Volunteer Scouters often have to explain themselves and dispel persistent misconceptions.
Here’s a few things I think people who don’t volunteer don’t get:
1. I have already heard all of the jokes and impolite innuendos about Scouting and Scouters. I have a pretty good sense of humor, but how about you think a little more about what you’re saying.
2. I don’t get paid to do this work yet I strive to be as professional, competent and thorough as possible. You can yell at me, berate me, call me names and I will generally be patient with you. Just try to remember that we are all in this together – I am not your hireling ; I am a partner in trying to help you child become a decent human being.
3. Scouts perform a lot of service for their communities and we welcome opportunities to serve. We also appreciate hearing about the opportunities more than a week or two before they happen. Don’t get huffy if we tell you it can’t be scheduled on short notice.
4. I don’t walk at the head of a column of Scouts; I am not a drill sergeant, general or team captain. I am not a teacher (teachers are much smarter), a referee or a wizard.
5. My work is to provide an environment of opportunity for your son. What he does with the opportunity is totally up to him. Don’t ask me to make him do something because I won’t.
6. I am balancing my Scouting work with raising a family and keeping a job. I can’t fill every volunteer position or take every volunteer opportunity even though I want to.
What do you think people don’t get about Scouting and being a Scout Leader?
Phil Peck says
I agree with Chad. One that I feel is often the most misunderstood thing about being a Scout leader, especially from my extended family, is why do we do it? We’re gone a lot, we have less free time, we don’t spend it at home so they can stop by and say hi, etc. They don’t understand that I “go to work for Scouting” because that is how I enjoy my “free time.” I enjoy what I do and I too feel I’m making myself a better person because I choose to be involved. I’m very lucky that my wife makes this journey through scouting with me so there’s less issues when deciding what to do with our time. But I feel that is one of the biggest things people don’t understand, why do we do what we do? I know why I do it, I know why all of you do it, I don’t understand why others don’t want to do it too.
Frank Maynard says
When you get downtrodden and in need of a little appreciation, and some commiseration from a fellow Scouter, go back and listen to “Extraordinary People” at the end of Clarke’s podcast #19.
Chad Fisher says
What people don’t know ~ I get more from the program than the boys. I make each activity a learning one for me too! I don’t take Scouting lightly because I am away from my family. No matter how much or well we serve the boys, in the end our service is really for us. I spend time working as a Varsity Coach, serve on the Training Committee, the Advancement Committee and do Varsity Huddle at Roundtable. I spend a ton of time out of the house. I asked my wife why she allows it all (besides the lack-of-ADHD that returns to the home when I am gone) she said “Because it makes you a better person.” What a great wife I have!!!
One more thing people don’t know ~ I am not a babysitter or a Greyhound bus for their boys.
Charles Johnstone says
I think there are two missing: We are parents too who want the best for their sons. We find something that needs to be done and we volunteer to do it (OK, we do it first, then volunteer immediately thereafter). We want to make the scouting movement successful and introduce it to others. The second motivator is that many adults who were scouts as youth want to give back a portion of that which we received as youth.
Many folks today can’t see why someone would do either of these, let alone do them to the tune of giving up 8 – 12 hours a week to make the program successful (in my particular case).
For me, these are my primary motivations for joining and staying in the scouting movement (currently serving as a scoutmaster).
Larry Geiger says
Am I sensing a slight bit of volunteer angst? Top of the mountain (literally), back to earth let down? “You can yell at me, berate me, call me names”. That sounds like a rough week? It’s ok Clarke. Routine will return. Take a deep breath 🙂 We love you man!
Clarke Green says
Actually as happy as I have ever been, especially after reading your comment. I love all you guys too….
I do regularly hear from people who are having problems and read and am told about how we volunteer leaders often fell misunderstood. Atlantic article got me thinking about what folks often don’t get about Scout Leaders.