I once had an Assistant Scoutmaster in our unit that came to me one night and announced the he was “Burned Out” and that he was leaving Scouting because “Enough was Enough”. He felt that he no longer had something to give the program. Well, much to my dismay, I had to respect his feelings and let him go.
I wondered why he felt that way for the longest time. It was something that weighed on my mind. I asked myself over and over if there was something that I could have done to keep him in Scouting. Unlike retaining our youth, where we know that program keeps them interested, what is it that keeps our adults around?
We make assumptions when it comes to our adults. First, they will stick with the program as long as their son or daughter remains in the program. Second, the adults of our program believe in what we are doing and understand why we do it. And third, they feel that they are value added to the program.
So when is enough.. enough? I would also assume that it is when one or more of the first three assumptions are no longer valid or true.
There is the adult swinging door when their Scout is no longer a Scout. I would hope that they always feel that our program is understood and they continue to believe in what Scouting does for our youth. And I would also hope that they always feel valued.
Having said all of that though… I understand that we all have phases in our lives in which our priorities change, we grow, and we move on. In some of those cases enough of one thing becomes enough of that thing and we move to something else.
But we are talking about Scouting. Timeless in its values, programs that are second to none, and leadership development that our youth will never get in School.
Scouting develops citizens, it builds character, and in a world where we have way too many kids overweight and addicted to video games, Scouting gets them outside, lets them run and be boys, and reinforces good health and fitness.
Back to my Assistant Scoutmaster.
When I sat with him and asked what he was burned out over, he really couldn’t pin it to one thing. He sited the time commitment. He talked about the expectations of being an adult leader in our unit. His sons were leaving the program. And there I had it.
While all of the other Assistant Scoutmasters where committing to attend Wood Badge and seek additional training.. he did not. While we all committed to spending extra time in developing our youth leaders, putting in extra time to work on the program, and some of us still had boys in the program.. enough had become enough for this guy. By the way, he was and is a great man.
So what? The question that remains is what do we do about it? How do we keep it from happening? How do we keep our adults motivated, valued, and committed to the program?
First of all I don’t think I have all the answers. But I do know what is working in our unit now.
Adults are motivated by the program goals and having a part in achieving them. They all play a role in making our program the very best that it can be.
There is a job for everyone and that means that the work is spread out. No one is overwhelmed wearing too many hats. There is an understanding that “NO” is an acceptable answer. We all need time to step away and have a free weekend or a Monday away from the meeting. When we do this and no one is made to feel bad for being gone for a camp out or meeting night, they are more apt to giving more later.
Every team member is valued. We all have our talents and skills. Each one of us bring something unique to the unit. We value that. We say thank you a lot. Even for the little things that people don’t think matter. They matter.
And our adults are committed to the program. Everyone of our Assistant Scoutmasters have been to Wood Badge. This next year, many other adults of our unit will attend. Why? Not for the beads, but for the opportunity to learn and get on the same sheet of music. When we all sing the same song we make outstanding music. Wood Badge is a model of Scouting at it’s best. That is what we want in our unit. Best is what we strive for. Our youth count on it and deserve it.
So when is enough, enough? That is in the mind of the individual. When is that a red flag for a unit? All the time and it needs to be addressed, figured out, and fixed. Enough is not good enough for the youth we serve. Does that mean that everyone stays forever? No, but when they leave it is not because of burn out or being fed up. It is not because they feel that they have nothing to offer or lack value. It is not because their Scout left. They always have a place, value, and should believe in our program.
Keep an eye out for Enough is Enough, it could be a terrible trend in your unit that can get ugly real quick.
Stay motivated, be an asset to your unit, know you have value, and commit to the greatest youth program on Earth!
Have a Great Scouting Day!