Story contributed by David Rico “Rico,” Southern Region – Membership Growth Coach

As professionals, we face many challenges to meet our membership goals. While many pros have developed processes in the past, it’s a good idea to revisit those processes from time to time to stay current. Having a solid plan will help you to exceed your membership numbers, but most importantly, deliver the promise to youth in our communities. We are in a very competitive world where we need to adapt to the changes in our society. This article will help you strategize and develop a plan that works for you and your district in our ever-changing world.

Where Do I Start?

As part of the process, we must do our homework and research. Take advantage of your access to social media, social networks, and the internet. Take the time to better understand your school districts and their leadership, including superintendents, board members, and principals.

Prepare a “School Night Fact Sheet” showcasing Scouting’s benefits, the purpose of the school night, Scouting highlights, and expectations. As part of the expectations, include Scout Talks (emphasize it will take approx. 5 mins), promotional materials, and highlight how posters should be placed in high-traffic areas.

Building and Maintaining Relationships with Superintendents

In an ideal world, you would have access to your superintendents. The reality is, not everyone has that privilege. Our recommendation is for you to utilize your resources to create the bridge between Scouting and the school system. Research and identify volunteers who have connections with the school system to open doors.

“The executive must help themselves by inviting a volunteer to make the connection with the superintendents of each school district to assist the recruitment process during the initial phases,” shared Taylor Neal, district executive at the Yocona Area Council.

If you have access to multiple school districts and superintendents, prioritize how you will connect with them. While preparing for your visit, think about making it a win-win situation. Consider highlighting the service benefits that many schools with Scouting youth experience.

During your official visit, it would be a great idea to start by sharing any impacting local Scouting stories to break the ice. Discuss the “School Night Fact Sheet,”upcoming events, or give them a token of appreciation.

Throughout your interaction, ask if they will be willing to create a one-year support letter. A one-year support letter ensures that you will have access during the fall and spring recruitment campaigns (share any samples from other districts if available). In addition, ask if they will be willing to share via e-mail with their principals. Finally, ask if you can get a few minutes to address the principals face to face during one of the principals’ meetings. After the meeting, send follow-up notes thanking them and letting them know the next steps.

School Principals Visits

Again, start the process of visiting principals by doing your research.

“Before conducting a principal visit, I always consult the websites of my schools prior to the visit because it is pretty common for the principals to change from year to year, but even then, the site may not yet be updated,” explained Austin Abee, district executive at the Yocona Area Council. “Calling ahead to schedule an appointment and speaking with an administrative assistant can help to confirm this, so you know ahead of time who you’ll be speaking with.” 

“Knowing how each school works best with Scout Talks from previous years and the total number of all youth can be provided by the administrative assistant in advance of the meeting in order to discuss how each youth talk will be conducted,” added Taylor Neal, district executive at the Yocona Area Council. “This takes some heat off the principal and lets them know you are serious about limiting classroom disruption. We also encourage steering them away from lunchroom talks, because even a 5-minute interruption is very likely and that takes away from class time.” 

When meeting with principals, never assume they know the process. You are the expert! Guide them throughout the process to ensure that you both get the most out of it. Don’t forget to highlight the benefits to the school and share with them any impactful stories to kick off the meeting.

Keep the meeting short and to the point, share with them information on the local unit(s), and highlight any past service projects, especially those that benefitted local schools. If possible, have a letter of support from the superintendent and the School Night Fact Sheet.

Once you explain the process, find out if there is a possibility to promote the Scouting night on their website, Facebook page, marquee sign(s), parents school text message system, and any other methods of communication available. Don’t forget to recap at the end of the meeting to ensure you are both on the same page.

“All in all, my goal is to come away with the principal feeling like Scouting is a worthy effort and any special requirements we may need or ask for are worth it,” said Jeremy Twachtman, district executive at the Greater Tampa Bay Area Council.

Best Practices

  • It is recommended to visit with superintendents before summer.
  • It is recommended to set up appointments before the summer and conduct visits during the summer when principals have more time to and fewer distractions.
  • It would be ideal to create a principal development event to capture the interest of as many principals as possible. According to Trey Smith, district director of the South Plains Council, they host a breakfast for the principals. During the event they feed them, give them a mug, and report their success of the prior year.
  • Build rapport with the gatekeepers (administrative assistants) and principals. Bring items like popcorn, camp cards, promotional items, etc. “It is important to have a good working relationship with the office staff because they will be the ones to ensure your fliers are distributed and posters hung up in the fall. They also control access to the principal,” shared Austin Abee, district executive of the Yocona Area Council.

Scouting Wire would like to thank David Rico for contributing this story.

Resources:
How councils can strengthen bonds with schools by leveraging school access bills

Are you looking for a training opportunity that will take your volunteering experience to the next level? District and unit volunteers are invited to visit the Philmont Training Center to explore unique ways to better serve their Scouting communities.

The Philmont Training Center (PTC) is the national volunteer training center for the Boy Scouts of America. Since 1950, the PTC has provided a unique environment for training volunteers, creating leaders, and hosting family friendly experiences and adventures. Each year, more than 6,000 Scouters and their families attend the PTC.

Every conference at the PTC features tools, techniques, audiovisuals, discussions, idea sharing, and activities led by a faculty of experienced Scouters. All of this equals highly effective and motivated volunteers within your district!  All registered Scouters are invited to attend training center courses!  For more detailed information and dates visit

Watch the video below for a glimpse into the Philmont Training Center and head to www.philmontscoutranch.org/PTC to learn more.

Story contributed by Andrew Allgeier, district executive from the Greater Wyoming Council

My name is Andrew. I’m a district executive with a camp assignment, and I struggle managing my time. There, I said it out loud. It took years, some very serious feedback from family and friends, and a serious dose of humility to admit it.

Balancing your time in a large district (or multiple district) assignment can be challenging enough. Throwing in a camp assignment makes it even more difficult. Owning up to this has allowed me to overhaul how I manage my time and become much more effective. I have slowly (and at times reluctantly) implemented a few time management strategies to make it a little easier.

Time Management Strategies That Work for Me

I start by developing a yearly calendar for both the district and camp. I list the major tasks and objectives month by month. Keep in mind this should be a living list, but it won’t change much after the first two years. These are big picture items, not small tasks. Monthly goals and objectives are revisited at the very beginning of every month in a monthly day of planning. Yes, a whole day devoted to planning and scheduling!

Every Monday morning, I take 30-45 minutes to schedule my week. This is done in half hour blocks. I like to draft on paper and then input into my Outlook work calendar. Be sure to schedule personal or family time first. As part of the “fine” level of scheduling, be sure to include at least 30 minutes of flex/makeup time in each work day. This gives flexibility and helps me keep up with a schedule that gets interrupted by unplanned calls, emergencies, etc.

During big tasks, close your email and put away your phone. Utilize 60-90 minutes of uninterrupted, undistracted time to do only the scheduled task. I also recommend scheduling dedicated time for calls and email every day to keep up with incoming communication.

Of course, there are always more tasks and projects than any one person can accomplish. Enable/empower your volunteers to help share the load. They want to help. Keep a printed list of volunteer names on your wall to refer to if needed. Give them a task with specific parameters, a clearly defined goal and timeline and let them help. Always thank and recognize them for their work.

Additionally, I try to make the most of road time by making calls on the road, if possible. Please use a hands-free calling option! My council has also used the Zoom meeting system to help limit road time for both professionals and volunteers. A pro account is a smart investment once you start adding up savings from reimbursed mileage not used.

Another helpful tip: when you schedule meetings, cut your meeting times in half. You’ll be amazed at how your team can accomplish the same amount of work in the time allotted! This cuts down on non-necessary conversations. Every meeting must have start and end times AND an agenda.

Hopefully at least one of these ideas will help you to make the most of your time.

Scouting Wire would like to thank Andrew Allgeier for contributing this post.

Boy Scouts of America has teamed with the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) and its award-winning environmental education program, Project Learning Tree (PLT). We’ve been working together to provide Scout leaders with ideas and outdoor, hands-on activities from PLT to help support Cub Scouting Adventures and Scouts BSA Merit Badges. PLT activities make learning about nature and the environment fun for all ages, while also building 21st century skills. The activities can be conducted by anyone at any time and provide lots of useful tips for managing active child behavior both indoors and outdoors.

What Is Project Learning Tree?

Project Learning Tree is designed for educators, parents, and community leaders working with youth from preschool through grade 12. Established in 1976, the program’s activities are designed to get kids outside, connect children to nature in meaningful ways, and grow understanding of our shared environment.

The activities are fun and easy to do, and they relate to all kinds of subjects—from reading and writing, to science and math, to social studies and art. There are activities for all grade levels, and they are suitable for all demographics— urban, suburban, or rural.

In addition to building knowledge, PLT activities are great for developing STEM skills, such as collaboration and teamwork, creativity and imagination, critical thinking and problem solving. They also sow seeds of opportunity and encourage youth to explore careers in forestry and natural resources conservation.

Find a Project Learning Tree Activity

Project Learning Tree activities have been correlated to eight Cub Scout Adventures and six BSA merit badges. These crosswalks quickly show which PLT activities can provide fun and inspiring approaches for exploring the Adventure topics and Merit Badge requirements.

Cub Scout Adventures

This correlation is designed to assist parents, den leaders, and Cubmasters in helping Cub Scouts meet the following Adventure requirements. While the PLT lessons referenced will not satisfy all of the requirements a Cub Scout must fulfill to secure an Adventure, they will assist leaders in covering over half of the requirements for each of the following:

  • Mountain Lion (Lion)
  • Ready, Set, Grow (Lion)
  • Backyard Jungle (Tiger)
  • Fur, Feathers, and Ferns (Bear)
  • Grow Something (Wolf)
  • Spirit of the Water (Wolf)
  • Into the Wild (Webelos)
  • Into the Woods (Webelos)

For example, in PLT’s “Are Vacant Lots Vacant?”Activity, Scouts are invited to look closely over one small square and find that plants of all kinds thrive in vacant lots, along with a host of animals including insects, birds, and mammals. This activity transforms a nearby vacant lot, overgrown strip, or a landscaped area into a rich laboratory for Scouts to examine elements of an ecosystem. This activity supports the Tiger “Backyard Jungle” Adventure first requirement of “taking a 1-foot hike.”

BSA Merit Badges

This correlation is designed to assist merit badge counselors and Scoutmasters in helping Scouts meet the badge requirements for six merit badges. While the PLT lessons referenced will not satisfy all of the requirements a Scout must fulfill to secure a Merit Badge, they will assist leaders in covering over half of the requirements for each of the following:

  • Environmental Science
  • Forestry
  • Nature
  • Pulp and Paper
  • Soil and Water Conservation
  • Sustainability

For example, in PLT’s “A Forest of Many Uses” Activity, Scouts are taught how privately and publicly owned forests are managed to provide many different resources. Scouts learn how forests are managed to meet a variety of human and environmental needs. This experiential learning fulfills the Forestry Merit Badge’s Requirement 3.A (2), which necessitates that Scouts can “describe contributions forests make to social well-being.”

Why Project Learning Tree and the BSA Are a Natural Fit

Project Learning Tree and Boy Scouts of America are natural allies as we both aim to provide experiential, hands-on learning that results in positive outcomes for youth. We both value time spent outdoors and the lessons learned from those experiences. Combining both programs can truly enhance experiences for youth.

“I first became introduced to PLT when I was volunteering as a troop leader. Immediately I was hooked,” says Jane Thornes, 4th grade teacher at Heyburn Elementary School in St. Maries, Idaho. “The easy-to-follow approach that PLT uses to educate young minds is smart, refreshing, and fun.”

A hallmark of PLT is how easily you can begin using it right away, in any setting. While PLT activities employ highly effective and well-tested teaching strategies, they can be used by anyone. Each activity provides step-by-step instructions for getting ready, conducting the activity, and assessing learning. Many activities can be conducted in an hour, rely on simple materials that you likely already have on hand, and can be implemented with minimal prep time.

“The benefits of connecting kids to the outdoors has implications in many aspects of their lives, and using PLT is a great way to get kids excited about nature,” says Kathy Fischer, a Michigan 4-H Program Coordinator. “PLT activities connect to all educational disciplines, so they are easy to intertwine and reinforce concepts already being taught.”

For more information, visit https://www.plt.org/bsa.

Many school districts are beginning to use digital communications platforms like Peachjar for delivering items like activity fliers to parents. For Scouting, that means learning how to follow some basic guidelines to optimize communications items for that platform. Here, we explain more about what Peachjar is, how to follow their guidelines, and their expert design tips!

How Does Peachjar Work?

Peachjar streamlines school-to-home communication by distributing fliers, community resources, and vital school updates directly to parents through their digital service.

Over 600 school districts and more than 20,000 community organizations use this tool to deliver communications to school parents. And if a school district is using Peachjar, then they are contractually obligated to send all school communications through the Peachjar digital platform rather than through printed materials.

Every Flier Must Be Approved by the School District and Must Follow Their Individual District Guidelines.

Yes, that’s right. Each district has a set of guidelines that determine what kids of fliers they will approve to be sent out to parents. Peachjar links these guidelines in their program provider accounts under a “District Guidelines” tab. An example may be requiring your flier to have both an English and Spanish version.

Peachjar Fliers are ADA Compliant!

Peachjar fliers adhere to ADA compliance. That means, for example, that parents that have visual impairment can receive information from Peachjar fliers via screen reading devices that detect text, then read it back to them.

For this process to work properly, there is a step in the flier upload process that populates the text from your flier into a box as it will be “read” by Peachjar systems. If the text in that box does not match what is on the flier, you run the risk of the flier being denied by the district, so be sure to check that it is correct.

Over 14,000 schools use the Peachjar system.

That’s close to 20 percent of all schools in the United States who use the Peachjar system. The platform has heavy coverage on the West Coast, East Coast, and throughout the South. To see if your school is a Peachjar school, check this list

Peachjar Design Tips are Easy to Follow!

Peachjar recommends strong, clear calls to action, simple copy, and large images. This fits our Scout Me In! fliers perfectly! If you’re looking for some great fliers to get you started, check out the options in the BSA Brand Center. You can find fliers for Cub Scouts, fliers for Scouts BSA, and more!

Although the Peachjar system is free to school districts who utilize the platform, there is a fee for organizations, such as the Boy Scouts of America, to distribute their fliers through the platform. Costs can vary by timing and number of schools.

This article is part of an ongoing series that covers digital platforms used to deliver items like our Scout fliers. Please be sure to look for more of our other articles on different platforms. 

For as long as most of us can remember, the Scout flier has been one of the primary options in your recruiting toolbox for attracting new members to your packs and troops.

When executed well, a Scout flier can be an effective tool. Executed poorly, it either won’t make it home or can actively deter new families from joining.

So, what makes a well-executed Scout flier? We’re glad you asked!

Below are two samples, one that is executed well and another that needs some work. Let’s dive into the elements that make successful fliers and those that should be avoided.

First, let’s look at a recommended flier approach. 

What makes the above an effective Scout flier? Several things.

  1. SIMPLICITY. Too often, we see fliers that are loaded with images, graphics, clip art, and copy points. The goal of a flier isn’t to drive registration right then and there, it’s to get someone interested enough to look for more information. Keep it simple!
  2. CLARITY. Strong fliers have a clear, targeted message for the audience they are trying to reach. You want youth and families to understand the message at a glance. Avoid confusion by providing a clear message that is easy to digest.
  3. BREVITY. Fliers are not meant to be the only source of information for potential new members and their families. The temptation to provide a wealth of information is strong, but avoid it. This is not a real estate contract. Ideally, a flier will have just enough information to pique your interest and drive you to another location for more information.
  4. BOLD. Strong fliers have large, bold imagery that captures the attention of the child or parent who receives it. This is especially true if the school you’re working with uses an online resource like Peachjar, Remind, Smore, etc.
  5. CALL TO ACTION. Effective fliers have a simple message to youth and parents, “Go do this…” Whether it’s visiting your unit’s website, social media page, contacting a leader, or attending a meeting to learn more, there needs to be a simple and clear call to action for parents to execute as they are reading your flier.

Now, let’s take a look at a less effective flier (note: this is not a real flier, but it helps illustrate the point). 

Since we’ve reviewed what makes an effective flier, we bet you can guess why the above version isn’t as strong.

  1. LACK OF SIMPLICITY. There is a lot going on here. Too many images, too much information, nothing to draw the eye in or capture the attention of a potential new family. Color is always a good idea, but too much becomes a distraction. Keep. It. Simple.
  2. NO CLARITY. What exactly is being communicated here? It’s rather hard to digest because the message isn’t clear. Do you want this family to learn more? Come to a meeting? Go on a campout? Join today? Keep your message clear and concise.
  3. IT’S NOT BRIEF. Simply put, there is too much text on here. A flier is meant to drive the viewer to a place with more information – not to provide every possible detail all on one page. Be short and clear in your message.
  4. NO FOCAL BOLD IMAGE. Big, bold images are more effective at grabbing the attention of a potential new member. Putting too many images on a flier doesn’t give the eye anywhere to focus. Many people will simply skip over this because there’s just too much to process.
  5. NO SINGLE CALL TO ACTION. This goes hand in hand with clarity. The goal of the flier is to get the user to take action on something. Be clear about exactly what you want them to do and how/where/when to go and do it.

To sum it up, effective fliers communicate one clear message, concisely, with bold imagery that captures the eye, and drive people to another location where they can learn more information or ask more questions.

The good news is that many of you are already doing this! For some, this will be a departure from how you’ve done things in the past; but, trust us, it’s worth it.

Putting these tactics to use is easy. It will make your fliers more effective, it will help make you a stronger recruiter, and it will lead to more members in your council.

If you’re looking for some great fliers to get you started, check out the options in the BSA Brand Center. You can find fliers for Cub Scouts, fliers for Scouts BSA, and more!

Please join us as we congratulate Jeff Hotchkiss, who will serve as Scout executive of the Catalina Council in Tucson, Arizona effective May 1, 2019.

Jeff began his Scouting career as a district executive at the Orange County Council in Santa Ana, California. After several assignments there, he moved on to become a field director with the Western Los Angeles County Council in Van Nuys, California and was later promoted to director of finance and administration of the San Gabriel Valley Council in Pasadena, California. He left the profession after being called to serve as the Director of Administration and Finance with Tabernacle Presbyterian Church in downtown Indianapolis, Indiana. He rejoined the profession in Indianapolis with the Crossroads of America Council to help with a capital campaign and later served as a field director. He was then promoted to Scout executive of the Mohegan Council in Worcester, Massachusetts and concluded his tenure there with the successful merger of a neighboring council to form the new Heart of New England Council.

Jeff is an Eagle Scout and a Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow. He is also Wood Badge trained and is a Certified Fund Raising Executive. He has served his church as both an Elder and a Deacon. He’s also been active as a leader in Kiwanis and Toastmaster groups.

Jeff enjoys the outdoors, good movies and like everyone else in the family he always enjoys a good book.

Jeff and his wife Melody have two grown children. Their eldest, Kim, and her Eagle Scout husband, Trygve, live in Minneapolis, as does their younger daughter Becca.

Please help us send Jeff our well wishes in the comments below as he joins in partnership with the volunteers and staff of the Catalina Council to deliver quality Scouting experiences to the young people of the communities they serve.

This week, the BSA is proud to participate in and sponsor the 15th Annual Diversity & Leadership Conference, April 8th-11th in Dallas, Texas. Keynote speakers such as 44th President of the United States Barack Obama and General Colin Powell will present topics important to today’s culture, such as diversity & inclusion, professional development, talent management, corporate responsibility, and legal and organizational health.

And we’re in good company! Along with BSA, the 2019 conference is also sponsored by 54 other companies, including Amazon, Toyota, Valero, and Morgan Stanley, and approximately 1,500 conference attendees.

What BSA’s Bringing to the Conference

Erin Eisner, Chief Strategy Officer for Culture and People will be contributing as a speaker on the topic of Developing Leadership Presence and Current State of Employment Discrimination Law. In addition, Dinaz Jiwani, Diversity & Inclusion Specialist at the BSA will present ERG 101 – Starting fromScratch, a session to help workplaces form employee resource groups. Jiwani will also moderate the Changing demographic of the U.S. session, so if you plan to attend, get ready to engage with some of BSA’s brilliant minds!

The BSA team will also attend conference discussions on managing and leading a successful diversity council, diversifying the people supply chain, the changing demographics of America, starting diversity initiatives from scratch, and how to apply conference learnings to expand diversity outreach.

We are thrilled to participate in the learning, partnership and collaboration this conference will deliver as we share our strategic vision to serve families from all backgrounds and prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law.

The BSA is committed to Diversity & Inclusion– people, culture and diversity are considered top priorities, as they are inherently intertwined and pivotal to Scouting’s success as a movement. The opportunity for BSA to participate in the 15th Annual Diversity & Leadership Conference works to bolster our organizational focus of all three of these strategic priorities. 

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