Tips for reining in a grumpy volunteer

Answer the next question and your advice could appear in an upcoming issue.

A volunteer in J.S.’s troop is so negative that no one can stand to be around him. J.S. asked what the troop should do with its sourpuss. Dealing With Negative Scouters

Your committee needs to review the need for this leader and perhaps find a position that better suits his talents. If that doesn’t work, the committee chair may need to talk with the chartered organization representative and remove the problem.

Committee Chair B.E.

What do you mean by “so negative”? Is it life in general or Scouting specifically? If it is life in general, he may have depression problems and need medical attention. Encourage him to seek help. If it is something specifically about Scouting, there may actually be a real problem that needs attention. Investigate the problem and see if it can be improved. If the problem is either imaginary or unfixable, you may have to ask the person to resign, or replace him.

Unit Commissioner D.B.

Not every adult application is a good one. Sometimes you have to close a few doors. Do it gently and say thank you, but remember that a Scout is cheerful. If you can’t uphold that, this isn’t your trail.

Skipper T.S.

The unit committee should step in and suggest that the leader needs a break from active involvement. If the person is truthful with himself, he will do the right thing when it is suggested. Frequently these timeouts result in a newly energized leader.

Chartered Org. Representative S.T.

Negativity is not always a bad thing, but it has its place and time — not every time your mouth is open. Find someone he respects to have a talk with him and show him how much better positive attitudes work.

Assistant Scoutmaster P.A.

Ask your unit commissioner to help you talk to him. That’s what we’re here for. Perhaps he doesn’t realize the situation, needs more training or would do better in another position in Scouting.

Asst. District Commissioner G.W.

Use the “Start, Stop, Continue” evaluation process after any event or outing. Ask that all leaders give input for all three categories. Don’t let him get away with only providing “stops” or negative comments. Emphasize that this is a continuing process for improvement.


Bring the individual to the side and explain the situation. Offer a constructive solution and try not to embarrass or humiliate him. If he is not open to change or takes offense, the last alternative would be to request that he no longer participate.

Cubmaster P.O’H.

Let him know you need help but that negative talk makes new leaders and parents second-guess what they have gotten involved in. We all have our opinions on Scouting matters, but that is what leader/committee meetings are for.

Cubmaster K.H.

Answer the next question and your advice could appear in an upcoming issue.

Plus, you can share your own questions for consideration, here. If your question is selected for our print edition, you will receive $50.

4 thoughts on “Tips for reining in a grumpy volunteer

    After “months of practice”, Scouts fail to improve on their fitness tests…(Jan-Feb 2014 issue)….In my opinion, ‘months’ of practice is far too long to hold young boys back from advancing due this one particular element required for Tenderfoot, and in fear of losing him due to lack of interest in the program. I’d evaluate each one by considering ‘has the young Scout done his best’? Then I’d sign it off and move on.
    Scouting allows for exemptions all along the trail to Eagle, particularly for boys having special needs, medical and other physical issues. For ‘higher level’ elements of advancement, consultation with a medical professional may be in order. Many times it’s the Scoutmaster’s call on not allowing a boy to participate in a particular outing due to the boy’s physical condition.
    That’s what makes Scouting the program for all boys.

    • This is one requirement that continually pops up and I have to ask the leader about his interpretation. Tenderfoot 10A says to record your best in the tests stated. 10B then asks that the scout shows improvement in the activities listed in 10A after thirty days. It does NOT say that his numerical count has to increase, ie. 10 pushups increased to twelve after a month. His attitude could have improved or his stamina increased to complete them from ten minutes to three minutes. I have to question those who add a word here and there because they thought it was needed.

  2. I am always perplexed by the continuous suggestion(s) that every problem needs to have an inordinately detailed investigation (see “dig deeper”) and full blown mental health treatment as part of the solution.
    We are volunteers with other responsibilities- not psychotherapists and social workers.
    We are trying to deliver the Scouting program – not diagnose every foible of every individual.
    We are here for the proverbial “hour a week (LOL)” and do not want to take _hours_ out of the program to deal with every microscopic detail of any given parent’s life.

    Unless and until the Committee can deal- quickly and with little drama- with this or any other problem leader or parent, that individual should be sidelined from delivering the Scouting program.

  3. Typically when they are attempting the feat of a pull up they are very young and have not enjoyed the effects of free testosterone so gaging such a thing as a full body weight pull up as pass or fail is wrong. The measurement needs to be more precise. In some fitness gyms you will see a weight assisted pull up machine which displaces some of your body weight while allowing you to still do a pull up, and build the muscles required to do a pull up. To build confidence, and muscle you can easily build your own in the form of a lever, or more commonly known as a teeter totter. Placing one end of the apparatus under the Scouts feet and placing weights on the other end will allow them to preform pull ups. You can then adjust the weight down until they are pulling their own body weight up. Building muscles takes time so if a Scouts initial weight load at the beginning is more than a month or so later they have shown improvement.

    Hope this helps, if you need more explanation feel free to contact me.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *