Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Scout Oath vs. Young Women Values

The Young Women Values
I have had several discussions with people about what to do about youth attrition recently. One of the things I realized is that there is a disparity between the expectations of Young Men and Young Women.  Here is how I described it to my Stake President:

The Young Women recite the YW values at least twice per week, from their 12th birthday to the day they enter the Relief Society. That is the expectation and they meet it. On the other hand, since upon turning 14, Young Men are "done with Scouting" they don't revisit those lofty ideals [the Oath and Law] until the increasingly unlikely Eagle Court of Honor. They will meet the expectations we have of them, low or high. At one recent Eagle COH, the 17-year-old recipient could not repeat the Oath and Law alongside his younger companions (all age 13 and under). Truly, of what value is the badge, if a young man cannot declare:
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.
This one is low-hanging fruit. If the YW are expected to know their values, the YM ought to be held to the Ideals of Scouting, regardless of which birthday they've most recently marked: Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean and Reverent. These are not just words to recite, but qualities to internalize. All meetings and activities should reinforce the Oath, Law, Motto and Slogan in one way or another, just as they should all have a devotional moment. (Elder Bednar declared that all activities should answer the following two questions: How does it strengthen the family? And how does it bring the boy to Christ? – this is badly paraphrased, but is remembered from Trails to Testimony) These two ideas are not inconsistent with each other.) If that is not among our top goals with Young Men, we are failing them, and they will find something else that satisfies their desire for something which, to them, is meaningful.

Are our expectations a hindrance, or a help?

Prepared. | For Life.™


William D. Chapman said...

Well stated. However, one thing I think the young women lack is something analogous to the patrol method. It seems that the adults plan the activities with very little input from the young women and do not have so much real authority and decision making. Our Patrol Leaders Council meets after every troop meeting for 30 minutes and plans the details of the next troop meeting and / or camp out. They have real authority and decision making which, in my humble opinion, is what it is all about. The Lord says that a young man at age 12 - 13 is mature enough to hold keys of the priesthood but often, we do not trust them and therefore, fail them in our responsibilities.

Eric the Half-bee said...

While there is no formal YW equivalent to the patrol, it is my firm belief that presidents preside, advisers advise. Whenever I get the chance, I have tried to surreptitiously pass along that idea to anyone. I am the HT to the YWP, and before she received that calling, I had shared a lot of my Scouting perspective with her, and because she has three daughters, emphasized that so much of it translates over. I think she has put some of that into practice. I also rode the bus home alongside one of the YW activity leaders, who shared the idea that it's not her program, but the YWs' program, and we had several meeting-of-the-minds discussions while waiting in traffic. There are ways to get the Youth into Youth Leadership.

To answer your question on another post, my postings are now very infrequent, but I still check in with ScoutmasterCG from time to time. His analysis of the new rank requirements is great.

Your last statement is spot on, and it summarizes so much of what is wrong with things, and what will get worse if the Church decides to drop Scouting in the near future. I fear any replacement would be too much like Trek, choreographed down to the last detail so as to leave nothing to chance, and replacing hands-on, practical learning with lessons based in sentimental stories. And basketball. Lots more basketball.

I'm glad you've found my rantings to be of value.