Let’s imagine as a Scouting Ambassador you have met with the Unit Key 3, the Scoutmaster and assistants, and the Troop Committee; they have been trained; and a draft program is ready to show youth and parents; well then it is time to get serious about youth recruiting and holding your first troop open house.
For the next few months, focus on gathering interested boys and parents into your new troop as a nucleus to get things going. You should connect with troops in your Stake to identify boys who want to stay in Scouting, especially those on the trail to Eagle. Use these youth to get things started in your new troop. Show the youth the draft program calendar and have them suggest changes. Start holding troop meetings and activities. Ask them to invite their friends.
In addition, the Council and your district will be inviting parents of current Scouts to a Stake recruitment night sometime soon. But, you do not have to wait for that. If you are ready now, contact your Stake president for permission to hold your own recruitment night. Once you have the date, let the Bishops and young men’s leaders know about the meeting, be sure to reach out to Scoutmasters and parents where possible. Tell your full-time Scouter so they can arrange for invitations to be sent to every parent of currently registered Scouts.
Come January, a steady flow of youth into your troop is vital to maintaining the troop’s health. You should make it a priority every fall to add at least 10 new Scouts every year, but this year that should happen before school is out in May.
New youth bring energy and enthusiasm to any troop’s program. Having a year-round growth plan in place will help attract new Scouts.
To ensure this happens, appoint a member of the troop committee to serve as the Troop Membership Chair who will develop and implement a year-round growth plan that incorporates all methods of recruitment, working closely with Cub Scout packs in your neighborhood, the district membership committee, and the unit commissioner.
There are three usual methods of recruiting new Scouts into troops:
A good year-round growth plan addresses all three methods.
Recruiting Through a Troop Open House
Youth join Scouting for the fun and outdoor adventure. Parents want them to join for completely different reasons—character building and leadership training. Following this plan for conducting a troop open house will help you address the wants and needs of both youth and their parents.
Steps to a Successful Troop Open House and Recruiting Rally
- Present a school rally to fifth- and sixth-graders.
- Mail the parents of interested youth a personal invitation to a troop open house.
- Follow the invitation with a telephone call to the parents.
- Host a troop open house for youth and their parents.
- Organize a troop or district activity to involve new Scouts right away.
The troop open house allows a troop to swing open its doors and roll out the red carpet to welcome guests. Sometimes it is part of a district-wide event for several troops, but any troop can conduct one themselves. The important thing is for Scouting to be showcased and that each prospective girl or boy and their parents feel welcome through the New Member Coordinator.
When a troop is established, they should involve all youth members, but since we are in the planning stages of new troops, open houses will include adults and a few initial youth. Make plans for the open house as early as you can following these suggestions from the National Council’s suggested outline:
- “Prior to the night of the open house, involve the troop in sprucing up the meeting place. Treat the task as a ‘spring cleaning’ since the troop will be welcoming guests.
- Prepare displays of planned “troop activities, photos, and awards that the troop” might earn. Make an exciting list of your program plans including activities planned and summer camping plans.
- “Assign greeters to be at the door to welcome guests as they arrive. Be sure to have adequate seating.
- “Have a printed agenda and a copy of the troop’s calendar [draft] at each seat.
- “Make assignments for each part on the agenda well in advance.” If you can find an older boy to act as the senior patrol leader let him emcee the meeting.
- “Prepare refreshments for your guests if you desire.
- “The troop open house should follow an agenda, such as the one [below], to help guests gather a broad range of Scouting information. The youth is introduced to basic Scouting skills while an adult troop leader informs the parents about Scouting’s values and its positive effect on youth.
— Conduct a simple action game for early arrivals.
— Offer an invocation.
— Hold the flag ceremony.
— Welcome the guests.
Activity Time ___________________________
A. Scout skill demonstration like one of the following or any other fun Scouting game from Program Features
— Demonstrate how to put staves together with six round lashings.
to put up a self standing flagpole
— Help youth visitors put up a dining fly, using Scouts seated in
chairs to substitute for tent stakes.
B. Parent orientation ___________________________
— Explain the ideals and values of Scouting.
— Introduce the troop leadership and its organization.
— Distribute the troop calendar.
— Explain the summer camp opportunity.
— Thoroughly explain the costs of troop membership.
Joining Process ___________________________
— Youth and parents complete applications to join Scouting.
— Announce information about the next troop meeting.
— Scoutmaster’s Minute ___________________________
— Closing ceremony ___________________________
- “During the open house, [you] should do everything possible to make their guests feel comfortable and to answer each question as it arises. Be sure parents know they may ask questions at any time. The guests should be allowed to participate whenever possible.
- “At some point, the Scoutmaster should explain that both the youth and his parents may join the troop. Have applications available for both Scouts and adults.”
Peer to Peer Youth Recruiting
Through extensive research, Scouting has found peer-to-peer recruitment (youth speaking to youth) is the most effective way to get new members for Scout troops. Through social media, this could also be parent-to-parent effort as happy parents tell others about how your troop helps their children.
Michelle Carpenter suggests five ways to get your Scouts involved:
- Use pass-along cards. Scouts can use BSA pass-along cards to invite their friends to join the troop. The cards are a convenient way to tell a friend where and when the troop is meeting next.
- Make camp an invitation tool. Camping is fun! In a previous post article, I said that nothing beats inviting a friend to go camping.
- Talk about your Scouting adventures. Did you hear about the time I caught a 1 ft. fish? Go ahead and brag about your Scouting accomplishments occasionally. Friends will get excited about your feats and want to join in the experience.
- Use social media to capture the epicness of being a Scout. Take photos. Post about the moment. Capture a video. If it’s fun, posting all about it will invite others to join in.
- Represent Scouting. If Scouting has benefited your life, your friends will know it. They will see you act in a positive manner. Take advantage of the opportunities available to you. As you let Scouting bless your life, others will see how it can impact theirs as well.
Recruiting Webelos to Scouts BSA
The year-round growth plan is designed to facilitate Scout recruitment through healthy pack-troop relations. Implementing the plan involves the active involvement of adult and youth leaders of the Scouts BSA troop as well as the leadership of the Cub Scout pack.
To do this, the troop should align with a neighborhood Cub Scout pack. If more than one troop draws new Scouts from this pack, contact the leadership of the other troops and design a plan to work together with them. Offer the use of your troop’s equipment and expertise to the Cubmaster and the Webelos den leaders, and work with them to develop an effective Webelos-to-Scout plan, following the year-round calendar on this webpage.
Use the Second-Year Webelos Scout Tracking form to gather information on graduating Webelos Scouts. This form helps track the Webelos Scouts’ progress toward becoming members of a troop.
Lastly, ensure that the Scouts and their parents have a smooth transition from the Webelos den to the Scout troop. Use a New Member Coordinator to make sure the New Scouts and their parents feel welcome and at ease in the new troop environment, and recruit parents of the new Scouts to become assistant Scoutmasters and troop committee members.
Author: Darryl Alder, Scout Ambassador