The Purpose of the Program
There is a perception in the Church by some that Scouting and the Aaronic Priesthood program are distinct programs having little to do with each other. The skeptics view is that Scouting is a hiking and camping club. The most cynical believe that “BSA” simply stands for Baby Sitters of America. The purpose of this Chapter is to dispel these myths and explain the purpose of the Scouting Program.
First, Scouting is a method for training young men and helping the chartered unit, such as the church, achieves its goals. Second, as noted by President Monson in an address at the National Boy Scout Convention in Washington, D.C. in May of 2006, scouting’s goal is to teach young men to be ethical leaders and to learn life skills.
The Scouting Method is a means to an end and not necessarily an end itself. It is a method for teaching boys. Baden-Powell in his experiment at Brownsea Island incorporated four basic methods to train young men.
First, he stated that Scouting is a game with a purpose. The hiking, fishing and camping are the games. These games are to be used to teach young men to
- Become converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ and lives teachings.
- Serve faithfully in priesthood callings an fulfill the responsibilities of priesthood offices.
- Give meaningful service.
- Prepare and live worthily to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood and temple ordinance.
- Prepare to serve an honorable full-time mission.
- Obtain as much education as possible.
- Prepare to become a worthy husband and father. Give proper respect to women, girls, and children.
That is the purpose. Everything a leader does should have a priesthood purpose in mind, but boys learn faster when they’re having a good time.
Second, Scouting is in the leadership business. Leadership is the ability to persuade others to follow your suggestions without coercion or bribery.. Do you think that skill might be important to a 19 year old young man some day? The most powerful tool in persuasion is ethos. Ethos is the leader’s good knowledge, good character and good will. Teaching young men to follow the Scout Law imbeds in them not only ethos, by Christ like attributes.
During Boards of Review, I ask young men the following question, “Of all the men that ever walked the face of earth, who most exemplified the principals of the Scout Law.” While some boys answer their fathers and one enterprising young man said,” Marco Polo,” most young men said Jesus Christ. When you think about it, the 12 points of the law are all Christ like attributes. The closer the young man follows the scout law, the more Christ like he becomes. Finally, the best way to teach a boy to lead is to let him lead. We call this the patrol method.
Third, boys learn better by doing (kinetic) than by visual or audio methods. There is no better way to learn about service and sacrifice than to do a tough service project. Baden-Powell discouraged dry lectures, rote exercises and repetitive drills. L
astly, Bade-Powell believed that you have to get the boys out of their environment so that they can focus on what is important. If he were alive today he would make sure they left their nano’s ipods, hand- helds, cell phones, and other distractions at home and go to place like the Temple or the deep woods to learn about achieving the goals of the Aaronic Priesthood. Scouting not only is a method for training boys, it has its own purposes which complement the goals of the Aaronic Priesthood.
The Mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young people to make ethical choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them values of the Scout Oath and Law.
The Aims of Scouting are Character Development, Citizenship Training, and Mental and Physical Fitness.
A. In terms of Character Development, Scouting has the following goals:
- They are confident, but are not conceited
- They are honest with themselves and with others.
- Their personal appearances shows that they respect themselves
- They develop special skills and interests. They can take care of themselves, especially in emergencies. They can be counted upon to do their best in difficult situations. They practice their religious beliefs. They respect other people regardless of their differences.
B. In terms of Citizenship
- Learn about and take pride in their national heritage
- Develop an understanding of the social, economic and governmental systems of which they are a part
- Be of Service to others
- Have knowledge of and respect for cultures and social groups other than their own.
- Beaware of community organizations and their functions
- Understand and respect the ethnic and social relationships of their communities.
- Appreciate the environment and seek to protect it.
C. In terms of Mental and Physical Fitness
- Improve their general physical condition through exercise and participation in vigorous activities that may include outdoor adventures and sports.
- Eat properly, get enough sleep and follow other habits for good health.
- Keep their weight within a healthy range.
- Reject experimenting with smoking, drugs and alcohol , or with other activities that can be harmful to themselves and others.
- Strive to be mentally awake
- Use good judgment and make sound decisions.
- Training themselves to be resourceful in solving problems.
Lastly, President Monson talked in Washington about teaching young men life time skills, like first aid, swimming, emergency preparedness, cooking and sewing. He remembered when he had returned from World War II, he went to meet his old scoutmaster, who was also the swim coach. During this reunion, a young man came in and tearfully hugged the coach for teaching him how to swim. The coach explained,” Why was that so important.” As tears rolled in the young man’s cheek, he replied that he was a sailor on the U.S.S. Indianapolis, which had been sunk by a Japanese submarine in August of 1945. Most of the crew perished in the ocean before help came, but this young man had used his swimming skills to be one of the lucky survivors. As an adult leader, you will never know which lesson will save the physical or spiritual life of a young man. But, if you don’t teach him these skills, you will never really know.
Yes, scouting is more than a fishing and camping club. It is a method to train our youth to be ethical leaders, and it is your leadership that can effect this change.