Want to know an easy (yet genius) way you can amplify recruiting efforts in your council? Take a page from the Spirit of Adventure Council‘s book and invite everyone to join your Scouting events and activities. Read on to learn how this council is adopting a culture that’s all about embracing their local community of Scouts and non-Scouts.
The Spirit of Adventure Council recently posted an insightful blog post in which author and Spirit of Adventure marketing committee member Brian Lobao compares the BSA to bowling and America’s declining interest and participation in civic organizations and activities. The parallel was inspired by Robert D. Putman’s book, “Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Communities” which discusses the economic decline of the bowling business, despite the fact that more people are bowling than ever. Putman discovered that although people enjoy bowling, they do not want to join bowling leagues.
Brian Lobao strikes a unique comparison between bowling league membership and membership in the BSA, concluding that both are affected by America’s lack of interest in joining social organizations.
Inviting Everyone to Experience Scouting
But Brian explains how Spirit of Adventure is working toward a solution. The council is taking action to understand American families and how we can encourage them to join the BSA. The council conducted focus group meetings with non-Scouting families and discovered they are interested and willing to pay more to participate in Scouting, yet they consider themselves outsiders to the organization.
With these findings, the council decided to take a different approach to recruiting by opening Scouting events to the entire community, not just Scouts and Scouters. By declaring “everyone is invited” to their Camp Sayre/New England Base Camp, the council intends to engage people in Scouting without pushing for sign-ups.
The blog post further explained:
We are letting them take Scouting out for a test drive. It is hoped that through their experiences at Base Camp, people will be more engaged with and willing to consider joining the BSA. We ask them to “come bowling” alone, and get to know us. If they like what they see they may be more inclined to consider membership.
By improving public visibility, the council hopes to increase the interest and willingness of families to join the program by letting them experience Scouting for themselves.
“The author of this week’s lead story is really a collaborative effort from the entire marketing committee and YOU,” shared Scout Executive Chuck Eaton. “As we hear and interpret the needs from our parents and leaders the number one thing they are telling us is they need more parent leadership/engagement to help Scouting thrive in their community. This article broadens that sentiment and ideally our strategic vision answers the concern #ScoutingTHRIVES.”
Show Your Community How Much Fun Scouts Are Having
The council hosts a variety of public-facing Scouting events which has prompted new membership. Eaton described how the council hosted a ropes course next to a public swimming practice which resulted in multiple inquiries about the event. By hosting a cool Scouting event where other youth can watch, the council gained new members simply by being visible.
How Your Council Can Take On This Strategy
- Hold Scouting events in a public space like a park. We know your council is already planning exciting events so no need to make any huge changes – simply host the event where everyone can see!
- Invite people around the event to join the fun. Passersby are going to see how much fun attendees are having at the event so if you notice an interested party, reach out and invite them to participate.
- Bring non-Scout friends and families to the event.
- Share on social media. Take photos and then post to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. And don’t forget – Scouts recruiting their friends is one of the easiest ways to boost membership! Encourage Scouts to share stories and photos on their social networks too.
Learn more about how the Spirit of Adventure Council is opening Scouting experiences to their entire community by checking out their blog post “Civics & Scouting in Today’s World.” And share with us, what do you think about this recruiting strategy? How are you encouraging your community to get involved?