Recruiting Cub Scouts, Part 4 – Why Should Anyone Join?

Over the years that I have been recruiting Cub Scouts, I have found that most people have similar reasons for joining Scouting. Maybe they like the outdoor activities. Maybe they like idea of instilling the values of the Scout Oath and Law in their child. Maybe they want something to help teach their child some skills that can be used throughout their lives. Perhaps they really don’t know, but they think that it is good for their child.

Whatever the reasons for joining Scouting, they all tend to be similar. But one thing that I have never heard from a parent is that they put their child into Cub Scouts because they liked seeing them wear a uniform and work out of a handbook. But that’s what most every den or pack meeting looks like.

And as you talk to prospective parents about your pack, what’s your recruiting pitch? For many packs, it’s something like this: “We meet on Wednesday nights and our pack meeting is on the third Wednesday. Your child will be in the Bear den and you will need to buy them a uniform. We go camping twice a year and go on a hike every other month. Want to join?”

Sound familiar?

But what if there was a more effective way to get the Scouting message across to parents? A way that you can help them see what you see in the program?

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Recruiting Cub Scouts, Part 3 – Strategy Is Not a Four-Letter Word

Now that you have solved any contact information errors and you know who you are reaching out to, it’s time to develop your recruiting strategy.

If you are like most people, you hear the word “strategy” and instantly go into panic mode. You hear about sports teams having winning strategies, or politicians having a campaign strategy, or a large company having a business strategy. You think that it is too complex, and requires too much work to develop a strategy.

But the reality is it’s not that bad. A strategy is just a plan. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as “a careful plan or method.” So it doesn’t have to be some big, hairy thing that has to be developed. It just needs to be a plan that you follow.

Failing to create a plan — or strategy — can lead to continued unproductive recruiting in your pack. Think about going to work. You know what time you need to wake up, what you need to do to get ready, what to wear, and which roads to drive on to get there in time to start. You didn’t just wake up randomly, decide to go for an aimless drive, and you happened to show up somewhere with a paycheck. You actually planned out when and how to get to work, and that plan allows you to arrive at work successfully. In the same way, you need to develop a strategy for your pack’s recruiting efforts to get the desired results.

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Recruiting Cub Scouts, Part 2 – Who Are You Recruiting?

Cub Scouts is a great program for children to be a part of. They learn, they explore, they mature, all without putting them in a “classroom” style environment to “teach” them. A good den leader makes the meetings fun, so the scouts want to come back each week.

But you didn’t recruit those kids. You didn’t take any money from those kids for dues. Those kids never signed up to be in your pack.

So how did they get there? And why do they want to come back each week?

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Recruiting Cub Scouts, Part 1 – A Technique Guaranteed to Work

When most people think about Cub Scout recruiting, the first thing they ask is, “what works?” They’ve seen all kinds of ideas online, they’ve been told by others what worked for them, and sometimes these things seem to conflict with one another. They really, seriously want to know what works.

You can search online and find lots of ideas for Cub Scout recruiting. You can find activities, handouts, and even the BSA’s own “Sign-Up Night Unit Playbook.” You can dangle the BSA Recruiter patch as an incentive for Scouts to get their friends to join. You can spend weeks or months poring over all of the ideas you find and trying to figure out what will work for your pack.

Every day, it feels like it’s getting harder and harder to recruit new children to join Cub Scouts. In my area, many of the schools will not allow packs to distribute fliers to all of the kids inviting them to join. Most of the schools don’t want to allow a leader to come in and have a traditional “boy talk” to get the kids excited about joining. After all — they’ll say — if they do it for us, they will have to do it for every other youth organization and they will never have time for teaching. Regardless of how you feel about their reasoning, it is what it is. Creativity needs to be utilized to get children to join.

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Recruiting Cub Scouts

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I became involved in Cub Scouting like you might have: my son attended an information night at his school at the end of his kindergarten year. As a result, he wanted to be a Tiger Cub (as they were called at the time). My wife was “voluntold” by the other parents to be the den leader, and about 3 or 4 months later I was recruited by the Cubmaster to help the pack find a web provider and to be the Webmaster.

About a year later, the Cubmaster who recruited my son was leaving the pack since his son was aging out. His wife was registered as the Committee Chair, so I volunteered to take over when they left. That was over 4 years ago.

When I started in this role the pack had about 20 registered boys. When the pack grew to more than 40 boys, I became concerned. When we exceeded 50 boys, I was worried. When we got over 60 boys, I was scared. When we grew to more than 70 boys, terror set in. For the last several years we have had between 70-80 registered boys, and we still receive interest from the public.

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Cub Scout Leader Resources

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No matter what anybody tells you, being a Cub Scout leader is intimidating. You need to learn new terms and phrases, you need to understand what an “adventure” is, and you need to realize that a bunch of 6 to 10 year-olds are not going to eat you alive. It’s not for the faint of heart. But for those who step up and volunteer as a Cub Scout leader, it is a wonderful experience!

One of the problems of being a Cub Scout leader is you are often unprepared to lead the meetings. You might be given a handbook and told “Good luck!” If you are more fortunate, the Cubmaster, or some other experienced leader, will spend some time with you to explain how the program works. But even when you understand it there are still a lot of things to figure out, such as, “Where do I come up with ideas for the meetings?”

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The Quartermaster’s Store – Cub Scout version

Cub Scouts singingAs anybody that has taken Wood Badge knows, singing goes with Scouting like syrup goes with pancakes. The two are great individually, but together they make something wonderful.

As a boy, one of my favorite fun songs was The Quartermaster’s Store. I can still remember singing about snakes as big as rakes and the mice in the rice. I wanted to share this with my sons and the other boys in the Cub Scout pack, but I wanted a version that used the Cub Scout ranks. I couldn’t find one, so I made one!

For your enjoyment, my Cub Scout version of The Quartermaster’s Store!

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Powering your server racks

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power_cordCongratulations! You have the opportunity to set up some new server racks and you want to do it “right.” This doesn’t happen very often for most techs; they usually have to live with someone else’s choices that came before. But when you have the opportunity to start from scratch, it can feel like the problems of the former racks will soon be a distant memory.

Once you have decided on the manufacturer and model of the rack you want to buy, you need to start thinking about the accessories that will be installed in the rack. One of the first accessories you need to consider is power distribution units (PDUs). There can be an overwhelming selection of volts, amps, and how many rack units (RUs) a particular PDU uses. Continue reading

It Felt Like Killing Off One of My Children

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resume-tipsBeing in IT, it’s always important to keep your resume up to date. So I spent a little time recently updating mine. It had been a little over a year, so I had to add my current job to my resume. When I did that, it pushed the resume out to three pages, which I try to avoid. As I reviewed the resume I realized that the oldest job listed was over 15 years ago.

The general rule-of-thumb is that you only list jobs from the last 10-15 years. Anything older than this is not applicable, especially in IT. After all, that oldest job had me dealing with Windows 98, Windows NT 4.0, 56 kbps data lines, a “high speed” T1 for internet access, and other “fun” technologies that I am glad are now obsolete. This job was from 1997-2000 and was pushing me to a third page, so it was time for it to be removed from the resume. Continue reading

Defining Success

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success-keySuccess is one of those words that can be defined in many different ways. I am often asked when starting a project, “How will you measure success for this project?” The person asking the question is usually looking for some sort of quantifiable number to measure against.

Americans tend to think of success as a measure of wealth and possessions. Don’t get me wrong, money and things are nice and I enjoy them. But “He who dies with the most toys, wins!” is a motto I can’t fully support.

Then there is the measure of influence and power that can be used. If you can command people to do something, or you can persuade people to vote for you, or you can win them over, you might be considered successful.

These measurements are all good ways to judge certain things. But I think they miss the mark of true success. It is often much more subtle and much more difficult to quantify. Continue reading