Sunday, January 29, 2012

A Few Girl Scout Recruitment Ideas

Recruitment in Girl Scouts has often relied heavily on the good will of the educational system. In other words, volunteers held round ups or sent home flyers via the schools. When the schools are willing, this can be highly effective.

As one leader put it though, "National doesn't seem to understand that schools are no longer welcoming Girl Scouts with open arms." The reason behind the closure of these doors to Girl Scouts seems to boil down to potential lawsuits and political correctness.

Even though Girl Scouts is covered by an ample insurance policy, this is not enough to pry open the doors. In cases where it is, troops and neighborhoods can find themselves subject to fees that are burdensome to the point of being prohibitive.

In the realm of political correctness, particularly in the case of schools, the argument is that if Girl Scouts, which is not a school organization, is allowed to recruit on campus, then the door is open for any organization to recruit. As frustrating as that argument is, it has merit, and if a school is uniformly denying access to its students to any outside organization, then it is also fair.

So what are school organizers or other neighborhood recruiters to do? Being visible in the community is the single best advertisement for Girl Scouts. The first thing that can be done is to encourage established troops to encourage girls to wear their uniforms, serving in essence as walking advertisements. To take this a step further, a "wear your uniform to school" day could be organized to increase the impact.

At my school, when I was a school organizer, I established a "back to Scouts" night event that was held at a public venue, in our case an ice rink. We held the event during a public skate so that returning Scouts and potential Scouts could attend without concerns for insurance. The rink even gave us a group discount. The girls could get a taste of Scouting and parents could chat with me about opportunities in Girl Scouts. Similar events could be held at any public venue that has public events, such as a swimming pool, a roller rink, or a goofy golf course.

Recruiters should also consider the other places in their neighborhood that kids frequent, such as churches, parks, and libraries. Once these sites are identified, appropriate strategies, such as a note in the church bulletin, a park round up or other activity, or the posting of flyers can be evaluated and implemented. In the end, the "right" strategy is going depend on the particulars of any community and the choices are only limited to one's imagination.

As a final note, another "recruitment strategy" is retention. Girls who are happy in the program will tell their friends. This approach is perhaps the only way to recruit when girls are older. Older girls are not likely to form new troops but established troops can grow through the years as girls invite their friends to join in the fun!