Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Doing Hard Things

It has been a long time since I posted anything. So much has changed for me that I'm not even going to bother to give an update for those who may still be following this.

I've been thinking today about something I have often heard about Scouting: "Scouting teaches our young men that they can do hard things."

I think I've even said something like that myself.

But I began wondering today if we aren't missing something. Something so vitally important that I can't believe I hadn't thought about it until today.

Let me share a couple quotations with you. See if you can't figure out what is missing in the statement above.
"Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness." - Isaiah 41:10

"My God hath been my support; he hath led me through mine afflictions in the wilderness; and he hath preserved me upon the waters of the great deep." - 2 Nephi 4:20

"I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." - Philipians 4:13.

"Since the Savior has suffered anything and everything that we could ever feel or experience, He can help the weak to become stronger." - James E. Faust

"And so we see that because of His Atonement, the Savior has the power to succor--to help--every mortal pain and affliction. Sometimes His power heals an infirmity, but the scriptures and our experiences teach that sometimes He succors or helps by giving us the strength or patience to endure our infirmities." - Dallin H. Oaks

"The difference between what I can do and what must be done is accomplished because of the grace of Christ." - H. Burke Petersen
Now, some of you may be saying something like "But those are all about getting help with spiritual things. That doesn't apply to hiking."

My response is, "Why not?" Don't we sing in our hymns, "I need thee every hour." Don't we believe that Christ, through the power of his atonement, can help us do anything we need to do?

Hopefully all of our young men will be leaving (sooner than they may realize) to go out into the world to teach about Christ and his atoning sacrifice. Shouldn't we help them understand it, by teaching them to rely on the atonement to do all those hard things they have to do in Scouting?

When we hold our reflections after each activity, shouldn't we "talk of Christ... rejoice in Christ... preach of Christ... prophesy of Christ" (2 Nephi 25:26)?

On one activity when I was 16 or 17 years old, I was nervous about participating in a part of the activity. Actually, "nervous" probably doesn't describe my feelings quite as well as "scared." Knowing a little something about me, and what would work for me, my young men's leader asked me to find a scripture that would convince me to do the activity. The scripture that came to mind was one I had recently learned in Seminary:
"Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest." - Joshua 1:9
Knowing that my Savior would be with me, my fear left me and I participated in the activity. I had a great time, and I learned a lesson I have never forgotten.

I'll end this post with one final scripture:
"And now, beloved, marvel not that I tell you these things; for why not speak of the atonement of Christ, and attain to a perfect knowledge of him, as to attain to the knowledge of a resurrection and the world to come?" - Jacob 4:12

Thursday, May 8, 2014


Last night when I got home from meetings my wife gave me a gift. It was the last goal toward her Wood Badge ticket, all finished.

Congratulations, Christine!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Help for Webelos leaders

My wife is currently serving as the Webelos den leader in our ward. Most weeks we get to do den meetings together, which is a lot of fun. We were able to go to Wood Badge together last fall, too.

As part of her ticket, she wanted to share some of the things that have worked well for her. She has been sharing things at round table, but also decided to start a blog to share with a wider audience. Her blog can be found at www.thewebelosden.blogspot.com.

Check it out.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

What level of youth-led is appropriate?

I had an interesting Scouting discussion last night. A very well-intentioned someone was trying to explain to someone else how much the adult leaders should be involved in the different programs of Scouting. They said that for Venturing, the program is 75% youth led, Varsity is 50% youth led and Boy Scouts is maybe 25% led by youth.

My response to that was if that is the way we are doing it, then we're not doing Scouting. I tried to explain that even for our 11-13 year old boys, the program should be completely youth led. The Scoutmaster's job is to train them how to lead and then let them do it. He should be working a lot behind the scenes but if he is doing his job right most people wouldn't see his leadership. But they would see the leadership of the boys. The same applies to Varsity.

For Venturing, I said that the role of the adult leaders is a little different. The youth should be leading everything, with the adult there almost more in the role of an experienced peer who can give wise advice rather than an adult on some higher plane. I say the adult should be there as a peer, not because he lowers himself to their level but because by that point, the youth who are leading are more on the level of the adult. They are capable of acting in an adult capacity and we should help them and let them do so.

What do you think? Did I respond appropriately and accurately? Or am I up in the night? What would you have said?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

An experience, or a checklist?

I just got my latest issue of Eagle's Call magazine (formerly Eagle Scout Magazine). One article is about the recipients of the latest National Eagle Scout Service Project of the Year Award. The winner rebuilt a playground at a cost of over $35,000 and over 5,000 hours of labor. One of the runners up spent two years collecting over $130,000 to build a veterans memorial. I can't even imagine what it would take to do either of those projects, but those Scouts did. Amazing!

When I first read the article, one of my thoughts was that those projects put to shame all of those I've seen locally (including my own many years ago). Of course, that's why they are winning awards.

As I thought about it today, I realized there is a big difference between those projects and the ones my Scouts have done recently, and I'm talking about more than size or cost, or time spent on them. It is obvious from the descriptions of these outstanding projects that they are personally and deeply meaningful to the Scout. Most of the projects I've seen locally are not like that.

That's not to say that we don't have good, meaningful projects, and I'm certainly not trying to suggest that each Scout needs to raise tens of thousands of dollars and spend thousands of hours working on his project.  What I am suggesting is that most of the time we could do much better than we have. Most of the Scouts I talk to about Eagle projects are simply looking for something to get done so they can get their award. Instead of being an opportunity to serve, or a chance to do something they really care about, it's little more than an item on a checklist.

I've seen this attitude in relation to the Eagle Scout award itself. In the last five and a half years I've been involved in Scouting I have seen five Scouts earn the rank of Eagle. One more is just waiting on a board of review. Every one of those six Scouts was over 17 years old when they finally finished off their Eagle rank. Four of them waited long enough that their board of review was not held until after they turned 18. With perhaps only one exception, each of those Scouts treated their projects, and the rank itself as something they just had to finish before they could move on to the next, more important thing. It was simply an item on a checklist.

And some parents (and some leaders) out there aren't helping the situation.

I cringe every time I hear a Scout (or his parent) say that he is not allowed to get his driver's license until he earns his Eagle. In my opinion, this does nothing to help and actually diminishes the real value of the program.

Scouting should be about the experience. It should be an opportunity to do something of value. It should be a chance to learn and grow. Advancement is an important part of the experience, but if we elevate it to such a prominent position that all the other important things become nothing more than obstacles to climb over then we are failing to accomplish what should be our real purpose.