"Scouter Stress" (2/2)
settummanque, or blackeagle (blkeagle@DYNASTY.NET)
Fri, 3 Apr 1998 01:58:15 -0600
This is the tailend of the posting on Scouter Stress and what to do to
combat and resolve it:
Third, the fear of "the outsiders" and the "other parts of the program".
For a large number of Scouters, they are scared to do anything but their
unit role. These people are scared because "in order to be a District
whatchamacallit, you have to really know your stuff and I've only been a
Scoutmaster for two years!"; or "I don't have the background necessary to do
a District or Council job. Give it to those others that have all of those
things and badges and stuff..." For other Scouters, its not so much the
fear of the increased chances to work with others, as it is the fear that
those others will strongly evaluate your program, your role in it and your
We are an "evaluative bunch". We evaluate everything: our work habits, our
TV habits, the amount of gasoline we put in our cars and trucks, everything.
Our schools give grades to our kids and we grade our schools on how well
they perform. When they don't "make the grade", we're ready to change or
put an ax to it.
One of the other beauties of Scouting is the fact that unlike paying jobs,
one doesn't have to be "experienced" to serve as a District or Council
leader. Most of our Council Presidents have had little to no experience as
a volunteer Scouter; yet, they are serving as the senior volunteer for the
All of the volunteer positions in a local Council as well as within it's
Districts can be held by anyone. Anyone. That's how new Councils get their
leadership...from volunteers that say "I can do that" and do it to the best
of their ability -- with training and coaching, with others' help and with
faith that you're doing the best job you can.
All of the positions in Scouting - youth, volunteer and professional -- also
have a training course or seminar associated with it. The courses are
low-cost and are held closeby frequently. If you feel that "you're in the
same old rut", take advantage of the next Commissioners' Conference or
Scouterversity and attend sessions in something YOU'RE interested in. Don't
know anything about Exploring? Take a session. Want to know about Learning
for Life? Go to the session and learn. The same goes for your youth
leaders and others associated with your unit. You do NOT have to hold a
specific position to take most of the BSA's volunteer training courses,
which makes all of them ideal as refreshers or as "changes of pace"
And despite what you have been told, attendance at most training courses
does NOT obligate you to "organizing a new unit" or "training others".
There are exceptions, of course, but for the most part if you attend a
session on "What is Exploring", nobody will expect you to form an Explorer
Post or Ship the next week!
Professionals are encouraged to attend and participate in volunteer training
courses, and the smarter professionals do just that -- to insure the quality
of the training, to assist with training new subjects and to interact with
volunteers OUTSIDE of his or her District. That exposure works wonders,
especially when it is time to move onward to a new District or supervisory
Don't worry too much about what other Scouters say about your unit's
program. Take their advice, if they offer some, but if it doesn't sound
like it's something that is going to help your unit, talk it over with the
youth of your unit and your fellow unit Scouters. Your Unit's Commissioner
is NOT a spy for the local Council, and neither is your District's
professional team or executive. They are in the business of making your
unit the BEST that IT can be, not the "exact copy" of the other Troop or
Pack or Post down the road. Every unit is different, unique and operates
slightly different from every other unit. Take their advice too, and again
give it the youth and adult test to see if YOUR unit can use it.
There are some serious reasons why your Unit Commissioner comes around your
place and in his or her place, the District's Executive or Director comes
around. The biggest reason is to observe that your unit is not a "junior
Klan" organization nor is a front for any kind of illegal activities. The
second biggest reason to assist you in the health and safety of each youth
and adult member present by evaluating (there's that word again) the meeting
place you are meeting at. There are a couple other reasons why your Unit
Commissioner visits you: he or she really does CARE about your unit and you.
Since they don't get paid for visiting your unit, they must really care
about what your unit's doing or they wouldn't be there.
Use this person as a sounding board when things don't go well, or when
things are going well but you need an outsider's opinion on how things are
going. Your Commissioner also serves as a "human newsletter", informing you
of the latest information from the BSA, your Council and the District.
Things that your unit MAY want to be a part of or things that have CHANGED
and therefore you need to be aware of them. Finally, your Commissioner and
his or her professional counterparts, are RESOURCES...great resources. I've
leaned on my Commissioner to give me copies of forms, to help me fill out
paperwork when I was doubtful about what I was filling out and why, and to
just to explain in simple American English why I have to do things "the
BSA/local Council way" and not the way that "it made sense for me to do it".
To get over this fear, invite your Commissioner to your home or workplace on
a non-Troop or Pack or Post "night" or afternoon. Find out their
background, and tell him or her about yours. This can go very far in
getting over the fear that they are just "waiting for you to slip up" so
that they can get you replaced!
Another way to get over this fear is to attend a basic training course.
Now, I can just see those smirks and frown faces: "I don't have time for
those blowhards to tell me how great they are and how inferior I am", said
one Scouter. "I can do without the training...after all, I'm an Eagle
Scout. It's not that I don't know the program. I just don't know all of the
forms and stuff and the new rules..and I can get those from the Handbook".
"Why spend a couple of Saturdays to have people to read to me...I can get
the same result if I read the books myself".
Fair responses. Training in the BSA is a "hit or miss" proposition in many
Some places provide a very in-depth course, using the standard BSA training
materials and materials that they have collected over their years of
volunteer service. Others just are "reading the book" to you, leaving you
feeling as if you have been scolded.
While the BSA is making strides in the materials and outlines used to train
Scouters, it's still up to local Councils to improve the method and delivery
of training to all of its volunteers. You can read the materials, but it's
always good to see and hear and understand why the BSA's policies and
programs are the way they are. And yes, some of us "longtime Scouters" do
spend a little more time talking about ourselves and how good (or bad) we
were and less time concentrating on answering and resolving your fears and
concerns...but you'll find that anywhere in life. We love to talk about
ourselves. If you're not getting anything from the training, TELL THE
TRAINERS DURING THE TRAINING. Don't feel confortable going to a training
course in your own District?? Go to training in an adjacent District or even
in a different Council. The basic training course follows a standardized
outline from National, but is tailored to allow local Councils to adapt it
to their own "places on the earth". If you keep that in mind, you shouldn't
have any problems with the content.
But take the training. In many Councils, the training is REQUIRED as part
of your registration with that Council. The idea is to insure that everyone
dealing with youth have the same level and content of training including
training concerning abuse, neglect and hazing issues, what is called
collectively "Youth Protection". In the past, this block was offered
separately for all BSA Scouters. Some Councils are incorporating the Youth
Protection training in the basic training to insure that new Scouters get
this important training.
Finally, much of the stress we place on ourselves as Scouters can be
confronted by doing things outside of Scouting. Eat dinner with your
family...even if that means being late for Opening Ceremonies. Don't
worry...that's why you have Assistant Scoutmasters for and why your youth
run the meetings. Get some exercise, and not just running to and from the
car on the way from work, the house and the Scout meeting place. Jog if you
can't run, walk if you can't jog. Drop a book beside your desk several
times a day and pick it up if you can't do anything while at work. Drive a
different way to and from work each day. Listen to a different radio station
or bring a different tape or CD to work to relax by.
While you are at the unit meeting, try to be involved in what the adults,
not the youth, are doing. You have a training role to coach your youth
leaders, but don't let that overshadow their importance as THE leaders nor
overrun your time with your fellow adults. Stretch before, during and after
the meeting and encourage your youth members to do the same. Schools
dealing with behavior-management programs frequently have a "PT" period each
morning and again each afternoon in which the stress from home, work at
school and from other sources are "exercised outward". It calms the student
down, and focuses their minds on what they are there for: an education. We
as Scouters can take a page from that...as a matter of fact, the Troop
Meeting program provides for a period "As they gather" and an "intergroup
activity" about three-quarters of the way in the weekly program.
One of the things I work with my wife is to set aside one night in which no
Scouting goes on, and she does the same with her circle of activities and
programs she's involved with. We plan those evenings around those things we
choose to do. It could be as simple as curling up and watching a television
program or as complex as calling up friends and going to eat dinner and
playing Putt-Putt (complex because depending on which set of friends we
call, we could end up talking computer stuff, Scouting stuff, church stuff,
or "remember when" stuff. It depends on what kind of mood we're in, what
kind of mood they're in and where we go to eat dinner! ) or shopping! This
"set-aside night" has worked for a number of Scouter families whom see
themselves constantly "doing Scouting" and want to "do something else which
has little or nothing to do with Scouting!"
The BSA and many local Councils encourage Scouters to become active in their
communities OUTSIDE of Scouting. Church, school and community-based groups
and organizations provide additional outlets for Scouters to share their
experiences and successes and failures within. This is a way that much of
what has been "building up" can be released by singing, or talking or
working with others. School teachers say that by being a part of a
community chorus or a Toastmasters or other group keeps their minds sharp
and also exposes them to other teachers and other professionals that they
can share their "inside stories" with. "And there's no kids around!!", one
teacher stated. District Executives are expected to serve as members of
local civic organizations and support groups as part of their "job
description". It gets them exposure as the BSA's lead administrator
locally, and more importantly, takes their minds off of work (or it should!)
for a short period of time, increasing their productivity and retainability.
Most importantly, Scouter Stress can be relieved by talking about Scouting
and your problems with another Scouter, as many people have already learned
by being a part of Scouts-L and other electronic forums. "Just reading the
postings from other Scouters", wrote a Scoutmaster to me, "gives me some
real reasons to hope. Compared with what I've got to deal with, I'm doing
great!! The list has given me a lot of great suggestions and ideas, and I'm
printing them out as fast as I can get them done. I walk away from my
computer each evening feeling that Scouting and my part in it is a great
organization to be a part of. To me, Scouts-L is worth the monthly cost of
You don't need email to get the same kind of benefit. Talk with your
Commissioner, or with a fellow Scouter from a different unit. Attend Courts
of Honor or Pack Meetings with other units, to see others in action and to
be around youth other than your own.
Stop in your Council office and see your Executive if he or she is around or
invite him or her to stop by your home or workplace. Spend a lunch each week
with someone involved in Scouting. You'll find that the sharing and "chest
releasing" can help with your own Scouting involvement. You'll also find
new friends that share your enthusiam for the programs of Scouting.
You cannot get away from stress. It's going to be there, whether or not
you're a Scouter. However, you can balance work, play, rest and a wide
variety of other activities with what you do within Scouting. Stress can
help you do your role as a Scouter better, but it can also do some serious
damage to your health, your relationships, and to the program.
Don't let Scouter Stress control your life...take control of it, and control
the stressors in your life and your experiences as a Scouter.
(c) 1997 Mike Walton ("no such thing as strong coffee,...") (502) 827-9201
(settummanque, the blackeagle) http://dynasty.net/users/blkeagle
241 Fairview Dr., Henderson, KY 42420-4339 email@example.com
firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
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Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City