Monday, 1 December 2014

Boy Scout Recruiting A to Z Part 1

Letter A: Always Follow Up
After every meeting where a new Scout or parent visits your unit it essential to have a follow-up conversation via phone or e-mail. It is essential because it gives the Scout/parent time to digest the information given and ask questions. Additionally remind the Scout/parent of about the next meeting and the next activity for the unit.

Letter B: Boy to Boy Recruiting is Essential
There are many ways to recruit new Scouts. However, the single most effective method is boy to boy recruiting. Boy to boy recruiting is where an already established member encourages his friend to come and see what Scouting is all about.

Letter C: Communicate Effectively
Communicating regularly and effectively with both Scouts and parents is what makes a unit succeed or fail. Communication, with new members is extremely important because it makes the new member feel welcome and a part of your unit.

"The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place."
~George Bernard Shaw

Letter D: Demonstrate Scout Spirit
Scout Spirit according to the Boy Scouts of America is defined as:

"Scout Spirit applies to how a Scout lives and conducts his daily life. He shows Scout Spirit by being a role model to his peers, living by the Scout Oath and Law. The concept of Scout Spirit is not based on how many Scouting events or outings a Scout attends, but rather by how he helps bring out the best in others as a reflection of his own character and attitude in his daily life."

As a Scouter or Scout we must come to embody and adhere to demonstrate Scout Spirit in all we do. We must not only demonstrate Scout Spirit on Scout events or outings, we must demonstrate it in our daily lives as well. Adopting Scout Spirit as your own is essential to recruiting Scouts because it shows that you are dedicated, interested in, and committed to Scouting.

Letter E: Every Night is a Recruitment Night
While have organized recruitment nights is important, it is also important to realize that a new Scout or Scouter may show up at any meeting. Therefore, always have your New Member Orientation Packet and multiple Adult and Youth Applications available at every meeting. Having these materials at your meeting will allow you to not be caught off guard if a potential member comes to a meeting.

Along with be prepared to accept a new member, it is important to remember to design a program that is exciting, fun, engaging, and meaningful at every meeting and every event. Because you just never know when a potential member may come to check out your unit.

Letter F: Fun is Essential
Personally, I don't understand how unit after unit I visit is content with having a program entirely focused and condensed down to just another part of "school". Scouting is NOT school, it is a place to have fun, learn new skills, engage in age appropriate activities that engage the boys and make them want to fully participate in the activity planned.

I call the Scouting that so many seem to practice "bookwork Scouting" which is defined as a sit down activity writing or producing a written product that resembles schoolwork. I will admit that Scouting does have some "bookwork" that must be done to achieve Rank or earn a badge. But even then there are methods of instruction that can make boring of subjects engaging and interesting to your boys.

To put it in the words of Lord Robert Baden-Powell:

"We are not a club or Sunday School class, but a school of the woods."

Letter G: Get Parents Involved
One way to prevent disengaged new parents is to engage these parents immediately by giving them simple or easily taught duties that make a significant contribution to your unit. This however does NOT mean that you should put that new parent into a direct-contact leadership role upon joining. The only exception to this would be if a parent asks to take on a leadership role within the unit.

Letter H: Have Exceptional Leadership
By having exceptional leadership your unit will not only exist but will prosper. It will prosper because you have created a meaningful program and a spectacular experience. Units fail to have exceptional leadership by:

Having leaders who take on a position just because
no one else will step up.

Having leaders who care more about recognition
than serving the boys.

Having leaders who create unnecessary drama.

Having leaders who don't really care for the boys.

Units also fail to have exceptional leadership when leaders don't know the difference between a "boss" and a "leader. And yes there is a difference.

Letter I: Immediate Immersion
New members are usually extremely excited to start their Scouting experience therefore you must providing "true Scouting" at each and every meeting, outing or activity. Our founder Robert Baden-Powell put this idea of immediate immersion best when he said:

"A boy on joining wants to begin Scouting right away."

Getting the boy immersed in Scouting is only half of immediate immersion concept. The other half is getting the parent immersed in Scouting. Parents being immersed in Scouting immediately will be MORE likely to get involved and contribute meaningfully to the unit.

Letter J: Join Night Plan
Too often have I seen Join Nights fail because leaders are unprepared. Remember the first impression of Scouting is the ONLY chance you have to convince the boy and the parent to join Scouting. Join Night plans must consider:
  • Regular Meeting Time/Day/Location
  • Costs of Scouting (Must be unit specific)
  • Join Night Time/Day/Location
  • Basics of Scouting
  • How to Keep Youth Busy
  • Unit Leadership
  • Council Support
This is in no way a complete list but it should hopefully give you an idea of what to include in your Join Night plan.

Letter K: Know Your Boys
Knowing your boys as individuals shows that you are truly a leader that cares and is interested in each and every boy. We leaders generally know all our Scouts at a superficial level but to be true servant leaders we must learn way more than this if we are to create strong units. To put it in the words of our founder:

"Scoutmasters deal with the individual boy rather
than with the mass."

The word Scoutmaster can be replaced with Cubmaster or any other unit leader title.

Letter L: Leave a Good Impression
I don't think that I could it better than Mr. Rogers:

"You never get a second chance to make a first impression."

So as Scouters we know that we must leave a good impression but what specifically does this have to do with recruiting? Well everything of course! Everything because the impression of Scouting and your unit is the deciding factor in determining whether or not Scouting will be a worthwhile activity.

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