Scouts BSA Troop Recruiting
Scouts BSA Recruiting Topics on this Page (click to jump):
- Key Concept for Scouts BSA Troops – Youth to Youth Recruiting
- Program and Activities – What You Do Is Why They’ll Join
- Promote Your Troop – Social Media and Media Release Resources
- Troop Open House Events
- Cub Scout Contacts and Fifth Grade Spring Scouts
Scouts BSA Troops Should Recruit Too
Most of our Recruiting Resources are focused on Cub Scout Recruiting because those ranks must be filled every year, and are easily adapted to a school-year program calendar. 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:
- Make a Calendar of Activities – Your Troop Program: What You Do, not “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.
- 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. Parents can share too.
- 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.
- 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.
- Sign-Up Events: 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.
- 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.
See these National Troop Recruiting Ideas (“Year-Round Guide to Scout Recruiting”), with ideas about How to Graduate Webelos Scouts Into a Troop, conducting a Troop Open House, and encouraging Youth to Youth Recruiting, plus a link to BSA Marketing Tools. Another resource from a longtime volunteer is this outline for a school presentation focused on Camping.
It’s a Youth run program. That includes recruiting. Troops recruit most successfully when youth ask their peers to join, or their peers 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:
- While parents might want their child to join a Scouts BSA Troop, 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.
- Let your current Scouts pitch their Troop
- 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?
Yes, that doesn’t mean you don’t also reach out to families, but you want to get the Scouts involved too so that they “seal the deal”.
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. 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 led 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 posted here. More ideas are at this local District Page of Places to Go and Things to Do Around Atlanta.
Wait – What About The Pandemic? How do we Scout On? Safely, and by following a plan. The BSA has a COVID-19 resource site at www.scouting.org/coronavirus that includes a “Restart Scouting Checklist” that includes guidance on whether you can restart in person activities and key tips on how to do it. The Atlanta Area Council resources at www.atlantabsa.org/safety-health also will be valuable as you mesh those safety ideas with those of your Chartered Organization and/or meeting locations and the concerns of your Troop Leadership and families. You will want to be clear and direct with Scouts and adults about how you gather so that they follow the guidelines established – all Scouting is local, and so are your rules about how you gather in your locales. In addition to following required and/or safe practices like physical distancing, masking, hand hygiene and surface cleaning, health screening, group size limits, solo tenting (except for family members), limited carpooling, and safe dining protocols. Many Troops will follow ideas like:
- Outdoor activities – limit gatherings to outdoors, both for safety and because we’re an outdoor program.
- Smaller activities – for large Troops, the emphasis might be on Patrol activities that can be better monitored for safety instead of larger activities.
- Shorter activities – especially helpful in pulling in Scouts and families who are reluctant to reengage with Scouting, local day or half day hikes, biking and other activity will be seen as safer and more controlled than going off for a weekend campout.
- Adult health supervision – having adult leaders and parent helpers engaged to advise and enforce your health and safety guidelines will allow youth and program leaders to focus on the Scouting activities.
You’ll find more ideas in this “10 Tips For Leading A Troop During The Pandemic” blog post that features the Senior Patrol Leader of Troop 77 from our Hightower Trail District.
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.
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 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 (Cyber Chip 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.
- 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.
To help your youth, an example of a Media Release is attached 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 How do you let others know what you do? (the media ideas there apply as well to Scouts BSA Troops) – and see 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 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.
While Troop Recruiting is much more youth-targeted than Cub Scouts (which is heavily targeted at parents and families), the youth will decide whether they really want to join your Scouts BSA Troop.
- To help them want to join your Troop, your Scouts BSA Troop can have “Open House” or other “Welcome” joining events.
- 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.
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 may 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.
Are you reaching out to Cub Scout Packs to let them know what you do? Do they know that your Troop is the Troop they should want to join? 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 after March 1, regardless of whether they earned the Arrow of Light – as outlined in this Bryan on Scouting blog, no longer do they have to wait until Fifth Grade is over to start integrating into your Troop.
- What does your Patrol Leaders Council plan that is exciting and appealing for younger youth to do?
- Do you plan events to do with Dens of Webelos Scouts? 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).
Since 2015, the Cub Scout Program is aligned with what the older Scouts do in Troops. There’s more hiking, camping, outdoors, active Adventure in Cub Scouting. Cub Scout Packs would love it if your Troop helped them put on Cub Scout Adventures that relate to hiking and camping and other Scout skills. As an aid to Troops helping out, our Arrow of Light Advancement resource page has links to Adventures that those Arrow of Light Scouts need.