Getting new youth to join Scouting is an effort all Troops need to consider. The healthiest Troops have a continuous flow of new youth. Recently, Troop 719 in Dallas held a recruiting event. Here are some items to think about if your Troop is planning such an activity.
Troop 719, of which I am currently Scoutmaster, is located in northeast Dallas, Texas. We are a boys-only Troop on the larger size, having between 50 and 60 Scouts every year. The Troop is associated with a church and school. Most new Troop members flow into the Troop from the Cub Scout Pack, which is large and vibrant. Most boys in the Cub Scout Pack attend the parish school. The parish in which we are associated is large and has a significant number of African immigrants. It also has a large number of families of Mexican heritage.
Since I consider Scouting to be an activity which greatly benefits boys, I wanted to introduce boys in these families to Scouting. I wanted to tell boys who had never been in Scouting about the Troop. Also, it would be good to have the Troop reflect the parish. Since I recently did Wood Badge, I wanted to do a recruiting event as one of my tickets.
As an active member of the parish in which the Troop is associated, I was on the lookout for an event in which the Troop could participate. When the church announced a parish festival, I knew it would be popular and provide the perfect opportunity to hold a recruiting event. Further, I learned that parish organizations were going to be together to gain new members.
Even though the church is not our sponsor organization, the Troop is an important part of the parish community. Because of this, the Troop was able to participate. The Troop had a table alongside parish ministry organizations for the duration of the event, about 6 hours.
Always be on the watch for local events in which you can participate. One of the first actions should be to reach out to you Troop’s sponsor organization. If your sponsor organization does have an imminent event, look for community groups. Maybe a local neighborhood is having a party or your town is having a parade.
Get Scouts Involved
Make sure to get Scouts involved in as much recruiting as possible. In our situation, boys talking to other boys is best for recruitment. At our event, we had one adult and one scout each hour, which worked very well.
Enlist Adult Support
One person cannot do it alone. You will need to other adults to help. At our event, we had a new adult every hour. Adults involved in the Troop understand the need to recruit. Since everyone is busy, you need to make it as easy as possible for adults to be involved. The adults in our event just had to show up. When recruiting adults, give lots of notice. I sent email reminder a week before and 2 days before the event.
Enlist Support of Your Local Council
Everyone in Scouting understands the need to recruit new youth. I have found most people are happy to help in this effort. An important ally in your recruiting event will be your local council. In the Dallas area, Circle 10 is our local council. Each council should have a representative assigned to your Troop. I knew the name of our council representative and I saw her at a local Scouting event. I explained our plan and she was happy to help. She provided some flyers and gave some promotional items to give away. These items attracted people to the table. In hindsight, I should have done this as soon as our participation in the event was set. Make sure you enlist the support of your local council.
Follow-Up with Everyone
People spent valuable time talking to you. As such, it is crucial to follow-up. Even if it is a simple email and an invitation to a Troop Meeting, it is important people hear from you.
Try and Try Again
Some events do not go as planned. Recruiting new youth into Scouting can be a tough process. Even if your event was not successful, make sure to keep trying. In the end, the Troop did not get any new Scouts from this event. But, it did raise the Troop’s profile in the parish and we expect to get new youth in the Troop soon. We have a template for participating in events in which we can recruit and will more easily be able to do more in the future.
Good Luck at your event.
About Paul Gerst
Paul Gerst currently is the Scoutmaster of Troop 719. Paul has 2 sons in Troop 719. Both of whom are working toward obtaining the rank of Eagle. Paul has served Troop 719 as Trail to First Class Advisor, Advancement Coordinator and now Scoutmaster. He is looking to complete his Wood Badge tickets. This article is summary of one of Paul’s Wood Badge tickets. You can contact Paul by sending a message through the Contact Us page of this site.