I hear a lot about Scout units across the country taking advantage of community events to promote their programs.
And for good reason: It’s a great way to remind people that the BSA is alive and well, performing service, going on adventures, and changing lives along the way.
And if someone happens to ask about joining? All the better.
County fairs, holiday parades, flag ceremonies, special exhibits and shows … all are great ways to connect with members of your community.
But I was a little bit surprised when I heard from Troop 1452 in Cincinnati’s Dan Beard Council. They set up a booth at last month’s Cincinnati Comic Expo, the type of event that’s better known for having participants who dress up as fictional characters than for hosting real-life Scouts.
Now, I’m old enough to remember when comic book conventions were only for – dare I say it – geeks. I can say that because I – a geek myself – attended a very early version of San Diego Comic-Con, now known as Comic-Con International.
Back then, it wasn’t that big of a deal. There were no huge announcements from movie studios like there are today, and I don’t remember seeing a single person wearing a costume.
(I did, however, get to meet the star of the scariest movie of all time. She was super nice and not scary at all.)
But that was a long time ago, and things have changed since then. Comic book conventions have moved firmly into the mainstream. They’re for everybody now, more than ever before.
Needless to say, I wanted to learn more about this Cincinnati Comic Expo, and, thankfully, Scoutmaster Courtney Gutierrez was happy to give me the scoop.
What a unique place to promote Scouting! Who came up with the idea of setting up an appearance at the Comic Expo?
Having attended the event in the past with my family, I knew the expo had community booths. After stumbling across a Facebook post about applying for a booth at the expo, I thought it would be a great opportunity for Scouting and recruitment.
What were you hoping to gain from participating in this event?
Troop 1452 had three goals.
The first was to bring awareness to the Boy Scouts of America program for not only young men, but young women. Troop 1452 (a girls troop) wanted to share their experiences and knew expo attendees and their families would benefit from learning more about the BSA’s programs. Many people still believe that the BSA is only for boys. That is not the case; females can complete the same program as their male counterparts … and have an epic adventure along the way!
The second goal was recruiting. A few short months after the BSA approved female scouts, Troop 1452 was organized, having only seven Scouts in its first year. Since then, it has grown to 22 Scouts with 5 Eagle Scouts. Recruiting begins with creating awareness, and then comes down to (the family) finding a troop that works.
The final goal was to have fun, proudly represent female Scouts, and demonstrate their skills. The Scouts were proudly wearing their Class A uniforms while handing out flyers that provided information on upcoming events and activities the council and the troop were offering. Troop 1452’s adults and Scouts demoed a few of their knot-tying skills and answered many questions from kids their own age. Many of our Scouts posed for photo opportunities with superheroes and current and former Scouts, including Eagle Scouts.
So, how did it go?
Our third goal was 100% achieved! The Scouts had an amazing time sharing their knowledge and interacting with attendees. Many of the Scouts asked to come back next year simply because they had so much fun. Many attendees were not aware that there are female Scouts in BSA. One event like the Comic Expo may not drastically alter Scouting numbers, but it can create an interest that is pursued in the future. Even if our presence sparked an interest with one person, in my opinion, we met our goal.
Where have you found success promoting your Scout unit? Let us know in the comments!
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