I recruit for my Unit and Scouting all the time. I did it at Baseball tryouts the other week. I do it when I travel. I will do it at our School Auction in April. I will tell people who have a daughter in Girl Scouts that Venturing is a very cool program. I also start with parents of Kindergartners. Why? Because Scouting is a great program. Also, our Pack is celebrating our 60th Anniversary this year and I do not want to have it be it’s last. I want to “Help the Pack Grow”!
But I also recruit parents to become Tiger Den Leaders, Den Leaders, Committee members and Ast Cubmasters. It’s hard work. I fully understand that people have work, families and activities outside of Scouting. I knew that I was not a good coach for baseball, soccer, basketball or anything sport related. But, I knew that when I walked into the Join Night, that I wanted to do something in Scouting. Other than that, I had not a clue. I figured if my wife was President of “Mothers of Pre-schoolers (MOPS) or as I called it “The Mothers Mafia”, I could hang out with a couple of kids and teach them crafts and stuff.
Baseball & Soccer have 4 practices a week then games on the weekend. Scouts once a week. If you played sports you can earn a beltloop and a pin for playing that sport in Cubscouts. In Boy Scouts it’s a Merit Badge! Oh, I recruit as sports practice & games too!
Getting the boys to join is not hard. It’s the parents. Parents put up the blockade with schedules and bedtimes routines. Ok, I do get it. Yup, I have them too. But here is my point. Parents will do things for and with their kids if it’s worthwhile. Generally if they can just show up and watch and do nothing. However, getting that parent to sign up to be a Den Leader is HARD. My biggest worry is getting the Tiger Den Leader for that Den. Once they are in, they generally stay. I was the Tiger Den Leader for two years in a row. Cubmaster and Tiger Den Leader. It was tough, but I did it. I am very lucky that this year I have two Co-Tiger Den Leaders for the den of 8-10 boys. They switch off as needed due to their work schedule. I get work schedules. I travel 5 days a week. I make every Pack Meeting, every Committee Meeting, and have only missed two Den Meetings & Roundtables since my son joined in 2008. However, the times that I missed were because of other Scout events that took me away from my home unit.
I have made Scouting for son and unit a priority. Again, not over my family or work as I pointed out earlier. I appreciate each and everyone of the Den Leaders, Committee Members and those who help support Pack221. It takes a village to raise a child. This is my village.
So what about Transition? Part of recruiting is to find your replacement. Cub Scouts will transition into Boy Scouts. Also from one rank to the next. My son Elliot is currently a Bear. In June he will transition into a Webelos. The Bear Den Leaders will become Webelos Den Leaders. Everyone gets new patches and uniforms.
This is a significant change. Bears to Webelos, Webelos to Boy Scouts. Everyone needs to be planning ahead. Thinking about how to grow the Troop. Boy Scouts just don’t grow on trees. Where to find them? Camporee? Den Chiefs? Calling the Cubmaster and inviting them to a meeting? Roundtables?
Yes to all of them. Everyone needs to recruit. In a recent Podcast from PTCMEDIA on their new show “Scoutnation” both Scoutmaster Shawn and Bryan talk about this transisition. Check out “There aint no Akela here” podcast. They do a great job in explaining “Heliocopter Parents” in the Troop. They also explain the transition from Webelos to Scouts. It’s Different.
However, when listening, listen to what they do about Recruiting. Both Adults and Boys. One actively does it, the other does not. Why? Well, one is small and the other is large. If your Troop is small and just starting out you NEED to recruit. If your large you generally do not. I will say that BOTH Shawn and Bryan “GET” what scouting is all about. The Boy Led Program is fully alive and functioning within both Troops. Bryan has the large Troop and has the reputation of doing it right. So, he does not have to go out and recruit. Shawn runs a small Troop, has a great reputation as well, but has to recruit due to size. (If you follow them on Twitter/Facebook and listen to this podcast and True North you will understand this and more.Listen to show #35 and you will understand)
My point is this. If your Troop sits by and thinks that just because a pack has always gone to your Troop because it’s the way it always has been….THINK AGAIN. Hookers get Drive-bys. If your Troop starts not getting boys ask yourself why. It’s time to start asking for invites from Packs to put on a Pack meeting, Den meeting or Summertime Pack Event. Get yourself in front of the cubscouts. Show them COOL STUFF! As Scoutmaster Shawn said once “COOK THEM DESSERT IN A DUTCH OVEN!” (ok, I paraphrased..)
Same as is with Transition. START NOW. Once the current crop of Leaders leave….those who remain are left with the reins. Units die a needles horrible death. Our Unit is fortunate that many parents stepped up to the plate. However, myself and others will be gone in 2013 at about this time. 2011-2012 is the time for Tigers & Wolf parents to step-up into leadership positions or just shadow/volunteer so they can learn for 2013-2014 and beyond. Will I be around? Sure. Will I help? Sure. Will I do Popcorn? Nope. (I will tell you what to do) Will I help on Join Night, Yup!
The message is: Plan ahead. Being prepared is not just for the Scouts. It’s for the unit. Help the Pack Grow! You cannot start reaching out to Packs as a Troop a couple of months before a big event. You have to start earlier. Have the boys fight over which Troop they want to go to. The sooner you get Cubscouts excited about something, the sooner they want to go do it. Once you do that, the momentum has begun. Just do not loose it. If you do, regroup and figure out what to do.
Nothing in life is Easy. Even if there is an Easy Button!