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Before You Enlist and After You Say No

Before You Enlist and After You Say No

The cover of Before You Enlist And After You Say No

This new training manual contains:

  • Fifty group exercises
  • Eight complete workshops
  • Handouts and support articles

All tools designed with the direct education approach, which uses group exercises that emphasize participants' empowerment and taps their wisdom as much as possible, not a boring lecture-based teaching approach.

For more information about ordering a copy along with the companion DVD, see our publications page (ON SALE for $7.50!).


We asked The Ruckus Society and Training for Change to help us create a training manual to assist the growing counter-recruitment movement. The Ruckus Society has played a lead role in the Not Your Soldier counter-recruitment camps. Their experience, coupled with Training for Change's direct education approach, produced a result that is a pedagogically sound, information-packed series of workshops with a skill-building emphasis. Matt Smucker of the smartMeme collective and Beyond The Choir also contributed by writing the Media and Messaging workshop.

What is in This Manual?

Table of Contents

  • Introduction 
  • What Is The American Friends Service Committee?
  • What Is AFSC's Youth And Militarism Program?
  • What Is This Manual? How Do I Use It?
  • What Are The Contents Of Each Workshop?
  • What Is The Training Methodology?
  • Who Wrote The Manual?
  • Workshops
  • Elements Of Each Workshop
  • Before You Enlist: The Truth Of Military Recruitment
  • The Poverty Draft
  • How A Recruiter Gets Your Number
  • Core Organizing Skills
  • Creating And Expanding Your Group
  • How To Build A Campaign
  • The Big Picture Of Counter-Recruitment
  • Media And Messaging
  • Support Documents
  • Beyond Just Education: Why Our Approach To Teaching Makes All The Difference In Social Change (at
  • Tips For Facilitators
  • Tailoring Workshops
  • How To Design A Workshop
  • Index Of Tools And Handouts

What are the Contents of Each Workshop?


Before You Enlist: The Truth of Military Recruitment (Mini-Workshop)
Geared for presentations in high school settings, this is a brief introduction to the issues of enlistment and military myths, designed to give students the full picture. Because it is in a classroom and not a peace club, the anticipated audience is a mix of students ranging from anti-war to pro-military. This training can help trainers "get their foot in the door" by connecting with sympathetic teachers in the school, and may lead to invitations to come back for longer trainings.

The Poverty Draft
This session is like a counter-recruitment 101. It explores how the military is reaching out to youth and how larger societal forces like poverty, racism, and classism impact who is targeted most by recruiters. The connections between education funding cuts and increased militarism in schools are made, and the lies that recruiters tell are examined. Alternatives to the military are presented.

How a Recruiter Gets Your Number (PDF, 861KB)
This is an informational session on how military recruiters operate. Specific attention is given to tools that help recruiters get access to youth including school access, ASVAB, No Child Left Behind, JAMRS, and JROTC. We look at each of these recruitment tools as an opportunity for activists to campaign against military recruitment. We also look at what appeals to people about going into the military, and look at the truths behind the values recruiters promote and the promises they make.


Core Organizing Skills
What is organizing and how do we do it? This workshop explains how organizing differs from other forms of social change (like service providing/advocacy). It then moves into specific skills for being persuasive, in settings such as school board meetings, and other skills for building relationships and becoming an effective organizer.

Creating and Expanding Your Group
This workshop offers leadership skills training to help groups become more effective. It is especially for counter-recruitment groups looking to strengthen their own internal leadership and ability to organize. It includes theory and skills about leadership development, decision-making and team-building. A major section is devoted to expanding the group, especially how to reach out across lines of diversity, such as race and class.


How to Build a Campaign: Setting Goals, Making Allies, and Evaluating Outcomes (PDF. 1.16MB)
Campaigns wage struggles for specific outcomes that further larger social change goals. Like a story, they have a beginning, middle and end - setting goals, waging the struggle, and eventually winning. This workshop focuses on defining a campaign and building skills to create a counter-recruitment campaign. The skills include setting specific goals that lead to larger outcomes, reaching out to new allies to win that campaign, and evaluating a campaign.

The Big Picture of Counter-Recruitment: Seeing CR as a Movement
For those already involved in counter-recruitment work, this workshop helps folks put counter-recruitment into a larger context of militarism. This workshop focuses on the dynamics of social movements and puts smaller campaigns into the bigger picture of social change. Folks will build skills in the strategic choices they need to further their campaign, sustain themselves for the long run, and get familiar with the Movement Action Plan, a powerful framework for how movements develop over time.


Media and Messaging: Presentation, Message Discipline, Telling Stories
In order to effect the kind of change that we long for we need to engage, and on some level mobilize, large numbers of people. To do this we need to tell a story that speaks to people's values; a story that reframes the conflicts we face; a story that tells a different future than the one projected by the power holders; a story that people can sympathize with and imagine themselves in. And it is not enough just to tell a story; we need to amplify it. This requires navigating through the filters of the corporate-owned media - the less-than-ideal channels through which many people get their information.