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When is the right time?

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I recently celebrated my ten year anniversary of being SM of my troop. I've wondered this question myself for the past few years. Fortunately, my troop is doing very well and is probably stronger than its ever been. I'm having fun with it and we're building up a very good corps of adult leaders.


A couple of thoughts on the subject. People are often afraid that if they leave, the unit will perish and all that time and effort they put in will have been wasted. First of all, the guidance and experiences you gave to the youth will have had a very positive impression on their lives. That is never time and effort wasted. Also, if you have been the leader of your unit for more than a few years and they unit can't survive without you, that means you are doing something wrong. A good leader is someone who develops other leaders and prepares the unit to grow and prosper without them. At this point, if I were to leave, my unit might deal with a couple of speed bumps and go through a transition period, but it would continue to provide quality experiences for the young men in the troop.


I've never allowed myself to go "all in" with my troop or Scouting. During the first couple of years when we were a very small unit, there were times when things didn't get done because I refused to step in at times. When parents complained that things weren't getting done, I simply asked them what job they wished to take on. They either got more active or stopped complaining. I rebuffed overtures from the council to get active in the OA, serve on the district committee, and become director of our council's NYLT course. My Scouting time has been focused on the troop. This has allowed me to pursue other interests in my life and keep things balanced and in perspective.


To really answer the question Eammon posed, I have two answers:

1. When Scouting produces more negative thoughts and energy than positive over a sustained period of time, then it may be time to step back or leave. We all go through rough periods, but when you are really burned out and dread going to every event, you need to look at what you are doing with your life.

2. The other time to leave is when you have something else in your life into which you can pour your energy and talents. While I have been Scoutmaster for ten years, I got married last year for the first time. My wife has been very supportive, but I now don't go to every crossover or make every little troop event. Also, in the next couple of years, when my wife and I start having kids, it will probably be time for me to step back and turn the reigns over to someone else. I will pour that time I spent on Scouting into raising my kids.


For an overstressed Scouter, they may need to find another way to fill their time. It may mean taking up a new hobby or finding another organization with which to volunteer. As humans, we need sometimes need fresh starts and changes so we are continuing to learn and grow ourselves.

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