluminum beverage cans...both were in the
I share the frustration of those who are met with a response by some unit
leaders of "oh, that's way too expensive for our kids, they would be
better off going on a high adventure trip or something less expensive.."
These folks have no right to make such decisions, and it should be
tactfully pointed out to them that it is really not up to them to make
such judgements, but rather it is the Scout/Explorer and parent's
decision. So in fairness, they should welcome a presentation. If that
doesn't work, sometimes, it helps to go to the unit committee chair or COR
and appeal for the right to make the presentation. Fortunately, this
resistance is very rare.
I fully support starting right now with cub scouts who will be old enough
to attend the next national. Going to pack meetings and making a jambo
presentation is certainly appropriate and a great way to get them
interested in joining Scouts while looking forward to going to jamboree.
If they start working on fundraising right away, they can easily have
enough saved up to go to at least a national, if not a world jamboree, and
then they can also be educated about Exploring conferences as well.
Again the key word is EARLY promotion and recruiting for all jamborees and
NELC. I think the web and list-serves will greatly enhance this, but
there is nothing quite like face-to-face pro-active recruiting. Passive
recruiting in newsletters and through media have been shown to have little
if any positive effect.
Bob Amick, Explorer Advisor, High Adventure Explorer Post 72, Boulder, CO
Longs Peak Council Jamboree Committee Promotions Chair;
Longs Peak Council Exploring Training Chair