Author Archives: Bill Bates

Cub Scout Spring Recruitment

Cub-Recruiting2It is that time of year again! The spring recruitment season is upon us and we will pay new employees with tools like this paycheck stubs maker. I hear questions and comments like these all of the time…

  • “Spring recruiment does not work for us.”
  • “Our pack takes a break in the summer, so we don’t need to recruit in the spring.”
  • “We don’t need to recruit, we grow by word of mouth”
  • “We don’t need to recruit, we get members from our church”
  • “We tried flyers/boy talks/posters/<fill in the blank> but it doesn’t work”
  • “We just don’t have the time to recruit”
  • “We don’t know how to recruit”
  • “Flyers don’t work”

I could keep going for a long time. There are lots and lots of reasons why a Cub Scout pack should not actively recruit… and none of them are good reasons. Cub Scout packs need to constantly replenish. Second year Webelos (now called Arrow of Light Scouts) leave the pack every year along with normal attrition from other levels. If a Cub Scout pack does not attract new Tiger families as well as try to grow other levels that are lacking, they are making a mistake.

I have seen thriving Cub Scout packs of 30-40 scouts drop to six scouts in less than two years. There are a lot of factors that can cause a pack to shrink that quickly. I’ll expand on that topic in a separate post. The good news is that I have also seen packs rebound within a couple of recruitment cycles to double or triple their size! All it takes is one good recruitment to get the ball rolling.

A Good Effort in the Spring will Pay Off in the Fall!

An effective recruitment is all about marketing your pack. In the marketing world it is said that you need seven touches to convert a customer into a sale. A “touch” is contact with a potential customer. In the Cub Scout world, this is the prospective family. This contact needs to take multiple forms over time to be successful.

Having a spring recruitment is contact with your potential families. Even if your pack does not have program in the summer, making contact in the spring will help recruit members in the fall. Of course, having summer activities (even just one each month) is the better way to go.

If your pack shuts down in the summer, there are still many council and district run activities in the summer that the new scout and their family can take part in. This will get them excited to start with their new pack and tell all of their friends about the wonderful time they had in the summer as a Cub Scout!

The Cubmaster or another representative from the pack should keep in contact with the new families over the summer to see how they are doing and make them feel a part of the family community each pack creates. Having an informal get together of the new scouts once over the summer will do wonders!

How to Run a Successful Spring Recruitment

The first thing you need to do is schedule a recruitment event and get people there. These are sometimes called Join Nights. The most effective recruitment events are held at the school the potential families attend. This is a place that the families know well and are used to gathering at. This is not the only way to do it and I will write a separate post on running a successful recruitment event.

Most councils will have marketing material for no cost. I can only speak for the Silicon Valley Monterey Bay Council, but contact your local District Executive to find out what your local council can provide you.

Here is a list of typical items a council may have:

  • Flyers
  • Lawn Signs
  • Pack Business Cards
  • Posters
  • Sign-in Sheets
  • Recruitment Games

When it comes to marketing, a great many packs fall into the Flyer Trap! What is that, you say? Well, they have their District Executive make them flyers to be distributed at a school or other venue. The pack sends them home with the kids and then waits… and waits… and waits…

I worked with a pack that printed 1,600 flyers, sent them home at two schools and had four families show up to their recruitment event. “The flyers were horrible,” the Cubmaster told me. It turns out, this particular pack sent flyers home through the schools and that was it. Nothing else. Nada. That is just one contact with their potential families. What about the other six touches they need to really get noticed?

As it turns out, your local scout office does not have any magic dust to sprinkle on the flyers. Wouldn’t that be nice, though?

Now let’s look at another pack, this time, one that successfully got people to their recruitment event.

Pack #2 did the following:

  • Sent flyers home to their two schools
  • Got permission to hang signs on the fences of the schools the week of their event
  • They had a booth at both of the school’s spring carnivals
  • They had a table at both school’s spring open house nights
  • They encourage their scouts to wear their uniform to school the day of pack meetings all year
  • They got permission from the principal to have scouts (in uniform) at some special days over the course of the year (one school had a school wide flag ceremony and the other school had a patriotic assembly)
  • They had their scouts pass out pack invitation cards to friends and classmates
  • They had their pack families talk up Cub Scouts and their pack at various events and gatherings

Pack #2 had two smaller schools than the first pack I told you about. However, pack #2 had 21 families attend their spring recruitment. They had interest from 9 more families that could not attend. Wow!!! What was the difference? Pack #2 put in a good amount of effort and it paid off!

The next question to ask is, “How many did they sign up?” Well, not as many as they would have liked. They registered 9 families. That was a really good number for them.

In the fall, with similar efforts, they had 34 families attend their pack open house. That number included 11 families that attended in the spring but had decided to not commit until the fall. They signed up all 11 of those returning families and 13 more. That is 33 new scouts and their families in four months. That number included 18 new Tiger Cubs! This would NOT have happened without all the work that was done throughout the year.

I was Cubmaster of Pack #2 at the time. I can only take partial credit, because we had a team of people working on our recruitment efforts.

Recruitment works when it is given the right amount of energy. No, not every pack will recruit 30+ scouts in that same amount of time, but positive results can and will happen. You have to figure out what works for your pack and your target community. I can tell you that word of mouth and flyers is not the answer. Even if those happen to produce results for a year or two, it will not last. Year round marketing of your pack is the key.

Although, that magic dust would be nice…

1 Comment

Posted by on May 15, 2013 in Cub Scouts, Recruiting


Tags: , , ,