Sunday, September 2, 2012

Your boys "don't like Scouting", really??

In my stake assignment, I sometimes hear the comment from ward young men's advisors that their young men "don't like scouting". "They're just not into it," they tell me. In my more brazen moods, my reply might be considered somewhat abrupt.

"Really?" I say. "Your young men don't like climbing, caving, scuba diving, and rifle shooting?" I might even continue, "They don't enjoy planning their own activities, and picking their own camps and summer adventures? And they're just not into weekends of whitewater rafting, kayaking, geocaching, or horseback riding?"

By this point, the adults realize that this conversation isn't going the way they intended.

"Well," they explain, "we've been working on mostly required merit badges, and they tend to take place in the classroom."  In other words, these guys are running an extension of school. Evenings spent in a classroom, filling out worksheets in order to qualify for badges that they didn't choose. No wonder their boys "just aren't into it."

So what's missing from these programs? Well, three main things I think.

First, I'd be willing to bet that these programs aren't youth led.  The adults might let youth conduct a meeting or two, and perhaps even give input into the sequence of activities, but I doubt that the boys are really 'in charge'.

Second, these programs place too much emphasis on advancement. Remember that advancement is just one of a number of different methods used in the Scout program. Implemented properly, Scouting provides many opportunities for fun (and learning and growth) that aren't advancement related.

Third, 'success' in these programs is being measured in adult terms. Well organized, tidy, activities organized by adults are taking the place of messy, youth-planned and implemented activities where mistakes create learning.

So your boys don't like Scouting? Actually, they just don't like the way you do Scouting. When properly implemented, the program provides age appropriate challenge, by using a variety of activities that youth choose. What's not to like about that?

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