Friday, June 29, 2012

What Manner of Men?

"It's not the award. It's not the patch, it's not the badge. It's action. And when you find Scouts who do a thing, it doesn't much matter what their medal says, or doesn't say. It's their mettle - not their medals." (at 19:21)
--Mike Rowe, speaking at the National Annual Meeting

it gets really good at about 7:15

Case in Point:
NJ Scouts Intimidate Would-be Thief in Key West, Recover Stolen Wallet and iPhone.

All they did was follow the assailant on their bikes and keep their distance, which made him nervous and confused. He just couldn't shake these good-deed-doers.

"The guy was denying it and saying he didn't steal anything and the cop says, 'Well, I've got 17 Boy Scouts here who are willing to swear an oath and tell a judge they saw you. Who do you think the judge will believe?'"

True to form, though, the Scouts said the best part of the trip was playing volleyball with some Houston girls.

"Therefore, what manner of men ought ye to be?" (3 Nephi 27:27)

Prepared. | For Life.™

Thursday, June 28, 2012

To be, or not to be

Some years ago, I heard a little ditty on the Dr. Demento Show called “Be Prepared” by mathematician and satirist Tom Lehrer. His description of Scouting in that little tune was less than complimentary, to put it mildly (but probably more realistic than we’d like to admit), and it’s definitely not a song you’d have your boys sing around the campfire.

What does it mean to Be Prepared, anyway? Sir Robert Baden-Powell said to be prepared “for any old thing.” I’d like to emphasize the word “be.” Webster’s defines it, in part, as:

  • 1d – to have a specified qualification or characterization [the leaves are green]; and
  • 2a – to have an objective existence : have reality or actuality [I think, therefore I am].

To Be is often called a “helping verb” in English. It conjugates as, “I am,” “you are,” “she is,” “we are.” The Spanish equivalent, ser is defined as, “to have an intrinsic or natural quality, or to have it permanently.” (In Spanish, it’s also a verb in its own right, and doesn’t “help” anything.)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Scouting as Missionary Preparation

Part of a series correlating the Purposes of the Aaronic Priesthood with the Ideals of Scouting.

"...I will do my duty to God;" "A Scout is ...obedient, cheerful, thrifty...reverent;" "Be Prepared"

The fifth purpose of the Aaronic Priesthood is to Prepare to serve an honorable full-time mission.  Much has been said in recent years of "raising the bar" of qualification for those who would accept the call to missionary service.* 
"The bar was raised by the leaders of the Church, and now the minimum standard for participating in missionary work is absolute moral worthiness; physical health and strength; intellectual, social, and emotional development [physically strong, mentally awake, morally straight]. In every high-jumping competition there is a minimum height at which the competition starts. The high jumper cannot ask to start at a lower height. In the same way, you should not expect the standards to be lowered to allow you to serve a mission. If you want to be a missionary, you must be able to clear the minimum standards." (L Tom Perry, October 2007 General Conference)
Apostles have also spoken about why it's necessary to set our sights above the minimum standard, and of 2,060 inexperienced but trustworthy, brave, obedient young men who achieved great things for their people, because they had done just that.  Scouting can help a young man overcome many of the difficulties that may arise, not just by teaching basic skills like cooking, sewing, or time/money management, but by preparing him for the less tangible challenges as well.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Ansel Adams on Potential

"Too many people merely do what they are told to do.  The greatest satisfaction derives from the realization of your individual potential, perceiving something in your own way and expressing it through adequate understanding of your own tools.  Take advantage of everything; be dominated by nothing except your own convictions. Do not lose sight of the essential importance of craft; every worthwhile human endeavor depends on the highest levels of concentration and mastery of basic tools."
--Ansel Adams, The Camera, 1980

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Here's a poser:

This question was posted to my Facebook wall the other day:

Hey - I'm to wit's end. After taking Friday off to get stuff prepared, and doing lots of other prep to make a scouting overnighter successful, I'm really frustrated: I was told the food was gross, it was stupid that we couldn't build a fire (Wash. Co. fire restrictions), and everything was boring. And then half the troop thought it'd be funner to sneak off during the 2 mile hike this morning than to stay together (this after 3 of the same group were told at the last overnighter that wandering off on their own was unacceptable). One of them even killed a lizard, seemingly just so he could aggravate me. I'm really tired of all the scouts' attitudes (and a couple ring-leaders in particular). I've obviously got issues with motivation and discipline among the Scouts - and after a rough night's sleep, it's hard to take without losing my temper at them. I feel like I'm wasting my time. Any great suggestions or help?

Monday, June 11, 2012

The "Families" of Scouting

The eleventh of twelve Ward Scouter Training Topics.

There are four “families” of Scouting in the BSA.  These are Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Varsity Scouts and Venturing. Cubs is for boys ages 7-10; Boy Scouting is for boys ages 11-17; Varsity Scouting for boys ages 14-17; finally, Venturing is for young men and women ages 14-21. In LDS Scouting, it's a bit more tightly defined, corresponding with Church-defined age groups:  Cubs are 8-10, Boy Scouts 11-13, Varsity Scouts 14-15 and Venturers are 16-18 (since it's a function of the LDS Aaronic Priesthood organization, which is all-male, young women are not part of LDS-chartered crews - which is not to say LDS young women can't join a differently-chartered crew). Despite these being distinct and unique programs, there is a tendency to think of all but Cubs as being Eagle-pursuing Boy Scouts in a Norman Rockwell painting. That picture is not entirely accurate.  Each "family" is an age-appropriate activity/developmental program designed to accomplish the mission of Scouting, which is:
“…to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law.”

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Discussion with a YMP Counselor

Following is a letter I wrote as a result of a discussion I had the other day:

Our discussion got me thinking, and I wanted to present some ideas.

It seems there was an underlying question to your comments last night, along the lines of how do we kick-start this program, and get the boys [Teachers/Varsity Scouts] involved and excited? How do we re-kindle their interest? I really believe that the answer lies in presenting them the whole program, and guiding them in implementing it themselves. And a good yardstick for measuring the effectiveness of that program is the Journey to Excellence, the BSA’s new council recognition program, designed to encourage quality programs. It provides another goal to shoot for.

I will say that from a personal standpoint it bothers me that the ‘official,’ called Varsity Team Coach and Venturing Adviser were not present at the Court of Honor, especially when the Eagle recipient was one of their own. This to me is a symptom of something more worrying: you will never get the boys to be interested if the adult leaders don’t take an active interest in the program. [My son] B just turned 12; I am afraid that he will have a great experience with [Scoutmaster M] for the next two years, only to see his Activity Program become a shell of what it was just because he had a birthday, and at 14, “we don’t do Scouting anymore.” Attitude reflects Leadership; if their leaders aren’t committed to the program, and trained in how to present it, the boys will think it unimportant (except insofar as driving privileges are concerned). There seems to be a tendency in the Church of thinking that the value of Scouting lies in the badges received and the resultant “Priesthood Résumé,” as opposed to its being a holistic youth development program that is inherently valuable by itself.

Monday, June 4, 2012

A little bragging

B and his Grand Master,
8th degree Yong Woo Kim.
I'm going to brag on my boy today.

My 12YO, First-Class Scout son achieved a major milestone on Saturday.  He completed his Tae Kwon Do black belt.  After three years of hard work, with his levels of interest and dedication waxing and waning throughout, he did it.

Tae Kwon Do is the Martial Art of Korea.  It has really only existed in its current form since after WWII, and is one of only two* martial arts represented in the Olympics.

To earn his black belt, B had to learn the skills of the progressively harder colored belt rank system: punching, roundhouse kicks, leaping kicks, muscle control, self-defense techniques, meditation, physical fitness; and once he'd mastered them, then as a Deputy, his responsibility changed from learning it himself to teaching those same skills to newer students, all while adding more complicated techniques and becoming more proficient in the basics.

His instructors always used positive remarks in teaching, whether correcting poor form or pushing him to the next level. There was no yelling, though there were times when the whole class was sternly corrected.  There was never any doubt that his Grand Master and the other instructors wanted them to succeed, and their demeanor always showed that, never frustration at showing the right way to punch again...for the 29th time tonight. Success is built into the program, even at testing time.  Plenty of opportunity is given to complete each step, at each participant's own rate of progress.

In spite of his preparation, he'd spent a good while fearfully anticipating the event, almost to the point of inaction.  Some parental pushing got him over the hump, and he finally realized that he could do the hard things, even if they weren't the fun things. (To add to this accomplishment, at his 6th grade graduation the previous day, he also received a slew of academic awards, one of which bears the signature of the President of the USA.)

He also had to learn and live the philosophies and creed of Tae Kwon Do which are:


  1. Be loyal to your country, loyal sir.
  2. Be obedient to your parents, obedience sir.
  3. Be loving to your family, loving sir.
  4. Be cooperative with others, cooperation sir.
  5. Be faithful to your friends, faithful sir.
  6. Be respectful to your masters, respect sir.
  7. Be honest in personal matters, honest sir.
  8. Show concern for others, compassion sir.
  9. Never attack without reason, mercy sir.
  10. Finish what you start, persistence sir.


  1. To build true confidence through knowledge in the mind, honesty in the heart, and strength in the body, sir.
  2. To keep friendship with one another and build a strong and happy community, sir.
  3. Never fight to achieve a selfish end but develop might for right, sir.

Does that process sound like anything else you know?

*Two, unless you count boxing, wrestling, fencing, shooting...