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Eamonn

Why do adults quit?

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When I look at the people who attend District Events, I see the same old faces. Old timers like me seem to have been around for ever.

But when I look at the Unit Charters that come in I see the tell tale line through someones name.

Why do adults quit?

Eamonn.

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Burnout has to be at the top of the list. When I was District Training Chair, I was also the entire training staff. Efforts to recruit new trainers, including Pack Trainers, was fruitless. Those who did volunteer I never asked back again, because they presented "their view" of scouting and ignored the syllabus. Being a 30-year SM doesn't mean they know the program well enough to teach others.

 

I used to teach new leaders that "Everyone can do something". But unfortunately, the truth is that "a few do everything", and the rest are content to watch from the sidelines.

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Good question Eamonn. Here's my top-five list:

 

1. Frustration with poorly run programs.

2. Insufficient training to run the program properly.

3. A poor fit between a volunteer's available time/expertise and the job they're asked to do.

4. Lack of real help from district/council staff who tend to either vanish when things really get rough or tell endless stories that aren't that helpful.

5. The "insider club." I've met veteran scouters who were quite welcoming to newcomers and open to different ways of thinking - wonderful people on all levels. I've also met a fair few who seem to see scouting as their personal club, don't make new people feel welcome, and apparently haven't considered an original thought in decades. Doubly problematic for women in some scout communities. Double again outside of the Cub program.

 

I've thought about quitting for each of the above reasons at various times in the last 5 years. But then I'm too stubborn for that (well ok, "pig-headed" is another term I've heard on occasion).

 

Lisa'bob

A good old bobwhite too!

 

 

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scoutldr, your comment about long-time leaders promoting their agendas at training rather than actually presenting the material made me grimace. I've been on the receiving end of that more than once! For cub leaders, add to it that half the time (in my experience anyway), folks on the training staff haven't stayed current with the Cub program and end up spreading mis-information as a result. Very annoying.

 

So maybe another reason people quit - eager new leaders who go to training expecting actual help/correct information and get garbage instead, become disillusioned and frustrated.

 

Lisa'bob

A good old bobwhite too!

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A few years ago, when my District Commissioner asked me if I was interested in being Scoutmaster of his son's Troop, I asked their acting Scoutmaster why he was quitting. He wrote me a list of 86 reasons, which can be found at:

 

http://inquiry.net/adult/burnout.htm

 

For a while it was the #1 page (out of 2,280) on my Website in drawing both positive and negative feedback Emails. I took it off the navigational structure of The Inquiry Net when our local Council got upset because it mentioned the Council by name, and it out ranked their official Site on Google searches of the Council name :-/

 

On my "To Do List" is the idea of linking each of the 86 points to Baden-Powell and William Hillcourt Patrol Method pointers on how to solve each of these problems.

 

In the meantime, if you want to know why adults quit, I think this subjective raw data is a pretty good conversation starter.

 

Kudu

 

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This is an interesting thread to read through. There are lots of good explanations on why people leave and why they quit.

 

I'm pleased to be able to say that my District has an outstanding DE and excellent leaders, who are constantly searching for new people they can recruit to help with district level organizing.

 

Identifying new leaders is a part of the agenda at each monthly meeting of District Commissioners.

 

I was interested in scoutldr's post on his experience as District Training Chair. That sounded like an unfortunate experience, but I wonder if it could have been improved if scoutldr had used somewhat different methods?

 

Our District Training Chair is run ragged, but promarily because she is busy organizing her roster of volunteer trainers to do a prodigous amount of training. She uses a lot of good unit leaders such as Cubmasters and Scoutmasters to do training, not overwhelming anyone but cycling people through.

 

Occasionally these trainers get a little fixated on their special interests (high tech camping gear is one weakness I recall) or not being throrughly acquainted with current BSA rules (Pack camping rules at Baloo training was a sore point of misinformation) but by and large things go quite well.

 

The audience for training can help provide some balance in situations like that --- when the high tech gear guy got rolling along too well, I brought up that a lot of cheap gear and clothing was available at thrift shops.

 

When the Baloo camping rules were being improperly explained, I and a couple other people in the audience raised sharp questions about what we were being told until we identified the correct information. (I got my ears pinned back by the DE for being persistant on that one).

 

In short, don't let the goal of having excellent training drive good trainers and good training away. If someone is a little too fixated or out of date on one subject, perhaps they can be counseled to improve or find another way to utilize their talent and energy. We need to DEVELOPE and TRAIN our leaders, not just presume they will walk in and do an excellent job.

 

The usual model for Boy Scout leadership is:

 

1. Do an inventory of available people and identify the best person to do a task.

 

2. Ask that person to do the job that needs to be done

 

3. Get that person the information, resources and training they need to do the job.

 

4. Check up to be sure they are prepared to do the job and have the information, resources and training they need to do it.

 

5. Thank them and arrange for suitable recognition after they have performed the job.

 

 

There are more sophisticated leadership techniques to be learned. But these fundamentals will take most people a long, long way, and they are routinely ignored even by sophisticated leaders in large organizations.

 

Trying to do everything yourself is a classic formula for failure. The search for new leaders and volunteers is one of the most impoirtant parts of Scouting, and too often neglected.

 

 

Seattle Pioneer

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Cub Scouters who quit around here seem to mostly quit from Cub Scouting only when their sons bridge into a troop. It is not unusual for them to move into a troop in some capacity and never look back unless it's to remind the pack that the pack owes them recruits because these were "my boys".

 

The other reason for Cub Scouters leaving, and I'm seeing more of this, is that they feel burned out by the time their sons leave. Cub Scouting can be hard on an adult leader, but it doesn't have to be, and that is my personal focus lately (through RT).

 

As for adults in troops, the only adults I know of who have quit fall into two categories: those whose sons have aged out sometimes (but only sometimes) step down. The others who quit are frustrated with the troop leadership because (1) they aren't welcomed by those already involved, (2) there is a certain way of doing things, and if a new leader becomes trained, s(he) rocks the boat and is told so, or (3) they are just blatantly disrespected by fellow leaders (seems women are more often than men). In that second camp, those leaders stay for a time, trying to make the best of things, but eventually just giving up...or being told they aren't needed. Their names are crossed off, their sons' names stay on, but in time the sons usually drop too.

 

I have not yet met a person who believes in the program and has a vision for it who has quit unless it's due to a health or family issue. They tend to stay on from Cubs to the troop to sometimes district and council positions.(This message has been edited by bbng)

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I think the answer is quite different at the unit level than at the district or council level. Most leaders in the unit come and go. They join because of their sons and leave when the son does or when they lose interest. In my own unit experience, personality clashes had a lot to do with it. If the SM is a strong leader, whether competent or not, s/he will have followers and enemies.

 

The burnout factor is always there, since the better and more involved a leader is, the more demand there is for their time. The BS factor has been a big deterrent to my own involvement in anything other than Sea Scouting, mainly with adults. It is just too difficult these days to keep up with all the G2SS rules and other constantly changing guidlines when you are working directly with kids. It used to be a lot of fun, but nowadays you have to consider so many things before you can even sit down and talk to a boy. Most of it is necessary, of course, because of the litigious nature of everyone these days. It's just very sad.

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There may be some former Scouts that come back as Scout leaders that might find out that the Scouting that they were acostomed to isn't there.

 

Keep this in mind, that policies seem to change very rapidly now. In fact, some may see this as this-Today's Scouting isn't the same as "my" day in Scouting. Some may feel disapointed in that. Sometimes a disapointment may lead some leaders (both former Scouts and "Old-School Scouters) to quit Scouting.

 

I have not quit Scouting, nor will have no plans to in the immediate future.

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I agree with most everything Lisabob has said above. We keep forgetting why we decide to invest in Scouting instead of Rotary, Kiwanis, or Masonic.

 

WE CHOOOSE TO SERVE OUR YOUTH!!!

 

When we lose persepctive on that, then it's harder to justify the investment and the effort ... and we lose the adults.

 

As someone else said, many adults cycle through the program because their youth is around, but they're not making a life choice of Scouting as a corner of their lives.

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I agree with what Kahuna said. In a troop most leaders are only there because there children are involved. When there sons loose interest/age out, they tend to leave too.

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I just read the list that Kudu posted, and I think we're all better off for that guy's leaving the program. I should add that, in this area, things are compounded by the fact that leaders here are highly transient due to military transfers. Once or twice, I found a good trainer only to have them say, "sorry, I'm transferring in 6 months." It's rare that a leader, who in this area tends to be military, is around for more than 2-3 years.

 

Not to turn this into a training thread, but the materials leave a lot to be desired, and are sorely outdated. Leaders are frustrated when they are told they need to be "retrained" every year as they advance through the program, and most don't bother. I think the old "Cub Scout Basic Leader Training" program was superior.

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Because the all the fun has been sucked out of Scouting for them.

 

Ed Mori

Troop 1

1 Peter 4:10

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Hey Ed, I hope that isn't a personal statement. :) I think most leave when their boys leave, for whatever reason. At least that's what I have observed.

And then we have the occasional, you know, 'retirement' when an old fart like me just gets too tired to keep up anymore. We sort of find a section of ice that's broken away and float off slowly (around here it's called 'gardening' or something similar). And they are pleased to note from a distance that the boys haven't seemed to notice. It's all about the boys, you know.

 

Ed, BSA and the local council can do whatever they want but every time I see one of those young faces with a smile, the smile that I carry inside me lasts a long, long, time. They can't suck that away. ;)

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I just read the list that Kudu posted, and I think we're all better off for that guy's leaving the program.

 

By all accounts he was a dedicated, tireless, and dependable leader from the time his sons joined Cub Scouts until years after his older son earned Eagle and aged out of the program. He continued to serve as SA/acting Scoutmaster for a couple of years after that, and then served on the Troop Committee.

 

After he quit the Scout Section and wrote the "My Reasons for Leaving Scouting" letter, our Crew Advisor asked him to volunteer, where he and his wife continue to serve to this day.

 

As far as I can tell, his only fault is that he does not like Dutch oven cooking :-/

 

Kudu

 

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