Nuts and Bolts of Leader Recruiting and Organizing

OK, recruiting leaders is hard, we get that.  But recruiting and training capable leaders is essential to having a Cub Scout Program, so rather than using pie in the sky platitudes, or recruiting plans that minimize what you really should aim for, or wishing on a star that you’ll get leaders, here’s some tools to help you.

First, get organized.  Identify what roles you want to recruit for, figure out ways that parents can understand how they can help.

  • But don’t just recruit for Cubmaster and Den Leader and random unassigned committee members. Yes, to have a Charter with the BSA, every Pack must have five leaders or more, including a Cubmaster, at least one Den Leader, a Committee Chair, a Chartered Organization Representative, and one or more Committee Members (a Chartered Organization Representative may also serve as Committee Chair or as a Committee Member).
  • Ask for specific kinds of helpers, so that people who might be Cubmaster and Den Leader see that people will help them and how they will help.
    • And Den Leader is the hardest job.
    • In Cub Scouting, you’re either a Den Leader, or your job is to help your Den Leader.
    • Recruit Assistants to Den Leaders too.
      • List specific roles for Committee Members and helpers to support (how they will help in the Den and the Pack).
      • Be sure everyone has a real role.
  • To help with that, this District Resource page has a Pack Job Sign-Up Chart Word Document that you can revise to fit your Calendar of Fun Activities and Pack Program, and how you organize.
    • As you get volunteers, you can complete that, and share it with your Pack.
    • This includes a note that you’ll need to “scale up” your number of Den Leaders if you end up with more than around 10 or 12 at any rank level.

Second, set expectations of Parent Helping.  Several Packs use a policy called “Every Parent Helps” or “Every Parent Leads”, as a condition to joining, so that every parent is making a commitment to be a leader and help the leaders.

  • That’s consistent with the idea that Cub Scouting is a family program – it shouldn’t be a “drop off” program.
    • Cub Scouting is something that youth and parents and family are involved with.
    • 2020 Update:  With a Plan "B" Program of Family-Led Activities, parents must be leaders of their own Scouts -- no drop-offs.
  • If you make that contract “the promise” by those families signing up, share ways to help, and follow up (like keep up the Pack Job Sign-Up Chart and follow up with those who don’t volunteer).
    • With enough "light work" roles on the Pack Job Sign-Up Chart, every parent can help with something.
    • Some Packs use a “point system” to encourage volunteering.

Third, use all ways to ask for and get volunteers.  Paper Surveys, Group Pitches, ask for a Show of Hands,,, emails, texts, phone calls, one on one personal asks for a specific job, take a prospect for coffee, remind a parent that it is their time to help – there are lots of ways to get this done, and it is an ongoing process as a Pack plans for a coming year, receives expressions of interest and youth applications, and engages families at events.

  • At some point – whether a parent planning meeting before back to school “Meet and Greets” start, or at a Sign-Up Event, or as a “breakaway” from a fun Pack event – many Packs will need to have “The ‘We Need a Den Leader’ Talk” with parents about Dens, Den Leaders and how your Scouts need more Den Leaders.
  • Attached on the Signup Events page is a word document for Den Formation Discussions, with script ideas.
    • This has a script for “the whole Pack” (if you have no Den Leaders at all).
    • And scripts for “den by den” discussions to try to get Den Leader and Assistants.
    • As part of that, you might do the “Yardstick/Timeline” demonstration attached on this District Resource page.
  • See our resource attached below called Fifty Ways to Lure a Leader, with now over 70 tips and tricks to recruit, recognize, retain, and replace leaders, so that you can have a strong program.  Ideas are from the field – find some that work for you.

More Ideas to Get Parents Involved.  Lots of ways to do this:

  • Some use the BSA Talent Survey to start – ultimately you’re going to ask face to face to get to know parents.
  • Too few leaders wearing too many “hats” for all the little jobs they do?  Here’s a tip:  make a set of “party hats” with each of those jobs taped to a hat, and show “who wears the hats?” right now.
    • Yeah, Cubmaster probably wears too many hats.
    • Move from “wear” all the hats to “share” all the hats so that everyone is wearing one.
  • One of our tips is to use a demonstration of how to share jobs, so attached on this District Resource page is a word document that lists common Pack Jobs that have to be done by someone – find a way to share those.
    • You can deal those cards out, asking if it’s fair that all of them are held by the Cubmaster or Den Leader.
    • Or it if isn’t fair, how can we share?
    • Or attach those to the party hats in the earlier example right above.
  • And how about another incentive: leader social events.  Not "meetings", just social events, like a cookout where friends who happen to be leaders can relax and unwind and get to know each other better. 

Stay Successful, My Friend: Use Succession Planning.  You don’t want to look back at your Pack and say, “too bad they folded”.  One way to make sure they don’t fold is to ease people into roles using active succession planning.  But start early so that you can ensure that your successors succeed.

  • This can be a great way to get the reluctant volunteer to step up.  If they say “well, I’d like to, but I really don’t know enough now”, let that person “shadow” a leader for a year (or for half a year) as an assistant before taking over the role.
    • And if you make this “the norm” – and everyone knows that “someone comes after me” – it can be easier to get people to volunteer.
  • Remember that parents of your fifth grade Webelos Scouts are “short-timers” and most (maybe all) will “check out” by crossover.
    • If any of them have Pack roles, you’re going to need their successors right away to get up to speed.
    • You’re actually much better off having them step back “just to assist” the new person, so that the new person really “owns” the job, but has active help for that first part of the program year.

Be helpful, friendly, courteous and kind with your parents: let them “do their best” and join you

File Name Description
50 Ways to Lure a Leader Download
Den Leader Recruiting Scripts Download
Pack Job Sign Up Chart Download
Pack Role Cards of Pack Jobs Download
Yardstick Timeline Pack Family Recruiting Script Download