As members join your group, there must be someone to help them get involved. Someone to show them the ropes, teach them about Scouting and its basic tenets, and show them how Scouting helps youth in the community.

What's the first thing that happens to a new member in your group? The first moments of a new member's "Scouting life" are crucial. The amount of information new members receive, as well as the way in which they receive it, will have an effect on their willingness to remain members. The attention new members receive from current members will shape the new members' attitudes in a positive way. Some questions you might ask include:

Do new members receive an orientation about Scouting and its service to the community?

Have new members been introduced to the group committee and leaders?

Do new members know the group's goals and objectives for the year?

Have new members been informed about upcoming projects and invited to participate in them?

Does the group know the special talents of its new members? Perhaps the new member joined the group to share something in particular, such as a flair for games or outdoor projects -- so ask that person to help.

Does the group know the special interests of new members?

The faster new members are drawn into the organization, to become "contributing" members, the more worthwhile the membership will be, both to the group and the members themselves.

If your group doesn't have an orientation process for new members, now can be a great time to begin. Look at the leaders of your section.

Decide how to assign responsibilities so that everyone in the section plays a part. Sample topics might be:

Who and what is Scouts Canada?

What can members expect from the Scouts Canada?

What opportunities are available through our group/district/region?

How does a group fit into the district/regional and provincial organizations?

What are the Objects and mission statement of Scouts Canada?

Whom does Scouting serve?

Answers to these questions and more can be found in BP&P, Provincial By-laws & Procedures, etc. These books covers the national, provincial and local organizations, their governing concepts, policies and structures, and much more.

You can schedule a new member orientation any time. It might even be a good idea to have one every few months, to catch new members joining later in the year. These orientations don't have to be formal affairs. They can be held during membership meetings or prior to a meeting when you know several new members will be attending. A new member orientation can be conducted with a group of new members, or one-on-one.

The important thing is to do it -- give your new members the chance to see, from the very beginning, what Scouting can and does do. And give your new members and your current members the opportunity to meet each other, to make your local group an organization in which all members work together to make a difference.

Reproduced for by permission of Scouter Douglas Moore - Nova Scotia