If you build it they will come pt.1

Its that time of the year again when District Membership chairs, Troop and Pack Committee Chairs, and leaders all over Scouting start seeking out the future of the program.  Yes ladies and gentlemen, its recruiting season in the BSA and the fever pitch ramping up.

With a new and exciting program delivery method for the Cub Scout program hitting the shelves, and the BSA’s commitment to enhancing the recruiting effort through the BeAScout program, you can see that an effort this year on membership is a high priority.
Membership is the life blood of any organization, and Scouting is no exception… but that really goes without saying, right?

Whiz Bang programs, fancy fliers, and cool websites are great tools in the recruiting effort, but I will share with you a tried an true secret to effective recruiting. 
A GREAT PROGRAM at the unit level.  No matter what type of a unit it is, Cub Scout Pack, Boy Scout Troops, or Venture Crews.. if you build it (the program) they will come.
I call this the “Field of Dreams” philosophy. 
Simply put, you need a great program to both sustain membership and recruit new members.
So the question then is how do build this great program?
Let me give you a few tips that have worked for me.  I apologize to the Cub Scout leaders at this point because I will really only focus on the programs that are Scout led (Boy Scouts and Venture Scouts).

And having said that… that is the first key.  SCOUT LEADERSHIP.
The Scouts need to be the owners of the plan, they need to be the decision makers of the plan, and they need to be, with assistance, coaching, and support of adults, the folks that execute the plan.  Ownership in their plan leads to leadership development and action.
An annual plan that allows the Scouts to use their imagination, test their skills, seek adventure, and challenge themselves are key.  Allow them to develop that plan.  The beauty is that imagination, skill levels, adventure and challenge are extremely subjective and can be tailored to any type of unit.
Allow the Senior Patrol leader or Crew President the chance to lead.   They will develop the right course of action when they understand that leadership requires them to provide Purpose (through their Vision and plan) Direction, by communicating their plan and setting an example of skills, attitudes, and Scout like behavior, and Motivation.
But how does this get new Scouts into your unit?
When parents see a unit operating the right way, they want to learn more.  Understanding that it is not always pretty (but that’s the Scoutmaster and Committee chairs job to communicate that to the new parent) and that this is the simple design of the founder Baden Powell, the parent will soon see that in order for their son to get the most out of his Scouting experience, he needs to be in a unit that has a great program. 
We will talk more about the other pieces to building the program in the next few posts.. so stay tuned!

Have a Great Scouting Day

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