Sunday, February 7, 2016

Using Scouting as a Missionary Prep Tool

A note I shared with my son's new Young Men President:

Today is Scout Sunday, and I wanted to share with you my feelings on how Scouting can help the Young Men in our ward.

I shared the following link with your predecessor, and I think you would benefit from reading through it, too.  I was the 11YO scout leader in the ward a few years back, and I learned so much about how Scouting, when properly carried out as a youth-led* and -driven program, provides practical preparation for not just missionary service, but the life skills our boys (and girls) will need upon leaving the house as 18YO 'adults'.  Boys of priest age, especially, need these lessons reinforced, in addition the spiritual side.  It's often said that Scouting (not basketball) is the activity arm of the Aaronic Priesthood (at least in the USA and Canada), but I have seen that that arm is often atrophied to the point of uselessness, and one-arm push-ups are really hard to sustain. (Picture a fencer here, with an oversized sword arm and tiny non-sword arm, if it helps.)

I have learned that a good Scoutmaster (to include Varsity Coach and Venturing Adviser) can turn every Scouting experience into a Duty to God moment, effectively converting 12 dedicated DTG nights into dozens of meaningful experiences. What I mean by that is that if the boys are taught to recognize the spiritual implications in every activity they undertake, whether Church, School, Scouting, etc. they will be more effective at helping others recognize those same things later on; instead of holding dedicated, compartmentalized "Duty to God Nights" to check off a line on a list, they will be more likely to continually do their duty to God.  This means that camping must be more than sleeping in a tent and playing around all day.

I would urge you to evaluate how well Scouting is working in the YM organization, and if there are deficiencies, to remedy them.  I would be happy to share with you my lessons learned and what I think are some best practices, if you would like.

*This past year, since B has been in the marching band, and I watched how they operate and have been impressed with what I have seen.  Unlike the top-down, adult-centric leadership methods we use in Church, I noticed that the marching band was youth-led.  The football, basketball and drill teams are the same way.  Teachers and advisers teach and advise the youth leaders, but they don't take the field, even if something goes wrong.  Instead they coach those leaders, who then are trusted to carry the instructions and lessons back to their team.  This is the same model Scouting employs, but is the hardest thing for our volunteer leaders to figure out.  It is also why I am fond of saying that "Presidents preside, Advisers advise."

Prepared. | For Life.™

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