By Darryl Alder
Sep 04, 2019

Scout Ambassador Toolchest: Knowing the Youth Market (Part 2)

AMBASSADOR’s
TOOLCHEST
1-Knowing your market 
• Finding Charter Partners 
• Finding Youth (Part 1 & Part 2)
2-Making sales calls 
Closing the Deal
Delivering to Families
3-Building your unit (packs, 
troops, and crews) 
•  Recruiting Youth
Unit Operations 
Selecting Leaders
Leader Training 
The role of Parents 
Funding Your Unit 
4- Growing your units 
Quality Commissioner Service 
Spring/Fall Recruiting
Social Media Tool for Marketing

In our last two posts, we have been filling your tool chest with basic marketing tools; in the most recent post we considered the “low hanging fruit” found in boys on the trail to Eagle. Once you have that group gathered and your new troop is running, it will be time to grow it.

First, though, a quick three-part overview of Boy Scout recruiting. There are at least three good ways to do this, according to Bryan Wendell, at Bryan on Scouting:

  1. Host a troop open house.
  2. Encourage peer-to-peer recruiting.
  3. Graduate Webelos from Cub Scouting into Boy Scouting.

Hold a Troop Open House/Recruitment Rally.

Hold a Troop Open House/Recruitment Rally.
Hold a Troop Open House/Recruitment Rally that shows Scouting’s adventure.

Hosting a troop open house or a recruitment rally is the best way to recruit directly. However, the first step is to get your troop operating well so that you can showcase what Scouting does well, providing youth outdoor adventures with their friends and taking them cool places like camp.

Tom Bougan, Scoutmaster Troop 1539. in Bremerton, Washington
Tom Bougan, Scoutmaster of Troop 1539. in Bremerton, Washington, says: “The year after my son joined the troop in 2003, we had 0 visitors and 0 new Scouts, so we put together a plan which included an annual Webelos campout, an Open House, and pushed for Den chiefs– we also more than doubled our annual camping (from 12 to 26 campouts/year) — the troop has grown from 19 to 65 scouts and has been at the 60+ number since 2011
1) You have to have the program- boys don’t join to go to meetings- 
2) You have to be visible- wearing the uniform on outings is a must – great advertising
3) We had carabiner key rings made with the troop number on it (great handout items to cub scouts or interested boys)
4) MOST importantly, when boys visit your troop, your scouts have to be friendly and welcome them :)”

Usually, the target market we are after is youth who have completed the fifth grade and are in the sixth grade. But our situation is a bit different this year, ambassadors should identify every boy who has completed the 5th grade and who is 10 years old or is an Arrow of Light and 10 years old in current packs. Contact the parents of these boys to help them join your troop’s New Scout Patrol during the Troop Open House/Recruitment Rally.

Scout-age youth do not consider receiving a flier as a real invitation to join your troop. The best way to recruit is to engage their imagination with an interactive presentation. When a flier is long forgotten, a model campsite with a camp kitchen, peach cobbler in a Dutch oven, backpacks, and tents will get real results. If setting up a model campsite is not feasible, a Scout dressed for a backcountry outing and carrying a well-equipped backpack could be an effective youth presenter to youth.

Plan a brief program, show displays of troop activities and equipment, and have Scouts available to answer questions about the troop for the Webelos. At the same time, you and other adults help parents understand what is expected of them as well as their son or daughter.

Your open house allows the troop to swing open its doors and roll out the red carpet to welcome potential new Scouts and their parents. It provides a forum for your troop to show off their Scouting skills and plans, especially summer camps.

Youth-to-Youth Recruiting

The most effective recruiter is an excited, enthusiastic Scout who has just completed the challenge of his lifetime (so far!) with his troop. Scouts should be encouraged to invite their friends to join the troop and to become a member of their patrol.

Peer-to-Peer recruitment cards were created to help families promote Scouting to their friends. These invitation cards feature eye-catching resources created for recruitment campaigns, showing youth engaged in fun-filled activities. The cards provide easy-to-use templates that serve as a tool in overcoming the recruitment challenges caused by limited access to youth in schools.

In 2014, and after extensive research, the BSA determined peer to peer recruitment (youth speaking to youth or friend to friend) is the most effective way to enroll members into a Cub Scout Pack, Boy Scout troop, or Venturing crew. But then just three years later they discovered that parent-to-parent social media marketing was more effective than traditional School Nights for Scouting. Our next post explores all three of these ways to reach new youth.

A First Class rank requirement states that a Scout must invite a friend to a troop activity. To help the Scout meet this requirement, an easy-to-use e-card is available here. Print these cards and challenge the youth to recruit their friends to the troop. Offer incentives to each Scout who brings in a friend, as well as an overall prize for the top recruiter.

Parent-to-Parent Recruiting and Social Media

Satisified parents who tell other parents about how Scouting is helping their children, is more powerful than any advertising campaign. With the launch of Scouts BSA, the national council offered some bits of help “like a Facebook frame, hashtags, and ready-to-post social content.”

Your own Instagram, Pinterest, Tweets and Facebook posts will go a long way to tell the story of your new troop. But if you take the time to tell your story on local Facebook groups, you will find amazing success.

Also, your troop could benefit from its own social media specialist to build sites for the troop. One Scouter wrote, “Social media is a great tool. A lot of troops keep the excitement of their program ‘hidden’ and the adventures that they have become somewhat of a well-kept secret that is only shared with those who went or those already in the troop.

“Show off what you are doing! Share photos (and videos) of your troop in action. If your friends (and their friends) and the Scout’s friends can see the action and excitement of what the troop is doing then they’ll want to get involved. But if they think it’s just dull meetings in a church basement, popcorn selling and boring campouts at a local park, well they won’t think twice about joining the Scouts.

“However, if their Facebook newsfeed is filled with photos of the troop rock climbing last weekend, or canoeing at summer camp, or planning to launch model rockets at a troop meeting, or whatever… and they see Scouts their age (or their son’s age) having fun… well that might peak their interest.”

Social media is such a powerful tool that when tested for membership marketing in Cub Scout Packs in Circle 10 Council, it became the preferred method. Just take a look a this YouTube video on their site.

By the way, it is important to know and use BSA’s Social Media Guidelines.

Graduate Webelos from Cub Scouting into Boy Scouting.

Do you have boys who want to continue being a Cub Scout in 2020? …Unfortunately, there is NOT a “one size fits all” or even a “one size fits most” solution for the current Scout who’s unit (pack or troop) is chartered by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Each and every individual boy needs an individual assessment of where they are at now, where they want to go, and where they need to be when they join a new pack or troop. Each boy needs his own personalized plan for 2019 to be ready to make the move into a “community/traditional” pack if they choose to. We want that transition to be as smooth as possible and to give the boy and family the type of Scouting experience they are looking for.”—Annaleis Smith in HOW CUB SCOUTS CAN “DO THEIR BEST” TO “BE PREPARED” FOR 2020

There is a long tradition for Scout Troops to partner with packs so that their Webelos Scouts can graduate into a troop seamlessly. Normally that would work anywhere else but here; most of our packs are going away in December along with our troops.

But if you can get a second Ambassador in your neighborhood working on building a pack, do it. And as Wendell says, “Focusing on Cub Scouts makes sense. Why not introduce families to the adventure of Scouting as early as possible?”

For Cub Scout recruiting,there
are many good resources at the
MMarketing and Membership Hub 
to help packs grow, but not 
so much for troops.

So your new troop committee ought to get serious early on about this Webelos to Scout Transition. Waste no time assigning a member of the troop committee the responsibility of membership growth, including all three recruiting methods described in this post.

Working with this membership chairperson, ambassadors should identify every boy who has completed the 5th grade and who is 10 years old or is an Arrow of Light and 10 years old in current packs. Contact the parents of these boys to help them join your troop’s New Scout Patrol.

Then when your pack gets started, try these ideas from Hayley Cordaroso to help Boy Scout recruiting from your pack be an ongoing project:

  1. “Select Scouts who represent your troop well to serve as den chiefs for Webelos Scout dens, while also arranging for den chief training.
  2. “Serve as a resource for overnight activities. The Troop can be of service to provide equipment, leadership, and logistics for Webelos parent-son campouts to show how troops operate in the outdoors.
  3. “Invite dens and parents to a troop meeting to show and explain the differences between Cub Scouting and Boy Scouting and to see the Methods of Scouting and its aims. Provide each Webelos Scout a copy of the Troop’s calendar for the upcoming year.
  4. “Conduct an orientation for parents and Webelos led by youth leaders using the New Scout Parent orientation resource on Scouting.org.
  5. “Work with Webelos den leaders to encourage them to plan to move into the troop with their Webelos Scouts and to serve as either committee members or assistant Scoutmasters.
  6. “Conduct a Scoutmaster conference under the guidance of the Scoutmaster covering the meaning of the Scout Oath and Law, the advancement program, troop camping, the patrol method, summer camp, and personal equipment.
  7. “Work with the Cubmasters to implement a meaningful Webelos to Scouts crossover ceremony …for each Webelos Scout to receive a unique form of recognition like a Troop t-shirt or neckerchief and Boy Scout Handbook, along with the Arrow of Light Award.
  8. “Make sure to highlight the benefits of the Boy Scout program and emphasize why it is so important for Webelos to join a troop.”

Summary

1. Remember that Boy Scout recruiting needs to happen all year. Bryan on Scouting says: “I don’t like to think of Boy Scout recruiting as having a ‘season.’ You can add new Scouts to your troop all year long. And doing so helps maintain your troop’s health and bring in new energy and enthusiasm. One good goal is to add at least 10 new Scouts every year. That way your troop grows without ever growing stagnant.”

2. Appoint a troop membership chairperson. Bryan recommends, “Every successful recruiting effort needs a strong leader. Find a committee member who can take the lead on growing troop membership. This person develops and implements a year-round growth plan. He or she should work closely with Cub Scout packs in the community, the district membership committee and the unit commissioner.”

3. Use all three methods of growing your troop:

  • Graduate Webelos from Cub Scouting into Boy Scouting.
  • Host a troop open house.
  • Encourage peer-to-peer recruiting.

Bryan warns, “If you use just one or two of these recruiting methods, you’re likely missing out on adding new Scouts to your troop. For best results, use all three.”

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