How They Do It: Successful Cub Scout Recruiting
By Suzanne Wilson
New Cub Scouts Get 'Official Pinewood Derby Licenses' in the Last Frontier Council
Using innovative recruiting ideas and concepts, the Last Frontier Council welcomed 3,562 new Cub Scouts after its 2004 campaign. New enrollment grew 4 percent over 2003. The council, headquartered in Oklahoma City, covers 24 counties in the southwestern part of the state.
A key item in the new ideas category was the "Official Cub Scout Pinewood Derby License," which entitled each new Cub Scout to "a year of great fun and adventure" and a free pinewood derby car kit.
'Join Scout Night'
Kevin Henderson, a council field director and membership staff adviser, describes the key decisions made by the campaign steering committee of nine Cub Scouting volunteers:
Additional joining opportunities.
Driver's licenses and pinewood derby kits.
The council then sought potential sponsors for the campaign. "We thought about the concept of the pinewood derby race car," Henderson says, "and the first thing that came to our minds was, hey, car dealers. It was a natural connection."
As a result, three car dealers, along with other businesses, contributed generously to funding the car kits and the campaign. The contacts with car dealers led to a special councilwide pinewood derby race at the Oklahoma City International Auto Show, sponsored by the Metropolitan Auto Dealers Association.
Volunteers make it happen
Sheryl Gregus is membership chairwoman for Eagle District and unit commissioner for two packs. She was a member of the campaign steering committee that evaluated the 2003 campaign in March, finalized a new plan, and trained Join Scout Night volunteers in April.
A new goal was "to be visible at least four times," Gregus says.
U.S. District Judge Stephen Friot, council vice president of membership, says the campaign benefited from "the work of a lot of veteran Cub Scouters" on the steering committee "to evaluate what we have done in the past and to see how we could improve in the future.
"Above all, the partnership of the professionals and the volunteers, with the guidance of the steering committee, was really instrumental in making Join Scout Night '04 a big success."
After-School Day Camps Introduce Boys to Cub Scouting in the Las Vegas Area Council
In a fast-growing part of the country, the Las Vegas Area Council welcomes new Cub Scouts in spring, fall, and in between.
The council's service area includes more than 1.5 million people, with a concentration in and around Las Vegas, plus other communities in Nevada, as well as in Arizona and California. For 18 consecutive years, the council has been named a BSA Quality Council, with membership growth in each of those years. In 2004, Cub Scouting membership increased by 4.8 percent.
The council created After-School Day Camp to get boys excited about Cub Scouting before sign-up night.
Boys in selected schools were invited to this 90-minute event that typically included archery, a raingutter regatta (including making a boat), a craft project, and a sport activity like field hockey or soccer.
"Then they were all pretty excited, jazzed about Scouting," says Brian Redmond, council director of field services.
Each district held four or five day camps at schools where there were strong packs with dedicated parental involvement. Pack parents helped staff the camps and followed up with calls to campers' families, reminding them of the sign-up night four days later. Attendance at each camp ranged from 50 to 120 boys.
Volunteer Denise Calabrese, who helped with archery at four day camps, says the boys "learned a lot of skills they don't normally get to do, and they did a lot of things they didn't know they could do. You get kids who say, 'I can't do this; it's too hard,' [but] after a little bit of guidance, they all seem to get it pretty well."
Calabrese is a committee member and Tiger Cub leader with Pack 715, chartered to J. Marlan Walker International School. At Walker, about 90 percent of the parents came to pick up their children after the day camp. The Cubmaster and other leaders were there to meet them. "We were able to talk to a lot of the parents," says Calabrese.
"Where kids were bused to school and parents picked them up after the camp session, we had a higher percentage sign up at School Night for Scouting," Redmond says. At schools where most boys walked home after the camp, fewer signed up for Cub Scouting "because we didn't have contact with the parents."
The council has a history of good relationships with schools and the ability to distribute School Night for Scouting fliers. However, "you have to find other ways [to get the word out]," Redmond says, because "[fliers alone are] not enticing them to come out." The day camps, on the other hand, presented in fall and spring, are effective in sparking interest in Cub Scouting.
More recruitment successes
The council's Soccer and Scouting program has attracted about 1,000 Hispanic youth to Cub Scouting. Volunteers are both coaches and Scout leaders.
Soccer and Scouting units meet once during the week for soccer practice and Scouting activities and again on Saturday for competition. And the council held a soccer tournament during its annual Scout Expo.
Scoutreach packs meet at housing projects and targeted schools. Boys who aren't likely to join traditional packs, for lack of transportation or other reasons, can be Cub Scouts here.
The council hires experienced leaders to organize and lead units, providing continuity where parental participation may be sporadic. The Cub Scouts have weekly meetings, plus field trips and camping.
In 2004, the council used the BSA Cub Scout Roundup theme, "Race to Cub Scouting," which was also the theme for 2005.
The traditional fall kick-off was the Mayors' Pinewood Derby, which received good media coverage. In late August, the mayors of five cities competed at Las Vegas City Hall, each racing cars made by a Cub Scout from each mayor's city.
Though the council's recruitment methods have been successful, Redmond says it's important to always be willing to consider different approaches and innovative methods for reaching boys of Cub Scout age.
"You have to be willing to change, to revise things, to look at different ways to recruit," he says, "because things never stay the same."
Editor's note: These are the final two of four profiles by contributing editor Suzanne Wilson on recent successful local council Cub Scout recruiting efforts. See reports on the Otetiana Council (Rochester, N.Y.) and the Crossroads of America Council (Indianapolis, Ind.) in the October 2005 issue of Scouting magazine. The issue is available at www.scoutingmagazine.org. Click on "Archive/Back Issues."
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