“When my son left Scouts, I was left with an empty feeling,” writes Charles Brown, a longtime volunteer with the Shenandoah Area Council. “What do I do now?”
As part of his Wood Badge training, Brown pledged to write an article addressing this very topic.
And guess what? He nailed it!
Brown lays out a compelling argument of why you shouldn’t give up on Scouting after your child earns the rank of Eagle, ages out of the program or leaves for any other reason.
“Participating in Scout activities was just as much fun for me as it was for my son,” Brown writes. “Given that I’d learned multitudes of information through Scouts, I wondered what to do next.”
Brown lays out three broad options for parents who’d like to stay involved in Scouting.
There isn’t a Scouts BSA unit out there that couldn’t use an extra volunteer willing to share their experience and knowledge of the program.
(We’d add that the same goes for any Venturing crew, Sea Scout ship and Exploring post.)
“You can help Scouts know that other adults care about them and what they are doing,” writes Brown. “More than once, I heard parents relay to me what their children said to them. ‘Well, Mr. Brown told me I need to …’ Parents were perplexed, because they’d told their child the same thing, but my influence as a Scout leader was stronger.”
Scouts BSA units, Venturing crews and Sea Scout ships might need trained adults to go on outings as well.
“Here is your opportunity to train the next group of adults in the art of drinking coffee, contemplating future goals around a campfire and supporting each other while learning survival techniques,” writes Brown.
Another role you can fill at the Scouts BSA level is that of a merit badge counselor.
“This job allows you to give back only occasionally rather than weekly, and you can choose your area of interest or expertise,” he writes.
Volunteering at the Cub Scout level
If your child leaves Scouting after earning the rank of Eagle or going off to college, it’s probably been a long time since you’ve been a Cub Scout volunteer.
Why not give it another shot?
“Your knowledge of what Scouts BSA members can achieve will help the younger ones,” Brown writes. “Sharing this information with the Cub Scout parents will be helpful and inspiring.”
Does your place of worship sponsor a Cub Scout pack? Consider volunteering as chartered organization representative. Or consider becoming a member of your local pack’s committee, where you can weigh in with thoughts and opinions as needed.
Working with a district or council
To effectively support local Scouting programs, the Boy Scouts of America provides a charter to a community board of volunteers to be responsible for providing the Scouting program to a defined geographical area. These geographical areas are called councils.
Within each council are districts, designed to provide more localized support.
“When I was backpacking at Philmont, I found it hard to keep up with the youth,” writes Brown. “My old knees weren’t happy with my adventures. That is why I started to look at working at the district level.”
Councils have a volunteer board, plus other volunteers that keep things running smoothly under the guidance of the professional staff. Districts have a volunteer committee that provides support to local programs in the areas of membership, finance and program.
And the No. 1 reason to stay involved after your child leaves Scouting? The BSA needs you!
“You have a wealth of knowledge that needs to be shared,” writes Brown.