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How long is long enough?

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In another thread,I got to thinking about when or why someone would decide to start thinking about passing the reigns

 

I asked @@Krampus

How many years have you been at it?

and why is it that you are planning your exit?

 

Twelve years. I want to step down for a few reasons. First, in our unit we usually have a new SM every 4-5 years or so. That's pretty much a tradition where I live. It keeps units fresh and doesn't allow them to stagnate under one person. Second, I really want to focus on a high adventure program. We've got a very stable unit with a nice pipeline of incoming scouts. I want to focus on adult training and doing more for the older scouts. Mine is about to age out so the time is right to pass the baton.

 

 

So it seems like this wants to be a new thread....

 

This is an area where I can totally see there is no ONE correct answer.... depends so much on local variables....

my thought ties into another conversation here, about how only the SM (or CM for a pack), the CC, or perhaps the COR are really the only folks that are really in a position to jump in a affect real and fast change in a unit.  Being a committee member or even ASM doesn't really put you in a position to do big stuff, and we are really tasked with running the program as the SM/CM & the CC see it.

and then

when you have long time holders of these key jobs, many folks can come and go in the mean time.... so units really can stagnate, for better or worse.

 

Thhis is just meant to be a what-if post

 

How many years have you been at it?

and why is it that you are planning your exit?

How long is long enough or too long?

Twelve years. I want to step down for a few reasons. First, in our unit we usually have a new SM every 4-5 years or so. That's pretty much a tradition where I live. It keeps units fresh and doesn't allow them to stagnate under one person. Second, I really want to focus on a high adventure program. We've got a very stable unit with a nice pipeline of incoming scouts. I want to focus on adult training and doing more for the older scouts. Mine is about to age out so the time is right to pass the baton.

 

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Stagnant can equal stable. If it is a good program stable is good. Not a fan of the bungee SM also not a fan of the same program year after year. Canoe in August, contraband cabin Campout in December, bike hike in May etc.

Edited by King Ding Dong

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We have a very active Troop down the road, perhaps 60 boys,  has the same Scoutmaster for 26 years.   Almost as many ASMs, very much a boy led Troop, Patrol organization.  Very traditional, no one seems to want him to leave.  He delegates a lot .

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Its culture and leader dependent. Pushing out a successful volunteer bevause of tenure rules can be bad, but so can having a troop doing a slow circling down the drain under a leader whos time to step back was 5 years ago. Ive seen both.

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My troop growing up essentially had the same SM for 25 years. There was a 2 year stint where he was officially an ASM because he was OA Lodge Adviser.  But the SM who took over didn't do the job and he resigned as OA LA to get the troop back on track. That was just before my time with the troop, and I found out about the situation talking to the past Lodge chief who was on camp staff with me.

 

As you know, we have a SM who has been it for 30+ years, and an ASM for 20+ years before that. He needs to step down, but no one has the cajones to talk him into resigning, including me. I think I got the closest: talking to him about taking over as SM for him.

 

I think that a lot of factors come into play when asking someone to step down: performance, health, family, ad nauseum.

 

I know I stepped down as a chapter adviser in order to work with my oldest son as a TCDL. 6 years later and on my 3rd Tiger den, I was burnt out and couldn't get into Cubs like I could with the older 2 sons. Especially seeing some challenges with the troop. So I stepped down as a CS DL. 

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yeah, it's an interesting question to me, for sure.....

as KDD mentioned, stagnant can mean stable.  It might be a good thing..... and usually is.....but sometimes not so much

just as flip flopping at short intervals is almost always a bad thing..... but maybe not....

 

I just find this an interesting philosophical question, nothing more..... not saying it's better one way or the next....

 

on one hand, you have adults that stick around mainly to be with their kids....when their kids age out or drop out, they move on

then you have those of us that stick around after our kids are gone.... some for only a few more years or a short time

other like these 20-30 year+ scoutmasters.

 

and since there are so few key positions in a troop, a tremendous number of very good potential volunteers come and go through the parent ranks.... think of it over a 30 year period.  It might be staggering, the number of really good SM's that never get to have a turn.

 

And then I think.... well it's really for the boys so as long as that 30 year SM is doing a great job and the boys are getting their all form scouting , what's the harm?....right?

and then I think, well nobody is perfect..... so are they really getting everything they can get form the program?

 

.... and then there's a difference with different unit types too.  Cub Packs for example.... I'd guess it far more common for folks to move on with their kids..... BUT there is also many more opportunities for key players in a pack too.

 

and with troops, there are the examples as mentioned above with long tenured scouters....

but on average, I don't have a feel yet for what's the more normal tenure for these few key positions....

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My problem with long-serving scouters in my area is that it makes getting new ideas in to the troop very hard. It has been my experience, again here locally, that the units with long time SMs are less flexible and less boy led. It is also hard to recruit adults to help because it is usually all run by a handful of scouters, or worse, a husband/wife duo.

 

Our unit does not rotate positions due to a predefined term limit, but rather simply based on when people feel it is time. Most stay in a role about 3-4 years. We have found it is a good thing to cycle in new parents after the first year or so. This has had a direct impact on retention and activity level of our scouts. The more parents we had involved, the higher our retention and activity rates are.

 

Each unit needs to find what works for them. This approach has worked great for us. We call it the "Doctor Who Approach to Leadership"; the faces may change but you will have a program that works with fresh ideas. You may not have the same SM as the guys before you, but you will have "your Doctor", er, Scoutmaster. ;)

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and with troops, there are the examples as mentioned above with long tenured scouters....

but on average, I don't have a feel yet for what's the more normal tenure for these few key positions....

 

In my region it varies. I'd say the average is 3-5 years. There are some that are 18+ years, but those are few and far between. Most are in the 3-5 year area. They come to power about the second year of their own son's career and tend to step down around the time he's ready to graduate.

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I know in the UK the HQ have looked at length of leadership, and for many, it's less than five years, and for many of the rest, they're "lifers". Is it those that get pulled into a section they fancy working with, then stick with it while their kid is there, then drop out? One of my fellow explorer leaders started as a cub leader for one of his kids, then jumped to being an explorer leader, as that kid had gone through scouts by then. His third and final kid must have left the section at least 7-8 years ago. Others seem to follow their kids up through the sections.

 

I'm probably an oddity for starting when I aged out of Venture Scouts, and only had two break in service, one when all my ventures left, and the other for the first year or two of having a kid.

 

I guess when your kid leaves, you're either thinking "what's in it for me?" or "I'm enjoying this, there's more kids to lead! Carry on!" or something else that isn't a gross simplification.

 

When is it time to hang up the hat? I don't know. When you're not enjoying it anymore I guess. That could be for any number of reasons,

- the kids are all little swines,

- you don't like not being physically up to it,

- you've not got time, so you're unsatisfied with the job you're doing

 

With a high turnover of leaders, does that lead to a lot of wheel reinvention? Does that lead to a load of stuff in the stores that no one knows what to do with as the bloke three generations back bought it? Or fresh and enthusiastic ideas? Nothing worse than seeing a section leader that doesn't want to be there going through the motions.

 

I worry about being too adult led, and having too many fixed camps on the calendar, not giving enough time to fit something else in that the kids want, though they seem to want the fixed camps we do, and really, with the age range, they're probably only going to do three or four of them at the most, some might go once and say "been there, done that", but most seem happy to go again.

 

Sometimes I wonder if I've had enough, not sure that's yet, and sometimes I wonder how long some of my leaders have in the tank still, and when I'll have the problem of replacing them. They'll be a tough act to follow for sure.

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I guess when your kid leaves, you're either thinking "what's in it for me?" or "I'm enjoying this, there's more kids to lead! Carry on!" or something else that isn't a gross simplification.

 

I am in the latter camp, BUT, I *am* thinking why should I be center stage when I would much rather enjoy being an assistant. Let's face it, as much as we may like the main role, the biggest barrier (at least to me) is the adult drama. As SM you get a nose full of it and frequently. As an assistant you can pretty much ignore it.

 

I plan on sticking around but in "emeritus" status in the background. ;)

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This whole issue is centered on the individual and there is no set rule that can fit all situations.  I have seen burned out SM's that hang in there way too long.  I've seen some of the good ones depart when their boys age out.  The sad part of the whole thing is it's not up to you or I to make those determinations, it's up to the individuals him/herself.

 

For myself, I don't see myself getting out of the "youth" business anytime soon.  It's not like I am doing only the SM thing where routine and repetition might get a foothold in the processes.  As I mentioned in another post, when I get all frustrated with BSA rules and regulations and it wears on me, I just go with the church youth group and it balances itself out.  I have a Boy Scout summer camp week coming up that should be fun and a church mission activity another week this summer.  That of course doesn't get in the way with the Mrs. and I heading out for a 50 miler kayak float down the river somewhere.

 

I think I would have burned out a long time ago if all I had was family, work and Scouts.  Obviously, scouts would have taken the brunt of the frustration.

 

I will have to eventually have to step down due to age and health.  Mentally and emotionally I'm still having way too much fun.  Heck, if guys can identify themselves as gals and use their restroom, I surely can identify myself as a 16 year old kid and get in there and have adventures. 

 

The only "problem" I seen on the horizon with this is that I am far more active than the scouts.  They want to do stagnant camping, they don't want to do the hiking, biking kinds of things.  I seem to be leaving them more and more behind so I can get yet another adventure in before I get too old. 

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I've always said that I'll jack it in when I stop enjoying it. As it is I still love what I do and I think the kids enjoy it as well so all seems well.

 

It might help that I've had regular changes. 1997 - 2000 I was assistant cub leader at a group where I was a student in Durham, then I moved to Cambridge and 2000-2003 I was assistant cub leader here. 2003-2009 I was cub leader and since 2009 I've been scout leader. Maybe the time will come when I'll want to freshen it up and do another role? It's not come yet though.

 

Like Stosh I prefer dealing with the kids. I've been offered various district and county roles and turned them all down. I reckon I could do them but why would I want an admin role when I could be lighting fires in the woods with the kids? Much more fun! I do wonder sometimes if I am selfish. Our district here is frankly a disaster zone that has never recovered from a massive bout of politics about 4 years ago. It needs somebody to fix it. I probably could fix it. I just don't feel like the aggravation it would entail.

 

I've got a mile stone coming up. Back in 2006 when I was still running cubs our group started a beaver colony (6-8 year olds), one of those beavers moved up to cubs and around the time I switched to scouts moved up with me. She is now a young leader with me and will turn 18 in September and is planning on becoming an ASL. She's also applying to go to university in Durham! I feel quite good about all of that :)

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I've always said that I'll jack it in when I stop enjoying it. As it is I still love what I do and I think the kids enjoy it as well so all seems well.

 

It might help that I've had regular changes. 1997 - 2000 I was assistant cub leader at a group where I was a student in Durham, then I moved to Cambridge and 2000-2003 I was assistant cub leader here. 2003-2009 I was cub leader and since 2009 I've been scout leader. Maybe the time will come when I'll want to freshen it up and do another role? It's not come yet though.

 

Like Stosh I prefer dealing with the kids. I've been offered various district and county roles and turned them all down. I reckon I could do them but why would I want an admin role when I could be lighting fires in the woods with the kids? Much more fun! I do wonder sometimes if I am selfish. Our district here is frankly a disaster zone that has never recovered from a massive bout of politics about 4 years ago. It needs somebody to fix it. I probably could fix it. I just don't feel like the aggravation it would entail.

 

I've got a mile stone coming up. Back in 2006 when I was still running cubs our group started a beaver colony (6-8 year olds), one of those beavers moved up to cubs and around the time I switched to scouts moved up with me. She is now a young leader with me and will turn 18 in September and is planning on becoming an ASL. She's also applying to go to university in Durham! I feel quite good about all of that :)

Durham...I am impressed. Great school and the old part is beautiful. I think have similar start dates in cubbing and scouting. I still have a few years before my youngest ages out at 18. I hope my oldest comes back as a leader when he ages out later this year. 

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Back in my Scout days, we had an active, (today called) boy-led Troop.  Of course, I didn't pay too much attention to such things back then, I was just eager to hike and camp and earn some badges ( and march in the band, and go to Key Club conventions and...).  In the 7 years I was a Boy Scout , I distinctly remember 6 Scoutmasters.  At least, they acted the part.  No one said they weren't.  Maybe Mr. McDaniels was only 3 months?  I forget. 

They were all memorable, and I do think I learned something from each of them. 

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Durham...I am impressed. Great school and the old part is beautiful. I think have similar start dates in cubbing and scouting. I still have a few years before my youngest ages out at 18. I hope my oldest comes back as a leader when he ages out later this year. 

Durham is lovely and it was perfect for me aged 18. I'd also applied to Manchester, Nottingham and Sheffield. Looking back if I'd gone to one of those big city universities I would have sunk like a stone.

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