Have you ever heard of "best practices?" One benefit of being 100+ years old is that the Boy Scouts of America knows what works and what doesn't. The following detailed fall recruitment, or "School Night to Join Scouting," (SNJS) plan is one of those best practices and is used by units across the country.
1. Marketing experts tell us a person needs to be exposed to something seven times for best results. We need parents and boys to hear about Scouting seven times! This includes school flyers (two sets), posters at schools and on community billboards, yard signs, telephone calls, school and PTO/PTA newsletters, newspapers, television and radio announcements, stickers, tables at open houses, automated e-mail and phone blasts, classroom talks, boys wearing their uniforms to school that day and more!
2. Parents attend events when held at their children's school more often than when they are at a park, church, etc. This is why most SNJS events are held at schools. [Also see point 7 below.]
3. The SNJS event must be FUN! It has to be more than a table with papers on it. Set up a mock campsite, have some rope games, have snacks, show pictures from campouts, have small giveaways, etc. This is a night to sign up for Scouts and Scouts only. It should be in addition to anything you do at a school open house or similar function.
4. Plan EARLY! Parents want to see the pack's 2011-12 program calendar that night (They've already seen the sports team's game schedule and the martial arts practice schedule; you have to be as prepared!). Make it full of fun outings and exciting lessons. Part of this also means setting your SNJS date early. The council print shop needs at least two weeks' notice to print flyers (free to you) and district executives needs even more advance time to arrange classroom talks with principals. Set your SNJS date as soon as possible and notify the office of the details when you do.
5. "Be Prepared" -- Parents and boys should sign up THAT NIGHT. This is not a night to learn about Scouts, take home a flyer and come back in the
future if they want to join (although some can). Have applications, spare change, your 2011-12 calendar, parent guides (available from the council), additional costs (den dues, uniforms, etc.), flyers showing where materials can be purchased and what they need, exact details about when and where the first meeting will be, position descriptions for recruiting new leaders, new den leader kits (available online), free T-shirts for the boys (if available at that time from the council), "Taste of Scouting" (Oct. 1 at Beaumont Scout Reservation, see below) flyers. posters and yard signs, displays showing the fun things your pack does, plenty of pens, someone to emcee the night, helpers to entertain the kids and someone to collect money and applications. All unit leaders should be there. Your commissioner staff will help too. Other district personnel may be available to help. Let us know if you need assistance.
Taste of Scouting 2011 Flyer.pdf
6. Have a back-up plan! If it rains on your outdoor event, do parents know where to go? If you are locked out of the school when you arrive, do you know who to contact? Can you set up in the parking lot if you have to? It has happened before. Be prepared.
7. If your program has been successful in the past, don't change it! The points listed are the "best practices" of the SNJS plan. However, you know your community best. If the your area knows Scouts recruit at a big park event every fall, then that's what they expect. The district committee, commissioner staff and professional staff want to help you make it successful!
8. Immediately following the event, report the total number of new youth and adult applications received to the headquarters listed below.
08/23 - Jennings School District - Northview Elementary School (8920 Cozens Ave., Jennings, 63136) - 5:30-10:00 p.m.
08/25 - Brown Elementary School Cafeteria (3325 Chicory Creek, Florissant, 63031) - 5:30-10:00 p.m.
09/08 - Ferguson/Florissant School District - Ferguson/Florissant Admin. Bldg. (1005 Waterford Dr., Florissant, 63033) - 5:30-10:00 p.m.
09/22 - Riverview Gardens School District - TBD - 5:30-10:00 p.m.
Although the SNJS plan focuses primarily on Cub Scouts because it is their first exposure to Scouting, every troop and crew can adopt similar strategies for their fall recruitment events. Good luck! Contact North Star Membership Chairman Steven Francis for any help or questions along the way.