Thursday, July 23, 2009

What's the Big Deal with Scouting?

A couple of weeks ago, my husband spent almost a full week at Philmont Scout Ranch in eastern New Mexico for a training with the General Young Men's Presidency. He was home for a few days and then headed to a local Scout camp with my son. He had previously spent 3 days (not including all of the set-up or planning) hiking with the older boys in our stake in a Zion's Camp type of experience to help priests develop a stronger testimony as well as a desire to serve a mission. He jumped through all sorts of hoops to make this camp a BSA approved camp.

He attended Wood Badge last year, attends Rountable Meetings each month, and serves as a Unit Commissioner. He's also trained to train other leaders.

I served on the Troop Committe for years, helped my first son earn his Eagle, and now have another son who's a Life Scout and should earn his Eagle by the end of the year.

We know Scouting. Truthfully, I find all the red-tape somewhat suffocating and think it's outrageous that professional Scouters earn a salary for a job that could be voluntary. All of us in the trenches, who actually spend the time with the boys, volunteer our time and money to support Scouting, yet professional Scouters are paid a salary. Somehow, that doesn't make sense to me.

However, I do believe in the Scouting program and I believe it helps boys learn many skills as well as satisfaction in achieving difficult goals. There is a direct correlation between boys who earn their Eagle and those who serve missions. If your son earns his Eagle it isn't a guarantee he'll serve a mission, but it's much more likely, especially if he also graduates from seminary. I'm really thankful that my husband and my oldest son both earned their Eagle ranks and look forward to my other son earning his.

Here's what gets under my skin about Scouting. All the complaining at the local level from the leaders. Why is it so hard for people to serve in Scouting? Why is it so hard to take boys on camping trips? Why is it so difficult to attend Roundtable meetings? A calling in Scouting doesn't last forever, but a leader's bad attitude can affect a young boy forever.

Yeah, there's red tape. Yeah, it's a headache sometimes. Yeah, BSA has some ridiculous rules. Yeah, it's hard getting a boy from Tenderfoot to Eagle. But, the effort is so worth it. Think of the boys' lives we can affect for the good simply by doing our callings in Scouting. Think of the impression we can leave on young men when we plan hikes, campouts, and badge opportunities. Think of the good we can do simply by having a good attutude and magnifying a call from the Lord. Boys learn their attitudes about Scouting from their leaders and they can tell in a heartbeat if their leaders are committed to Scouting or not.

The Lord isn't going to ask us if we loved Scouting, but He is going to ask us if we fulfilled, and magnified, our callings, including those in Scouting. He's going to ask us if we did our best to serve the young men in Scouts. What do we want to answer?

I say, quit our complaining and just do our calling in Scouting. We may find we really like it after all.


em said...

that has been our experience too. sean was called as the scout master just before we had brennan. it was overwhelming and tons of work at first, but when he finally started to enjoy working with the boys it became so much fun. he loves serving in his calling. i had to change my attitude as well. it is tough to have a husband that is gone on camp outs once a month, sometimes twice for training camps, and then a week in the summer, plus tuesdays and meetings all day sunday. he's more busy now than when he was in the bishopric! however, i've noticed that as i became more positive about his service our family has been strengthened. especially now being able to see how he is changing the lives of the scouts he serves. i have been amazed at what the scouting program does for the boys. and our family, for that matter;-)

Lisa said...

Amen. I am the primary president in our ward and by far the most difficult callings to fill are in cub scouts. Huge amounts of complaining and who suffers, the boys.

Nichole Giles said...

And from the other side--my oldest son has refused to participate in scouts for several years because for the first few years after we moved into this ward, his leaders had such terrible attitudes--and not just toward scouting, but toward the kids.

I've stopped pushing him about it. But recently, they got a new leader who actually cares. And he's been going a lot more regularly. He is still leery, but I'm amazed what a difference one person can make in the entire program.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.


Anonymous said...

Off topic, I know - but you won the contest at Wendword!

Curiosity speaking, did you know it, or did you find it somewhere on the web.


Stephanie Humphreys said...

My son washed his hands of the scouting program as well. He's still registered and does the activities, but he has no desire to work toward different badges or awards. I believe it was because he had leaders who placed the whole weight of the program on his shoulders and my shoulders. I did the best I could, but there is nothing better for a boy than a strong role model who is not his parent. On the days when he won't listen to me a leader he trusts can always make a difference. Too bad more leaders don't see this side of it.

Small House said...

Anything that can build and uplift the youth is well worth the effort! My son will be finishing up on his Eagle Scout project tomorrow. No more scouters at this house.


Erin said...

Thank you for posting this! My husband is the Cubmaster in our ward. While he loves being with the kids, he has virtually NO support or help from any other leaders. It frustrates him to no end. Here's hoping my boys enjoy the scouting program once the enter it.

Linda Weaver Clarke said...

It's amazing what the scout program does for the youth. Did you know that the divorce rate among those who received their Eagle Scout Awards is only seven percent? That's real low. The scouting program teaches proper respect to others. They’re better husbands and fathers. It's a great program.

Rebecca Talley said...

I hope we can help change the attitude of those involved with Scouting so the boys can benefit from the program.

Thanks for your comments.

Sue said...

My husband and I never cared much about scouting until he became the scoutmaster. It was then that we realized the value of the program, and my husband became so dedicated that our youngest son earned his eagle at age 13.

Amazing the difference seeing it up close and personal can make.