I held the parents' meeting tonight and it went very well. Six of seven families were represented, and we discussed aims, mission, vision, and methods. We discussed policy vs. tradition, in the form of "Fathers are invited and encouraged to attend the camps with their sons, and with boys whose fathers cannot attend," puting particular emphasis on the fact that requiring a father's attendance hamstrings the son. In regards to advancement, We discussed how 11YO (Church-speak for inexperienced) Scouts participate in advancement, and are encouraged to achieve First Class, but that as such, the responsibility is theirs (the boys'). I laid out a bunch of stuff for the boys to look at, scouting books, copies of Boys' Life, merit badge books, topo maps, patches and they ate it up, especially the kids who are looking forward to turning eleven. I ended with Pres. Monson's centennial testimonial; nothing more need be said after that.
I'll add a link to my presentation later. Now, I must sleep. Here's a link to my presentation, and following is my preamble - I decided to read an opening statement, so as not to ramble on:
What If I told you that there is a program for your sons that teaches them accountability to themselves, their peers, their family, their community and to God; that challenges them to learn new things, even things they don’t want to do, but are necessary life lessons; that develops their character as it teaches them practical life skills; that gives them the tools they will need to be able to be productive adults, who are able and willing to serve their neighbors; that teaches teamwork, responsibility, leadership, and spirituality, all at the same time? Would you want your sons to be a part of such a program? What if I told you that we already have that program? What if I told you that Scouting, when properly carried out, is that program, and that your sons are already part of a 12-year holistic youth development program, and not merely a race to a badge.It all went great, and I would be remiss in not recognizing the help of my wife for making the outstanding refreshments and troubleshooting the tech problems. Thanks!
I believe in the power of Scouting to guide boys on the path of adolescence toward true manhood. Scouting aims to build boys and young men of high moral character, who are participating citizens and who maintain good personal fitness, physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. Quite simply, Scouting does not exist to hand out badges, but the badges represent what the boy is becoming. Why did the late Neil Armstrong list earning the Eagle award among his life’s accomplishments? Was it the patch itself, or the process that it represented that made the difference in his accomplished life? Outside this room is a graphic stating that over 2 million individuals have become Eagle Scouts (57,976 just last year, a new record). But that’s 4% of every person who has ever worn a Scout uniform. By the numbers, if Scouting is about Eagle awards, it’s an abysmal failure. Fortunately, Scouting is not about accumulating badges, but building boys; not getting stuff, but becoming something better. In our case, it is one of the tools that helps a boy become a Priesthood man of God.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland had this to say about Scouting: “When I was a deacon, it didn’t matter if we were working on merit badges, doing a service project, or collecting fast offerings, it was all priesthood. It is with this vision that we need to utilize Scouting and the priesthood to help our young men reach their potential by learning NOW to do hard things!”
With that as a background, I’d like to have a discussion about this year’s 11YO program/calendar and some thoughts on making Scouting more than a checklist for your son, to explain my philosophy, and to understand your expectations.