At the August 8th, 2019 Roundtable we had a great discussion on how to engage with the Scouts more, make the meetings more fun, how to recruit/retain scouts and how to get the Parents more engaged with the program.
First, we discussed using the New Member Coordinator position to engage more with new and current parents.
- Everyone feels more interested and involved when someone makes them welcome and shows that they care about their success.
- Families who have no background in Scouting are looking for someone that will help them understand what they have signed their children up for.
- Scouts and their families that transition from Cub Scouting to Scouts BSA, and from Scouts BSA to Venturing also need help getting settled into their new programs.
- The New Member Coordinator helps makes those connections and answer those concerns. By their presence, the New Member Coordinator will help everyone in Scouting have a more fulfilling experience
For more information, visit this link: https://scoutingwire.org/marketing-and-membership-hub/councils/new-member-coordinator/
Second, we solicited responses from many leaders in attendance from Cub Scouts to Scouts BSA and Venturing.
We had great feedback from all. Below is a collected list of all the ideas given.
Remember, Roundtable is a great way to connect with leaders, gain insight from the experience of others in improving the Scouting program for our youth.
What has worked for you in Keeping your Scouts Engaged
- Keep the Events/Activities fresh –Avoid using the same program event schedule year after year, create new experiences and activities (Camping, Animal Demonstrations, Science Experiments, etc.)
- Go to Different places and host different outings (variety in the program)
- For Lions – Keep it short
- Make the program fun, for parents and scouts
- Activities must be Fun
- Make the Scouts laugh
- Backpacking and Camping (Scouts BSA)
- Have older Scouts work with younger Scouts – Have the youth get to know each other (likes and dislikes), show respect, and set the example.
- Have an outdoor program; Camping, fishing, biking, a hike club, etc.
- Meetings must be fun and interesting for Scouts AND Parents
- Letting the Youth Run the program as designed
- Raffle tickets – gets Scouts to pay attention to win prizes
What has worked for you in Recruiting New Scouts
- Open House – Invite those parents you met at your local school’s open house, and friends of your current Scouts, to the Back to Pack cookout or other appropriate scouting event.
- Keep your Back-to-Pack more about just having fun.
- Have Scouts wear their Class-B t-shirts at school
- Create a Camping scene as the Back to Pack or Open House
- Create an info card on your pack/Round-up for scouts to hand to other youth interested in the program that they can give to their parents.
- Have older Scouts come and tell the younger Scouts what they are learning about
- Have Cubs raise the flag at School
- Promote your Outdoor activity program – most youth join scouting for the outdoor activities.
- Going to your School’s open house and communicating constantly with the prospects who gain there.
- School flyers, Word of mouth, participating in local community events like parades or holiday celebrations
- Accepting Girls into your pack/having a female troop – if you haven’t already
- Host a “Friends Night” – where scouts bring a friend to a meeting or activity
- Tell the youth stories about exciting adventures and activities – instead of benefits, awards and “resume” items
- Host a Pool Party (following BSA Safety requirements – of course)
What has worked for you in Making Your Meetings Fun
- Try Activity based pack meetings (not just a bunch of kids sitting around in chairs all night) For example – Host a Science Experiments in March (Fake Snow, Dancing Spaghetti, any kids friendly experiment - tie it into Camp Cards and STEM Camp)
- Host an animal demonstration (Canine Companions International, K-9 police unit, Reptile Guy)
- Get the Local Emergency Mobile Command Center to come by and do a demonstration with the vehicle
- Crafts – make your own kazoos, paintings
- SCOUTS BSA – Make sure your youth are deciding what activities to plan and do. You can encourage variety as needed.
- In Den Meetings, after you have read the adventure in your Den leader handbook, search Google for videos, coloring sheets and activity pages, or just any fun activity that may be relevant.
- Get out of your Chartered Org’s place or meeting – schedule at least every other month at a park or other interesting location.
- PLAN – Good planning means a fun meeting, bad planning results in hashing out something they have already done and may be bored with.
- Create an Agenda for your meetings and stick to it. A well-run meeting is more fun than winging it.
- In CUB SCOUTS – structured silliness like mad libs reading, skits, songs, etc. In SCOUTS BSA – Sports
- Begin your Den meeting with play time – gives you time to catch up with adults, wears the scouts down a little for sitting and paying attention
- Field Trips
- Seeing the youth learning and experiencing something new.
- Making tasks into games
What has worked for you in Keeping your Parents Engaged/Involved
- Break the Ice – and get them out of the chair. Do a simple handshake at the door.
- If you are hosting an activity – have them help
- If you are running a ceremony – include them in on it – Have a part in the ceremony where the parent participates
- Communication, Communication, Communication; - Separate parents from Scouts during a Pack meeting to discuss Pack business and needs
- First have the Scouts very involved in the Scouting program – ask the parent for help on a task that is simple with a set amount of time – keep it fun and they should be happy to help the next time you ask.
- Give the parents simple/silly awards for helping – recognize their contribution (i.e. – Wooden spoon award for first time Cobbler made at camp)
- Start small in asking for help, enable them to succeed at it.
- Make training fun, maybe have it at camp.
- Use Food
- Find out their interests and discuss it with them, fit them with a job/task that matches their interest.
- Face to Face discussion and you letting them know what you think they would be good at based on what you have seen out of them
- Ask a Specific parent to complete a specific task.
- To get more help in camping trips cooking, use the phrase that pays; “Coffee is for Earners” – then have them put out something small (like the salt and pepper) to earn their coffee.
- Think of corporate ice breaker activities that you may have done in the past in your career – most Scouting games can be set-up in a way to allow the parents to participate, much like a corporate ice breaker. Get them smiling and having fun with their Scouts doing an activity together, and they will come to enjoy it as much as their child does.