Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Boy Scouts

My husband has been attending Wood Badge training for the Boy Scouts of America. I never really knew what Wood Badge was until he attended. He spent 3 days at one location learning about what makes a good leader and then spent 3 days at another location being in a patrol and seeing from a boy's perspective what makes a good patrol. He will also be involved in 5 service projects over the next 18 months in order to earn his Wood Badge. It's an intensive leadership training program that he found to be valuable.

The Scouting program is a great program for boys, it is also the activity arm for the Aaronic Priesthood and is supported by the LDS Church. I believe there's a reason for that. Boys who go through Scouting and eventually earn their Eagle learn valuable skills. They also learn to stick with something even when it is difficult. They learn about teamwork and how to be an effective leader. My husband still uses the knowledge he learned as an Eagle Boy Scout. My oldest son earned his Eagle when he was 15 (before he was sidetracked with driving and dating!) and my next oldest son is currently a First Class Scout on the verge of earning his Star rank.

I have served on the Troop Committee for almost 10 years in hopes of helping boys advance through the program. At one time, I was the entire Troop Committee, but now we have an active group that shoulders the work together.

Though I think the Scouting program is valuable, I also believe there's far too much red tape and far too much focus on money from BSA. When my son earned his Eagle we attended a dinner honoring Eagles within the district. Instead of focusing on the boys and their hard work, we were told to ante up $1000.00 per table. On another occassion, the district representative attended an Eagle Court of Honor for our troop. His comments solely focused on raising money for the district. In my opinion, this was in very poor taste.

I have never seen any of the district executives at our Troop Committee meetings, helping boys earn badges, at Eagle projects, or volunteering their time as we non-executives do. We're in the trenches doing all of the work and yet we all donate our time and our money. Why is it that the district executives collect a salary? Why don't they volunteer like the rest of us? To me, Scouting should be about the boys, not about the money. I'm absolutely certain the BSA could run a better, more efficient program if the focus was on the boys, instead of the moeny.

I'm grateful my oldest son earned his Eagle and believe it will help him in his life and I'm thankful my next son is interested in Scouts and enjoys it. The program is wonderful and when we focus our attention on the boys it is very rewarding.


ali said...

Huh. As a mom who is about to send her first boys into the scouting program, I found this sort of disturbing.

ITA with what you wish for the program--could you start a grassroots movement to improve the program?

Rebecca Talley said...

We are working toward that end, trying to improve the program so it focuses more on the boys. The program is great and the boys learn a ton. I just take issue with the emphasis on money and raising funds all the time instead of just concentrating on the boys and what best benefits the boys. If I can volunteer my time, why can't everyone else?

Stephanie Abney said...

My thoughts exactly!! Jim has spent most of our married life involved in scouting and it has been time comsuming and expensive. He has taken Wood Badge and been on staff TWICE, which means time off work and lots of prepration and follow up. Scout camp every year is vacation time he uses for scouting rather than for us, but we wouldn't have the funds to do much anyway... so, that's how it goes. However, in the end it's hard to argue with the results. I loved your piece. Thanks!