Monday, December 3, 2012

By Assignment

“The bishopric calls several capable adults (including fathers and mothers of boys and young men) to serve as committee members.” (LDS Scouting Handbook, 2012 ¶4.3, emphasis added)

“Several capable adults.” Not a Chair over a committee of one. Not the Young Men Presidency. Certainly not the adult Scout leaders themselves.

When you sign up your kid for little league, isn’t it expected that you, the parent, will take on some active role in the experience – fill-in (or assistant or even full-time) coach, transportation coordinator, snack-master…? But then, he turns 11 or 12 and in the Mormon Church is “assigned” to his Scout troop. What, then is expected of your parental participation, other than making sure he makes it the 2 blocks (or 12 miles) for his AIS time (Arse in seat)? It sometimes seems like the only expectation made of parents is to ensure the kid gets out the door each Wednesday, regardless of what may or may not be planned. It may be raucous jungle-ball, again, but hey, at least he’s at the church house, right? Yep, at least he’s in the right place while getting nothing of value…

The priesthood operates by assignment. Let me ‘splain. Several years ago, a member of my Stake Presidency led an EQ discussion about volunteering vs. assignments. He pointed out, rightly, that no one ever signs up for those “we need a coupla volunteers” sheets that get passed around each week (or if they do, it’s the same three guys every time).* This, to fill the stake temple or cannery assignments.  The solution was obviously to make a direct assignment of quorum members – in effect, invite them, by name, to help with the work that needed doing, just like cleaning the building each week. Under the stake’s direction, we re-established the three Priesthood committees with specific “mission-oriented” responsibilities. (Of course, our EQP was fairly efficient at giving assignments, we were all AF officers.)

Scouting, like it or not, is your son’s – by assignment – Church activity program. Parents should know as much – if not more – about the man-molding program which the Church endorses and which their sons participate in, as they do about the soccer schedule.

Every parent of every Scout, Cub or otherwise, should automatically be assigned to their son’s (sons’) respective Scouting committee (excepting those who are already called into Scouting positions), with responsibilities as directed by the Chair, and irrespective of other callings. It’s not a calling, it’s an assignment. Training is simple, YPT and Committee Challenge, and minimal materials need be purchased, as the Guide to Advancement is a downloadable PDF. At the very least, this would provide a corpus of “several capable adults” who understand how to administer a Board of Review.  Parents would learn what Scouting is supposed to be accomplishing in their sons’ lives, and they'd be in a better position to wave a big “BS” flag when things are amiss.  Parents and Scout leaders would be true partners.

This is just the most basic of outlines. To make it work, there needs to be a willingness to get over our inhibitions and reluctance to ask parents to take an active role in the programs their sons are assigned to. Many hands make light work.

*Because either (a) Nobody is ever Somebody, or (b) Somebody is always Someone Else. Try this experiment: go home and ask Somebody to set the table for dinner and watch nothing happen. Then assign Bobby to do it, and after he complains that "it's not my job" and you explain it's his assignment for the night, watch it get done. Assign washing the dishes to Bobby's brother or sister.

Prepared. | For Life.™


Tory said...

Excellent comments!

Trouble is, half of the time we can't even get parents to ensure the kid gets there each week. We generally hear excuses like "I can't take away his agency."

Of course, a properly functioning Scouting unit and committee would probably solve many of those issues. Assigning parents to the committee as you describe will help with that. If you can get them to come.

Fishgutts said...

This is a great post and I will probably share on my blog. The problem becomes the application in my ward. Breaking lazy tradition takes time.