I have been at this for 10 years now. Seen a lot of ups and downs. The downs mostly come from having to make difficult decisions when dealing with adults. Go figure. The Ups come from working with the Scouts. Seeing the ah-ha moment, or watching as another Scout teaches a skill or when I see recognition for a Scout because of all of the hard work that he’s done. Those “Up” times far outweigh the “Down” times. I will say that the down times have lasted longer in duration, but the feelings from the ups negate that all.
There was a time, not too many years ago, that I thought I could do it all, thought I was always right and always believed that I was Super-Scouter. I knew all the tricks of how to run a unit. I knew more than a Scouter who’d been doing this for 40 years. I walked into the room to make sure that all eyes were on me. I made sure that I did all the work to make sure that I earned every knot, so that I could have rows and rows on my shirt, because that roars “This guy knows what he’s talking about!”
I wore multiple hats…CM, District Trainer, Assistant CM, CC, Pack Trainer, UC…many times, more than one hat at a time. I thought I was the end all to be all. I didn’t need anymore training, I knew it all already. I wasn’t going to take advice from somebody who wasn’t trained…How dare they think that I am wrong! If it needed doing, I did it. I wouldn’t let anyone drown. Instead of letting them see if they could work their way out of it, I handed them the pole or the buoy.
Then things changed a few years ago, and I upset the balance. I don’t want to rehash any of that, but if you would like to know more, read past blog posts and listen to so old True North Podcasts.
So, let’s fast forward a couple of years.
I have been attending District Committee meetings since April (no meetings in the summer). I have been taking notes, mostly for my own benefit, just to keep things honest, in my mind. Then a new District Chair came in, then a new District Commissioner came in. One DE left, and a new one came in. Things started to change, and from I could see, for the better. Meetings are well attended, and there’s a renewed vigor in District Operations. People are talking, personal agendas are getting put aside, and for the first time in a long time, we are getting things done for the right reason…the Scouts. So, I filled out an application to go back on the committee last night, as the Secretary. I know that there isn’t an official position for this, but instead of being a district committee member-at-large and not have a sub-committee to work on, I took on this, since I was taking notes for the last 6 months anyways.
I am still a registered member of Pack 4363, but I don’t do anything with them, other than sit in on a couple of meetings occasionally, and offer words of wisdom, should anyone ask for them. I have a son, a Wolf, in the pack, but things are different the 3rd time around when it comes to my being-there-for-everything-with-him. My wife is the CC, and she’s there for most stuff, and my Wolf, is also a wrestler, and that’s our time together.
Onto my troop. About 3 weeks ago, I was in our Scout room, which we call the Eagle’s Nest, with one of my ASMs. We weren’t having a meeting, but we were doing service for our CO. As we looked around the room, trying to come up with ideas for decorating and making it “look Scouty,” I saw our charter agreement, framed and on a shelf. That charter agreement had 4 years on it for tenure. I looked at Mark and said, “Wow, we’re going on 5 years with this troop…did you ever think that we would make it that far?”
“Sure” he said, “but how time has flown that we are on the 5th recruiting class for the troop. We’re doing good. And you only have 11 more years before you are done!” (Joey is 7 now). I laughed and nothing more came of it…until now. I thought about it, how I have been a Scoutmaster for going on 5 years. Wow, that’s more than I expected all those years ago.
I know of one leader who is trying to be a Cubmaster for 2 packs, but yet, they call themselves “Packmaster” and, honestly, wouldn’t even cut it as an Assistant Den Leader in our pack. I know of another that won’t wear a uniform for anything, but wants to be a CC for a pack. I know of a Scoutmaster, brand new, who told me years ago, that I didn’t have the “skills to pay the bills” when it came time for his son to pick a troop, but who is experiencing the “pucker factor” when it comes to running his troop (or allowing his PLC to run it).
What I am saying, is that, I view things so differently now. I can’t believe some of the dumb things that I used to do and say, until I hear them come out of the mouth of other new-to-the-program leader. They seem to think that there is no Kryptonite. Trust me, there is, and one day, they will find theirs, and hopefully, not at the expense of the Scouts.
2014 is going to be a different year for me. We are making some changes to program, a larger change. We are going to try 3 weeks of meetings, and the 4th week, a PLC. If there is a 5th week, then we will have a bowling outing or a game night or something like that. We are going to scrap fully using the Troop Resource Guide, and focus on what the Scouts need, not what the monthly theme tells us. We are going to focus on the adults being invited or asked, by the Scouts, for their opinion, not adults just interjecting where they think they are needed.
We will still go on monthly outings, still have year around programming, and still be boy-led. Change, it’s inevitable, that is the one constant.