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What Do You Do If You Can’t Find a New Scoutmaster?

A reader sent in this question:

My husband, has served as the Scoutmaster for our troop for the past 6 years. I have served as the Committee Chair for that same period of time. Our son has now been an ASM for the past 2 years. We love scouting and will always be involved in some way. You hear many stories of burned out leaders staying too long. What if you are the burned out leaders, but you can’t get anyone to step up to take your place. I could probably get someone to take my place, but no one is willing to be the Scoutmaster. We are not being fair to the boys who deserve leaders that are not burned out but do not want to abandon them. When our son aged out, people asked what we were going to do? We asked what their plans were if we left the troop and all of them said they would go join other troops. Not one of them was willing to step up and take on the troop. Any ideas other than dropping it in their lap and killing the troop off?

Thanks for the question. This is a very difficult situation.

My first thought in this situation is to try to find someone who is willing to be an Assistant Scoutmaster for a year with the understanding that they will move into the Scoutmaster position. That gives them a year to learn the ropes and shadow the Scoutmaster. But it sounds like in this situation there is nobody interested in doing this.

Another option is to ask other Scouters who were formerly involved if any of them are willing to come back and do it. Or a former troop member who is now a responsible young adult. When my husband resigned as Scoutmaster after being in the role for seven years and feeling burned out, a young single guy in his late 20s who had been in the troop as a youth and had been serving as ASM agreed to take the role.

But if all else fails, I think you have the right to walk away. It is not fair for the troop to “hold you hostage” in a manner of speaking. You are right that they youth will not benefit from burned out leadership. As difficult as it might be, in the long run they might be better off in a different unit.

Readers, what do you think? Add your comments using the form below.


One response to “What Do You Do If You Can’t Find a New Scoutmaster?”

  1. Dustin Tarditi Avatar
    Dustin Tarditi

    Too many units have been on life support well beyond their time – if the parents and alums won’t step up, then you have every right to announce a resignation. Hopefully, you can conduct a transition to a new leader, but if the consensus is that they’ll just “go somewhere else” the troop, its history, traditions, and other particulars don’t have strong ties to the members.

    The Charter Organization also has a say in who the adult leaders shall be – perhaps, if they were aware of this existential threat they would get involved or realize that this outreach is no longer aligned with their purpose.

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