Cub Scout Joining Night Checklist

Cub Scout Joining Night Checklist

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So, it’s September. Packs all over the country will be doing Joining Nights in the next month. Over the years, I’ve run and helped run a lot of Cub Scout joining nights. So here’s a quick Cub Scout joining night checklist of some things you’re going to want to have in place at your recruiting event. This is no time for improv. Know what you’re going to say, and rehearse it if you have to. You never get a second chance to make a first impression.

Some supplies you’ll want to have on hand.

Proper Signage

When families come to your event, will it be obvious where you are in the building? So having directional signs on the road and on the property can be very handy to you. Don’t assume that people will know where you are. You want people to be comfortable when they come to your event, and nothing makes people less comfortable than having to hunt for your meeting.

Have Something for the kids to do

If at all possible, having a supervised second room for the kids. This makes getting information to the parents go much, much smoother than if they’re trying to wrangle their child at the same time. It’s also much more fun for the boys, who I can guarantee you were thinking that their first night of Cub Scouts was going to be something other than sitting at a table in a basement watching mom or dad fill out paperwork and hear a talk about insurance.

You want to have some sort of fun activity for these boys to do. It could be a game, or a craft, or a puzzle – but it needs to be fun.

I also like to do a fun exercise that starts the boys on the advancement trail. You get the new scouts together and teach them the Cub Scout sign. Tell the boys that the two fingers represent the ears of Akela, the leader. I then let them know that in the wild, the lead wolf raises his ears to let the other wolves know when there’s danger, or food, or fun to be had. It’s when we need their attention, so if you see a leader put up their sign, you need to be quiet and pay attention.

Then you can practice. Let them get really loud, and put up the sign. Once they’ve got this mastered, you can repeat the exercise once they’re back in the other room with their parents. Tell their parents to try using the Scout sign at home.




A presentation on the Scouting Program in general

Prepare a 5-10 minute overview of the Cub Scout program. Talk about the goals of the program and the aims and methods of Cub Scouting. Be able to give a brief overview of the advancement program. Be able to explain the BSA’s youth protection policies. It’s also a good idea to be able to explain the BSA’s sickness and accident, and liability insurance policies.

Follow this up with a brief overview of the Scouting program in general, describe how the boys will cross over into a Boy Scout troop after completing their Arrow of Light. Let them know that the program will evolve with their boy.

A presentation on your pack’s specific program

Every pack is a little bit different. Who are the people in your pack they should know?  Know when the dens meet. What your pack meeting schedule is. What are some of the cool things your pack does every year? Where do you go? How often do the dens meet? Talk about the Pinewood Derby. This is your chance to let them know what your pack is all about.

A photo display or display video of your pack’s activities would be really useful here.

At the very least, you need to let them know when the next meeting is.

Pack Welcome Packets

You should have a basic packet of information about your pack’s activities, rules, fees, fundraisers, and expectations. Here’s an example from Pack 241 in Boynton Beach, Florida. Your packet should include or come with a calendar of your pack’s activities for the year. It should also include contact information for multiple people in the pack, and relevant websites and Facebook pages

 

Family Expectations

Make sure you set clear and realistic expectations for every family. Using a 100-point form is a handy way of doing this. Make it clear that every family is expected to help out in some way. But don’t set this as an onerous chore but as an opportunity. Nobody is good at everything, but everybody is good at something, and if everyone pitches in a little, we’ll have a much better program for the boys.

I like to have fun with this, and let them know that they’ll have just as much fun in Scouting as their children will. This really isn’t the time to recruit new leaders, but rather the time to be identifying leaders you’ll want to recruit later.

Popcorn or other Fundraising Paperwork

One of the big questions that will come up during the meeting is: How much does Scouting cost?

Apart from letting them know the costs, and that we don’t want any child to miss out on the Scouting program because of their family’s financial situation, this is a great time to let them know about popcorn (or whatever fundraiser your pack does.) Let them know that this is an opportunity to help them defray the costs of Scouting. Have a handout about any pack or council incentives that may apply.

Apart from providing needed funds for your pack, selling popcorn is a great way to teach the boys salesmanship.



Summer Camp Info

Every scout should have some sort of camping experience every summer, be it overnight resident camp, or Cub Scout Day Camp. These programs are the Super Bowl of Scouting, and every pack should have this as part of their yearly program.

Youth Applications Checklist

Don’t give them the applications to go home with. Set a time in your meeting when applications are going to be filled out. Give them pens and applications, and explain how to fill out the applications. With few exceptions, if they’ve taken the time to come to your joining night, they’ve decided to register. But you need to make sure to actually ask them to fill out the applications.

In order to be processed, each youth application needs:

  • The scout’s full legal name
  • Their birthdate
  • Address and phone number
  • Grade in school
  • Their parent or guardian’s name
  • Their birthdate
  • Parent or guardian’s signature
  • Cubmaster’s signature
  • appropriate fees

Email addresses are optional, but getting them now makes your life much easier later. Also, make sure that everything on the application is legible. Your council’s registrar is going to be processing hundreds of applications this year, and one of the biggest reasons for errors is unreadable handwriting. Make sure you keep the unit copies.

 

After the Meeting

Shoot a quick email to your District Executive, Charter Rep, and Committee Chair letting them know how the event went. How many kids did you get? You’ll also want to make arrangements to get the completed applications to the council office as quickly as possible. You’ll also want to make sure you get one check along with the applications, so make sure your Pack treasurer is on hand that evening.

It’s also nice to send thank you emails or notes to anyone who helped you with the event, and welcome emails to all the families who signed up reminding them of the next meeting.

Then take a few minutes to celebrate. Your efforts will make a big impact in these kids lives. For a complete discussion of fall recruiting strategies, you can listen to my podcast episode with Matt Ghirarda. Thank you for what you’re doing!

 

 



Photo by Melissa Hillier

 

Joining Night Checklist by Mike Cooney

 

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