by Guest Columnist Roley Kiser
Editors Note: If you are having difficulty getting your Scouts or their
parents interested in a Troop activity, you might find the answer in Kisers
approach. He used the same method companies have used for decades to sell a product. He
advertised. His public relations consisted of giving it a catchy name, building
anticipation, and using interesting visuals.
Most Scouters know one of the hardest times of year to get kids to go camping is
Christmas time. In 1992 the only weekend we had enough adults to
go camping was the weekend before Christmas. This is how we solved our "December
During the planning meeting in October, we hammered out the first of many
"Christmas Campouts". It would prove to work better than anyone thought it
At that time, our Troop consisted of eight boys. About half were regular campers. When
you have two or three adults and two or three boys on a campout, the boys who go get a lot
of attention. However, unless you have a good young assistant Scoutmaster with you, it can
sometimes be the wrong kind of attention. Boys don't go camping to be hassled. They go
camping to have fun. My personal motto is, "Thou Shalt Not Hassle". Since the
youth participation at the last few campouts was low, the adults were complaining about
camping with so few boys. A big campout was needed to stop all the whiners. We decided to
work hard at promoting this Christmas campout. Here is what we did.
The first week of the November we made up a flyer. It said,
"Big Christmas campout! Be there for all the fun! More details coming up later."
I gave this out at a troop meeting, along with the planning details of our November
campout. The buzz around the November campfire was about what we were going to do at the
Christmas campout. The first week in December we made up another flyer. It had a picture
of snow covered pine trees with one decorated as a Christmas tree with presents around it.
It read, "Come to the Christmas campout! Lots of fun, stories, eats, and gifts. Meet
at the Scout-house Friday Dec. 17 at 5:00 p.m. and we will return at 11:00 Sunday
As things turned out that particular Friday was the last day the kids would be in
School until after the first of the year. "One more nail", I thought, "in
the coffin of Christmas camping."
The next meeting I gave this quick update, "For the
Christmas party at the next campout you will need to bring an exchange gift worth at least
ten and no more than twenty dollars. This is for every participant including all adults
In most of my troops it has been difficult getting parents to go camping. These results
were amazing! Not only did all the boys go but also three dads went to the party. The dads
brought gifts, too. We had a nice exchange, good fun and an all around good campout. This
was a cabin campout since, around here, the only thing more unpredictable than the weather
is when the Browns will win their next game.
The "Christmas Campout" has proven to be a good idea. The turnout is always
better than regular cabin camping in the winter months. It brings the boys out for the
weekend. That is, after all, what we are trying to do.
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