Delivering Scouting for eleven-year-old (EYO) boys can be an enriching experience, both for you as the EYO Scout leader as well as for the youth you serve. The EYO program occurs at a critical juncture in the life of a young man—at that marvelous in-between time as he leaves the Primary and receives the priesthood. If you are an EYO Scout leader, you have a wonderful opportunity to teach Scouting’s mission and vision as well as skills and leadership.
One of the many reasons The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints endorses Scouting is found in the mission and vision statements of the Boy Scouts of America.
The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law.
The Boy Scouts of America will prepare every eligible youth in America to become a responsible, participating citizen and leader who is guided by the Scout Oath and Law.
Lord Baden-Powell was wise to understand we do not accomplish this through preaching to boys, but through a method that uses exploring the great outdoors and its associated skill sets to create scenarios where boys learn through organized and channeled fun and adventure.
As the founder of Scouting, Lord Baden-Powell is often attributed as saying that Scouting is a game with a purpose. “Green Bar Bill” Hillcourt (an early Scout leader) put it this way:
Here, then, is Scouting in a nutshell: A game for boys under the leadership of boys with the wise guidance and counsel of a grown-up who has still the enthusiasm of youth in him. A purposeful game, but a game just the same, a game that develops character by practice, that trains for citizenship—through experience in the out-of-doors.” (BSA’s Handbook for Scoutmasters, third edition, 1936 – 1947).
So, as an EYO Scout leader you will want to focus on three key things: teaching and living values (Scout Oath, Scout Law, Scout motto, and Scout slogan); training First Class Scout skills; and developing leadership.
I recall telling my assistant EYO Scout leaders, “I hope we have problems at this Scout outing.” When the other leaders first heard me say this I would get a strange, inquisitive look from them. I would explain that each and every problem was an opportunity to review with the boys the values of Scouting. Too often, boys hear from adults what not to do. We have the opportunity to remind the boys of the moral center that boys already have inside them. This has been developed through the teachings of their parents, their Primary teachers, and other Church leaders by reminding them what to do: be helpful, be courteous, be kind, do your best, etc.
When I see behavior that ought not to be going on, I will call the offending youth or youths up and ask them questions such as, “Are you doing your best?” The response is often downcast looks. A simple reminder of their moral center allows them to make the decision to follow that moral upbringing. The look on their faces will tell it all. Leaving them to decide is the power of the Scouting program: the presentation to the boy of a simple, moral choice.
What we do as EYO Scout leaders is to train young men to trust the values they have learned and guide them to learn to make the right decisions on their own—often through a simple question—not by telling them what not to do or by our outrage at their actions. The opportunity to grow happens when we are able to remind the boys of the principles in the Scout Oath, Law, motto, and slogan. It would not happen if they did not make mistakes.
Our beloved prophet, President Gordon B. Hinckley, recognized the power of reminding youth what to do versus scolding them when he said:
So, as an EYO Scout leader, not only do we have the tools of the 12 points of the Scout Law, but also President Hinckley’s 9 Ways To Be, to guide our wonderful youth in learning to make moral and ethical decisions.
1 Gordon B. Hinckley, Way to Be! Quotes. Goodreads, Inc. (online).
—Stan Stolpe has served in multiple Scouting positions at the unit, district, council, regional, and national levels in several different councils and overseas. His current positions include district roundtable commissioner, district Cub Scout training chairman, and assistant Scoutmaster for a new Scout troop. He resides in Alexandria, Virginia, serving in the Mount Vernon Virginia Stake. The views and opinions expressed in these blog messages are solely those of the author.