Schools in Scouter C.S.’s area don’t let Scout units do much promotion for ‘School Night for Scouting.’ Packs and troops are limited to sending home fliers two weeks before the event. C.S. asks about other effective, low-cost ways to advertise recruiting nights.
Scouts themselves are always your best promoters. Get them pumped up, then give them invitations to hand out to friends a week or so before the event.
Ask businesses, organizations, and churches that have signs or message boards to post notice of School Night for Scouting for a few days before the event. If your school’s parent organization has a newsletter, ask if it will list School Night for Scouting on its schedule of upcoming events at the school.
One option is to link School Night for Scouting with parent orientation, a PTA meeting, or some other event that is more heavily promoted. Our pack often provides crafts and games for the children while parents are meeting teachers.
Newport News, Va.
Let the boys you already have in your unit be your advertisement. Who better to tell the benefits of Scouting than a Scout? Having boys wear their uniforms and Scout-related T-shirts always sparks interest at my son’s school.
St. Louis, Mo.
Small community newspapers are always looking for news; a story about School Night for Scouting with a picture of a fun event from the previous year would likely be printed. (One paper prints our news releases verbatim!)
We participate in local parades and pass out fliers to those who are interested. We also set up activity booths and displays at community events and offer “open house” nights at our chartered organizations for youths to see Scouting in action. Our local council is a tremendous help in providing road signs and posters to be displayed within our communities.
Our kids’ elementary school has a back-to-school night about three weeks into each school year. The school allows the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts to set up an information table at these events. The past few years we’ve had kids from our Cub Scout pack and Brownie troop staff the table in uniform (along with adults). They also bring along projects they’ve done, pinewood derby trophies, etc. It really gets parents’ attention when they see the kids in their uniforms.
In our area, the schools publish “buzz books” with student names and phone numbers and make them available to families for a few dollars. If you have access to that type of information, Scout committee members, friends, parents of Scouts, and even Scouts needing service hours can telephone boys’ homes and deliver a scripted invitation to School Night for Scouting.
Ask a business with phones at numerous workstations to let you use them for several evenings. Make it fun and serve soda and pizza to the workers. Invite your local media to cover the phone workers in action and help publicize your message.
Jefferson City, Mo.
Every Friday, our school has a morning flag assembly at which awards are presented and announcements are made. The week before our roundup, the principal allows us to make an announcement at this assembly.
Of course, our announcement is livened up with a few words about fishing, BB guns, and archery; display of pinewood derby cars, rain gutter regatta boats, and space-derby spaceships; and a fun repeat-after-me song.
After the flag assembly, the principal allows us to talk to a few classes. Last fall, we talked to several fourth-grade classes. Guess where our biggest group of new Cub Scouts was? That’s right. First-year Webelos Scouts.
San Marcos, Calif.
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In the schools in our council, we are able to have five-minute sessions called “boy talks” with the first- through fifth-grade boys before School Night for Scouting. A speaker from the council will give a short pep talk to interest them in signing up and then give them a flier to take home. Your council needs to approach the school principals and explain the importance of Scouting to the community to get this brief access to the boys.
Technology can really be a help. The Internet, through sites like www.craigslist.org, is an excellent way to organize people and get the word out to a large audience cheaply while saving a tree or two. It’s good to remember that Scouts ought to be, as Rudyard Kipling once advised, fit in mind and body at every age. I guess that means computer savvy, too.
We had a retailer who would give up his front window for our month of recruiting so we could show off what Scouting is all about: outing. We would set up a tent, display a stove and pots, hang up our flag, and make it look like a real campsite. In the corner was a chalkboard with the time and location of our meetings. When kids saw what they were going to do, they made sure their parents got them to our meetings.
When I was district commissioner, we encountered a similar problem. To counter it, the leaders of a Cub Scout pack and a Boy Scout troop planned an outing for the weekend before School Night for Scouting. The event and date were printed on the flier that went home with the boys from school.
The Cub Scouts made a special effort to wear their uniforms on den meeting days and invited their friends and other classmates to the weekend event. The leaders planned Scout skill events and all sorts of other fun things to do that day. Signing up boys—and parents—was much easier because they all got to do and see what Scouting was all about up close and personal.
Big brothers also had a chance to see a troop in action, which generated interest in Boy Scouts. The actual School Night for Scouting went on as planned for boys and parents who could not attend the outing.
I use paint markers to promote my causes on the back and side windows of my Jeep. You might call it a mobile billboard.
Keep the message tasteful and as professional-looking as possible. Park at the school early to pick up your kids, and wait until most kids are gone before you leave. You might even have a few Scouts around your vehicle demonstrating the camaraderie of Scouting. I also have my “Proud of My Cub Scout” bumper sticker proudly displayed.
Remember that recruiting is every pack’s year-round responsibility. School Night for Scouting is just the council and district offering an opportunity for recruitment.
Make posters that show the values of Scouting and list your meeting time, meeting location, and a contact name and number. (You could even include tear-off strips that parents could take with them.) Place these posters in local businesses that boys and parents frequent, as well as local churches and organizations like YMCA’s and day-care centers.
Work with the principal of the school to see if a poster can be placed near the front door of the school. Be sure to specify a time frame and remove your posters at the end of the time.
The most successful recruiting technique we found was to have recruiting sheets printed up that listed all the packs and troops in town with contact information and meeting dates and locations. We took them to all the schools in the area the week before school began for distribution with the packets that went out the first week of school. We also left extra copies with the school secretaries. Work with the other packs and troops instead of fighting them. You’ll all get more boys.