During my days as a den leader and Cubmaster, I had many conversations with other Scouting leaders about the publication known at the time as Boys’ Life magazine.
Every single one of my mini-focus groups went the same. I would ask them to estimate how many of their Scouts subscribed to the magazine. If the answer was “a lot” or “almost all,” I would thank them for their efforts.
If the answer was “very few” or even “none,” I would ask, “Well, how much do you promote the magazine to your Scouts?” And in those cases, 100% of the time, the answer was, “we don’t.”
I tried to be as open and honest as I could be: As an employee in the publishing division of the BSA’s National Council, of course I’m biased! I love the magazine! But as a Cub Scout leader, I also saw firsthand what years and years of research has told us: Kids who read the official youth magazine of the BSA stay in Scouting longer and have a more positive experience in the program overall.
No bias there. It was happening right in front of me.
The more things change …
Boys’ Life is now Scout Life, but the value of the magazine remains the same. It’s not an exaggeration to say we’ve been a vital part of youth culture for more than 100 years.
One of the few things that has changed over the years: Scout Life is now a true multichannel platform, with not only a print magazine but also a popular website with active social media channels and live video events, all of which are designed to keep kids engaged in Scouting.
And the fact of the matter is, it doesn’t take much to promote Scout Life to your unit. By my estimation, you could cover the following talking points in 2-3 minutes during your annual recruiting night, or any Scout meeting:
- Kids who read Scout Life are more likely to advance up the ranks of any BSA program than kids who don’t.
- Reading in general is good for kids! Kids who like to read do better in school, and Scout Life gives kids something to read that they’ll enjoy.
- While Scout Life provides a ton of good information about the Scouting program, it also includes jokes, comics and general-interest stories that aren’t necessarily about Scouting.
- Your child can also read Scout Life on their favorite device via our app. But if you’re trying to get your child off their device, the old-fashioned print issue is still here for you.
- The Scout Life website is a safe place for your kid to play games, learn fun facts and find just the right joke to tell their family at the dinner table.
… the more they remain the same
Many units choose to make subscriptions to Scout Life part of their standard operating procedure for every member. By including the cost of each subscription in their annual fundraising plan, their Scouts get to enjoy the benefits of the magazine throughout all their years in Scouting.
As I was preparing to help one Cub Scout unit with their recruiting night years ago, I casually asked the Scoutmaster if he normally promoted the magazine to his Scouts. He answered honestly that he did not.
“No worries,” I replied. “Do you mind if I get a very short little plug in tonight?”
The man was nice enough to let me speak for 3 minutes, and in that time, I hit all of the topics above. And that’s all it took for the percentage of Scouts who subscribe to go up from around 5% to 90%.
Youth can subscribe to Scout Life by checking the appropriate box on their youth applications. Or they can subscribe online at any time. Use promo code DIGPRT15 to get the special $15 Scout rate.
How do you promote Scout Life to your unit? Let us know in the comments below.