Sunday, January 9, 2011

Religious Life Bronze

In my last post I mentioned that I would attempt to address the problem of making Venturing work in an LDS priests quorum. For starters, let me refer anyone attempting to start an LDS Venturing crew to the LDSScouting website. You will find there many good helps for getting a crew started. It is excellent.

What I would like to do here is to give a few examples of things I have found that have worked well and to show that the Venturing program is consistent with the purposes of the Aaronic Priesthood.

Specifically, in this post I'd like to focus on the Religious Life Bronze award.

In Venturing, the Bronze award is the basic level award. There are five different areas of emphasis a young man can choose: Outdoors, Sports, Arts and Hobbies, Religious Life, and Sea Scout. (I saw an article in Scouting Magazine over a year ago that they were developing a Math and Science Bronze award, but no other information has been released yet.) Earning one of these bronze awards is required for the Gold award, which in turn is required for Silver. A Venturer may choose to work on any one (or more) of the five. Four of the five have an "expert" level award (Ranger for Outdoor, Quest for Sports, and Trust for Religious Life) that can be pursued after earning the bronze, but none of the expert level awards are required in the basic "advancement" scheme of Bronze, Gold, and Silver.

Most Venturing crews have a "specialty." For example, a crew chartered by the Red Cross might specialize in emergency preparedness and first aid. Another crew might specialize in shooting sports. Crews chartered to churches often specialize in religious studies. For an LDS crew, what more logical specialty could there be than religious life?

To earn the Religious Life Bronze award, a Venturer must complete nine of the following requirements:
nine of the following:
  1. Earn your denomination's Venturing-age religious award.
  2. A. Learn about cultural diversity.
    B. Make a presentation or tabletop display using the information you learned in (a) above.
    C. Invite someone from a different cultural background from yours and the majority of your crew's members to give a presentation on a subject of his or her choosing. Introduce your guest.
    d. Participate in a discussion about cultural diversity with your crew, Sunday school class, or other group.
  3. Plan and lead a service project such as helping to build a Habitat for Humanity house, participating in a community cleanup project, or taking on a fix-up project for a nursing home or nursery.
  4. A. Serve as a volunteer in your church or synagogue or other nonprofit organization for at least three months.
    B. Keep a personal journal of your experiences each time you worked as a volunteer.
    C. After you have served as a volunteer for at least three months, share your experiences and how you feel about your service with others.
  5. Go on a religious retreat or religious trek lasting at least two days.
  6. Produce or be a cast member in some type of entertainment production with a religious or ethical theme, such as a play, a puppet show, or concert for a group such as a children's group, retirement home, homeless shelter, or Cub Scout or Boy Scout group.
  7. Serve as president, leader, or officer of your Sunday school class or youth group.
  8. Complete a Standard First Aid course or higher course or its equivalent.
  9. A. Participate in at least two Ethical Controversies activities as a participant.
    B. Be a facilitator for at least two Ethical Controversies activities for your crew, another crew, your school class, a Boy Scout troop, or another group.
    C. Lead or be a staff member putting on an Ethics Forum for your crew, your church or synagogue, or your school class.
  10. Serve as a Sunday school teacher or assistant for a children's Sunday school class for at least three months, or as a volunteer for a church/synagogue children's activity such as vacation Bible school. (This must be different than requirement 4 above.)
  11. Meet with your church or synagogue minister/rabbi/leader to find out what he or she does, what they had to do to become your leader, and what they think is the most important element of their job.
Let's take a closer look at a few of these. Requirement 3 is something we should be doing anyway, right? This could also be the same as an Eagle Scout project.

Requirement 4 is pretty easy too. Don't think your young men are volunteering in church? What about the sacrament? Isn't that volunteer work? They might not take the initiative to write in their journals, but we can work with that. My crew/quorum has been taking a few minutes at the beginning of quorum meeting to write in a Sacrament Journals about their experiences that day. At the end of the three months we have a lesson on the Sacrament and everyone can share their experiences. And they all have that requirement finished.

Requirement 5 is easily met at youth conference, or EFY, or even perhaps on a crew activity, if the focus is religious.

Starting to look pretty easy, huh? Just wait.

At the end of the requirements list comes this note: "Activities or projects that are more available in your area may be substituted with your Advisor's approval for activities shown above."

This opens up the requirements to just about anything you can imagine. Those substituted requirements should have about the same level of difficulty and should relate to Religious Life, but it presents a wide variety of possible activities. Let's look at a few examples.

I would start with an adjustment to Requirement 11. It just doesn't really fit an LDS crew. But you could have the young men meet with the Bishop to discuss the purposes and responsibilities of the Aaronic Priesthood, or how the ward functions, or any number of things. The original requirement doesn't say it has to be done one-on-one, does it? Could you have the Bishop take a turn teaching the lesson in quorum meeting and fill this requirement? I think so. It wouldn't even detract from normal quorum lessons.

Look at Requirement 2, C&D. In small town Utah there isn't a wide selection of people who come from a different cultural background. However, there is an abundance of returned missionaries who have been to many different cultures. Invite them to come and speak to your crew.

What else might a faithful LDS youth be expected to do? How about Seminary? Could one year's participation be an appropriate substitute for one of the above requirements? A Missionary Preparation class might also be appropriate. How about reading the Book of Mormon? I think reading, studying, and discussing with others the Book of Mormon could be a good substitute for some of these requirements.

Starting to get the idea? The way I see it, the Religious Life Bronze award is perfect for an LDS Venturing crew. It's easy to do, and doesn't even take much time away from the high adventure type activities our young men enjoy so much.

In later posts I intend to discuss the Ethical Controversies and Ethics Forum (required both here and for Silver) as another perfect match for an LDS crew.

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