When we left off I teased that we would talk about open houses and Troop visits.
But going back to the relationships that have built with the Packs, they get the first invites to the open house, even though they should be familiar with the workings of the Troop.
The open house or Troop visit is an important part in the recruiting process. There are as many ways to do this as there are troops, but the important part is that you need to conduct these events. They are opportunities for parents to see the Troop in its environment, they get to see the youth leaders, they have the opportunity to talk to the committee and ask questions about the Troop. It is a great way to show case the unit.
Our Troop is a backpacking troop. At our open house that we do annually we present the Troop as it normally camps… in the backpack style. Our philosophy is to be very up front and show the Troop how we are. We set up a camp site in our meeting hall to show the types of gear we use and provide lists of the recommended and required gear. This is important for the new parent to know just what they are getting into.
We have photo albums and a slide show running for the new parents and Scouts to see, as well as invoke a story or two from the older Scouts. I think that is real important for both new Scouts and parents to see. It is the shared experience of the Scout that is what we are selling. This is a big part of the promise that we deliver.
Our open house is not on a meeting night. Meeting nights are for meetings… and Troop visits.
During a Troop visit we conduct business as usual. When we have visitors, we treat them as guests and have a regular meeting. We think this is important so the visiting Scout and his parents see just what a meeting looks like and they get a real feel for the Junior leaders and how the Troop operates. Keep in mind sometimes this is ugly and confusing to the untrained eye.. that is where Assistant Scoutmaster (insert name here) comes in. He is the wrangler of parents and acts as the translator as the evening progress’s. He can be a great help in answering questions and explaining the process’s that are unfolding before these shocked parents… he should also be versed in treating for that shock and also how to fill out applications and merit badge counselor interest cards. The bottom line is that the Troop visit should reflect the true flavor of the Troop. If you put out your best, then it is fair that you should be that way all the time… it is ok for visitors to see reality and understand that young men run this program.
Some key items for both the Troop visit and the open house:
1. A copy of the Troops Annual plan
2. A copy of the Troop budget
3. A list of “Must haves” that include uniform standards, gear, handbook, and other things unique to your Troop.
4. Business cards for key leaders (Scoutmaster, Committee Chair, Membership chair, Treasurer)
5. Hand out with “GO TO INFO” : Troop website, email address’s, resources, FAQ’s.
In our next edition of “If you build they will come” we will talk about the annual plan, the meat and potatoes of the recruiting effort.
Have a Great Scouting Day!