Scout Shows and Stamp Collecting
A. Zach Hirash Jr.

Most Boy Scout Councils in the United States conduct an annual Scout Show.  The purposes are usually five fold:

  1. To provide additional program material for Packs, Troops, Posts;
  2. To give adult and junior leaders an opportunity to see in action, many program ideas;
  3. To show the general public - parents, relatives, friends, and interested people - exactly what Scouting is about... and what it is doing for youth in their area;
  4. To help recruit new people into the program on a unit, district, and council basis;
  5. To provide income from the ticket sales to units and to help the operating budget of local councils.

There are two types of shows: arena and booth.  The arena show is popular now.  The audience is seated and a full show is performed by Scouts as "actors."  Basically we are concerned with a booth show - or "walk around" type.  Here various Scouting units set up live action booth demonstrations showing skills, crafts, programs, and merit badges.

If you are going to be involved in a booth on Stamp Collecting - the key is live action.  When people come to a Scout show they want to see boys and young men and young women in action!  You might have the most beautiful and complete collection of Scouts on Stamps mounted around the walls and on stands in your booth, but if there is nothing happening inside, the only people you will attract are other stamp collectors.

If you want to attract an audience, to turn on Scouts and the general public to our hobby, to stimulate some Scouts into pursuing Stamp Collecting Merit Badge are a few key points:

• Make sure that you are completely set up when the show opens its doors, and keep the booth in action until the advertised closing time.

• Display stamps around the walls of the booth (most booths are 8x10 or 10x10 in size with 6 foot backs and low sides.  Show variety. Make it colorful.

• Have a good size sign, even hand lettered, showing the requirements to earn the Stamp Collecting Merit Badge. Color a large size replica of the actual badge.

Involve the public in some of the action at the tables in the booth:

Remember, Scout Show committees have regulations that usually prohibit the sale of merchandise or the taking of orders for future delivery.  Don't get involved in that phase of our hobby at the show.

Have material on hand about SOSSI if people ask, but don't make new memberships the main purpose of the booth.

Wear your uniform with the correct insignia.  The impression you make on other Scouts and the public will pay off.

Always make sure that there are at least two Scouts in the booth.  Remember that you have material of value, and while one is explaining or demonstrating something about the hobby, the other will be keeping an eye on the displays.

You can be successful...and add to others enjoyment of this great activity of stamp following the above suggestions.

REMEMBER...make it live, make it colorful, make it fun!

The author served as the National Director, Activities Service, Boy Scouts of America.
SOSSI JOURNAL, Volume 25, Number 5, May 1976.
Updates and modifications by Keith Larson, 1998.