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Schmoozin' with the Pro's

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The question came up in another thread, "what are the characteristics of difficult volunteers."


It's a fair question. The answer will vary greatly by professional, but I'll attempt to expain what I meant.


There are some executive board and council officer type volunteers who don't understand the volunteer/professional relationship. It's not uncommon. A lot of people do. That's part of why there's animosity out there toward professionals.


The most common mistake is that people assume that the professional is running the show because he or she is being paid. This is not really correct.


Scouting is a volunteer run organization. We are governed at the national level by an executive board of volunteers and at the local level by an executive board of volunteers.


I said the most common mistake is to assume the professional is "in charge." Another mistake, however, is that when some volunteers hear that Scouting is a volunteer run organization, they assume that they are in charge and whatever they decide is what is.


The fact of the matter is that balance is key. The professional scouter does scouting all day every day. They do all aspects of scouting on a regular basis and learn very quickly.


However, scouting is just about all they do all day every day and if they're smart they'll surround themselves with volunteers with a broad base of knowledge.


Working together as equals creates a supportive enviornment capable of just about anything.


Balance is the key.


Think of volunteers and boards as being the U.S. Congress. The U.S. congress does not "rule" the United States. Think of professional Scouters as being the President. The President does not "rule" the United States. Instead we have three branches that, together, "rule" the United States.


Before any of you government junkies jump me, I'll admit that it's a loose analogy. But it's the best I could come up with before I leave for my council camping committee. I don't rule there either.





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I have been involved on the district level as a Committee Member, Unit and Assistant District Commissioner, for more than 15 years . Im now the District Commissioner. My present district was formed from parts of two older districts a year ago. All the but my first and last DE that I have worked with (7) are still in the profession one is our field director who came back to council after working in other councils for 10 years. They all but our but my last had extensive scouting background and he was a retired naval officer and very professional and trainable. He worked out well but got hired by a other non-profit.

This all leads to my question. The new DE that was hired is just out of college and has experience on camp staff in another council. What clues can you give to me to help the DE to succeeded and what pit falls should be avoided. I have seen other districts in our council get brand new DE then lose them so soon and I would like to see this one make it. Thanks

(This message has been edited by NWScouter)

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Good question. Here are some of my tips for the care and feeding of your new D.E.


1. Treat them like a friend and with respect.


2. Offer to help in any way you can.


3. Never call them kid. (I used to get that all the time and it really bugged me.)


4. Don't criticize the council in their presence. It quickly makes it feel like it's the DE against the world.


5. Feed them. Invite them into your home for a meal. You'd be amazed at what some food will do for a guy who isn't making much.


6. Help them try "new" things, even if your district has attempted them in the past and they didn't work. For one thing, it just might work this time. For another it shows a modicum of trust and effort.


7. Make sure they take some personal time. Quite often the DE feels like they have to be at everything in order for things to run at all. They'll work so hard that they never seem to take the time for laundry, fun, or anything else. If they can't relax, they'll be gone before you know it.


8. Well, heck, if you can do 1-7, that's probably enough.



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