We Are Family

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In the last week or so, I’ve interviewed two long-tenured Scoutmasters for various BSA articles I’m writing. Greg became Scoutmaster in 1987, Bill in 1969. No, that’s not a typo. Bill has been around long enough to see his Scouts return to the troop as assistant Scoutmaster–and to bring their own sons along.

When I asked them the secret of their success, neither Bill nor Greg mentioned a supportive family, a job that allows for plenty of volunteer time, a great chartered organization, or even a personal commitment to the mission of the BSA. Those elements were probably there, but what has really kept them around for decades has been the camaraderie they’ve enjoyed with other adult leaders. Greg told me, “We all have a really good time. The boys do a good job of running the troop, and most of the time the adults we have a lot of really wonderful fellowship all on our own.” Bill said, “It’s gotten to be kind of a family extension; it doesn’t feel like a troop anymore.”

How’s the family atmosphere in your troop? Are you and your fellow leaders colleagues, friends, or family? Do you see each other outside troop activities? Would your relationship continue if your troop ceased to exist, or would you stay in the troop if your sons aged out?

There’s no magic formula for building camaraderie, but I think a few things can help:

  • Camping and eating together on troop outings (which also gives your youth leaders space to operate)
  • Having occasional parties for leaders and their spouses
  • Meeting for dinner before or after troop meetings
  • Holding an all-adult leadership retreat where you get to know each other and make sure you all have the same vision for the troop
  • Completing a ropes course or other team-building activity

Bill, the 46-year Scoutmaster, pointed out that Scouts are looking for stability in the troops they join. The best way to create that stability is to strengthen the bonds between your adult leaders.

Is your troop a second family to you? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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