If you’re reading this article, you’re probably an adult volunteer in the Boy Scouts of America or another Scouting organization. We were the ones who took a step forward – or stayed in place when everyone else stepped back – and found ourselves in a job we didn’t know much about at first, other than it would help the pack go, or allow us to be with our children and have some fun and adventures with them and their friends.
When I first volunteered to be a den leader, our Cubmaster told me that I needed to do two things – go to basic training, and attend Roundtable each month. Wanting to not let down the boys in my den, I went and got trained, and each month I joined our Cubmaster and many others at Roundtable.
At these events, I marveled at the knowledge and experience of the volunteers leading the sessions. One after another, the trainers at Cub Scout Leader Basic Training taught us about den and pack meetings, the psychology of boys, how to maintain order, how to make den meetings more fun, how to safely take them on field trips, and lots of other great information, all packed into a Saturday morning and afternoon. And each month at Roundtable, I saw the session leaders having fun telling us all about what’s going on in our council and how to do what we need to do this month and next.
The thought crossed my mind that even though I was still starting out in the great world of Scout leadership, would it be possible some day that I could be one of those trainers or Roundtable leaders? Certainly I wasn’t that great in speaking to groups, though being a den leader can help give you nerves of steel. And I didn’t know what they knew – that’s why I was there, after all.
But as time went by, I thought about it more and more, and one day, one of the Roundtable staffers who noticed that I had been at every Roundtable that year – and asked and answered a lot of questions – took me aside and asked me if I’d be willing to lead a short segment at the next Roundtable. I quickly agreed, and the next month I did a quick demo of how to tie a couple basic knots.
This simple act – being asked to take on a small role – inspired me to do more, and soon I was volunteering to help with more things at Roundtable – anything from making the coffee to leading breakout sessions. And I sought out the training chair for our district and asked her if she could use some help as well. I was welcomed with open arms and soon I was spending a couple Saturdays a month helping to train new Cub Scout leaders, of which I had been one just a couple years earlier.
This all came to mind recently, when our current district commissioner texted me a picture of a couple training certificates he had recently found. They were his New Leader Essentials and Cub Leader Position-Specific training cards, signed by me. I told him that I remembered having him in my classes, and what a pleasure it was to have trained him and so many leaders who have gone on to ever-increasing leadership roles in our council.
Had I not overcome the hesitation to “just do it” and volunteer to help out at the district level, I wouldn’t have had the experience of meeting and getting to know so many great folks who share the common interest in our children to provide them with as great a Scouting program as we can. And as a district volunteer, I’m always pleased when someone comes to me and volunteers to do something. I think you’ll find it the same way in your area. You’ll be welcomed and appreciated, whether it’s helping with training new leaders, running a day camp event, making a Friends of Scouting presentation, counseling a merit badge, or giving back as a commissioner. There are many, many ways that we can help serve youth – find something that interests you and do it!