Volunteer Leading

Jeffery Gosnell Volunteers

Recently I was volun-drafted to become a Cub Scout den leader. It basically came down to either I lead it, or there wouldn’t be a den for my son. Today, I enjoy the role. However, seven months ago, that wasn’t case. At that time, our den meetings had fallen into the same repetitive pattern week-after-week. Frankly, I was bored, and I was putting less effort into preparing for the meetings.

Quite by accident, I discovered something that has changed my leadership role. A dad in our den works for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. I asked if he could be a guest speaker for our fishing elective. This dad came in with a lot of excitement. He not only brought in fishing equipment, he also brought samples of fish for the boys to look at. He showed a fun video on the subject. The next week, he took the boys fishing. It was our best two meetings of the year!

When we reconvened this fall, I had a new approach to leadership. Each week we have a different guest speaker leading the boys in various activities. So far this season I’ve only led the meeting once. Instead, we’ve had an Olympic Silver Medalist, a police detective, a local carpenter (the boys built tool boxes), and a number of parents willing to lead activities. My role as volunteer leader has gone from being the guy who does it all to the guy who organizes others. Not only has it taken a huge burden off my shoulders, it has energized the entire group.

Whether you were coerced into volunteer leadership or jumped into it willingly, it is easy to fall into the same rut week-after-week. Here are a few thoughts on how to revitalize your volunteer leadership role:

Change the format.

Identify the items that are necessary and the ones that are perfunctory. Can you change the order of events? Can you replace unnecessary items with something new? Can you approach required elements in a new way? My scouts open every meeting with the Pledge of Allegiance. The boys get excited when we bring in a bigger flag or gather around an outdoor flag pole.

Get others involved.

You may have members of your group eager for a chance to teach a lesson or lead a portion of your meeting. Some may not be so eager, but a little push from you may be all he or she needs. I asked one of the scout dads if he could teach the Pocket Knife Achievement. After considerable hesitation, he warmed to the idea, enthusiastically telling me he’d go home and study up on the subject.

Try a different venue.

Just being in a different location can bring a new energy to the group. My scouts normally meet at a local church. They get a huge thrill when I bring them out to Lake Williamson for a meeting. Although the meeting is basically the same, being in a different location fills them with excitement.

What ways have you recharged your leadership role?