Join Scouting Night was a smashing success this year with 37 Scout-aged kids coming to check out what all of the fun was about. How did we do it?… Well, that is what this article is all about, so let’s dive into the step-by-step formula for success.
Our membership Chair, Sondra Steel, was in charge of planning the JSN. A plan is critical to success but the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry, so stay flexible and have contingencies ready. There are 3 main elements for success with any project including and you need a plan for each: get the word out, execute to plan, and follow through. We will explore what Pack 170 did for each of these to help you with your plan.
There are a lot of ways to get the word out and you can use them all or some, but as District Executive, Doug Cooper, said in his “On the North Shore” podcast on “Cub Scout Recruiting: What Works and What is Just Work“, there is no substitute for showing up. Get into the school(s). The district can and has helped with this by engaging LISD at the top levels to get us back in there. Just ask your school(s) to get back in there.
Of course that takes people. How many schools will you be recruiting at? You will need adults and Scouts for each event you will recruit at. Yes, Scouts can be a great asset when recruiting in the schools. Kids connect with other kids better than adults (other than family) do and when you are “selling” Scouting, you need to sell the kids and their parents. We recommend two adults if you can so one can stay with your display while the other meanders through the crowd to engage with families. Be friendly and cheerful, courteous and kind.
What will your display look like and what materials will you need for it? A trifold with engaging pictures of your pack’s events can work well as a backdrop, but you should have hands-on items like uniforms, pinewood derby cars, a tent, and / or other items that represent your unit’s program.
Will you be handing out flyers in the drop-off and pick-up lanes before and after school? What will your flyer say? Color printing is better than black-and-white. Include some catchy graphics. Keep the text to the point… When and where is your JSN event, contact details for your JSN coordinator or key 3, and any other needed information about your JSN program.
We used Peach Jar, Facebook, and NextDoor too. It is a good idea to create a posting that your unit members can share in their feeds on Facebook and Nextdoor (or other social media) for a consistent message, free of typos and inaccurate details. Double and triple check before sharing. You may be able to use the same post in Peach Jar too.
Other options include:
- Ask your Scouts to wear their uniforms to school and talk to their friends about Scouting. This may be a non-starter for older Scouts and that is okay.
- Promote the “Recruiter” patch in your unit. Encourage Scouts to invite their friends.
- NextDoor is a neighborhood-centric social platform so is a good option for Scouting units that need to reach folks in the neighborhood.
- Facebook, pinterest, and other social media can be a great, and free, option.
- Facebook ads are also geocentric and can get in front of a lot of people leveraging the platform’s huge reach. This is a premium option.
Welcome to our JSN! We held our JSN on a Tuesday evening, at the same time we have den meetings. This was no accident. A family that attended our JSN should also be able to attend our den meetings. We had 4 activity stations, an information table, and a registration table. We needed about two adults for each of these as well as a couple of “rovers” to visit all tables and stations periodically and answer questions or engage with guests. These activities were not just available to prospective Scouts and their families, but for our current members too. Having Scouts in uniform participating in each activity along side our guests was an important element in the success of the JSN. It allowed the Scouts and the future Scouts to engage. It allowed parents to see just how easily their kids could become part of the pack.
Let’s talk about each of those in reverse order, starting with the registration table. You will need checkin sheets for families to sign in each child and record their contact information. One or two adults here can explain how the JSN works, ensure each future Scout is checked in, and answer any questions the families may have. This is where we gave the visiting kids their passport. You can custom make passports easily or purchase them online. The passports are used to record their participation in each of our activities. The registration table was also our check out table. Remember when we mentioned follow up? Well, when families completed all of our activities and had their passports stamped, they would return to registration where they would be entered into a drawing that was held the following week at our new family orientation. Prizes included HEB gift cards and other goodies.
The information table was staffed by 2 knowledgeable adults to answer questions about Scouting and our unit. We had our Pack information packages available along with flyers for the upcoming Rocket Day staged by the district, and paper applications for both adults and Scouts. We also taped QR codes on the table pointing to our online application so families could signup online if they preferred. We suggested that those wishing to register online do it there so we could assist if they had any trouble. Sometimes they just aren’t ready to sign up yet and that is okay. The pack info package included our annual activity schedule, a fee schedules laying out expected costs for the remainder of the year as well as the following year, and an overview of popcorn and how it can pay for a Scouts adventure.
The four activity stations were the heart of the event. We chose activities that well represented our unit. We are a STEM-focused unit so we included a STEM station. We did a dinosaur dig, a creative station, and a campfire station as well. Be sure you have enough adult volunteers to run each activity, not just handling logistics but engaging with the families. Details of each of our stations are included below, but your unit may choose different activities that align better with your unit program.
Family orientation night was held a week after the JSN, also on a Tuesday night at our den meeting time. Family orientation is a “welcome aboard” meeting for new families, kids and adults. We split the families so the kids could get the details about popcorn while adults got the details about Scouting and the pack.
The Scouts popcorn session was straight forward. It was the same presentation we gave to our existing Scouts a few weeks earlier and was conducted by our Popcorn Kernel and team. The adults’ agenda was more varied. This is how it went.
INTRODUCTIONS AND BEGINNINGS JOINT SESSION
- Cubmaster introduce themselves. (CM)
- Open by having Cubmaster teach scouts about the meaning of “Wolf Ears sign”.(CM)
- Introduce safety by talking to scouts about the buddy system. Then tell them that the adults also have to follow a buddy system. (Safety Officer)
- Introduce Cedar Park Police Officer for our safety moment. (CM)
- Importance of the uniform and we do have a uniform closet. Page 16&17 (QM)
- Introduce popcorn to scouts in a breakout session with scouts. (PK)
SAFETY AND PAPERWORK
- Introduce some more adult leadership such as CC and den leaders. (CM)
- Talk about YPT in more specifics and YPT course. (WDL)
- Talk about Adult Applications. Mention rockets for new scouts you sign up, more to come if we run out. (CC)
- Talk about BSA Health Forms. Need A&B, and copy of medical insurance card for every participant (vaccinations must be written on form instead of attached)
FUN STUFF AND HANDBOOK
- Why the program works (scouting aims & method) (CM / WDL)
- Camping, Den Meetings, etc. (WDL)
- Introduce Pack welcome packet. Discuss we want participation but not every event is mandatory. We like to put lots of offerings out. This also has helped us achieve our Journey to Excellence and top pack for the last 5 years. (CC)
- Hand out handbook, quick overview and have everyone sign code of conduct. (CC)
BEG, I MEAN, ASK NICELY FOR HELP 🙂
- Now we ask for help, talk about various roles in the pack. A few listed on Page 4&5 (not an exhausted list) (CC)
- Talk about the big and little jobs and how it takes everyone to run a volunteer organization. Everything helps, big and small. If something isn’t filled, we don’t get to offer that to the scouts. Don’t want our volunteers burned out. (CC)
- Family Talent Survey – Help us to get to know you. (CM) (Collect these that night)
- Talk about current and future openings and pass around sign up clipboard. (CC)
- Talk about the value leadership brings to your own life and how it helped demonstrating that to our children (CC)
- Briefly discuss training available to Cub Scout leaders. (WDL)
- Popcorn Kernel comes back in and introduces popcorn to parents.
- Cut the cake and invite parents to check out uniform closet, store, and mingle.
- Uniform closet open for families to look through and select items that fit.
- Pack store items (t-shirts, pack numerals, etc.) available for purchase.
- Pack store available to collect pack dues.
- Online Training
- Youth Protection
- Shooting Sports Rangemaster
- Megatraining – combines a variety of classes into a weekend
- Wood Badge
- Day Camp
Cub Scout Sign – “Wolf Ears”
- 2 fingers (index, middle) spread apart held with arm straight above the shoulder.
- 2 fingers represent Scout Oath and Scout Law
- Spread apart to resemble the attentive ears of a wolf, ready to listen to Akela
- Used to quiet the group
- Do not announce “signs up”
- Do not over use
Importance of the uniform
- One of the methods of Scouting
- Establish a sense of belonging – group identity
- Individual achievement – rank badges and adventures, special achievements (summertime pack award, whittling chip, etc.)
- Reminds us of our commitments expressed in the Scout Oath and Scout Law
- Pack managed
- From former scouts or other donations
- Should be available at this meeting
“Aims of Scouting.”
- Character development,
- Leadership development,
- Citizenship training,
- Personal fitness.
Methods of Scouting
- Ideals – The ideals of Scouting are spelled out in the Scout Oath, the Scout Law, the Scout motto, and the Scout slogan. The Scout measures themselves against these ideals and continually tries to improve. The goals are high, and, as they reach for them, they have some control over what and who they become.
- Patrols – The patrol method gives Scouts an experience in group living and participating citizenship. It places responsibility on young shoulders and teaches Scouts how to accept it. The patrol method allows Scouts to interact in small groups where they can easily relate to each other. These small groups determine troop activities through their elected representatives.
- Outdoor Programs – Scouting is designed to take place outdoors. It is in the outdoor setting that Scouts share responsibilities and learn to live with one another. It is here that the skills and activities practiced at troop meetings come alive with purpose. Being close to nature helps Scouts gain an appreciation for God’s handiwork and humankind’s place in it. The outdoors is the laboratory for Scouts to learn ecology and practice conservation of nature’s resources.
- Advancement – Scouting provides a series of surmountable obstacles and steps in overcoming them through the advancement method. The Scout plans their advancement and progresses at their own pace as they meet each challenge. The Scout is rewarded for each achievement, which helps them gain self-confidence. The steps in the advancement system help a Scout grow in self-reliance and in the ability to help others.
- Association with Adults – Scouts learn a great deal by watching how adults conduct themselves. Scout leaders can be positive role models for the members of their troops. In many cases a Scoutmaster who is willing to listen to the Scouts, encourage them, and take a sincere interest in them can make a profound difference in their lives.
- Personal Growth – As Scouts plan their activities and progress toward their goals, they experience personal growth. The Good Turn concept is a major part of the personal growth method of Scouting. Young people grow as they participate in community service projects and do Good Turns for others. Probably no device is so successful in developing a basis for personal growth as the daily Good Turn. The religious emblems program also is a large part of the personal growth method. Frequent personal conferences with their Scoutmaster help each Scout to determine their growth toward Scouting’s aims.
- Leadership Development – The Scouting program encourages Scouts to learn and practice leadership skills. Every Scout has the opportunity to participate in both shared and total leadership situations. Understanding the concepts of leadership and becoming a servant leader helps a Scout accept the leadership role of others and guides them towards participating citizenship and character development.
- Uniform – The uniform makes the Scout troop visible as a force for good and creates a positive youth image in the community. Scouting is an action program, and wearing the uniform is an action that shows each Scout’s commitment to the aims and purposes of Scouting. The uniform gives the Scout identity in a world brotherhood of youth who believe in the same ideals. The uniform is practical attire for Scout activities and provides a way for Scouts to wear the badges that show what they have accomplished.
Here are the details about our four activity stations. Your may be different but perhaps these will give you some ideas.
Instructed kids on building a cartesian diver using bended straws and paper clips to make the diver.
– while demonstrating, explained the ideal gas law (PV=nRT) and how reducing the volume of the water bottle increased the pressure on the air trapped inside the diver.
– we applied the ideal gas law to two different concepts while the youth played with their divers. First with Heron’s fountain and second with submarines.
-demonstrated the flow of water out of a tall spout, working against gravity with the addition of just a couple of table spoons of water to the funnel. Changing water colors with food dye helped to show the flow of water in the system.
-explained how the straws are built and that the water first displaces air, the air is put under pressure, and is then able to displace water.
-Showcased how you can build a rubber band-propellered submarine with soda bottles.
– demonstrated how the soda bottle sub could not stay horizontal because the air in the bottle floated to one end of the bottle or the other
– demonstrated how to apply the ideal gas law to an air bladder (balloon) inside the submarine, and observe how as the balloon inflates, it expels water from the sub and makes the submarine more bouyant.
Some comments from participants:
– Third grader Jackson: correctly explained how air was moved from Bottle A to Bottle B in the Heron’s fountain, and how that resulted in water movement.
– Kindergartner: built a Cartesian diver and showed family they could make it sink
– AOL: confirmed that the ideal gas law does not describe the perfect fart.
The Dinosaur Dig was led by our Den Leader Coach, Patricia Cruz. She created plaster blocks with a plastic dinosaur figure in them for the Scouts and guests to excavate. Adding sand to the plaster helps to “soften” the plaster so it doesn’t take forever to dig out the dinosaur. The participants were given a small wooden hammer and wooden spike to chip away the plaster until their dino was exposed. Here is her description of her process:
Prep was purchasing 2” Dinos, 4 lbs of dry wall plaster, sand, soap moulds, aluminum tins, paint brushes, small wooden hammers and dowel rods. I mixed the plaster, sad and water together following a Pinterest recipe. I filled the moulds 1/2 way put 1 Dino in each block then filled the mould the rest of the way. I let them dry in the moulds for about 30min Utes then posed them out and put on some wax paper to dry until needed (24-48 hours). I also used some of the plaster to make fossils imprints of some of the Dino feet, a shell, two different leaves and a June bug. These imprints were placed in an aluminum pan and covered with sand for discovery.
Set Up- I made a line of tables in the middle of the room where I placed 8 aluminum pans with a wooden hammer, two sharpened dowel rods and two paintbrushes. By the white board I set up another table where I put the pans with fossil imprints and the blocks of plaster/sand/dino. On the white board I wrote out the differences between paleontology and archeology.
Execution- I stayed at the table by the white board. As scouts cam in I instructed them to take a block and go to one of the aluminum pans where they would use the tools to dig out a surprise. When they were done and brought their Dino and passport over to me I would ask them interesting and fun questions. What kind of Dino did you find? Do you like Dinos? Do you know what paleontology is? Do you know what archeology is? Do you know the difference? What do they find? Then we would discuss the answers. Some would brush the sand away to discover the fossil imprints. We would discuss the process as well as what they found.
Impressions- The kids were able to engage on a topic enjoyed by many while getting to destroy something and find a surprise, also something kids love. Through the questions and discussions we had individually or in small groups at the end they hopefully walked away with a little bit more knowledge and appreciation of the process of uncovering history.
Amber Lively, a new Den Leader, created a wonderful freeform creative corner with patterns that Scouts and guests could color with crayons as well as other crafty materials like colored pipe cleaners to sculpt figures with. This was a great station to let your creative ideas flow and for parents to work with their children to encourage their creativity and imagination.
As a bonus treat, Amber setup a 2-person pup tent for the kids to see and enter. I can personally confirm that a 2-person tent can hold at least 8 Cub Scouts.
Our JSN was scheduled following several days of rain so it was muddy outside. We opted for an indoor fireside chat. We have an electric campfire that we setup in a room for ambiance but it would have worked well even without that because the real draw of the fireside chat is the s’mores. We had a Den Leader managing the s’more creation in a microwave while our Webelos Den Leader and Cubmaster talked with parents about the pack and Scouting and answered any questions they had. This was a favorite station of the Scouts and guests.
I was a “rover”. I went from station to station and table to table talking with parents and kids alike. Asking them what they like to do and telling them more about what they can do in Scouting. Telling them about our STEM program. Generally building excitement for what Scouting and our unit can offer them.