Welcome to the LDS Scouter Blog. We hope to provide you with valuable information, share useful resources and maybe even improve some attitudes and Ward Scouting programs. The recommended way to use this blog is to start with the post, "Why I started this blog." Then browse through the post titles in the archive (found in the sidebar) for topics of interest.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Scouting and Agency

I'd like to share with you a blog post by an LDS Varsity Team Coach that illustrates the frustration a leader can feel in watching a youth not live up to his full potential: Why Won't He Just Earn His Eagle?

As leaders, teachers and parents, we try to help those under our stewardship succeed in any way we can. In the end, though, our charges have their agency, and we cannot force them to succeed. Nor should we. As the author of the article puts it, "At some point this boy must become responsible for his Scouting career."

One thing we have tried to emphasize recently with the boys we teach in Primary is that Satan's plan would not have allowed us to learn and grow. We need to learn and grow if we are ever to become like our Father in Heaven. Part of that process (a large part) is making mistakes.

It is the same with Scouting. Rank advancements and awards are not the purpose of Scouting any more than "getting through" is the purpose of earth life. Advancement is one of the methods of Scouting, a means to an end, not the end itself. (Here's a great blog post about that by another LDS scout blogger.)

Scouting is about creating leaders. The boys start as Wolves with a very defined path, but even then there are some choices they make themselves, the biggest choice being to do the work given to them. As the program progresses, they are given more and more freedom in their path. By the end, each boy should be directing his own path. A Scout who has had his hand held every step of the way, has been pushed through the program, or has had requirements signed off that he did not fully complete, just for the sake of getting through, has been short-changed. A very small percentage of Scouts become Eagle Scouts. That is why it means so much.

This may be one of the most difficult parts of being a leader. I cannot imagine the pain our Heavenly Father must feel watching His children make poor choices, and knowing that only a few will make it back to Him. Why did He let us come here, knowing so few would make it back? Because it is the only way we could ever become what we were meant to be.


Chad, Varsity Coach said...

I hope the frustration in the post doesn't give the impression that rank is everything. He just had done all the work and wouldn't take the last few baby steps.

Any boy who spends any time in the Scouting program is not wasting his time even if he never earns a merit badge or rank.

In the end this Scout had his Board of Review with all his requirements completed and did well in his Eagle Board of Review. I was impressed. The LDS faith just seems to have so many that wait till the last minute!

Eric the Half-bee said...

In a discussion with my Stake Presidency last week, it came down to this: if our focus is on boys getting badges, we'll have exactly that - lots of boys with badges. It's an example of the law of unintended consequences. Every ward says every boy should "get" (it is unfortunately common to hear that word used, instead of earn) Eagle, so we forget about the process and focus on the patch. Requirements thus become little more than formalities; Merit Badge Counselors are reduced to mere signatures. We may as will print them out on our Epson all-in-ones.

The hardest part is to let go and let a kid sail under his own steam after teaching him how to navigate and steer. I love the approach that Varsity Coach took, talking with the parent and coming to an agreement that it was that boy's race to lose. There's a fine line between encouraging and pushing, but our 'job' is to teach a young man to take ownership of his actions. It's nice to hear that he did.

Evenspor said...

Well put, both of you. Eric, I'm going to have to use that line about focusing on badges in my training.