When new young people come along to visit a Brigade night, they are likely to be:
- Wondering how will I fit in / feel welcomed by the other young people or the leaders.
- Worried I will come across as stupid, as I don’t know much about what happens or what the group is all about.
- Worried that this group is too strict or does nothing that will interest me.
- Wondering what motivates people to willingly wear that formal uniform.
Parents are likely to be:
- Worried that this group is short-lived with no track record.
- Worried their son will get involved in this, pressuring them into spending a huge amount of money, and then abandon the group shortly after to pursue something else
- Worried that this group has no accountability and their son is likely to be not cared for, hurt through carelessness or lack of controls, hurt because of bad leaders, preyed upon by perverted men
- Uncertain of how overzealous the group will be about imposing Christian doctrine and church expectations on their son or themselves
If we do little to actively address these issues, many will formulate their own negative answers.
Treating them on the night.
One of the reasons why all leaders should get there and ensure they are ready for the night, in advance of when the program is scheduled to start is so they can greet and welcome the young people and their parents as they arrive. As the young people stream in, be on the watch out for new people. Make sure you introduce yourself to them, so you can announce their visit to Brigade that night. Try to record their details either before parade starts or sometime during the night (name, contact address, telephone number, & name of friend who invited them).
Although you can involve them on parade, it is better to have their friend or a spare leader stand with them on the side lines to explain to them what happens during the opening parade as it unfolds in front of them. This way there is never any awkwardness of their part of trying to work out what to do, or feeling a fraction behind everyone else. So grab their friend, reassure them their uniform will be marked even though they are on the sidelines with the visitor, and tell him to give a running commentary of what is going on.
Start the parade. If you prefer not to get them standing on the sidelines, or you only notice visitors when they have already lined up on parade, mention to the parade we have guests tonight and ask them to identify themselves.
Mention any visitor’s name to the whole group at opening parade and get the parade to welcome them.
Try to make sure you make personal contact once during the night:
- What do you like to do?
- How did they meet the person who invited them here?
- Who brought them here and who’s picking them up?
- Are they involved with any other groups or have they been outside of school?
At closing parade, thank them for coming on the night, and if appropriate get the parade to clap them. Make sure you or another leader talks to them personally before they leave and that they get a take-home package about BB.
The take home package
Make sure he takes home something.
A letter is explaining what BB is about. You should also supply a list of leaders (or a Company specific handbook), a program of upcoming events (to excite them to come back) & an enrollment form.
You may also want to throw in a small chocolate bar or something as a reward for being there.
An alternative approach: Suggested starter kit
As a way of introducing someone to Brigade initially in a low cost way, this kit could be purchased and will also cover one term of Brigade program. Getting a full BB uniform later would be up to the individual, and if they like BB, the Company can arrange staged payments for uniform to get them slowly from a more informal uniform into full BB kit…time frame hopefully 6 months.