A few years ago I was asked by a Cubmaster recruiting new boys: “What happens when your fall recruitment plans fall apart? We missed the window to do a back to school night. What do we do now?”

This is a common concern for many Cub Scout leaders. The real problem is not that their recruiting efforts failed; the problem is that the focus of their recruiting efforts were too narrow.

You can’t put all your efforts into one event and expect real positive results. Cub Scout recruiting is not a one and done program. Recruiting needs to happen year round and it needs to be a topic at every committee meeting, and it needs to embrace the seasonal themes that are celebrated and it needs to be fun!

For example, this is October. What happens in October? – HALLOWEEN, of course. So, how can a pack have fun using “Halloween” as a recruitment method? Think about it for a minute and anyone can come up with several ideas that are simple, fun and can involve the boys in the pack.

Here are a few ideas we have done over the years.:

  1. Trick or Treat recruiting #1 – When we lived in South Dakota we decided to join in the Trick or Treat event that was happening at the mall. Stores’ employees passed out candy to anyone in costume. So we gathered up a bunch of candy, printed up join scouting labels with our leader’s phone number on it and with the help of our Cub Scouts, attached the labels to all the goodies. Then, with permission from the mall management, we set up a booth, and the boys passed out our recruitment candy to everyone (both boys and girls). It only took a couple of hours, and our candy supply was exhausted, but the boys had fun. We contacted several hundred potential Cub Scout Families. As a result, we had several interested phone calls and even directed a few families over to the Girl Scouts.
  2. Trick or Treat recruiting #2 – This is similar to the mall event except all of the families in our pack attached join Cub Scouting labels to the candy their family was giving out on Halloween night. They gave the recruitment goodies to everyone that came to the door and once again hundreds of potential Cub Scout Families were contacted.
  3. School Halloween party recruiting – Most schools host some kind of Halloween party. Get permission from the school and set up a recruiting booth at that party. Just like a back to school night booth only with better decorations. Pass out goodies with your pack contact information on it.
  4. Costume party recruiting – Host a neighborhood costume party as the October pack meeting. Treat the event like a cross between a political campaign and a comic con event. By this I mean set up signs all over the place, in yards, on fences etc. Think back to the last political campaign and put your signs there. You many need to get permission to put signs in some places. Put flyers on community bulletin boards and phone poles etc.. Get the word out. Make the signs look spooky. Get the boys involved in creating them. Remember, every kid and parent has put weeks of thought into their costume and they want to show it off. It seems like such a waste to only wear it on Halloween night. So host an event that all will remember on a night before Halloween. Decorate the place, be prepared to give out lots of awards like “spookiest”, “ugliest” “most realistic” etc.. Everyone needs to go home with some kind of award. Have an area set up for someone to take pictures [this could also be a fundraiser to pay for the cost of the party]. Remember one very important thing – collect contact information from everyone that attends. Get their email and phone numbers so you can follow-up with them after the meeting. Otherwise you have wasted the evening as far as recruiting is concerned. The main idea is get kids into your pack meeting so they can see how much fun Cub Scouting can be and then reach out to them to join.
  5. Pet costume contest recruiting – Host a pet costume contest as part of your October pack meeting. This is similar to the regular costume contest and should be promoted much the same way. Don’t forget to put flyers in all pet related businesses and in the vet offices around town. It can also be included as part of the costume contest for the boys. One again it is most important that contact information is collected for follow-up after the event.

Halloween is a theme that is crying out to be used as a recruiting method. Remember recruiting needs to be a year round effort. Be creative, use your boys and have fun.

Jim Bethel
Retired Scout Executive currently serving as East Bay District Commissioner. Served as camp director for several summer camps and is busy as a father of four with 16 grandchildren.

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