How will recruitment work this year? If you haven’t asked this question yourself, you’ve likely heard it asked at least several times over the past few months. With many communities practicing social distancing—or even stay-at-home orders—it’s no secret that introducing more families to Scouting could be a challenge, but Scouters are ready! Now, more than ever, the world needs Scouting, and the organization is at a pivotal moment to grow and find new opportunities to unite our communities.

There is no question that the impact of COVID-19 has created a unique and unprecedented challenge for recruiting new members to the Scouting movement, but rising to the occasion is what Scouters do best. In recent weeks, BSA professionals from across the country have been sharing their knowledge of what works well in their councils. These insights, as well as the new ideas they can inspire in your own council, will help us deliver the benefits of BSA’s programs to more youth than ever before.

Take a look at these Fall 2020 recruitment ideas, curated from councils around the country, and your creative process will be rolling before you know it! Also be sure to follow the hyperlinks under each section to get the full scope of each Scouter’s perspective.

Longhorn Council district executive, Paul Verwers suggests:

  • 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.
  • 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 [or URL], schedule, and any local health guidance.
  • 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. (Find downloadable Scout Talk videos for youth and 5 Questions about Scouting videos for parents in the BSA Brand Center)
  • Work with your training chair to set up new leader training. 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.

Read more about Paul’s take on the road ahead in his piece, Fall recruitment strategies from the pros.

Faye Hammond, Assistant Director of Field Service at Atlanta Area Council recommends:

  • Encourage units to be ready to receive online applications.
  • Develop plans to deliver your buzz-up (video) via closed-circuit television – it may be your only avenue.

Occoneechee Council’s Family Scouting & Finance Development Director Gwangi Shipp gave this valuable reminder:

  • Are your units prepared for recruitment with items such as a unit program calendar, year-round budget, fact sheet about the unit, leadership contact sheet, and an updated BeAScout pin?

Peggy Durbin, Assistant Scout Executive of  South Florida Council proves her eye for strategy with these tips:

  • Call your principals to let them know Scouting has been active and promoting continuing education through our programs during these challenging times. Tell them we look forward to being able to reconnect again this fall…
  • Reach out to your unit leaders and families and ask them to produce short video clips of their Scouts engaged in the fun Scouting activities they have been doing throughout the lock-down and encourage them to share those videos with their family and friends.  
  • Both of these suggestions are also in video form that can be uploaded for a virtual Program Kick-off via Facebook.

Get the full set of tips from these three brilliant BSA pros in their post on fall recruiting strategies.

Connecticut Rivers Council Field Director Sean Fogle made this customer-centric recommendation:

  • Make content relevant: Our families at home are suffering in unseen ways. Providing relevant content into their homes and at their own pace is key. Everything we have done has been designed around healthy living tips or ways to make life at home more enjoyable. For instance, we interviewed a professional board game designer on his favorite games to play, and we encouraged a family game night to get away from the electronics. It is important to also make it fun through the whole process. Our virtual summer camp introduced in early May is called Camp Kinda-Like-A. We have a nice theme song and all marketing for it has been light and fun. We have a couple hundred kids signed up for it already. You can watch our Spirit Week videos here

Learn more about Sean’s approach to ‘forging the roadmap’ for virtual program delivery in his piece, 7 Steps to Success With Virtual Program Initiatives.

 Field Director for Last Frontier Council Carl Hanke’s tips are sure to inspire socially distant resourcefulness:

  • Host drive-thru sign-up events. If schools do not allow us to use the cafeteria due to cleaning policies, have a drive-thru sign-up in the parking lot.
  • Make videos to use as digital school talks/sign-ups. If we are not allowed to visit students in classrooms or assemblies, videos can be used to reach them.
  • Partner with online schools.
  • Partner with other digital events. Use other youth activities that hold online meetings to promote Scouting.

Check out what else Carl had to say in his article, Fall Membership Plans & Executions are More Important Than Ever Before.

That’s not all—keep your eyes open for a new playbook covering the basics of virtual recruitment coming soon!

Collaborate and make an impact

Remember, the keys to effective recruiting are to Be Prepared, inspire others, and provide recruitment ideas. Do you have any tips or ideas that have worked well for you? Share your success stories (or upcoming plans) in the comments below! You never know what new and exciting ideas your input might spark.

Because of COVID-19, parents simply aren’t involving their children in as many in-person group activities as they otherwise would have. Many of those activities, like youth sports, for instance, are largely impossible to conduct safely in some communities. Scouting, on the other hand, can conduct much of its programming through virtual means. With many other in-person youth activities unavailable, parents will be looking for activity options for their children, which makes now a good time to introduce people to Scouting and encourage them to attend virtual Scout meetings and do Scouting activities with their family.

Through online application tools, a Scout unit can hold a virtual rally, invite people to join digitally, and complete their registration totally online. 

In preparing to hold a virtual rally or meeting, the first place to start is this Digital Safety Moment that provides useful tips on how to conduct safe virtual Scouting meetings. 

Setting up your BeAScout pin and Online Registration Tools

Also, prior to holding a virtual rally, everyone should make sure to set up BeAScout pins and online registration tools. If you know of units that have not already set up their BeAScout pin or online registration tool, they can use the Unit Guidebook to Online Registration that will walk them through the process can be found with other key resources here:

A reminder that everyone should be sure to allow online payment features so that parents can use credit or debit cards to pay their registration fees to make this a seamless and touchless process from start to finish.

Virtual meeting rally recruitment plan

Step1:  Organization Meeting – Use a business-oriented conference platform that includes good safety and privacy features, including password protection. Hold a virtual meeting with your parents or older youth. If  you have a large pack, troop, or crew, hold the meeting with your unit leaders and have them hold the same meeting with parents from their den, or parents/youth in patrols.

The goal of this meeting is to get leaders and parents to think about who they know that has a child of Scouting age who is not in Scouting and to start a recruitment prospect list. Have your parents either: 

  • Provide the name and email addresses to a rally coordinator in your unit so that they can collect all of the names and email addresses and send the invitation to the virtual meeting.


  • Provide the parents in your unit with an email invitation for the virtual rally that includes the QR code or URL to the unit’s online application and ask them to forward it to the parents in their contact lists. (The downside of this method is reduced ability to know who is receiving access to the virtual meeting and an inability to easily follow up with these families later.)

Step 2: – Plan the Rally and Agenda – While you are collecting email addresses, start planning your virtual rally. Since many platforms are now limiting how long a meeting can last, and because you also want to be respectful of a parent’s time, you must have a detailed agenda about what is going to be covered and who is covering it during the virtual meeting. When planning the virtual rally decide:

  • Who is going to be the main speaker and who is going to control the virtual meeting – have a production team for the best results.
    • Have a person who knows how the virtual meeting platform works serve as the meeting coordinator. They should be the person who logs in as the host, controls the screen sharing, and mutes all except the main speakers.
    • Have other people be the main presenters. You might want to have more than one so that prospective parents can see the unit has a team of leaders who work together – it’s not just a one-person show.
    • Have a person who monitors chat questions and acts as the moderator during the Q&A session. This person can also reply back in the chat feature during the presentation.
  • Items you may want to include in the rally agenda:
    • Introduction of Unit leadership – who you are and why you are involved in Scouting (5 to 7 minutes)
    • Let the parents know that you will be taking Q&A through the chat and will be answering at the end of the presentation.
    • What you have planned for your unit over the next few months. (15 minutes)
      • Virtual meeting times
      • Virtual rank requirements workshops (remember these parents are not in Scouting, so provide a brief explanation of the skills or activities that the youth will be doing and what they will learn from the activity)
      • Virtual campouts – council/national or just your unit
      • A few ideas about activities that might happen outdoors after the shelter-in-place is lifted, but social distancing is still a practice – focus on keeping people safe and providing a fun activity
    • Cost of joining and what that pays for (2 minutes)
    • How the person can join your unit. Decide if you will be sending out email invitations with QR codes or the URL from Invitation Manager, or through the BeAScout URL. (3 minutes)
      • Parents can fill out the online application using their smartphone, tablet, or PC, and pay their national registration fee by credit card (if the unit has turned on credit card setting)
      • If you have a unit fee you will need to determine how that will be collected and inform the parents
    • Q&A from parents and wrap up (15 minutes)

STEP 3 – Send out the invitations to the rally

  • If you have collected the email addresses for prospective families:
    • Customize the invitation to include the virtual meeting URL and password for the event.
    • Let them know that a friend has referred them to join your unit and you are having a short meeting to explain the virtual activities youth and families will have available if they join the unit. Include a message that you are looking forward to meeting them virtually on this meeting.
    • Include the QR code or URL to your unit’s online application. This can be found in my.Scouting tools. Select menu and then Invitation Manager to download these two items. Full instructions can be found in the Unit Guidebook to Online Registration which you can find at
  • If you have not collected email addresses from prospective families:
    • Send an email with the virtual meeting URL and password for the event.
    • Also include the QR code or URL for your unit’s online application.
    • Let the Scout parents know this email is for them to forward to their friends and contacts that have youth of Scouting age and that the QR code and URL are specific to your unit, so they should so they should keep that in mind when they invite people to join.

STEP 4 – Hold the virtual rally – execute your plan from Step 2.

STEP5 – Accept new members online

  • The Cubmaster, Committee Chair, or Chartered Organization Representative can open the Application Manager in my.Scouting and accept the new youth as applications come in.
  • The Chartered Organization Representative can also accept or reject new adult applications as they come in, so be sure the COR knows your plans and is ready to take action as well.
  • The system will automatically send the family a welcome email upon your acceptance of their paid application. And, if the unit has selected to automatically send a message, the unit welcome message will also be sent to the family within 24 hours.
  • New youth and adults who have been accepted will show up in your unit roster in Member Manager on my.Scouting within 24 hours of your acceptance in Application Manager.

Email and Social Media Peer-to-Peer recruitment plan.

This plan does not involve a virtual meeting, rather, it is just a grass-roots effort by your parents and youth to invite their friends to join your unit.

Like the plan above, it involves sending emails to all of your current families asking them to forward your email that includes your units QR code or URL to the unit’s online application. In the text of your email outline what your unit will be doing over the next few months and how fun it would be to have more youth and families they know take part in these meetings by joining your unit. Similar to the virtual meeting plan, also be sure the let them know that the QR code and URL are specific to your unit so they should keep that in mind when they invite people to join. Ask them to include a personal story about what their child has learned through Scouting and a personal ask for the family to join them in their Scouting adventure.

Once the email to your members is sent, follow STEP 5 – Accept New Members Online above to process the applications that come in through the online registration system.

Article Submitted by David Rico, Southern and Central Region Membership Growth Coach

Using tools like Facebook geofencing and Nextdoor events can be useful in the promotion of Scout recruiting events like Join Scouting nights — even if those events are virtual. In this article, we’ll discuss some best practices when utilizing those tools. First and foremost, while these tools can be very helpful, do not rely only on them as your primary means of recruitment. Use every possible method you have at your disposal to increase your effectiveness.

Using Geofencing to Promote Scouting

Geofencing is a tool within Facebook that enables a user to promote Scouting events (like joining nights) based on geographic criteria. It also allows users to promote virtual events, and, with COVID-19 representing a challenge to many in-person events in 2020, this may be useful.

Before you begin your geofencing effort, ensure that any unit whose joining event will be geofenced has updated its BeAScout pin and enabled online registration. You can find key information on those important tasks at the Scouting Online Registration Information site.

For step-by-step directions on how to set up a geofence to promote a Scouting event, use this guide. You can also find more information about using geofencing to promote your Scouting event in this article. Find additional information that details past results here. For instance, units that used geofencing for their join Scouting events saw a growth rate of 7.43% more new Cub Scouts than they did the previous year. 

Use these best practices for recruiting events that will employ the use of geofencing promotion:

  • Utilize images/videos with your local people when possible. If you don’t have local images to use, access numerous ready-to-use, approved Scouting images in the BSA Brand Center
  • When setting up the event info, ensure all details are correct, including the correct address of a physical location (if your current local health guidelines permit in-person events of this nature). 
  • With a virtual recruiting event, you will still have a physical address used to set up the geofencing parameters for the area you are targeting. On the event invite, be sure to provide a link to the virtual meeting. 

Stuart Goins, a Director of Field Service from the Quivira Council in Wichita, Kansas, has utilized geofencing in his council’s recruiting efforts and cites the following four key elements of using this tactic:

  • Geofencing provides the ability to reach a target audience in a specific geographic area, which allows you to focus on locations with a high population density of prospective Scouting families. 
  • It’s a highly cost-effective use of any promotional dollars you may spend toward recruiting.
  • The ability to focus your marketing directly on parents of Scouting-age youth is valuable. 
  • As a marketing tool, geofencing is only effective with unit buy-in, so connecting with your unit leaders about this opportunity is critical. 

Using Nextdoor to Promote Scouting

Nextdoor is a hyperlocal social networking service for neighborhoods. It can be used to promote Scouting in certain neighborhoods by creating and posting events; however, in many cases, that event creation will need to be done by the Scouting volunteers who live in those neighborhoods. That way, they can answer questions that may arise from their neighbors on those posts.

Below are few useful links that may help in the use of Nextdoor to promote Scouting events.

Use these best practices for promoting events on Nextdoor.

  • Identify volunteers who live in targeted neighborhoods and are willing to post information about Scouting joining events. 
  • Provide help coordinating and promoting those events, and provide answers to questions received on the event invitation. 
  • Ensure separate units that are in the same neighborhoods communicate with each other to avoid confusion between how they post details about their event dates and times on Nextdoor. 
  • After the event, be sure to follow-up on Nextdoor with anyone who has questions or may have missed the event and is looking for another joining opportunity. 

Scouting Wire would like to thank David Rico for submitting this article. 

Congratulations to Mark Kraus, who will serve as Scout executive of the Connecticut Yankee Council in Milford, Connecticut, effective August 16, 2020.

Mark began his Scouting career in 1990 as a district executive at the Central Ohio Council in Columbus, Ohio. He moved on to become the senior district executive and then finance director at the Miami Valley Council in Dayton, Ohio. Mark left the profession in 1997 and then re-entered in 2007 as the director of development of the Lincoln Heritage Council in Louisville, Kentucky. Since 2015, Mark has been successfully serving as Scout executive of the Verdugo Hills Council in Glendale, California.

Mark enjoys golf and spending time with his family.

Mark and his wife, Joanne, have two grown children, Abbi and Alex, and one grandchild.

Please join us in the comments below as we send our well wishes to Mark as he joins in partnership with the volunteers and staff of the Connecticut Yankee Council to deliver quality Scouting experiences to the young people of the communities they serve.

In 2019, the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the BSA asked six teams of volunteers and professionals from the local, area, regional and national level – including current or recent youth members and subject-matter experts – to develop plans on how to optimize the BSA for success in key areas based on input provided by more than 1,100 local, area, region and national volunteers and professionals, including:

  • Youth Safety: How do we keep young people safe?
  • Program: Are the BSA programs aligned with today’s young people?
  • Communications and Marketing: How can National Council improve communication with stakeholders?
  • Organizational Structure: Do we have the most effective organizational structure?
  • National Council Effectiveness: Are there changes that would make the National Council more effective?
  • Financial Health: How do we build a solid financial path forward?

Since the fall of last year, these six groups convened to assess their designated areas and determine opportunities for growth and improvement in the future as we look to bring Scouting to youth of all backgrounds – regardless of race, faith, nationality, gender or economic circumstances. While the groups were encouraged to think broadly and considered various inputs from interviews and ongoing research, all efforts were anchored in ensuring the delivery of our proven programs in a safe manner grounded in the Scout Oath and Law.

In June 2020, the six groups presented the National Executive Committee (NEC) with proposed recommendations they believed would be needed to strengthen Scouting so that our next century is even stronger than our legacy.

What are the Next Steps for the Churchill Proposed Recommendations?

In the next phase of this effort, the National Executive Committee has asked the National Management Team to facilitate the evaluation of the proposed recommendations (noted below) and, as appropriate, develop corresponding action plans that would be executed should the NEC decide to move forward with the respective recommendations. It is important to underscore that the proposals of the six Churchill study groups remain recommendations, are now under review by the National Management Team and appropriate committees, and have not yet been approved by the NEC.

Members of the Scouting family are welcome to provide input to aid in the assessment. Click here to provide feedback about any of the proposed recommendations.

After their deliberation, the Management Team and the appropriate committees will recommend to the NEC whether the individual proposed recommendations should be adopted, amended, delayed, or declined given interests of the organization.

In the fall of 2020, the NEC will review and weigh these recommendations with the corresponding proposed action plans to decide how to move forward, including deciding whether to accept the recommendation, how to implement, and against what timeframe.

The Importance of Embracing Change

Meaningful change is rarely easy. However, it is a process that is necessary to grow and succeed, which is a shared goal we all have for Scouting, whether you are a Scout, a volunteer, a professional, a parent, or a donor. Our commitment to the mission of Scouting will continue to guide this effort, and that commitment will also be crucial in guiding the bold steps needed to ensure future generations can benefit from Scouting even more than those that trekked before them.

The 26 Proposed RECOMMENDATIONS Being Considered:

  • Reinvigorate the on-boarding program for new Scout families and members, with a continuing key focus on “Safe Scouting” and “Keeping Young People Safe.”
  • Streamline all Safe Scouting Resources and consolidate in one location.
  • Instill a culture of timely reporting, sharing, enforcement and transparency of safety incidents.
  • Provide tools/resources for councils to deliver Youth Protection/Safety Seminars.
  • Hire a youth adolescence expert on the national level to guide program development.
  • Combine Sea Scouting into Exploring as an aquatic focused career path.
  • Sunset Learning for Life in-school program/curriculum.
  • Evaluate program methods and age parameters to provide an engaging option that enables youth members to transition to adult leadership roles and remain active in Scouting with an ongoing commitment to safety.
  • Establish a volunteer corps for young adults ages 18-29.
  • Streamline the unit rechartering process.
  • Prioritize National BSA strategic communications and marketing and make additional investments in related efforts.
  • Establish a national Chief Communications and Marketing Officer.
  • Update and enforce BSA’s national brand standards.
  • Consolidate local and national websites into a single unified web platform.
  • Leverage High Adventure bases in overall marketing communications strategy.
  • Combine National Annual Business and the Top Hands meetings.
  • Establish minimum standards to be considered a council.
  • National should focus on providing councils with support pertaining to program standards, legal, insurance, IT, brand/PR management, HR, and asset management.
  • Replace Areas and Regions with one streamlined organization support structure that is focused on council sustainability and effectiveness.
  • Establish a fee-based structure for councils in place of BSA National collecting membership fees.
  • Create a membership executive position within councils focused on growth and paid on performance.
  • Greater council flexibility in operating within brand standards.
  • Create a membership category for youth and families with no advancement programs.
  • Greater reliance on volunteers to offset national staff reductions.
  • Rotate national volunteers back to local councils or new intermediate organization.
  • Transition to digital merit badge resources.

Click here to provide feedback about any of the proposed recommendations.

Please join us in congratulating Karen Meier, who will serve as Scout executive of the Pacific Harbors Council in Tacoma, Washington, effective July 16, 2020.

Karen began her Scouting career as a district executive at the Transatlantic Council in Mannheim, Germany. She moved on to become the senior district executive and later development director with the council in Livorno, Italy. In 2012, Karen was selected to serve as Scout executive of the Far East Council in Okinawa, Japan, and in 2016, moved on to serve as Scout executive of the Inland Northwest Council in Spokane, Washington.

Karen is a Vigil Honor member and Founder’s Award recipient of the Order of the Arrow, and has also received the Silver Beaver Award. Her hobbies include embracing the culture around her, volunteering with the local Rotary Club, and healthy living in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

Karen and her husband, John Paul, have two grown children and six grandchildren. Their son, John “J.R.”, is an Eagle Scout and Afghanistan Veteran, currently serving as a Captain in the U.S. Army. J.R. and his wife, Nicole, live with their four children in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Their daughter, Tara, is a Venturing Silver Award recipient who lives in the Northwest with her fiancé and two children.

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

Please join us as we congratulate Mark Saxon, who will serve as Scout executive of the Green Mountain Council in Waterbury, Vermont, effective August 1, 2020.

Mark began his Scouting career in 2008 as a district executive at the Old North State Council in Greensboro, North Carolina. He moved on to become a district director at the Cradle of Liberty Council in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he has served as director of development since 2015.

Mark is an Eagle Scout who enjoys gardening, snowboarding, and hiking.

Mark and his wife, Bethany, have two daughters: Riley and Abigail.

In the comments below, please help us welcome Mark to his new role in Scouting as he joins in partnership with the volunteers and staff of the Green Mountain Council to deliver quality Scouting experiences to the young people of Vermont.

Congratulations to John C. Fenoglio, who will serve as Scout executive of the newly established Golden Gate Area Council, effective June 1, 2020. The Golden Gate Area Council was created when the Alameda Council, the San Francisco Bay Area Council, and the Mount Diablo Silverado Council consolidated to enable the Scouting community to meet the ongoing mission of providing the foremost youth program of character development and values-based leadership to youth in the area.

John began his Scouting career in 1987 as a district executive at the Crossroads of America Council in Indianapolis, Indiana. He moved on to become the director of programs at the Indianhead Council in St. Paul, Minnesota. John continued his career as director of field service of the Mid-Iowa Council in Des Moines, Iowa, and then was selected to serve as Scout executive of the Anthony Wayne Area Council in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He most recently served as Scout executive of the Mount Diablo Silverado Council in Pleasant Hill, California.

John is an Eagle Scout, a Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow, and Rotarian who enjoys golf, traveling, and fishing.

John and his wife, Stephanie, have three children: Lydia, Elena, and Charlie who is an Eagle Scout.

In the comments below, please help us send John our well wishes as he joins in partnership with the volunteers and staff of the Golden Gate Area Council to deliver quality Scouting experiences to the young people of the communities they serve.


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