Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Social networking and local Scouting

Many of the adults in our Troop are actively using social networking tools to stay connected and build relationships. This began with Facebook and now is evolving to include Twitter and Blogger.

Facebook: Several of the Troop Adult leadership and older youth are on Facebook. My account is not exclusive to Scouting and every “friend” is someone I know personally. I also have set up photo albums for campouts and upload pictures directly from my phone during our weekend adventures as well as summer camp. These pictures allow followers to see real time the fun we are having on campouts. My wife and other parents have really enjoyed the little window into the fun we are having. My Facebook Troop Scout youth friends get to see what they are missing!

Twitter: I see Twitter more as a tool for getting to know people around the country and world that I might not connect with otherwise. To this end, I have created and maintain two accounts. @okcscouter is only for my life as a Scout leader. Here my goal is to connect with other Scout folks. I also recently used this account to micro-blog our recent summer camp experience. Several Troop adults followed these updates and the feedback was great. This micro-blogging included real time uploads of pictures using twitpic.

Blogger: Speaking of summer camp, our Committee Chair @imasoonerfan used this tool to blog our summer camp experience. Again, this was another outlet for the parents, grandparents and others to keep up to date daily about our camp experience http://troop168summercamp.blogspot.com/2009/06/camp-alexander-2009.html Those interested could read a daily synopsis of our trip, view pictures and leave comments.

Why do all of this?
It goes back to staying connected and building relationships. Sure we are 100% boy run but the buy in and encouragement of the adult at home is critical to Scout success and retention. We have many involved parents but there are also those that due to other obligations will not be able to attend campouts and meetings. Connecting to the Troop through social networking gives them the inside scoop of our activity and in way lets them in the mind of the leaders who are spending so much time working with the youth. It also gives them another avenue for involvement and engagement.

What about you? Is your Unit leadership using social networking to stay connected, build relationships, and encourage retention? I would love to hear your ideas and thoughts.