Scout leader gifts and recognition are a very critical part of the Scouting program for many reasons. For me, this is a calling but that does not mean my team feels the same. Do not make the mistake of ensuring that the labor has been complete then gloss over recognizing your leaders as often as possible.
Importance of Camaraderie
Leaders are permitted to have a great amount of fun too – Fun with a purpose as Baden Powell quipped.
Scouters aka volunteers join and start to help out because they see the need and want to help. For some that is enough but for most others burn out is a very likely consequence. It is common knowledge that scouting has been in a significant decline with by some estimations 50% failing units since the seventies. There are many reasons I will discuss in another blog but clearly having leaders burn out and become disillusioned is a major factor. We can always get children – the question is, can we get and keep leaders?
Many, if not most will come to stay for the camaraderie and the natural desire to be part of something positive. Recognition and scout leader gifts helps establish that team feel and done properly incorporates your new members into the club with a visible reference that resonates psychologically.
In addition, the non-leader parents also need to find it enjoyable or else they may leave. Thankfully, these recognition tactics help validate and preserve our leadership cadre, make others want to become a member and provide amusement for those that cannot offer more than being parents.
When – Every year we recognize the leaders at Blue & Gold. Depending upon the length of service and if people are crossing over we fluctuate the presentations accordingly. In addition, we recognize specific individuals in pack meetings and camp outs as once a year is not sufficient. Budget and being a thrifty scout does not permit an annual giving of some of these gifts that are oriented towards departing leaders. However, there are plenty of less expensive gifts like the Norman Rockwell plaques and medallions referenced below that can be squeezed into the budget.
Here are our some of our best practices:
- Scout Leader Gifts – Walking Sticks with medallions
Our first year as leaders was the last year for five leaders who had been there from Tigers and one that was on his second child with cubs and was moving on after seven years. We decided to do something special to show our gratitude for their service. We will be doing it again this year as we say fond farewell to the great leaders that transformed our pack from Pack 608 to Pack 60Great.
There are a variety of walking sticks like these from Amazon that serve very well as mementos. They are very nice, sturdy, practical and functional. We put the medallions on them for the cub scout ranks and then personalize them with carving in – dremel – or burning in the pack number and their name.
- Scout Leader Gifts and Recognition – Beagle Patrol
We currently have seven Eagles in our pack and for us mere mortals in the leader ranks we have formed the Beagle Patrol. We have the boys run around during the recognition like puppies and bring up the new leaders to the front and then we hand them over a special Dog patch that they wear on their uniform sleeve. We also have dog biscuits made of ginger or chocolate chip for the initiation ceremony. The kids get a kick out of it and the parents are validated and accepted into the leadership community.
- Scout Leader Gifts – Stamps and Rockwell
Doing a search on google for leader ideas is what sparked this blog as the results were rather anemic. Nonetheless that did lead me to discover something I feel very good about as a walking staff isn’t suitable for every leader. We have a very special lady who is leaving this year and one of those women that is very difficult to buy for as her interests are not easily ascertained or rote.
I am a Norman Rockwell geek as he presents the best side of Americana and was a zealous Scouting advocate. For about fifty years he ingrained scouting into his art and there is a rich amount of material to choose from for gift purposes. Amazon.com led me to their selection which took me elsewhere and I am delighted to share these as they seem like a very special and rare gift. Links follow:
Norman Rockwell Print and Stamps – This one in the link below is the one I selected as it struck me as the item that illustrates one of the key roles we play as Scouters. With all of the hours we put into preparing skits, meals, ceremonies and meetings we likely forget or misplace why we are on the crazy carousel of being a scout volunteer. Amongst many things we are creating future leaders. We are also perpetuating a tradition by instilling the critical trait of service into our children and this print shows the path many of us have followed from Cub Scout to leader.
I want my leader to have this so if she ever wonders why she ever doubts her value in managing all those health forms, or re-chartering, or creating the family guides she will have a reminder. This poster will remind her that she helped form leaders that will form more leaders. Her ripple in the pond will resonate for generations.
Norman Rockwell Scout Print Search from Amazon
- Scout Leader Gifts – Gag Gifts – Urinals and Stickers
For those leaders that require recognition of a different sort we also add in the element of off color amusement.
Let’s face it, after five years our leaders have matured physically as well as mentally and that has taken a toll, particularly amongst the men. Why, as a tenured expert would a skilled woodsman still need to resort to that three a.m. rookie stumble to the tent zipper and wake up the surrounding campers with the sound, and God forbid, the smell of their urine???
We certainly don’t present it that way at Blue & Gold but certainly we can leverage innuendo as illustrated in movies like Shrek for good clean humor. To spice it up to the next level of silliness we add the cub scout rank stickers in mock tribute to the leaders and get some good laughs.
- Appreciation Skits
To run a pack is no small thing and while the uniformed leaders get their recognition there are many others who steadily contribute that need to be recognized. We do a skit where the kids acknowledge these parents that do the thankless tasks like tow the trailer, fill the propane tanks, bring the firewood, shop for supplies, pick up ice and more.
Make sure you show they are are appreciated or make sure you have new leaders ready for when they quit.
Other great scout leader gift ideas can be found at my compatriot’s sites like:
Bryan on Scouting
Creek Stewarts’ Great Survival Store
Yours in Scouting