Recruiting Leaders -- Turning Parents into Helpers, and Helpers into Leaders

Remember .... Recruiting is a Process ... the Pack Leader's Guide to Recruiting describes these steps before you have any Sign Up Event, starting with (1) Make a Calendar of Fun Activities that families like, then (2) Recruit More Leaders and Helpers - one by one, find folks who can help your unit out ... see the ideas below! (you'll actually do this throughout), and (3) Let People Know! Let Families and Organizations Know your Pack Fun Event Plan. (Families join Packs that do things ... Boys join Troops that Go Places ... let them know what you're doing ... there are many ways), and (4) School and Community Events -- Show your School and Community the Fun of Cub Scouting, leading to (5) once you've laid that foundation, have Sign Up Events: School Sign Up Night and Fun Events Too!

  • You'll really be doing leader recruitment throughout, since Cub Scouting is a family program.
  • In all your events and contacts, you want to turn Parents into Helpers, and Helpers into Leaders.  
  • Celebrate your helpers as "Heros" ... because they are!

Want More Parent Involvement?  There is no "magic bullet" to solve the struggle to turn Parents into Helpers and Helpers into Leaders ... and if you get a lot of youth to "sign up" you need a lot of adults to deliver the program ... so here are some tools.  

  • The key to recruiting leaders is:  Did you ask? 
  • And did they hear you ask a question they will say "Yes" to?  

It's a Family Program -- That Means Parents Need to Participate Too.  Especially in Cub Scouting, you have to make that clear from Day One ... Dens and Packs need every family to participate in leadership, sharing the fun and sharing the effort too.  

  • Only a very small Pack can operating with a couple of people leading the Pack ...
  • ... and even then that's both hard on the couple of leaders, and it isn't fair to the youth, because they need to see their parents as leaders too, being a hero to the kids ... 
  • Know When to Say "When":
    • if you're going to be a Pack with only a couple of Leaders, don't recruit more than the 15 or so Scouts you can actually lead. 
  • But if you do recruit Adults to e leaders... when a youth sees his parent praised for being a hero leader, for helping with an activity ... that's huge for the youth.

So that's the groundwork to be set ... every parent helps, and many hands make light work.  But ... how to you get people to say "yes, I'll be a leader!" ...

So ask a question they will say "Yes" to . . . start with "Little Task Asks".  Ask an individual for "Help with This" (something specific, where he or she realizes "oh I can do that") -- don't ask an individual to "Be This Job", because for most people that will seem too hard.   Most people, when confronted by a request to take on a job title like Den Leader or Cubmaster or Committee Chair, will say "no" ... or "I can't be a den leader ... I can't do all that" or "no, I don't know what that involves ... ".

  • So when you ask, ask one individual for specific help with a small task, and build on that.  Don't ask people (right away) to "take a Pack Position" ... unless you really really know they can say "yes" ... 
    •  ... instead get to know them and ask how they'd like to help ...
    • and once you get to know them, then you can give them suggestions about how they might help.
  • And some people will be able to say "I can lead games" or "I can organize trips" or "I can lead songs" or "I can help build stuff". 
  • Get people to say "yes" to leading games, organizing trips, leading songs and building stuff, and you'll have the leader corps your den needs.
    • Break down the "big roles" into "little jobs" ...
    • ... if everyone takes on a "little job", it all gets done ...
    • and if "many hands make light work", so too if you make "light work" you'll get "many hands"
  • ... and it makes it easier for someone to say "OK, I'll be the Den Leader, because Susie will do snacks, Sam can lead songs, Gerri will do games, Carl will lead camping, Henry will lead hikes, Candi will lead crafts, Andy will do advancement, Paul will lead popcorn, and Amy will collect applications".

Ask One on One -- Know Your Target, Personally.  If you ask "a group" for volunteers, each individual will think you meant to ask "somebody else" -- so when you ask, ask an individual one on one for something they can do.  You also might get the wrong person if you pick based on the first hand raised.

  • When you do ask personally, it's easier to find the right role for the parent ...
  • ... and it's harder for the parent to say "no" ... because if you're in a one on one talk, you can find something for the parent to help with.
  • Or ask "two on one" or more ... as you confirm your engaged leaders, have more than one of you target your next key prospective leaders to "join the team".
  • Eventually your team of one or two can become a team of ten or twenty ... 

Activities and Asking for Help and Leadership.  In the Pack Leader's Guide to Recruiting, recruiting leaders one on one comes right after Step One "Make a Calendar of Fun Activities".   Here's why ... 

  • When you tell a family about the Pack Activities you've dreamed up, you're likely to get a positive response to one or more of those ...
    • ... as someone says "I love that place" or "I always wanted to go there" ....
    • ... or "here's something else we can do"
  • When you hear that, be like a fisherman: "set the hook" -- find out more about what they like and why.
  • Depending on the parent, you might find yourself with someone who can be your assistant at the event ...
    • ... or organize part of the event
    • ... or maybe even organize it all and step up to be a leader hero.
  • And you'll repeat this step every time a new family shows interest, attends an event ... keep on the lookout for how to turn parents into helpers and helpers into leaders.

Other Ideas to Get Parents Involved.  Lots of ways to do this ... but a key factor in successful Packs is to use a policy called "Every Parent Helps" or "Every Parent Leads", as a condition to joining, so that every Parent is making a commitment to help.  That's consistent with the idea that Cub Scouting is a family program ... it's not a "drop off" program ... it's something that youth and parents and family are involved with.

Activity Planning and Leadership Recruitment -- What do Parents Want to Do?  A brilliant idea from Pack 3310 is: set your "weekend fun activity" calendar by asking "What do the Dads like to do?"  and What do Parents Want to Do?

  • Yeah, not everyone has a dad, and, sure, not all dads want to be a "leader", but most dads like to do something.  
  • Pack 3310 found that some dads liked tailgating BBQ, some liked fishing, some liked bowling, some liked skiing, some liked golf (your Pack families may be different … maybe NASCAR, shooting, hiking, swimming … ask!) 
  • When the Pack found out what dads like, they build a fun activity program around Iron Chef contests between families at campouts, fishing trips (leading to a long trip to the coast), bowling outings, a ski trip to NC, putt putt golf and driving range and then 9 and 18 holes. 
  • By hooking the Tailgaters, Fishermen, Bowlers, Skiers and Golfers, they get a corps of adults to organize those events, and they are more inclined to participate in other leadership roles. 

Remember: "If it's Fun for Kids and Fun for Families, then it's Cub Scouting".

The Importance of Patience.  If you are a committed leader -- either the one who said in a new Pack "I'll be the Cubmaster" or someone who's been at it for years with the Pack -- you have to be patient as you recruit helpers and develop leaders from the parent ranks.  

  • That means some things won't be done as well as you might do them ... but you want to develop parents into helpers, and helpers into leaders, and there will be struggles on the way.
  • And when you do grow, and let a new den leader lead a den, the goal shouldn't be just "do it like i would do it", but let that parent do it using her strengths and resources.   If you are a friend and counselor and enable the parent to be successful in her own way, you're helping that den and family succeed in Cub Scouting.  And if you're putting too many limits on the parent, and holding them back, they are not going to be happy helping.  

So ... patience ... and be helpful, friendly, courteous and kind with your parents ... let them "do their best".