Outwit, outplay, outrecruit: Troop holds ‘Survivor’-themed event for Webelos

Two Scouts work on a lashing

The votes are in, and the decision is final.

The winner of the most creative Webelos recruiting event is Troop 316 of Valencia, Calif., part of the Western Los Angeles Area Council.

Scouts and leaders from Troop 316 devised a clever Survivor-themed competition that tested Scout skills while showing the Webelos what kind of high-energy fun awaits in Scouts BSA.

In the morning, the visiting Webelos were assigned to different Scout patrols, where the Scouts trained them on basic Scout rank skills. In the afternoon, the Webelos split into groups and competed against one another — with coaching from the Scouts BSA members — in Survivor-style challenges that tested their newly acquired know-how.

But here’s the good news: You don’t need to be an hour from Hollywood to plan a ready-for-prime-time event like this. I contacted Troop 316 to learn how they pulled off a recruiting day we all can idolize.

Survivor-esque logo

How they did it

The planning began about three to four months out at a brainstorming session where all were welcome.

“Involve the whole troop,” says Rolando Sotelo, Troop 316’s outdoor chairman. “And even mention it to the parents to get ideas and so the whole troop is part of it and can contribute.”

With all of the ideas on the table, the Scouts took over the rest of the way. (I love this, because it demonstrates exactly how a Scout-led troop is supposed to work!)

At the next troop meeting, the Scouts put every idea onto a whiteboard. They began whittling down the list into something manageable.

They settled on a mini-camporee where the Webelos would learn skills in the morning and use those skills in an afternoon competition. The schedule, which the troop agreed to share with BOS readers, looked like this.

SPL talking to the Webelos

A troop becomes a tribe

As the planning progressed, Troop 316 Scouts turned to their adult leaders to help add special touches to the day.

Many troops offer hands-on experiences for visiting Webelos. Some add a special theme that can transform a great day into something unforgettable. For a Scout selecting a troop, that extra touch can make all the difference.

Troop 316 recruiting chairwoman Lorraine Newman suggested the Survivor theme, and the Scouts loved the idea. They asked Newman to make the buffs, and Scoutmaster Robert Clarke to design the Survivor-esque logo.

And the Troop 316 parents, who had been hearing about the event for months? They formed an unbreakable alliance and donated all the food, water and supplies the troop would need for the day.

Map of the Troop 316 event

Ready, set …

The visiting Webelos split into tribes and created a tribe yell and flag. These activities helped break the ice and build camaraderie. Next, Senior Patrol Leader Lucas Sotelo gave a quick lesson on teamwork.

The morning flew by as the tribes learned knots, first-aid skills, fire-making techniques and pioneering. After lunch (hot dogs, chips, Gatorade), the challenges began.

  • Gateway: The Webelos used their pioneering skills to build a gateway out of two tripods connected by a lateral pole.
  • First Aid Relay: The teams made a proper arm splint, demonstrated CPR techniques and showed how to build a field stretcher.
  • Orienteering: Tribes made their way through an orienteering course.*
  • Obstacle Course: The Webelos navigated a timed course, going up, under and around a variety of Scout-designed obstacles.

*The Orienteering event was canceled because the day’s schedule was running behind.

Scores were given at each event, and the winners were announced at a “tribal council” at the end of the day.

The top three winning tribes got prizes — but not cash like on the CBS version of Survivor. They got something nearly as valuable in the eyes of a Webelos Scout: candy.

Crawling under a net

The tribe has spoken

Looking back, Rolando Sotelo has three main suggestions for other troops wanting to plan a similar event:

  1. Create a team environment by having the visiting Webelos join existing patrols to create a new tribe.
  2. Keep the schedule full, which will keep the Webelos busy and having fun.
  3. Create a small slideshow for the Webelos to show them that your troop does amazing things all year long!

About Bryan Wendell 3281 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is the founder of Bryan on Scouting and a contributing writer.