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48 Comments on Should you compete against other units for Scouts? If so, how?

  1. The person who is glad their unit has more scouts than another doesn’t get Scouting. I’m always happy when someone joins. Period. In fact, I encourage people to shop around and find the unit that fits them. This isn’t organized religion, it’s Scouting! :)

  2. This is no different than seeing ads for various other eating places in the lobby of your favorite sit-down and eat place!! Yes, we should support the organization which has partnered with the BSA’s local Council in providing Scouting there. But there’s room in this big ol’ tent for lots of units, chartered for lots of different reasons.

    When I was growing up, each major military command had their own Pack, Troop and in a couple of cases, Posts organized on the base. They catered to those boys whose fathers (and later mothers) were a part of that command; but they didn’t turn away other youth from other areas of the base.

    It was and is SCOUTING, and whether you did it in Troop 126, 127, 184, 666 or 801 — you were doing Scouting!! Via la differance! *heheehehehee*

  3. As a Cub Master that is also on the District Committee. Knowing that the ultimate goal is to serve the boys. It doesn’t matter which pack they join. It is tough when you don’t get that recruit towards your goal. But the District wins either way.

    One of the ways to avoid the competition between units is to set a town wide goal.

  4. Bill Fleming, Jr. // September 25, 2012 at 4:20 pm // Reply

    I think it is a fine line when it comes to a single unit posting recruiting posters in the lobby of another units CO. The unit based there, if run properly, has invested many resources into reaching the members of that CO. I think out of courtesy another unit should refrain from such an act out of respect of that alone. If the Unit Commissioner put up a “Join Scouting” poster, listing all the units in the district that is another matter as the unit at that location would be listed along side all the other units. No we are not competing, but then again for a unit to survive it needs to have numbers and quality. I look at some districts and feel there are just too many units for the number of available youth. I rather see 5 very strong, diverse units than 10 with 6 that can hardly put a PLC together, but all to often all I hear about is the points given for the number of new units established! Quality over quantity is usually the best practice. We all have to work together in that regard to make sure that a Scout finds the right unit for him so he stays with the program. I have sent boys down the street to other units when I talk with their parents and find that their boy has interest different than our unit. I rather see him embrace Scouting in his way than be forced into a program he does not enjoy.

  5. We are in an area with a high density of units. Particularly in the case of Cub Scouts it seems somewhat inconsiderate to post a unit specific recruiting poster in the location where another unit meets and is chartered. This is less of an issue in Boy Scouts and Venturing. At the Venturing level I could see multiple units at a recruiting activity since each unit might have a different emphasis. I don’t agree with active poaching of scouts from other units but if a scout is not a good fit I would help them fins another unit that is a better fit and wish them well. Most scouts (especially in Cubs) do best in the same unit as their friends, classmates, or their own church. As they mature other issues become more important such as OA and district and council involvement.

  6. If the church in the article is the chartered organization, I wouldn’t consider that “neutral territory”. We have had 4 units that all met on our military base, so to remain neutral and offer parents an equal chance to “visit” each pack, we all met at the shared scout hut during spring and fall Cub Scout round up and set up tables. Parents could visit and choose. I would consider it rude for a pack to actively recruit at another unit’s chartered organization. There are plenty of neutral locations and district round up opportunities for packs to recruit.

    • Sorry, to clarify, my point is not to try to get more boys into one pack over another. My view of this simply is that units should recruit in a neutral or shared location. A generic “beascout.org” poster at the church is fine, which allows parents to choose their own patch. But parents can sometimes sense tension if they notice “hey, I thought pack 456 was here, why is pack 123 advertising Hee too?” Neutral location for recruiting is best to offer the parents the choice.

      • More often I think parents wouldn’t even notice the pack number at all. It might also be possible that Pack 123 didn’t know that Pack 546 met at the church. We need to attend our roundtable meetings and establish relationships with our neighboring packs.

  7. Each Troop/Pack has a unique personality so we encourage parents to visit Packs/Troop that recruit from the same schools,etc. The most important factor is to ensure you are applying the Scouting principles in your dealings with potential Scouts/Scouters, other Packs, and the organizations that are allowing you to recruit.

  8. We’ve seen a lot of this over the last 10 years and it is encouraged by the council’s lack of understanding of our city limits and school district overlaps. Paid staffers are graded on how many kids they have, not if the units are healthy and they act accordingly. It has caused Packs and Troops to be starved out of existence to the detriment of many boys. Units are a franchise and promoting competition leads to all sort of problems up to and including being kicked out of school recruiting for their behavior. If you think the competition is good, why can’t I charter my unit with the neighboring council which is the same distance from our town?

    • You can’t charter in another council unless you move your pack (and charter organization) into that new council.

      • Trenton Spears // September 28, 2012 at 12:20 pm // Reply

        Paid Scout Council professionals are really up against some problems in recruiting and keeping their jobs. I saw some things that really upset me and left me wondering about the Councils priorities. This particular person was fired because his count of Scouts fell below the National Boy Scouts standards and thus lost his job. I worked with this particular professional and we spent many hours recruiting at Schools and Church facilites in our District. It was such a sad moment for me and this particular professional who had done his best and in previous years was so successful in recruiting and was well loved by all who knew him and wanted him to keep his job. His firing was announced at a Woodbadge Course and all that were there was shocked at his dismissal. Sincerely,
        Trenton Spears
        Scoutmaster

        • this is a really telling insight into the job our DE’s do. I’m not sure I’d want a DE’s job. Not so much for the long hours, low pay, and unrecognition of how much work they do, but much of it seems to be the business side of the organization. There job is about dollars and membership (which means more dollars). There’s no altruism in their job. Sure, BSA needs $$s to run, but they don’t see much direct benefit in changing young mens’ and women’s lives. They don’t look for, are not encouraged to, nor have incentives for improving unit processes, increasing camping experiences, finding ways to make scouting more fun. The few I work with are fantastic people with great hearts. And I feel we burn them out because their job is so capitalistic instead of promoting Scouting as BP imagined.

        • Trenton wrote in part: “I saw some things that really upset me and left me wondering about the Councils priorities. This particular person was fired because his count of Scouts fell below the National Boy Scouts standards and thus lost his job.”

          No different than a teacher failing to teach his or her students and thus falling below the school district’s standards and thus losing his or her job that way, Trenton.

          There ARE standards for membership growth, financial stability and growth, and programming which are required for all District-level professionals (there’s actually standards for ALL professionals working at the local Council level…) and like any job, if you don’t meet those standards over a period of time, you’re cut. Perhaps career Scouting is not what you should be doing.

          Settummanque!

        • Trenton Spears // October 1, 2012 at 11:25 am //

          Mike this particular Professional had done a great job in prievious recruiting years and was very instrumental in recruiting adult leaders. Scouting has better teaching skills and our not subject to political correctness. Teachers have unions and tenure that keep even bad teachers in their jobs. If teachers would do as good of job at their profession as Scout Professionals we would have more educated children in our schools. Sincerely Trenton Spears

  9. Trenton Spears // September 26, 2012 at 6:19 pm // Reply

    Recruiting is the staple of growing the Boy Scouts of America. However recruiting should be done with fairness and respect for other units that may be located in the local area. Follow the Scout Law and success will come your way. Trenton Spears

    • I agree. the problem is that many packs form with no direction or real knowledge of what’s to come. all franchises open with a common goal, direction and steps. outside of the LDS packs and troops that are funded by the church, non-LDS packs should be given a standardized bylaws, parent information and expectation packet and paperwork with the ability to just add your pack number and leader information in. done….realistic dues, direction and expectations are put in place. the only thing that was done right is the pack and den meeting handbook and how to run the meetings.

      BSA loves to come in during recruitment and lie to parents…,”it only costs $15 to be a scout” while it may be true to be a ”registered” scout it does not cover ANYTHING else. then council leaves the leadership to the wolves (irritated parents) that were sold membership but not told anything else. we finally asked council not to come to recruitment….lying and manipulating parents is not the BSA way…yet they do it. there are even cub masters that lie to parents that they are trying to carp from other packs and troops saying they don’t charge dues, only to find out later that there indeed are dues and costs that were not disclosed….this is wrong

      competition should not take place if all packs are operating the same way under BSA guidelines and ideals, the only reason for any need to change packs or troops if done right should be meeting times for dens and packs.. period. we are non-profit and volunteers we should all be working together for the boys.

  10. Your unit, my unit, their unit — the important thing is to make sure the boy has an opportunity to be a member of A unit. It shouldn’t be a competition. Maybe one unit is closer to the boy’s home, meets on a night that works for the family, or is the unit where his friends are. Fit the unit to the boy, not the boy to the unit.

  11. Through a school merger, we ended having two packs essentially right next to each other. Unfortunately, the other pack moved into the school we recruited from.

    The district was of no help. They wished to remain neutral. The district’s mistake was not getting involved before the other pack moved. There would have been a benefit to scouting had they stayed in the south end of town.

    It certainly felt like we were competing for scouts. It took more work to find youth to maintain our numbers. We had more friends of scouts join and had more join just through the word of mouth that we ran a good pack.

    After my boys crossed over, I believe the packs started recruiting together since one meets on Tuesdays and the other meets on Wednesdays.

  12. Scouting isn’t about raw numbers, each unit has it’s own unique personality, one size does not fit all. Whether a scout is joining Tigers, and trying to choose the Troop he wants to cross into, he should visit many units, in the field and in meetings. A scout must be comfortable with a units program, scouts, and leaders for the fit to be good. Compete for scouts, never – Keep my unit open to all young men, absolutely.

  13. We have 2 packs at 2 elementary schools within about 3 miles of each other. We are a fairly new pack at a new school. At the school open house, the pack from the other school set up a booth to try and recruit scouts. I had never seen that done at a school open house, and even though I know it is not against the rules, I thought it was very rude. This pack has been trying to absorb our pack since it started, and I believe this was another method of trying to sign up boys before we had our school night recruiting. The people that were there are / were friends of mine, and honestly, it really hurt my feelings.

    • Tim Stevenson // September 12, 2013 at 9:02 am // Reply

      what happens when the boys in the school cant meet on your night do you send them to the other pack or do they just not get to take part in Scouting because you think it is wrong for the other pack to be there? Think about it families have different things going on, on different nights. Lets give every boy in your school the chance to take part in Scouting. Not just the ones that can meet on Your night.

    • I can understand how that would hurt your feelings. I’ve been doing back-to-school nights, but I’m in a small town with only one pack in the school district. The key to me seems to be talking to one another. They should have told you they were going to be there. They should have invited you to join them. I don’t think it was wrong for them to be there, but I think we should all be working together.

    • Original poster here….I found out later they were telling people that we were disbanding so they should join their pack. They are consistently rude to us, even when I tried to approach the other leader to discuss it in a friendly manner. Now a new year is starting again and the animosity is almost too much for me. It makes me want to pull my son from Scouts. I won’t, since he loves it and we are part if the leadership team. I am counting down the days until he crosses to Boy Scouts however.

  14. I think it depends. If the Church is the chartering organization – then the Church has a right to decide. Some churches view the chartered unit as simply a community service. My pack was chartered by a church that allowed several packs to meet there due to some issues with public schools.

    But when we moved, the Church viewed the Pack as a ministry, and an extension of the parish. They were 100% supportive of their Pack and would not have allowed the sign in the first place.

    The decision belongs to the Church who allowed the sign.

    But I think a little friendly competition can be good – it pushes us to make better units. If it’s kept in check.

  15. Every unit has a distinct culture that works for those in it. Not every local (same school, church, etc.) unit is a good fit for the closest boys. I have a policy that anyone who does not fit in our unit is helped to find one that they can fit into the best.

  16. We have 3 Packs in Town. One Pack draws from the Parochial School where they are located. The other 2 Packs have basically split the public schools but we have no problem if a potential Scout from one school wants to join the “other” Pack if his friends etc are there.

  17. Tim Stevenson // September 12, 2013 at 8:56 am // Reply

    Our District assigns a school to a pack and that is all they get for recruiting. The biggest problem with that is the only Scouting opportunity that school sees is the one presented to it. The question is what is a family to do if they are new to the area and know nothing about scouting except what is presented to them.what happens if their church doesn’t have scouting and they are busy on the one night of the week they know scouting happens in their area. At school nights every pack and troop should be represented so the parents and boys can make an informed decision as to what pack best suits their needs as to meeting night and location. I think it is wrong to lose boys to Scouting because the district only assigns one Pack to one School. You say we want to get scouting to every boy in the country then stop giving them only one pack to choose from. Give them all the information and let the family decide which pack and night meets their needs. We loose to many boys by not giving them the information they need.

    • Tim Stevenson // September 12, 2013 at 8:59 am // Reply

      I am sorry I should have said where this happens. This is how they do it in Carroll District Baltimore area Council. I have tried to talk to our district about it and we were actually told to stay away from a school that we were not assigned to

  18. There are so many reasons why a family joins one pack vs. another and we are all volunteers. I’m too busy working with my pack to worry about how we measure up against our neighbors. As long as we have enough boys to start a good den, that can learn, explore, and have fun then that’s all I care about as far as recruiting youth. It’s generally the DE or Council that has major concerns about membership levels, and while I want to support my District and Council, my best impact is on my unit.

    If a boy joins another unit in scouting I’m happy. As a volunteer I can only do what I can in the limited amount of time I have to dedicate to scouting.

  19. Rick Chappell // September 12, 2013 at 1:46 pm // Reply

    Whether someon’s advertising or not, you’re always competing. It may or may not be another unit, but there’s always competition for a boy’s time. Having a worthwhile (note – I didn’t say just fun) program is the key.

  20. Very good question that got me thinking.
    The troop down the street has been furious over some recent crossovers transferring to us after deciding the troop wasn’t right for them last year; they swear we proactively poached them (which is preposterous).
    We -have- actively contacted their Webelos since (to no avail) along with other local packs, and we won’t stop; they don’t own them and the pack at our CO is faltering.
    But, I would not go put our flyers in their CO, I think that would be over the line. But, with the question asked, it does seem like a weird line. I guess the difference is that Webelos in the pack are expected to check out multiple troops, but boys in the CO aren’t. Not a strong line of reasoning when you examine it.
    I guess the only thing that really keeps us from doing so would be the desire not to exacerbate the issues since we have the foreknowledge that it would just tick them off worse.

    As for Sandy in particular, the other pack may have had no idea that there was already a pack in the church where they posted their flyers. I certainly don’t keep much track of where other troops meet.

    • I agree with you – Packs should form relationships with as many local troops as they can to help the boys experience and feel comfortable. We have had as many as 4 troops come to our Blue and Gold to accept boys into their units. Our “aligned” troop was furious, but I didn’t care. Troops, as well, should make themselves available as resources and den chiefs and try to camp with as many Webelos as possible for the development of the Webelos, Boy Scouts, and for good scouting fun.

  21. Albert Sarfati // September 12, 2013 at 2:36 pm // Reply

    As a Unit Commissioner I would not condone posting recruitment flyers at the Charter Organization of another unit without their knowledge and permission. As a Boy Scout leader I will always tell people to visit neighboring troops and decide which fits them the best. Packs and troops are like flavors of ice cream, you have to find that flavor you like best! if they choose our troop after seeing the others they will probably stay. As others have said one of the best recruitment tools is to run a great Pack/Troop/Crew, words get out and people will find you.

  22. We have a friendly rivalry with the other troop in town. We have two troops and two packs that feed into those troops. As what happens in many cases, the Webelos will usually follow their friends into whichever troop they choose. But what has happened in recent years is many Cub Scouts in the other troop’s feeder pack transition into our troop, and Scouts from our feeder pack (chartered by our sponsor) invariably end up crossing over into the other troop. The Scouts still all see each other at camporees, join each other’s crews on high adventures when there is extra room, and help out at Pinewood Derby, rocket launch events and crossover ceremonies together. We also have had many joint campouts with the other troop. Six of one, half a dozen the other, they are still in Scouting, so it all works out.

  23. I think the best thing that I heard came from my District Committee Chair. A friend and I started a new Troop in a neighboring town that had a Troop that disbanded a few years ago. This friend and I were both active in the pack that our sons were/are in. My friend’s son crossed over into the Troop with a friend last February and the SM for the Troop that is chartered by the same CO that has the pack complained to the District CC. The District CC told him that “if you have a quality Troop you will have nothing to worry about. The boys will go to quality.”

  24. I have found over the years that most Packs are limited in size by the day of the week they meet. With so may other activities in which boys are involved (football, baseball, soccer, karate, church, etc.), many families have to make a choice as to which activities to participate based on time. I believe every school should have two Units that meet on different days of the week. Then the “competition” is only about which date is best for the family to meet. Can you imagine if three Packs at three neighboring schools joined forces to recruit together with only difference between the Packs is the day of the week they met? While I understand in most cases this is not possible, it is the mission of the District Membership Committee to provide the opportunity for every family to join Scouts. This committee should provide guidance not only to help organize recruitment efforts, but to make sure the needs of the ‘customer’ are being met.

  25. Parents should visit as many units as they wish to decide which one is best for their son, or daughter in Venturing. Every parent is different; every unit is different; and every unit changes somewhat over time. This is the way it is, despite all efforts to achieve consistency. It is inappropriate to advertise for your unit in the home of another unit, period. Likewise, it is insane for Councils and Districts to condone the formation of units too close to each other (urban areas excepted). The system allows for this, but it drains both units and one dies out eventually, in rural areas. Both suffer. I don’t condone competing – just run your own unit as best as you can. I’ve lost boys to other units and gained them from other units. It happens. My 2 cents.

    • Excuse me, are you listening to yourself? “Parents should visit as many units as they wish to decide which one is best for their son, or daughter in Venturing. Every parent is different; every unit is different; and every unit changes somewhat over time.” Aren’t we talking about Venturing? You have the parents visiting units and making decisions, but it should be the young man or young woman making the decision, not the parent. The prospective member must have a voice in the matter. He/she needss to be the one who decides which unit to join.

      • I listen to myself, and I’ll listen to you also. You have a good point. I should have called it a joint decision.

      • Coming on a little strong there, Jim, aren’t you?

        • Sorry, this is a rather sore spot for me; we’ve had some recent issues with a few overbearing parents in our own troop. They seem to have trouble letting their Scouts grow up and make their own decisions, including telling their Webelos Scouts which troop they WILL be crossing over to…

        • Join the crowd. Every troop and crew has this problem. They will always have this problem. New parents mean every year new education. make it part of the system and training. Good luck.

          (but don’t take it out on Matthew. :)

        • Unfortunately, some parents will try to control it, which is wrong. When we joined a pack, we were new to it and went to the one we got based on the flyer/presentation at school. We were lucky – it is a great pack and met on a night that worked for us. We now know that there are about 6 other packs in our small community but would not change at all. When we needed to start looking for a troop, I decided that we would visit them all. We knew some met on a night we could not easily commit to, but I wanted the experience of my son seeing and participating in several troops to get a feel for what he liked and didn’t about them. He ended up making the decision on his own and it wasn’t the troop “aligned” with our pack.

  26. I know the above comments are geared towards Boy scouts, but here’s a different take on letting the kids choose the troop they want rather than going with what their parents tell them. If the boy can’t drive himself, if he has siblings that also need to be driven places, then the parent certainly might have a very good reason why the boy can’t attend troop 123 even though the boy wants it. Five of my sons are currently registered in Scouts, and what is crazy is that what works for us (transportation-wise, parent-leadership-wise, what’s-best-for-the-boys-wise) is for each of our boy scouts to be in two different troops, and the three cubs split between two packs. Yes, sounds crazy, and no, they didn’t have much of a choice.This crazy pattern is part of a plan that is short-term as two of the boys age out and bridge up, will make the family schedule run smooth, and the boys are all happy. But I also support the opposite. If Mom has to drive all the kids to their activities, cub scouts/boy scouts, then certainly a big factor is which night each troop meets, and I can agree with telling an older (non-driving) son “You have to go to this pack because you can walk there/I can drive you every week”. It’s unrealistic to expect the boy to get a ride from a friend 100% of the time if he wants to go to a troop that the parents just can’t get the son to, and carpooling plans are not an option for everyone. Once they learn how to drive, then yes, the boy has more of a say in where he goes, but while he relies on another for transportation, that person’s schedule needs to be taken into account.

    Popcorn guy makes a good point about schedule. It would be great if three cub packs had only the difference of meeting time. For now, we chose a pack when we moved this summer that accomodated our schedule, and we are already on the committee (cubmaster, advancements and den leader). If this pack lacks anything we think the boys need, we will help work to make it an amazing adventure for the boys!

  27. It’s very important for our organization to gain new members, but I agree that it shouldn’t be a competition for units out there. There are 2 packs and 2 troops where I live and my troop has been fluctuating with attendance ( I aged out and we just got 1 new scout a year ago making the troop total to 5 youth). I have been informed that we might be looking at 9 new cub scouts crossing over in a year or so.

    I agree that it is hard for parents and for the scouts themselves to decide. As the scouts grow older, they find new interests that take time away for scouting. I like the idea of families seeing different units and finding one that fits with the scouts personality, interests, and time. Lets hope that our packs can grow so that every unit can benefit.

  28. I agree with much of what others have said. Some appropriate and healthy competition is good and makes everyone raise the bar. Families should carefully consider what unit they join for many reasons. We often provide suggestions of other units when parents ask about differnt meeting nights or a location closer to their home. We sometimes co-sponsor events and get together iwth other units for campouts and MBUs. We playfully compete at camporees and other “competitions” for skills and races, etc. The worst competition has been units trying to “steal” current members and units “hogging” or aggressively scheduling show and sell locations so that others have no chance to sell.

  29. When both a Pack and Troop share the same CO and meet in the same venue I believe they have a relationship that should be respected by neighboring units.A Webelo and his family should be free to choose the Troop that fits thier needs best.I have experienced methods of recruiting that were inconsistant with the Scout Law.We as leaders and adults cannot hold the youth to standards that we ourselves do not maintain.Our Troop policy is to always “take the high road” when dealing with other local units.Unfortunatly I have seen methods of recruiting that do not live up to the standards of Scouting. When a unit has to divert a signifigant amount of scarce volunteer time it can only detract from the scouts program. Of course it is up to the troop to maintain a program that is attractive to prospective Scouts, it should be free to do so without interferance from unafiliated units.The local district should be intrested in more than numbers. Unit quaility will ultimatly suffer for all concerned.

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