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The one thing you should include in every public piece of Scouting communication

Every positive story about your pack, troop, team, post, ship or crew is an opportunity.

It’s a chance to tell your community that Scouts live, serve and play here.

But to hear unit commissioner Dave Mountney tell it, too many units are missing their shot to turn that positive story into a recruiting message.

That’s why the Washington Crossing Council volunteer wants every unit to include a link to BeAScout.org in every piece of unit communication that might be seen by the public.

“Units are encouraged to get their story in the news — either in print or digital form,” he writes. “Some units are good about it, but even most that do miss an opportunity that may serve even one more family.”

Sure, he sees email addresses, phone numbers and unit website info on stories and fliers. That’s great, but what happens when that message goes beyond the unit’s geographic area? In the age of Facebook, that’s bound to happen.

“If the story is good, a parent, uncle, grandparent or even a youth may want to look into Scouting,” Mountney writes. But that person may “live too far from the unit they just read about.”

That’s where BeAScout.org comes in. With just their ZIP code, parents can use that site to locate and contact packs, troops and crews near them.

Add this URL to news articles about Eagle Scout projects, fliers about money-earning projects, tickets to unit breakfasts and even Scouting for Food handouts. Basically, include BeAScout.org on anything a member of the public might see.

Let’s use the power of BeAScout.org to spread Scouting, one new Scout at a time.

20 Comments on The one thing you should include in every public piece of Scouting communication

  1. For spanish….. http://www.seunscout.org

  2. And be sure to update your unit information. The unit information that pops up defaults to the local council – you can add a brief note describing your unit, unit-specific contact information, and a link to your web site.

    • Bryan Wendell // December 22, 2015 at 8:15 am // Reply

      Good reminder! Keeping your BeAScout.org listing updated means those new Scout families won’t reach a dead end if they try to contact someone who’s no longer with your unit.

    • I agree this is a must. It can certainly turn off potential parents if they feel they are contacting someone in a city two hours away.

      Key 3 (correct me if I’m wrong Bryan) can log into their myscouting.org (the old site) to manage the unit’s pin contact information.

      If someone uses BeAScout.org to contact a unit, an email is sent from the site to those who are listed as contacts for the pin.

    • Yes! And make sure someone follows up with every single lead. I was surprised at Roundtable how many don’t pay any attention to it, it turns people off from scouting when no one responds.

  3. I agree with this article, as a Unit Commissioner myself. Even if a boy doesn’t join Troop X, if he joins Troop Y, we can still deliver the values of the Scout Oath and Scout Law to him.

  4. Have to disagree from a 35,000 foot perspective. In general BeAScout is at best advertising for BSA, leaving anyone entering the web site a lot of clicks to figure out where they need to go once they land there. From a practical perspective, if someone is already aware of you or your unit it is far more efficient and effective to provide them with a direct link to a unit specific website and save someone unfamiliar with scouting a whole lot of hunting around on a BSA website or just give them your personal contact info. Nothing recruits better than a personal touch.

    The reality is a huge amount of the data on BeAScout is neither accurate nor current and the BSA does not have a handle on how much or how to fix. There is also a lot of inconsistency… some unit flags show where a unit meets other unit flags show the home address of whomever is the unit contact. If BSA was smart it would reset all of the contact info on BeAScout annually and tie the refresh in with the annual online Charter process.

    Well, I did say IF….

    • Bryan Wendell // December 22, 2015 at 10:24 am // Reply

      I agree that the personal touch is our best recruiting approach. But this article addresses a common scenario. Consider this:

      A friend who lives in your community reads about your unit doing something cool, and they share that story on Facebook. Now that person’s friend, who lives two time zones away, sees it and realizes that Scouting might be a great fit for their son. They won’t join your unit because they live far away, but they see the BeAScout.org link and can find a unit down the street.

      • WearsManyScoutingHats // December 31, 2015 at 2:28 pm // Reply

        TILII’s point, I believe, and certainly my reason for weighing in on this, is that the system only works if the data it is based on is current. In your scenario, if the contact info for the troop down the street is outdated, inaccurate, or a dead end…how likely is the friend to find a local troop to join?

        TILII has a valid suggestion. If BSA took this approach, the data would be accurate at least for part of every year. It’s not perfect, but it’s a start.

    • davethewaveusmc // December 22, 2015 at 10:36 am // Reply

      We still cannot get our Council to update the contact information they have in their cash register system 🙂

  5. Getting on this well-presented site, I see a very useful present and future resource that is impressively designed. Right now, as functional as it already is, it remains a work in progress, to a greater or lesser extent, until the unit information is as up to date as possible. Case in point: I did a search for a Venture Crew for my zip code and all that appeared were listings for Cub Scout Packs. No troops or crews. IMO, this needs to be addressed, as much as possible (and as soon as possible) from the top down. Beautiful site!

    • Hi Larry, There’s a radio button right above the map. Before you put in the zip code and press the arrow, select whether you’re looking for Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, or Venturing.
      – Brian

  6. I’ve been the cubmaster for the same pack for over 3 years. We’re the largest pack in our valley, and the only pack not sponsored by the dominant religion. Our pack doesn’t show up when you search by zip code. I can guarantee the data is at least a year out of date. Our entire district changed councils, but beascout.org still shows outdated information.

  7. Patricia Knight // December 22, 2015 at 12:31 pm // Reply

    I agree that this can be a missed opportunity. However, we began out troop 5 years ago, and when you put in our zip code on the beascout.org website, our troop doesn’t appear. Numerous ones around us do, but not ours. I’ve contacted our local council but they don’t know how to get our troop added. Do you have any suggestions.

  8. Bryan, who do we work with at National to get things fixed on BeAScout? My city has two zip codes. Enter the first, and you get units from the “dominant religion” from all over the area, even in the next city over, because they are all registered at the same address, apparently. Enter the other zip code, and most of the troops in the city aren’t displayed, even though you can easily walk from my unit’s meeting place to that post office.

    BeAScout really should list traditional units first. Why? If you are LDS, you already know where your scouting units meet or can easily find out from your ward leaders. If you are not LDS, you are probably looking for a traditional unit. Please understand, this is no slam on LDS units, I’ve seen good ones and bad ones, just like I’ve seen good and bad traditional units, and I work with some really fine LDS Scouters at the district level. But if your family is not LDS, you probably don’t want to be in LDS Scouting. It really is a different program than traditional Scouting.

    In three years of being the unit leader, I have never received an out-of-the-blue lead from BeAScout, whereas I do get them from walk-ins, from church, from our troop website, and most especially by word of mouth from impressed parents who know we run a good Scouting program.

    I do get the public relations push to use BeAScout, but I won’t use it personally. One, the data that it produces is incorrect. Two, I don’t perceive any benefit. In your example, the family that found the story on Facebook and then went to BeAScout, they probably did not get contact information for the unit down the street.

  9. Agreed there are lots of moving parts here but may I offer the following:
    Updates to BeAScout happens best at the unit level but unfortunately new leaders sometimes put their personal contact info in by default. A simple direction sent to unit leaders reminding them to use the unit’s location often is all the reminder needed or encourages additional conversation which is often a good thing. I encourage my staff to look at the list at least once a year (usually right after recharter) to verify that the current information is reflected on the BeAScout site. This is also a great exercise for involved commissioners, but could also be part of a membership teams objective.
    The site itself has gotten much better although we all know that things become obsolete almost as soon as you are finished with them. The BeAScout site does the job of being a landing pad for someone searching for scouting in their area. It works best on a computer screen, not a phone, but will give the most basic information on most units if that information has been updated. A link to your units website is great here, but both should be distributed in your neighborhood, as Byron mentioned, to capture both the hometown youth and those that may pick up on a story miles, counties, or even states away!
    Follow up from the council office is often needed because some units don’t keep up with their emails and we get notices on an almost daily basis, even outside of recruitment season. But those asking for information via the BeAScout site don’t know that they are working (waiting) on a volunteer to respond and I do wish it was easier to at least make that initial “we’ll have someone from the local unit contact your soon” response to them.

  10. It’s up to the key three in each unit to manage their pin on beascout and maintain current contact info, not council. If your unit doesn’t show a pin, one of your key three needs to go to beascout through myscouting and set up your pin by entering pertinent information and contacts.

  11. While fixing BeAScout.org to update the data on new units, it would be great if they could also include a search by meeting time/date within a radius. Sometimes the closest unit meets at a time that is inconvenient due to other extra-curriculars.

  12. Excellent point and counterpoints! I agree in using BeAScout.org but any contact information you put is better than no information. People will use whatever information they have available. A local pack’s contact info. is not going to deter them from joining scouts. They are going to contact that person and say “I’m not in your area but I’m curious if there are any Packs/Troops where I live.”

  13. Mike Rossander // December 29, 2015 at 8:09 pm // Reply

    If you could pass word back to whoever manages the beascout website, they really shot themselves in the foot with the latest redesign. The “build an adventure” picture at the top of the page is so large that it hides the ‘find a unit’ link. I tried to send a prospective scout parent to that website earlier today and we spent 5 minutes convinced that the site was either broken or being blocked by some security feature at work before either of us thought to scroll all the way down. That link needs to be made much more accessible.

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