Recruiting Scouts BSA:
Baden-Powell District Troop 542 recognized a need to recruit new Scouts BSA aside from (but in addition to) relying on Webelos crossovers from local packs to fill their ranks. The leadership decided to hold an open house and devised a strategy to target families of prospective new Scouts. Their multifaceted approach to advertising their open house used the following methods:
- Posting information about the event on their website
- Notifying troop families directly through a phone chain, direct email, and remind.com
- And, most importantly, through an aggressive social media campaign including posting to Facebook
The measure of the success of the troop’s recruiting event was the 11 new boys, none of whom were previously involved in Scouting, who attended the open house with their families.
At the open house, using visual displays, a brief PowerPoint presentation, and a video montage of highlights of the troop’s activities, the troop’s top-notch program was shared with the prospective new Scouts and their families.
All of the new Scouts have already attended their first meeting and are participating in the troop’s spring activities. Aggressive marketing of your unit, sharing information about activities with your families, and specifically asking that they reach out to their friends and neighbors to share the promise, is an effective way to sustain and grow your unit.
Side note: Troop 542 regularly has more than 100 Scouts registered.
Encourage Existing Scouts to Invite their Friends to Join:
- This can be done year-round.
- Equip your Scouts with “business cards” that include meeting and contact information so they can distribute to their friends.
- Place special emphasis on “Bring-A-Friend” after your initial sign-up night, especially in the months of November and October.
- Scouts who recruit their friends to join are eligible to receive a special patch provided by the council. See colbsa.org/recruit for details.
Adults Should Use Word of Mouth to Get Families Involved:
- Word of mouth is still the most effective advertising around and has been identified as the number one reason why families join the program.
- You’ve got a great program that’s making a positive impact on youth, families, and your community—don’t keep it a secret!
- Families consistently see the value of Scouting in their own lives and as a result they are our best sales people.
- Share Scouting’s benefits and excitement with other parents. Most families are looking for programs filled with excitement and opportunities for leadership development and positive values.
- Seek adult volunteers who can lend a hand for a good cause at any of your regular meetings.
Display Cases and Bulletin Boards:
- Seek permission from a school, church, recreation center, or other organization to use their display case.
- Ask a volunteer or parent from your unit from to be responsible for setting-up the display and changing it once a month during the year. Each month should have a monthly theme with catch phrases to attract attention, and the display items should go along with the monthly theme.
- The display should be fun and informative and create a sense of excitement about the Scouting program.
- If access to the display case all year round is not possible, using it in the beginning of the school year would be the best time.
Scouts and Leaders “Sport” Your Uniform Often:
- Wearing the uniform is like a walking billboard and can grabs the attention of youth and adults.
- The uniform also serves as a conversation piece and can start a conversation about the benefits of the program and why families should get involved.
- For Cub Scout packs especially, encourage every Scout to wear their uniform to school on the day of your joining event and on the days of your meetings.
- Some units encourage their Scouts to wear their summer camp t-shirts to school as a way to spur conversation about all the fun activities available through Scouting.
- Be knowledgeable about what all the patches mean and share the excitement of Scouting.
Back-to-School or Open House Events:
- If your local school(s) holds informational or orientation events for parents and students and permits outside groups to participate, make sure your unit is represented to get out the word about the great program you have to offer.
- Set-up a display that includes pictures of past activities, videos, handbooks, and sample projects.
- Hands-on activities and give-away items help capture the attention of those in attendance.
- Have your unit’s calendar of events on hand, along with information about your sign-up event (including contact information; the council provides fliers free of charge—see next section)
- Also be ready to accept sign-ups on the spot. Make sure to have plenty of paper applications and, if internet is available, have one or more laptops to accept online applications.
- If another unit recruits from the same school, please team-up and work together. There are far more young people not involved in Scouting than are involved; let’s try to serve them all.
Use Career Interest Surveys:
- Encourage youth 13 through 20 years of age to complete the brief online Exploring Career Interest Survey.
- This survey asks for their top two career interests and top two hobby interests.
- Using the surveys, council staff can facilitate matching students to Exploring posts that match their career interests as well as Venturing crews that match their hobby interests.