Words Cannot Express
By Laura Biggs
Every volunteer appreciates an occasional "thank you," especially when delivered in a creative and (often) unexpected form.
Who came two hours early to help set up for the big event? Who brought the doughnuts and cider for the pack meeting? Who spent five vacation days running the crafts area at Cub day camp? Chances are it was a volunteer, a dedicated parent, or community-spirited individual, without whom Scouting couldn't happen.
Unfortunately, volunteers sometimes can be taken for granted. Like the time I drove three hours and spent a full day on a volunteer project, only to be dismissed with, "Thanks for coming and please empty the trash on your way out." I left feeling unappreciated and reluctant to offer any more time or effort to that particular group.
A simple 'thank you'
Of course, volunteers don't expect to be paid, but in Scouting we try to offer them something that is often appreciated as much as payment and sometimes even morerecognition.
As a Scout leader, you'll have many occasions to recognize individuals who help make the program happen. Sometimes a sincere pat on the back will do, but every so often you'll want to try something a little more creative.
In my years of Scouting, I have seen a simple thank you take many forms, including a formal plaque, a shower of confetti, a silly serenade, a squirt gun salute, and (my personal favorite) chocolate.
I know a Cubmaster who presents his den leaders with a small token at the monthly pack meeting. A box of raisins (a "raisin" pay) or mini-packet of Cheerios ("hip, hip, hooray!") does the job of making his volunteers feel valued in their role as leaders.
Some winning ideas
If you are pressed for ideas that go a little beyond the computer-generated certificate, here are 20 fun ways to show your volunteers they are appreciated and valued.
You get the idea. The point to remember is that everyone craves recognition. All helpers want to be appreciated for the good things they do. Recognition doesn't have to be expensive or time consuming. It only needs to express how glad you are for each person's presence and help.
When you make the effort to creatively say thanks, you will very likely be signing up that same helper for future events. In the end, recognizing a volunteer will make both of you feel like a million bucks.
Now that's what I call a paycheck.
Freelance writer and Scouter Laura Biggs lives in Front Royal, Va.
Copyright © 2004 by the Boy Scouts of America. All rights thereunder reserved; anything appearing in Scouting magazine or on its Web site may not be reprinted either wholly or in part without written permission. Because of freedom given authors, opinions may not reflect official concurrence.