An untapped source of adult help

faucet_200Boy Scout troops don’t seem to have the same drought of willing adult helpers as Cub Scout packs do, but they still need a few to serve in roles supporting the Scouts in running their troop, and a few more to help with the support tasks that the Scouts can’t do for themselves. Still others are needed to serve on boards of review and to drive Scouts to and from their campouts.

Very often, parents of crossing-over Cub Scouts who were den leaders and committee members in their packs will look for a way to help out in the troop that their sons join. More often, though, it seems like these Cub Scout leaders have been burned out after five years of organizing den and pack meetings, planning campouts and outings and running to the Scout Shop every time a boy earns a belt loop.

Fortunately, there are parents who don’t suffer from this kind of burnout, and are more easily convinced that serving as a volunteer is not only fun and rewarding, but won’t take multiples of “an hour a week”.

Just because a parent wasn’t involved in their son’s Cub Scout pack doesn’t mean you should overlook them when it comes to considering people to ask to volunteer to serve in a troop. In fact, they may turn out to be very good at it. Here are some reasons why:

  • The most obvious advantage is they aren’t burned out on Cub Scout leadership. I have seen good young men who would have enjoyed being a Boy Scout denied the opportunity because their parents did so much for the pack that they were reluctant to commit to another seven years of similar involvement in the troop.
  • Because their son “survived” Cub Scouting and is crossing to new adventures, they may feel that they’re ready to lend a hand to make sure the road ahead is possible for him.
  • They probably don’t require a lot of re-training. While the transition for the boys is meant to be continuous, the adult role is anything but smooth. An adult volunteer in Cub Scouting needs to be told to “forget everything they know about Scouting,” and learn the youth-led aspects of the Boy Scout program and how to embrace and support it.
  • Most adults think and act from an adult viewpoint. It takes a stretch of the imagination and suspension of that adult viewpoint to effectively relate to younger children. Every parent has experienced this, but adding the requirements of a den program and translating that to make it fun for the boys adds another layer of complexity for the adult. Dealing with Boy Scout-age boys approaches dealing with adults, so less adjustment is needed. And by treating the Scouts with the same respect as adults, you reinforce adult communication modes with them.

Now is the time to congratulate those Scouts who cross the bridge and to meet with their parents. Be on the lookout for those who pay attention and ask questions about Boy Scouting, for they are expressing that they’re interested in learning more. Talk with them and try to determine whether they’d be interested in working with youth or with other adults, and find a role for them in your adult support staff. Wearing blue loops isn’t a pre-requisite for serving in a troop; you may find the person you’d least expect to turn out to be a great volunteer.

Image: vectorolie /

This post first appeared on Bobwhite Blather.
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