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Adamcp

Scouting Life After Sons Age Out

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Posted (edited)

So I just watched our Troop's Scouts conduct the Troop's Spring Court of Honor over Zoom, ending the formal Scouting year for us since Summer Camp is closed for us. This COH marks the culmination of twelve years of Scouting for our family. Quite a night. In the Troop, there are fourteen graduating high school seniors who I had as the den leader of a gargantuan Tiger Cub Den starting twelve years ago. My guys. I was their Cubmaster and then became their Scoutmaster along the way, five years or so ago. Six Eagles in the graduating Group. My older son was a year older than this group. He earned his Eagle in 2018 and went off to college last year. My younger son earned his Eagle in 2019, is part of this graduating group of Scouts, will turn 18 in August, and is off to college this year (COVID permitting).

I know Scouting is not perfect. Not by a long shot. But Scouting has been the constant in our life for twelve years. Through thick and thin. Childhood friendships. Adult friendships. Summer camp every summer. My wife along at summer camp, since she is a nurse and functioned as such as our Troop Nurse for the week. But no summer family vacations because I work in a demanding profession with limited time off, because of summer camp, and because I somehow squeezed time to go with my guys to Sea Base in 2016 and Philmont in 2019. My wife is a saint, and she supported it all. She loves her two Eagle Mom pins.

So now what? Two sons will be away at college, if the world allows. The nest is empty and my wife and I have our plans to fill the time well. The camping trailer in the garage was her idea and is her baby. We will use it well. And we love ecotourism in Central America.

But what of Scouting? I am still the Scoutmaster and I still feel connected to the Troop. For me, there will never be a group like "my guys". They were a special group of boys, and not just special because they were my son's friends or special to me because of our shared history of Scouting experiences. At the same time, the younger Scouts are great. Especially so, there is a group of eighth grade Scouts who really "get" Scouting. They love to camp. They love to hike. There are a few high school students who JUST grew into themselves. So mature. All of sudden. They will make excellent patrol leaders.

So do I stay with these new guys? I am good at the SM position. But would I be an anachronistic Scoutmaster, with no kids of my own in the Troop? I do think a parent has a different (although not always better) kind of investment in Scouting. I would not abandon them now, since I have not set up a succession plan (although there is a very strong Committee Chair, so I know the troop will manage no matter what). But am I going to do this for the next year, five years, ten years, fifteen years? What are the experiences of those who have made a similar transition?

I know I am emotional since the COH was tonight (a mixed happy and sad emotional), and I am not making any decisions right now. But it does feel like a crossroads. I would appreciate any thoughts from the hive mind. I will wait for any responses you all may offer by enjoying the knowledge that right now my son is in the backyard with a campfire going in the fire pit, socially distancing with his Scout friends, who drove over after the COH. Life is good. Thanks, and good Scouting to you.

Edited by Adamcp
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First of all, celebrate and enjoy the success you've had, with your sons and their friends. This is why we became Scout leaders. 

My recommendation is to create a succession plan. You should always have one because life can come at you fast. Otherwise, keep doing it while you enjoy it and feel like you're good at it. If you find it's more stress than it's enjoyable it's time to hang it up or change roles. It's up to you and your Committee Chair to determine when it makes sense.

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You could always volunteer to become a commissioner or a member of the district committee.  

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Hi, My name is Eagle94-a1 and I am a Scouting Addict. :)

Seriously though, if you don't want to quit, don't. Make sure you do have a corps of ASMs who can do the job when you are on vacation with the wife.

If you do want to quit, as @Sentinel947 stated create a succession plan now and stay long enough to have it go through. A troop I was in had the SM die unexpectedly, and there was no one prepared to step up. They did not have a SM for about 6-8 months, and it was not a good time.

Good luck.

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Enjoy scouting without the hassle of your boys.

I'm told there are scouts in Central America. They'd love to camp with you.

Oh, and nobody has a demanding job. They just say yes to it more often than they should. Yes, you have to pay for college, campers, etc ... but you can adjust priorities and still do well.

Empty nest? We hosted college interns with our churches youh ministry. Our nest had revolving doors.

 

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Posted (edited)

Been involved as a leader for 40+ years.  Been with current troop for 14 years or so.  My son aged out 5 years ago, but still involved.  At the unit level.

Stay active at the unit level.  That is where you can impact youth and feel success.  I have seen many groups go through.  Seems like just as one group ages out and I think, man they were the best, another group sort of comes of age and I think, man, they are the best.

If you are the SM, maybe now is the time to transition to another role in the troop.  Life to Eagle person, Outdoor, etc.  Keep hands on in the program but not as SM.

There are always new challenges.  We are busy planning our own summer camp for July.  Something I would have never envisioned, but it will be an epic chapter in out troop's 40+ year story.

Edited by Jameson76

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I mean no disrespect to any of the other posters. I admire them for their volunteer time and effort .

We each have our talents, which should be applied where you can have the most impact with the least resistance or frustration. There is a great reward watching groups of scouts go through the program. For many, that same reward can be achieved at the district or council levels if their personal strengths can contribute to the whole of scouting in those areas. 

When I was staff at Woodbadge, I had the pleasure of coaching participants toward finding a vision of their future in the BSA. Many of them come to WB not knowing what they really want to do. Some aren't into camping or working with scouts personally as others are. Or, they want to assist at the unit level, but have the training and expertise needed at the district or council level. By asking a few questions of what attracts them to the scouting program, many quickly finds where their talents would give the program the most impact. And once they start developing goals toward the needs that fit them best, they are excited to get back to the program.

Barry

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Posted (edited)

My father was in a similar situation as the OP many years ago when I stupidly decided to leave Scouting as a Life Scout.  My brother had already Eagled and aged out, but my father didn't feel like his Scouting days were done.  He was, as I recall, a very good Scoutmaster.  He ended up staying involved by becoming a Woodbadge trainer and assisting our local troop when he could.  

Edited by SteveMM
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The best SM I had as a scout was older. His son had aged out many many years before.  When he eventually stepped down, my dad became SM. He was good, but not like Mr. Smith.

My point is just because your kids aren't in the troop doesn't mean anything. You can always take some time off and enjoy the empty nest for a spell and then return.

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I think you are doing the best thing in that you are starting to seriously think about your future in scouting.  I agree, get past the emotions of this COH and really ponder/pray about what you do next.  If not a SM, I do hope you will stay involved with your unit and district. Thank you for your service over the past 12 years.

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