Blog | Growing your section
Encouraging members of your section to bring a friend to Scouts can be a great way to grow numbers.
Numbers of regular participants in Scout Groups are rarely entirely stable: not everyone turns up every week, and young people often drop off the radar after school holidays. And, at a certain age, no matter how hard we try to retain them, the pressure of homework or lure of socialising can take precedence over Scouting.
If your Scout Group is going through a lean patch, don’t worry – you are absolutely not the only ones. There are some simple but effective things you can do within your section to bring the energy and enthusiasm back.
Revisit your Programme
Are you doing the same badges as last year, and the year before that, because you know you have the equipment in the cupboard? Have you been to the same place on summer camp for the last five years because you get a discount? For established Groups, falling into a routine is almost inevitable: it makes volunteers’ busy lives easier. It isn’t a failing – just something to be conscious of.
If you feel like your Group might not be stretching your Programme as much as you could, consider setting challenges – like getting out of the meeting place for a whole session at least once per term, or arranging to take everyone to try an adventurous activity they’ve never done before, like dry-slope skiing. Small changes and the chance to try new things will make a big difference to the young people and their enthusiasm for Scouting.
A really simple way to boost numbers is to encourage the young people in your Section to each bring along one friend who is not already involved in Scouting. In theory, this will double your numbers! Give the young people a couple of weeks’ notice, so they have plenty of time to ask their friends, and send a reminder note to their parents.
Pick a night where something particularly good is scheduled into the Programme – an outdoor games evening, a treasure hunt or a night of cooking activities in the hall. Make sure the activities are adaptable for lots more young people than usual. The evening should start with a name game or activity aimed at integrating the new young people with the existing Scouts. It can be a good idea to run these sessions near the beginning of a new term, where there may be other new young people at the meetings.
Make sure you capture the details of the young people who turn up, including emergency contact information. Templates for printable contact detail sheets can be found on the Print Centre (log in using your membership number). Follow up with parents after the evening, encouraging the young people to attend the regular Scouts sessions if they enjoyed their taster. Make sure the weeks following the bring-a-friend night also have an active and inclusive Programme.