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Feeling Burned Out? Listen To Your High School Chemistry Teacher April 26, 2010

Posted by thetrainerscorner in Uncategorized.
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Hello fellow Scouters,

I was recently talking with a great Scout leader, and we were discussing something we all deal with: how to keep ourselves from taking too much on as an active Scout leader. As we discussed how important it is to balance getting things done in our unit without taking everything on ourselves, for some unknown reason I was brought way back to my High School chemistry class.

If you remember from your High School chemistry class, one of the properties of a gas is that it expands to fill whatever space is available. And the duties and responsibilities of being a Scout leader remind me of this – they will expand to fit whatever space you give them!

How many times have we seen leaders get burned out because they took too much on themselves – they wore too many hats. One can start as a den leader, then serve on the pack committee, then begin to work with the district in some function like training or running a day camp. Then there’s volunteering at the council level. And if a leader is really having work/life balance issues, they move to the Internet and participate in forums. And for the ones with real issues? Well, they go on to blog or podcast.

One thing that I believe is so important in being a successful Scout leader for the long haul is being the one that sets the size of that container you let Scouting fill. Everyone has a different “space” to give to Scouting, and it’s important that you control that. You need to control the number of hats you wear.

I’m here to tell you it’s OK to say “No” to something. It’s OK to let someone else handle something. And it’s OK to let something not get done if you don’t have time to do it. And it’s even OK to take some time off or reduce your level of activity in Scouting. A burned out leader is no help to the program! And if your time allows, and/or you have a passion for a particular activity or area of Scouting, it’s OK to say “yes”. We should always try to say “yes” if we are able to!

For me, I would love to help out more at the district level. And the Pack Trainer position that I once held in my former Pack just came open. I would love to devote more time to my former Pack. But I just cannot do either of these. I don’t have any more time to give to Scouting other than the roles I’m doing now. But I’ve set this limit. No one else has set this limit. No open task has set this limit. Right now I’m enjoying my service to Scouting more than I ever have, and I feel this shows in my energy level while serving. And I feel strongly this is because I’ve said “yes” to what I want to say “yes” to, and I’ve said “no” to the things I just do not have time to do.

Being a Scout leader is a great privilege, and it’s one that can extend for years, even after your son leaves the program. One key to this is being in control of what you do. It’s up to you as the Scout leader to set the size of the space you give Scouting. Keeping control of this will benefit you and the boys in the end, as can help reduce the chance you will get burned out.

In Scouting,

 – Scouter Jeff <><



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