Recruiting, in my opinion, is the most difficult aspect of Sea Scouting. For those of us that are already scouts know what a great program it is, but not many others do. So, here are some tactics to help grow your ships’ crews.
- Be welcoming. This may seem obvious, but it is more complicated than you may think. Crews often form very tight bonds with each other, and this expected and really the point of scouts. We must remember, however, that when a visitor is at the base inside jokes can make him or her feel excluded, and no one wants to be that one outsider. To prevent this, each ship member can make sure the new person is involved in an activity, and not the one that no one wants to do. Make joining the ship as easy and as fun as possible.
- Push an interested teen a bit. If you have someone interested, tell them to come to your base immediately. Do not say, “Come down sometime.” Bring them to the next activities day. Bother them until they join in on the fun.
- Target the right age. In today’s busy world, most kids already have so many commitments by their freshman year that they don’t have time for scouts. Try to recruit 8th graders or the freshman at the beginning of the year.
- Make it a competition. My ship often has recruiting competitions where the crew that recruits the most people gets a free cruise. We often get competitive and find large numbers of recruits.
- Take groups out cruising. Bring adults, teens, and even young kids out on your ship. Adults help spread the word about sea scouts to other parents and colleagues. Obviously, teens that enjoy themselves will join. They are also more comfortable and likely to stay in the ship if they have a friend with them. Young kids are an opportunity to excite a future generation about scouts and build a bank of dedicated future recruits. Welcome everyone! You don’t know where the next recruit will come from. School classes, summer camps, and church groups are all great groups to take out for the day.
Those are my tips to help build your ship. My final note is that not everyone is made for scouting. We all have those friends who say, “Wow! That’s so cool!”, but then won’t ever come down to the base. Often they say, “Oh, I can’t swim” or “Oh, I’m busy”. Of course, try to convince them to come down one day, but the truth is they may not. Don’t get discouraged, just try someone else.