Nuts and Bolts of Leader Organizing and Recruiting

OK, recruiting leaders is hard, we get that ... but recruiting and training capable leaders is essential to having a Cub Scout Program, so rather than using pie in the sky platitudes, or recruiting plans that minimize what you really should aim for, or wishing on a star that you'll get leaders, here's some tools to help you.

First, get organized.  Identify what roles you want to recruit for, figure out ways that parents can understand how they can help.

  • So, don't just recruit for Cubmaster and Den Leader and random unassigned committee members.
  • Ask for specific kinds of helpers, so that people who might be Cubmaster and Den Leader see that people will help them and how they will help.
    • And Den Leader is the hardest job ... 
    • ... In Cub Scouting, you're either a Den Leader, or your job is to help your Den Leader.
    • So recruit Assistants to Den Leaders too ...
    • ...  list specific roles for Committee Members and helpers to support (how they will help in the Den and the Pack) ... be sure they have a role.
  • To help with that, here's a Pack Job Sign Up Chart Word Document that you can revise to fit your Calendar of Fun Activities, and how you organize.  
    • As you get volunteers, you can complete that, and share it with your Pack.
    • This includes a note that you'll need to "scale up" your number of Den Leaders if you end up with more than 10 at any rank level.
  • Also see this "Selecting Quality Leaders" brochure put out by the BSA for Cub Scouting.  Using a carefully planned process like this is very valuable.

Second, set expectations of Parent Helping.  Several Packs 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 be a leader and help the leaders.  

  • That's consistent with the idea that Cub Scouting is a family program ... it's not a "drop off" program ...
  • Cub Scouting is something that youth and parents and family are involved with.  
  • If you make that contract "the promise" by those families signing up, share ways to help (here's a set of FAQs from one Pack including ways to help), and follow up (like keep up the Pack Job Sign Up Chart and follow up with those who don't volunteer) ... if you do this, you can have leader success. 
  • And if you look at the roles on the Pack Job Sign Up Chart, every parent can help with something ...  

Third, use all ways to ask for and get volunteers.  Paper Surveys, Group Pitches, ask for a Show of Hands (that might work, often doesn't), www.surveymonkey.comwww.signupgenius.com, emails, texts, phone calls, one on one personal asks for a specific job, take a prospect for coffee, use the Godfather method ... there are lots of ways to get this done, and it is an ongoing process as a Pack plans for a coming year, receives expressions of interest and youth applications, and engages families at events.  

  • At some point -- whether a parent planning meeting before back to school "Meet and Greets" start, or at a School Sign Up Night, or as a "breakaway" from a fun Pack event -- you will almost certainly need to have "The 'We Need a Den Leader' Talk" with parents about Dens and Den Leaders and how your Scouts need more Den Leaders.

WARNING TO PACKS:  if you don't have enough Den Leaders, engaged and ready to go with enough helpers, leading dens of about 8 Scouts of the same age (not more than 10), please do not attempt to have Den Meetings for those Dens!!!!  Instead, do Easy Fun Family Pack Activities, not Den Meetings, until those Dens have enough engaged leaders and helpers for Den Meetings.

  • If you have chaos, you are likely to lose those parents who will not tolerate their son being in a chaotic program ...
    • ... and those parents are the ones you want, since they have higher standards and don't tolerate chaos!
  • And you have great options, like Do Easy Fun Family Pack Activities, not Den Meetings
    • So for dens that don't have enough Den Leaders, engaged and ready to go, leading dens of about 8 Scouts of the same age (not more than 10), postpone den meetings for those densuntil you get leaders for right sized dens, and those leaders are engaged and ready,
    • ... while you wait, have “easy” Pack Activities like pot luck picnic nights, or weekend fun events like swimming or fishing or short fun hikes or visit a nature center, and during those events have "The 'We Need a Den Leader' Talk" with parents
    • Dens that have engaged leaders ready to go and the right size den can have Den Meetings (Den Adventures), and be the example!

Remember:  it is easy to have fun family weekend events, and by bringing the Scout Oath and Law, and fun for families, you're doing Cub Scouting!

More Ideas to Get Parents Involved.  Lots of ways to do this ... 

Stay Successful, My Friend: Use Succession Planning.  You don't want to look back at your Pack and say "too bad they folded" ... so one way to make sure they don't is to ease people into roles using active succession planning.  But start early ... so that you can ensure that your successors succeed.

  • This can be a great way to get the reluctant volunteer to step up ... if she says "well, I'd like to, but I really don't know enough now", let that person "shadow" a leader for a year (or for half a year) as an assistant before taking over the role.
  • And if you make this "the norm", so that everyone knows that "the deal is someone comes after me" ... it can be easier to get people to volunteer.  
  • Remember that parents of your fifth grade Webelos Scouts are "short timers" ... looking at their watches ... and most (maybe all) will "check out" by crossover.  If any of them have Pack roles, you're going to need their successors right away to get up to speed.  You're actually much better off having them step back "just to assist" the new person, so that the new person really "owns" the job, but has active help for that first part of the program year.
  • For more ideas, see this Bobwhite Blather Blog, this Northern Lights advice piece, this Commissioner summary, and this Bryan on Scouting Blog on Succession Planning.

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