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, October 2, 2011

"The problem with Scouting in the Church is..."

I have heard it said over and over. I have heard it from those who don't like Scouting and those who love it. I have heard it from members of the Church as well as traditional Scouters. "The problem with Scouting in the Church is that it is a calling. The leaders don't necessarily want to be there. They are not invested in the program."

I can see at least one flaw in this argument. Me.

Twice I was called to be a Cub Scout leader when I did not particularly want to be. I had no son in the program, no vested interest. My experience up until that point with Scouting was watching my brothers have fun that I wasn't having.

In fact, the second time I was called, I had specifically mentioned to a member of the bishopric a couple of weeks earlier that I had done Cub Scouting before and would rather not do it again. You should have seen the look on his face when he told me what they wanted me to do and asked me if I would accept. I have thought back on that many times with a smile. There is no doubt in my mind where that calling came from. That bishopric would not have given me the assignment otherwise.

As often happens in life, the Lord chose better for me than I would have chosen for myself. In both cases I gained valuable experience and learned valuable things. Those led me later to learn more things on my own. I have grown a lot since, and much of that growth started with seeds planted during those two brief callings. Scouting has even affected the way I parent.

An article from the Young Men General Presidency states, "Many have said that, 'Scouting is for the boy,' In reality, it is for the adult. Boy Scouts of America provides the training, programs, and resources necessary to help adults effectively prepare young men for today and their future."

It turns out that those experiences were not just for my benefit. Now I am part of a program in a relatively young ward. We currently have many leaders who are willing to build a great program, but most have no experience in Cub Scouts. They have no idea where to start. The things that I learned in other wards can now benefit this ward.

When my own sons become scouts, I will be able to support them properly. I will already know the program and what my role is. If I had not had that previous experience as a Den Leader, I would probably be one of those parents who drop their sons at the curb once a week, then show up for the awards ceremony when it is time to pin the badge on.

I am very thankful the Lord gave me the experiences he did. We have all heard the phrase, "The Church is perfect, but the people aren't." We need to have patience with those people at whatever level they are at and trust that the Lord knows how to run His Church. His ways are not our ways, and we do not always see the reasons for things until long after they happen. Sometimes we never do.


Fishgutts said...

I couldn't agree more with this post! I have definitely learned more than all of my boys put together. I love the Scouting program!!

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately 90% of the time what you describe is the exception, not the rule. The majority of LDS scout units I've seen (in many different wards, in several different states) are pretty poor.

You can almost always pick out the LDS units at any camporee or summer camp. They are the ones where the boys are looking around with bored expressions, clearly not wanting to be there, none of them wearing their uniforms, no patrol flags in sight, and generally the "troop" consists of 4-5 boys. Oh, and none of the leaders have a "trained" patch on their shirts...if they are even wearing scout shirts.

I think the problem with Scouting in the Church IS like you said, the leaders generally are there because they've been "called", and not because they have any passion for the program. Additionally church activities generally forbid any cost to be paid by the participants - it must all come from the "budget". So...nobody has any "skin in the game". Nobody has paid weekly dues. None of the parents has volunteered their time, their vehicle, their resources, etc to help their son's troop. It is all on the shoulders of an untrained, apathetic leader who accepted the calling only because "you don't say 'no' to a calling".

S. Thomas Lewis said...

When I was in an LDS troop during the mid-60s, the bishop's son, who disliked scouting, made life miserable for both the scoutmaster and me. When I worked in scouting as as leader, the bishop's son also was uninterested and made life difficult. If the program had been voluntary, neither of those boys could have made life so miserable. They simply would not have joined in the first place.