Leader Burnout

I remember walking in to a large red and black auditorium. The tables and chairs were set up in a large horseshoe. A short plump man in his signature polo shirt and scout pants leaned on a wooden podium chit chatting with others as he waited to start our monthly roundtable meeting. At this time I had already been an Assistant Scoutmaster for about six years. I started going to roundtable in the months before I would be elevated to scoutmaster at the tender age of 24. As a side note I don't know any 24 year olds who are mature enough or ready enough to be a Scoutmaster. I know I wasn't. These meetings were usually just robust extensions of conversations started at OA chapter meetings and probably at a plenty of other meetings I didn't know about at the time. A semblance of a program, announcements about upcoming events and perhaps some cake. One month, when there was nothing planned. The roundtable commissioner, still leaning on a podium asked for suggestions for upcoming t…

Go ask your SPL

A guy named John was my senior patrol leader nearly thirty years ago. John was a nice clean cut young man, he did things the right way. I remember one camping trip he decided to wear some sunglasses that was the extent of "Bad John", basically same guy, but in sunglasses. John went off to college and we lost touch, as you do. And years later we became Facebook friends. He had gotten married, he has a daughter and lives in Connecticut. In scouting circles we use the phrase go ask your SPL all the time. And when I was searching for an answer to a philosophical question that's where I should have went in the first place. I was wondering if we have a word for being truly happy for someone else's success without being jealous of it. As we often are. John replied with a Sanskrit word that had just that meaning. Muditā  means joy. It is especially sympathetic or vicarious joy, the pleasure that comes from delighting in other people's well-being rather than begrudging it…

Still Working My Ticket ... an addendum 

I recently posted about my own Woodbadge ticket experience and how I was disappointed in myself for not pushing myself harder. It's a phenomenon known as Imposter Syndrome. But then something happened. I was at a District Committee meeting, I'm a member of the advancement and training committees, (I split my one hour a week very carefully).  And our District Commisioner was talking about how we lost a few units and gained a few, it was a net zero gain. Which is good one of the new units (actually two) are at a Coptic Christian church. My ears perked up. I asked which church and they said it was the one in my neighborhood. They had a troop and a venture crew. Four years ago I presented their parish with a pretty comprehensive guide to what scouting is, how they could start their own unit, other units in the neighborhood. They were polite but uninterested at the time. 
But my ticket goal was just to present scouting. And mission accomplished. About a year and a half later they re…

Still working my ticket

This past weekend marked six months since 43 men and women left Camp Alpine and Wood badge course N2-640-17 exhausted and inspired ready to take on the world with tickets in hand. 

I was lucky enough to staff that course. I helped my Bears craft their visions and goals (it was all them I just helped with some wording) sitting in that big conference room till way to late. I was pretty confident that they all had the ability to fulfill their goals for themselves and their units. And a few months ago the first course I staffed (n2-388-16) closed and all 35 participants completed their tickets. 175 mini projects that helped strengthen the scouting community. I'm glad my Buffaloes contributed 30 of them. Then I look back at my own ticket and I think I could have been more ambitious. I should have pushed myself harder rather than push myself just enough to get my beads first. I ended up getting my beads fourth in my class (after two of my fellow eagles and a bear). My five goals in retro…

We are now Scouts BSA

In a past career part of my responsibilities had to do with branding. I had stacks of branding guidelines and every book my department created and all those that outside licensees created with our Intellectual Properties had to adhere to. It was so important, the company had a division called brand management. Branding is a big business. Today, the Boy Scouts of America has announced that they are changing their brand. Starting in February of 2019 the program of the Boy Scouts of America currently known as Boy Scouts will be known as Scouts BSA. This will coincide with the admission of girls (11-17) into the program. Currently, kindergarten through fourth grade girls can join the Cub Scouts. In the 1970s the now 108 year old organization  rebranded itself Scouting USA. But that name never caught on and by 1980 it was all but gone. I get that there needed to be a new name, but I'm not sure that Scouts BSA is the right name. It feels clunky and redundant especially since the word Sc…

You get to leave the legacy you want

I was sitting in a dimly lit bar in Lower manhattan alongside several scout leaders. All of us had spent the day at our council’s Training Extravaganza, usually called TreX, and we were reflecting on a fun day of learning and teaching. It was on that stool with a cold beer in hand that I verbalized something I was thinking all day long. 
About eight years ago I took a Scoutmaster training course, even though at that point I had been a volunteer leader for about 17 years and my days as Scoutmaster were long over. But it was invigorating and recharged my battery. I soon joined our district’s training team. And it was great, our team was filled with people from that initial course and run by the guy who ran the course, a former biker/tattoo artist/lead singer nicknamed Hawk. He was, and is, a larger than life character and he got us to teach courses on cold Saturday mornings, on consecutive Wednesday evenings. But he never asked any of us to do things he wouldn’t. Was our training team pa…

My first day as a Den Leader

When it comes to scouting some may say I am an expert in the field. I have led a long and distinguished volunteer career in various positions. I have been honored by my district. I earned the highest award an adult leader can earn, then came back and taught the course, and trained hundreds of youth and adult leaders. But I had never been more freaked out than when I stood before five six-year olds in one of the school’s science labs.
Last spring one of the other dads in my son’s class approached me about possibly starting a Tiger den for our sons and their classmates when they started first grade. I was very enthusiastic about the idea, I had always imagined that my son would follow my footsteps in scouting and hopefully surpassing my success, but most importantly making friendships that are everlasting. I was very clear that I would only be a den leader and was not at all interested in running a pack. With my experience and local reputation there were a lot of places that would want m…