Recruiting new Scouts is essential for the success of any troop. However, growing your membership can be a daunting task, especially for troops just beginning their efforts. Fortunately, there are a ton of powerful recruitment methods that BSA troops across our country have tested — and we’ll be covering all of them right now!
How Do Troops Recruit BSA Scouts? When recruiting new Scouts, it’s important to build genuine human connections and recognize what prospective members hope to gain from Scouting. The best BSA troop recruiting tools include hosting community events, word of mouth, social media, advertising at schools, and bridging AOL’s from Cub Scout packs.
In this article, you’ll be learning 7 simple and effective crowd-sourced principles for BSA Scout recruiting! From working with local packs and hosting unique events, to leveraging social media and powerful word-of-mouth methods, we’re about to explore all of the best strategies to help you grow your troop and positively impact the lives of even more young people through Scouting. 😀
The Best Methods of Recruiting BSA Scouts
“How does your troop recruit new Scouts? Do you have any tips for newer troops just starting their recruiting efforts?” are the questions I recently asked thousands of Scouts, parents, and Scoutmasters in the ScoutSmarts Scribe Newsletter. After reading t ton of fantastic responses, I’ve distilled their wise answers down into 7 key pillars for successful troop recruiting!
Here they are… (this list also works as a clickable table of contents)
- Host Unique Events and Open Houses
- Build Relationships
- Partner with Cub Scout Packs
- Use Existing Scouts as Ambassadors
- Be Seen Within Your Community
- Advertise at Schools
- Be Active on Social Media
- (Bonus) 7 High-Impact Miscellaneous Recruiting Tips!
I’ll also be filling you in on how quick these methods are to implement, rating effectiveness, and even sharing some personal tips from when my troop was focusing on recruiting. With these helpful tools and techniques, your recruiting efforts are about to get a whole lot easier — so let’s dive in!
Host Unique Events and Open Houses
Planning troop events and open houses are a great way to give potential members an exciting glimpse into Scouting. Consider organizing unique events like challenges, outdoor activities, or cookouts that are designed to show potential Scouts how much fun they can have in your troop.
Below are just a few of the awesome recruiting event suggestions I received from awesome Scouts and Scoutmasters. For their privacy, the repliers will stay anonymous but a huge thank you if you wrote in!
Crowd-Sourced Event and Open House Recruiting Tips
- We have a “Buddy Up” Game Night in the spring! Scouts are encouraged to invite 1-2 friends to a night of games and activities while new parents learn from adult leaders about our program of upcoming campouts and events.
- We have a bring-a-friend night and try to go all out. The best one was a hike with hamburgers afterward.
- We host a Scout skills carnival and invite friends to have a go at different stations – knots, stretchers, fire lighting, etc.
- We also host a “Chopped” night where patrols compete to create the best meal with the same core ingredients. Every Scout brings a friend — kids love this one!
In my troop, we’d always register to set up a booth at an annual outdoor event. One year’s booth was a bridge with knot-tying lessons, another was aiming shooting rubber band guns at targets, and one of my favorites was preparing deserts in dutch ovens to give to our community. 🙂
- For new troops, I recommend setting up a booth at local events, and having some freebies or swag as I’ve seen that draw more people. If you have an activity, even better! Perhaps whoever can set up a tent faster wins?
- We host a campout-style thanksgiving celebration, invite friends, and show off Scout skills!
- We have a campout where we invite all AOL’s (Arrow of Light recipients) and any interested Cub Scouts. We also invite interested kids to Council events – like the Scouts Day at the Local Spring Training baseball event. There will be Scouting activities all around the field, and then we camp on the field for a movie night after the game and fireworks.
- My troop has a fun new Scouts night. We also have fun day activities such as making smores.
- We host a meeting for area Cub Scouts and other interested teens. The goal is to keep the kids moving and excited, as we’ve found that attention spans are low, and by changing things the Scouts seem to have more fun.
Overall Difficulty: 7
Time To Implement: Medium
Events and open houses should be a staple of any troop’s recruiting efforts. However, be sure to make these events extra fun for your current Scouts as well. That way, your troop can enjoy running these events, and all of your Scouts’ positive energy will come across to prospective new members!
Building relationships with schools, packs, families and community organizations will supercharge your troop’s recruiting efforts! By supporting the various organizations in your community, and asking them to refer anyone who might enjoy Scouting, your troop will constantly gain members through helpful word-of-mouth. Relationships are like seeds, so try to plant them as soon as possible!
- Scouts from our troop go to school and advertise to their friends at school. Leaders also make an effort to recruit by talking to parents of kids. Just ask around and advertise!
- My mom is really into our troop, and she gets a bunch of other moms to have their sons join.
- We have a sister/brother troop situation, and many recent new Scouts are a family with both boys and girls who want to keep Scouting time synchronized and simplify the family schedule!
- We build relationships with the schools we recruit from so that we aren’t just there once a year. We also bring Scouts that go to each school when recruiting, so potential Scouts might realize they already have friends in the Pack. We also make sure to keep a strong relationship with Packs so those at Webelo or AOL level feel welcome.
Overall Difficulty: 5
Time To Implement: Medium-Long
Consider reaching out to local churches, schools, or community groups and asking if they have any members who might be interested in becoming a Scout. From there, you could kindly ask them to make an announcement that your troop is accepting new members. While not every org will be able to help, one or two solid relationships go a long way in recruiting. Later, you can even pay it forward by planning Scout service projects for that group!
Use Existing Scouts as Ambassadors
Many troops can grow on autopilot through the effective cycle of their Scouts inviting friends. Those friends then join, and later invite even more friends! Encourage your Scouts to be ambassadors and invite their buddies to fun troop events. Then, provide a positive experience that your members will want to share with others. 🙂
- I invited a friend to Scouts because I knew they loved the outdoors and exploring. I also got the Recruiter badge from this, so I highly recommend it!
- We talk to our friends and see if they are interested in outdoors and helping others
- Word of mouth. Started 3 months ago. Presently at 12. Troop leadership is capping at 20 for logistical reasons. Do fun stuff at every meeting!
Recruiting a buddy into Scouting is such a rewarding feeling, and can even earn you the Recruiter patch! I personally found that a great time to invite friends to Scout events was after a sports season since we’d all have a lot more free time on our hands.
- For newer troops – ask friends, see if you can make an announcement or a flier at your school, or invite people to a fun/low-key activity like a bike ride, hike, or service project.
- One way to ask a friend to join that I would recommend is, if you’re talking about one of your recent adventures, ask if that sounds fun to them, or if they want to come to a fun meeting. Don’t invite them on the night that you’re doing meeting plans for the next month, because that’s just plain boring, and it doesn’t affect them or teach them anything.
Overall Difficulty: 2
Time To Implement: Short
It’s pretty likely that each one of your Scouts already knows someone who’d have a blast in Scouting. Empower your members to share their fun Scouting experiences with school friends, and encourage them to invite a friend! You can even create cards or flyers for your troop that your members can give to people who are interested. 🙂
Partner with Cub Scout Packs
Bridging Scouts over from pack to troop should be a cornerstone of any recruiting effort. Many of my fellow Scouts were Cub Scouts and AOL’s prior to becoming BSA Scouts and, as a result, joined our troop with extra preparation and confidence. By partnering with a local pack, your troop will be the obvious choice when it comes time for more Cub Scouts to cross over!
- My troop works with the packs our Scouts came from. We host a few events every year and encourage Cub Scouts to “be Boy Scouts for a weekend.”
- We go to Cub Scout events such as Pinewood Derbys or help out with meetings. Later, we email the packs about opportunities to join our troop at a meeting/campout
- We research packs that don’t automatically feed into a troop and target those.
- We invited the Arrow of Lights to our activities such as hiking, camping, and summer camps. We also invite them to check our troop, and we provide a presentation of the troop information and how it is different from other troops.
- We attend a lot of crossing-overs and have a lot of den leaders.
- We have a linked pack (same number) and we help them with Join Scouting Night. We make sure that parents see the older Scouts, seeing what their boys will turn into really inspires them.
Overall Difficulty: 7
Time To Implement: Long
While it might require some planning, work, and creativity, partnering with a Cub Scout pack will surely pay long-term dividends when it comes to recruiting. Because this is such an important point, below is a fantastically informative video (31:05) on how best troops and packs can collaborate. The hosts do a great job of explaining this point, so be sure to check out their convo!
Be Seen Within Your Community
Participating in community events is an excellent way to get the word out about your troop. Plan public service projects or cleanups, organize a table at local events, and start getting your troop noticed within your community. Also be sure to wear your troop t-shirts with pride, and engage with your fellow community members whenever possible.
- We do bottle drives on the town green, so everyone can see we are “alive and well!”
- We have a “booth” at the conservation group’s annual winter fest, show up in uniform for Thanksgiving Sunday at a sponsor church, and invite our packs to camp with us in June.
- We set up a 20 – 30 foot Monkey Bridge at Waters Farms Day.
- We make sure we are always wearing our uniforms during any activities so people know we are Scouts. This way they can ask us any questions they might have about Scouting.
- We table at community events, invite local Packs to events with us, and wear our troop t-shirts with pride around town and at school!
Overall Difficulty: 6
Time To Implement: Long
Getting out and about in your community is one of the best ways of spontaneously recruiting new members. Maybe someone in your troop speaks with the uncle of an outdoors-loving middle schooler looking for a new after-school activity, and bam — you have someone new who’d like to join!
This strategy can be added to your current troop program simply by planning more service projects in community areas. However, you’re unlikely to start getting new members right away, so this is more of a long-term strategy. That being said, it’s hard to overstate the importance of having your troop be well-known and appreciated within your community. 🙂
Advertise at Schools
Schools are another great place to look for new Scouts. By tabling at events, posting flyers, or even potentially having your School announce that your troop is recruiting, you’ll be able to reach a ton of potential Scouts all at once.
- We started contacting local elementary and middle schools asking if we could recruit at any of their events, and offered to help run the events if needed. We’re now signed up to have tables at various events around our city in communities full of Scouting-aged kids and their parents! 😁
- We put up posters at local schools.
- My troop sets up a table for the middle school clubs and activities night at the start of each school year. Each of us brings in something cool from our Scouting journey to display. At this event, we also hand out flyers to interested families, inviting them to a designated upcoming troop meeting.
- Our troop has designated cards and flyers that we can put up and hand out.
- We go to local school events and take a table at “Back to School” or Open House evenings to show off the Scout program
- We put up posters and we send out an email to our whole school (our chartered organization).
Overall Difficulty: 4
Time To Implement: Short
A huge benefit to advertising at schools is that you’ll most likely start seeing results right away. One announcement or set of posters could potentially reach hundreds of great Scout candidates, which is why this is such a powerful method. While not every school will let you make troop recruiting announcements, since it never hurts to ask, this approach is definitely worth a try!
Be Active on Social Media
You can think of social media as a recruiting amplifier. While may take some time and effort to upkeep, at the very least try to maintain a troop website/Facebook page and gallery of troop photos/Instagram page. Potential Scouts and families who learn about your troop through the methods we covered earlier will be much more likely to join after seeing a glowing online profile!
- Make sure to have a website ASAP, as this allows people to search and quickly gain access to info about your troop. Include action images of your troop (on campouts or other outdoor activities) on the front page and in a photo gallery, as this allows interested teens to see what you do as a troop. An image speaks a thousand words!
- We are trying to beef up our social media presence and use that as a recruitment tool too.
- Parents on social media also post a lot about what their kids are doing so their friends will see and want to join in the fun!
To reduce any single person’s workload, try to encourage your Scouts to submit photos and stories for your troop’s online presence. If Scouts are earning the Photography merit badge, a great place for them to take pictures is at troop events!
- My troop does a bunch of events where we invite Cub Scouts as well as other interested kids. This is done through social media and simply spreading the word.
- We upload Instagram posts that are always inviting youth to troop meetings
Overall Difficulty: 5
Time To Implement: Medium-Long
Great templates for social media posts can be found on design websites like Canva, so the barrier to sharing great troop promotions is lower than ever. Just make sure to keep a consistent schedule, and in no time your profiles will be a great recruiting tool for your troop!
7 High-Impact Miscellaneous Recruiting Tips
- Make sure to keep our BeAScout pin updated – we’ve received many Scouts that have way
- Make sure that the people doing the recruiting know what they’re talking about, so that they may correctly answer any questions that arise. When asking a friend to join, make sure you provide a balance between telling them how much fun you have, and not overwhelming them with information. Show your enthusiasm! Get them excited!
- The goal of recruiting activities is to keep the kids moving and excited, as we’ve found that attention spans are low. By changing things the Scouts seem to have more fun.
- Just have the mindset of sharing your fun experiences with other people, then invite them.
- Research packs that don’t automatically feed into a troop and target those.
- Incorporate fires into your troop and crossover ceremony – tiki torches etc.
- It is much more important to keep the Scouts in your troop than try and recruit more Scouts. Be careful that before you go and focus on recruitment, you have a stable troop first.
There you have it! This article covered 47 amazing tips from fellow Scouts, families, and Scoutmasters on how to level up your troop recruiting efforts. Try sharing this article with your recruitment chair, and putting one of these methods into practice ASAP! Let’s grow the positive impact of Scouting together. 😀
Thanks for reading! Do you have any other awesome troop recruiting tips? If so, please don’t hesitate to send me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know what we missed. Until next time, I’m wishing you recruiting success and an excellent Scouting journey ahead!