SIKESTON -- Following a dip in involvement in Cub Scouts over recent years, those involved with the organization devoted to 6 to 10-year-olds are giving more attention to recruitment this year.
"The numbers are kind of low, but we're trying to do some recruiting for the area," said Shawn Evans, chairman for School Night to Join Scouting for Pack 41. The pack has a "School Night to Join Scouting" planned for 7 p.m. Thursday at the First United Methodist Church Fellowship Hall in Sikeston.
Lee Walters, Cub master for Pack 41, said "they are putting a little bit more effort into it this year." That includes presentations and sign-up nights through schools, churches and other civic organizations.
Walters pointed out while Cub Scouts focuses on the children, it's not all about them. "Cub Scouts is a family-based deal," he said. "It's not so much that you recruit the children, you recruit the families, too."
Parents are asked to be involving in activities such as camping trips, plus volunteer. But Walters said that time is valuable.
"There's that small window of opportunity there between the ages of 6 and 10 to spend quality time with your kids and teach them to do good deeds," he said. "It's a time that you have an influence on your child."
Nick Amann, district executive for Boy Scouts USA, pointed out there are four Cub Scout packs in Sikeston, each associated with a specific school or church. However, those lines aren't strict and one can join whatever pack they feel most comfortable with.
He called events such as the School Night to Join Scouting outreach efforts. "It opens up the world of Scouting," he said.
Walters agreed. He said that anyone who is just curious about Scouting should come to listen and ask questions on Thursday. "Come out and here the presentation, and then decide," he said.
Amann said there is a lot of nostalgia about Scouting, but that doesn't necessarily equate to membership numbers. "We're trying to get the message out to them that Scouting is still relevant," he said. "The things we teach make them better persons, which in turn creates a better community and better country."
Faith is also a big part of Scouts. "For about four out of 10 boys that join, their first exposure to church is on Scout Sunday," said Amann. "Scouting does have the belief in God, but we're also not going to tell someone how to believe in God and what that means."
Evans said the organization helps build self-esteem and confidence for its members. "The key thing is to be a good citizen," he said. "It helps develop the character of a young boy."
There are also quite a few outdoor and craft activities, he said, which prepare the boys for Boy Scouts, plus teaches life lessons.
"They learn to be self-sufficient, the responsibilities of taking care of themselves and being kind to others," said Evans. "We want to create an atmosphere to make the boys think about what they're doing and help them to feel confident and boost their morale."
Amann said the lifelong benefits of being a member of the Boy Scouts organization are big -- those boys are more likely to graduate high school, attend and graduate college, and several other things. He noted that for those who go on to earn their Eagle Scout degree, it makes them more likely to get a job interview, and even gives an automatic promotion in the military.
He also went on to say Boy Scouts isn't trying to compete for children to participate in the organization instead of other activities. "We want kids who are involved in other activities, but we also know there's that underserved population that would benefit greatly from Scouting," he said.
More information is available by checking out the region's Web site, www.stlbsa.org, or by calling Amann at 380-2179.