Jump to content

Burnout arrived early this year...

Recommended Posts

Ok, generally I strenously avoid using the forums to vent, but this has me up in the wee hours of the night and I need some feedback from you all you Scouters here who I have come to respect.


Last year I realized that I had worked myself into the position that the parents in my den expected me to do everything; plan, host, lead and clean up. I made it as clear as I was able that this couldn't go on. I stopped doing everything and on occasions when no-one stepped up, things didn't happen. My assistant den leader stepped up to the best of his ability, and tho he didn't have the time to get training, he really put his heart into it. Another family stepped up to the plate and is serving as the committe chair -- doing a great job too.


The other two families are threatening to pull out now, because last year was "too chaotic". Should I care? I do, because I will miss their sons.


I've served in pack leadership for EIGHT years now. I've come to the place where I'd like to have more to my life than "momming" and running a Cub Scout pack/den. My oldest needs me to support him in his life -- which really doesn't involve the Pack -- he's 15. My daughter needs me to be involved in her life -- which doesn't involve the pack -- she's 12. My youngest still loves cubbing and I want him to have a rich, fun experience with this sweet time of his life.


I want to be involved with my son's Troop, and Crew -- especially the Crew, as I want it to be healthy when my daughter is able to join too.


It's so tempting to move to a larger Pack and just be an involved parent instead of one of the leaders. But I'd be abandoning MY friends -- some of whome I talked into being part of this madness.


So I'm feeling conflicted. I can't go back to doing everything. I can't say with any confidence that things will be better this year. I'm loosing my assistant due to demands of his job. My older kids are ramping up their demands on my time (marching band, driver's permit etc etc).


Oh, help. I'm not feeling so cheerful anymore.

Link to post
Share on other sites

One thing more than anything else lands me in hot water with HWMBO.

That thing being, me telling her to "Calm down"! As a rule it is greeted with "Don't you dare tell me to calm down!".

With that in mind. I'm not going to mention it!


I do think you need to take the time too take a long hard look at what is going on, in the Den, in the Pack and most importantly with you.

Where do you see things going?

I'm starting to think that all this stuff about Vision and Mission is being over used.

But from reading what you posted it seems to me that you don't have a vision or a mission. You have a lot of ideas that seem to be flying around waiting for you to grab hold of and put to work.

Without some idea of what you are doing and where you are going? Your never going to know when you have got there.

Many of us do try and be Super Scouter, we take on more than we should, we feel pressured to keep on doing things that we might no longer want to do and feel if we ever stop? That the sky will indeed fall.

You might want to think about what you can do to make things a little easier on yourself if you do decide to stay?

Maybe a little less time with the Den and use the time saved to improve the meetings by being better planned and communicating ahead of time what help you need? Assigning or at least asking people to do specific tasks.

Only you know if you are really burnt out.

If this is the case? Do you think the youth members want to be around an adult who doesn't really want to be doing the job? Will these little guys still be your friends? Are you really being fair to them, by staying?

If I were in your shoes. After I'd sat down and thought about both long term and short term plans, I'd make a list of my options. These options might be for the Pack if I decided to remain or maybe for the Crew if I decided to take that road.

Set some goals, long term and short term and then set about working toward them.



Link to post
Share on other sites

When I was a Cub, my sainted Mom was my Den Mother. She'd contact the other parents in the Den, and each had a share of the burden of support.


I agree in general with Eammonn, but I think Step 1 is to ask your parents for a private meeting with a friendly adult beverage. Explain to them the bottom line: Cub Scouts is a collaboration between youth, parents, and Den Leader. They have a part of this, and you will call them asking to take on a share of the burden.


If they don't want to help, at some point this Den will fold, because you'll hand in your DL patch to Mr Cubmaster. I've seen it enough times to get it!

Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, I would recomend that you should pick one thing and stick to that. It doesn't help anyone when you try to do everything and burn out. A couple of years ago, when my son was a Wolf and I decided to be an ACM, I sat down and talked with him to see if he wanted me to continue as DL or be ASM, as I didn't feel that I could do both with quality. I understand the issues though. I have one Den that has similar issues. A Den Leader who's job got very busy and a bunch of parents that complain about it all the time, but won't step up and do anything. Quite frankly, I am about at the point of letting the Den die and rolling the one Leader who has been trying into another Den. I have no patience for parents who see BSA as babysitters of America. Quite frankly, if the other parents are not willing to put any effort in, it is not your responsibility to do everything yourself.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree 100%. Do not get me wrong, I'm going into my last year as a DL and I absolutely love the CS Program. But where was it written that putting on the tan shirt is the same thing as putting on a cape?


I have never had any involvement in Little League baseball, but I know that almost everywhere parents are REQUIRED to help in some capacity. How that message never got out about Scouting is a mystery to me. I actually had a parent on a school night ask me "Does a bus come by to pick him up and drop him off for the meetings?"


I know it's easy for a total stranger to say, but if there is truly no hope in any change this year, and you know it will only be a miserable, stress-filled time, I would say it's time to move on. As far as the other parents are concerned, one of three things will happen. They will either:


Step up in your absence

Quit, which shows you something too

Follow you


But like I said, it's easy for me to say. I can appreciate how tough this type of decision can be. Good luck, I wish you well.

Link to post
Share on other sites

One possibility,

consider what you would really like the plan to be over the next two years.


Let others know your plan.


It gives them time to adjust, gives you a known stop date.


Once this planning is done, you will probably be amazed how much better you feel, even if nothing changes in the now - because if they choose not to pick up the slack it IS NOT your problem.

As John-in-KC often posits "Feedback is a gift", I agree but sometimes feedback is proactive vice reactive and called future guidance - that's where you need to be now. :)


Link to post
Share on other sites

It may be time to step away for a hile. If there is a bigger Packnearby where your youngest can have a good experience that you can share with him without feeling burned out and scttered (and therefore not really being with him), maybe you should give that program your support and help and have thepleasure of working alongside a team of committed adult leaders.


Are you leaving your friends in the lurch? I think that is hard to say, since friends don't leave it to friends to do almost all the work and get burned out. The people who want to might come with you to the other Pack or maybe they will stay with the old Pack and take appropriate responsibility.


As to other youth organizations, it really is the same everywhere. There may be policies or expectations saying that all parents have to help out, but I have had WAY too many nghts in concession stands, early mornings of field maintenance, intimate bonding moments making teacher or coach breakfasts, all the way for pre-K through high school. I think it is the Marines who say that only 10% get the word. it is probably fair to apply that to youth organizations and say that only 10% actively contribute to the program

Link to post
Share on other sites

You know, I've only been in Cub scout leadership for a year, but it seems to me that your family should come before Scouts.

If you feel that your family life is suffering because of your involvement, drop it like a bad habit. Cub scouts wont take care of you when old and infirm, but family will.


With that being said , I have to ask; What are your other leaders doing to help you? Tell them you need relief, rely on them for a while, they've obviously been relying on you for a long time!!


Moreover, tell the parents, it's time to pony up. If they can sit there with their child for an hour every week, if they can show up for events, camping trips and the like every time you have one, then one of them -if not all of them- can contribute something to the greater good of the den and the Pack.



Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...

I have not posted for quite a long time but with what has happened in our Cub Scout pack in the last few weeks, culminating in being yelled at yesterday for putting my family above popcorn sales, I am out and have some input.


Cub Scouts should be fun and about the boys. Yes its hard work and yes as with all organizations the few gung ho tend to do most of the work. But in exchange for the hard work the pack should be there for folks when they are struggling.


I was in line to be the next CM. I had misgivings due to the time element and the fact that the person who started and was/is the CM is kind of the Mother Theresa of scouting - how do you compete with that? Then at a planning meeting when she brought my name up, another mom said in regards to my position "oh I think xx would be great at it", xx not of course being me. The conversation then evolved into who would be good for the position that at that point I had been told was mine.


Dont get me wrong, my husband had already suggested I not take the job. And I felt a huge sigh of relief when I "officially" declined. But to have other people discussing the position in front of me was just hurtful.


Since that our family has been going through some hard times. The bad economy has finally come home to roost at our house. I have only shared this with close friends but this past week the problems intersected with popcorn sales.


My husband had been called to sell popcorn. We had no master schedule, no emails with the schedule on them, just a phone call. I do cookies with my daughters troop so my husband does popcorn.


On tues I realized we had a scheduling conflict. I emailed about it. Then we had computer connection problems and I didnt see the emails until yesterday. I didnt realize til too late that the slot they moved my husband into overlapped with a dental appointment. And this was basically an emergency dental appointment, serious problems. So I called and emailed a number of times to the popcorn chair.


Bottom line is I was called by someone other than the popcorn person who proceeded to berate and insult me about not being a "good scout" and doing my "fair share". Note I know from experience that this person in general never attends events, cleans up or shows up at committee meetings. She went on for at least 15 minutes. She said that the head of the popcorn drive was working all the shifts that no one else worked and if I didnt work the pack would lose $300 and it was my fault.


Then I got a call from a friend in our Den who said SHE was yelled at also and told if she didnt sell she would have to buy out and pay $300.00.


What does this have to do with the OP and thread?


Burnout happens when you already are questioning some of the decisions and the time vs benefit. This also occurs with relationships. And the scouts is a relationship.


So I penned an email stating that my priorities were my kids, my husband, my house and my job. And that anyone who was working more than two shifts on the weekend and telling all that they had to and couldnt put their kids in sports or anything else should just say no.


Bottom line is I have gone from someone who would lay down their life for this pack to someone who is hurt emotionally and very angry.


I agree with the above poster- where are the other leaders? if this truly is a christian based organization, when people are hurting you reach out and ask what you can do to help.


Cub Scout folks need to realize that the best thing they can teach their kids is kindness and empathy for fellow students. I think our pack would be better served at this point visiting homeless shelters than trying to make a buck with popcorn.


So do what you need to. I know with corporate experiences, in a year no one will care what you did. Everyone is replaceable. You have to look after yourself and family first - all else in the scheme of things is not important.


Good luck - sorry again to pour my heart out but there are a lot of really good folks on this forum.




Link to post
Share on other sites

Scoutmom, I'm sorry to hear about your experience. I often have thought that the other adults - not the kids - are the cause of most burnout in scouting, and I've been there myself. This year, I'm taking a very big step away from involvement because it had become a major source of irritation and stress in my life. THat's not what I signed up for, so I'm going back to being "just" a parent for a while. Maybe down the road a ways I'll come back as a volunteer but not right now.


Just one thing I wanted to mention to you though - please keep in mind that the BSA is *not* a christian organization. It is not any particular religion, one need not be a Christian or even a member of any religion at all to join, to advance, to participate, etc. And anybody who tells you otherwise is either misinformed and spreading incorrect information, or is trying to pull the wool over your eyes.



Link to post
Share on other sites


Sorry to hear about your troubles with Scouts, I can sympathize with you as my Pack also has few really wonderful parents and a couple who can spoil the whole thing some days. I asked my son this last June if he was done (as last year was pretty badly done as far as leadership) and ready to do other things with his time, and he basically said "I want to stay in Scouts" so I offered my help to my pack (Instead of being Committee Treas., I am now the new Web.DL) and have really just come to a very freeing conclusion: it's not about me, it's not about impressing other parents, it's not about camping/day camps, etc. It's about the boys and helping them to become good men some day. I took my sons' Scout picture Memory Mate from this last year and placed it under the clear vinyl cover of my scout binder where I organize and keep all my scout papers. And it really helps. Because seeing his smily face helps me to remember that I'm volunteering and giving my time for him. It's something he loves and I want to nurture that part of him (especially the part that gets him OUTSIDE). And as to the people who are difficult, I just try to think about the saying "killing them with kindness" so far that has helped too. Or the one "Smile, it makes people wonder what you're up to..."

Link to post
Share on other sites

I was getting into the burnout situation when my son graduated into Webelos II. For all of the years leading up to that, I was the "go-to" guy to plan the outings, being treasurer, den leader, registration leader, making flyers, etc. I paid the price for wanting the pack to have stuff planned correctly, informing parents of outings, gathering permission slips. I enjoyed it for awhile until I could tell I was just getting my skills taken advantage of since other leaders hardly did anything. I was always afraid that things would not go right if I was not directly involved and I needed to change my attitude.


So when my son went to Web II, I told everyone that this is my son's final year and I was leaving it up to him what trips, camps, outings he wanted to attend since he was basically dragged around every year with me since Tigers. It was up to everyone else to step up to plan the events and organize everything. It was a hard lesson for them to learn that they had to rely on other people than the "go to" guy. They had trips planned out, but didn't give directions or what time to meet to carpool, etc. After awhile, they finally adapted and seem to be running pretty smoothly. It made the world of difference in my family life when I told them I was taking a backseat role the last year we were in the pack.


My son crossed over to the troop last February where I became an Assistant Scoutmaster. There we have more parental involvement and since the boys are running everything, I haven't felt the burden I did in the pack.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...