Article submitted by Paul Verwers, District Executive, Longhorn Council
Fall time for a District Executive can seem daunting. September is a very busy time in Scouting. Not only is it our biggest recruitment month, but we must keep up with many other tasks. New Scouts are joining, the popcorn campaign is popping, the Family Friends Scouting chair is preparing for the fundraising campaign, new leaders need training–activities are all happening one right after the other. Being organized is not optional, especially that time of year. Look at your calendar and update your to-do list every day.
With all of the activities keeping you busy, it is still important to stay in touch with each of your volunteers. Communicate with your District Key 3 and make sure they have the tools to keep your district functioning at a high level. Don’t forget your Family Friends of Scouting chair. They need to start recruiting and training presenters for the upcoming fundraising campaign. Remember to check in with your Fall Camporee volunteers. Verify that the volunteers have budgets and understand the steps that need to be taken to hold the events.
All this being said, keep in mind that our best laid plans may not work, and we may need to pivot and adjust quickly to the changing environment. Our school recruitments may look very different this year. Keep in mind that you may have to find new ways to do Scout Talks, including sending Virtual Scout talks or previously recorded videos. We may have to rely more on the digital world to get our message out and bring new youth to the program.
In the end, it’s important to remember our mission is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law. Every youth deserves the opportunity to be a Scout. Don’t let them down, and put in every effort to give all youth a chance to be a part of this awesome adventure!
Look into the future and envision September now. You have already set up all your school nights, whether they will be in person or virtual. You finally made it to the fall sign-up night period of your Scouting year! Are you ready for all the hard work that you put in over the last eight months to result in tangible results? Below are some tips to a successful fall roundup.
- If local health guidelines permit, attend sign-up nights. It is important that volunteers at the district and unit level run the sign-up nights, but your attendance at sign-up nights can positively improve recruitment efforts. Often, questions come up that you as a professional can easily answer. Your presence will show volunteers that you care about growing their pack. Be present at as many sign-up nights as you are able.
- Keep your vehicle well stocked! Just as teachers need to be ready with their lesson materials, September is not the time to run out of youth applications, sign-up sheets, field receipts, and other often-used items.
- Track your recruitment data. Know how many Scouts each school/unit recruited at its sign-up nights the year before. This will let you know if the pack is on track or underperforming on expectations. If a school recruited 12 scouts last year and only 3 this year, try to find out why, and if a follow-up sign-up night at the school is required.
- Communicate with your fall sign-up chair and district membership committee. We have great volunteers in the BSA, but they still need support and guidance. Verify that everyone knows the sign-up night location, schedule, and any local health guidance. Ensure that they are prepared with all the needed supplies and training.
- Continually follow up with your schools. Confirm that Scout Talks are scheduled and that all details associated with them are arranged with the school representative.
- Are you are doing virtual Scout talks or sending previously recorded videos to schools? If so, ensure that the schools have the capabilities to share those videos and that the videos have the correct info on how to join BSA.
- If you are able to send flyers in the traditional way, stay on top of the distribution. Familiarize yourself with the process for getting flyers out to the students. Is there a day that flyers go home with students? Does the school have a digital flyer service or other online ways of getting out information?
- Distribute sufficient marketing materials to your units. Display yard signs, posters, door hangers, Facebook posts well before the sign-up night.
- Reach out to charter sponsors. Make sure they are aware of any upcoming sign-up nights for their pack. Ask to put information in the Church bulletin and on their marquee.
- Work with your training chair to set up new leader training. Don’t let your newly recruited leaders feel lost and alone. Have several training opportunities throughout the fall to help strengthen their skills and confidence.
- Work with your commissioner core. Engage your commissioners to support your membership efforts. Having a strong commissioner team is a key to keep your units active and in good health.
Scouting Wire would like to thank Paul for submitting this article.