What’s even more fun than being part of a Cub Scout den? Having at least five kids your age in your den!
Whether it’s a den for boys or a den for girls, everyone has a better experience if there are more Cub Scouts to share the fun.
That’s why, even though the traditional fall recruiting season has ended, it’s crucial to continue working on recruiting boys and girls into your pack.
Widening the recruiting window has become a passion for Linda Baker, the volunteer who leads the national New Member Coordinator team. Her list of credentials is long, but I can summarize them in just four words: Silver Buffalo Award recipient.
“Let’s make recruiting continuous rather than seeing it as a seasonal kind of event,” she says. “It’s important for each pack to work on filling every den.”
New Member Coordinators can spread the word about Scouting and help recruit. Once these families join your pack, the job isn’t over, though. Your pack’s New Member Coordinator or a similarly dedicated Scout leader can make these new Cub Scouts feel welcome and not left behind.
“We want to get the new families off to a really good start,” Baker says, “whether it’s in December or January or August.”
Here’s what else I learned from my chat with Baker.
Recruit with a message of service
Millennial moms and dads teach their children the importance of helping others. They’re looking for opportunities to practice what they preach, and Cub Scouting provides exactly that.
Invite neighborhood families to be part of specific kindnesses the pack is providing to the community.
“Helping others is so important to this generation of families,” Baker says. “As we involve them in projects the pack is doing, we can use that opportunity to let them know that Scouting does this all the time.”
Encourage pack parents to use social media
Millennial moms and dads get some of their parenting guidance from social media. They feel close to the people with whom they are connected online.
Encourage your current pack parents to post photos and videos of all the great activities they’re doing in Cub Scouting.
“If they show others the service they’re doing with the community and the fun they’re having, all of that resonates with people who are looking at their social media,” Baker says. “That’s much more effective than advertising.”
Hold a second recruiting event
Hold a “soft-sell” recruiting event in a public venue — somewhere people who aren’t legacy Scouting families might congregate.
It’ll help if you can allow kids to experience some of the activities they’ll enjoy in Cub Scouting at this fun, free gathering.
“I think it’s great to involve whatever new families you already have in the pack,” Baker says.
Don’t view recruiting as a one-time thing
Work to develop relationships with those you seek to recruit and retain.
Instead of taking a one-and-done approach to recruiting, think of it as a continuous process that goes well beyond the first meeting.
“It’s all about relationships as we focus on welcoming new members,” Baker says.
Make sure they don’t feel left behind
There will be some need for new members to catch up. Den leaders can champion this effort, but they should use their den chief to help.
(A den chief is a Boy Scout, Venturer or Sea Scout who assists a den leader.)
“There’s a great opportunity for the den chief to give some focus to the kids who have joined later, to help them do any adventures that the den has already completed. They can catch up by working in small groups or completing activities with their family,” Baker says. “The adventures are designed to be adaptable.”
You might also consider holding one or more additional den meetings for these new members to get them up to speed.
“It’s a matter of everybody putting the effort in,” Baker says.
Develop the ‘roots and wings’
Baker, who has a background in education and child psychology, says Scouting helps develop “roots and wings” in kids.
The “roots” refer to the sense of belonging that Cub Scouts feel as a part of a den and pack.
Once those roots are established, Baker says, “they feel comfortable enough to develop the wings — and pursue that sense of adventure.”
By continuing to recruit, you’re developing even more roots and wings in the youth of America.