I just noticed on a recent edition of the local newspaper an article. “United Way in need of volunteers”, the headline proclaimed. Ahh, volunteering! What a wonderful way to give back to your community. I’ve been volunteering for the past several years, and it is a great way to give of yourself when giving a lot of money is not an option… unless you are a volunteer for Boy Scouts of America, in which you can give your time and lots of money, ’cause, you know, there’s actually people who make money doing this scout stuff for a living, and we gotta get their salaries paid somehow.
I volunteer as an adult leader for both Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts. I started with my oldest son’s cub scout den, and progressed with him to Boy Scouts. Now, my youngest has started Cub Scouts, so I’m helping there too. I am also a deacon at the church I attend. I have a little under a year left on a four-year term, then I have to take a couple of years off. I enjoy all of the positions to which I volunteer my time, but one thing I’ve learned about volunteering is that sometimes, you need a break.
I am looking forward to the completion of my term as a deacon. I have really enjoyed serving the members of our church and getting to know them better, but it is a time commitment that will be nice to see go away for awhile.
I was really hoping that I was about done with scouts. I always figured that if I could get my oldest son through Cub Scouts and into Boy Scouts, he could take it from there. I was wrong. Some how I was conned into helping there too. Come on! Can’t I finally be one of the parents who always just drops the kids off for someone else to entertain? And I did everything I could think of to keep the younger son from wanting to join scouts.
“They eat puppy dogs on camp outs,” I said to the little guy.
“But Brother did it, so I want to too,” he replied.
“Yep, barbecued puppy dog with fried spiders,” I said. “It’s pretty gross, and you have to eat it really fast so the smell doesn’t attract the vampires. You can hear the vampires searching for blood outside your tent at night.”
“But, I really want to be a scout like Brother, Dad,” he said, crying now but trying to be brave and hold back the tears.
I really think I could have talked him out of it. I was about to go into the poisonous snakes that like to crawl into the sleeping bags with the scouts at night when the wife walked in and put a stop to it. She then proceeded to lecture me on the fact that it is only fair that we support the younger son’s decision to participate in an activity that has been such a big part of his older brother’s life.
So, I agreed if the wife agreed to be the den leader… at least to start. She agreed, if I agreed to be involved and do the camping thing. I reluctantly agreed. I love camping… in a camper with heat and air conditioning and a refrigerator and a toilet and a BED. Any form of camping that involves a tent and sleeping on the ground is for those fortunate enough to be under the age of 40.
The wife volunteers even more than me. She is more active in the younger son’s Cub Scout pack, serving as den leader and holding a position or two on the board. She is also active on our younger son’s elementary school booster club. She has volunteered for other organizations in the past, including a local MOPS chapter, our church’s AWANA club, serving on the board of a local investment club. She is also volunteering for stuff any time the schools ask for parents to help with this or that.
Volunteering can be very fulfilling… or so I’m told. One thing that volunteering has taught me personally is that if you aren’t willing to donate your time to a worthwhile cause, you have no right to complain about much of ANYTHING!
“But I’m just way too busy.”
What a load of CRAP! Every single person that I know has enough free time to volunteer for something. If someone tells you that they are to busy to volunteer, what they are really saying is, “I am very selfish and my free time means way too much to me to give it up for something bigger than my own life.” I really want to believe that there is some sort of cosmic feng shui crap that is going to bite these selfish bastards in the ass some day, but I don’t think there is.
What really twists my tighty whiteys all up-in-a-knot is those who don’t volunteer, but who somehow think they have some sort of right to complain about how those who do volunteer are doing things. You know, like the parent who never comes to the planning meetings and then throws a hissy fit because we planned the scout banquet for a night her son can’t come. Or the parent who is torked off that we aren’t having the scouts participate in some parade or another, but wasn’t willing to help as an adult leader at the parade… and the only reason we didn’t do it is because we couldn’t get enough adult volunteers.
Youth baseball is one of the areas where non-volunteering parents seem to think that because they were born with a mouth, they are entitled to open it without first engaging their brains. At my 7-year-old’s first game, the coaches were pitching. It is supposed to be a pitching-machine league, but somebody forgot to unlock the shed with the machines before the game. I’m not going to bitch, however, because I’m sure the person who forgot was a volunteer. Anyway, coaches aren’t always exactly the best pitchers. Not a big deal. These guys volunteer their time to teach our sons how to play a fun game. some of them take 7 and 8-year-old baseball a little too serious, and some of them take it not serious enough. I figure, as long as the kids learn something and have a good time, it’s all good. One of the boy’s dad on the opposite team apparently didn’t agree with me. His kid got up to bat and the coach started throwing balls to him. The pitches weren’t perfect. The coach kept trying and the kid kept swinging. Finally, the dad started to let his frustration show. He started hollering.
“C’mon, Timmy,” he yelled after his kid once again missed the ball. “Don’t worry about it.”
This parent and his kid were on my son’s t-ball team last year, and I remember this particular dad being overly vocal.
“Maybe if the coach could actually get one across the plate, you could hit it,” the red-faced father yelled. “Sooner or later he’s got to throw you one you can actually hit!”
Seriously?!? The coach is looking embarrassed and a little upset. Finally, little Timmy connects, and his dinkweed-of-a-father erupts into cheers and applause. Jackwads like this dad are one of the reasons I don’t volunteer for sports. There are too many parents who I would end up telling to “go to hell” in front of a bunch of kids, and that’s not pleasant for anyone. Meanwhile Mr. I-like-to-degrade-the-coach-in-front-of-all-the-kids-and-their-parents: why don’t you shut your pie hole and volunteer your time? I’m guessing because you think your “too busy” and you have too many other “very important things” to do that prevent you from putting your actions where your mouth is rampantly running. It’s just to bad that “business” and those “important things” don’t keep you away from the games as well…
So yes, in the world of volunteering (just like in the work-a-day world), you are going to be confronted with morons. The world is full of them.
To all of you who volunteer… thank you. Your sacrifice is not unappreciated, although at times it feels like it is 🙂
To all you too indifferent or selfish (I just don’t have the time) to volunteer… grow up and grow a set. As much as I bitch about it, volunteering is worthwhile, fulfilling, and proves to the world that you are not a vain, self-serving idiot.
To all of you who refuse to volunteer but like to complain when a volunteer organization doesn’t do exactly what you want when you want it… go suck a lemon, jerkwad!