Most scouts troops fail not because there is a lack of youth but because there is a lack of willing adult volunteers.
There are many strands to unpick in that simple statement. One of the things that scouts has done and continues to do badly is sell the benefits to adults of being a volunteer. The low public standing of scouts in South Africa, compared to, say, the United States, makes this a difficult sell. In the US, scouts can and does frequently point to facts like 10 of the 12 astronauts who walked on the moon were scouts. South Africa cannot point to well known public figures who were scouts or any statistics comparable to the above. This is partially a product of our past with scouts viewed as a relic of an colonial past and the era of apartheid resulting in a racially divided scout movement in South Africa until it was unified in 1977 in defiance of the government of the day.
Volunteering in scouts can have great benefits in both a personal and business life. Of course a volunteer’s partner rapidly finds out that scouts is about their scouting half not being present over weekends and evenings spent in creating programmes or in meetings. This is a marital or relational matter to be negotiated but where there are children in the movement with the volunteer, the volunteer will find their relationship with their children considerably enhanced. There is always a topic of conversation and the amount of time spent with children will be considerably increased.
For business, the skills one learns in scouts by working with the youth and with other adult volunteers and the organisational and planning skills are used every day in a working life. A volunteer will find that their business skills are enhanced by the skills acquired in scouts and vice versa. The range of opportunities in scouts means that a volunteer can (and indeed must) move to a new position on a regular basis. New skills are acquired in new positions.
Even if the advantages above are not really realised there is nonetheless satisfaction in volunteering. We take nothing from this world, we leave only a legacy. Volunteering in scouts leaves, as Baden-Powell said, “the world a better place than you found it”.