Ryan Weaverling

Learning About Leadership Through Involvement with Boy Scouts of America

Published On: May 29, 2014 | Categories: Culture |

Some of the fondest memories of my childhood are from my membership to the Boy Scouts of America. First as a Cub Scout where we did lots of crafts, and then on to Boy Scouts where we learned more about the outdoors and how to handle ourselves in the different situations we may come across. What I didn’t realize at the time was that I was also learning how to be an effective leader. The troop was broken down into a structure where you had different people in various positions doing a wide variety of things and reporting to a number of people. Not unlike what you would find in our government or in corporate America.

One night at a committee meeting they asked who wanted to take over the role of Outings Chair. I was the last parent to look down at the table (ignoring the question), so I became “that guy.” I think they call it being volun-told I got the position. I have to admit, I loved it. Hook, line, and sinker. I was organizing camping events for upwards of 130 people. It was stressful, but I realized how valuable it was to work with kids. I also started thinking back to my days as a scout and how much fun it was. Since then, I’ve taken on many roles include Assistant Cubmaster, Cubmaster, Troop Committee Chair, Trainer, and most recently (and currently) Scoutmaster of Ankeny’s Troop 73. In the three years I’ve been with the Troop, we’ve doubled in size and are sitting at 60 registered boys.

Why do I do it?

For one simple pay back. Have you ever worked with someone as they were trying to learn something new? Maybe it was something they didn’t think they could do? Think about that moment when they get that fire started with a flint and steel, catch that monster fish, climb that tower, etc. They will look at you with that, “I CAN do it” face, smiling from ear to ear! There is no payment around that holds more value to me than seeing their face in that exact moment.

There is a saying amongst Scout leaders, “It’s only an hour a week!” That line is often followed up by, “Per boy!” Every time I get bogged down with the “job” I’ve volunteered for and the stresses of dealing with teenage boys, I think back to those leaders that volunteered to ensure my scouting experience was fun, positive, and memorable. Namely, Hance Throckmorton, Gordon Cox, Roger Farrow, and my father, Larry Weaverling. There is no way I could possibly repay them for the stress and frustration I caused them back in the day. To date, I’ve worked directly with somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 boys and been a part of training around 75 adult leaders. In turn, if each of them works with 200 boys then my volunteerism will have impacted thousands of people’s lives. Maybe some of those boys I’ve impacted will one day feel that same calling, forget to look down at the table when help is needed, and volunteer to be a part of this great Scouting movement!