Blog | Recruiting parents through camps
Camps can be a great opportunity to recruit parents as volunteers and grow the movement. Here are some tips to make it work.
Did you know that 45% of new section leaders are parents of children who are already Scouts, or who are waiting to join? Getting parents interested and involved in your Group can be a vital way to attract new helpers – and with more help, Groups can grow and offer more opportunities for young people.
Parents and wider family members of current members have a vested interest in keeping local Scouting going, and making it the best it can be for their young people. With summer on the horizon and Groups beginning to plan weekend camps, organizing a family camp can be a great way to include parents in Scouting.
Whatever sort of camp you are organising - be it just for one section, a Group camp, a weekend with other Groups in the County or District, or an outing to a huge Jamboree - a parents meeting is a vital step in the planning process. This is your chance to get all of the parents or guardians of your young people together, to give important notices and to explain what the camp will entail.
When organising a parents meeting, be sure to give plenty of warning: parents may be able to drop off their young people at a Scouts session, but they may not always be available to stay. Giving them time to plan for the event will mean they will be more engaged, and perhaps more prepared to take action. It also makes the leadership team appear organised and professional.
If you are planning a family camp, where Scouts will be accompanied by their parents or guardians and siblings, the initial parents meeting can be used to divide up camp jobs, like creating a cooking rota, or teaming parents up with existing leaders to run activities they are comfortable doing. They’ll have a taster of what it is like to help out, and will see the direct benefit volunteering has for their own children.
On camp, the parents will have the chance to chat to the leaders on a personal basis, and to meet other parents properly – perhaps for the first time – outside the context of picking their children up at the Scout hut. It’s a fun departure from normal life, and a chance to see first-hand what goes on behind the scenes in Scouting. The parents and guardians who attend should be given clear roles and kept occupied on camp, so that they feel they are playing an important part in making the camp a success.
Once you return from family camp, follow up with all the adults who attended, thanking them for coming and explaining about how they can get involved further in flexible volunteering with Scouts. Don’t forget that they don’t have to volunteer in the section their child is currently in, and that there are Executive Committee roles that don’t involve working with young people at all.