Monday, March 18, 2013

What to find out before accepting a Scouting calling

Another conversation with myself... I tend to do a lot of thinking about Scouts in Church. Yesterday, things transpired to the point that I developed a list of questions to ask a bishop the next time I'm asked to work with Scouts (not that I’m anticipating a change in ‘job’ right now).  I had to write them down just to stop thinking about it.  Here’s what I came up with.

Questions to ask the bishop when you are asked to serve in Scouting.

  • Why does this ward participate in Scouting?
  • LDS Boy Scouting ‘ends’ at age 14, but is rarely ever replaced by an effective, vibrant Varsity Scouting or Venturing program. Will I be busting my hump for two years (per boy), only to turn them over to an atrophied activity arm? What's the point of it now, anyway?*
  • What is Scouting for – to hand out badges and make sure we drag each boy through the ranks and Eagle, or is it a 10-year youth training program (beginning with an 8YO Cub Scout and culminating with an 18YO man)?
  • How often should the boys’ activities and meetings be preempted by well-meant adults’ preferences?
  • What does Scout Training offer the youth that weeknight scripture study, manufactured spiritual experiences, and jungle-ball (or _____ sports league, for that matter) doesn’t? 
  • What kind of committee and parental support will I be able to expect? 
  • What's more important - every boy having an Eagle badge, or every boy living up to the Scout Oath and Law? Is it the Patch or the Process? If the process, why are we content to let it end prematurely (at birthday #14)?
  • Will you (or have you) read Trails to Testimony, by Brad Harris ere I answer this call?
  • Once more, why do we participate in Scouting?
  • I've done this before, and even attended BSA's Wood Badge Training.  I've done a lot of research into Scouting and how to use its tools effectively.  I've unfortunately also learned a lot about how tradition trumps educated reform of a program that has veered off-trail.  If I accept this calling, will you support my doing things the Scouting way, trusting in my background and training, or will you insist on “the way we’ve always done it?” If I say ‘Scouting looks like this,' will you sustain such a decision?
I need an answer to each of these questions before I can accept. If you want someone to challenge the boys to do their best, to become better men and to lead one another along the Trail to Testimony (apologies to Brad Harris), I’m your man.  (Actually, one of three men; they should have a Varsity Coach and Venturing Adviser who will do the same). If however, the expectation is just to babysit them on Wednesday basketball nights and drag them through the ranks, and not really give much thought to the why of it all, please ask someone else.  Because there is nothing more frustrating than knowing what the picture looks like, only to be told to complete the puzzle based on someone else's incomplete recollection of what's on the box.

UPDATE: March 21, 2013. Fighgutts posted the other side of the coin.

*On May 11, 2017, the LDS Church announced that it will no longer participate in Varsity Scouting and Venturing. So, yes, Scouting in the Church really does, as a matter of policy, end at 14 now.

Prepared. | For Life.™

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