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UPDATE (6/24/15): Post moved to top of page in preparation for June District Committee Meeting.
On April 21, 2015, the Council held its semi-annual council operations meeting. This meeting is a chance for Council to outline its business plan for the next six (6) months and outline the responsibilities for the districts in carrying out those plans. The intended audience is the District’s Committee Chair, Vice-Chairs for Programming (with break outs for advancement, camping and activities), Communications, Membership, and Development, and the Commissioner.
Thanks to District Attendees
Since North Star is not fully staffed yet, the only persons who attended as a matter of their duties were Committee Chair Steve James and Commissioner Jeff Heck.
More impressively, North Star had many volunteers that took time out of their busy schedules in our response to our calls for help. These volunteers deserve a special note of thanks and appreciation from Steve and Jeff. Both our Roundtable Commissioners Sharla Merrick for Cubs and John Wiebke for Scouts attended sessions on Membership and Programs, respectively. Our co-chair for Eagle Projects and Boards of Review Rick Wittman and his wife Lynn Wittman attended sessions on advancement. Our chapter advisor for the Lowaneu Allanque Lodge of OA John Ruggles attended the camping sessions. Nominating Committee Member Mike Yates attended sessions on Training. Steve attended the session on Activities.
Cub Scout Recruiting & Back to School Night Changes
The central theme of the night is the massive changes that the Council Membership Committee is introducing for an exciting new strategy for Cub Scout Recruitment. The Council Membership Committee’s strategy focuses on making a streamlined process for marketing Back to School Night.
The problem that they identified is that young parents are often confused about how to join Cub Scouts. The solution is to make joining Cub Scouts more familiar. These same parents are familiar and comfortable with pee-wee athletics having a single event to join a pee-wee league. Cub Scouts is mimicking this method.
To publicize the event, the Council Membership Committee is consciously attempting to duplicate the drama and intensity of a political campaign. The marketing campaign will introduce the excitement of Cub Scouts through late July and early August in an advertising blitz. In middle August yard signs and other marketing methods (e.g., door hangers, the State Fair Booth, local units’ booths at local farmers’ markets or festivals) to explain where and when to join Cub Scouts will begin. All Cub units are expected to hold their Back to School Night on August 27, 2015. (Known conflicts, such as Zionsville Schools’ Curriculum Night, exist and are being addressed, partially by having sign up tables at Zionsville Schools and having traditional recruiting events on different nights.) August 27th is the date that all media announcements will list as the “call to action.”
All Cub units are expected to hold their Back to School Night on August 27, 2015.
This coordinated event requires consistent training throughout all units. Council is asking District Cub Roundtables to hold sessions in May to outline the plan. In June, Council is holding training sessions for Cub units to introduce the plan (see below). The Commissioner’s College on June 6th will discuss more of the details to Commissioner’s Service so that Unit Commissioners will be better able to answer questions from their respective units. June roundtables will continue to discuss the plans. On the night where the recruitment takes place, Council is asking Districts to have a central “war room” to tally the results and do the record keeping. Most importantly, units are asked to gather the checks payable to the unit and payments that night and simultaneously issue a unit check to council for membership dues of the new scouts.
Pre-Planned Events to Ease into Pack Annual Planning
The events continues into September. Parent orientation sessions are expected to be held by units between August 30th and September 5th. District is asking units to publicize their training to neighboring units to allow more dates to be offered to new parents. The topics should cover standard BSA topics before focusing on unit-specific topics in order to better serve an audience from neighboring units.
The point of all of this marketing is to build excitement among the Cub Scout prospects. To do that, each new Cub Scout will receive a model rocket on Back to School Night. On September 12, 2015, Council expects districts to hold a Launch Day celebration. Each Cub Scout will receive a motor to place in his rocket. For October, the Council is offering two Family Camping opportunities for Cub Packs. The weekends of October 10-11, 2015 at Camp Redwing and October 17-18, 2015 at various locations (including a Cub Scout Fun Day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway). Finally, the Cub Dens are encouraged to attend the ever popular Civil War Days at Camp Belzer on October 23-24, 2015.
On September 12, 2015, Council expects districts to hold a Launch Day celebration.
The goal of this event is to build excitement for the first two months of the Cub’s career and have a pre-packaged program scheduled for September and October to allow new units or units with little advanced scheduling completed to have a program in place.
Preparation & Scheduling
Council will begin training for Back to School Night with their Saturday, June 6th “Ideal Year in Scouting Training” (time and location details were not announced at general session, so details to follow).
The main focus of unit training by Council will be at Back to School Night Rallies on July 15th and 16th at Victory Field, Indianapolis (time details were not announced at general session, so details to follow). These dates cover identical information and offered on different dates for scheduling flexibility.
This plan is going to require coordination within the District. We would encourage Troops and Crews to be actively involved, too. If uniformed scouts are present at all of these Cub Scout recruiting efforts, the recruited families will see that Cub Scouts is part of a larger system and not just an activity by itself.
Need for Support from Troops and Crews to Packs
In addition, with the major overall of the Cub Scouting program for June 1, 2015, BSA has added more camping and outdoor requirements for Cubs to advance. For example, Bear Rank now requires an overnight campout. Arrow of Light Rank now requires that Webelos camp and operate as a patrol. Given the lack of camping and patrol knowledge among many Cub Scout parents, Troops and Crews have an opportunity to serve as mentors for both the new Cub Scouts and their parents. Troops and Crews can offer training and hands-on assistance to these families in preparation for October Family Campouts.
The District Committee and Commissioners will work to help your units to see how this new recruitment process will enhance recruitment opportunities for all units. To help us speed that process, please make sure that you have many adult volunteers attend as many Roundtables for Cubs and Troops between now October as possible. Watch this blog for more information as it becomes available.
If you have particular skills or availability to help with any stage of this process, please come to a District Committee meeting to find out how you can help. (Next one is May 21, 2015 at 7:00 p.m. at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, 100 W. 86th St, Room N101 (hairpin turn to the left from the northernmost door, “Entrance 7”), Indianapolis, IN 46260.