For as long as I can remember, I have been involved with Boy Scouts of America. As a child, my parents signed me up for a Cub Scout Pack and I spent my early years learning how to work with crafts by making a leather wallet and helping others by doing simple projects around the school or in our home. As I got older, I learned how to handle a knife, build a fire and set up a tent. I also participated in more service projects.
By the time I hit 6th grade, I crossed over to Boy Scouts where knot tying and leadership skills were the new norm. Our service projects grew in size and we spent time building benches, cleaning parks and helping other scouts with their Eagle Scout Service Projects, including my own. We were also introduced to the concept of Cheerful Service through the Order of the Arrow, the National Honor Society of the BSA.
It was through Scouting I learned to give back to those helping me through my life’s journey and to my surrounding community. This concept has never left me and over time I have found that volunteering not only helps the organizations I participate in, but also helps me grow as a person.
I served as a Den Leader and then Cubmaster in my sons’ Pack for 8 years. This time was filled with excitement, fun, frustration, joy and sadness. And through the years, I learned how to lead a group of volunteers, plan programs that kept scouts and parents excited, and grew our pack from about 30 boys to over 100. After our boys aged out of the Pack and moved on to the Boy Scout Troop, I became an assistant Scoutmaster and the Charter Organization Representative, or Scouting Coordinator for six boy and girl scout units at our church.
Needless to say, I not only found value in promoting Scouting’s character building and leadership development for our young people, but the idea of continuing to give back has become a part of my core. Whether it’s providing assistance with my sons’ organizations, my HR professional associations, the churches I have belong to, or other community support service organizations, the idea of giving back is a natural part of who I am.
I have been asked why I spend so much of my free time doing these activities. I usually say I have free time so I can do these activities. For me, it’s not another thing I have to do, but rather a thing I get to do. My time in Scouts as both a youth participant and an adult volunteer has helped me grow in many ways.
I understand the value of my time and how I can make it more valuable by helping others.
I find joy in watching others grow and benefit from their participation in these organizations.
I love being able to spend time with my family as they also serve or participate with me.
I have a great sense of happiness-- particularly after a successful camping trip with scouts and parents who may have never set up a tent before, walked away utterly exhausted, with a huge smile on their face saying – they can’t wait to do it again.
There have been challenges, to say the least. But I have personally grown by overcoming those challenges and seeing the successful outcome on the other side. Frankly, without the time I have spent serving others, I’m not sure I would have been able to successfully start and grow my own business.
Scouting is not the only organization where I volunteer. Since I was 17, I have been volunteering my time by regularly donating blood and platelets. I give back to SHRM Jacksonville, HR Florida and the Society for Human Resource Management. With my family, I participated in the leadership of a new church launch for Longleaf Church. This included everything from serving on committees to assisting with the annual pumpkin patch. I also spend time working with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention in memory of our oldest son.
There is so much we have to offer others. Our knowledge. Our life experiences. Our passion for our favorite hobbies. Don’t hide these away. Share these joys with others. Go out – volunteer. You will be amazed at how much you get in return for the time you give to others!