Thursday, April 8, 2010

Some thoughts about Scouts.

This is me talking with my hands at Pack Meeting once again.

OK, it is time. Time to blog about Scouts.
Back in August when Brother G. "extended the call" to be the Cub Scout Master, my first thought was, "are you kidding? I don't know if I even believe in Scouts." Seriously. Then I started to cry. And I cried for like 5 days.
I guess this is what I was thinking about the whole Scout thing...
I believe that in our culture (Mormonism) most parents reluctantly allow their sons to participate in Scouts at the age of 8. The Mormon Church was the first organization to sponsors Scouts back in 1913, just 3 years after Scouts was introduced into the US. Notice that I didn't say SUPPORT their sons in Scouting because I don't think that they support them. But, by golly when it's time to tally up awards and merit badges and be accountable, many of those parents are quick to grab the Scout book and start signing off everything they can. It seems that to be deemed a successful parent of a son, one must be able to say, "my son is an Eagle Scout." And all of the glory goes to the parents, right. But what happens between the age of 8 and Eagle Scout is where things get all messed up. The last few months have reaffirmed my original impressions of Scouting. I think that there is a big lack of support for Scouts, especially in the younger days, then when it comes times to do the hard stuff, the parents haven't shown enough concern and support early on and so they have to play "catch-up" to get that Eagle award.

OK, I'll try to be specific. We have about 20 boys in our ward in Cub Scouts. The first month that I did pack meeting, there were 5 boys, some of them didn't even have a parent. The numbers have been up slightly since that first month. But I can count the number of boys on one hand who have ever showed up on time, with at least one parent. It was recommended that I should have an "on-time" drawing to help (bribe) the boys to be on time. It doesn't really help, the same boy keeps winning.

I've had one mom who keeps saying things like, "CJ just loves Scouts, you're doing such a great job, blah, blah, blah,". I finally said to her, "how do you know? You've never been to pack meeting." (Seriously, I can't believe I said that, but I did.) she said, "well, CJ isn't our oldest child, we have older children that just require so much of our time. We were very committed with (oldest child). We just don't have time for Cub Scouts like we did the first time around."
Thanks, that makes me feel so much better. It all makes sense now that I know where my place is. All of that time and effort that I, the committee chairperson, and the den leaders have put into the program is just not as important as all of your other commitments. good. now I know.
I was voicing a few weeks ago my concerns about the Blue and Gold Banquet. I was worried, #1 that I had NEVER been to a Blue & Gold Banquet, and #2 that I had to idea how many people would show up considering the low numbers at Pack meeting and den meetings. This same mom said, "well, we'll be there. It's a big deal. We try to support THAT."


I have been thinking about a lot of different things that pertain to Scouts since last weeks General Conference. Even though the speakers do not necessarily coordinate their messages, there seemed to be an underlying theme of families, and returning to the basics. That parents are responsible for the spiritual education of their children.
This is what I think parents are teaching their sons when they discount the importance of Scouts...
they are teaching them that they can be a part of something and only give half of an effort,
they don't have to show up on time or at all if they don't want to or if something better comes along.
They don't have to participate in the activities/lessons/merit badges to pass off the requirements. That mom or dad can just sign something off right before the deadline and it will be fine. It's almost like they don't even have to be honest.
One boy showed up to the Blue And Gold Banquet and I swear he had NO IDEA WHATSOEVER how to participate in the flag ceremony. And he's 10.
One boy will only come/participate if the den leader goes to his house and picks him up. The parents can't even be responsible enough to get him dressed and down the street to den meeting.
here's the thing...
I wish that if parents were too darn busy to bother themselves with supporting their sons in Scouting, then they should not have their sons in Scouting. It's a waste of my time, the den leaders time, and everyone else who is trying to make this program work.
I have developed a testimony of Scouting in the last few months, however, I do believe that many parents have not realized the importance of Scouting. there is no such thing as commitment, work, responsibility.

I read today that Lance Armstrong will not be participating in a cycling competition/training in the Netherlands later this month as he had previously planned. The reason is that he withdrew from the competition so that he could participate in the Pinewood Derby with his son, Luke. Way to go Lance.

Here are some things that helped me understand the vision of Scouting...
First, if a prophet God thinks that we need Scouting, then I think that we need Scouting.
Here is what President Monson has said, "In this world where some misguided men and women strive to tear down and destroy great movements such as Scouting, I am pleased to stand firm for an organization that teaches duty to God and country, that embraces the Scout law. Yes an organization whose motto is "Be Prepared" and whose slogan is "Do a good turn daily."
"the Aaronic Priesthood prepared boys for manhood and the weightier duties of the Melchizedek Priesthood. Scouting helps our boys to walk uprightly the Priesthood path to exaltation." (ensign, Nov. 1993, 48-50)
"Brethren, if ever these were a time when the principles of Scouting were vitally needed--that time is now, If ever there were a generation who would benefit by keeping physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight--that generation is the present generation." (ensign, Nov. 1991, 47.)
Elder Mark E. Peterson said this: "If Scouting would not make better Latter-day Saints, we would not have Scouting in the Church. But because Scouting does make boys better Latter-day Saints, we take it into the cannot divorce Church work from Scouting. When you are building Scouting in your boys, you are building the work of God and helping to establish the kingdom of God on the earth."

wow, strong words. I guess it's good that I have had this experience with Scouting before Cole reached Scouting age. It's been good to build my testimony about Scouting before I had a son involved in the program. I just hope that he has leaders that have a testimony of Scouting.

Thank you to my friend, K who I work with in Scouts. You are awesome and you don't step on my toes at all. At least I don't think you do--I still don't really know what I'm doing.
Thanks Audrey for guiding me and K.
Thanks to Erica for blogging about Cub Scouts. We used your idea to have the boys decorate their own cakes for a cake decorating contest for our blue and gold Banquet. It turned out great.
Thanks also to LeAnn, melissa and Julie (friends from medical school days) who have also blogged about their boys turning 8 and making it a big deal for them. I think that when parents make a big deal about getting a scout uniform, then the boys also see the value that is placed on Scouts. I appreciate your examples.


Kelli said...

I just thought...
All of these years of flaky, undependable home you think they are sons of people who didn't really place any important or commitment on Scouting. I'm just sayin'

missliss5/Melissa said...

WELL SAID! And I would have cried, too. Because I, too, don't know ANYTHING about scouting. That said---I'm doing my best to support Austin in it. And each pack meeting I insist that our entire family is there to support him. And the quotes you included regarding why scouting is important to our LDS leaders were really awesome. WELL DONE!

Tia and Amara said...

I think a big part of the flaky H.T. is the families they have to teach (I'm sure you guys are great:) ). I t seems like the more active a family is, the more they say "oh just count us this month" someone close to me gets pretty frustrated at times. I can't say scouts is perfect --corporate salaries and $40 dollar shirts anyone? But if it's here in the church it's just one more thing we take a little on faith with obedience, knowing it will do our boys good-- right? right? I just know I'm going to get called in there to "strengthen my testimony" too soon.

Jacobson Five said...

In the scouts defense...before you and K were called, the program was kind of in disaray. We used to have great attendance, but I don't think the cub scouts really even exisited for a few months before you were called. I'm sure once word gets around about how much work you 2 are putting in, attnedance will continue to go up. As far as parent participation goes...that will probably always be an issue.

You guys are doing great and I am excited for Tanner to turn 8 next month. I'll tell you what, I will be there and not just for blue and gold.

Julie said...

Kelli, I love how you have words for feelings I can never find the right words to explain myself! I had your exact same calling 5-7 years ago, and many of your same challenges. I think that is why we make such a big deal of our boys doing scout things now that they are old enough. Those were hard years taking a 2 and 4 year old to pack/den meetings while dad was at work, but I survived somehow!

Anyway, I have one suggestion, but you need your primary presidency and bishop on board to make it work. My bishop told every parent (both moms AND dads) that they were called as official members of the cub committee in addition to their other callings. We held a 30 minute quarterly meeting and at least one parent was required to attend. Basically in the fall I had every family sign up to help with one of four major pack meetings and every family sign up to help with refreshments for one pack meeting a year. They only had to attend the cub committee meeting coordinating the activity they signed up for. We had them in charge of the blue/gold banquet, pinewood derby, beginning of summer BBQ, and ....I don't remember. Haha! Maybe it was just three. Anyway, it took a load of work off me as the cub master and really helped to get the parents to pack meetings!

Another thing I did was sit in the hall at a table the week before pack meeting and told boys/parents to have any requirements/electives they completed signed that day. The boys would turn in their books at the beginning of den meeting and I would hand them back before they went home. Obviously it's never perfect, but this really helped most of the boys stay on track instead of getting everything passed off the week before their birthdays!

I'm sure you are doing a great job! You always do at whatever you are doing! I just wanted to say I can totally relate! Except for the yellow leader shirt thing, I never wore that! That alone shows how dedicated you are!

Carroll Family said...

That's so sad that you don't get much support! I was raised that scouting is huge and just how you do things. We haven't been in cubs here, but in our other ward it was really big and everyone came. Ethan's scouting is pretty big here, I just have issues with the communication....... Lafe LOVES that calling - in fact, he's subbing this month and is so excited. But, I think he cried, too, when they called him in the other ward - he was terrified.

rin said...

You go girl. Thanks for writing that.

Galo Fab 5 said...

I seriously think you are great! I'm impressed by all you do. I think (hope) that when the parents see how much time and effort you put into scouts, they might see it more valuable. Ha ha, who am I kidding, probably not! Sports out rank anything these days, unfortunately. I just keep reminding myself I'm gaining a testimony of scouts and as I look at the boys having fun and learning, then I hope it will make the difference in at least one scouts life and that will make it all worth it!

Galo Fab 5 said...

Oh and you mentioned "Home Teachers"? I'm not sure what that is?