We are right in the middle of a great season for Scouting, it’s our Birthday! It is also the time for transition with many Cub Scouts and their parents prepare to move from Cub Scouting to Scouting BSA. Blue and Gold Banquets have always been a bittersweet time of graduation and departure, but they are also a time of new beginnings. We need to make sure we don’t let the opportunities to grow pass us by.
A unit prepared for growth will be ready to meet the challenge. The first step in preparing is to have an effective new member coordinator. Besides the Key 3 leadership, the new member coordinator is one of the most vital members of the unit committee in ensuring growth and retention. The new member coordinator stays on top of council wide recruiting initiatives by regularly attending roundtables and working with their assigned Unit Commissioner. At the troop level the new member coordinator can provide transitional information for Webelos Scouts planning to continue with Scouts BSA.
A second part of being prepared to grow is to remember there are different seasons of recruitment. Autumn is usually when a significant number of new youths join Scouting as they are heading back to school. However, spring recruitment is just as vital in identifying leadership candidates from new families and preparing them for new positions by fall. Having sufficient time for training is so important to the success of that role. And for the troop, growth primarily occurs during February or March when Webelos Scouts are bridging over.
The third, and perhaps most important area, is program execution. Nothing else affects unit growth more readily than program quality. And the delivery of program quality relies on having a specific and written plan for the program year. It is vital to maintain trained leadership and ensure leaders stay relevant with program changes. Every Scout deserves a trained leader, and many leadership positions require regular training in order to remain effective.
In summary, growth is a constant activity in which unit leaders work together with district and council resources (commissioners, trainers and professional staff) to maintain a healthy unit. These three key activities are part of forward momentum, and every unit needs to participate.