Practical Dad

Stepping Up and Volunteering

You have kids and as they age, they want to try new things - sports, scouts, music.  And in the great majority of instances, you'll fill out the registration and come upon the dreaded section asking what duties you'd be willing to fill.  And these positions are typically things that you've never done before in your life.  Do you really have to sign up for something?

No.  But you should.

There simply isn't enough money to go around and provide all of the opportunities that parents want their kids to have.  So the best way to stretch the dollar is to support the myriad voluntary organizations and clubs that provide the opportunities.  Many of these organizations have been around for a long time so stepping up isn't like creating the wheel, although there are moments when you have to help change a few tires.  What are some of the things that you should know and remember about volunteering?

  • Experience isn't a prerequisite for getting involved in the activity.  There are three salient points about volunteering.  First, the large majority of coaches, advisors and den leaders are the parents of the kids involved in the activity.  Second, many of these other adults also have no real experience but want to assure that their kids have a good time so you're all in the same situation.  And third, the kids are young enough that they'll have no clue that you're a neophyte.  They honestly like having Dad involved in the activity.
  • Because the kids are coached by the parents, they move up and gain experience together.  The coaches and advisors will learn as they go along, attend offered clinics if they're interested, and generally better themselves as the kids do the same.  So it isn't as though you're stepping into coaching at a semi-pro level or taking scouts to Philmont Scout Ranch.
  • Performing the various tasks is akin to the See One, Do One, Teach One school of experience.  There are no Discovery Channel experts to direct you in how to properly lay out a soccer field or keep a basketball scorebook while simultaneously running the scoreboard and clock.  You pitch in and pay attention and by the third season, you're the guy with the clipboard and calculator who's laying out the initial soccer lines.  And folks are grateful to you.
  • Many sport organizations have various skill levels for the youngsters.  The Rec League level is for the kids who just want to play without the stress of competing against better/more intense players at the Travel level.  Since the better players frequently have parents who played when younger and so taught their kids, these folks will tend to wind up coaching at the upper level.  Think about where you're most interested and handle it accordingly. 
  • You don't have to be a coach or scout leader to volunteer since there are any number of tasks that need to be done; you can tailor the involvement to the time available for commitment.  In my case, I supplemented being a scout leader with lining soccer fields.

It can be unnerving to take on an activity with which you aren't familiar.  What will everybody else think?  Will my kid be embarrassed?  The reality is that most are in the same boat and you won't embarrass the kids until they're teenagers.

Full Disclosure:  Don't try to run a scoreboard/clock while keeping the coach's scorebook.  The data suffers horribly.

 

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