In the 1980’s, when I began attending monthly training meetings, the district had a great roundtable staff. They were well trained, prepared for the subjects, and they made the roundtables fun.
Paul was the roundtable commissioner. He had sons of his own in the Scouting program and had held several positions within Scouting, including scoutmaster. He seemed to be very knowledgeable about every aspect of the Scouting program. Paul was a Scouter that I looked up to. Over the next few years he became my mentor and one of my best friends in Scouting.
Once I had attended roundtables for a few years Paul invited me to join his staff. I was in my mid-twenties and did not feel very comfortable about training men and women who would be older then myself. I think Paul saw something in me that I did not see in myself.
During the next few years, under Paul’s guidance, I began refining my Scouting skills as an adult leader. One trick that Paul loved to do to me was to place me in charge of a subject for the next roundtable that I did not know a lot about. So, I had one month to learn about it. The trick worked very well, although at the time I did not always appreciate it. I learned a lot under Paul’s instruction. He soon encouraged me to be a staff member for the Scouting University and the weekend scoutmaster training sessions. We even experimented one year with a junior leader roundtable.
I soon became more comfortable speaking in front of groups of people, something I had hated doing in high school. My voice started cracking less and less, my palms became less sweaty, and I did not shake quite as much as I used to. I began to become more confident in myself as my knowledge in Scouting increased.
As adult leaders we always like to brag about how Scouting can help our boys, but I think we also need to remember what Scouting offers adults who are willing to apply themselves to the program. I, for one, have grown more as a Scout leader then I ever did as a Boy Scout. I am sure that I am not the only one out there who can make that claim.
Twenty years after those roundtable staffer days, I received the council’s highest award, the Silver Beaver. I invited my parents to the award ceremony. (I am not married so there was not a wife to invite.) I also asked my old roundtable commissioner, mentor, and friend to attend the dinner and be the person who would present the award to me. Both Paul and I were grinning wide as he placed the Silver Beaver award around my neck.
Should you attend your monthly roundtable meetings? You bet you should! And apply yourself to the leadership roles you have accepted. After all, look where it got me.