Entire families can spend quality time together.
"You want [volunteers] to feel included, but not overwhelmed."
vice chairman for membership,
North Trail District,
Circle Ten Council
|Letting volunteers contribute more freely—based on their abilities—gives them more buy-in to the program.|
For most parents, the Cub Scouting experience lasts just a few years. You sign up, you volunteer, you serve as a den leader or Cubmaster, and you move on to Boy Scouts.
It's not necessarily a formula to sustain a pack's life over the long haul.
But in the Circle Ten Council, a big-picture approach is keeping the cycle of volunteer recruitment—and quite possibly a number of units themselves—alive.
At the district level, leaders try to make sure parents of the youngest Tiger Cubs are brought into the process and given proper training each year so as boys move through the program, parents are able to fill leadership positions. The key, one leader says, is to make sure the volunteer duties are spread around evenly.
"It's a long-term plan; no matter where you look at it, there's a five-year plan," said Tony Reynolds, vice chairman for membership for the North Trail District. "You don't have to be Cubmaster, but maybe you can do the pinewood derby®. The key is the committee structure. You want them to feel included, but not overwhelmed."
Under Reynolds' leadership, the district cut through red tape that had suffocated the local schools' relationship with Scouting and revived 10 packs in 2006. In each of those packs, between five and 10 new leaders were recruited. And the key to sustaining that drive, he said, is to make sure the new leaders are already thinking about how to train their replacements.
He serves as an excellent role model; a 13-year volunteer, Reynolds serves as a Scoutmaster, a crew Advisor, and a Webelos den leader in addition to his district role.
"The most important thing in Boy Scouts is to keep the boys interested," he said. "In Cub Scouts, the toughest thing is to make sure that...[the adult leaders] all get training."
Another approach that has had success is patterned after simple, good business management. In the Great Salt Lake Council, adult recruiting has been rejuvenated over the past three years by a simple philosophy: recognize, empower, and reward.
"I kind of look at it as being the conductor of a wonderful orchestra," said John Reese, the council's immediate past president.
The council has some 75,000 Scouts and 30,000 volunteers, many of whom signed on after seeing tangible results from the good that Scouting does. Letting volunteers contribute more freely—based on their abilities—gives them more buy-in to the program.
"The average parent doesn't want to take more from Scouting than their kid gets," Reese said. "They all join expecting to pay a price. We just have to be smart in how we ask them to pay it."
And a smart approach to showing off the results of their efforts helps, too.
Having a board member or a unit leader invite a potential volunteer to a pinewood derby or an Eagle Scout court of honor—or even a neatly run camp—can do more than any fancy dinner full of handshakes and donation pledges.
"A well-planned, well-executed event can showcase the real values of Scouting," Reese said. "Then they know that they're appreciated, that the work they do is meaningful. They see it and say, 'What I do is having an impact on these kids.'"