National Night Out is an opportunity to promote Scouting to your community

Residents gather at a community event
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National Night Out, one of the most wide-reaching community-building events in the country, is right around the corner — and it’s not too late to use it to help promote your Scouting unit.

What is National Night Out?

According to the official website, National Night Out is a community-building campaign designed to build relationships between residents and local members of law enforcement. Depending on your community, it might focus on such programs as drug prevention, neighborhood watch or other efforts designed to make neighborhoods safer.

It most often gives local police the chance to interact with residents in a relaxed, positive environment.

It might operate under a different name in your community. (In mine, for example, it’s called Community Awareness Night.) But the idea is the same: to promote neighborhood camaraderie and enhance the relationship between residents and law enforcement.

Neighborhoods may host parties, festivals, parades, cookouts or other activities with safety demonstrations, seminars, youth events or visits from emergency personnel.

When is National Night Out?

Many communities host their National Night Out on the first Tuesday of August. However, Texas, for example, chooses to host theirs in October.

How do I find out when my National Night Out is?

Check your local government’s official website or calendar. You can also try an internet search for “National Night Out near me.”

Great! But what does this have to do with Scouting?

Any community event is a great opportunity for Scouting units to provide service and to promote their programs. No matter what the event looks like in your area, you have options.

  • Contact your local National Night Out organizer and ask what your Scout unit can do to help. Maybe they could use some help setting up chairs or tables. Maybe they could use some help passing out flyers or picking up trash. Maybe they need help tearing down afterward.
  • Ask if your Scout unit is allowed to have any kind of official presence at the event. Perhaps your Scouts could conduct a leatherworking demonstration, or launch water bottle rockets, or even give kids the opportunity to participate in a mini Pinewood Derby! Anything that would give residents an idea of what Scouting is all about.
  • Ask if your Scout unit would be allowed to pass out flyers or any other recruiting materials. If so, you can find some BSA-authorized logos by clicking here. Click here to create a Cub Scout flyer. Click here for a Scouts BSA flyer.
  • We’ve written before about passive recruiting. If all else fails, there’s a lot to be said for simply showing up at a community event like this wearing a unit T-shirt. (A shirt like this would be perfect.) If anyone asks you any questions about Scouting, Be Prepared to tell them all about the fun things you do, and maybe even invite them to your Join Scouting night!

Special thanks to Kevin Gorman, assistant Scout Executive with the Quivira Council in Wichita, Kansas, for sending me this story idea.

About Aaron Derr 449 Articles
Aaron Derr is the senior editor of Scout Life and Scouting magazines, and also a former Cubmaster and Scouts BSA volunteer.