Time to do our duty
"Flexible working," we are told by the government, "can benefit everyone - employers, employees and their families."
Flexible working sounds so sensible - a modern progressive employment structure which fits in with people's busy lives. But it can also translate as "unpredictable hours", making it much harder for people to commit to activities outside the workplace.
Once upon a time, 9 to 5 was the working day, not an occasional shift pattern. People knew where they would be at what time. Tea on the table at 5.30. Darts match at seven. Bed at a quarter past ten.
Fixed hours meant that you could plan ahead. You could make commitments. But now staggered hours, flexitime and job shares make it difficult to promise to be there every Wednesday night. Ask the Scouts.
Tens of thousands of young people, as many girls as boys, are desperate to join Baden-Powell's youth movement - but are stuck on the waiting list.
Why? Because not enough adults are available to lead the troops. There are currently 33,000 youngsters who want to join but cannot because the organisation is 7,000 volunteers short.
But the Scout Association thinks that the biggest problem is not image. It is that being a scout leader involves too great a commitment.
Scouting is actually going through a small renaissance. Numbers enrolled have risen slightly in the last couple of years (the brown line and left-hand axis above) and the number of adults working with young people has also gone up a bit (the blue line and right-hand axis).
But, shockingly, supply cannot meet demand in a society which consistently complains that there's not enough for young people to do.
What the two lines reveal is that in 1985, there were roughly five scouts for every adult. Today, it is closer to one adult for every four scouts. And the reason, I am told, is that you need more volunteers to cover for those who are busy doing something else that night.
If today's troops had the same level of staffing as 24 years ago, there would be no waiting list. As I was waiting to go on Radio 2 this lunchtime to talk about community spirit, who should I bump into but the new Chief Scout himself, Bear Grylls.
"Hello Bear", I ventured. "Do you think flexible working is one of the reasons for the shortage of volunteers in the association?"
"I am not interested in problems," he replied. "We need to come up with solutions."
It is a philosophy that probably works very well when Bear, a professional adventurer, is confronted by a grizzly. Maybe some positive thinking will be effective with this problem too. "We need new ways of encouraging people to volunteer," he continues, "to realise that there's something in it for them."
The "something" is not a new flat-screen TV or a free celebrity make-over, of course. It is the fulfilment and meaning that comes from putting something back, from being part of the local community, from making a commitment. And keeping it.