Monday, May 28, 2012

A boy, doing a man's job

Once upon a time there lived a young Boy Scout named David. One day, David's father gave him a very important job. He was to travel far from home to deliver a care package to his three older brothers, who were serving in the army.

 After arriving at his destination, he found his brothers among the other troops and greeted them with joy. They were making preparations to go to battle, with the enemy camped just across the valley.

While talking with his brothers, David became aware of a commotion in the camp. One of the enemy soldiers had come out, alone, and challenged anyone who would listen to a duel. But he was no ordinary soldier. He was a giant. Standing over nine feet tall and heavily armored, he was an intimidating opponent, especially in a duel wih primitive weapons. So intimidating, in fact, that not a single person in the entire army was not afraid of him.

Except for David, that is.

Remember, David was a Scout, and as a Scout he had learned to be brave. Of course, David's courage came from something else he learned as a Scout--his trust in God.

Volunteering to go out and fight he giant (Goliath, by name), David expressed his faith by saying "the Lord will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine."

Refusing the king's armor in favor of his own tried-and-true sling, David went out to fight. Armed only with a few rocks and his faith, David beat Goliath.

David was just a boy. After seeing Goliath he could have turned around and gone home. It wasn't really his responsibility to fight, was it? Shouldn't that job have fallen to the king, or the captain of the army, or any other adult there? But David was a Boy Scout and was prepared and capable of doing a man's job.

When Robert Baden-Powell was under seige in Mafeking, he recruited a group of boys to do jobs normally reserved for men. This was one of the foundational ideas of the Scouting movement--that boys could do what many men wouldn't. Using the ideal of a "Scout" as the hook, Baden-Powell developed a system of training that would turn boys into men.

That is the very reason the LDS church supports Scouting. It helps us take boys and send them out to do the job of a man, as missionaries.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

A change of strategy

Last night my Venturing crew was supposed to have a party. Two of our members are graduating from High School this week and the others wanted to throw a party for them. It has been on our calendar for at least two months.

When I got there last night, we had only two Venturers. Neither were the ones graduating from High School, and neither of them was the activity chair for this activity. Not having anything else to do, we set up a game of "ultimate bowling." (It's like regular bowling, but you do it in the church gym using whatever you can find for pins and a basketball for a ball. There are also chairs set up as obstacles, and you have to bowl from the stage.)

Part way through our game, two others showed up, including the activity chair. He didn't have anything planned or prepared, despite having been given reminders as recently as Monday.

After our game of ultimate bowling, we held a reflection. One of the things that came up was that if your current strategy (for knocking down the pins) isn't working, it can be a good idea to change your strategy. You just might find something that works better.

I got thinking about this after the activity and decided that maybe I need to change my strategy with these young men. I will almost immediately lose two of them to graduation, the singles ward, and missions. That includes our crew president, who has been the one to really pull the others along the last year or so. I already have one who almost never comes due to work and two that just plain never come. That gives me two who are there faithfully almost every week, unless there is a sports event. 

I will have one Teacher move up to join us this fall, but I don't remember seeing him an an activity in the last four years anyway, so that might not help me much.

I'm not sure what I need to do, but I think a change of strategy is in order. We haven't been having great activities lately. We have had great ideas, but they just haven't translated into action. Maybe my team development is at a lower stage and needs a bit more leadership from the top. I almost wonder if I need to go back to the beginning--start from scratch, as it were.

Whatever the case, my current strategy doesn't seem to be working any more, and I think I need a change. I just need to figure out what to try next....

Monday, May 7, 2012

Scout Camp: The Movie

Scout Camp: The Movie came out a few years ago and I saw it with my youth at a Council sponsored centennial camp in 2010. The reason I am blogging about it now is that news of a sequel got me thinking about it. The sequel is to carry the subtitle The Klondike and is supposed to be "a tribute to Scoutmasters." They are currently looking for help funding the movie through Kickstarter

I am really torn about this. On the one hand, I think we need more good family-friendly movies. And I am all in favor of having Scouting be the focus. But I was sorely disappointed in the first movie.

I may be in the minority here, but I don't care. I thought the movie had some really good potential but that it just fell flat. It could have been so much better. It should have been better. Just like the Scouts portrayed in the movie should have been better.

I understand they were trying to show what it's "really like" on Scout camp. I understand it was supposed to be a comedy (I think I chuckled once or twice). But I also think they missed a real opportunity.

What I saw when I watched the movie, were a bunch of boys who didn't care about Scouts, and who seemed to largely miss the point about all the values we're trying to teach.

If you haven't seen the movie, it follows the adventures of one troop, the Fire dragons.  The fire dragons are in constant competition with another troop, the Owls. (What ever happened to having troops with multiple patrols?) I understand friendly competitions, but it just goes too far when the fighting starts. (What about "a Scout is a friend to all, and a brother to every other Scout"?). The message I guess was that it's important to stand up for yourself.

There was also too much potty humor, for my taste, (what happened to "a Scout is clean"?) and judging from the reaction of my boys, it wasn't funny to youth either.

Speaking of the humor, most of the gags just went on too long. Remember the ten minute sequence of the aquatics director trying to light a match?

One thing I really disliked was how they portrayed the adults in the movie. Maybe they wanted to make the youth be the focus. Maybe they wanted to show that boys can be good, competent leaders. Whatever the case, the way it came across to me was that the adults (with the exception of the camp host) were utterly incompetent, out of touch, or just plain lame.

Why can't someone make a Scouting movie showing what it should be like? Why can't we have heroes who, in a difficult situation, know what is the right thing to do, because their lives are guided by the Scout oath and law? Why can't we have a show for youth with strong adult characters who can be role-models for youth instead of a prop simply to add comedy? What would be the problem with showing how Scouting can change and improve the lives of the youth involved? (I guess Scout Camp tried to do this, but it seemed like it was more of an afterthought than an important focus.)

For those of you who are like me, there is a Scouting movie out there that does these things. It's called "Follow Me, Boys!" It's a much better movie, in my opinion.