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Webelos Troop Visit

Just last night we hosted a Webelos troop visit. While the visiting Webelos went off with the Scouts we asked the parents to come with us into another room and meet with the troop’s adult volunteers.

The committee chairman talked to them for a bit about the basic functions and administrative things involved with having a son in the troop. When I was introduced to the parents I said a brief hello and explained that the best way for them to learn what our Scouts do and experience would be to talk to the Scouts rather than me.

Just before I headed to the parent’s room I asked a Scout who joined the troop last year if he could spare about ten minutes, he said he could and I asked him to follow me.

I introduced him to the group of parents and explained that this Scout had no idea why he was in the room, but that he’d be happy to answer any question they may have about what he’s been up to for the past year. He looked at me a little confused and I reassured him that this wasn’t a test, it was just a chance for these parents to talk to him. I don’t really know what they asked him or what he answered because I left the room to get a Scout who had been in the Troop for two or three years.

When I returned I thanked the first year Scout for his time and told him he could go back to his patrol and introduced the next Scout explaining that he had been with us for three years. While he answered questions from the parents I went to find our senior patrol leader. I returned, sent the three-year veteran back to his patrol, introduced the senior patrol leader and let him answer questions from the parents while I went out to get my next speakers.

Lat night two of my alumni were at the meeting ( I wish we could say that we planned on having them there for this but it was just a happy accident). I asked them if they had a few minutes and they followed me to the parent’s room. I thanked the senior patrol leader for his time, sent him back to the troop, and introduced the two alumni; “So far tonight you’ve heard from a Scout who joined the troop last year, one who’s been around for three years and our senior patrol leader who has been around for five years. These two young men were Scouts in this troop, both became Eagle Scouts and are home for winter break – so now you get a look at where your son is headed if he joins our troop. Once again feel free to ask them whatever questions you like”.

After these two alumni had answered questions for five or ten minutes I finished up with about five minutes of disjointed rambling (I wish I could edit my talks like I can edit the podcast – I can make myself sound a little more intelligent that way).  We dismissed the parent’s meeting and one of the assistant Scoutmasters had some pictures of our trip to Switzerland to show folks who were interested while we waited for the Scouts to close our meeting.

I was much happier with this Webelos visit than ones we have carefully planned in the past, I think the parents got more out of it too.

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Comments

  1. Terry says

    Wish I you had written this (and I could have read it) before my meeting with the Webelos parents. We stepped aside while the boys did their thing, and just let them ask me questions. Having them ask the Boys is a great idea. Hope I remember this next year!

  2. says

    Kudos! Many of the Troops in our area will host a special “Webelos Night” to wow the prospective new Scouts. I would warn anyone doing this to re-think what is going on in these young minds…they will come to expect that this is what the Troop does on a normal, regular basis, and will quit after a short time. I prefer to have the Scouts attend a meeting of their choosing…a “regular” meeting if you will. This way the Scouts and parents alike can really see how our Troop functions. Our SPL almost without fail will recognize that we have a new face or two and will introduce himself to the new Scout(s), then will introduce him/them to the Troop after the opening. The prospective new Scout is then immersed into whatever activity they are doing that night, effectively becoming part of the Troop for the next 90 minutes, and ultimately for the next several years. After letting the parents watch for 15-20 minutes, we will pull them into another room where we can answer the many questions that they have. One thing I found that has made a big difference is that it needs to be explained that the SM’s role is NOT to run the meetings; that’s the SPL’s responsibility. (And many times when you say ‘SPL’, you will get a puzzled look!) I had a parent once tell me that he chose another Troop since all I did was stay in the background and only answered questions from a Scout (my SPL) when he approached me. I explained that that’s how it should be in a boy-led Troop. He explained that as Cub leader he was so indoctrinated to ‘adult-led’ that the transition to boy-led had never occurred to him as he was never a Scout as a youth. Keeping the youth in the program is always a challenge, but getting them to continue on after Cubs is the first step! Keep up the great works, because without adults that are willing to jump in, the boys will perish…and thanks Clarke for keeping up this wonderful forum!!!FWIW…

  3. Michael Polkinghorn says

    This is pretty close to what our troop does, not by plan but just from organic growth. We’ve been drifting towards this for some time. For our last open house, I asked the PLC what they wanted to show off to the Webelos, and they came up with several stations to run the boys through. While the scouts were busy, I did a round table with the parents and a couple members of the committee. It worked great, was a lot less stress, and a much better representation of the troop than some song and dance created by the adults.

  4. Mike Halverson says

    This approach is so obvious once I read it. Nothing impresses the new parents on the value of Scouting than to sit in on a Board of Review as the third or fourth adult. They see the program from the Scout’s perspective and compare their son to a boy only 2 or 3 years older than their own. The same thing can be true for webelo parents with this ladder-in-experience speaker approach. I had my son speak for just a bit last year and he told the gathered parents “Our Scoutmaster sometimes gets in the way and talks too long” – in front of our Scoutmaster. We all laughed later as his comment shown brightly on the personality of both the Scoutmaster and the Scout. Our Troop just held our pancake breakfast – where I used your metaphor of a Gray Line tour bus and a walking tour for a 3-minute talk on the Patrol Method. The best part of the breakfast was our two college alumni commenting on how many of their college friends are former Scouts. It gives them something in common immediately as freshman. They said they found the former Scouts have a can-do attitude compared to thier other college friends. The quote of the pancake breakfast was from our former-SPL-now-college-senior who is a music major: “Dealing with the violin section is just like dealing with 11-year old Scouts. I’d rather deal with the 11-year old Scouts”.

  5. Jason Reedy says

    Okay, that last sentence sort of made sense. I meat to say, “In order to prepare for something like that, the troop has to have a great program, not a great script.”

  6. Jason Reedy says

    That sounds like a great idea. Many troops could not get away with that since the scouts would not have much to say about their experience. I guess in order to prepare for something like that is to have a great program, not a great script.