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By:    On: 2012-06-28

This week, I had the chance to interview Hal Daume, the Scouter who writes the popular “Ask Andy” column at for an upcoming Scouting magazine article. (Check out the column if you haven’t seen it before; you’ll find lots of smart advice.) We had a great discussion, but one thing in particular struck me. Hal said the most important volunteer in any troop is not the Scoutmaster, not the committee chairman, not any adult leader at all, in fact.

Instead, it’s the Scout.

Think about it. Your Scouts have plenty of other places they could be instead of at your troop meetings and outings. And as they get older, their options only increase while their parents’ hold over them decreases. If you waste their time, treat them poorly, or create artificial hoops for them to jump through in the advancement program, they will vote with their feet and go volunteer somewhere else.

Consider, for example, the Scout who plays baseball and comes straight from a game to a troop meeting without having time to change out of one uniform into another. Do you greet him at the door and ask him where his uniform is? Or do you thank him for making the extra effort to be there? Your answer may determine where your most important volunteer will spend his time next week.

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