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Stosh

Burn-out, and we're not talking drag racing here.

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This subject came up again under the Cub Scout program with the extension of the new Lions program.  I didn't want to hijack the thread and it's important enough discuss on it's own.

 

If we can understand the problem, we can deal with it, if we ignore it, inevitably more and more will fall prey to it.  So why is it both youth and adults are burning out.  I ask the question because I've been around scouting my entire life and haven't figured out how to burn out yet.  In the past few years I have taken on a new troop from scratch and the Mrs. and I are pursuing taking on a Venturing Crew due to some interest expressed in a local high school.  At 65 I should be pulling back and "retiring" from the hands on, every week, of working with the kids.  By the way, my church has inquired into having me work with the youth group there as well, that's another weekly commitment.

 

So, I'm the last one that will be able to identify what makes people burn out in Scouting, or youth work in general, too.

 

Have at it, I'm curious and would like to know.  Al I know is that if we can identify the problem, we can deal with it and I'm thinking that as time goes on, we're going to need to address this issue if the program has a chance. 

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Honestly, I feel the burn from time to time. It's generally the politicking of adult things that make me question "Why am I still doing this.?"

 

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Burn out typically isn't a result of doing too much of something you enjoy.  

 

From the adult side, it is a result of having too much to do without any assistance (e.g. Cubmaster of pack of 50 boys where no other parents help with anything) or getting too much aggrivation from others in trying to do your best (e.g. adults who ignore BSA rules and interpret the program the way they want it).  

 

For the boys, burnout is doing the same thing, over and over and over again.  By the 5th year of Cub Scouts, the Webelos are just doing more of the same.  My son's den tried to ramp it up and make it more exciting.  I think we succeeded, but there still was some burn-out because despite our best efforts is still had components that feld like "school."  In Boy Scouts, it can be the same thing.  If a Troop does the same campouts each year, it gets old.  There is no new adventure.

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For me I feel the burn out when:

  • Adults add drama to the program (unit, district, council, national).
  • People don't read. They want everything spoon-fed to them.
  • Scouts or parents don't step up to help because they think someone else will do it.
  • Parents or scouts are obviously in the program for the bling and Eagle, nothing else.
  • You try to get through to a kid but the parent undermines all your work.
  • The increased paperwork.
  • The lack of real, substantive training.
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My son has decided he's burned out. Too much paperwork, politics, classroom, rules, etc bs so he's done. We're going backpacking this weekend he'd like to have some other boys around but he's looking forward to getting outside and just hanging out


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Simple...when they scales tip too far away from "fun" to "not fun" for too long.

 

Maybe I'm being flippant or trite, but I think every example we've had so far, it's something/someone sucking the fun out of it. It's supposed to be fun, and it's supposed to be an adventure.

 

Ian

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So, @@ianwilkins, with the way people are today, why isn't the program fun, and why isn't it an adventure?  Is there anyone out there that can identify that "something/someone" that is sucking the fun out of it?  Put processes in place to eliminate those factors and the people won't burn out.  

 

If we can't identify the items sucking the fun and adventure out of scouting, how can we fix it?

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Burn out typically isn't a result of doing too much of something you enjoy.  

 

From the adult side, it is a result of having too much to do without any assistance (e.g. Cubmaster of pack of 50 boys where no other parents help with anything) or getting too much aggrivation from others in trying to do your best (e.g. adults who ignore BSA rules and interpret the program the way they want it).  

 

For the boys, burnout is doing the same thing, over and over and over again.  By the 5th year of Cub Scouts, the Webelos are just doing more of the same.  My son's den tried to ramp it up and make it more exciting.  I think we succeeded, but there still was some burn-out because despite our best efforts is still had components that feld like "school."  In Boy Scouts, it can be the same thing.  If a Troop does the same campouts each year, it gets old.  There is no new adventure.

well he pretty much nailed it!

 

for me, it was trying to do CM without an assistant CM... while also taking on many of the things that should be done by the CO rep (ours was AWOL) , the CC (almost AWOL), and other general parents (would sit on their hands)... oh, and all the while acting as a part time assistant DL because nobody else would do much their either.

 

and as far as scout burnout, I watched the boys running through the same program with only minor twists from year to year.... and way to much sitting and talking!

 

would have been a lot more fun (for me) without the adult drama, AND if I would have just said NO a whole lot more.

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well he pretty much nailed it!

 

would have been a lot more fun (for me) without the adult drama, AND if I would have just said NO a whole lot more.

 

I've recently started saying no, but it's taken a long time, and it's still really uncomfortable to me. 

 

.

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I've recently started saying no, but it's taken a long time, and it's still really uncomfortable to me. 

 

.

 

You need to read "The Peter Principle".  :)  It shows how to avoid burnout with "creative incompetence".  I use it all the time.  When I was working in my last job, I was an administrative assistant to the general manager of a multi-billion dollar international company.  Paperwork was my life!  Organizational tasks were what I did 8 hours a day.  When I went to scouts I didn't want to do paperwork so over time I have convinced all those around me I am terrible at keeping track of paperwork details (creative incompetence).  :)  Now I spend all my time working with the boys and someone else handles all the paperwork!  It's great.  Never had to even ask, in order to make sure it got done and done correctly, they just took it over rather than leave it to me to "mess up". 

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I admit, I got burned out on Cubs after 6 years. It was no longer fun, parents or grandparents didn't help, and I was doing a lot more than being a DL for the pack. I was also their temporary UC, but that has been protracted for a few years now. Being the CS RT commissioner as well as CSDC PD have not helped either. Also othe r district level stuff have hurt as well.

 

My son's troop needed more adults attending meetings and working with the Boy Scouts. It gave me a reason for changing from DL to MC in the pack. I still see my guys at major functions, and am looking forward to Webeloree in a  few weeks b/c I'm camping with middle son and my old den instead of the troop.

 

I've given notice as CSRTC. May or June will be my last month, depending upon when the bulk of the packs stop meeting for the summer. I'll still be active on the district level as there are NO CS folks active on the district level and they meet an hour before RT. Since both meetings occu where it's my pack's meeting place. I'm responsible for getting doors open, even  though I don't have a key. If doors aren't open  I usually call my CM.  Troop, which got RTs moved the the CO, no longer attends RT, despite begging and pleading.

 

IMHO based upon almost 24 years as a Scouter, the roughest, most time consuming, the most demanding volunteer POR is Den Leader hands down.

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Where was the ADL all this time?  One of the major causes of burn-out is of our own creation.  We take on a task with no help and then I'm surprised that some of these people even last 3-5 years before turning belly-up.

 

@@Eagle94-A1  how much difference would it have been in your life to have an ADL?

 

I never have taken on a job in scouting without having an assistant.  I teach my boys that a good APL is the PL's right hand man.  The hand that makes him successful and watches his back and keeps him in line when he strays.  The APL watches out for the PL while the PL watches out for his boys.  Maybe taking a lesson from my boys might be helpful in the long run.  The reason I teach this simple process to my APL's is not to give them busy work, but to keep a good PL going in the long run.  I see too many APL's and ASPL's sitting around waiting for the PL or SPL not to show up to do their work.  Sorry, but a good APL makes an excellent SPL when the time comes for changes in that position.  The best APL who has taken care of his PL is now the go-to guy that takes care of ALL the PL"s.  That's my definition of the SPL position.

 

None of us are Superman or Superwoman.  We need to be supported or we're going to burn out.

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So, I'm the last one that will be able to identify what makes people burn out in Scouting, or youth work in general, too.

 

Have at it, I'm curious and would like to know.  Al I know is that if we can identify the problem, we can deal with it and I'm thinking that as time goes on, we're going to need to address this issue if the program has a chance. 

You are different because you are passionate and that makes all the difference. You will find that the majority of members of this forum are passionate about scouting, so they are the exception rather than the norm. It's that way for most forums.

 

I learned a long time ago in come classes that the normal person gives about 20 months in volunteer type responsibilities like churches scouting and other non profits. And I found that to be pretty much true when I started watching the numbers. You will even find that in youth sports as well.

 

So, in a program like youth scouting, the organization can expect about two years of a high level of effort before the volunteer starts to loose interest. They will still put out a good level of effort a third year, but it goes down hill after that.

 

Burnout wasn't a huge problem for the Cub Scouts before Tigers because three good years basically got the scouts through the best of the program because the burned out leader was willing to stick it out for what was left. But when Tigers came, leaders were now fading during their bear year, not Webelos. That was different because Bear leaders were still looking at two more years of effort. What makes it worse is the Webelos program is a lot of outdoor and boy scout type skills. 90% of Bear leaders are mothers with little or no experience outdoor or scouting experience. The BSA is changing the Tiger program around and putting more responsibility on the parents, but we found even with the help of parents, a Pack have to add several volunteers just to maintain a successful Tiger program.

 

Why is this a big problem, well we found after a lot of interviews that burned out leaders give lousy programs. Even though a family is willing to finish the Cub program, the scout translates his Webelos experience to the future troop experience and uses the crossover as a convenient time to drop out of scouting. Nationally less than 50% of Webelos crossover into troops. We directly correlated around 65% of those drop outs to dens with burned out leaders. You only have to compare the fun dens to the dens with burned out leaders to see the difference.

 

I  personally believe that the BSA would see a significant increase in crossovers over five years if they took Tigers out of the Cub program. I know some scouters in other areas who came up with the same conclusion and added if National would move the 2nd year Webelos to the Troop program, it would raise the crossover numbers a lot more. I'm not a sure because I think there is level of maturity gained that last year.

 

Anyway, I hope that explains burn out a little better.

 

Barry

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While it doesn't take a rocket scientist to identify the guy in the corner uncontrollably shaking as having burned out on the last Cub Free-for-all Weekend, what are the steps that need to be taken to keep that from happening?

 

After all as scouters we, too, are called to be leaders and as a CM or a CC what are we doing to keep our people healthy and in the game? 

 

100 years ago, a person could graduate from education, devote an entire lifetime on one job, i.e. farming or in an industry, i.e. mining or manufacturing, retire, and never burn out.

 

Then there came the onset of burnout, and the game became can one make it to retirement before burning out.  Some of the old guys struggled to make that happen, but others, in increasing numbers didn't.

 

Today, we are looking at people burning out 2-3 and even 4 times during their lifetime before they have to take an early retirement because either their mind or body just couldn't handle it anymore.

 

So we know the enemy, employment failures, marriage failures, increase in drug usage, including alcohol, suicide, etc. all point to burnout and BSA is no exception.  So if the program is to survive, the people are going to have to as well. 

 

What are we doing to see to it that it happens for the boys?

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To answer your question, no ADL as no other tiger parents would step out to help. Quite different form other two experiences where all of the parents helped in some shape or form. Heck the parents from the two previous dens ended up as CM, CCs, MCs etc. But trying to get the parents and grandparents involved was like pulling teeth.

 

As to why, lots of reasons, but I'll need to go into details later.

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