By Maloree Anderson
Jun 08, 2018

Engaging Parents in Scouting

I had the pleasure of attending one of Mat Greenfield’s classes during the 2018 University of Scouting. I was impressed with his presentation on “Engaging Parents in Scouting” and couldn’t wait to share it with our readers. This is what he had to say:

Parents play a key role in the Scouting community. Often parents are what make up the unit’s leadership and are the deciding factor on whether or not their child lives Scouting’s adventure to the fullest. In this article you’ll learn how to identify where someone is on their feelings in Scouting and how to engage them.

Think of Scouting as a pyramid (see right) that is made up of four types of Scouters: Detractors, Neutrals, Supporters, and Champions. The pyramid model is based on the idea that each of these people have different perspectives on Scouting.

Your first step in engaging parents (and others) in Scouting is to analyze their Scouting perception. Are they a Detractor, Neutral, Supporter or Champion of Scouting? Below is a list of qualities for each type of Scouter:


Reason: More likely to have had a specific incident or reason from their past that caused them to fall into the detractor group. (Many times this is the case. Most people don’t just hate Scouting. There is a reason why.)

  • Verbally disses Scouting
  • Goes out of their way to give Scouting a bad reputation
  • Actively encourages their Scout to go to other activities instead of Scouting
  • Says the church is quitting Scouting because Scouting is losing its way


Reason: More likely in an unit that runs a “camping” program with no positive impact on the Scouts. They are not seeing the benefits of Scouting.

  • No encouragement from home, (doesn’t diss but doesn’t encourage)
  • Signs them up for Scouts because that’s what is asked of them
  • Goes to Scouting when it’s convenient or when nothing better is going on
  • “Couldn’t find his coat so he’s not going.”
  • Doesn’t care one way or another
  • They are excited for the babysitting potential
  • No follow through with the promises in Scouting
  • Late for troop meetings, doesn’t wear uniforms or have handbooks.
  • No effort given (whether positive or negative)
  • Don’t understand the program and the potential of the program
  • Just another church program or camping program


Reason: They have seen the positive impact of the program. They have experienced enough of the benefits that they are willing to make an effort to push for that.

  • Kids are there in uniform with books
  • Genuine attendance
  • Parents that follow through
  • Even willing to help out with the activity
  • Volunteer in the troop
  • Parents in uniform as well


Reason: They believe in Scouting and what it exemplifies and are complete supporters.

  • All “Supporter” qualities
  • Goes above and beyond in their volunteer position or as a parent of Scout
  • 100% trained
  • Does Family Scouting
  • Any Scouter that attends University of Scouting (They are giving up a Saturday for their Scouting education!)
  • They will go out of their way to grow with the program.

Once you have established where they fall in the pyramid, your next step is to improve their perception based on their current understand of Scouting, (level up on the pyramid). This will be a case by case basis and some people will take longer than others. Keep in mind that individuals can’t jump levels either. Here are tips on how to support Scouters in their journey to the top of the pyramid:

Detractor to a Neutral:

Neutral to Supporter:

Supporter to Champion:

  • Understand what the incident was and try to resolve it with them. Case by case basis. Do it by the principles of Scouting and the gospel. Do it as a friend. Resolve concerns.
  • Assign a Champion for the point of contact for the Detractor to work with that person to help resolve their issues.
  • Pray for them and their family
  • Be a trustful leader (friend). Have a personal relationship with the Scout leader. Developing a relationship even outside of Scouting.
  • Give them high quality activities where the Scout WANTS to go to Scouts and the parents see that. They see the program is worth it.
  • Be more inviting. Boys, parents, leaders. Always positively invite!
  • Try to work with their schedules
  • Support the parent. Help simplify Scouting. Make Scouting easy!
  • The Neutral has an information problem. Be there and give them resources.
  • Be helpful, not forceful.
  • Get the Scouts and parents involved in what they are interested in
  • Experience the program in a positive way
  • You get champions by experience, seeing the vision, and engineering positive experience.
  • Callings – you want people to volunteer to be active in your program
  • Wood Badge – the function of Wood Badge is to move your high end Neutral to Supporter and Supporter to Champion.

Be patient with the parents. This will take time and a lot of diligence. Moving up through the levels will happen by specific actions. You can engineer those events that help improve the person’s Scouting impressions. Be the person that changes the perception of Scouting into a positive, captivating, worth-while, adventurous experience one parent at a time. By doing so you’ll have exceptional engagement.



Author: Maloree Anderson | is a photographer, graphic designer, mom of one, friend of Scouting and Marketing Specialist with the Utah National Parks Council, Boy Scouts of America.

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