The German philosopher Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche said, “He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.”
It takes a lot of time, energy, and effort to learn how to run a Scouting program the way it is designed. It takes even more determination to actually run the program the prescribed way. Knowing the why behind the Scout methods and seeing the connection to the priesthood makes it easier to bear the great responsibilities of a Young Men leader.
The Scouting program has three specific objectives, commonly referred to as the “Aims of Scouting.” They are character development, citizenship training, and personal fitness. The aims of Scouting are achieved through eight “Methods of Scouting.” (Some of the comments below are taken directly from Scouting.org.)
Last week I wrote about the Ideals of Scouting which are spelled out in the Scout Oath, the Scout Law, the Scout motto, and the Scout slogan. These are the values the Lord wishes to instill in every young man, missionary, husband, father, and priesthood holder.
The Patrol Method gives boys experience in group living and participatory citizenship. It places responsibility on young shoulders and teaches boys how to accept it. Being a patrol leader and senior patrol leader prepares young men for future roles as senior companions, district and zone leaders, and possibly branch presidents when they serve a mission.
Through Outdoor Programs and overnight camping Scouts share responsibilities and learn to live with one another—perfect preparation for missions, college dormitory living, and marriage. It is here that the skills and activities practiced at troop meetings come alive with purpose. Outdoor experiences teach boys to do the hard things that will be required of them at every stage of their future lives.
Boy Scouting provides a series of surmountable obstacles and steps in overcoming them through the Advancement method. A Boy Scout plans his advancement and progresses at his own pace as he meets each challenge. The Boy Scout is rewarded for each achievement, which helps him gain self-confidence. The steps in the advancement system help a Boy Scout grow in self-reliance and in the ability to help others.
When conducted properly Scouting provides numerous Leadership Development opportunities. Every Boy Scout has the opportunity to participate in both shared and total leadership situations. Through Scouting a boy learns how to be a better quorum president or counselor. He prepares to become a righteous priesthood leader within the walls of his own home.
As young men fulfill their Duty to God and progress toward their Scout goals, they experience personal growth. The Good Turn concept is a major part of the Personal Growth method of Scouting. Boys grow as they participate in community service projects and do Good Turns for others. Service becomes a lifetime practice when boys learn in their youth to give of themselves freely in the service of others.
One of the most powerful methods of Scouting is Association With Adults. Young men need leaders who are priesthood giants; men who take their calling seriously. Young Men leaders can influence generations to come by setting a righteous, loving example for the boys under their tutelage.
Finally, the purpose of the last method of Scouting is often overlooked by too many Young Men leaders. The Uniform is an important part of Scouting—and an important element in the Church. The uniform makes the Boy Scout troop visible as a force for good and creates a positive youth image in the community. Boy Scouting is an action program, and wearing the uniform is an action that shows each Boy Scout’s commitment to the aims and purposes of Scouting. The uniform gives the Boy Scout identity in a world brotherhood of youth who believe in the same ideals.
As a Scoutmaster I wanted my boys to understand that wearing the Scout uniform prepared them to wear another uniform they would wear for the rest of their lives as a righteous priesthood holder. That other uniform is the one they will wear on their mission. It is the uniform they will wear as a priesthood leader in the Lord’s church. I wanted them to get used to wearing their uniform proudly, for it truly does set them apart as a visible force for good.
It is my hope that you will understand and implement these eight methods in the Scouting program within your ward and stake. I know from experience the power of these methods in turning young boys into strong men of character.
Take a Moment to Reflect
- Have you implemented the BSA’s eight methods of Scouting into your ward and stake YM programs?
- Do you understand how the methods of the Scouting achieve not just the mission of the BSA, but also the mission of the Lord?
- Are you a righteous example to your boys?
- Do you wear your Scout uniform proudly and properly?
Turn Your Reflection Into Action
- What will you start doing, stop doing, or do better as a result of your reflection?
“Some of the great blessings of these programs (Scouting and Duty to God) are that as the youth of the Church, you will have a clear understanding of who you are, you will be accountable for your actions, you will take responsibility for the conduct of your life, and you will be able to set goals so that you might achieve what you were sent to earth to achieve. Our plea is that you strive to do your very best.” (Elder Robert D. Hales, Ensign, November 2001, 39).
-Mac McIntire is a dedicated Scouter who has blessed many lives through his service and acute understanding of the Scouting program. He currently lives in Las Vegas, Nevada. The views and opinions expressed in these blog messages are solely those of the author.