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Issue 507 – November 15, 2016


(This should have posted automatically last Tuesday… Obviously, something went wrong.  Please help out fellow Commissioner Paul Geissler ASAP, with my thanks!)

The message and request below is from fellow Commissioner Paul Geissler, of the Laurel Highlands Council in the Pittsburgh, PA area. This is a fabulous opportunity for pack, troop, and crew leaders, and Scout parents too, to help a fellow Scouter. Please take a look, and then click on Paul’s survey link (It’s safe—I did it myself!) to help…

Hi Andy,

For my College of Commissioner Science doctoral thesis I’ve developed a survey for adult unit leaders and parents from around the country. It’s divided into four sections and takes about ten minutes to complete. It covers…
– The participant’s unit role, training, and years of experience.
– General information about the unit.
– Camping and High Adventure activities.
– Patrol- and den-level award awareness and usage.

Here’s the link:

Thanks for your help in getting the word out!

I frequently receive letters about how to boost stalled or shrinking membership in packs and troops. These have occurred more often in recent years than when these columns began some 15 years ago, in part because the opportunities for boys to get involved in other year-round youth programs—soccer and other sports, plus martial arts and other specialized activities—are on the rise, to which we must add parents’ increasing desires to become “surrogate Uber drivers” for their children rather than getting personally involved in these activities.

Mitch Erickson, good friend and fellow Unit Commissioner in the Patriots’ Path Council, NJ, has watched a local troop go from a couple dozen loosely organized Scouts to a major force of over 80 Scouts, in just the past half-dozen years. Here’s what he’s observed. It’s worth taking note, no matter what your council or what town your troop’s in…

Hi Andy,

There’s a Boy Scout troop nearby, in a town of about 23,000 residents, that’s been around “forever.” In the seven years I’ve been their Unit Commissioner, I’ve watched this troop morph from a loosely strung bunch of about two dozen Scouts into a robust, energetic troop that’s Scout-led and follows the Patrol Method to a T. Today this troop has over 80 Scouts and some 25 adult volunteers. To date in 2016 they’ve celebrated ten—count ‘em-ten—Eagle Scouts!

But they’ll be the first to tell you there’s no “magic bullet” or “secret sauce” that singlehandedly made the difference. Instead, here are the key things they’re doing that are working:
– Significant collaboration with their chartered organization (a Roman Catholic church) and their Chartered Organization Representative (CR for short), with shared vision!
– Energetic troop activities and advancement program, guided by the Scoutmaster, run by the Patrol Leaders Council and the Scouts!
– Thorough use of BSA and council resources.
– Scout “presence” in all nearby Cub Scout packs.
– Scout “visibility”—especially to non-Scouting audiences!
– Year-round outreach and recruiting process!

Yes, they’ve enjoyed solid success recruiting new Scouts from local pack cross-overs, but they don’t rely only on these. In a conversation with the church-troop CR, he told me that the troop “does everything”! They use print and online media (including social networks) all the time—every troop event gets an article and lots of photos. They get good yields from the First Class “Invite a Friend” requirement. They’ve even reached out to nearby (but outside city limits) packs, just so boys and parents know they have options. They follow up on leads from the BSA’s “BeAScout” Internet link. Their Scouts—in full and correct uniforms—speak at local fundraising dinners and other public events. They use Scout Sunday to increase troop visibility to their sponsor’s congregation—including speaking roles from the pulpit for all eight Sunday masses (one’s in Spanish!), and acting as ushers for the entire morning. Also in collaboration with their sponsoring church, they’ve recruited the pastoral staff to be on the lookout for new families moving into the parish area. Their Scouts are also visible at local area interfaith services throughout the calendar year. When it’s “Popcorn Time,” they’ll pass out special flyers (available and customizable via the BSA’s “” marketing sub-site) about Scouting and the troop, and many of the troop’s families display “BeAScout” lawn signs. For the several packs in town, they’ll provide pre-trained Den Chiefs. And they continue to add to this list of pro-active efforts.

So cherry-pick these ideas and then be sure to add your own. Recruiting isn’t a “program” with start-and-end dates; it’s a year-round process. It may begin with September recruiting nights, but it sure doesn’t stop there!

Happy Scouting!


Have a question? Facing a dilemma? Wondering where to find a BSA rule, policy, or guideline? Write to Please include your name and council. (If you’d prefer to be anonymous if published, let me know and that’s what we’ll do.)

[No. 507 – 11/15/2016 – Copyright © Andy McCommish 2016]


About AskAndy

Andy is a Board Member of the U.S. Scouting Service Project, Inc.

Andy has just received notification by his council Scout Executive that he is to be recognized as a National Distinguished Eagle Scout. He is currently serving as a Unit Commissioner and his council's International Representative. He has previously served in a number of other Scouting roles including Assistant Council Commissioner, Cubmaster, Scoutmaster, Den Leader, and--as a Scout--Patrol Leader, Senior Patrol Leader, and Junior Assistant Scoutmaster. His awards include: Kashafa Iraqi Scouting Service Award, Distinguished Commissioner, Doctor of Commissioner Science, International Scouter Award, District Award of Merit (2), Scoutmaster Award of Merit, Scouter's Key (3), Daniel Carter Beard Masonic Scouter Award, Cliff Dochterman Rotarian Scouter Award, James E. West Fellow (2), Wood Badge & Sea Badge, and Eagle Scout & Explorer Silver Award.

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