Scouts BSA Troop Recruiting

Scouts BSA Recruiting Topics on this Page (click to jump):


See this Video for Ideas and Resources about Recruiting in Scouts BSA Troops and Venturing Crews.

The program focuses on how the Six Steps to Successful and Sustainable Recruiting apply in those units of older Scouts – with special focus on the essential need for activities that youth want to do and for peer to peer recruiting by current Scouts in Troops and Crews.

While the text below refers to Troops, the ideas apply as well to Venturing Crews.

Scouts BSA Troops Should Recruit Too

Most of our Recruiting Resources are focused on Cub Scout Recruiting.

But Scouts BSA Troops should recruit too – and not just from Cub Scout Packs.  The Steps to Successful and Sustainable Recruiting apply as well to Scouts BSA Troops:

  1. Make a Calendar of Activities – Your Troop Program:  What You Do, not just “when you meet”.  Even more than Cub Scouting, nobody will be excited by a program described just as “we have meetings every Tuesday from 6:00 to 7:30 at the Church”.  But youth will get excited by the challenging activities that they plan and do – and that is the lure for other youth to join.
  2. Let People Know – Promote Your Program!  Once you have a program plan, be sure everyone knows it, and shares it.  If your youth leaders really lead, and own the program, it should be easy to get them fired up to share what they’re doing – youth to youth.  Parents can share too, parent to parent, to support their Scouts.
  3. Recruit More Leaders and Helpers:  While recruiting adult leaders is not as existential a problem in Scouts BSA as in Cub Scouting – since you don’t need to recruit den leaders – having adult support will ensure that youth-led program plans can come off seamlessly. 
  4. Grow your School and Community Presence:  Important indirectly for promotion purposes, and directly because School and Community Presence can provide support from allies in these places.
  5. Sign-Up Events – With Exciting Hands On Activities:  And not just to “welcome Webelos Scouts” who might cross over into your Troop (though that’s very important) – you can also have welcoming activity events for the peers of your older Scouts who might want in on the action.
  6. More Activities:  Is the reason why they will stay in Scouting – keep the “outing” in Scouting, and Scout out new places to go and things to do.

Key Concept for Scouts BSA Troops – Youth to Youth Recruiting

Scouts BSA Troops should be Youth run.

That includes recruiting.

Troops recruit most successfully when youth run their Troop and plan their program – and sell their program to their peers – who see what the Scouts are doing and say, “we want to do that too”.

  • What does your Patrol Leaders Council plan that is exciting and appealing for their peers to do?
    • Let the Scouts come up with their activity plan.
    • That’s the one they will want to share with friends who might join the Troop.
  • Face it: A parent might want their child to join a Troop, but that doesn’t mean the youth wants to join.
    • If the youth’s friends want their friends to join, then you have a better chance to get them to join.
  • So empower your youth to recruit their peers.
    • That includes letting them do that with the social media tools they already use
    • Teach them responsible smartphone use, so that they can both be safe online and use their social media to show what they’re doing – and maybe attract some friends to join?

That doesn’t mean you don’t also reach out to parents, but you want to get the Scouts empowered so that they “seal the deal” with their peers.

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Program and Activities – What You Do Is Why They’ll Join

Troops (and Patrols within Troops) can set themselves apart from generic programs by having a robust activity program that is exciting and appealing to other youth. 

The National Resources at troopleader.scouting.org can be a menu for what your Patrol Leaders Council might want to undertake in upcoming years (that, and other Troop program resources are found through this Atlanta Area Council page).  There are program feature modules for over 48 topics, giving resources to tackle topics like:

  • Outdoor skills like hiking, orienteering, backpacking, cooking, winter camping and wilderness survival; Specialty outdoor activities like caving, rappelling, rock climbing, and COPE (Challenging Outdoor Personal Experiences), fishing, cycling and pioneering;
  • Aquatic adventures like SCUBA diving, paddle sports, canoeing and kayaking;
  • Shooting sports, from rifle shooting to shotguns to archery;
  • Other activities, like first aid and emergency preparedness, games, sports (like skiing and snowboarding and skateboarding), music, and all parts of STEM.

The National materials include planning tips to help bring those activities to life, through annual, monthly and meeting planning, with a special emphasis on planning for campouts and other outings.  Your Troop – or patrols in your Troop – might set sights on High Adventure, including:

  • Backpacking and more at Philmont Scout Ranch – if your two year plan includes treks to Philmont, you might build your monthly activities around backpacking, and other activities that can be done at Philmont, including horseback treks called “Cavalcade”.
  • Backcountry canoe trekking at any of the Northern Tier sites – prepare for this at any of the great canoe waterways in and around Georgia, starting at Allatoona Aquatics Base.
  • Warmer water adventure is found at Seabase, with Adventures ranging from scuba to sailing to kayaking and more.
  • Closest to Atlanta is The Summit Bechtel Reserve in West Virginia, with a regular (all ages) Summer Camp program, plus High Adventure tracks of kayak and rafting, shooting sports, ATV, backcountry biking, climbing, or a combination of adventures.
  • Council-sponsored High Adventure programs, including older Scout offerings at Woodruff Scout Camp and Bert Adams Scout Camp, but also at our neighboring Councils around the Southeast.
  • To help Troops plan for adventure, a great resource is Powderhorn – a three weekend experience to give older Scouts and Adult Leaders a taste of many activities and tools to lead those activities in their home Troops.
  • DIY High Adventure, where you do it yourself and plan your activity, whether extended backpacking in the Southern Appalachian Mountains (on the AT or otherwise), cycling (maybe building up to doing BRAG – the annual week long Bicycle Ride Across Georgia), swamp camping and canoeing in the Okefenokee Swamp, or whatever floats your boat.

Need ideas about Places to Go Camping?  Some ideas are also in the Program Planning Guide for the Atlanta Area Council.  More ideas are at this local District Page of Places to Go and Things to Do Around Atlanta.

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Promote Your Troop – Social Media and Media Release Resources

Don’t hide in your (Scout) hut – use social media and other resources to promote your Troop and what you do.

  • Our promotion tips page has a Pack focus, but the tools there work when used by Troop members too.
  • Having flyer handouts showing what you do and how to join is a useful tool – and can be shared in person or over email or social media.
  • Targeting youth and parents with messages about your upcoming and recent activities can make people want to participate, or at least learn more about your Troop.
  • Some excellent ideas about marketing to youth who are Troop and Crew age are found in the 2024 BSA Marketing Bootcamp Video 2, found at scouting.org/recruitment/ (see the video at vimeo.com/927611449, starting at 42:15.  A pdf of the slides and script is in the Downloads below.)

Don’t just use Facebook – or use Facebook for those who use it (more likely, that will be parents) and use other media for those who use other media.

  • If your Scouts use TikTok, Snapchat, Insta, YouTube, GroupMe, Band or WhatsNext, let them share on their channels – that’s where their peers are and so that’s how to reach them.
  • Teach them to use social media safely (personal safety training is your friend here) and let them be influencers in their online worlds.

Pictures and video are more effective than words – and pictures and video of your Scouts can be most effective.  This National video is a pretty engaging look at what Scouts BSA Troops can do – there are many options there in the BSA Brand Center that you can use to show Scouting.

Making your own video is a great option – here’s a homemade video from a Troop showing their Scouts in action.  And that video is from 2008 – your videos today will be much better!

  • You and your Scouts might make a similar video.
  • See the Troop flyer examples attached below, that you can copy and edit with your pictures of your Scouts at your events – update them, keep them on hand with parents and leaders because you never know when you’ll run into somebody who wants to know what your Scouts BSA Troop does.
  • More about flyers (including DIY flyers) are in our Promote page – while that page is about Pack, the medium can work for Troops and Crews too.

To help your youth, an example of a Media Release is attached in the Downloads below that could be used by your Scouts BSA Troop Historian/Publicist as part of how your Troop gets the word out to local media, from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution to local papers and online media like Nextdoor or other local newsy sites.

  • See more ideas about building up your School and Community Presence, because those institutions can be your friends and supporters, and help you attract new members and leaders.
  • The Media Release example attached in the Downloads below is about a Scout earning the Eagle Rank, but there are so many other stories to tell, from hikes and campouts to High Adventure to Service Projects to anything else you do – like your Open House event.  Don’t just use it for what you “did” – use to let people know what you will “do” in the coming weeks. 
  • Don’t be shy about connecting with the community more in service and other activities. 
    • Is one of your Scouts leading an Eagle service project? 
    • Can they benefit if they invite the community to help and lead them once they arrive?  Sure. 
    • Are you doing an activity (pick one: first aid teaching, bike repair for Cycling Merit Badge, fishing day, self-defense instruction, more) that a community organization might want to co-sponsor or that the community might want to attend?  Why not invite?

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Troop Open House Events

Troop Recruiting is much more youth-targeted than Cub Scout recruiting (which is heavily targeted at parents and families) because the youth – not the parents – will decide whether they want to join your Scouts BSA Troop.

  • To help them want to join your Troop, your can have “Open House” or other “Welcome” joining events – the best events are active, hands-on, exciting.
  • Use your resources and ideas to sell what your Troop does and who you are, and let your Patrol Leaders Council decide what will attract others – it might be a Troop Meeting with activities for visiting youth with Scouting activities like fire building, an ax yard, and/or cooking, but it could be something completely different, like an event at a climbing gym, bowling, a pizza party, or whatever your Scouts want to do that sells your Troop.
  • The National page on Troop Open House events has many good ideas and resources.
  • The Atlanta Area Council has a new interest in Professional support for Units that want to conduct Open House events and want to get School Buzz Up support to promote them.  Contact Field Director Richard Fallon for ideas.

Tell Parents Too.  Even though the primary focus is on your current Scouts recruiting their friends and peers to join your Troop, adult leaders will want to also brief parents on how the Troop operates, so that they will be supportive of their child’s joining decision – and support the Troop.

  • The high points to cover for parents will include values and positive outcomes (those might not be on the youth radar), as well as how parents can support what the youth plan, lead and do – and how memorable and rewarding experiences like High Adventure can be in a Scouts BSA Troop.
  • One Troop that has had great success in recruiting keeps a focus on a vision statement for their troop: “Young people, leading skillfully, making good choices, serving others!” 
  • And for their youth, they share a version of that vision statement: “Scouts having fun, enjoying adventures, making friends and achieving.”

Orient Everyone.  Be sure that your new families know how your Troop operates – it will be a mystery to those new to Scouting and those coming from a Pack need to know the differences.

  • Many Troops share a Frequently Asked Questions document or other resource that highlights how you operate in areas like youth leader election timing, Patrol Leader’s Council operation, advancement review and testing process, and other information that Scouts and/or their parents will want to know.
  • Giving parents a head start through a new parent orientation of the essential things to know is helpful to keeping parents engaged and supportive of their Scouts.
  • While the focus of our “New Parent Orientation” page is on Packs, the same principles apply to supporting Troops, and can often be covered with parents during an early Troop meeting.

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Cub Scout Contacts and Fifth Grade Spring Scouts

Are you reaching out to Cub Scout Packs to let them know what your Troop does?

  • Are you letting those Cub Scouts be impressed by what your Scouts do?
  • Are you letting the parents of those Cub Scouts be impressed by what your Scouts do?
  • Do they know that your Troop is the Troop they should want to join?

The Cub Scout Program is aligned with what the older Scouts do in Troops.  There’s hiking, camping, fitness, and other outdoor active Adventure in Cub Scouting, like cycling, swimming and fishing.

NEW IN 2024: Packs Need Troops To Help With The New Bobcat Adventure!  Did you know: starting in the summer of 2024, “Bobcat” is not a joining “rank” badge you earn once, but is an Adventure that a Cub Scout earns every year – and every year is different.  Especially for Fifth Grade Arrow of Light Scouts.

  • For Fifth Grade Arrow of Light Dens, they need Troops to help.  One of the Arrow of Light Bobcat requirements is “With your patrol or with your parent/legal guardian visit a Scouts BSA Troop.” 
    • Note: this doesn’t have to be a Troop “meeting” – it could be a local hike or cookout or bike ride or field trip or fishing or invite them to a campout or service project. 
    • Whatever it is, make it special for the Cub Scouts and their families.
  • This is not a “we can wait until winter” project:  Cub Scout leaders are told that the Bobcat Adventure should be the first Adventure earned … so Arrow of Light dens will be keen to visit a Troop as soon as School starts back up.  (Hint to Troops: Be Prepared.  By Summer.)
  • Other Arrow of Light Bobcat requirements include “Learn about the patrol method and discuss the benefits”, "Choose a Patrol name and elect a patrol leader”, and “Make a patrol flag that includes everyone’s name”. 
    • Your Troop and Youth Leaders might want to be sure that their Patrol Method game is as strong as the Fifth Grade Arrow of Light Scouts. 
    • Do not let them fail at the game “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader!”

Play the “Long Game” with the Pack – Do Activities Together.  As long as your Troop and Patrol Leaders Council is paying attention to Fifth Grade Cub Scouts, think about the five classes of Cub Scouts that will follow – are there activities that your Troop could do that could be done with the whole Cub Scout Pack?

  • What does your Patrol Leaders Council plan that is exciting and appealing for younger youth to do?
    • Do you plan events to do with Arrow of Light Dens of 5th Grade Scouts?
    • Are there activities that the younger Cub Scouts could do?  Sure, they won’t hike or bike as far as the Troop, but you can schedule “out and back” hiking/biking where younger ones don’t go as far.
    • Many events (fishing, anyone?) don’t even require going far.
  • They would want that, both for Cub Scout Advancement, and to see if they want to join your Troop.
    • It doesn’t have to be a “dumbed down” event that makes your Troop Scouts think “ugh, do we have to babysit the young ones?”
    • Some destinations and activities can be scaled to be challenging for both.
      • One Troop we know uses a “winter camp” on a mountain campground where there’s a large cabin for warmth should anyone need it.
      • Others have used camping/backpacking events, where all camp to get to know each other on Friday, then some older Troop Scouts backpack off Saturday to return on Sunday (one year, none of the Webelos Scouts would allow their parents to drive them home until the backpackers were back -- they had to hear about it from the backpackers).
  • Don’t forget sending some of your Scouts to the Pack to serve as Den Chiefs.  Cub Scouts will be impressed.
  • Also: help out at Pack events, like Pinewood Derbies. 

Don’t Forget Other Fifth Graders!  Are you reaching out in the late winter and early spring to every fifth grader aged 10 or older to join – even if they are not in Cub Scouts or didn’t finish the Arrow of Light?

  • Any Fifth Grader aged 10 or older may join a Scouts BSA Troop after March 1.
  • They can join even if they didn’t earn the Arrow of Light!
  • They can join even if they were never in Cub Scouting at all!
  • As outlined in this On Scouting blog, no longer do they have to wait until Fifth Grade is over to start integrating into your Troop.

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More Resources to Help Troop Recruiting

Want more? See these sites:

How about Venturing Crews?  Very similar to Troops (except recruiting older youth), but for more, see this page.

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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
2024 Boot Camp Script BSA Recruit 365 Clary Pdf of slides and script from in the 2024 BSA Marketing Bootcamp Video 2, found at scouting.org/recruitment/ (see the video at vimeo.com/927611449, starting at 42:15) Download
5th Grade Scouts BSA Recruiting Reminder A Flyer Reminder about the Scouts BSA Joining Rule – any Fifth Grader 10 years or older may join after March 1 Download
Eagle Award Press Release Template A Word document you could revise for your Eagle Scouts to share with local media (newspapers, school, community, church). Use the template for other Scout activities too. Download
Flyer Edge Troop A formatted Word document you could use to put YOUR photos and text into and share as a “what we do” and “who we are” handout. Download
Flyer Edge Troop631 An example of the Flyer Edge Troop as completed for a Troop. Download
Sample Picture Flyer | Troop 631 Not as arty but very photo-forward, this is a super simple Word document with Troop Pictures. For more art, use a flyer app like Canva. Download