“As I have loved you, love one another” begins hymn 308. This is just the remedy that many a Primary boy seeks in life. Boys today are beset on many sides by those whose own self-interest pushes others into isolation and a friendless world through bullying and other forms of social rejection. Boys seek solace in electronic products that allow them to feel that they belong, but it is a mask that limits the development of social fitness individually and collectively.
As the eleven-year-old (EYO) Scout leader, you have a pivotal role to play in teaching fellowship and friendship. The fourth point of the Scout law is a Scout is friendly, and you should take the time to use the EDGE method to teach your EYO Scouts friendliness. Now you would think that everyone knows how to be friendly, but they do not. And instruction and discussion is needed.
Throughout the year, you will have new Scouts entering and exiting the program. When you have new, rising Webelos Scouts, it is an ideal time to have a skill development session on the fourth point of the Scout Law, being friendly. Tell them the name of the new Scout, remind them of what it is like to start something new, let them remember their feelings when they became Boy Scouts that they had both anxiety and excitement. Ask them how they will make the new EYO Scout feel welcomed: great him with a smile and spend some time talking to the new Scout about his favorite things. Boys who feel welcome eagerly anticipate Scout night.
Start your new Scout out correctly. You might encourage your EYO patrol leader to break out the annual plan and go over with him the fun things you will be doing for the rest of the year. Encourage the patrol leader to prepare the patrol for the new Scout. Encourage the patrol leader to take some time to ask the new Scout what he likes, where he lives, and what he likes in school. In other words, get to know him and make him feel welcomed.
In Scouting, as in God’s kingdom, everybody belongs. I make it one of my goals that every EYO Scout will be excited to come to each EYO patrol meeting because it makes them feel so good about themselves to be there. I use tools such as Boy’s Life, because Boy’s Life has the best jokes. Make them laugh. When asked why they like coming to EYO Scouts, many of the boys say, “because Brother Stolpe makes me laugh.”
There is a difference between fellowship and friendship. One thought is that fellowship is what happens when we combine friendship with loyalty and trust. Fellowship implies that I extend my friendship unconditionally. Fellowship, when added to trust, binds people together. We have heard the adage of a trusted friend, well true fellowship grows into just that.
I also think of the consequences of the opposite characteristics and like to share them. What happens when we fail someone in fellowship? How do they feel when we are disloyal? What is it like to be around others who are unfriendly?
In your tenure as EYO Scout leader you will have the opportunity to do Scoutmaster’s interviews for the ranks of Scout, Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class. These are opportunities to extend fellowship and friendship as you take the time in the interview to get to know the boy and compliment him on the job he is doing as a Scout, as a person, and as a member of the Church. Establish that type of relationship that is beyond simple knowing of the youth in your charge. Influence them to learn the power of fellowship and see how they can bless others and know the joy of blessing themselves in the process. Teach them to follow the counsel in For the Strength of Youth on friendship:
To have good friends, be a good friend. Show genuine interest in others; smile and let them know you care about them. Treat everyone with kindness and respect, and refrain from judging and criticizing those around you. Do not participate in any form of bullying. Make a special effort to be a friend to those who are shy or lonely, have special needs, or do not feel included.
Stan Stolpe has served in multiple Scouting positions at the unit, district, council, regional, and national levels in the U.S. and overseas. He resides in Alexandria, Virginia, serving in the Mount Vernon Virginia Stake where he is an EYO Scout leader. The views and opinions expressed in this message are solely those of the author.