I did it.
You thought I would chicken out, but I went through with it!
My journey into the inner sanctum of Scouting was complete, and I have come out the other side.
A few observations:
Camping is fun… some of the time.
The boys seem to experience some of the highest delight and deepest boredom at camp – sometimes within minutes or hours of each other. In one breath, the boys say “this is the coolest” then “I want to go home” in the next. I remember doing it myself, and I see it in these guys. It’s not ADHD, it’s just being a boy.
It is fun to watch these guys look out for each other and see the pseudo-family they make when they are at camp. There is something more to this in Mormon Scouts than with non-LDS troops. Our group was particularly impressive in this regard. Camp helps these guys bond with each other, relate to each other, look out for each other, and learn to resolve their conflicts with each other.
The BSA is a great activities program, but I honestly don’t see as the mental and moral program as advertised. It teaches them to do stuff, piques their interests, and is great at stimulating their sense of adventure and fun, but I don’t think it’s very overtly teaching patriotism and morals like the marketing material would have you believe.
So I stand by my assertion: I still haven’t seen anything that the BSA is providing these boys that the Church could not provide itself.
So why all the overhead; both expense and time?
That is my real beef (going back and rereading my previous posts): BSA just requires too much extra of the leaders by way of training and resources that a similar activities program of the church would not require or already provide. Having been a pseudo-scout-leader-for-a-day, I just don’t see what part of this job requires that I attend endless meetings or training sessions. Basically, my job was just to make sure everyone got to class and that no one killed themselves or someone else.
… And that’s part of the beauty of scouting, it allows the boys to be boys. it allows them to get into food fights, run around with sticks, play with fire, fart in their tents, eat horrendous food together, and find out they can live through it all. It allows them to overcome their fears and give them experiences that help them to be independent.
It comes in the perfect time of these boys’ lives. You can seem them trying to form their identities. You can hear them learning audibly from each other. You can see them take on leadership roles, where they are expected to know stuff and be accountable.
I don’t think I was ever making the case against Scouting: boys definitely need some program to get them away from their virtual world and bring them back into the real world. (Heck, I needed that!) I just don’t think the leaders and specifically the church needs it to provide moral instruction and life lessons to these guys.
They can still camp. They can still tie knots. They can still sharpen knives. But we don’t need the BSA to do it.
In fact, in some situations, the BSA is holding us back. At the camp we are attending, we get to enjoy a meaningless, repetitive ‘grace’ before each meal, or as like to call it: a vain repetition and an apostasy. We can do better than that in the religion part of it, for sure. Indeed, I’d like to think that teaching religion is much more than muttering grace before a meal, teaching patriotism is more than having a flag ceremony at the crack of dawn, and teaching morals is more than trying to keep them from telling dirty jokes around the campfire.
I won’t deny that’s a start, but I still think we could do better.