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Thread: Build it and they will come...

  1. #1
    Senior Member Bushfella's Avatar
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    Build it and they will come...

    Throughout my scouting career, in and out of TSA, I have experimented with different ideas to keep things going. The reality, I think, is that there is no single route to building a group. Sometimes one way works, sometimes another. Sometimes one form of Leadership is reqired, sometimes another.

    Now, forget that I run Navigators, let's just imagine they are a scout group. Like any scout group, people come and go.

    Well, we started with 20 and numbers rose to 30, and all was going very well. We took a party of older Navigators (scouts/ explorers) to the Ardennes and they had a fantastic time. When we came home, some were talking of "the next trip". However, an older set withn the Group, became distant, disengaged, and diffcult to get any positive input from. They became nihilistic in their attitude. ( In hindsight I have an idea of who this was initiated by, but for the life of me cannot understand why it impacted about 15 members - all of the same age group, and not all in the same set. Well, we lost them, all at once, and not one individual gave any resignation note, nor sent a thank you, nothing, they just stopped coming.

    Anyway, the point is that they voted with their feet and I'm not sure why. I gave them what they wanted and it wasn't what they wanted... apparently.

    So, with numbers down, we put certain plans on hold. We just kept things going with the ones who had stayed with us, but at 15, we were at break even point in membership. We picked up a couple, we lost a couple. and we thought, okay, one last fling, and we ran a trip to Alsace. It was to be our last, and if things didn't work out, the future of the Group was in question.

    The last week of the holiday we only had eight turn up, and none of the older ones came, nor did they notify us. We thought, "Here we go again".

    However, we carried on as if there were no problem. First night back we had 22, this week I got a call, "My daughter would like to join Navigators. Do you have spaces?" Turns out the lass is 14, and has heard from her mates at school, who are members and who came to Alsace, that Navs (scouts, explorers) is amazing and great fun. Our numbers have climbed back up to 25 and we are in the clear again.

    I'm not sure how we have done this, but I suspect that it is word of mouth from the Navs talking about what we do to their mates at school. It turns out to be a better recruiting tool than any of the posters, pr appearences at events or work on social media. (However, social media is where we have found the people to make Junior Navigators reopen.)

    Someone also told me that having been around for four years, going on five, we have been seen to be reputable and people know that we are "a thing". So maybe, we have built something, and like they say, people are coming...

    NB - I am not knocking Scouts at all, I am considering that simply being there is often not enough to make a scout group happen, it needs to be seen to be something more, it needs effort, it needs work, it needs people, it needs programme, it needs the right young people as members.
    Ewan Scott

    It seems that there are a lot of Nawyecka Comanch around....





    Nawyecka Comanch'": "Means roundabout--man says he's going one way, means to go t'other" Ethan Edwards - The Searchers



    www.upperdearnevalleynavigators.org.uk

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    Ewan

    I am delighted to hear that your continued hard work is paying off.

    I think that it is really tough to keep small groups afloat as their numbers fluctuate. To lose 50% of the group must have been really demoralising. I am appalled that none of the parents of those that left had the decency to contact you to explain why.

    I think that you are correct that word of mouth is critical to a group's success. But it is of course a chicken and egg situation. You can not get effective word of mouth unless you have enough members in the first place.

    With a small group you are also at the mercy of the 'alpha child' - you only need one child with real influence in the play group to either support you or attack you and it can have a big effect. Larger groups are more insulated from the effect.

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    Senior Member Bushfella's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hippysurfer View Post
    I am appalled that none of the parents of those that left had the decency to contact you to explain why.
    Two parents had two kids each, the older ones left, the younger ones stayed.

    Apparently three of the group were intending to come back but pressure was put on them by one individual and they decided not to come back after all. Another two were doing great at kayaking, very good paddlers, and great to have at meetings, I spoke to their mother and she could not get any idea out of them why they weren't coming back.

    The only incident that I can recall was when one individual gave a really crass response to a serious question and I, at that point fed up with the nihilism, turned the tables on him and said "Whatever!" and went off to work with kids who actually gave a damn.

    We can't win them all, all we can do is try to build the best that we can. I'm not particularly into the numbers game since we left Scouts, but I think that we are doing okay now.
    Ewan Scott

    It seems that there are a lot of Nawyecka Comanch around....





    Nawyecka Comanch'": "Means roundabout--man says he's going one way, means to go t'other" Ethan Edwards - The Searchers



    www.upperdearnevalleynavigators.org.uk

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    Senior Member bernwood's Avatar
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    You can't please everyone all the , just do your thing with all the enthusiasm you can muster. Keep it real, discard what doesn't work and try something else, sooner or later it usually comes good.

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    Those that dont want to come - fine. Scouting, Navigators, etc cannot be all things to all people.

    Those that are put off coming either by internal pressure forcing them out, or external pressure stopping them joining - now thats a real shame.

    Kids can be right nasty things sometimes!

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    ESL and DESC ianw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bushfella View Post
    I am considering that simply being there is often not enough to make a scout group happen, it needs to be seen to be something more, it needs effort, it needs work, it needs people, it needs programme, it needs the right young people as members.
    Yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes. Looks like our explorer unit is down to about 10 members. The group we meet at has three troops, and there's another troop in our catchment....we *should* be bursting at the seams. We aren't. It's okay, ish, because the kids are great, though last night they were in a funny mood, first night back syndrome I guess. Anyway, work to do. Looked at the explorer notice board, most recent picture is from four summer camps ago, where did that time go? Work to do. Put a poster up, I should get some more photos done. Need to get an e-newsletter going round the district, or supply copy for the DC notes. Work to do. It's a constant cycle, spinning plates I suppose. Looks like I've got a few wobbly ones that need attention.
    Ian Wilkins
    Farnham District Explorer Scout Commissioner

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    Agree on the cycle thing - we've always been pretty threadbare for leaders in Cubs - last night we had five of us with two more SA's available if we need to call on them.

    On the other hand we only had 16 kids (which made it a pleasant evening). I know we had one more than couldn't come and apologised with another two that are frustratingly random in their attendance but it looks like with the number of leaders we have we might have to start working down the waiting list a bit. Which in turn makes for an interesting challenge elsewhere as the Scout Troop is full and full of 11 and 12 year olds who aren't going to move up any time soon. (Obviously it depends whether they all come back as nearly all of them started secondary school last week which can be a bit of a game changer).

    As Ian says - work to do - but when you consider a couple of years ago around this time we had a Cub pack, Beavers clinging to life with one leader and a parent rota and no Scouts, we're a lot better placed and in the process of trying to do a potentially 6 figure sum overhaul on the site. Sometimes its just that time!
    Does anyone know what's going on?

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    Quote Originally Posted by campwarden View Post
    Those that dont want to come - fine. Scouting, Navigators, etc cannot be all things to all people.

    Those that are put off coming either by internal pressure forcing them out, or external pressure stopping them joining - now thats a real shame.

    Kids can be right nasty things sometimes!
    We've got 6 kids going up to Scouts together at half term, all from the same class at school (and 2 from another school). I was chatting to them on Monday about finishing bits for their CS Silver when it struck me (these things pass you by when they happen bit by bit) that only two of them had come up from Beavers, the other 4 had joined one by one over the two years because their friends at school told them it was great. Kids can be right brilliant sometimes!
    John Russell
    ex-CSL now ACSL 1st Pinhoe Exeter Devon
    Cubs don't care how much you know, but they need to know how much you care.

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    Sea Scout Leader richardnhunt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ianw View Post
    Yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes. Looks like our explorer unit is down to about 10 members. The group we meet at has three troops, and there's another troop in our catchment....we *should* be bursting at the seams. We aren't. It's okay, ish, because the kids are great, though last night they were in a funny mood, first night back syndrome I guess. Anyway, work to do. Looked at the explorer notice board, most recent picture is from four summer camps ago, where did that time go? Work to do. Put a poster up, I should get some more photos done. Need to get an e-newsletter going round the district, or supply copy for the DC notes. Work to do. It's a constant cycle, spinning plates I suppose. Looks like I've got a few wobbly ones that need attention.
    I know. I think itís more like juggling - every so often you need to concentrate on one ball to keep the pattern going. Poor metaphore but I know what you mean

    Rich

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    Quote Originally Posted by richardnhunt View Post
    I know. I think it’s more like juggling - every so often you need to concentrate on one ball to keep the pattern going. Poor metaphore but I know what you mean

    Rich
    I like to visualise it as the scene in The Wrong Trousers where Grommit is laying the tracking in front of the moving train.

    If you stop laying track for just a moment there is going to be a nasty crash.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jrmZIgVoQw4

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