Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Webelos Crossover-Every Scoutmaster and Senior Patrol Leader should read this!

This email about one Webelos crossover to a troop needs little introduction or explanation, but one part bears repeating;
Meetings don’t cut it, selling the parents on how great a troop is doesn’t cut it,  your “reputation” of being a strong troop doesn’t cut it.
What does? Read on;
Clarke -
I  recently stumbled across your podcast and blog. I have been listening my way through the podcast archive. I just listened to one show about visiting Webelos. As a new assistant Scoutmaster and patrol advisor I wanted to share a story with you.
I was never a Scout but my two boys (age 11 and 9) joined Cub Scouts as Tigers and have enjoyed the experience almost as much as I have.
My oldest just received his Arrow of Light and crossed over into Boy Scouts.
In fact his whole den (8 of them) selected the same Troop and I think the story behind how that happened is worth telling.
We come from a  healthy Pack (nearly 100 Cubs) in Southern California with three  Webelos II dens ready to move into Boy Scouts. We have about a dozen  troops in the area. We went to lots of meetings, some outings and a Webelos roundtable that reminded me of a job fair.
At one troop we visited  the Webelos got to try out a catapult the Scouts lashed together and enjoyed some good old-fashioned dutch oven cooking. The impression was positive with the exception of my son who overheard an older Scout refer to the Webelos as their new “slaves”. The Scout was joking of course but my son was put off by the remark.
Our den went on a campout and slept out in tents with another troop. They met with this troop several times and the meetings were mostly boring.
One troop with a tremendous reputation and alumni from our Pack was high on the parents ‘wish list’. But they did little to welcome our Webelos. When we asked if they had anything planned for visiting Webelos they said “well, all our meetings are open house events and you can show up anytime”. The Webelos who did meet with that troop said they mostly sat around and watched as the Scouts tied knots.
They weren’t impressed.
The troop who put on the dutch oven/catapult event invited us to a campout in January. My son wasn’t too thrilled since his last experience with them wasn’t very positive – but his buddies wanted to go so naturally he did too.
I can’t find the words to convey the sheer excitement and fun he and his buddies had on this campout!
Those Scouts really took the visiting Webelos under their wings, went over  backpacking gear with them, showed them the basics of orienteering and camp fire building. They pulled them into skits after dinner and just welcomed them with open arms.
It was more than trying  to sell a group of Webelos;  it was the way these Scouts were.
One reaction was priceless; on the way home from that trip one of our Webelos turned to his dad and said; “That Troop is the definition of FUN”.
My son’s attitude  did a complete 180; he absolutely LOVED it! He was one of the mo
st vocal when the Scoutmaster asked if anyone had any questions and the first to jump in to help the older Scouts with their skits.
Our den’s parents have grown close over the years but the boys have  become even closer (three have shared the journey from Tigers through Webelos). Our hope was they would all select the same troop and we had our preferences, but it was the boy’s decision.
At a den meeting a few weeks later each of the boys got a ballot with a list of the 6
troops they visited.
We asked them each to say something positive and negative about each troop. Not everyone got to see every troop but they all listened to each other with open ears and wide eyes. We had told them they could choose any troop, they didn’t have to all join the same one. They voted and put their ballots in a hat.
The vote was unanimous the first time.
They all chose the same troop. I don’t think I have to tell you which one! (Naturally it was the catapult troop.)
Meetings don’t cut it, selling the parents on how great a troop is doesn’t cut it, your “reputation” of being a strong troop doesn’t cut it.
In the end it’s all about the boys. They go where they feel welcomed, get along, and have the most fun. After all that’s what is going to keep them going.
Three troops attended our pack crossover ceremony. Two of our three dens had split decisions. When my son’s den started to cross two troops stepped back because they knew the next eight boys headed to one troop.
Within the past month they have been to their first couple of troop meetings, their first meetings as a patrol, they have elected leaders, gone on their first hike and campout with nothing but smiles as they embark on their trail to tenderfoot.
My younger son is a Bear (I’m the assistant den leader) so I”ll continue to be involved with the pack. I will be sure that our troop understands the what made the difference to us and  will be sure it continues to do so.
Hopefully this  inspires other troops out there as well
Thank you for the great informational blog and  podcast.
Yours in Scouting,
Temecula, CA
Pack 301 and Troop 301

The above was reposted from ScoutmasterCG.com.  Please feel free to visit their website for more info.

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