It’s a fact that Scouting has had a massive impact on many young people’s lives, myself included. If you’re one of the rare individuals who’d like to give back to Scouting, even after turning 18 or Eagling out, in this article I’ll be giving you 5 great ways to stay involved by supporting your local troops and Scouting organizations.
When I was a scout, I always wished there were down to earth resources to help with leadership skills and merit badge completion. That’s why I created ScoutSmarts. However, in the future, I also want to volunteer my time to help a scout troop — and I know that some of you are willing to do that as well! That’s why I’ll be filling you in on some of the different ways you can give back to Scouting.
This article will be split into two parts: The first section is for those of you who are under 18 but have reached Eagle, while the second section will be for people who are over 18 but are looking for ways to stay involved in Scouting. You can use the headings and skip to the section that’s relevant to you.
For Eagle Scouts Under Age 18
If you’ve already earned the rank of Eagle, but are under the age of 18 and still want to be involved in Scouting, here are some of the best ways you can give back. After I became an Eagle Scout, I stayed involved in my troop by taking on the role of an Instructor.
Becoming an Instructor will let you test the waters so you can determine whether you’d like to stay involved in Scouting as a background leader. Your goal is to make everything run smoothly from the sidelines. When you’re an Instructor, you’ll generally need to take a step back from directly leading your troop, and instead, try to support individual scouts who need you your support the most.
As an Eagle Scout Instructor, you’ll have more responsibility and freedom than other scouts in the Instructor role. An instructor is in charge of teaching skills to younger scouts and helping them advance in rank. When I was an instructor, some of my basic duties included:
- Helping scouts learn basic skills.
- Encouraging scouts to earn merit badges.
- Providing advice to new leaders.
- Setting a good example.
- Preparing scouts for their board of reviews.
Although I moved and wasn’t able to stay involved in Scouting until the age of 18, becoming an Instructor was a great experience that opened my eyes to the importance of properly coaching younger scouts. Many of the articles I write for ScoutSmarts come from lessons I’ve learned and taught in my role as an instructor.
If you’re also interested in becoming a troop instructor, watch the short video (0:48) below:
Troop Guide and Junior Assistant Scoutmaster
If you find success as an Instructor and want to continue staying active in Scouting, your Scoutmaster will likely move you into the role of a Troop Guide, or even a Junior Assistant Scoutmaster (JASM).
In both of these roles, you’ll be tasked with mentoring younger scouts and providing guidance to your troop. Officially, the Troop Guide plays a greater part than an Instructor would in supporting patrol leaders and improving teamwork within their patrols. A JASM, on the other hand, must be over the age of 16, and essentially functions as an Assistant Scoutmaster would.
After acting as an Instructor or a Troop Guide, you’ll likely be moved into the role of a Junior Assistant Scoutmaster if you’ve demonstrated responsibility and strong leadership skills. Once a JASM reaches the age of 18, they are eligible to officially become Assistant Scoutmasters.
For more information on being a Troop Guide, watch the short video (0:52) below:
For more information on being a Junior Assistant Scoutmaster, watch the next video (0:58) below:
Regardless of whichever role you end up doing, remaining a part of your troop after Eagling out is one of the best actions you can take to support Scouting. In my experience, being an instructor was even more fun than being a normal scout. It gave me the opportunity to give back to my troop and improve my leadership in other ways — I’m sure I’ll do the same for you as well!
If you’re under the age of 18 but still want to stay involved in Scouting, don’t hesitate to move into any of these three positions. I have no doubt that your troop will appreciate your help, and that you’ll grow tremendously along the way! If, on the other hand, you’re over the age of 18, this next section is for you.
For Eagle Scouts Over Age 18
If you’re 18 or older but still want to give back to Scouting, you and I are in the same boat. After doing some research, I’ve found the three best paths you can take to stay involved in Scouting after the age of 18.
Your first possibility is Venturing. As a Venture Scout, you’re able to participate until the age of 21, and will basically be doing all of the same activities as you’ve done in Scouting, plus much more! Because the average age of a Venturing crew is higher, you’ll be able to participate in other exciting activities requiring more responsibility.
If you’re over the age of 21, don’t lose hope. You’re still able to volunteer with a Venturing crew, given that you’ve completed the necessary youth protection training. As a volunteer, you can still attend Venturing activities and help your crew members to grow and succeed.
To learn more about the Venturing program, and even locate a crew near you, check out their official Scouting page by clicking here. If you’re interested in seeing if this program might be right for you, you can watch the Venturing recruitment video (4:28) below:
Bonus tip: If you’re under the age of 21, you can also participate in Sea Scouts. Sea Scouts is like Venturing but mainly takes place on the water. This program is ideal for individuals looking to join the Coast Guard or enter into a career that involves being in lakes or oceans. You can see the Sea Scout official page by clicking the link here.
Assistant Scoutmaster/Troop Committee
If you’re looking for ways to stay involved that are more closely related to Scouting and your old troop, you can become an Assistant Scoutmaster or join your troop’s committee. Both of these roles are vital to the success of any troop but differ tremendously in terms of the responsibilities you’ll be taking on.
As a Scoutmaster, you’ll be tasked with enabling the leaders of your troop to succeed and making sure that everything is running smoothly. In this role, you can also act as a merit badge counselor and help to guide scouts through earning their merit badges. You’ll need to complete trainings such as the youth protection training, and will have optional trainings as well, such as the Wood Badge.
As a committee member, you’ll be helping support your troop from behind the scenes. There are various positions within a troop committee like a secretary or treasurer. These functionaries make sure that a troop’s finances and leadership policies are in order. The committee also must communicate with BSA nationals to make sure that the troop is being run according to regulations.
While you won’t be too involved in Scouting activities if you take part in your troop’s committee, you’ll still be able to provide enormous value through your volunteering efforts.
Regulations for Adults in Troop Positions
Be warned, there are many more regulations you’ll need to follow once you reach the age of 18. For instance, you’ll be unable to meet with any scouts one-on-one, nor will you be able to share a tent with any troop members under the age of 18. This issue is more prevalent if you decide to become an ASM, rather than volunteering as a committee member.
These new regulations exist is to remove any possible liability you might have and ensure the safety of the troop. However, these rules might seem a bit excessive, especially if you’re an 18 year old who’s trying to hang out with your 17 year old friend who’s still in the troop. Keep these rules in mind when volunteering as an over-18 year old.
Unit Commissioner/Volunteering on the District Level
If you’re set on giving back to Scouting, but would like to avoid some of the regulations that will exist for volunteers in adult positions, you also have the option of becoming a Unit Commissioner and volunteering on the district level.
As a Unit Commissioner, you’ll be tasked with mentoring a troop on behalf of Scouts BSA. You’ll be responsible for attending committee meetings and providing troops with the resources necessary to succeed. As a unit commissioner, you’ll also help troops find resources, schedule trainings, and improve their community service efforts.
Helping your district council better connect with the troop that you’re working with will give Scouting a stronger presence in your area. By speaking with adult leaders and collecting information, your district will know whether or not it needs to provide additional training or resources. As a unit commissioner, you’ll be benefiting Scouting without needing to directly work with individual scouts and scout leaders.
To take the first steps toward becoming a unit commissioner, click the link here. It will walk you through the process of connecting with your district representatives and getting trained. Once you’re trained and approved as a unit commissioner, you’ll be ready to support countless scout troops in your area.
If you’re interested in becoming a Unit Commissioner, or any other type of Scouting commissioner, the following video will walk you through some of the most frequently asked questions:
Whether you’re able to volunteer time, effort, or money towards Scouting, your contribution has the potential to make a significant difference in the lives of countless scouts. By finding the best way to stay involved in Scouting, you’ll be able to continue making an impact, even after Eagling out or reaching the age of 18. These milestones could just be the start of your Scouting journey.
If you’re also transitioning from being a scout to entering the real world, I’ve also made some guides on using your Scouting experience to get into colleges, crush job interviews, and create awesome resumes. For more information on how to apply your Scouting experience to the real world, check out my complete guide here.
As I’ve mentioned earlier, my goal with ScoutSmarts is to give back to Scouting by providing valuable leadership and rank advancement information for future Eagle Scouts. No contribution is too small. By finding any way that you can to support Scouting, you’ll help to build up our future generations and make our world a better place!