This past weekend, our church’s high-school choir held its winter retreat. As has been the case for probably 20 years, one of the highlights was the reading of letters from recent alumni. These letters mixed memories of previous retreats and mission trips with advice about life after high school. Beyond the content, the letters reminded current members that they are part of a family that extends far beyond their immediate peers.
Many troops do something similar by inviting college-age alumni to stop by a troop meeting during school breaks to speak with current Scouts. The other day, in fact, a friend posted a photo on Facebook showing a lineup of eight alumni from his troop addressing a troop meeting. Judging by the picture, the current Scouts were paying much better attention than they might have been had an adult leader been speaking!
What about your troop? How do you capture the wisdom and experience of your alumni? They can be a huge asset, sharing guidance with current Scouts that will resonate because of their proximity in age and because of the romance of being away at college or in the military.
Whether you solicit letters, videos, or in-person visits, it helps to offer some guidance in terms of what–and how much–to say. For example, you might ask alumni to respond to one of these questions:
- What’s your favorite memory of your time in Scouting and why?
- What’s one Scouting skill you use today that’s perhaps surprising?
- What do you regret missing out on during your time as a Scout?
Whether you make alumni visits a regular December or summer event or scatter alumni letters throughout the year, I think you’ll find your alumni to be a powerful ally as you try to teach your Scouts what’s really important in life.