By Adrian
May 24, 2017

Scouting for Food – The Lessons of a Bumpy Service Project

One of the best lessons of Scouting is performing service for others.  Usually service projects go pretty smoothly.  But on those occasions when it doesn’t, I think the lesson is even better from a bumpy service project.  

As adults, how often do we have projects of our own that go perfectly smoothly? Almost never.  There are always some headaches, red tape, or surprises that occur with any significant project.

Part of our job as Scout Leaders is to develop skills and resiliency that these young men are going to need in their adult lives.  So, it can sometimes be a happy accident when a service project goes a bit sideways.

It can sometimes be a happy accident when a service project goes a bit sideways

Hilltop’s Troop 411 had this lesson recently with our Annual Scouting for Food Service Project.  Since we are the largest Troop in our District, we have the honor of being the “anchor Troop” for the Scouting for Food drive, for as many years as I can remember.  This means that we stay at the drop-off point to manage the donations the other Troops bring in.  We then unbag all the food and sort it into these enormous boxes, which can each weigh almost a ton each.

This is definitely an “all hands on deck” project – also known in Troop 411 terminology as “mandatory fun.”  We usually have about 30 to 40 Scouts and adult leaders and we bring in many of our co-ed Venture Scouts, our Cub Scouts, and some other friends from neighboring Troops who come to pitch in.

This photo was actually taken later in the day after many of our Scouts had already left.

2017 Scouting for Food with Troop 411

It turns out to be a LOT of food. I LOVE that people are SO generous!  But that’s where we ran into the problem.  Last year, we filled about fifteen of these large boxes and this year, we had even MORE food than usual.  However this year, the Food Bank miscalculated and only sent us TEN boxes.


We ended up with about seventeen and a half boxes of food (a new Troop record, I believe!).  So we had to have two additional shipments of boxes delivered from the Food Bank, a process that took several extra hours.  We usually work from about 8:30 to noon or so, but it was getting near to 2:00.  And on a busy Saturday, the kids, their families, and our adult leaders, all had other commitments.  Plus, the everyone was getting tired, hot, and hungry.

We ended up with seventeen and a half boxes of donated food – a new Troop record.  People are SO generous!

But that’s where the learning comes in.  We realized that no matter how long it took or how few workers we had left, the job needed to get done!  So, we all had a lean in a bit and step up our efforts.

One of the Moms went out and got a stack of pizzas and drinks.  We started pre-sorting the food into canned food and soft goods like mac ‘n cheese so we could load the boxes more quickly when they did arrive.  We put the energetic little Cubs to work chasing the plastic bags that were wildly blowing all over the parking lot.

The folks who could stay did and even the truck drivers from the Food Bank pitched in to help us.  But bit by bit, the pile got smaller and smaller.  And everyone let out a big cheer when we finally got that last box of food loaded into the truck.  It felt like much more of a significant accomplishment than in previous years, and I hope the boys learned that as well.

Author: Adrian |  Adrian is a blogger who is passionate about helping parents with parenting tips, managing their finances, and organizing their homes. She has a full-time job in the financial industry and is part of the leadership of Troop 411 at Hilltop United Methodist Church in Sandy, UT.

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