Thursday, January 3, 2013

Embracing New Year's Goals that have No Eternal Consequences (and that's the point)

BSA's Venturing 'Silver Award',
the highest award available
to youth in Scouting
We have lots of long-term goals for our young men - advancing in the Priesthood, making temple covenants, serving an honorable full-time mission, etc. Many of these have eternal consequences. In contrast, Scouting provides the opportunity for young men to explore goal-setting, primarily through the advancement program, with little or no long-term consequences.

The desire to accomplish goals is an internal thing that is very hard to create in another person. However, information, encouragement, competition, and accountability can all help to create desire. This post will describe some ways that adult advisors, parents, and Priesthood leaders can help young men to set and reach goals within Scouting.

It's hard to want something you don't know about, so the first step is providing information to youth (and their parents) about what advancements are available. Next comes the goal setting. This is best done by the young man himself, but like other aspects of Scouting adult advisors, parents, and Priesthood leaders can help. The final step is encouragement and follow-up, which is a team-effort and includes the entire ward family.



Opportunities to help young men identify, set, and reach goals in Scouting extend far beyond a Tuesday night Scout meeting. Some of these opportunities are formal ones which can be scheduled. They include:

  • Introductory meeting when a young man advances from one Scout group to the next
  • Annual interviews with the Bishop
  • Boards of review with the unit Scout Committee
  • Scoutmaster conferences at each rank advancement
  • A stake or ward fireside, or fifth Sunday meeting
  • Newsletter, website, or email updates

In addition, there is an informal network of non-scheduled opportunities that can be leveraged to point young men towards these goals, including:
  • Discussions with parents
  • Attending courts-of-honor and watching older young men earn awards
  • Informal chats with adults such as YM advisors, stake leaders, Sunday School teachers, etc
  • Home teaching visits
  • PPI's

The goals inherent in Scouting are not celestial in nature. I know of no scripture or revelation indicating that an Eagle Scout award is required for exaltation. Which is precisely why the advancement program in Scouting is so important - it provides an opportunity for youth to try, fail, and try again, with little or no long-term consequences. As a young man becomes familiar with goal-setting, and experiences both success and failure, they will be more equipped to set goals of an eternal nature.


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