All Sea Scout Ships should plan a springtime open house for new members. One strategy for an open house is “Collaborative Recruiting,” which is when multiple Sea Scout Ships work together. This can be for a council open house for multiple Ships, or help an existing Ship increase its members, or help launch a new Sea Scout Ship. Prospective Sea Scouts seeing a larger number of Sea Scouts creates an atmosphere of excitement. Collaborative recruiting is especially helpful for a new Sea Scout Ship in recruiting its first five members to charter.
Every Sea Scout Ship should set a date for a spring open house for new members. Here are two recent case studies from September and December highlighting successful collaborative recruiting:
The Pacific Skyline Council Open House
The Sea Scouts of Pacific Skyline Council held a “back to school” open house in September.
The individual Ships promoted the open house in their respective communities, from printed material, to boosted social media campaigns, to paying to appear at the top of Google searches for youth boating in their area. The council also promoted the event in the weekly newsletter.
The Ships worked together the day of the open house with hands-on activities, from knots, to heavy line, to demonstrating regattas events. These activities were followed by a barbecue and short cruise on the different boats.
Launching a New Ship in the Silicon Valley Monterey Bay Council
The South Bay Yacht Club in Alviso, which is part of San Jose, California, started a new kayaking focused Sea Scout Ship in late 2016. The new volunteers organized a substantial email campaign to invite prospective members down on December 10, 2016. Other promotional efforts included emails at the district level. Limited printed flyers were posted on community boards at Starbucks close to the charter partner.
Sea Scout Ships from San Francisco, Alameda, and Napa, attended the open house to help the new Sea Scout Ship. The Ships had the following Plans of the Day, for good weather and rain:
Plan A: Good Weather Options
Sea Scout Videos playing in SBYC
Kayaks: Four kayaks to be used. At least two Sea Scouts to assist with visitors to get on kayaks at launch ramp and head towards South Bay Yacht Club.
Knot Boards: Ask visiting Ships to bring knot boards. At least two Sea Scouts to help show how to tie knots.
Ring Buoy and/or Heaving Line: Ideally three ring buoys. Two Sea Scouts assist with mentoring visitors on how to throw a ring buoy.
Boat Rides in Motorwhale Boat: Yacht Club member to take prospective Sea Scouts out for a short cruise.
Plan B: Rainy Weather
Sea Scout Videos playing in SBYC
Knot Boards: At least two Sea Scouts to help show how to tie knots.
Radio: Sea Scouts show visitors how to properly send radio messages.
Navigation: Charts and piloting equipment on tables. Sea Scout mentors to show how to plot courses. Use observation deck to show how to take visual fixes with hand bearing compass.
Lifejackets and Survival Suits: Sea Scouts show guests how to put on Lifejackets and Survival Suits.
Approximately 100 people attended the open house on a rainy December day, ranging from interested youth, to parents, to youth who will be proper Sea Scout age by the end of the school year. Other local boating organizations were present to help support the open house. The District Executive was present at the open house to help with processing the paperwork of interested youth. The new Ship 300 had six member applications by the end of the open house, allowing them to officially charter.
Planning an Open House
The Sea Scouts of the Pacific Skyline Council prepared a white paper on how to organize an open house step by step available on SeaScout.org. Here are tips from the white paper that are explained for a successful open house:
Select a Date;
Communicate the date to the Council for promotion in the Council Newsletter and at the District meetings from the District Commissioners;
Promote the event on online community groups, such as Nextdoor and the Patch;
Strategically placed printed marketing material on community boards, such as Starbucks, Teen Center of Library, Grocery Stores, and similar locations; and
Parental support in getting the schools to include the event in the school newsletter.
We’re All on the Same Boat
Sea Scout recruiting requires planning and a positive attitude. Sea Scout Ships collaborating in recruiting allows prospective Sea Scouts to see our program in action. At the end of the day, we are all in the same boat as Sea Scouts. Working together empowers our Ships to increase in membership, especially new Ships and those who need help. All Ships are encouraged to plan an open house and work with other Ships that need assistance, so our program can continue to grow in 2017.