Recruit More Volunteers


When the New Jersey State Police hosted a statewide Boy Scout camporee in 2004, the agency convinced many Scouts to think about careers in law enforcement. Last fall, the camporee was held again, and the Boy Scouts returned the favor. The Jersey Shore Council-the lead council of seven that participated- used the event to recognize and reengage adult Eagle Scouts.

The effort culminated in an Eagle Scout reception hosted by Major General Glenn Rieth, adjutant general of New Jersey, commanding the New Jersey Army and Air National Guard, which co-hosted the camporee. More than 500 Eagle Scouts attended the reception, including 70 newly identified Eagle Scouts within the ranks of the New Jersey State Police.

Each Eagle Scout received General Reith’s challenge coin, a tangible reminder of their special status as “marked men” in their communities. “It’s a tool we can use to recruit merit badge counselors, unit leaders, assistant leaders, and committee members,” said Council Commissioner Michael Palmer.

Many of the Eagle Scouts within the State Police have joined the recently formed New Jersey State Troopers Eagle Scout Association, a group whose goal is to support the Scouting program while enhancing the police agency’s image. “They were instrumental in helping make this event the success that it was. Their enthusiasm was so evident,” said Council President Robert Warner.

The troopers’ enthusiasm has already extended beyond the camporee. Recently, they’ve helped with such projects as teaching members of an inner-city Trenton troop to swim- an important step toward becoming Eagle Scouts.

The road to the Eagle Scout Award often begins at a Cub Scout school night, the first encounter many boys-and their parents-have with Scouting. Parents who attend school nights in the Quivira Council in Kansas hear a simple message: We expect you to volunteer.

“Each one of them is essentially required to register and do something for that unit,” said Scout Executive Fred Meijering. “We don’t start off by begging. We start off by expecting.” As a result, the council has nearly doubled its volunteer base in three years.

According to Vice President for Membership Brad Bechtel, it’s critical to recruit volunteers at school night. “Parents are rarely more excited about the program than they are that night,” he said.

But it’s just as important to use the right language. Presenters avoid the L-word-“leader”-and talk instead about being a volunteer. “The word ‘leader’ scares people,” Bechtel said.

Of course, the council does need up-front leaders-men and women who can run district committees, serve on the council executive board, and coordinate financial campaigns. Through a renewed emphasis on the nominating process, the council has significantly raised the caliber of its board-level volunteers in recent years.

According to Council President Sam Williams, the board is quickly becoming a “board of choice” in the Wichita area. “We are able to go right to the top of any company in this town and ask for their support,” he said.

That support has helped the council nearly double its Friends of Scouting giving while raising more than $5 million for its capital campaign. Much of that money was solicited by Jack Pelton, a volunteer identified through the nominating process. When he’s not raising money for Scouting, Pelton serves as chairman, president, and CEO of Cessna Aircraft Company.



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