Recently a friend posted a link to a job opportunity for a Hiking Instructor at a local municipality that is offering between $21-25 per hour plus benefits. This posting had me thinking, how would we put a dollar figure on the amount of work our volunteer Scout leaders contribute on a annual basis at a comparable market rate.
Actual requirements in the job description are nothing too far off of what most Scout leaders already have, only differences are a class 4 (small bus) drivers license and an advanced wilderness first aid certification ( and with MedVents kicking into high gear, a LOT of our volunteers will have advanced first aid training soon’ish) - otherwise the ability to purify water, navigate on trails, and generally lead group cohesion is something our volunteers are engaging youth with on a weekly basis! Plus all of the admin aspect our Scouters need to do (registration, extensive program planning etc) which I may assume is not required in the job posting I read.
I took a look at my Scout Troop’s calendar, and come to think of it, we’re doing a lot of the same things that the job posting was for, we go and take our Scouts on hikes, we teach them to cook, we take them camping in a wide range of environments and we provide them with a lot of opportunities they won’t get anywhere else. I don’t know of too many other groups that go lightweight backpacking, kayaking and geocaching on a regular basis!
So, to quantify it – taking some fairly broad assumptions, I wouldn’t be surprised of the total time our volunteers put in is higher than the numbers I have worked out
- An average of 2 hours a week in regular meetings, plus half an hour or so of prep for a weekly meeting. 80 hours a year
- An average of 1 camp every 2 months (at a minimum) and 24 hours a weekend of “working” time minimum per camp. 144 hours per year
- Other activities and prep, training etc, just to put a figure out there, 40 hours per year
Total: 264 hours per year. If we put a dollar figure at the rate the City is paying for a comparable position of $21 per hour, we are looking at $5500+ per year per volunteer.
Multiply that by 5 very active volunteers I have in my Troop section, we get over $27,000, the entire Scout group, $97,000, the entire country, it’s in the millions dollars of labour donated, each and every year.
Of course, volunteers do it every day, for the love of it, many pay plenty to volunteer. Gear needed to safely deliver the program costs money, the personal gear you need to deliver program certainly costs a fair chunk of change. Jamboree and camp fees ($400+ per week for volunteers) are also there. Think about it, our volunteers are spending their most precious asset, their time, as well as a huge chunk of change, all to deliver program.
It just helps to put things into perspective, without volunteers none of this would happen. If all the activities we led were covered by paid staff, the camp we cover expenses (food, campsite rental, white gas etc) at $75 for would be costing parents $150-200+ and many trips would be simply not viable for a huge portion of our youth.
The numbers are eye opening, and really goes to prove just how important our volunteers are! There’s a reason there is a huge Thanks button on Scouts.ca at the moment – with what our volunteers do, it needs to be pressed frequently!