New Parent Orientation After Sign Up Events

Parent Orientation Topics on this Page (click to jump):

A bunch of families signed up -- now what? 

  • You need to get parents up to speed.
  • Tell them just what they need to know now
    • And make other information available if they want more information.

Ideas for how to successfully bring parents on board follow … 

Methods of Parent Orientation – Live, Video and Handouts.

When and how you do a Parent Orientation is up to you – here’s three ways that work together:

  1. Live In Person Orientation Social.  With questions and socializing.  Often on the side of a Fun Pack Event. Live In Person is best – a must!
  2. Zoom and/or Video.  For those who can’t make the live event.  A recording of a good, crisp, fun orientation can be useful to onboard new families at any time!
  3. Handouts and/or Website.  With a deeper dive into written information about “how you Cub Scout”.  You need a script for a live event, so Handouts (maybe on a Website) are helpful – and some people learn better by reading than be listening. 

For most Packs, a live Parent Orientation Social comes shortly after your biggest Sign-Up Event – you may do more than one (especially if you have multiple Fun Pack Events with Parent Orientation Socials on the side). While a meeting is key method, it is just one of the many methods of sharing information, including:

  • "Live In Person Orientation Social" -- Yeah, call it a “social” – not a “meeting”. 
    • Better, do this as part of (on the side of) a Pack Fun Event. 
      • Then you’ll just invite families to the “Swim Party” or “Pack Cookout” or “Kickball and Kites Day” or … whatever your Fun Pack Event is.  And do the orientation “on the side” there.
      • Be honest: new parents won’t clamor to attend an Orientation Meeting on its own.
      • (“Attend the Orientation Meeting” has a strong “eat your vegetables” vibe.  Yech.  “Pack Parent Party” sounds better.)
    • To maximize parent attendance, it needs to be a social event with food and fun. 
      • To maximize parent attention, it needs to be an event where parents are not distracted by their kids. 
      • That’s the reason to do this at a Fun Pack Event. 
      • Lean on some leaders – ideally an affiliated Scouts BSA Troop, maybe your Unit Commissioner – to provide activities (and/or snacks) for kids during the Parent Orientation part and let the parents hang out with other parents.
  • Pack Orientation Zoom (or Videos) – Can all parents make your live orientation?  Of course not – but they need orientation too. 
    • Many Packs will have a Zoom Orientation after a live orientation.  (Some will record it to share with others who can’t make the Zoom Live). 
    • Some Packs create YouTube videos on key orientation topics, and share those on Website, Facebook Page and/or YouTube page.
      • For an example, see this “What is Cub Scouts?” video that features 5 questions (like “What is Cub Scouts?”, “Who is Cub Scouts for?”, “What about activities and meetings?”, “What are Adventures (and Rank Advancement)?” and “How Much Does It Cost?”)
      • That video can also give you an idea about how to cover things briefly – or maybe it can be something you can show as part of your orientation.
  • Orientation Outline.  Attached below, from Cub Leader Online Training, is a Sample Parent Meeting Agenda.  Edit for a first Parent Orientation Social, keeping in mind the thoughts shared below.
    • The Pack Parent Orientation PowerPoint template attached below is generic, and designed to “keep it simple” as much as possible. 
    • It can be downloaded, copied and revised to reflect your Pack and the key points you need to cover in orientation.  Some of the script for a Sign-Up Event may need to be reviewed.
    • Don’t Try To Cover Too Much!  Keep it to 30 Minutes Max, and get back to socializing, food, and fun!
  • Pack Key Information Handouts - Contact, Calendar and Communication – even in a live orientation event, you want to put parent information in their hands, like:
    • Pack and Den Leader Contact information -- Name, Emails, Phone, including Cellphone.
    • Key Events Scheduled -- Who, What, When, Where.
    • Pack Information Centers -- like your Website, Facebook or other Social Media site.
    • Key Parental Commitments -- some Packs highlight an "every parent helps" policy.  Maybe hand out a Parent Talent Survey, ideally one tailored to your Pack and Dens.

Then follow up: put those handouts on their screens by email or text links.

  • Topics to Cover at Orientation – What Is Most Important Now.  A parent orientation after signup is your time not only for discussion about Cub Scouting and how your Pack operates, but also other matters that your team of leaders and parents should consider – even if they are difficult, like outlining the need to fill key open positions and upcoming retirement of key leaders.  A possible agenda (hat tip to Bay Lakes Council) is:
    • Welcome and Introductions – Cubmaster or Committee Chair
    • How Our Pack Operates (Share unit calendars and Information Sheets) – Cubmaster
      • How Den and Pack Activities and Meetings work
      • Pack Special Activities/Camping
    • The Advancement Program –Advancement Chair or Committee Chair
      • An adult’s role in helping their child advance
      • When advancement loops, pins and badged are presented
      • Catching up if you must miss a meeting (resources at the Council Cub Advancement page)
    • Who pays for Scouting – Treasurer or Committee Chair
      • National Registration Fee vs. Pack Program Fees
      • Where to get a uniform and book (Free Handbooks for new signups; Scout Shop Flyer)
      • Pack fundraisers and available financial aid (Council and Pack)
    • Den Structure and Activities – Cubmaster
      • Provide time for existing den leaders to meet their new members
      • Maybe a mentor to work with dens forming new or needing to select a den leader.  This can be the time to have the “We Need a Den Leader Talk" with parents about Dens, Den Leaders and how your Scouts need more Den Leaders.  A sample script is attached below.
      • Confirm that all dens have their first meeting time, date, and location set. Help if they do not.
      • Handout & review requirements for a simple Adventure.
    • Other Volunteer Opportunities - Committee Chair
    • Wrapping Up – Cubmaster
      • Review date, time, and location for next pack activity
      • Make sure everyone has contact information for pack leadership and den leaders.
      • Thank everyone for attending!
  • Let Parents Plan to Lead and Succeed -- To help let families get a sense of Cub Scouting and how they really can be leaders, maybe let families plan how to work on a simple Adventure as they get started in a new program year.
    • To make this happen, see and share pick a simple Adventure Plan you intend to complete in the next month.
      • Walk through the parts of the meeting activity.
      • You can take volunteers to lead parts of the activity.
    • More “getting started” resources developed here in Atlanta are found at this First Meeting Plans Page.

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Supplemental Pack Information Handouts / Websites

Share Pack information centers with all families -- like your Website, Facebook or other Social Media site. You’ll want parents to have an easy place to look up your key “how to Cub Scout” information.

A great place to keep key “how we Cub Scout” information is a Pack Website that is well organized and up to date.  For some pointers about Website and Social Media sites, see this blog entitled “Does your Scout unit really need a website and social media presence?

Want more?  See “Check out some of the best pack, troop and crew websites of 2019”.  If you don’t have a website, at least put information in a document that you regularly share with families.

  • Information To Include in Websites/Handouts – because "all Scouting is Local", you can supplement the Atlanta Area Council Cub Scout Parent Orientation Guide with "the way you do it in your Pack and Dens" with supplemental "handbooks" or "Frequently Asked Questions", covering "local" matters like:
    • Your Pack Program Fees (or “Dues”) – how you collect it, and what it pays for, plus your budget reporting.  Plus explaining the two components: (1) the National BSA Registration fees collected on a calendar year basis, and (2) your Pack Program costs.
    • Your Fundraising Plan – right after you talk about your dues, share how people can do Popcorn, Camp Cards and other approved fundraisers so that the cost of Scouting is reduced.
    • Your Uniform expectations – speaking of $$, after paying new member fees and registration and Pack program costs, it can cost big $$ to get fully kitted out in Cub uniforms, so if your Pack has a more relaxed approach like "above the waist" or "neckerchief and cap optional", that can ease the burden on families and help them avoid the "up-sell" at the Scout Shop.
    • What else Parents Need to Buy – is everyone "on their own" for buying Handbooks and Pack/Council Patches, or does the Pack distribute from a stash paid out of program fees to be sure all get those items?
    • Adult Participation requirements and options – confirm any "every parent helps" policy, plus open positions that need to be filled, and other positions that can add helpers to form teams.
    • Details on your Den Meetings – what your meeting cycle is (every other week, maybe more, maybe less – on weekdays, or weekends, or alternating?), how they happen, participation rules, staying in line with your space provider, and how every parent need to help.
    • Girls – any detail about how girls will participate, since that can range from entirely separate activities from boys at that Handbook level to entirely joint activities with boys at that Handbook level.  Either way is OK - families just need to know.
    • Rank/Adventure Advancement Signoff and Awards – how you handle that reporting to and from parents, and how you handle awarding of loops, pins and patches.  Maybe ScoutBook tips if that is your parent tool.
    • Pack Communication Methods – are you email, website, Facebook, GroupMe, Newsletter, Phone Tree?  How do families sign up for events?
    • Details on Key Pack Events – like Pinewood Derby, Bike Rodeo, Blue & Gold Banquet, Campouts, etc.
    • What's New This Year – every year should bring some program changes and improvements.
  • Other Topics you might want to cover from time to time:
    • Doing Adventures – see "Tips about Den Meetings Generally As You Get Started"
    • Value of Adult Leader Training – including Youth Protection Training for all parents, because "Knowledge is Good" and that’s a first step to being a leader.
    • Recognition of Leaders – both because they deserve a big "round of applause" and to get other parents envious of the esteem in which leaders are held, so that they volunteer too!
    • Organization Charts and Details – both inside your Pack and how your Pack relates to your Chartered Organization, District and Council.
    • Scout Life Magazine – why it is a useful tool.  Share that it is online too at https://scoutlife.org/.
    • Pack Gear and Stuff – if your Pack has equipment, whether a stash of crafts and Scout Skills stuff, or a trailer with cooking and camping gear, at some point you want families and new leaders to be familiar with it.

Warning:  That's A Lot of Topics!  Good to put in a Website – don't try to cover it all in one parent orientation! 

  • There is so much detail and minutiae in a large Cub Scout Pack operation that you'll never be able to cover it all live.
    • Even if you tried, there's only so much data your parents can remember.
  • But that doesn't mean you don't put it into your Website and/or Handouts. so that if/when families have questions, they can look it up.
  • Because in a live meeting, you want to ...

Keep It Simple, Make It Fun.  But don’t say “KISMIF”! 

  • Yes, KISMIF stands for Keep It Simple, Make It Fun

But let's not use any acronyms, because that means we KICMEH, or Keep It Complicated, Make Everything Hard (by the way, that's pronounced "Kick Me!").

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Ideas about "Simple" and "Fun" Parent Sessions:

  • Welcome!  Make Events as Welcoming as Possible. Use a “Welcome Team” to … welcome!
    • Don't just mingle with people you know. 
    • If you do a Zoom session, reach out to people you don't know.
    • Invite returning families too … either they like to help and will be there, or they probably could use a refresher or update. 
  • Make Everyone the Same - No Perceived Barriers.  This will seem counter-intuitive to Adult Leaders who prize the method of "wearing the uniform", but for a meeting of parents, dress like a parent.
    • That way you're seen as a parent, just like them.
    • When you have events with the Scouts, then model the uniform.
  • Cozy.  Have some “grade level” (den level) breakout time.  Small events let new families participate more.
    • Let everyone introduce themselves and tell their story about "why we want to try Cub Scouting".
    • Have returning families tell why they like Cub Scouting.
  • Chop, Clip, Cut.  In a live "welcome" session, limit your presentation to what new parents need to know right now ... not what they might need to know later. 
    • Maybe focus on "Five Things You Need to Know" -- and that will vary by Pack and Den.
    • For example, details on spring events just are needed at all now.
    • Other topics may need a simpler approach, like Advancement in the Handbooks.
      • But you can have details in your Pack website, handbook, FAQ or other resource for those who want to look it up.
  • Maybe your Top "Five Things" to Cover at Orientation are:
  1. Contact, Calendar and Communication Handouts,
  2. Pack Program Fees or “dues” (and How You Pay),
  3. Let’s Pick One Time and Place for All Dens to Meet,
  4. Meet Your Den Leaders, and
  5. Things You Need to Buy (and Don't Need to Buy)
  • But maybe it's more like this in your Pack:
    • Maybe "2) Pack Program Fees or “dues” (and How You Pay)" should focus on "2) Fundraisers and How We Do Those To Pay the Cost of Scouting"
    • Maybe ""3) Let’s Pick One Time and Place for All Dens to Meet" will be "3) Let’s Allow Each Den to Pick What Time and Place to Meet"
    • Maybe ""4) Meet Your Den Leaders" will be "4) By the Way, We Need Den Leaders and/or Co-Leaders (Let's Talk About How You Can Do That)"
  • Maybe let Dens cover their topics in smaller groups.
    • For example, first grade families don't need to be briefed about fifth grade activities with Scouts BSA Troops leading to a late winter Crossover.
    • But fifth grade parents sure need that briefing!

Questions?  Leave plenty of time for questions.  Even if you think the question isn't one of the top things a family needs to know now if a parent is asking about it -- it's important to them!

  • And if you've created Supplemental Pack Information Handouts / Websites with detail, you can point the questioner to that document or that website.
  • And take another question.

For more, here's a Webinar about the topics covered here and a Blog about “Why a new-parent orientation is a must for your Cub Scout pack”.  See also the "Involving Adults in Cub Scouting" module found in the Cubmaster and Committee Chair sections of Cub Leader Training, and the New Member Coordinator modules, both found through https://my.scouting.org.

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Click to jump to other Recruiting Resource pages: Recruiting Resources (Home)Step One: Make a Calendar of Fun ActivitiesStep Two: Promote your Unit! (and BeAScout / Online Apps), Step Three: Recruiting LeadersStep Four: School and Community PresenceStep Five: Sign-Up EventsParent Orientation, and Scouts BSA Troop Recruiting

File Name Description
Den Leader Recruiting Discussion Script Download
Parent Pack Orientation | PPT Presentation Download
Sample New Parent Meeting Agenda Download