Here’s a New Year’s resolution you’ll want to keep: Be a better Scouter next year.
I should point out that you’re already pretty great. Like in business, a big part of being a successful Scouting volunteer is simply showing up.
By being there at meetings, campouts, and events, you’ve already secured a place in the upper echelon of society.
So thanks for a great 2011, folks. But hey — why rest on your laurels?
Let’s make 2012 even better. Here’s how:
- Recruit more Scouts — Easier said than done, right? But instead of setting a yearly goal, like 10 new members in 2012, make monthly goals, like one new Scout per month. Why not try the “invite one” approach used my many churches? Tell your Scouts to bring just one friend to a future meeting or outing, and watch your pack, troop, or crew grow.
- Get in shape for adventure — This was a popular New Year’s resolution when I asked our Facebook fans to, ahem, weigh in on the subject. Brenda R. said she plans to get in shape for a Northern Tier canoe trip this summer, while Jay L. and others have their sights set on shaping up for the 2013 jamboree.
- Help Scouts reach their goals — Not every Scout will earn Eagle, but the trail to get there is as important as the destination. Check in with your Scouts regularly to make sure that the troop is providing them with the resources they need to achieve their goals. In addition to advancing in rank, Meredith W. says Scouts who set attainable goals will “develop a deeper sense of camaraderie and teamwork.” Good point.
- Serve the community — Helping other people at all times is part of Scouting’s DNA, but can you do more? Starting at Cub Scouts and going all the way to Venturing, make service a cornerstone of your unit. Your Scouts — and your community — will be rewarded.
- Train yourself — Whether it’s an online course that takes 45 minutes to complete or a weeklong session at Philmont Training Center, you’ve got to get trained. Consider it exercise for your Scouting mind.
- Keep your Scouts interested — Gaining six new Scouts is great, but if you lose a half-dozen “veterans” a month later, you’re back where you started. So it’s important to help your youth leaders create a compelling year-long calendar. An exciting schedule of monthly events will give the guys (and Venturing girls) a reason to stick around.
- Encourage healthy eating habits — Sour Cream and Onion chips may seem like the ideal breakfast to members of the Fox patrol, but you know better. Model healthy eating in adult-prepared meals, and offer suggestions to your Scouts on ways they can make breakfasts, lunches, and dinners that won’t make Mom and Dad cringe.
- Teach a merit badge — Everyone’s an expert at something, and with 127 merit badges to choose from — from American Business to Woodwork — chances are you’re qualified to teach several merit badges. Ask your troop which merit badges they’d like to earn at an upcoming campout or meeting, and get started. (From Jim B. on Facebook)
- Try something new — When you return to the same nearby state park three times a year, does it make your Scouts comfortable or does it just make them bored? Consider branching out by suggesting other locations to your youth leaders. An extra hour or two of driving can open a new chapter of adventure.
That’s my list. What else can you do to make 2012 a banner year for your pack, troop, team, or crew? Let me know by leaving a comment below.