Thursday, March 3, 2016

Leverage Social Media to Support Your Scouting Message

Statistics show us that over half of Americans have one or more social media accounts.  In Scouting families, both parents and youth often have their own, discrete accounts, which can mean better internal communication within units, districts, and councils.  For those outside of Scouting, including friends and family members, your use of social media can be an important factor in placing the BSA squarely in the forefront of what's going on with today's youth and reinforce the positive message about why others should ensure that their youth join Scouting.

Social media has many uses and one of the biggies is that it is a means by which to create connections.  These can be between leaders and Scouts, units and parents, or between the Scouting and the non-Scouting community.  Once you figure out what the focus of your social media program will be, you'll be in a better position to create content that is targeted to your intended audience.

Another key element to social media is that it provides the end user with the opportunity to learn something new.  In our modern 'sound byte' society, more and more users are receiving new information from social media sources.  That you are reading this proves the point!  By creating and promoting a positive image about all the great things that Scouting has to offer, you become a key element in 'teaching' your readers about why they should engage with and support Scouting.

A final element to consider -- and admittedly, this is how big business thinks about social media -- is what is our return on investment?  Given that user accounts on most of these platforms are free, your investment is one of picture-taking and time.  Take the picture, post the content, share the article (this one included!), craft the message.  That's your investment -- time.  What's the return?  Well, that depends on the target of your social media program.  If you a running a closed Facebook group for just your Cub Scout pack, then better and more timely internal communication is the key win.  If you have a personal account with many fiends and family members, then posting about your own Scout's accomplishments not only keeps the Scouting 'brand' fresh and positive in the eyes of others, it many encourage some of your connections to give Scouting a try with their own youth.  That's a return on investment we can all get behind!

If you want to know more about how to create a positive Scouting social media program, then consider pursuing the new on-line Social Media Certification through the Voice of the Scout.  Fun, interactive, and jam packed with useful tips, you'll be able to create a Scouting social media program that you will most assuredly be proud of.  Click here to access the training.


Saturday, March 21, 2015

Publicly Honor Community Figures Who Support Scouting

One way we can get and keep a positive Scouting message out in the public eye is to honor community figures at important meetings and gatherings.  Honor a recreation director who helps offer special programs.  Give recognition to the children's librarian who hosts events for your Cub Scout dens.  Don't forget the local police and fire chiefs who open their departments to your units and assist with advancement and community safety.

A Board of Education meeting is a highly visible way to honor school
administrators and Board members.  If you want their support, then be sure to reward them publicly when you get it.
Your local Scout shop has awards and certificates you can use for this purpose.  Customized prints and plaques are also readily available and make handsome wall displays right behind the desk of the community official -- right where everyone else will see it!  :)

Keep positive Scouting images in front of everyone -- you'll be glad you did.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Use Summer "Playdates" for Cub Scouts!


Patriots' Path Council's vice president for membership and relations, Dr. Geoffrey Zoeller, points out that "summer is a great time to keep your Scouts meaningfully engaged in great activities that are also fun.  Don't treat these events as formal den meetings or advancement activities, but rather as playdates."  By choosing activities that are elective in nature, it won't matter if some families are away on vacation -- you can pick them up for the next event.  Below are just a few examples of some fun and engaging ideas.  There is truly no limit to what you can do.

Have a carwash and check tires, oil, lights, etc.  A great and fun
way to hang out with friends and earn the Webelos Handyman
activity badge or a few Bear/Wolf electives.

Why not earn an "off the beaten track" belt loop like gymnastics;
which counts for the Webelos Sportsman activity badge too.

Not every gathering has to be a formal advancement activity as well.
Why not take a day trip to a local point of interest?

Now granted, the Cub Scout advancement examples given above are representative of the current program, not the one set to begin in June 2015.  That said, the model is a viable one regardless of which advancement trail you are or will be following.

The real point is that by organizing several small-scale events in the summer, you can keep boys and families engaged in fun Cub Scout activities while also giving Scouts the opportunity to see friends and socialize.  Give it a try!

Monday, May 5, 2014

What to do After the Blue and Gold

Today, Dr. Geoff Zoeller discusses what to do after the Blue and Gold dinner, when many units face the challenge of keeping Cub Scout families interested and engaged – particularly as the spring sporting season begins.  The pack and den focus has been on rank advancement up to that point, but once rank badges are earned and distributed, some leaders are at a loss as to what to do next. There are always going to be a few boys who still need to complete rank requirements after the Blue and Gold, but for those that are done, there are many options for keeping scouts and families engaged in meaningful activities that will lead to further recognitions and will also be fun.

A good tip is to begin some of these awards at the pack-level in the fall, but not to complete them until after the Blue and Gold.  Make sure families know all about your plans and in this way these award programs can provide the ‘hook’ that will keep scouts and parents involved throughout the spring and into the summer.  Since all of these programs are in addition to rank advancement, scheduling and delivery of program opportunities can be much more flexible – and in this way avoid conflicts with baseball and other spring sports.

Many councils and districts run events that help units to deliver these awards throughout the spring.  Bowl-a-thons, clean up days, belt loop midways, religious emblem workshops, cub family camporees, etc. are all programs likely to be offered.  Make it easy for units and individual families to participate by compiling all of these cub scout opportunities offered by the council and districts onto one spot on the council webpage and then be sure that all units know that a place for ‘one-stop-shopping’ for cub programing exists and is regularly updated.
Below are several of the most prominent Cub Scout award programs that can be pursued:
·         Electives (arrow points and yellow disks)
·         Academic and Sports Program (belt loops and pins)
·         Religious Emblems
·         Outdoor Activity Award
·         STEM/NOVA Awards
·         World Conservation Award
·         Conservation Good Turn Award
·         cyberChip Award
·         Emergency Preparedness Award
·         Fun with Family Awards
·         Interpreter Strip
·         Outdoor Ethics Awareness Award
·         National Summertime Pack Award
·         Recruiter Strip
·         SCOUTStrong PALA Challenge


 Electives (Wolf & Bear Arrow Points & Tiger ‘yellow disks’)

Many Packs use Tiger, Wolf, and Bear electives after the Blue and Gold to expand on their program, provide opportunities for experiential learning, and to help develop interests and teach skills, many of which are useful in Boy Scouting.  A Cub Scout may work on electives concurrently with achievements, but until after he earns his Tiger, Wolf, or Bear Badge, he may not receive recognition for his efforts.  For every ten electives he completes, the Tiger earns a yellow disk to be worn on his immediate recognition symbol, while the Wolf and Bear earns Arrow Points to be worn below the rank badge. The boy may earn as many yellow disks and Arrow Points as he wishes.

Academic and Sports Program (Belt Loops and Pins)

Academic and sport belt loops are awarded for trying out a number of academic, career-awareness, and sporting subjects.  For those Scouts with more serious participation, academic and sport pins can be earned.  These awards are available to all Scouts of all ranks.

Religious Emblems

The religious emblems program offers the scout an opportunity to study his faith in-depth.  Many faiths offer the emblems, with the activities overseen by the Scout’s religious leaders.  The religious emblems are awarded by the religious organization, and the Boy Scouts of America recognizes the achievement of these awards.

Outdoor Activity Award

The Outdoor Activity Award can be earned by all Cub Scouts and may be earned each year. This award recognizes the Scout’s participation in camping, outdoor recreation, and conservation projects.

STEM-NOVA Awards

The NOVA Awards program incorporates learning with cool activities and exposure to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics for Cub Scouts. The belief is that the requirements and activities for earning these awards stimulates interest in STEM-related fields and shows how science, technology, engineering, and mathematics apply to everyday living and the world around them.

Ø  The Nova Awards


There are multiple Nova awards for Cub Scouts, Webelos Scouts, Boy Scouts, and Venturers. Each award covers various aspects of STEM—science, technology, engineering, or mathematics.

Ø  The Supernova Awards


The Supernova awards have more rigorous requirements than the Nova awards. The requirements and activities were designed to motivate youth and recognize more in-depth, advanced achievement in STEM-related activities.

 

World Conservation Award

The Cub Scout World Conservation Award may be earned by any Wolf, Bear, or Webelos Scout.  The World Conservation Award provides an opportunity for individual Cub Scouts to “think globally” and “act locally” to preserve and improve our environment. This program is designed to make youth members aware that all nations are closely related through natural resources and that we are interdependent with our world environment.

Conservation Good Turn Award

The Conservation Good Turn Award is an opportunity for Scout units to join with conservation or environmental organizations (federal, state, local, or private) to carry out a conservation Good Turn in their home communities.  Working together in the local community, the unit and the agency plan the details and establish the date, time and location for carrying out the project.  It may be earned by all registered Tiger, Wolf, Bear, and Webelos Scouts.

The cyberCHIP Award

Today’s youth are spending more time than ever using digital media for education, research, socializing, and fun. To help families and volunteers keep youth safe while online, the Boy Scouts of America teamed up with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to create this fun and engaging program about being safe and about online ‘netiquette.’

The Emergency Preparedness Award

The Emergency Preparedness Award has different requirements for Tiger, Wolf, Bear, Webelos, Boy Scouts, Venturers, and adults tailored for the abilities of each.  The whole goal is to make Scouts better able to handle emergency situations while enhancing their first aid skills.

Fun With Family Awards

Offers activities to help strengthen all families—whether two-parent, single-parent, or nontraditional; this program helps families accomplish worthy goals while building and strengthening relationships among family members.

Interpreter Strip

Boys and adults may wear this strip if they show their knowledge of a foreign language or the sign language for the hearing impaired.  This award may be earned by all registered Tiger, Wolf, Bear, and Webelos Scouts.

Outdoor Ethics Awareness Award

The Outdoor Ethics Awareness Award is designed introduce Cub-age boys to the principles of Leave No Trace.  The program is designed to enhance the Cub Scout’s awareness of the natural world while minimizing impact to the land. For Scouts who have a deep interest in the outdoors, nature, and the environment, Scouting’s outdoor ethics will give you an ever-deeper appreciation of the richness of the land and how we fit into it.  This award may be earned by all registered Tiger, Wolf, Bear, and Webelos Scouts.

National Summertime Pack Award

The National Summertime Award encourages packs to provide a year-round program by continuing to meet during the time periods when school is out of session for several weeks or months.  Cub Scouts earn this pin by participating in three summertime pack events (one each in June, July, and August).  This award may be earned by all registered Tiger, Wolf, Bear, and Webelos Scouts.

Recruiter Strip

The Recruiter Strip is awarded to Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts and is worn below the right pocket on the uniform. This award may be earned by all registered Tiger, Wolf, Bear, and Webelos Scouts.

The SCOUTStrong PALA Challenge

The motto for SCOUTStrong is, “Fit, Fuel, Fun,” emphasizing physical fitness, good nutrition, and having fun.  The Boy Scouts of America has made a formal commitment to do more to address the major health concerns facing today’s youth. This initiative is offered in partnership with the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, & Nutrition.  This joint effort resulted in this Scout-specific Presidential Active Lifestyle Award (PALA) Challenge.  Scouts, parents, and volunteers can improve their fitness by earning the SCOUTStrong PALA Challenge award.

Summary

Cub Scout award programs that go beyond rank advancement exist to help units provide dynamic and engaging programs after the Blue and Gold dinner, throughout the spring, and into the summer months.  Units should take full advantage of council and district cub opportunities to ensure that quality programming and pursuit of meaningful awards keeps families participating and having fun with their cub scouts year round.
 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Spring Recruitment - Sample Monthly Timelines

Dr. Geoffrey Zoeller, Patriots' Path Council vice president for membership and relations, gives some solid advice on Spring Recruitment: "We are seeing that units who conduct Spring Recruitment events are often better able to attract and keep new boys and families.  Fun and entertaining 'getting to know you' activities in the winter months can be an effective strategy for leading up to formal Spring Recruitment efforts."

Be sure to take a good hard look at summertime program planning before your unit decides to conduct Springtime Recruitment.  If you do not offer multiple events or are not prepared to meaningfully engage new families and boys during the summer months, please DO NOT use Springtime Recruitment.  Families who commit to Scouting in the Spring will disappear if you wait until the following fall to get them involved.

What follows is a set of sample Spring Recruitment timelines that units may wish to follow :

January & February:

       Units hold at least one Kindergarten engagement activity (kinder-derby, stomp rocket, kickball, etc).

       Units, under new charter, should re-identify Spring Recruitment and SWFS Champion who will head up recruitment efforts for coming year (should be unit membership chairperson.)

       Units update BeaScout.org pin information with recharter (Dec).

       Districts provide brief, preliminary meeting at Roundtables on Spring Recruitment and encourages participation at Membership Summit trainings.

       Council holds Membership Summit and Spring Recruitment trainings.

       NOTE: Units should also refer to the Fall SWFS timelines to plan for fall 2nd chance recruitment.


March & April

       Units hold at least one Kindergarten engagement activity (kinder-derby, stomp rocket, kickball, etc).

       Units confirm superintendent’s support and school/classroom access and ensure Spring Recruitment events are in the superintendent’s district-wide calendar.

       Units meet with principal(s) and confirm details of usage for Spring Recruitment event(s).

       Units begin to recruit new Tiger Den Leaders - Get them trained.

       Units secure help (BOE members) as needed to assure school and classroom access.

       Units place order with council for fliers, posters, BL mini-magazines, road signs, etc.

       Units engage local media through articles, press releases, display ads, etc…

       Districts begin more in-depth Spring Recruitment training meetings in each district.

       Council provides units with flyers, road signs, etc.

       Council gives final, council-wide Spring Recruitment trainings.

       NOTE: Units should also refer to the Fall SWFS timelines to plan for fall 2nd chance recruitment.

May & June:

       Units hold at least one Kindergarten engagement activity (kinder-derby, stomp rocket, kickball, etc).

       Units hold an "Introduction to Scouting/Bring a Buddy" campfire/outdoor event.

       Units follow-up with local media through articles, press releases, display ads, etc…

       Units deploy road signs in strategic points where parents and students will see them.

       Units give Boy Talks. Deliver all materials the week prior and week of Spring Recruitment events.

       Units continue to recruit new Tiger Den Leaders - Get them trained.

       Units distribute reminder "business cards" 2-3 days before Spring Recruitment events.

       Spring Recruitment Event(s): community-wide or school-by-school.

       Units host a ‘mock’ and/or initial den meeting for all new recruits (close to end of school year.  Use incoming Webelos to run meeting?).  (Tigers can be formally registered with BSA after June 1st.)

       Council provides SWFS and Springtime Recruitment trainings at the Tradeshow.

       NOTE: Units should also refer to the Fall SWFS timelines to plan for fall 2nd chance recruitment.


July & August:

       Units hold at least two pack events (one per month) to have activities for new families (hike, nature event, cookout, clean-up day, kinder-derby, stomp rocket, kickball, marbles, etc.)

       Units hold second-chance summer-time recruitment events (see above for activities)

       Units write thank-you notes to principals & school office personnel (include results for each school).

       Units ensure new leaders get trained and attend September Cub events.

       Units register all new scouts with the council by September 1st

       Units hold a "Welcome Back/Bring a Buddy" outdoor event before start of school.

       Council holds Cub/family camping event.

       Council collects data and informal feedback to better inform practices for next year.

       Council sets agenda and recruits presenters for Spring Recruitment training meetings.

       NOTE: Units should also refer to the Fall SWFS timelines to plan for fall 2nd chance recruitment.


September & October

       Units have table at school Back to School Nights promoting unit fall recruitment event.

       Units, following fall recruitment event, hold formal orientation for all new families.

       Districts reserve locations for district Spring Recruitment training meetings and advertise to units.

       Districts hold Cub/family camping event.

       Council “Train the Trainers” for Spring Recruitment trainings.

       Council revises SWFS and Spring Recruitment Plans for next year and sets Spring Recruitment dates.

       NOTE: Units should also refer to the Fall SWFS timelines to plan for fall 2nd chance recruitment.


November & December

       Units update BeaScout.org pin information with recharter (Dec).

       Units get on the principals’ meeting agenda (December/January).

       Units begin making connections with Kindergarten families - Invite to Kinder-Derby.

       Districts begin more in-depth Spring Recruitment training meeting in each district.

       Council sends superintendent letters for Spring Recruitment event approval and facilities usage.

       Council holds University of Scouting, trains leaders, and collects more information.

       NOTE: Units should also refer to the Fall SWFS timelines to plan for fall 2nd chance recruitment.