Looking from the outside in

At our church, I serve on a committee that oversees our communication efforts. Among our tasks are the advertising and promotions that we place in local media, our various “side-door” ministries (activities that help to enrich the community, like Scouting) and the church website. We redesigned the website this year, and one of the topics that we added was a look at our Sunday worship for those who are visiting us for the first time, and what they could expect when they walked through our doors.

As we tossed around ideas for the first-time visitor section, we had to envision walking into our church – something we do each week without much thought – as if we had never been there before. Sure, we had all been first-timers once, but it had been a long time since we gave it any thought. Not only did it open our eyes to things we stopped noticing years ago, but it led to some redesign work in the church to make it easier for newcomers to find their way.

The process got me to thinking about how first-time visitors to our packs and troops must feel. Continue reading “Looking from the outside in”

There IS a better tool

soccerball_250As fall recruiting season nears, we’re putting together our plans to make sure every boy has an opportunity to join Scouting – scheduling Join Scouting nights, polishing our presentations and getting ready with another year of fun, adventure and enrichment.

You can tell that fall is approaching because our competition is getting their act in gear as well. All over town, I’ve noticed signs springing up announcing that youth sports leagues are forming, for kids age 3 to 17. Competing for space on street corners with the political signs, these promote a certain non-profit organization that franchises youth sports programs in towns around the country.

I won’t mention the name of the organization, but a check of their website boasts of over one million participants in towns from coast to coast, offering leagues, camps and clinics in today’s most popular sports. In a way, the organization is similar to Scouting in that kids at all skill levels are welcome, with no tryouts. Everyone plays in every game, sessions are one day a week, and trained officials are present. There’s no mandatory volunteering and, unlike us, no fundraising of any kind. Continue reading “There IS a better tool”

Is there a “recruiting season”?

another_250In a couple all-too-short months, it’ll be fall, and Cub Scout packs will be holding Boy Talks and Join Scouting nights, re-registering boys for another year of fun and accepting new ones into the fold. Fun lies ahead, and we don’t want them to miss out on any of it.

Boy Scout troops usually accept new members in the winter or spring when Cub Scouts cross over. Months of preparation go into planning joint activities, going to den meetings and having the Arrow of Light Scouts visit our troops. The two meet at crossover, where the new Boy Scouts take the leap into their next adventure.

Looking at the way we do things, it’s as if we open our doors twice a year: once in the fall for the Cub Scouts, and once in the winter for Boy Scouts.

But step back – it really isn’t that way. Continue reading “Is there a “recruiting season”?”

The “I Just Want to Play” League

sandlot2_250If you’re the parent of a child involved in organized sports, you are undoubtedly aware of how competitive playing a game has become. And it’s not the children who are competitive – it’s the parents. Sure, many of the kids want to get in there and do well at their sport, but the parents push them to do better. Many are finding that other parents have outdone them, enrolling their kids in special training camps, instructional sessions and skill drills in hopes they’ll make it in a highly-competitive league. They plead with teachers and school administrators to do what they can to give their children better grades so high-profile college teams won’t dismiss them. Recreational leagues can be cut-throat. Parents scream at the children and coaches from the sidelines during games. And this all starts – incredibly – in grade school.

But kids, for the most part, don’t want to be in a highly-competitive sports league. They just want to play. Continue reading “The “I Just Want to Play” League”

One simple sentence

cubmastermikebaker_200You’ve probably heard that many people fear speaking in public more than almost anything else. But it doesn’t have to be that way – and as a Scouter, you are in a perfect position to learn how to ease that fear.

I had never spoken to large groups very much until I became a Cubmaster. I had given presentations at work and before my professional society, but I wasn’t completely comfortable doing it. Now, I had to entertain the boys and keep their parents informed – and you know what? It was actually fun! Scouting was something I believed in, and could see the value of in my own kids, so it became second-nature to lead the group. I put that new-found comfort to use as a trainer and was just as much at ease relating to new leaders as I was to a room full of grade-school boys.

We’re into our recruiting drives now, and you’re finding that you are speaking to groups of parents eager to hear how the Scouting program will benefit their sons. Continue reading “One simple sentence”