Why one troop in Illinois is sending 43 Scouts to the 2017 National Jamboree

When I got the email, I did a double take.

Betsy Hough, committee chairwoman of Troop 48 out of Lake Forest, Ill., wrote that 43 Scouts from her troop — nearly half the troop’s youth members — are registered for the 2017 National Jamboree at the Summit Bechtel Reserve in West Virginia.

Forty-three Scouts. That’s enough to fill an entire jamboree troop — and still have seven Scouts left to join other Scouts in a second troop.

So what’s the secret? A dynamic program, robust financial assistance and dedicated leaders — to name a few.

Hough and her troop’s leadership came up with these thoughts on how Troop 48 became such a jamboree powerhouse. If you’re looking for ways to boost jamboree attendance among your Scouts or Venturers, read on.

  1. Program: Have a dynamic program that builds to the jamboree so the jamboree seems like a natural step and a goal.
  2. Parents: Market the jamboree to parents as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for their son or daughter. Ten days with tens of thousands of fellow Scouts? That’s a Scouting experience unlike anything you can get elsewhere. Remind parents that participants must be at least 12 years of age by the first day of the jamboree or an 11-year-old that has graduated the 6th grade, but they cannot have reached their 18th birthday by the last day of the jamboree.
  3. Tradition: Build on previous jamboree experience. Recognize leaders and participants who have attended past jamborees, and have them share stories and photos to generate enthusiasm.
  4. Leadership: Encourage your troop leadership to be involved with jamboree planning at the district and council level.
  5. Finances: Provide financial assistance through troop fundraisers. Encourage your council to set up attractive jamboree allowances for popcorn sales. In the Northeast Illinois Council, for example, Scouts can earn their way to jamboree by selling popcorn. Instead of the usual 33 percent of sales going to the unit, the council gives 50 percent of sales to jamboree-bound Scouts.
  6. Scheduling: Don’t leave non-jamboree Scouts behind. Make sure the usual yearly experiences— summer camp, OA callouts, campouts, etc. — are still held. In other words, don’t suspend regular activities because of the jamboree.
  7. JSPs: Everyone loves patches! Involve yourself in the design of your council and troop’s jamboree shoulder patch (JSP). If you have a JSP collection, bring it to show off at a troop meeting.
  8. Marketing: Help the council’s efforts to market the jamboree. Speak at roundtables, camporee cracker barrels, Webelos crossovers and more. Team up with another troop in the town or area to cast a wider net. Set up a Facebook page as a central source of information. Here’s an example.
  9. Deliver the Promise: The jamboree formula is simple: adventure + world-class facilities = jamboree. Familiarize yourself with SBR’s offerings. Then spread the word about the all the diverse activities Scouts can experience at the jamboree: climbing, hiking, shooting, rafting, paddling, archery, biking, skating, service, STEM and more. Plus, they’ll make new friends, earn merit badges, trade patches and have the best time ever.

What’s your secret?

Is your troop or crew sending Scouts or Venturers to the jamboree? What worked best for you when recruiting young people to attend this once-in-a-lifetime event?