Recently at Roundtable, I noticed a Den Leader which was attending for the first time. She looked a bit confused about the whole evening. I went up to her and asked her if she needed any help. I figured she was not sure which room to go to. I was surprised when she was blunt and said, “After just a few months the boys in our new Cub Scout Pack want to invite others and I am afraid I do not know what to do. We started with 8 boys and this could double the size of Pack. I thought I would come here to get some advice.”
There are times when I wish people were more direct with their conversation and thankfully this was one of them. I asked a few commissioners to join me and all of us went to a room to exchange ideas. On reflecting about this meeting, I realized many of these things directly relate to popcorn. Here is a summary of ideas that came out of that dialog.
1. Training – The first item that came up was if she and all of the other leaders had attending Training. She had stated she attended the last Basic Leader Training and that is how she found out about Roundtable. She was not sure about others. If they had more Scouts they would have to at least split the group which means more people need to be trained. As a start, we offered to conduct Youth Protection Training for all the parents at a meeting.
- This is the first step with Popcorn. The Unit Kernel and Assistants should all attend training.
2. Leadership (More specifically how many adults are involved in the Unit) – Because this was a new Unit, it was really run by three people and the others were not asked to be involved because of “other commitments”. As stated earlier, it was prevalent more adults need to be involved. I recommended to her it was important to set the expectations with new parents that they need to help out in some way to support the Unit. If you set this expectation up front, it will be far easier to get everyone to participate in the future.
- It is important to get more than one person on the team when it comes to popcorn. You can divide the tasks into different roles to spread the load.
3. Calendar – We asked if she had a calendar of the events coming up to hand to these new Scout families. The Unit currently only had the next two months planned. We arranged to have one of the commissioners come to her house to discuss with her how to plan a calendar for the entire year. In addition, we wanted to keep in mind the thought of having twice as many Scouts they currently had.
- With popcorn, it is important to establish a calendar as soon as possible. This would include a Popcorn Kickoff, Show and Sell Dates, Order Turn In, Money Turn In, and Reward Event
4. Capital – I decided to use the word ‘capital’ because it was more than just money. I asked if they conducted a Pinewood Derby Race. They said they wanted to but were not sure how to get a track. Fortunately, we were able to hook them up with another Unit that was not only willing to let them use their track but run the whole program for them the first year. Because they were a new Unit, they started late on popcorn and could only do Take Order the final two weeks of the sale. This was enough to pay for awards, location rental and Pinewood Derby Cars but not much else. Another commissioner agreed to meet with them after they created their calendar to help them establish a budget for the following year.
- It is important to know what your plans are so you know how much money needs to be raised and then set popcorn sales goals enough to cover the entire program year.
5. Day Camp – Camp is the primary item which retain youth from year to year. She did not know if they were going to camp because they did not have the money for it and really did not know that much about it. Fortunately our Council has an opportunity fund that will pay for half of the cost of camp to help out Scouts just like this group. We gave her the contact information of the person at the Council Office who could help.
- Camp is usually the largest expense for a Unit and should be the number one reason for Units to participate in a popcorn fundraiser. Camp should always be included in a Unit Budget.
I know our new Den Leader appreciated all of the help she received. At least she knows where to come for help.
Here are some items to consider if your Unit suddenly doubled in size:
- More adult help?
- Larger meeting location?
- More money for awards?
- New set of patrol gear for an additional patrol?
- Larger or new Pinewood Derby track?
- Targeted activities for different age groups like Tigers vs. Webelos or New Scouts vs. Older Scouts?
- A new trailer to haul all of your gear?
- More organized fundraisers?
- Larger locations to go camping?
I hope you have this conversation with your Unit committees to “Be Prepared” for others wanting to join your successful program.