The comments on yesterday’s posts were awesome! I love how you all keep me honest and thinking about what I write, and I think it’s interesting the wide range of experiences and feelings that people have toward this issue.
Here are some takeaways and expansions on yesterday’s themes:
- Embrace the Youth, not the program. We should use the Scouting and Duty to God programs to embrace the youth and assist them during their formative years. It’s the same concept as “teach the students” vs “teach the lesson”. The goal is to embrace the young men, strengthen their testimony, and implant in them a desire to be a righteous priesthood holder and serve a mission – not just to DO Scouts or DO the Duty to God. Whether that happens as a result of a fireside, a camp out, an interview with their bishop, a merit badge, or something completely different – it doesn’t matter.
- Avoid the Scout Leader pitfall. One sure pitfall for a leader is that “scouters” (those folks that are obsessed with scouting) tend to get too wrapped up in scouting leadership. With roundtables, training sessions, extended leader campouts, and all the associated expense and personal attention required, the calling of scout leader is a drainer – just with the leader stuff. Your calling as a leader can quickly overtake your calling to serve the young men.
This is not a problem in the church that is exclusive to Scouting, though. What other leadership callings can you think of that have too many meetings, trainings, and administration – that they lose their focus on actually ministering to their sheep? Yes, it’s a common, dire problem in the church.
- Forcing a young man to push the limits of his comfort zone is a good thing. I have talked about this before. FavUnc, Alan, and TLS have done a good job of bringing up this point, too. Parents should ask their kids to do hard and uncomfortable things, help them be successful in them, and then praise them for doing so. Our kids need to discover that they can do stuff.
- We don’t see the full picture. Ron pointed out that other people’s made-up statistics and opinions are just as good as my made up statistics and opinions. The truth is, the Church knows what kind of statistical success it is having. Change of direction will happen when they come to feel that the current program isn’t fulfilling the need.
- What small semblance of a “Man Card” I have started in Scouting. One of my friends most aptly described it as “that school where men go to learn how to do random things.” She was always fascinated that I knew how to do stuff – random stuff – that she didn’t know how to do. Stuff like how to make a toilet stop running, turn off the water supply to the house, start propane fires, use a wide range of power tools, and generally knowing on a basic level how everything in the world works. It’s the stuff that “Modern Marvels” and “Mythbusters” are made of.
- As Daniel aptly described, I also had a lot of awesome experiences as a scout. I really enjoyed most of the camp outs. I loved that I was done with Scouts by the time I was 15 and was able to focus 100% on just enjoying the activities with my peer group. I am pretty sure that I had the best youth leaders in the church as I grew up. They always focused on giving us experiences and opportunities. They were 100% focused on our spiritual growth and experiences, and it showed by their action. They involved our parents whenever possible and necessary, but didn’t have them there breathing down our necks at every turn. They also got most of us our Eagles.
So can it be done? Yes. Is it easy? No. These leaders did it at great lengths of personal sacrifice, which is – after all – part of the plan.
And now for the kicker… the thing that will make you all fall out of your chair laughing.
I have been asked to go to Scout Camp next week.
Yes… laugh it up.
I’m actually only going for one day to relieve one of the leaders, which is why I feel really good about going: to share the leaders’ burden, as I’ve repeatedly suggested we need to do. It will also be fun to validate or totally blow away all of the hot air I’ve been writing. After all, I’ve been away from this program for over 10 years, so what could I possibly know about it?
Wish me luck! I’ll let you know the result.