Monday, August 1, 2011

How Scouting can Infuse a YW Program with Meaning and Purpose

Training adult leaders is where we most fall short. In spite of available resources, our volun-told army either doesn't take advantage of them, or isn't aware of them.  I had a discussion with a co-worker who works in the YW program of her ward, and this is the result of that discussion:
Our discussion got me thinking about some things, and I thought I’d pass it along. Like I said, there’s plenty of overlap in how these two programs run. If the goal is simply to have girls mark time until they get proposed to at the Y, then why bother at all? If the goal is to produce women of character who are capable leaders, then these principles apply just as much to them as to the boys.

Following are the basic elements of Scouting, adaptable to just about any situation. Many of the methods overlap one another, but none is more important than the other. (unless you ask a parent who demands that his son ‘get’ his Eagle before he can drive, which is symptomatic of not seeing the forest for the trees.) If Eagle were the goal of Scouting, then a statistic I read means that the program fails ~95% of boys nationwide, since only about 5% earn it. Eagle, or PP is just a highly visible aspect of all this, but when done right, represents a holistic approach to youth development.

Aims of Scouting: Men (and women) of:
  • Character,
  • Fitness (physical, moral, spiritual) and
  • Citizenship
Mission: To prepare young people to make ethical choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law.

Vision: The Boy Scouts of America will prepare every eligible youth in America to become a responsible, participating citizen and leader who is guided by the Scout Oath and Law.

Methods for achieving the aims:
  1. Ideals (Scout Oath, Law, Motto & Slogan) Words to live by
  2. Patrol/Squad (Class) – a group who plans, works, plays and solves problems together. A cohesive unit
  3. Adult Association – a variety of adults of good character and knowledge – Mentors
  4. Leadership Development
  5. Personal Growth
  6. Outdoor Activities – the lab where lessons are practiced and internalized
  7. Advancement (Eagle/Duty to God – Personal Progress - achieving goals, learning skills, developing good habits)
  8. Uniform
Scout Oath
On my honor, I will do my best to:
Do my duty to God and my Country, and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.

Scout Law: A Scout is:
  • Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly,
    Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful,
    Thrifty, Brave, Clean and Reverent
Scout Motto: Be Prepared; and Slogan: Do a good turn daily

Apart from the uniform, I see no reason why these principles cannot be incorporated into a ward's YW programs, as they seem to be universal. Girls need adventure, too, and they need to be trained to be leaders. After all, they, and the boys, will replace us in the not-too-distant future.
These are powerful tools and strategies for shaping youth into responsible adults. Don't ignore them simply because they are titled "Boy Scouts".  I'll admit, I'm disappointed that my daughters won't have the same opportunities as my sons, as they crave adventure and excitement just as much as anyone.  They deserve more than just another four-generation chart and craft nights.  Why can't they plan and carry out a group overnight camping trip? Why not learn about astronomy or plumbing? I'm probably selling someone short here, as my daughters aren't in that age-group yet, but I sure hope that when they are, their leaders have a vision for them that goes beyond age 18.

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