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DSE Corner: Volunteer-led Scouting Movement

Times Change, Exceptional Volunteers Have Not

Volunteerism /ˌvälənˈtirizəm/
Noun – the use or involvement of volunteer labor, especially in community services.

Volunteerism is a form of helping in which people actively seek out opportunities to assist others in need, make considerable and continuing commitments to provide assistance and sustain these commitments over extended periods of time, often at considerable personal cost.

I recently looked this up because I had a conversation with someone who said the Boy Scouts require too much from their volunteers (training, paperwork, systems, etc.). I can certainly understand their viewpoint. 

Scouting has changed from when parents sent their kids out with Scout leaders for a break until they came home. In many ways, it was simpler. But I wonder if it was better?  

Your children are safer in the United States today than ever before. In part because of our education as parents, societal changes and protocols. And in large part because of the training and processes that we have in place. Does that make volunteering less enjoyable?  

Nobody likes paperwork (well at least most people). However, when the means support an end and that end is a better and safer program – I guess I don’t mind the extra effort. Especially when that effort is in place to protect you as well.

“At the end of the day, I can look back at the positive difference I made to youth, and somehow have trouble remembering how challenging the paperwork and processes were.”

Don’t get me wrong, I understand firsthand the frustrations of the process. I also know that our youth are unaware of the background procedures. If you are strong enough to deal with the details, they benefit from the best program possible.

Having worked in non-profit fundraising my entire professional career, I can honestly say that Scouting volunteers are a breed unto themselves. You volunteer differently with us than with any other organization – giving more time, more money and more passion. That doesn’t go unnoticed or unappreciated. 

Scouting was built by volunteers. It was never built by Scouting professionals.  

Today, we work hand in hand with volunteers – volunteer-led, professionally-guided is often used when describing the Scout Movement. That is critical. If we are to emerge a better organization post-bankruptcy, volunteers will need to lead the charge. Recruiting more youth, raising more money, engaging the right volunteers and supporting staff will be needed to make it happen. I honestly believe that we can grow Scouting throughout Montana in a significant way, but only if volunteers carry the torch and lead.

We recently completed several large community-ask events to help support Investment in Character and Leadership (ICL). In the past three weeks, volunteers and staff have raised nearly $200,000 to support Scouting in Montana. 

This year our ICL has been as successful as ever – even setting a record in Missoula for funds raised. Many of these donors participate in this one event a year and may not have other connections to Scouting. Yet they show up. 

I mention this because our donors are local people who believe in what you are doing. They realize the difference you make and they are the cheering section for all that you accomplish.

At the end of the day, I can look back at the positive difference I made to youth, and somehow have trouble remembering how challenging the paperwork and processes were.

Be proud of what you do. Get up each day committed to making the world a better place and know that you are doing just that in a safe, challenging, fun and inspirational way. Together, we make it happen.

Yours in Scouting

Jory Dellinger
Deputy Scout Executive


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