I do not think there are many people out there who can say they have been a Boy Scout leader for 27 years. I think I heard somewhere that the average tenure of a Scout leader is only about three or four years. I do not know if that is accurate or not, but I think I can safely say that I have a tenure longer then ninety percent of the Scouts leaders nationally.
Those years have included some excellent memories and great activities. I have made friends with some wonderful boys and their families. Some of those friendships are still going strong after twenty years.
I will not lie though. There have been some awful times during the last three decades. There have been times when I wanted to quit, tried to quit. Times that I have felt totally inadequate. Times that I have felt as if I was the only one in the world who cared. Times when I felt the troop would be better off with someone else as the scoutmaster.
Whenever I felt that way I would take a night to sleep on it. Usually, things would look better in the morning. Sometimes it would take two nights. I think once it took a week. Somehow, things always seemed to get better.
Anyone who has been a scoutmaster can tell you about the unique challenges that come with the job. Most scoutmasters are married and have a spouse to talk with about those very challenging moments. I am single. I do not have that option. It can be really tough having no one to talk to when things get overwhelming. Sometimes I wish I was the superman, the man of steel, the man who can solve all the world’s problems, or at least the troop’s problems. Well, I am not a superman. I am just a guy who happens to be the scoutmaster of a small town Boy Scout troop.
In my basement rec room there is a wall on which hangs the awards presented to me over the years. They include the District Scouter of the Year, the District Award of Merit, the Scoutmaster Award of Merit, and the Silver Beaver Award. I will admit, the wall looks impressive. Are these awards the reasons I have stayed involved with Scouting for so long? No, they are not. They are simply the icing on the cake.
The reason I have stayed on as a leader of Troop 68 is, simply, the boys. Yes, they can be very trying on my nerves at times, and yes, my patience is not the same as it once was. However, I really do enjoy working with them. They help to keep me young at heart. They teach me things as I try to teach them a few skills and pass on a few words of wisdom. I would like to think that the few years that I spend with them will somehow help them to be better citizens in some small way.
So yeah, the reason I am still in Scouting is the kids, the friendships, and the good times. It has been a great adventure, these last twenty seven years. I just might have to stick around for a few more.