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Scouting Forums

Recruiting New Members and School Relationships

In recent years, many schools and school districts have moved away from having direct recruiting in the schools. The sometimes extends even to the distribution of flyers. This is a result of a failure to communicate the values of scouting to young people and a failure of the local pack to be seen as an asset to the school. Adopt a school was started some years ago to encourage units to do good turns for schools and pto and pta groups. Meeting with the superintendent and with principals to discuss appropriate ways that we can work together to help build the next group of citizens, leaders and workers is a positive step. BSA and schools are natural partners. Many schools would add a video or announcement in their morning announcements and pass out flyers if they are properly cultivated. With large screen TV/monitors in every room we don’t need assemblies or classroom visits anymore. We should be as non-disruptive to the school day as possible while getting the message out. Don’t settle for a posting on a website or newsletter alone, they reach less than 20% of the families. This is a relationship issue and it is time to rebuild the bridges we had 20 years ago.

Well… I think you’ve got some good thoughts that might have been good 10 years ago but in general public schools and PTAs today are really not looking to help provide a venue for recruiting scouts. A lot of parents have issues with scouts. Administrators are allergic about wading into areas where parents have issues. Scouting is too closely linked with churches, religion, youth abuse, etc. Private schools, especially religious ones, might be a different opportunity and there I would say go for it.

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Actually, I have met with two school superintendents and got support plus have spoken to two principals and received similar responses including an offer to insert a scouting promo in the morning announcements done on the large classroom monitors and the distribution of flyers. I received zero negatives from my 4 contacts. Due to covid we have not implemented anything yet but it is coming. For a number of years the council has been limited to what they call the ‘peachjar’ which is an on line posting of events where outside groups can pay to post a flyer electronically. Unfortunately most parents don’t follow that closely and recruitment is a fraction of what it was when we just sent home flyers. I have an outline of bullet points that I shared with the school administrators. Actually, I was supposed to address all of the principals in one district at their March meeting as a guest of the superintendent but you know what happened in March. That is still going to happen, probably next year if they go back to a ‘normal’ schedule or get this thing under control. Don’t just assume that the climate is unfriendly. I’ll be happy to share information with anyone that wants it. Just let me know.

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If you are able to get access to a school where you are, good on you and that’s a good reason to at least make the ask. I’m just saying it’s not so easy anymore in many places.

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The major issue with public school visits and recruiting is the public and proud discrimination that the BSA conducts against a large swath of the population. If the BSA were to ever consider that population as actual living functioning human beings then perhaps recruitment in schools could happen.


The only principal that the BSA maintains regarding membership is a belief in a higher power. Leadership and membership is open to male, female and being ‘LGBTQ’ is no longer a barrier and hasn’t been for quite a few years. As a matter of practice the BSA was much like the military with a don’t ask, don’t tell unwritten policy. True,chartered partners are permitted to hold leaders to their standards since most are church bodies.

I think the important thing is to make the attempt to rebuild the relationship. We are both (bsa and schools) in the business of preparing children to be better adults and citizens. With the problems and issues facing kids to day scouting values are more needed than ever. Additionally, youth that participate in Scouting generally do better in life and have a bit of an edge on others. In this day and age we owe them every opportunity to grow and gain an advantage to have the best lives and be the best citizens possible.

@JohnWhitford - as I stated its loud and proud discrimination is alive and well. Unless and until that pure idiocy goes away I would not expect widespread acceptance in public schools.

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@JohnWhitford1if you scan these forums, you’ll see that there are plenty of leaders that are still against having girls join the BSA, plenty that consider allowing LGBTQ+ membership to be “a debacle”, and honestly wish they were living in 1960 instead of 2020.

Until we drive those non-Scoutlike opinions out of the adult leaders at every level, we’re allowing discrimination and hate to mold the program.


@JohnWhitford1 - I seem to recall you mentioned a federal law that gives scouting preferential access to schools. I would like that citation as scouting falls short of compliance with federal anti-discrimination law. Most especially with denial of access.

Scouting has become a political football to some. It was intended to be non political. It was more or less hijacked to become a vehicle for social change. That is not its purpose. It reflects our society rather than shapes it. Women at one time were restricted from many leadership roles but that changed over time. Girls have been in the teen program since the 1970’s. Girl troops are being organized in every council across the nation. It is time. Some folks may be slow to change but change is not coming, it is here. Personally, I am in favor of expanding the program to include girls. The values of Scouting are too valuable to exclude half of the population from participation. Virtually every other country that has Scouting has full participation for girls. We have simply caught up. Just check out the posts from the Last World Jamboree…

Steve, you are way off course. I don’t know where you get your information from but it is just WRONG!

@JohnWhitford1 - so I would gather you have atheist and agnostic members in your units ? Or even those who do not subscribe to the word god ?

The BSA is a private organization that operates on a principle that Scouts do their Duty to God and their Country. The term God is not defined by the BSA. It is not a Christian or Muslim God. I suppose you need to ask yourself why would an atheist want to join a private organization that holds a principle that there is a ‘higher power’? The right to exercise a belief in the divine is enshrined in the Bill of Rights… " Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; " That is one of the most basic rights but you seem to want the BSA to abandon that right just to satisfy your misguided interpretation of bigotry. People are free to believe or not believe. If the BSA was a public accommodation then it would be difficult to exclude anyone. When you decide to strip away the rights of ‘We the People’ you tread on dangerous ground. Also, you are starting to sound like a troll… Personally, I don’t believe that any child can make a determination about God simply because they lack the experience and capacity to do so. I would not exclude them from the program but that is not my call.

I bet 95% of units do. This is one place I expect the BSA is looking at for the next generation of advancement, how to not lose church sponsors while maintaining relevance for the next generation which is far more diverse

Atheist / Agnostis is triple the population at below 30 than 65+. The average age of a new Cub parent around me is mid 30s so this is an increasing demographics challenge.

Around me (Missouri) the top three languages are English, Spanish and Somali. A program that better meets these three demographics has a better chance of surviving.

Maybe could go back to a “pick one from each category” decision where one pack could say “we will be doing X” and another doesn’t. There absolutely needs to be a category around morals and ethics.

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Hi Kevin, I ran the inner city program in Syracuse for nearly 7 years. We had Asian (Buddist), Hispanic and Black neighborhoods and ethnic groups that were served by packs and troops. There was no effort on our part to segregate populations, just the way things shook out. Of course events and camps blended the kids into the programs. I would welcome atheist and agnostic families into a unit as long as they didn’t make an issue of the BSA statement of religious principle. I think a lot of units do that. I once had a leader that was a Wiccan (a good witch) and his church or temple was the woodland. He believed in a higher power and communed through nature. The concept of God is pretty varied and I expect that some or even many atheists/agnostics might make it into the grey area and be considered as meeting the very general and broad definition.

Very good points raised. I do suppose that you could manage to work the Declaration of Religious Principle into something that could work for the atheist/agnostic. My whole point is that if we can work the DRP into something that everyone could fit then really what is the point of making it such a bold statement. I think most of us could agree that non-believing youth would benefit from scouting as much as those of faith. I would really think it wise to at last note that this is a population segment that can be reached and gain value in scouting. Especially since we have religious awards for faith practices that do not really have a deity concept.

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It could easily be something like, “I promise to meet the standards of the BSA, following the standards of my faith, credo or moral standards” (there’s a better wa6 to phrase that) and the BSA standards could be about the same multi-cultural respect that it’s been like for decades.

I have an avowed atheist scout in my troop. It has been a difficult process for me to handle but I think it has turned out okay. I changed his “Duty to God” to be “Duty to Humanity” and he has even served as Chaplain’s Aid. He is really good at making sure the younger scouts hold true to their beliefs, but to also be accepting of other scouts who don’t believe the same as them. Our sponsor charter organization is the Rotary Club so we don’t have to make scouting comply with a specific church’s doctrine. This is good as we have had Jewish and Hindu scouts, and now I have a Buddhist scout also.

You don’t have to require Scouts to comply with your chartering organization’s doctrines, but you also cannot change any of the requirements, which it sounds like you’re doing with this Scout.