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SKL

Volunteering for an organization that benefits your kids

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I don't know what the answer is, but I'm struggling with this right now, too. I spent 6.5 hours today helping to run a kids' activity. I spent about 8 hours preparing for it, as well. I've been parenting a long time. I did a lot when my older kids were little, and I'm still doing it, but I'm so, so tired. I really enjoy being with the kids/teaching them, but I can feel burnout on the horizon. My DD enjoys it, and it seems important to her that I'm there volunteering.  When I asked her if she had fun today, she said her favorite thing was lunch... I'm really questioning whether stuff like this is worth it... I have church and community responsibilities, too, and I don't want to give those up.

 

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I do think some of it is that the adult involvement requirements have been artificially or externally increased.

A certain number of requirements are because we need to "make the numbers."  I had agreed last year to become a "leader" on paper and sit in on some of the PiPa meetings for this reason.  This is not something that necessarily helps anyone, but it needs to be done because "numbers."  To do this, I have to take a training course - presumably they will train me in all the things a lone adult is not allowed to do with kids, LOL.  I mean I already know you aren't supposed to club or drown them or leave them alone on top of Mount Everest, so ....

The above won't even count toward my "points" because it isn't a substantive contribution.  But it will take time (mostly likely in the wee hours some morning), and make it that much harder to do the work that does count. 

If the troop could forego a lot of these administrative requirements, they probably would not need everyone to volunteer.  But you can't just decide not to do that stuff.

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I'm struggling with this too. I'm musing because I have to fill out a inner-looking questionnaire BEFORE I spend an entire week at Wood Badge, which *I* had to pay for! It's also involves 10+ hours of driving. Did I mention that I haven't had a kid in the troop for 4 years???? I'm in the process of running Rendezvous for 100 Scouts. I've been asked to do a merit badge rally this fall. Did I mention that I've already put in 4 hours on Scouts today--about the usual amount. And then I had a parent tell me that the extra Board of Review that I put together this weekend wasn't convenient! I'm trying to squeeze one in before dh takes the troop to a different camp. I had a dad demand that he get the ASM title because he wanted to be the big man at Philmont. Um, no. We don't need another ASM. We need mb counselors and he's "too busy". When I had to answer the question this evening, "Where do you see yourself in 5 years in Scouting?" I'm thinking it's not going to be at the troop or crew level (I'm starting a new crew this winter) but confining myself to the district level. I spent 4 hours on the phone with two boys this week, trying to make their Eagle projects work. That was days ago--no paperwork from them yet. I'm doing over half the Crew Advisor's and SM's jobs right now as dh is gone so much for cancer treatments. The saving grace is that we have a fabulous advancement chair and a great treasurer. But we also have the usual collection of parents who are "too busy". 

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I can't speak for people who don't want to volunteer, but I can speak for some people who may LOOK like they don't want to volunteer, because I'm sure I've appeared that way.

The rotten FB memes that go around, talking about how anyone could make time for things that are important enough to them?  I hate that <expletive>. Little League has been very important to my family. For much of the time my kids have played, I've had babies and/or toddlers with me, and a spouse with an unpredictable travel schedule. With multiple kids on different teams, sometimes double and triple booked on fields 30 minutes apart.  And teaching multiple classes in two co-ops, plus helping to run one of them (which, it turns out, never stops being a full time job.) Plus being active with our volunteer fire department.  Plus trying to attend community meetings one Saturday a month and, for a time, additional committee meetings on other Saturdays.  Plus trying to stay active in a local politics without being pressured into a board position.
Add in homeschooling, grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, handling finances, trying to have some actual family togetherness time, attempting to carve out some time to be a real human being with personal needs, making sure the kids have time to go run around in the woods or see a movie with friends or whatever, maybe spending some actual time with extended family and friends, and there's just no more time or energy to give without sacrificing OTHER important things.

So my kids' LL season was pretty crummy this year, with very few volunteers to go around. It stinks, for sure.  I'll be very upset if they can't make ends meet next year, but I will 100% understand if it goes away due to lack of volunteers.  If something is unsustainable, it's unsustainable.  Sad, but reality.

The other message that goes around is "Stop the glorification of Busy."  So, yeah, I'm not supposed to say that I'm busy.  But I am supposed to get more busy, or else I'll be considered lazy.  I'm so over it.  I'll just be over here, trying also not to be too fat, too skinny, or too buff, trying to create a not too perfect, not too "lived in" home, educating my kids to be excellent college applicants, but also with thorough alternate skills if they choose another route, and generally just trying really hard to look like I'm not trying at all in every other aspect of my life so everyone can judge me for being too lazy or too busy depending on which side of the fence they're on that day.

So, that turned into a venty rant that I wasn't exactly expecting...

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6 hours ago, Margaret in CO said:

I'm struggling with this too. I'm musing because I have to fill out a inner-looking questionnaire BEFORE I spend an entire week at Wood Badge, which *I* had to pay for! It's also involves 10+ hours of driving. Did I mention that I haven't had a kid in the troop for 4 years???? I'm in the process of running Rendezvous for 100 Scouts. I've been asked to do a merit badge rally this fall. Did I mention that I've already put in 4 hours on Scouts today--about the usual amount. And then I had a parent tell me that the extra Board of Review that I put together this weekend wasn't convenient! I'm trying to squeeze one in before dh takes the troop to a different camp. I had a dad demand that he get the ASM title because he wanted to be the big man at Philmont. Um, no. We don't need another ASM. We need mb counselors and he's "too busy". When I had to answer the question this evening, "Where do you see yourself in 5 years in Scouting?" I'm thinking it's not going to be at the troop or crew level (I'm starting a new crew this winter) but confining myself to the district level. I spent 4 hours on the phone with two boys this week, trying to make their Eagle projects work. That was days ago--no paperwork from them yet. I'm doing over half the Crew Advisor's and SM's jobs right now as dh is gone so much for cancer treatments. The saving grace is that we have a fabulous advancement chair and a great treasurer. But we also have the usual collection of parents who are "too busy". 

 

We had a handful of families who stuck around after their boys got Eagle or aged out, but most of us bailed.  I worked scouts for 10 years.  I spend a lot of time.  But once my boys were out, I was out.  For one thing, once my boys were out I had to go back to work full time to pay for college!  But beyond that, I just couldn't.    And that stuff you are mentioning is so frustrating.  But I work with teens for my job and it is frustrating!  but at least I get paid now.

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1 hour ago, Carrie12345 said:

If something is unsustainable, it's unsustainable.  Sad, but reality.

 

At the end of the day, this is reality.  None of these types of solely volunteer run groups are necessary for kid or a family.  They really aren't.  It sounds like the leader of the OPs group was probably suffering some burn out or maybe a change in circumstance so set up a way to spread the burden.  If that doesn't work for the group, maybe it will fold as it exists now.  Oh well.  I don't think you can assume the time commitment is naturally easier for someone who is doing more than you.  They might just feel more invested in making that activity work for their kid.

I think all the things I'm volunteering for right now have a variety of ways to help.  Like our church allows you to teach at any age level level.  Or clean and paint classrooms in the summer.  Or help with the garden.  Or make phone calls at the beginning of the year, etc.  Or drive for field trips.  They do give grace for brand new families.  A smaller group may not be able to do that which I get too.  My husband has never done volunteering directly with kids.  That's not his jam at all.  He will do behind the scenes volunteering.  I have gotten to the point where I send him to more parent meetings.  

I do think it's reasonable that a leader set up a minimum that works for him/her and the group and let the chips fall where they may.  If this is a new change, maybe things will shift over time.  It sounds complex if there is a point system.  Someone has to track that which is another job.  However, that is a job someone could probably handle online/offsite so maybe that's another option for a family that can't or doesn't want to be hands on.  

I just really hate when threads like this start to get an undertone of the leaders are slackers and mean and trying to make my life difficult.  That actually may be true in some circumstances.  Who knows.  You don't have to participate.  Leading is fraught with burn out and lack of appreciation and ridiculous requests.  These groups don't just magically happen.  People are all giving up their personal time and energy.  I assume most of these people are doing the best they can with the tools and time they have available to them.  

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10 hours ago, unsinkable said:

The leader/coach type that I find difficult is the type who is the leader/coach bc she wants her own kids involved/on the team and/or she is a control freak. but then this same person moans about how much work it is and no one appreciates it, etc...

And I want to say...cut the garbage. Your kid wouldnt even have made the team of you weren't the coach. He definitely wouldn't be a starter or start at XYZ position.

Or...you're the leader bc you're on a power trip and you want things your way but you want to tell other parents how to do it.

 

I think this is a bit of a perennial issue in volunteering - the person who talked on the job and gets things done, but also makes the other people crazy.  The lady in charge of hospitality at our church is like this, you can't fault her dedication, and she is forceful and asks people directly and so gets things done.  But there are also a lot of people who just won't work with her because she is so bossy.

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I *wish* we could make that requirement for our Troop but we are desperate for members as it is. Reading the requirements makes me think you must have a decent size Troop to be able to get away with that. 

I can see it both ways. I've been burned out and had too much on my plate, I think we all have. The thing is these activities are all extras- if the leaders need help to keep it going so be it, either it folds or your kid can't participate, that's life. We can't do everything. 

I see no problem with the leaders requiring volunteering, it will work or it won't and they will change things up. 

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My husband is a Scoutmaster. He spends almost as much time volunteering in this position as he spends working on his full time job and he spends lots of money too. He's an Eagle Scout and knows what a good program it was for him and values having it available to our sons. In fact, he is spending this entire week at camp while trying to work online when the boys are doing other things. Our family won't have a vacation this year because of the time he takes for Scouts. He NEEDS other parents to help. I have seen Scouts be life changing for many boys, but there is no way to run a high caliber volunteer program without parental help. Honestly, being a merit badge counselor is probably one of the easiest, least time intensive volunteer positions I can think of in Scouting, but there are TONS of things that need to be done that can be done around the busiest of schedules.  Some of them could be done online in the evening and others can be a one time project. Scouts are supposed to go on an outing monthly which means dh needs *at least* one other adult every single month who is willling to give him an entire weekend. This spring and summer our troop has gone camping, canoeing, backpacking, white water rafting, and to summer camp. The only reason we're able to do it is because we have parents of *former* Scouts who believe in the program and still come to help. Believe me, if a parent saw a troop need and volunteered to do it, we probably wouldn't turn them down!

ETA: I agree that people should put their efforts in places where they have the skills/interests/gifts. I realize that not everybody is going to want to do outdoor stuff. In  Boy Scouts, I can find ways for just about anyone to use their skills whether that's cooking, accounting, camping, paperwork, party planning, research, teaching, or even mechanics (We have a guy who maintains our troop trailer!).

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2 hours ago, FuzzyCatz said:

 

At the end of the day, this is reality.  None of these types of solely volunteer run groups are necessary for kid or a family.  They really aren't.  It sounds like the leader of the OPs group was probably suffering some burn out or maybe a change in circumstance so set up a way to spread the burden.  If that doesn't work for the group, maybe it will fold as it exists now.  Oh well.  I don't think you can assume the time commitment is naturally easier for someone who is doing more than you.  They might just feel more invested in making that activity work for their kid.

I think all the things I'm volunteering for right now have a variety of ways to help.  Like our church allows you to teach at any age level level.  Or clean and paint classrooms in the summer.  Or help with the garden.  Or make phone calls at the beginning of the year, etc.  Or drive for field trips.  They do give grace for brand new families.  A smaller group may not be able to do that which I get too.  My husband has never done volunteering directly with kids.  That's not his jam at all.  He will do behind the scenes volunteering.  I have gotten to the point where I send him to more parent meetings.  

I do think it's reasonable that a leader set up a minimum that works for him/her and the group and let the chips fall where they may.  If this is a new change, maybe things will shift over time.  It sounds complex if there is a point system.  Someone has to track that which is another job.  However, that is a job someone could probably handle online/offsite so maybe that's another option for a family that can't or doesn't want to be hands on.  

I just really hate when threads like this start to get an undertone of the leaders are slackers and mean and trying to make my life difficult.  That actually may be true in some circumstances.  Who knows.  You don't have to participate.  Leading is fraught with burn out and lack of appreciation and ridiculous requests.  These groups don't just magically happen.  People are all giving up their personal time and energy.  I assume most of these people are doing the best they can with the tools and time they have available to them.  

I just really hate it when these threads act like leaders are saints who only do good and are sacrificing for the good of all while the lousy parents do nothing and complain. 

Leaders benefit from leading. They get something out of it, too. 

(Is this the point where I have to list my YEARS of volunteering and leading and coaching different activities in order to make my opinion more weighty and valid? And list all the times parents did something wrong?)

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Quote

I just really hate when threads like this start to get an undertone of the leaders are slackers and mean and trying to make my life difficult.

Quote

 

I just really hate it when these threads act like leaders are saints who only do good and are sacrificing for the good of all while the lousy parents do nothing and complain. 

The problem with the internet is that it's easy for things to come across as very "all or nothing."  In reality most people tend to have pretty middle of the road opinions and there likely isn't anyone in this thread who thinks that all leaders are slackers and mean, nor is there likely anyone who thinks that all leaders are saints who only do good while lousy parents complain.  

There will always be crappy volunteers who are disorganized and incompetent, and there will always be whiny difficult parents who never help.  There will also always be stellar volunteers who go above and beyond and there will always be parents who always contribute their very best to every activity that their kids do.  And then there will always be most of the rest of us, who do the best we can with what we have, volunteer when we can, and when we can't, we don't.  

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If the leaders are that terrible, maybe the activity needs to go away. People won't volunteer and the activity won't be available and there will be a gap for a better leader to rise up, if they want to, and start the activity up again.

 

Or maybe no leader is totally a saint or totally horrible and we have to work with people where they are. And allow them to be not perfect. Not perfect about volunteering. Not perfect about managing their time. Not perfect about dealing with other people. Not perfect even about figuring out which activities are most important to them and their family.

 

I am volunteering as I can in our troop. But we lost one of our Scout Leaders this year and I know the other one wants to leave. I suspect, if no one steps up to do it this year that the troop will fold next year. I'll be sad. Maybe we'll find another AHG to go to. Maybe not. But I can't do it and if that is what has to happen because no one is willing to do the work, then that is what has to happen

 

ETA: When a leader is not a great leader, then as a participant you have to evaluate if it is worth it to be part of that even knowing that. Or better to drop the activity. I believe there is someone on this boards trying to make just this decision in regards to riding horses. And it is always tempered by what else is available in the community. If your kids REALLY love something and it isn't available elsewhere, that terrible leader may just turn out to be the best option available.

 

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3 minutes ago, vonfirmath said:

If the leaders are that terrible, maybe the activity needs to go away. People won't volunteer and the activity won't be available and there will be a gap for a better leader to rise up, if they want to, and start the activity up again.

 

Or maybe no leader is totally a saint or totally horrible and we have to work with people where they are. And allow them to be not perfect. Not perfect about volunteering. Not perfect about managing their time. Not perfect about dealing with other people. Not perfect even about figuring out which activities are most important to them and their family.

 

I am volunteering as I can in our troop. But we lost one of our Scout Leaders this year and I know the other one wants to leave. I suspect, if no one steps up to do it this year that the troop will fold next year. I'll be sad. Maybe we'll find another AHG to go to. Maybe not. But I can't do it and if that is what has to happen because no one is willing to do the work, then that is what has to happen.

 

Allow the parents not to be perfect, work with them where THEY are...something that rarely happens in these threads. It's always about the terrible, slacker parents.

Leaders benefit from leading. They get something out of it.

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3 minutes ago, unsinkable said:

Allow the parents not to be perfect, work with them where THEY are...something that rarely happens in these threads. It's always about the terrible, slacker parents.

Leaders benefit from leading. They get something out of it.

 

Participants don't keep a organization going. The leaders and volunteers do. So a participant that slacks off is not ultimately going to make or break whether it keeps running.

 

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1 minute ago, vonfirmath said:

 

Participants don't keep a organization going. The leaders and volunteers do. So a participant that slacks off is not ultimately going to make or break whether it keeps running.

 

Maybe I'm missing something...But doesn't an organization exist for the participants?

Like little league is there for the players to play baseball, girl scouts is there for the girls to do scouting stuff, etc.

If you have an organization where the leaders are difficult and unpleasant, and make participating difficult and unpleasant, the organization will suffer, too by losing participants.

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15 minutes ago, unsinkable said:

Allow the parents not to be perfect, work with them where THEY are...something that rarely happens in these threads. It's always about the terrible, slacker parents.

Leaders benefit from leading. They get something out of it.

But you're asking leaders to be perfect.  The OP's leader that set up this point system might be appropriate or might be horrible and unrealistic.  I'm definitely not saying leaders are perfect.  They can be great, they can be terrible, and everything in between.  But this leader set up a system to try and get some more help.  Who knows what else is going on for that leader and what led to this method.  If it doesn't work for the group, it will evolve or the group will fold or someone else will step up.  

You're basically saying the leader should lead everything, plus track and monitor the availability and desires of each participating family.   I do think solely volunteer run groups should be thought of more like co-ops.   I do think it's nice if volunteers are needed that there can be a variety of ways to fulfill that need but I also see how that doesn't work well for everything and sometimes you just need more adults present.   I also do see how if you're the Xth parent to say why you can't step up at all and you feel like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders, how that might get old for a leader and why they might implement a system that seems rigid and over the top to ensure they aren't working basically a job for no pay.

Some leaders may get some professional growth from volunteer roles, but the leading I have done as a parent has just been mostly about wanting certain opportunities in our community.   And I have dropped out of things when things were poorly run and there was no clear path to a better situation without basically jumping in and taking over.   Again, I'm generally assuming people are doing the best they can with the tools and time they have available.  That goes for leaders and participants.  If the volunteer requirements of a group don't work for your family or something is poorly run, it's fine to not participate.

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9 minutes ago, FuzzyCatz said:

But you're asking leaders to be perfect.  The OP's leader that set up this point system might be appropriate or might be horrible and unrealistic.  I'm definitely not saying leaders are perfect.  They can be great, they can be terrible, and everything in between.  But this leader set up a system to try and get some more help.  Who knows what else is going on for that leader and what led to this method.  If it doesn't work for the group, it will evolve or the group will fold or someone else will step up.  

You're basically saying the leader should lead everything, plus track and monitor the availability and desires of each participating family.   I do think solely volunteer run groups should be thought of more like co-ops.   I do think it's nice if volunteers are needed that there can be a variety of ways to fulfill that need but I also see how that doesn't work well for everything and sometimes you just need more adults present.   I also do see how if you're the Xth parent to say why you can't step up at all and you feel like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders, how that might get old for a leader and why they might implement a system that seems rigid and over the top to ensure they aren't working basically a job for no pay.

Some leaders may get some professional growth from volunteer roles, but the leading I have done as a parent has just been mostly about wanting certain opportunities in our community.   And I have dropped out of things when things were poorly run and there was no clear path to a better situation without basically jumping in and taking over.   Again, I'm generally assuming people are doing the best they can with the tools and time they have available.  That goes for leaders and participants.  If the volunteer requirements of a group don't work for your family or something is poorly run, it's fine to not participate.

I did not say that leaders have have to be perfect. Nor did "basically say" what you wrote in your second paragraph.

I don't think I commented at all about the specifics of SKL's situation...I'm not sure what you are reading.

I do find certain types of leaders and coaches difficult...the ones who are involved for their kids, when their kids get a benefit they wouldn't otherwise have and then the leader/coach complains about how much work it is and no one appreciates it...without ever acknowledging the benefit they get.

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It's kind of a catch-22, though. I have run groups mostly for DD's benefit for years, but now that she's aging out of them, there seems to be this expectation that they'll be there for the younger kids as well-and now I'm NOT getting nearly as much benefit for my work. I'm trying to convert them, this year, more to a co-op so that maybe they will be sustainable as DD and her similar age friends age out.

 

And I offered 2 classes this summer for kids that are younger than DD-it's a topic I love teaching, have lots of resources for, and greatly enjoy. What I've discovered is that when I would have done it for DD, I was a lot more tolerant of "Oh, we'll come if we can" than when I was doing it for other people's benefit-and that I either need to charge more so that I get enough out of it that I'm willing to put up with being treated badly, or not do it. Because being a semi-volunteer for folks who want stuff done for them and don't want to do anything (including letting me know if they decide not to come) just doesn't work for me when the benefit to me and my child is negligible. I like teaching music. I don't like it enough to do it for free for kids who's parents don't seem at all grateful for my efforts.

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23 hours ago, skimomma said:

Whatever the case, the list above is great.  But.  It takes MORE volunteers to do the things on the list!  

 

 

It does. And it's insanely hard to get some of those things in place. But, ime, it does pay off long-term. 

 

 

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Let me just say that I feel the leader in my OP is a really good leader and a good person as far as I can tell.  Her daughter aged out last year and she's still agreed to remain the leader, which I really appreciate.  She has been asking people to step up for years, and it worked to some degree, but apparently not enough.

Separately, I want to point out another aspect of this.

To me, scouts gets a lot of its value in that it's a long term journey.  Sometimes I feel like dropping out because it's not easy for us to even participate for various reasons.  But I feel like we're working toward a valuable long-term goal, so we stick it out.

That said, I don't feel just "oh well" if the troop shuts down.  I don't see a comparable alternative that we could pick up at this point.

And in that light, I don't like the idea that a family who's been on the journey gets cut off if circumstances make volunteering too hard at some point.  It's not like you can just drop out and drop back in a couple years later like nothing ever happened.

So as a single mom, what's going to happen if I have some sort of temporary catastrophe ... maybe the troop would give us a break ... I hope so.

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6 hours ago, SKL said:

Let me just say that I feel the leader in my OP is a really good leader and a good person as far as I can tell.  Her daughter aged out last year and she's still agreed to remain the leader, which I really appreciate.  She has been asking people to step up for years, and it worked to some degree, but apparently not enough.

Separately, I want to point out another aspect of this.

To me, scouts gets a lot of its value in that it's a long term journey.  Sometimes I feel like dropping out because it's not easy for us to even participate for various reasons.  But I feel like we're working toward a valuable long-term goal, so we stick it out.

That said, I don't feel just "oh well" if the troop shuts down.  I don't see a comparable alternative that we could pick up at this point.

And in that light, I don't like the idea that a family who's been on the journey gets cut off if circumstances make volunteering too hard at some point.  It's not like you can just drop out and drop back in a couple years later like nothing ever happened.

So as a single mom, what's going to happen if I have some sort of temporary catastrophe ... maybe the troop would give us a break ... I hope so.

 

I would hope the troop has enough resources and your family supports you enough that the girls could continue in the event of a bump in your road.  My scout group was good, but it does take a certain number of people to run the program. One just can't do certain activities without enough trained leaders. However, eating and shelter take priority. My son's Troop went through a year with very few campouts....between deployment and adults/older scouts picking up enough jobs to survive the recession, it was tough to do a full Troop campout. We all had to make some sacrifices to keep the group going that year, and that did mean individual scouts aging out without getting as far down the Trail as they wanted. Not quite the survival experience we were thinking of and we'll be wiser next recession.

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