This way to the finish line, with a smile

It’s not usual to wake up at 6 in the morning on a public holiday. I admit that’s even earlier than most of us wake up on a workday. But if it’s for something you are passionate about, you would do many unusual things with a smile to boot.

When the Gozo Half Marathon team made a call for volunteers, the Xaghra Scout Group was happy to lend a hand, not least as a voluntary organization helping another based in the same village. Our job was going to be simple: as marshals, we were to direct the athletes to the finish line, making sure no one takes a wrong turn along the way. But in reality, it’s much more than that. Giving encouragement, a nice smile, and a cheer goes a long way to give that little boost that the athletes might need. They’re little things, but sometimes they count for a lot.

I would say that’s what volunteering is like. It’s about doing big, unusual things and doing small gestures that still have value. And doing this is not for any personal gain, not for money nor fame or glory, but because it is your passion and because you want to help others achieve their goals. I can attest to the passion of the Gozo Marathon team. During our meetings, the organizers only had the success and safety of the athletes in mind. They wanted this event to be a celebration of the sport. And that trickled down to their management of the marshals and volunteers. There was nothing for us to worry about: everything was explained clearly, we were dropped off and picked up from our locations, and it was quite easy-going.

I can’t help but find some similarities between the job of a marshal during a race, and what we do in Scouting. Scouting is very much about guiding young people through their journey of life, helping them stay away from any wrong turns to achieve a healthy, happy, and helpful life. This is achieved by big things (like camps or traveling abroad), and little things (such as discussions and encouragement). All this is done by volunteers because the point is the success of the young people.

There are plenty of other organizations that you might find your passion in, ranging from environmental organizations, animal welfare, sports, philanthropy, and many others. I would advise you to give volunteering a shot. You might find yourself to be quite a good “marshal,” quite a good guide for others to find their finish line.