Getting the timing right!

MOVIS_015When the ticket is worked and all the good deeds are done, it is time to go on to other adventures in life. When it is done right, retirement is something to look forward to, in Scouting as in life.  The volunteer has chosen it because they have reached a point in their commitment to Scouting where they are happy with what they have given and/or what they gained, and they are ready to move on.

When done in tandem with succession planning it is part of the review in an ongoing process, and is a cause for celebration.  It may be the end of a short project or a long career in Scouting for the volunteer, or for some it may be a step to a much less active role. When it comes at the end of an active leadership role, proper succession planning may have seen the volunteer taking a less involved role for some time, as their successor becomes more active. It is still useful to mark the end with an appropriate celebration.

This is a much more fitting end to a volunteers’ Scouting life, than the more common ‘fading away’. When for any number of different reasons the volunteer finds themselves unable to give the same commitment and becomes less visible and eventually forgotten!

Questions to consider:

  • Do we set a time frame for a role?
  • Do we set a retirement age for different roles?
  • Do we believe that age impacts ability?
  • Does a time limit promote a strong focus to doing our best in the time we have?

Possible reasons for retirement:

  • moving away from the area
  • a new job or other life change which limits available time
  • the end of a project
  • taking up a new hobby
  • no longer interested in doing the job
  • not willing to do the required training, or follow guidelines of the organisation
  • health issues

Termination of volunteering

Sometimes it is necessary to agree with a volunteer, that his/her services are no longer required – at least for the particular purpose that they have been working towards. This may be due to objectives not being met in a critical management or leadership role, or because of abuse or corruption that is so severe that continuing as volunteer is no longer an option. In these situations, it often advisable to act cautiously and provide possibilities to discuss the departure with official representatives of the organisation.

Making the departure a nice farewell

While leaving Scouting it is important that the volunteer leaves on a good note and has their achievements highlighted. Also it would be a great way to show appreciation if there is a farewell gift or a similar symbol that shows the gratitude that the Movement has for their efforts. Departures should be made acceptable and appreciated because hey, after all it’s only a hobby for us. Even though it is a very very dear and an extremely engaging one.

Exit questionnaire

We shouldn’t miss the opportunity to gain valuable insight into our own practices and processes by carrying out an exit questionnaire with the volunteer who is leaving.  If for some reason they are retiring in less than pleasant circumstances this can still be a valuable tool.

Keeping the door open for return

Once our volunteers have decided to call it a day (for now), it is important that we still have means of keeping in touch with them. Whether it is mailing lists that they can join and get invitations to the events or by joining a designated group for them, it is important that you do not lose the people who have been already contributing so much to the Movement.

In some countries there is a certain “alumni” thinking where those who retire or decide to take a break are nurtured and it is made easy for them to join the Scouting activities. Perhaps on an irregular basis these are the people you still call on for support in your local group, or for input on local or national projects.  Someone who has acquired many scouting skills is likely to be very willing to contribute when and where they can. Bear in mind that even though they are not able give their time anymore, these people are potential financial supporters.

Once a scout… Activities for retired volunteers


By joining a Scout foundation one can support Scouting even though they are not able to engage in Scouting as heavily as other active Adult volunteers. The World Scout Foundation ( gathers individuals who want to support Scouting globally. The Friends of Scouting in Europe ( is an initiative by the European Scout Foundation that enables its individuals to demonstrate their support for the ideals and aspirations of Scouting, by contributing financially to the Movement in Europe. On of the main focuses of the ESF is developing Scouting in countries that were under the Soviet regime until the 1990’s.

Guilds and Fellowships

The International Guide and Scout Fellowship ( offers activities and gatherings for Scouts who do not have time to be active in Scouting but believe in the ideals. There are more than 55 000 members in 63 countries. Through the ISGF website can be found more information on National Scouting Guilds.

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