My children are grown now, but it wasn’t always so. I don’t recall specifically whether I volunteered or was recruited, but I did, at some point, find myself in the position of Assistant Scoutmaster.
The Scoutmaster was a veteran leader who commanded much respect in the community. He was likable, experienced, knowledgeable and enthusiastic. He was an excellent role model who believed strongly in delineation of responsibilities. He met his responsibilities and he expected others to meet theirs. I was proud to work with him.
Along came one weekend, during which we took the Scouts camping. This particular expedition one might think of as more of a character-building exercise than a relaxed outing. It rained through most of Friday and Saturday. The troop was well-run and the boys were well prepared, so things went reasonably smoothly. By Sunday morning, though, we were ready to leave.
The sun was finally out. The cars were packed. The troop and the leaders were gathering in the parking lot when I looked back across the campsite and caught a glimpse of litter we were about to leave behind.
The Scoutmaster was at the office checking out, so I took the initiative. I lined up the boys shoulder to shoulder on one side of the camp and positioned the patrol leaders at the other side with trash bags. I then led the boys across the site picking up trash.
We filled three bags in less than 10 minutes.
The Scoutmaster, returning from the office to find this exercise ongoing, gave me a puzzled look. “What’s this?” he asked. “Just one last, final cleanup,” was my simple reply. His response was telling: “We paid a fee to come here. They have staff who take care of that.” He tossed the bags over in the direction of the overflowing dumpsters before getting into his car to lead the caravan home. I grabbed the bags and quickly tossed them into the trunk of my car to set out by the curb when I got home.
I’ve long believed in my own personal responsibility to leave a place better than I found it. I’m inclined to take initiative.
As we look around our chapters, it’s easy to see work that needs to be done. Someone needs to be in charge and someone needs to organize, but many need to take initiative. When you see something that needs doing, do it. If you have a skill, share it.
We’re halfway through the year. The nominating committees have met and Council Reps are being encouraged to run for a position on the board. It’s time to give some real thought to whom we want to send into leadership positions—in what directions we want the society to head. Take a look around you. Who are the leaders? Who is taking initiative? Personally, I think we need both leaders and doers.
There are many who think we need less status quo. I’m not going to weigh in on
this in this article. What I will do is encourage each of us to give serious thought to the age-old “right-track, wrong-track” question.
Is ASHI on the right track? Is it meeting the needs of new inspectors just entering the profession? Is it effectively utilizing the rich heritage of successful veteran members? Are there people, ideas or both that are simply waiting on the sidelines for an
opportunity to effect a positive difference?
By the way: When I got home, my wife sorted out the recyclables, including about 3 cents worth of aluminum cans.