Through the dedication of its many volunteers, the Boy Scouts of America remains the foremost youth program of character development and values-based leadership training in America. Today, nearly one million adults provide leadership and mentoring to Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, and Venturers.
National Volunteer Month recently wrapped in April, but in Scouting, that month of recognition isn’t segregated to just one month out of twelve. It lives year round. With this in mind, I think it’s appropriate that we all take a moment to salute our volunteers for their ongoing commitment to America’s young people. It’s also a good time to examine what can lie behind volunteer efforts.
Volunteering, while honorable, can be a tricky thing. I’ve seen many a great volunteer throw themselves into serving their Scouts, units and councils – almost to the exclusion of everything else. While their dedication is highly commendable and appreciated, that volunteer spirit should also extend across the whole spectrum of life’s activities – like family, community, faith and employment – to make the most of the time they give in service to young people.
As a result, that “balance” of volunteer spirit can bring even more satisfaction to all involved. Michael Hyatt speaks to an interesting view on this in his blog on the importance of a healthy marriage to being a good leader:
“Your marriage is a living example of what it is like to be in a close relationship with you. This is why it is so important that leaders get this right if they want to influence others.”
This Huffington Post blog from 2012 raises some great points about why the “New Volunteerism” is so important to our economy:
“As corporations encourage their employees to engage in meaningful volunteer activities, long-term, skills-based volunteerism is becoming more popular. According to Deloitte, nearly two-thirds of Generation Y employees would like to use their business skills in their volunteer efforts.
That’s why Deloitte itself calls skills-based volunteerism the “heart” of their community involvement efforts.”
We agree that volunteers are at the heart of our movement, too. Their special skills – not only through their careers but also as human beings – drive them to build new adventures to help keep Scouting strong and sustainable, demonstrating to the nation and the world that Scouting “gets it.”
One of the things I’ve been striving for as Chief Scout Executive was to create a culture where no one ever fails to be thanked for their Scouting service.
So allow me to say “Thank you!”
I want you all to know how meaningful your work has been to support Scouting.
There are great demands on your time, and many sacrifices have been made to make Scouting the terrific program it is for our young people.
Let me close with an historic reference to volunteerism from WWII hero Lt. Col. James “Jimmy” Doolittle, who led a squadron of Army bombers, manned by volunteer crews, for the first major bombing raid over Tokyo after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. He shared this brief, but powerful, thought:
“There’s nothing stronger than the heart of a volunteer.”
Let’s all reflect on his words as we go about our duties to bring life-changing experiences to America’s young people every day.