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5thGenTexan

Thinking I am Going to Step Down

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I was a DL for my son's Tiger Den last year but I am thinking I am done.

I enjoyed last year, but I had a medical thing earlier this year that made my anxiety issues get pretty bad.  I worry a lot about what might happen. 

What is I don't get enough to eat in camp, what are the bathrooms like in camp, what is I get too hot in camp, etc.... 

So, I have had to accept that I just can't go.  Likewise with training.  Missed Adult Leader Training this Spring that included BALOO, IOLS, etc because I didn't know what to expect and the unknown is a problem for me.  Wood Badge is just about out of the question.  Since I can't get the training needed I know I need to get out.

I didn't have a very high opinion of myself before and this just adds another tick mark in things I fail at.

 

So, when you are wondering about why leaders quit ( there are threads about that issue here) they may just be bad people that cant do the job.

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One step at a time.  I know its easy to say "Don't sweat the small stuff" but my wife has anxiety issues as well.

 

How do you eat an Elephant?  one bite at a time.  Put one step in front of the other.  I am sure youre the perfect fit for the job.

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There are lots of people, myself included, who cannot do the job. Being a good scout leader is not an easy task. Not everyone can do it. It is nothing to be ashamed of.

They say that there is no crying in baseball.  Most of us would also say that there is no failure in scouting. You did your best. That is all we ask for.

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I'm not an expert on anxiety issues, so I really can't understand what you're going through. 

You've given it a shot. There's plenty of people that never even step up to the plate to take a swing at it, so kudos to you. 

Possibly you might be able to serve on the pack's committee?  Is there maybe a more experienced volunteer who can walk you through what to expect for events so that you can take on your anxiety? 

All I do know, is thank you for giving it a shot, and I hope you keep your son in Scouting for as long as he'd like to be, and support his journey in the program. 

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Posted (edited)

Do your anxiety issues flare up just around the topic of camping? If so, there are plenty of ways to be involved without going camping. You can still lead den meetings and do other activities, and find a good assistant to do the camping side. Lots of Cub parents don’t come along to Cub resident camp.

If the unknown is the fear and trigger, try finding a good experienced Scouter who can talk you through your questions. Just say “Hey, I want to help my son and his friends succeed, but I’m really nervous about this camping thing. Can you walk me through what happens and what it’s all like?” (Or ask questions here!)

I would encourage you to also try dipping your toe into the camping world just one bit at a time. Maybe you go on a short one-mile hike with your son at a local park first, then set up a tent in the backyard to have a pretend campout, then actually sleep in the back yard, etc. - just advancing one small part each time and making sure you are comfortable. It can be overcome.

Depending on your exact situation, this article on fear and the outdoors may also help: https://www.backpacker.com/skills/never-fear-how-to-beat-backcountry-phobias

 

Edited by shortridge

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@5thGenTexan, if I'm reading too much into your situation, just assume that there might be some other scout or scouter who needs this frank discussion.

Your #1 job is to survive your anxiety. I know a couple of friends who failed to do that, and the world is worse off without them. Turn in any firearms. Not joking. The glove compartment of your car will be just fine without one. We guys are really good at hiding stuff that will do us harm long before it does us any good. And the trail of sorrow is long. Years after the fact one friend was asking me about why his best buddy did what he did, and I had no good answer. Another recent widow is still trying to connect the dots with lines that aren't there. She is very dear to Mrs. Q and I, but we feel helpless to consolidate her. You can take steps to make sure your loved ones are never in that position. Take them.

The other reason to work on you is because you can be sure that there is a boy or two who needs  to meet a caring adult who fights the same fight he does. Chances are, he won't introduce himself. You'll have to be on the lookout for him. If you can't conquer this thing enough to get outdoor training, become a committee member and serve where you can.

You need a buddy/mentor you can confide in. Period.

Will you ever go camping? Maybe. But I find there's a big difference between a night out on my own with a buddy and one with kids under my charge. I have to beat back a world of worry every time I leave the house to join my troop. So I can respect that not everyone can or should saddle that responsibility.

 

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Being a Den Leader for cubs is easier to accomplish then you think.  As long as you have the Den meeting side down.  No where is it written that you have to go camping to be a Den Leader.  The pack goes camping, and its on the Cubmaster and Outdoor chair(on the committee) to make that happen.  Baloo training is not REQUIRED of a den leader, but someone in the pack must have it and attend the campouts.  Luckily in our Pack we have 6 people trained in Baloo for that exact reason.  Den Leader positional training is online as well, so you don't have to go to a special training event either.

So, to answer your reasoning for leaving.

1. Camping- don't have to go

2. Missing special training - all required training of a Den Leader is available online.  Any extra in person training is a plus, but NOT required.

 

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I have a chronic medical condition that sidelines me a lot. Although I am being treated, I have had to accept over the years that there are certain things that I just can't do (or might not be able to do, therefore I can't plan to do them and have people count on me) and someone else has to take up that slack. I know what I can do and I do those things well. Everything else, I expect someone else to step up, and they do, because I work with a great group of leaders who are willing to do their part. And I have no problem asking them to do things.

Sometimes I get ahead of myself, thinking I'm getting better, then realize it was just one of my good times. Sometimes I make plans I shouldn't. So even though I work at managing this I'm not perfect. I get frustrated with myself.

I hope you are asking for help. Professional help, for all aspects of your life that are affected, and in Scouts. Sounds to me like you need a good partner leader who can do the things you are unsure of. Working with other leaders has been one of the most enjoyable parts of being a den leader, for me, and it's good that the boys to have more than one leader to rely on.

If you're fine doing den meetings and planning your own outings for your den as needed, all those other trainings are not necessary or even helpful for a den leader. Heck, depending on the quality, most of the leaders may be better off skipping them entirely.

You don't have to do it all, do it perfectly, or do it by yourself. Just do what you can and let others to do the rest of it.

If you need to step back for a while that's okay too. I always look at volunteer opportunities as year-long commitments, then it's time to re-evaluate what I can handle and what I want to do. I would just suggest that you not miss out on something you want to do because you've set the expectations higher than they should be.

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When such questions arise, it usually boils down to desire and ability.

Desire is tough to cultivate if it is absent. Ability can be developed (within limits).

It sounds like you have the desire to serve, but health issues may impact your ability to serve.

If the Den Leader position demands more than you are physically able to give, perhaps there is another position (say as a committee member) that would better match your abilities and not require so much camping and training.

Regarding comments about a having a low opinion of yourself or being a bad person ... all I can say is that serving others always raises my self-esteem and self-worth. For that reason alone, I would try to find a way to stay involved in some position. We all have something to contribute - large or small.

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Do my issues flare up due to camping?

My first camping trip was 1976 and all though the late 90's.  Then kinda quit because of getting married and everyone in the family just didn't want to do it anymore.  Even did several campouts when I was a Cub Scout /Boy Scout.

 

Being an adult I have a whole new set of worries.  One is YPT (I am not creepy or anything)…  My son is a Wolf but still not as mature as the other kids and he simply wont go to the bathroom alone.  When we went for Tiger Day last year at the nearby scout camp I waited for everyone to leave and went in with him and he still wouldn't go on the open latrine.  So, do we just not use the showers or restroom all weekend?  Also worried about eating.  Not eating enough really is an anxiety trigger for me.  Its not a medical problem really, I just overreact when I start feeling that "I need to eat" feeling.

 

Now the really bad part.  There are two of us in the den.  We are both Den Leaders, neither is really designated as "assistant".  I was at every single den meeting last year and took the lead role because at the beginning he wouldn't take part in planning so I just did what I needed to do to make things work.  He /and son missed den meetings for whatever reason, missed Blue and Gold and Scout Sunday (same day).  The pack made the decision to award rank in Feb if the scout was close and they were to finish up before the end of year.  He was under the impression that close enough is ok and his kid never did finish Duty to God as far as I know.

BUT  He has taken his kid on the campout and more to the point did attend the BALOO /IOLS weekend this Spring.  Our CM and ACM were both instructors so they knew he was there and completed the weekend.  On the same token they know I was not.  In my mind he is now a more trained leader than I am and my lack of attendance reflects poorly on me.  Today they are at Cub Resident Camp and here I am at home on the internet.  Didn't feel up to a 3 day event yet and my wife couldn't get off so there was no one to watch over my daughter. 

 

If I were to step down I am not sure I could serve in another capacity.  The embarrassment of being labeled a quitter could prevent me from showing my face up there again.

 

I am still going back and forth.  My son has said he doesn't want to stay in if I am not a leader.  But like today, I feel really guilty for not being at Resident Camp for him and the rest of the pack that is there. 

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, 5thGenTexan said:

My son has said he doesn't want to stay in if I am not a leader.

It is possible that you are the source of his anxiety. He might be imitating you.

 

Edited by David CO

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Sometimes we all get overwhelmed. But if these feelings continue, you may want to speak to a professional. 

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3 hours ago, 5thGenTexan said:

If I were to step down I am not sure I could serve in another capacity.  The embarrassment of being labeled a quitter could prevent me from showing my face up there again. 

I'm new to BSA.  But in other organizations I have volunteered in (church children's programs,  stuff at the school, girl scouts, etc)  volunteers typically sign up for the school year,  not in perpetuity.  Middle of the summer is the natural time to re-evaluate one's involvement.  Does one want to do the same thing?  Switch to a new role (more or less intense)?  Volunteer with a different organizaton?  Even scale back on volunteering to devote more time to other aspects of life?   Don't be embarassed by changing roles.  People do it all the time.  And don't think of changing roles as quitting,  think of it as finding the place you fit best. 

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Let me share a more upbeat story. A friend developed anxiety d/o and needed to work very hard (meds + counseling) to get on an even keel. That meant the rest of us, along with his wife, stepping up when his three kids needed anything. We did, no regrets. It was an honor helping a guy through the worst time of his life. His kids grew up strong and good. Through youth group, I camped with his kids on several occasions and one is turning out to be a missionary the other leads worship at our church (not sport for the shy).

Like you, he could camp with his family, but he drew the line when it came to being responsible for other's kids. Regardless, my kids loved and admired him.

Bottom line: this could be you. You could be the meeting-time leader and help with the paperwork, touching base from home, dropping off needed supplies (e.g., some of that good food), etc ... and the other dad could be the field leader, making sure your boys are well tended while camping. Trust me, when I have a parent like you, I worship the ground he/she walks on. They solve hours of problems, freeing up time for me to maintain training and spend quality time with youth.

And your son? Maybe @David CO is right. Maybe not. But there's a good chance he'll grow strong and good regardless. You must work on you first, and if that means he will have to wait a year or two to go camping ... that's okay!

Shame? That's your disorder talking. You must beat it. That will require brutal honesty with others ... your wife, kids, fellow scouters. I don't envy your situation, but the only way out is through.

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@5thGenTexan, I’m not seeing a “bad part” in anything you’ve said. Lots of people don’t like to camp. It’s not a big deal. Many people don’t have the time to devote to that level training. IOLS/BALOO is not mandatory for leaders at your level. The CM isn’t going to look down on you because you couldn’t find child care for your daughter. Families make decisions like that all the time. Again, no big deal.

About the food issue? Bring your own snacks, rig a bear bag (don’t keep them in your tent), and you’ll be fine. I’ve known leaders with various medical conditions that require special types of food, urgent infusions of sugar or OJ, etc. Just say it’s for a medical issue and no one will pry.

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