Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Sentinel947

When to do something else, the art of saying no.

Recommended Posts

Hey all, 

I haven't been as active here over the last year or so, but have done my best to keep up. When I first joined the forum I posted quite a bit for advice, and got some great help from some folks like @Eagledad and @LeCastor. I forgot who it was, but I remember there being a topic a few years ago about when it was time to hang it up. I attempted to search to for it, but couldn't find it. This is mostly me just having a sympathetic group to post to, so feel free to skip over this post if you don't like long stories that don't really lead anywhere. 😂

More or less, the poster at the time said "When it's become another job, or a chore you don't want, it's time to be done." I hit that point this year. 

I became an adult volunteer (Unit reserve) in 2011, and an ASM in 2012. 2020 will be my last year involved in my Troop week to week. The last few months have made me realize that while I still have a passion for Scouting, I've become stagnant in my Troop, I've become a crutch for the other adults, and as an ASM, I don't have the time, energy or authority to implement the organizational structure or procedures I feel are necessary. Other adults tend to defer to me because I've been around for 15 years now and will happily share my opinions, and that's not always healthy. 

When I first became an ASM, I realized that my experience as a youth in my Troop had been good, but had really missed some great opportunities for me and my friends to take ownership of our Troop and work the patrol method. We had a Scoutmaster who was new, inexperienced and open to change. He bought into the vision I had, we both attended Wood Badge together, and he built a great team of ASM's. The Troop grew quite a bit, we were able to get the patrol method back into place and mostly functional. (We never quite solved the ad hoc on outings aspect of the running the patrol method.) It was the experiences of many of the posters here, far too many to name, and the resources suggested that helped me grow as a Scout leader, and helped my troop grow through that. 

My role in my troop has changed multiple times over the years, but mostly what I've settled into was coaching one of our ASPL's who has the Instructors and guides report to him. Basically an ASM of weekly program. 

In 2018, the Scoutmaster handed off to a new guy (The previous Scoutmaster and I discussed me taking it, and determined it wasn't a good idea.) He's still learning, but I think he's moving in the right direction. I get frustrated sometimes, but I have to hold him to realistic expectations, and not what I expect the old Scoutmaster to do, or what I would do. He's entering his third year on the job, and is starting to build his own team. 

In 2019, I started graduate school while continuing to work full time. I took about 5 months out off from the Troop. I missed it sometimes, but I was busy and NYLT staff scratched the Scouting itch just fine. Late in the spring, I attended a few meetings, and the Scoutmaster seemed like he was pretty alone on the island trying to hold things together, so I stepped back in. Over the rest of the year things improved. Towards the end of the year the new(ish) Scoutmaster traveled regularly for business, and I covered for him for about two months. While I think it went well, and proved to myself I would have been fine as Scoutmaster, it's not my gig and I'm not going to make decisions that are up to the Scoutmaster to make. Then the holidays came, and I felt relief at not having Troop meetings to go to. I realized being involved in the Troop meetings has become a chore and an obligation, instead of something I was really looking forward to. I was separately offered the join the district Eagle advancement team as well as take over the district training committee. I declined both jobs. Late 2019 was when I finally learned to flex my "no" muscle and turn down volunteer roles that aren't the right fit or time for me. 

 Tonight our SM and our ASM's got together and discussed our responsibilities and roles for 2020. I will continue in my ASM role this year, but I'm having another ASM split my assignments with me, so by the end of the year it'll be entirely handed off to him. I've also committed to compiling documents and resources I've collected from the previous 3 Scoutmasters into a google drive for future use. There are two new ASM's identified who have committed to joining the Troop, and they are excellent Scouters. Hopefully I put my mild savior complex to rest and go off to other things. They'll be fine without me. It's not a decision driven by politics or changes in the BSA, but my life situation. I hope with the politics, the changes and the lawsuits, that someday there will be a BSA for me to put my own kids into.

Beyond a few small once a month/quarter Scouting commitments, I don't have anything on my plate for 2021. It's a weird space for me to be in and I'm looking forward to it. So here's to 2020 and new things in 2021! 

  • Upvote 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm in a somewhat similar spot. I learned the hard way I can't say yes too often. Some people can do that and some just burn themselves out. For me it was more of a spiritual depletion. Every job has it's bad parts but when the bad parts start outweighing the good parts it leads to stress. When it comes to a volunteer position this just doesn't make sense. So, the real question is what are the guidelines for saying yes or no? Clearly everyone has their own guidelines.

For me and scouts, I'm trying to stay away from things I have no control over. All the national and council stuff is just a rabbit hole of spiritual sucking grief. I can peak in around the edges at times but no more. For me, it seems to be about whether what I'm doing helps someone or not. Teaching one scout that wants to learn how to cook a pancake is more fulfilling than discussing national's issues. I wrote a short document that explained how the methods should be used to achieve the aims back in October, because our SM asked me to. I left it at that and assumed that was the end of it but a week ago he asked me to make it into a short training session for the troop. Okay, that's a yes. Maybe I can help a few people. That helps fill up the spiritual tank. On the other hand, when an ASM asks me to help "sign off" scouts on requirements I'll likely say no. What such a scout likely needs is the confidence to know what goals they have. To help with that requires a level of trust between myself and the scout. That takes a lot more effort. Right now I'm trying to figure out whether I want to do that, or how to get it to fit in with the rest of my life.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, MattR said:

I'm in a somewhat similar spot. I learned the hard way I can't say yes too often. Some people can do that and some just burn themselves out. For me it was more of a spiritual depletion. Every job has it's bad parts but when the bad parts start outweighing the good parts it leads to stress. When it comes to a volunteer position this just doesn't make sense. So, the real question is what are the guidelines for saying yes or no? Clearly everyone has their own guidelines.

For me and scouts, I'm trying to stay away from things I have no control over. All the national and council stuff is just a rabbit hole of spiritual sucking grief. I can peak in around the edges at times but no more. For me, it seems to be about whether what I'm doing helps someone or not. Teaching one scout that wants to learn how to cook a pancake is more fulfilling than discussing national's issues. I wrote a short document that explained how the methods should be used to achieve the aims back in October, because our SM asked me to. I left it at that and assumed that was the end of it but a week ago he asked me to make it into a short training session for the troop. Okay, that's a yes. Maybe I can help a few people. That helps fill up the spiritual tank. On the other hand, when an ASM asks me to help "sign off" scouts on requirements I'll likely say no. What such a scout likely needs is the confidence to know what goals they have. To help with that requires a level of trust between myself and the scout. That takes a lot more effort. Right now I'm trying to figure out whether I want to do that, or how to get it to fit in with the rest of my life.

As I've started grad school, I don't camp much with the Troop. I need weekends to complete homework since I work and take classes during the week. I'm just not willing to put aside my pretty limited free time to Scouting commitments for other peoples kids anymore. As we all know, the "Hour a week" is substantially more when you factor in the good practices that need to be done outside of meetings. 

Most of my tasks with the Troop have become corralling/advising adults. I've reached an experience level with the program, where I get easily frustrated because the solutions and steps forward to me are fairly obvious, but I don't have the time or energy to execute myself. I think my "retirement" from the Troop would be good for the Scoutmaster, because it would get me out of his hair for better or for worse. 

I'm back on NYLT staff in 2020 but I'm not sure beyond that. I definitely enjoy that program, and it's a more manageable commitment than the Troop. That might scratch the itch for working with youth over the next few years. 

Share this post


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
Sign in to follow this  

×