I’d like to share some of my thoughts on my career. Much of this came from an article I wrote a few years ago for the Philmont summer Philnews encouraging Phil-staff to enter the profession.
First of all, professional Scouting is a great career. If you like working with lots of different people, in a job that is different every day, which will directly influence the lives of people, and if you are a self-starter, you should enjoy professional Scouting.
Like any “job” it has its ups and downs. How you handle the ups and downs will dictate how far you go – or if you decide to try something else. For me, the ups have far surpassed the downs. Also as is the case with any career, you have to work your way up the ladder from the lower-paying, hard working rung to the top rungs where the work may be just as hard and the responsibility greater, but you have more people and experience to help you so it seems easier.
Don’t expect to get the great jobs (like the one I had at Philmont) overnight. I hear many times that you get jobs based on who you know or being in the right place at the right time. That’s true! But the key is getting yourself to the right place at the right time by being successful at whatever you are currently doing and getting to be known by the people who can influence your career because of that success. If you are known as someone who can handle the promotion, you’ll get it, if not you won’t. I had to be successful in several positions which prepared me for Philmont when it opened up.
Like I have said before, one of the biggest frustrations I hear from new professionals is that everything is “numbers.” Staff leaders want then to start more units, raise more money, or recruit more kids. I have found that professionals who lose sight of what those “numbers” mean get into trouble. Those who don’t are successful and progress. Always remember, every “number” is a young person who might not become a Scout, or an Eagle Scout, or hike the trails of Philmont, if you didn’t expend that extra effort to meet a goal.
I speak from experience on that count because in one of my districts in needed one more Boy Scout troop to meet a goal one year. Three years later that troop (which I probably would never had messed with if not for needing that “number”) produced its first Eagle Scout from among the boys I had started it with. During the ceremony he presented me a business card holder – I still keep on my desk – and said “I you had not started this troop I would never have become an Eagle Scout nor received a full scholarship to the Merchant Marine Academy.”
I have been a professional Scouter for over 40 years now. I have been able to influence national BSA policies and worked on projects that in course of a year literally influenced millions of young people and their families. I have traveled to over 40 states in the course of BSA business. And, I have had the chance to meet and work with thousands of great folks – most who are doing great things but will never be famous – and to work with and meet household names like Jim Lovell, Ted Turner, Steve Fossett, Bob Gates, Rex Tillerson, Neil Armstrong, Lee Greenwood, Steve Young, Yogi Berra, Thomas Monson, George Steinbrenner, Jane Fonda, Gerald Ford, and more.
Regardless of what you do I hope you have a career that has been as wonderful as mine has been!