I did it.
You thought I would chicken out, but I went through with it!
My journey into the inner sanctum of Scouting was complete, and I have come out the other side.
A few observations:
Camping is fun… some of the time.
The boys seem to experience some of the highest delight and deepest boredom at camp – sometimes within minutes or hours of each other. In one breath, the boys say “this is the coolest” then “I want to go home” in the next. I remember doing it myself, and I see it in these guys. It’s not ADHD, it’s just being a boy.
It is fun to watch these guys look out for each other and see the pseudo-family they make when they are at camp. There is something more to this in Mormon Scouts than with non-LDS troops. Our group was particularly impressive in this regard. Camp helps these guys bond with each other, relate to each other, look out for each other, and learn to resolve their conflicts with each other.
The BSA is a great activities program, but I honestly don’t see as the mental and moral program as advertised. It teaches them to do stuff, piques their interests, and is great at stimulating their sense of adventure and fun, but I don’t think it’s very overtly teaching patriotism and morals like the marketing material would have you believe.
So I stand by my assertion: I still haven’t seen anything that the BSA is providing these boys that the Church could not provide itself.
So why all the overhead; both expense and time?
That is my real beef (going back and rereading my previous posts): BSA just requires too much extra of the leaders by way of training and resources that a similar activities program of the church would not require or already provide. Having been a pseudo-scout-leader-for-a-day, I just don’t see what part of this job requires that I attend endless meetings or training sessions. Basically, my job was just to make sure everyone got to class and that no one killed themselves or someone else.
… And that’s part of the beauty of scouting, it allows the boys to be boys. it allows them to get into food fights, run around with sticks, play with fire, fart in their tents, eat horrendous food together, and find out they can live through it all. It allows them to overcome their fears and give them experiences that help them to be independent.
It comes in the perfect time of these boys’ lives. You can seem them trying to form their identities. You can hear them learning audibly from each other. You can see them take on leadership roles, where they are expected to know stuff and be accountable.
I don’t think I was ever making the case against Scouting: boys definitely need some program to get them away from their virtual world and bring them back into the real world. (Heck, I needed that!) I just don’t think the leaders and specifically the church needs it to provide moral instruction and life lessons to these guys.
They can still camp. They can still tie knots. They can still sharpen knives. But we don’t need the BSA to do it.
In fact, in some situations, the BSA is holding us back. At the camp we are attending, we get to enjoy a meaningless, repetitive ‘grace’ before each meal, or as like to call it: a vain repetition and an apostasy. We can do better than that in the religion part of it, for sure. Indeed, I’d like to think that teaching religion is much more than muttering grace before a meal, teaching patriotism is more than having a flag ceremony at the crack of dawn, and teaching morals is more than trying to keep them from telling dirty jokes around the campfire.
I won’t deny that’s a start, but I still think we could do better.
4 thoughts on “The Mormon Scouts of America – Part 3”
A very thoughtful blog….I resisted writing after your initial blog, but now will give my thoughts.
Looking back a long time ago, I had the privledge of going to scout camp and participating in most scout sponsored events, some were enjoyed more than others. I believe that there are way to many parents that refuse to do their part to give proper direction and help to their children, hence, they expect others to do it for them… BSA, YW, YM and so on. I really did appreciate all that the BSA did to help with the developement and maturing of my sons.
As for the support of the LDS Church to scouting, we need only to check and review their reasons for supporting the scouting movement. The President of the Church for example is the driving force behind the support. Are we then to suppose that he doesn’t know what he is talking about and is just talking to be talking? I just happen to believe that knows what he is talking about. I also happen to believe that he is a Prophet first, and President of the Church second.
To those who whine and complain about what it took to earn the high honor of attaining the rank of an eagle scout, why not just give it back and move on with life. I am sure that you can find something else that the LDS Church is not doing right.
Yeah… If you don’t like the way things are, you should just move to another state, huh!
(yeah, I know it’s an obscure reference, but I couldn’t help but think it…)
I also happen to believe they are prophets…
But I also believe them when they tell us that this is a TRUE and LIVING church. They have instructed us at times to not tie ourselves to programs of the church, which they repeatedly remind us are changeable at any time.
I also think we should follow their counsel and wisdom, and support and sustain them with their decisions… …BUT I also believe that doesn’t mean there can’t be a healthy discussion and debate over these programs and procedures.
Why? Because programs are not my God and procedure is not my religion.
The Lord is my God and Pure Religion is doing what He commands (James 1:27)