Scouts brag to friends about outdoor fun
There are many ways that troops can attract new members. Webelos cross-overs are just one place to find new boys, and are becoming less reliable for troops in an era with fewer Cub Scouts. One of the most effective methods involves boys themselves inviting their friends.
‘Power Lunches’ occur in school cafeterias every Monday as boys eat with their close friends and discuss what each other did over the weekend. Some will say they did chores, others watched a movie or played sports, a few will have met a girl, but a choice few will be able to say something along the lines of “I went horseback riding,” or “I jumped off a 40 foot telephone pole onto a zip line,” or “I went backpacking with my Troop and looked down into the crater at Mount Saint Helens.” As the conversation flows, the Scout can easily ask his now captivated friends to come on his next adventure.
Leaders can facilitate these Power Lunches by assuring that Scouts have lots of outdoor adventures to brag about. Troops with great programs attract new boys constantly because boys share stories of their adventures experiences with their friends.
The First Class requirement, ‘to invite a friend to join Scouting’ is a great new way to help a boy share his Scouting experience, and to provide coaching and structure to these conversations.
Scouts today are very comfortable using the Internet. Scouts can email their friends photos of a recent camping trip or troop activity. Short videos can even be made to show the highlight of a weekend. Scouts can also send their friends links to their Troop’s web site or to www.thescoutzone.org, which is a great website designed by the National Council to help reach troop-age boys.
Many Troops have annual family and friends campouts. These are campouts where the whole family goes, sisters, brothers, a Scout’s friends and his family, everybody! Having a great time is the key, showing the whole family how much fun and safe Scouting really opens the doors to new families.
Special troop activities can also be designed specifically for Scouts to bring friends, such as bowling night, or a day horseback riding at Butte Creek, or a day on the C.O.P.E course or the district’s spring Camporee. For these fun activities, print up simple postcard-size invitations for Scouts to give to their friends and you’ll be surprised at the turnout.
Solid involvement and interaction with local packs is another year-round strategy. In addition to serving as a Den Chief, Boy Scouts can also participate
in promotion and attendance at Cub Join Nights each spring. They can be inspiring 5th and 6th graders to join the Troop while the Pack is sharing the same message with the younger boys. As these Cub Scouts grow up they’ll then always have joining the troop as a future goal.
Campsite campfires the night before you head home is a great time to plant a seed in Scouts’ minds...get them thinking about what they will tell their friends in the school cafeteria on Monday.
Flyers and parents’ meetings are good things for a troop to be doing, but successful troops also remember to employ the Scouts themselves in recruiting their friends using tales of adventure. Try this in your troop and watch the boys line up!
[ Originally published in the summer 2007 edition of CPC Times. ]
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