Become A Scouting Volunteer
The Westmoreland Fayette Council is always looking for volunteers to help in fulfilling the mission of the Boy Scouts of America, which is to prepare young people to make ethical choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law.
10 characteristics of good Scouting Volunteers
- Commitment to the ideals of Scouting
- Sets a positive example as a role model
- Ability to relate to youth and adults
- Has the ability to delegate tasks
- Appreciates the outdoors
- Advocates and enjoys seeing youth development and growth
- Wins the confidence of parents, youth, and the community
- Good organizational and planning skills
- Flexibility and a cool head under pressure
- Is willing to invest a definite amount of time for training
10 areas of interest
- Unit Leadership (leading and working with youth)
- Unit Committees (assisting the Unit Leaders with administrative duties)
- Event Planning (organizing activities like camporees, award dinners, Scouting for Food and Clothing)
- Advancement review (reviewing awards, including Eagle Scouts)
- Trainers (training all levels of volunteers in current leadership and scouting standards)
- Camping (developing marketing/promotional materials as well as program support for our camping facilities)
- Properties (this would include a variety of vocational skills necessary to keep the facilities in good condition)
- Recruiting (recruiting both youth and adult volunteers)
- Finance (assisting with fundraising efforts of the council)
- Scoutreach (assisting with the development of programs and support for minority and low income youth)
If you can help, please e-mail us, call the Westmoreland Fayette Council Service Center 724-837-1630
11 Steps for Recruiting Scout Parents
Taken from Mike's Amazing Dad Blog November 2017 by Mike Cooney
“How do I get the parents in my Unit to help out?” might be the most common question I see from the people I know running Scout Units. It’s also the most important, by far. Packs, Troops and Crews that are getting enough help tend to run a great program, which in turn helps you keep the scouts you have, and helps you recruit new ones. So, here are a few things to remember when you’re recruiting scout parents to be volunteers in your unit.
1. Let them see you having fun
Ever read Tom Sawyer? Remember how Tom got his friends to whitewash the picket fence. He made the job seem enjoyable. The difference for you is that you’re not actually asking people to do your work for you – but to do a job that will provide a better program and experience for their kids.
Let them see you enjoying what you’re doing. The one common element I can think of in big packs and troops out there is that the leaders are having fun. People like to have fun. Those are the teams that people want to be on. They like laughing and joking. Be that group. By the time you actually get around to asking for help, it’s going to be a lot easier to do so.
Volunteering is something that you get to do, not that you have to do. It’s something you get to do to help your kids – the most important things in your life. I know that in my time working with scouts, I’ve had a blast, and I wouldn’t trade a second of it.
2. Be the Unit People Want to Volunteer In
This may sound like the chicken or the egg, but it’s really not. Run the best possible program you can with what you have. Start by making sure your current leaders you have been trained. Get trained yourself. Follow the program in the literature. It works.
Run aggressive programs. Go places. Do things – even if you think they’re a little bit above what your current resources allow. Don’t be afraid to ask your district for help in doing this. See if the other packs around you can do joint events if need be. But do a great program for kids, and people will want to join you.
Don’t cancel meetings or events unless of disaster. Unless it’s not safe to get to the meeting – find some way to make your meeting happen. People need to know that they can count on your pack. Disappointed kids stop showing up, and parents are the ones who have to explain a canceled meeting to them.
3. Thank the Volunteers You Already Have
Make sure that you’re publicly thanking the helpers you already have. Pretty much everyone likes to be recognized for the good work that they do. Letting the parents in your pack see that you’re grateful for the help you already get will plant the seeds in their mind. Put it in their mind that they might be the one being thanked someday.
Aside from the BSA’s leader awards, there are lots of other creative ways of thanking leaders.
4. Don’t Rush it, but Rather, Lay the Foundation for the Ask
Yes, I’ve heard the stories where a heroic scout leader getting in front of the room, telling a gripping story, and coming out with all the volunteers the pack could possibly need. I’ve done it, and I’ve seen others do it, but it’s risky.
You could wind up with the wrong people in the wrong jobs – or two, you could wind up with a volunteer who feels like they’ve been coerced into the job. Furthermore, you’re much more likely to get the wrong person in the wrong job if you haven’t taken the time to get to know them first. Den Leader may be the most important job in Scouting – so why would you trust it to the first person who doesn’t say no?
When you recruit new scouts, you should absolutely include a few expectations. Not an immediate ask, but rather a laying of ground rules. Something along the lines of “Our pack works much better the more help we get,” and “Everybody here has some talent that can help us provide a great program for your kids.”
And most importantly, tell them why you personally volunteer. Whatever your reason is, share it. Whether it’s to spend quality time with your kids before they grow up, to give back to the program that helped you, or just because it’s fun, let them know what your heartfelt motivation is.
But I’d discourage the hostage mentality. Yes, we need volunteers to run a good program. But “volunteer or else” isn’t the best long-term strategy to get committed volunteers.
5. Build the Relationship!
This is the key to recruiting scout parents or anyone at all. So I gave it a big subheading and changed the color – because it’s the most important one – by far. It’s the key to everything. Get to know people’s names. What do they do for a living? Learn what they’re interested in. What makes them laugh? What color eyes do they have? Do they have hobbies the kids would like? Where are they from? Where did they go to school? Do they have a Scouting history? Do your homework on them. Get to know them.
Building the relationship will make everything else easier. Whatever you’re going to ask for later will be made much easier if you’ve established a rapport first. This will also help you learn what they’re good at. What skills do they have? Do they have a dynamic personality, and are great with kids? Maybe they could be a good Den Leader or Cubmaster. Are they good with numbers and accounting? What about public relations? Are they very organized? This sort of person might be a better fit for your committee. By the time you’re ready to ask them to serve in a position, you’ll be able to ask them to serve in the position that’s right for them. You want the right person for the right job.
By the time you’re ready to make the ask, the relationship you’ve built will make you much more likely to get the “yes” you’re looking for.
6. Don’t Say No For Anyone
This one’s tricky. Sometimes it goes against human nature. If you think someone’s perfect for the job, but don’t think they’ll accept it, ask anyway!
The worst thing that will happen will be that they’ll say no. It’s very unlikely that they’ll hit you. More than likely, they’ll be honored that you asked. If they say no, take their no graciously, as it usually doesn’t mean “never”, it means “not now”, or “I don’t want to do that job, but I might like to do something else.”
It’s also a possibility that they might know someone else who’d be great at the job, and they may well be willing to help you recruit that person.
7. You’re Not Asking for You
You’re asking for the KIDS.
8. Make Individual Asks
Now that you’ve built the relationship, you’re going to make an individual ask. You’re going to go in with a specific job description for what you want the person to actually do. Feel free to customize the national job description down to the four or five things you really need them to do.
Personalize the ask to them. Find a place where they’re comfortable, be it their home, favorite restaurant, or a campout, and make the ask there. If there’s a specific person in the pack they can’t say no to, have them help you in the ask meeting.
9. Don’t Downplay the Job
The temptation when recruiting scout parents is to undersell the importance of the job you’re asking them to do. But every job in Scouting is important in some ways. Because if the job isn’t important, why are you asking them?
It’s easy to think that if you pretend like you’re not asking them for that much, they’ll be more likely to say yes. But are a couple of huge problems with that:
- “If the job isn’t that important, why are you asking me?”
- When the job does turn out to be more difficult than you let on, you’re going to have lost their trust.
10. Let Them Know What Support Exists
Get to know all the training courses that exist for their position, and let them know about them. Let them know about roundtables. Tell them about BALOO, IOLS, and Wood Badge. Let them know that there are leader guides to help them every step of the way. They don’t have to write the program themselves. Show them Scouting Magazine, Bryan on Scouting. Help them create a my.scouting account.
Have a card with the names, emails and phone numbers of the people on the unit and district level that they can call for help.
Don’t let them think that they have to make the program up on their own.
11. Follow Up
Visit a few of their meetings. Call them on the phone from time-to-time. Catch up with them over a cup of coffee. Buy them lunch. See how things are going on a regular basis. Be encouraging. Be there to answer questions. You don’t want to leave them out there by themselves. That’s a great way to burn a volunteer. Not only will they never help you again, but they’ll tell their friends, and they won’t help you either.
Make sure they’re spreading a positive message about volunteering.
Additional Advice on recruiting Scouting volunteers
By Mark Ray From the November-December 2014 issue of Scouting magazine
IT’S A COMMON SIGHT at join-Scouting nights: Parents of new Cub Scouts sit around a table waiting for someone to blink. Perhaps it’s the dad who acknowledges being an Eagle Scout. Perhaps it’s the mom who starts filling out the den roster she finds on the table. Whoever blinks first ends up as den leader, while the rest of the parents breathe a sigh of relief.
The pack committee chairman and Cubmaster may breathe a sigh of relief as well, glad to be done with an unpleasant task that comes around only once a year.
Other leaders take a different approach, recognizing that recruiting leaders is a year-round process and that effective recruiting will ensure their pack’s health not just for the current program year but for many years to come. For them, late fall and early winter — right now, in other words — is a great time to recruit leaders.
Define Your Needs
The first step in recruiting leaders is to determine your pack’s needs. Assuming you have all your positions filled for this program year, start thinking about what will happen next spring after your Arrow of Light Scouts graduate to Scouts, BSA.
That’s just what Katie Dettmann did. She became committee chairwoman of Pack 111 in Lakeville, Minn., at the end of her older son’s Tiger year and quickly saw a problem. “The leadership was primarily made up of the older Scouts’ parents, and they were all on their way out,” she says. She began developing a succession plan to ease the transition to a new generation of leaders.
Evaluate the Parents
A major advantage of late-fall recruiting is that you have time to evaluate potential leaders before you recruit them. That Eagle Scout dad at the join-Scouting night? His travel schedule might prevent him from being an effective den leader. That proactive mom with her pen at the ready? Perhaps she’d be a better fit behind the scenes as pack secretary or treasurer.
Those are the sorts of questions Jean Lundsteen likes to think about. Now a den leader with Pack 302 in North Aurora, Ill., Lundsteen has been a Cub Scout leader since the late 1970s and has rarely been turned down by a prospective leader.
One key to her success is letting prospects know how well their skills align with the potential position. “By the time you get through telling them why they’d be perfect for it, they’re kind of hard-pressed to say ‘no’ because it convinces them that they’re appropriate for it,” she says. “This isn’t just saying, ‘We need a den leader. Can you do it?’ ”
Dettmann believes the best way to evaluate parents is to get to know them. “Once you get to know their strengths, you can easily say, ‘You seem very organized; committee chair is something you could do’ or ‘You have a wood shop; I think you would be great at helping us run our pinewood derby.’ ”
Another clue, she says, is watching which parents stay engaged at meetings — and which sit in a corner glued to their cellphones. “The parents who are joining in the group when the kids are playing kickball to kill time are the parents who have the potential for being leaders,” she says.
It also helps to get input from other leaders in the pack. Den leaders tend to know the parents in their dens best, but they might not be thinking about what those parents could do beyond the den. Challenge them to be on the lookout for potential leaders they encounter.
Get New Leaders Trained
If you identify next year’s leaders now, don’t wait to get them trained. Many councils hold University of Scouting programs in the winter or spring, which allows leaders the luxury of getting trained before they take over; others, like Dettmann’s, offer basic leader training in conjunction with spring roundtables. And, of course, online training is always available at my.scouting.org.
While formal training is important, don’t overlook on-the-job training. If you recruit next year’s Cubmaster now, have her spend the rest of this year shadowing the current Cubmaster and learning from his example.
That’s just what Dettmann is doing with her replacement as committee chairwoman. “I have someone who’s going to replace me in a year, and I can’t even begin to explain to her what my responsibilities are,” she says. By shadowing Dettmann for a year, the new chairwoman will have a better idea of what she’s getting herself into.
So what happens if that year of preparation scares her off? Dettmann argues that it’s better to discover now rather than later that the position isn’t right for her. “You don’t want someone in the position who can’t handle it anyway,” she says.
Expand Your Recruiting Calendar
The better you get at early recruiting, the earlier you can get started. Dettmann likes to recruit parents before their sons even join the pack. “I approached this one guy at a school field trip and said, ‘Put your son in Scouts, and you can be the leader,’” she recalls. “He said, ‘OK.’ ”
Lundsteen, meanwhile, took this idea to the extreme. She recruited her daughters and daughters-in-law as leaders while they were still pregnant. “If they had a boy, I extracted a promise that they’d be den leaders,” she says.
You don’t have to visit the maternity ward to recruit new leaders, but you also don’t have to wait until next fall’s join-Scouting night. By recruiting early and often, you can ensure your pack’s continued health and perhaps even work yourself out of a job in a year or two.
6 SECRETS FOR RECRUITING SCOUTING VOLUNTEERS
Story contributed by John Hovanesian, M.D. who is chairman of the Board of Directors for the Orange County Council.
The number one challenge faced by leaders of youth-serving organizations is having too little help from other parents. But why do some organizations seem to have no shortage of volunteers, and meetings and campouts always run smoothly? Here are some tried and true pearls from seasoned Scouters:
1. Set an expectation that everyone volunteers. At the first opportunity when new members join the group, let parents know that they will be asked to volunteer for at least some position. List in writing on a handout which positions have known vacancies with a brief description of what duties are involved. Not sure what the job descriptions are? Here is a list of volunteer positions with job descriptions for a typical pack and troop. Your unit might have different positions, so customize your own list according to your unit’s need. Let everyone know that by pitching in with some volunteer role, no one gets all the work dumped upon him or her.
2. Use a family talent survey and require every family to fill one out. Talent Survey’s are used to identify families that have interest or skills that can help provide program to our Scouts. Cub Family Talent Survey or Troop Talent Survey
3. Fit the job to the personality. Some folks love to be in front of kids, leading songs and teaching skills, while others are terrified of public speaking and would rather give their service in the background, handling equipment, managing advancement records, camping reservations, or the group’s treasury. Do your best to read personalities and suggest jobs that you think are a good fit.
4. Do the ask in the most personal, relaxed forum you can. Avoid the mistake of asking for volunteers by a broadcast email. That approach almost never works. Also, try to avoid complaining publicly about a lack of volunteers. Nothing scares off recruits faster. A one-on-one conversation with a positive tone in a private setting works best. Campouts are a perfect time because parents tend to be relaxed and not stressed about their other obligations. At a campout, parents are enjoying seeing their sons having fun and learning in Scouting, and many parents secretly wish they could be more involved. Also, at a campout they see how much work the unit leaders are doing and feel indebted to them.
5. Once the volunteer says yes, follow up. As soon as you can, contact the volunteer to give him or her a link to youth protection training and a registration form. Encourage him to take online training appropriate to their position. If you have not done so, have a live conversation about the duties expected.
6. Recognize the volunteer right away. At the next opportunity in front of a group of parents, announce the new volunteer’s role and ask everyone to thank him or her for stepping up. This makes the newcomer feel great about volunteering and makes it quite a bit tougher to back out!
Do you have any volunteer recruiting tips? Share them with us in the comments below!
Scouting Wire would like to thank Dr. John Hovanesian of the Orange County Council for submitting this story.