Friday, September 4, 2015

Playing the odds

Scouting in the Church often takes a back-seat to the organized sports leagues and camps that parents shell out oodles of cash for, all in the hopes of scholarships and a possible career. Let me restate that: The Church-sanctioned Youth development resource is eclipsed by the very big business of youth sports, all in an effort at some hoped-for, but very uncertain, future payout. This NPR story explains the bill of goods purchased.
[9yo] J.C. now has his baseball future all mapped out. "I'm going to go to Stanford and get a scholarship, and then I'm going to go to the Yankees in the MLB draft," he says.

Those big dreams aren't all that unusual. According to a recent poll from NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, 26 percent of U.S. parents whose children in high school play sports hope their child will become a professional athlete one day. Among families with household incomes of less than $50,000 annually, the number is 39 percent...

According to the National Collegiate Athletic Association, only a tiny percentage of high school athletes actually go on to play professionally — roughly 1 in 168 high school baseball players will get drafted by a Major League Baseball team, and just 1 in 2,451 men's high school basketball players will get drafted by a National Basketball Association team.
I'm not saying youth sports is not worthwhile. My own kids have had some very good experiences with it. But my hope for them is that they learn the skills of the game, work hard, enjoy playing the game, whatever it is, and learn how to be on a team. We should use all the best options for our kids' growth - sports, school, Scouting, 4H or whathaveyou.  Keep it in perspective.  And remember that all those youth leagues charge all kinds of fees for a reason, and that reason is not your kid's future.  So, rather than make sports the sole focus from an early age, let the kids be kids, and let them grow up into what they choose.

This article is well worth reading. Not for a Scouting-vs-Sporting diatribe, which I hope I've avoided here, but simply for a reality check on how we use our children's, and our family's, resources, and our own expectations.

Prepared. | For Life.™

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

LDS to keep on Scouting

"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints appreciates the positive contributions Scouting has made over the years to thousands of its young men and boys and to thousands of other youth. As leaders of the Church, we want the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) to succeed in its historic mission to instill leadership skills and high moral standards in youth of all faiths and circumstances, thereby equipping them for greater success in life and valuable service to their country."

Here is the entire news release.

On a lighter note, I was all ready to post a list of positive outcomes if BSA and LDS were to part ways.  So sad that I won't get to post:

  • BSA accident rate drops - dramatically
  • Unprepared LDS Young Men and leaders stay safely behind the chapel doors instead of venturing into the dangerous, and uncontrolled, World (see what I did there?)
  • On the rare occasions they do go outside, when they screw up by knocking over millions-of-years-old hoodoos, they don't drag the BSA's good name through the mud with them
  • No more sins of omission by failing to get trained

Prepared. | For Life.™

Owl Post: the Prison Camp Violin

From Guidepost Magazine - January 1997 by Clair Cline, Tacoma, WA;
Stalag Luft I POW

He carved it of rough-hewn bed slats with a penknife traded for Red Cross rations. But would it play?

In February 1944 I was a U.S. Air Corps pilot flying a B-24 bomber over Germany when antiaircraft fire hit our tail section and we lost all controls. We bailed out and on landing I found myself in a field in occupied Holland, just across the border from Germany. We were surrounded by villagers asking for chocolate and cigarettes. Then an elderly uniformed German with a pistol in an unsteady hand marched me to an interrogation center. From there I and other prisoners were shipped to Stalag Luft I, a prison camp for captured Allied airmen.

The camp was a dismal place. We lived in rough wooden barracks, sleeping on bunks with straw-filled burlap sacks on wooden slats. Rations were meager; if it hadn't been for the Red Cross care packages, we would have starved. But the worst affliction was our uncertainty. Not knowing when the war would end or what would happen (we had heard rumors of prisoners being killed) left us with a constant gnawing worry. And since the Geneva Convention ruled that officers were not allowed to be used for labor, we had little to keep us occupied. What resulted was a wearying combination of apprehension and boredom. Men coped in various ways: Some played bridge all day, others dug escape tunnels (to no avail), some read tattered paperbacks. I wrote letters to my wife and carved models of B-24s.

The long dreary months dragged on. One day early in the fall of 1944, I found myself unable to stand airplane carving any longer. I tossed aside a half-finished model, looked out a barracks window at a leaden sky and prayed in desperation, "Oh, Lord, please help me find something constructive to do."

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Three Membership Policy thoughts

I was discussing the recent brou-ha-ha over Scouting with my boss, a repeat Wood Badge staffer, and decided to finally register some of my thoughts on the matter. He and I are pretty much in agreement.

First of all, I do not have a problem with the recent membership policy changes. That said, here are three distinct, vaguely related ideas.

1. People who want to pull out of Scouting because of the membership policy haven’t a leg to stand on, when you consider that they sign their kids up for football camp, basketball camp, baseball camp, cooking camp, drama camp, band camp, lacrosse camp, swimming camp, art camp and ukulele camp. None of those worthwhile activities have restrictive membership policies of the kind BSA recently disavowed, and everyone seems to be fine with that.

2. Whatever program we wind up with, the same people will be running it as are running the current one. The same Leaders who refuse to go to training and learn how to ensure their Scouting program "is properly carried out" now aren’t going to suddenly jump up and go to training meetings for whatever lackluster replacement many are hoping for.

3. One of the loudest arguments I hear against Scouting in the Church is the huge disparity between the boys’ and girls’ experiences (see Robert Kirby's column on the matter, but remember he’s a satirist). I am sympathetic to this argument, as past posts will attest - I want my daughters to have the same breadth of opportunities as my sons. The solution though is not to curtail the boys’ program, but to enhance the girls’; give them the same resources, latitude and freedom to operate that the boys enjoy. From ages 8-18.

[Addendum, 8/24, Kirby nails it again.]

Prepared. | For Life.™

Monday, May 11, 2015

Leave No Trace Outdoor Ethics

Camping season is almost here in full force. Time for a review of outdoor ethics.

Prepared. | For Life.™