One of my volunteer roles in Scouting is to serve on my council’s marketing committee. At a recent meeting we talked about fall recruiting for Cub Scouts and kept returning to the idea that most packs seem to rely on the council’s fall recruiting program for new members–effectively outsourcing this most critical function.
I think a lot of troops do the same thing, either relying on their local council or not doing any recruiting whatsoever. While it’s true that a strong program will draw new members, you really can’t rely on the Field of Dreams philosophy of “If you build it, they will come.” (In case you’ve forgotten, the actual quote is “If you build it, he will come,” which is perhaps a better indicator of how effective that philosophy actually is for recruiting!)
So how can you effectively market your troop? I’ve seen a couple of great examples recently that you can learn from. Although they mostly focused on Cub Scouting, they could easily be adapted to Boy Scouting.
First, my church’s pack and troop worked with the children’s children’s ministry to run a “what Scouts do” program during the Sunday school hour one Sunday in July. All the children’s classes came to the fellowship hall for a round-robin of activities that included games, crafts, knot-tying, tent-pitching, and fire-laying. The troop’s color guard did an impressive flag ceremony, and Girl Scouts were on hand to talk about their program. (Note that this event was separate from Scout Sunday in February, when our units will have another chance to show their stuff.)
Second, Lisa Fields, a colleague from the American Society of Journalists and Authors just published a first-person essay in her community’s Jewish newspaper about her experience as a Scout mom. In it, she talks a lot about how the Scouting program supports faith development, something that’s important for that publication’s audience. I thought she did a great job of both selling the program and reassuring parents who may be on the fence about Scouting and/or camping.
There are lots of other ways to promote your program, of course, but these are nice examples of inexpensive, highly targeted efforts to reach potential members.
So what does your troop do to recruit new Scouts. You’ve already built it. Are they coming?
Need more great troop program ideas? Check out the new edition of The Scoutmaster’s Other Handbook, which is now available in both print and e-book formats at https://www.eaglebook.com/products.htm#scoutmasters.