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Thread: Closing the Waiting List?

  1. #1
    Senior Member
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    Apr 2011
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    Closing the Waiting List?

    We are in a position that we are struggling with our waiting list. 8 years ago, we had about 100 children in our group, which was 5 sections. Now have close to 250 children over 8 sections with the plan to open a 3rd Beavers. Impressive, but this is mainly due to a HUGE increase in the number of houses being built - school numbers have doubled over the last 4 years at the three primary schools!

    District are unable/unwilling to help open a new group, there are 2 others within a 3 mile radius & the other 2 groups are unable to take more children than they are due to a variety of reasons - mainly finding adults to run them.

    So, our waiting list is growing faster than we can deal with it. The houses are springing up, Scouting has a good reputation & for what ever reason the names are coming... Parents are always asked if they can support / help / become leaders, but the answer is usual a flat no. In January 20 children's names went on the waiting list. Most of these are aged 3-4 years. 6 Beavers started this term, with 4 due to start after Easter.

    We where talking at the Exec about this the other day & we are all feeling a bit down hearted. We believe even if we opened 2 new Beavers, another Cubs & a Scout, we could take a chunk of names off the waiting list, BUT we would be full by the end of the year, with little space for current members to move up. At the moment, this is impossible as we don't have our own hut, we are using 3 different sites and no adults to run them anyway.

    It has been suggested that we suspend the waiting list for 12 months. No more names to be added. Has anyone else done this??? What happened after the 12 months??? Did it make any difference???
    Another idea was to stop accepting under 4's, but, if we only had 5 year olds going on the waiting list, they would currently have to wait until there is a place at Cubs.

    Personally, I feel we can only do so much. Whatever we do we are full & we offer excellent Scouting to the children who we have. I would like to say that the extra children are bringing new leaders, but we are very much looking at parents commuting out of the area & using wrap around childcare - which we are becoming part of.

  2. #2
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    We are in a not dis-similar situation. I am afraid that we make it clear to people, when they put their name on the waiting list, that it is unlikely that their child will get a place unless they are prepared to help out in a regular weekly role.

    You have to use your popularity in your own favour. If there is competition for places - those with parents that are willing to help will win. It is not fare on the others - but the alternative is no-one gets a place because we have no leaders.

    I would not close the waiting list. I would keep them coming and use the size of the list to show District that there is a demand for another group. District could then use the waiting list to call a meeting of parents to see if they really do want their kids to get a chance at doing Scouting.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    west sussex
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    We are in the same situation with 2 lots of beavers cubs and scouts + the partner ESU overflowing ? some will never get a place
    But we have always been just lucky enough to get the extra help from the you will not get a place unless you commit to help parents to keep beavers and cubs running and a fair few ex explorers back to help with the older sections. Last year running a meeting for prospective beaver parents worked well and one of our beaver sections now has a strong rotating section assistant team.
    We were lucky to get some professional help from Scout Development adviser from the next county who happens to live in our community so it may be worth asking your county for support

  4. #4
    Senior Member recneps's Avatar
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    Aug 2005
    Bath and Bristol
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    We aren't in the same situation - we have spaces in other groups locally at the moment... but as a group we are very rarely able to offer any spaces at Cubs or Scouts to outsiders.

    A couple of things though

    1. When we opened new sections we did it from Beavers upwards, to ensure that there were spaces for those Beavers when they came of age. We also opened new sections with lower numbers gradually building up (again to ensure there are spaces for the YP in the group to move up).

    2. We make very clear on our website that we cant generally take kids of an older age... when they do put in a request we advise them that there are other groups and offer to pass their details on. We also make it clear that for the best chance, parents should get kids on the waiting list before their 5th birthday.
    Dan Spencer

    Group Scout Leader 66th Bath
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    It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves

  5. #5
    GSL & AESL shiftypete's Avatar
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    I don't see what good closing a waiting list does it does not reduce the number of kids missing out on Scouting it just means you have hidden the issue and can't use the length of your waiting list as proof of high demand to try to persuade District to change their minds and try and help open more Groups.

    However I would do a few things
    1. Make very clear to anyone being added to the waiting list that you are very oversubscribed and so you will not be able to offer spaces to everyone that requests to be added to the waiting list
    2. Adopt a very clear waiting list policy as to how spaces in your sections are allocated and make sure parents of kids ont he waiting list are aware of this
    3. Do not allow anyone under 4,apart from siblings of exisitng members (who get priority for spaces), to be added to your Beaver Colony waiting list. Our Experience is that this just leads to you ending up with a load of kids who when you try to offer them a space have moved away, are no longer interested, have got another activity on when our Colony meets, parents contact details have changed etc etc. 2 years is long enough in advance.
    4. Do not admit anyone 7 or over into you Beavers, that way leads to all Beavers only being in the Colony for a year reducing what your Beavers get to do in their time in beavers. Instead move them onto your Pack waiting lists instead. Do similar for your other Sections making sure that kids get a decent lenght of time in each Section.
    5. Most importantly make sure that whoever is managing your wiating list is not allowing themsevles to get stressed about having a long waiting list or getting badgered by parents as to whether their child will get a space. Being firm, factual and fair with parents and not having someone subject to the school gate crowd doing the job seem to be the way to go to avoid this in my experience.

    Peter Andrews AESL of Headingley Pirates ESU, Group Scout Leader & Webmaster of Falkoner Scout Group

    Previous Scouting Roles
    2003 - 2013 ABSL
    2017-2018 AGSL

    Wike, North Leeds District Campsite -
    Please note all views expressed are my own and not those of any organisation I'm associated with

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  7. #6
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    I cannot understand why you put anyone aged 4 on a waiting list. It is not recommended by Gilwell.I believe they recommend that the only youngsters who should be put on a a waiting list are those who are already old enough to join anyway. We used to put youngsters on the list shortly after birth - stupid, I know but it somehow felt "good". After years of having a list of over 50 youngsters on it we tried to fill some places in the Beaver colony. This turned out to be almost impossible. A very large number of people who had youngsters of the appropriate age either had moved away or simply didn't have the courtesy to respond.We do not operate a waiting list any more. We recruit termly, if it is necessary. It is first come, first served other than siblings. It doesn't seem to cause a problem and we can control our growth as we want. We get applications to join from around the area and we also get referrals from Gilwell via county. Sadly, not one referral from Gilwell has materialised into a member. Further investigation of those who were referred showed that someone, somewhere, was cherry picking. We have a couple of sort after schools in our village and, somehow this reflects on to our Scout Group. We were receiving applications from parents living outside our nominal catchment area, outside our district and even from a neighbouring county. We now preferentially recruit youngsters from our village and surrounding villages if no scouting provision exists there.

  8. #7
    Assistant Beaver Leader Keith's Avatar
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    Jul 2004
    Ingleby Barwick, England
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    We had about 200 people on the waiting list at one point at our group and we had people putting their baby bumps on the waiting list.

    For the last few years the waiting list has been district based. You now have to be atleast 4 years old to be added to the list and you can select up to three choices of groups within the district. We still have one of the largest numbers on the waiting list wanting our group, but we've only ever had one of each section within the group. We are based on what was the largest housing estate in Europe and it's still growing - 30 years after the group was formed. Demand for places is high, so if we had the adult volunteers we could open more sections or district could create a new group (it sounds like the new DC might make that happen).

    All we do when we have spaces is contact the waiting list secretary at district and she gives us the next names on the waiting list to contact, and it works well.

    For us it means those on the waiting list have the chance to get a place at neighbouring groups where the demand for places isn't as high.
    Keith "Hawkeye"
    (Acting) Beaver Scout Section Leader (Woodbadge)
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    1st Ingleby Barwick (St Francis) Scout Group

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    Section Leaders, Assistant Section Leaders, Sectional Assistants, Occasional Helpers, etc.

  9. #8
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    I personally think we should only take applications to join at 5 3/4. Putting babies on the list is silly.

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  11. #9
    Senior Member bernwood's Avatar
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    Thame, Oxon
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    We never had a waiting list as such, if someone contacted us to join who was to young we told them to reapply when they were. We ran 3 Beaver groups, 3 Cub Packs, and 2 Scout packs so we had a fair capacity. I used to get 2-3 new cubs over each term, and at the end of each team about the same number of Beavers coming up. The pack would ebb and flow in numbers pretty naturally from about 22 to a high of 34, but we were never in a position we had to ask a YP to go elsewhere to another pack. The trick it seems is to get enough adults to run all the sections. I'm currently in an independent group where we run 6-13 year old in a single group, about 19 kids at present and we run that with two adults, in scouting that would take at least 5, maybe that's the long term solution, but it will never happen.

  12. #10
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    Newbb -
    You do not say where in the Country you are based - but does your County have a development officer? if so the Group should contact them and get their help; that is what they are there for. with all these houses being built has there been no attempt by Scouting to get space for a local Scout HQ? Scouting at County / Region level should be helping here, and unless you ask they wont.
    A week of camp life is worth six months of theoretical teaching in the meeting room. Baden-Powell

  13. #11
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    Jun 2006
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    I agree with those above who suggested not putting anyone on the list unless they were at least 4. Five might be better.. it gives you some idea how many children are wanting a space in the next year.
    Record the WL numbers on your census, so district and area are aware. If there is another group close enough see if they would like to take anyone off your list.
    Make a policy about who gets a place- priority for those who volunteer with the group and siblings etc
    No newcomers in higher sections until your current members are catered for.
    Let everyone know that you have only got (x) new spaces a year and there are (x) people already waiting.
    We got much better adult recruitment when we used to do this.

    Eventually we helped start another group, and now we no longer have a waiting list except for those who don't want to start immediately or want a particular evening which is currently full.

  14. #12
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    Apr 2016
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    Quote Originally Posted by shiftypete View Post
    I don't see what good closing a waiting list does it does not reduce the number of kids missing out on Scouting it just means you have hidden the issue and can't use the length of your waiting list as proof of high demand to try to persuade District to change their minds and try and help open more Groups.

    Our Cub and Scout waiting lists have been closed for 3 or 4 years. there is no way we can admit more, and having a waiting list just gives false hope to those on a list. Become a Leader and we will reconsider is our approach.

    For Beavers we manage a list carefully - people do apply 3 years in advance because that is the only way they will get a place. Population growth in the South is not going to change that. Once again we have a clear policy statement on how becoming a Leader may allow your son/daughter to jump the queue if you are on the list but not accepted because of numbers. We do carefully manage the Beaver capacity as that is the single most important factor that impacts on Cub and Scout capacity and the knock-on effect over-numbers has on leader retention and discipline.

    The big worry I have - that was touched on above, is that a big proportion of Groups are filling in the poorly written Census and stating we have zero waiting list for Cubs and Scouts - when the reality is the reverse: it is closed and if we did have one it would be very long. Goodness knows what SA is doing with this inaccurate data - and what policies it is forming to respond to it. (don't get me started on how inaccurate the ethnic and disability data is!)

  15. #13
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    Thanks everyone. Some interesting experiences & it's good to know we are not alone in tackling long waiting lists.

    A few of us had another chat recently and we are no further along.

    District can't / wont help. We had a development officer for 5 years. He helped start 2 new packs & a troop, but this was with leaders we had already found. The development officer was also looking at the other side of the district where there was no scouting. County are aware - but it is for district to deal with or more likely the group. What we really need is land to build a HQ on so we can run every night of the week. County will help us with grants but nothing else. With building land a premium, this isn't going to help with every field being snapped up by developers.

    By only allowing over 5s on the list, we would effectively be shutting the waiting list down. At the moment, we ware looking at a two year wait if you join the list on your 5th birthday, so you are more than likely to miss Beavers & join Cubs if there is space. We have already stopped taking children in to Beavers for less than 2 terms, it's not helpful. The younger children who are on the list are usually younger siblings who go on when the 5 year olds name goes down!Realistically, you need to put your name down when you're 3 & even then there is no promise you will get the night you want - it's all down to spaces.
    Our waiting list lady now tells the 5 year olds parents that it is unlikely their child will get a space & she is giving them the numbers of other groups.

    Ho hummmm

  16. #14
    ASL Kev's Avatar
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    If there is a lot of building work near you you may qualify for section 106 help. Talk to your local planning authority.

  17. #15
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    Yes we know. We just need to get hold of some land. The council & farmers keep selling it off to the developers. There is a lot of 106 money about.

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