Zelophehad’s Daughters

Why I Don’t Like Scouting

Posted by Ziff

As a teenager, I didn’t like scouting because I didn’t like outdoor activities like camping, hiking, orienteering, and whatnot. So I did very little scouting related stuff, and that only after much arm-twisting by leaders and other boys (who, to their credit, were typically very nice about it). As I lived in Utah Valley, this made me borderline inactive.

This is why I object to scouting being used as a Church program. It elevates love of outdoorsy activities to the level of a moral good. I certainly don’t object to other people liking scouting. They can scout to their heart’s content and I won’t mind a bit. What I will mind is when they mix scouting up with the Church and try to tell teenage boys that they’re bad if they don’t like knot-tying, and when they get a special exemption to harass me at Church for money through “Friends of Scouting” when of course all other similar types of fundraising are strictly prohibited.

Contrast my scouting experience with my wife’s volleyball experience. She doesn’t like to play volleyball. She has told me that, before we got married, she always felt a little left out in her singles’ ward, where they played volleyball frequently. But at least there wasn’t anyone telling her that volleyball was the Church’s chosen activity for young single adults, and that she was bad for not playing.

Scouting and volleyball are both fine activities. But in the terms of Elder Oaks’s talk, they’re goods, not betters or bests. So I think it’s wrong to choose scouting arbitrarily–I assume because many influential GAs had positive experiences with it growing up–and elevate it to a best by making it the Church program for young men (at least in the US).

In a discussion of scouting at Millennial Star a couple of years ago, jimbob made a comment that summarized my concerns very well, but from a leader’s perspective. He said in part, “I have great concerns that our young men can’t see where scouting ends and church begins and so start thinking that they can’t be good Aaronic priesthood holders without also liking camping.”

On the bright side, if I understand right, scouting isn’t used as a Church program outside of the US. So as Church membership is increasingly concentrated outside the US, the Church’s ties to scouting should weaken. Plus we already have the Duty to God program ready to be used in place of scouting as soon as we’re done with it. But I also know that the Church is unlikely to cut ties with Scouting on President Monson’s watch, as he loves it.

39 Responses to “Why I Don’t Like Scouting”

  1. 1.

    Don’t even get me started on donating to “Friends of Scouting”. There are approximately 100,000 charities I’d rather donate to, but I feel obligated to donate every year, because my good neighbor comes to the door asking. It’s hard to tell a friend and neighbor face-to-face that I’d rather spend my charity dollars elsewhere, without looking like a meanie. It especially rubs me the wrong way this year, because we have a very sick boy fighting cancer in our stake and we are currently trying to raise funds for his treatment and it’s coinciding with the Boy Scout donation drive. Ugg…

  2. 2.

    Ziff, to be honest, I’ve heard some relatively good arguments against scouting, but this isn’t one of them. The problem here is that if the church axes Boy Scouts, it’s got to replace it with something. And that something will involve things that keep kids active and interested – outdoors stuff, sports and games, with education about the way the world works mixed in. In other words, it will be a lot like scouting.

    Now imagine a young man who just plain doesn’t like the new Young Men’s activity program. Separating scouting from the church is a whole lot easier than separating a young men’s program would be. Thus, it seems that the problem you present actually gets worse by eliminating scouting, not better.

    Further, I can’t imagine there are very many young men out there who dislike scouting but would be engaged in a young men’s program. I mean, kids who think scouting is nerdy or boring are going to think a new churchy version of scouting is going to be really nerdy or boring.

  3. 3.

    Thanks for being honest, Eric. :)

    So why do you think the Church must replace scouting with something else? Why must there be a youth program with non-gospel-related parts? If I understand your argument, you’re saying that there will inevitably be parts to a youth program that don’t have anything to do with religion, and scouting has parts that are as good as any program’s. I just don’t see why there have to be such extra parts. Does the Young Women’s program have these extra parts? (I know virtually nothing about it.)

    And since you mentioned them, would you be wiling to point me to (or briefly describe) the arguments against the church’s argument in scouting that you find more compelling?

  4. 4.

    Because we already have seminary. The purpose of a weekly youth activity program is get young men involved in socially productive ways that isn’t directly religious. Granted, a church created young men’s program would be more overtly religious than vague references to “duty to God” but it would still essentially be an activity program. And it would likely still be heavily grounded in activities that young men like to do, like camping and building fires and stuff.

    The best argument against scouting is the cost. The church could create its own scouting program, one that very nearly mirrored scouting in content, for a lot less – which they will probably end up doing some day. In my opinion, the national support infrastructure of scouting and the many benefits that come from being a part of such an organization (particularly in the form of established scout camps) are well worth the cost. But being the frugal people that we are, it’s still a consideration.

  5. 5.

    Ziff, your teenage disinclination to hike, camp, and tie knots reminds me of my parallel teenage disinclination to craft, glue-gun, and subject myself to makeovers. The irony is that I remember being jealous of the very scouting activities you hated. The boys seemed to go on campouts every other weekend during the summer and to make trips to Lake Powell while we stayed home and crocheted doilies. But the discrepancy between YW and YM is ground that’s been repeatedly and thoroughly covered on the Bloggernacle, so I won’t go on.

    Your larger point about the way an essentially secular activity becomes a moral good, or even a moral requirement is well taken. I’ve been glad to see crafts more or less die off in Relief Society culture. (I find the scrapbooking that’s replaced it a little off-putting, but to paraphrase you, Ziff, as long as scrapbooking doesn’t become an official church program, I’m delighted to let others scrapbook to their hearts’ content.)

    It’s probably inevitable that trends like scrapbooking, volleyball, or Settlers of Catan periodically take a ward by storm, leaving those who don’t care for them a little on the outside. In that regard the Relief Society’s recent shift to small groups is an excellent move because it uncouples church activity from any particular pursuit. But YW/YM groups are usually a lot smaller than RS, making similarly individualized activities impractical.

  6. 6.

    I loved all the outdoor activities of scouting, I just hated the uniforms, merit badges, scout camps, oaths and general hierarchy of the scouts. But camping with all your buddies in the mountains is awesome!

  7. 7.

    I don’t really like Scouting. I earned the rank of Tenderfoot, but I also earned my Duty to God, attended Seminary 4 years, served a mission, and have been serving in the Church for the past 15 years faithfully since.

    A testimony of the gospel does not have to include an abiding love for Scouting. The gospel tent should be bigger than this in my view. If you love Scouts, I’m happy for you, but let’s hope we don’t have to “bear testimony of the truthfullness of Scouting.”

  8. 8.

    As a varsity scout coach I despise the layers and mountains of rules and bureaucracy that the BSA has leveled upon us. I have difficulty recommending it to young men not actively enthused about it. Who wants to be involved in a program that they are supposed to lead that teaches them about filling out form after form after form?! For the same reasons I cant push them to work on advancement to eagle. It used to mean something, but more and more it just seems that the parents are the ones pushing it and the projects turn out really lame.

  9. 9.

    I’m not so hot on Scouting as a Church sponsored program, but I think if it is eliminated, the YM program will drastically lose quality. I think it’s better if leaders aren’t quite so focused on the badges and if they use the vast array of available activities in Scouting. There are Scouting materials on astronomy, computers, chess, and many other areas having nothing to do with camping.

    And don’t even get me started on girls’ activities…

  10. 10.

    I have wondered if President Monson would be inspired to transition out of scouting, because, as a devoted Scout, all the other devoted scouts would be able to take the news better from him. He could say “no one loves Scouting better than I do but…” and everyone would believe him, and know that only divine revelation would make him change his mind.

    Not gonna happen… still, it’s a nice idea.

  11. 11.

    Well as a disclaimer, I should state that I work for the Boy Scouts of America, but I was a volunteer for 8 yars prior. That being said, I am crestfallen when I hear of the overwhelming negativity that members of the Church show for Scouting. I can understand it however, because it seems that I’m often buried in mountains of paperwork that I have to process in order for boys and leaders to be Scouts. I have very little time to serve, train, and help the 242 units that I’m paid to serve and help. The problem with Scouting and the Church stems from a few items I will list here:

    1. FOS is a drag. People HATE it. Part of it has to do with the attitude and methods by which church leaders go about soliciting the funds. It’s not their fault entirely. They’re not trained and their Scouting executive has very little time to train them on how to fundraise and not tick people off. The principle of FOS should always be sharing the promise and vision of Scouting–and then INVITING people to give. You can do it at a dinner, at Church, or in another big meeting. Always set the stage by showing why Scouting is valuable. If people see the value, they will feel more inclined to donate.

    2. FOS again. it is true that the Church could probably replicate the program better, but it’s not because of the cost factor. The average FOS donor in my area gives about 10 bucks. That doesn’t go very far. Compare it with tithing and you’ll have all the money in the world to run a fantastic program. The best reason I could gather as to why the Church stays with Scouting was an explanation President Dahlquist gave, that the Church outsources some of its activity services because of the outreach that comes with Scouting. It is a bridge-building community organization that brings in many converts that otherwise wouldn’t get baptized. As well, general authorities, including Thomas Monson, sit on the general board, and he is the longest standing member of the National BSA executive board. In many ways, you could say that the BSA has been influenced and led by LDS leadership.

    3. Related to FOS, but the value people perceive in Scouting. They see cost, work, paperwork, bureaucracy, etc. I can’t blame them. Some things organizationally could change. Our marketing often stinks and is outdated. But Scouting implemented right saves and changes lives! I have seen evidence of stakes and wards implement the program correctly and it has increased the number of missionaries they send out, sometimes doubling the number. A dirtly little secret is that half of all boys leave the Church and go inactive between the ages of 14 and 16. Yet most Varsity Scout leaders refuse training and continue to just play basketball because they don’t see the value in the program. When Varsity and Venturing is implemented, it raises retention. Its an uphill battle and I plead with church leaders to get trained and to get the right volunteers in place to lead these programs.

    I know I’m biased, but even were I to leave the organization its a flame that burns in my heart. I have seen too many boys lives change because of it. I would invite all to study a bit more about the organization and its purpose. You may have a change of heart.

  12. 12.

    Oh, one more thing — Advancement. It has turned into a parent’s threat not to get a drivers license. It’s a shame. I care more if a leader is taking a kid on an activity away from the IPOD and MTV so that he can teach him values around the campfire and help him understand his duty to God and Country. Advancement is just one of many means, never an end, and many parents and leaders have turned it into that.

  13. 13.

    Other activities that you must like to be Mormon: basketball, stupid get-to-know-you-type games, and dances. Fact of the matter is, no matter what activities you choose, some people are going to like it, and some people are going to hate it. One of the things church teaches is to give-and-take as part of a community that helps us to grow in ways we otherwise wouldn’t.

    I like to play hoops but I always hated dances growing up. Then one week in my highschool history class we left the classroom and went to the gym to learn “the history of dance.” All of the other guys in my class were awkward, uncoordinated wallflowers. But I had worked out those same insecurities years prior at stake dances, so I was looking like Fred Astaire. And that year I took a girl from that class to the prom.

  14. 14.

    The main problem with Church-sponsored scouting is that the youth and adults are conscripts. It is rare to find the boy who anticipates joining and participating in Mormon scouting as he would a sport or school activity of his own choosing. Outside the church, that is how boys undertake the scouting program, because it is their choice.

    Another dimension is Mormon scout leaders may not have a penchant or any skill for the outdoor classroom of scouting, but are there in an attempt to magnify a random calling. They also are likely to be replaced in a year or two creating a constant competency vacuum. The leaders never fully understand the program and find it easier to conduct the program themselves than groom the youth to become leaders themselves.

    The fix: Make scouting an optional church program and use the patrol method (i.e., let the boys lead, plan, and organize their own activities) and Mormon scouting can be successful. Until then, the program will wander in mediocrity. For full disclosure, I’m a third generation eagle scout and current asst. scout master.

  15. 15.

    FOS has never been a problem for me, even when it is my next door neighbor in full Scout regalia. “Friends of Scouting, you say. I’m no Friend of Scouting so I won’t be contributing.” As far as I can tell it hasn’t hurt my credibility in the ward one iota.

  16. 16.

    One of the constant disconnects is that some Scouters want to follow Irving’s model without exception, while other priesthood leaders want to follow SLC’s model.

    Irving scouters can’t stand the idea that local priesthood authority might not implement the program as exactly as outlined (and can’t understand why that may be acceptable).

    I tend to support a program of “fundamental Scouting” with minimalist trappings and cost.

  17. 17.

    I have always felt that scouting falls short in the LDS church because it is done on the ward level. This results in troops with sometimes only 2 or 3 kids involved. In our ward right now, we only have two deacons, with three more to join by the end of the year (of which my son will be one).

    Overall I think that scouting is an excellent program with a lot to offer young men. I think that the church would see more activity in scouting if they made some simple changes. Here are my suggestions.

    1. Change the troop/patrol structure so that each stake has a troop. Patrols would then consist of members from a ward or a combination of wards to keep the average size of a patrol between 5-10. (As an aside, I have been told that this will never happen because the church’s political clout with the BSA is dependent upon the number of troops it sponsors and this would result in such a decrease to change the balance of power in the BSA. I would love Peter’s take on this as a BSA employee).

    2. Scoutmaster would then be a stake calling (possibly a member of the stake YM presidency), and should have minimum term lengths of 3 years. Volunteers should be actively sought, rather than relying solely on “inspiration.”

    3. Each patrol would have a patrol adviser/asst. scoutmaster to work with the boys individually. Troop meetings on a stake level also allows the boys more opportunity to meet and interact with other boys they might not ever have met.

    4. We should allow boys over the age of 14 who want to remain in the troop, rather than move to varsity or explorer, to do so and be active in troop leadership and more involved with training younger boys. There’s a lot to be said of the older young man as role model for 12 and 13 year-olds.

    5. Insist upon adult leaders attending BSA training opportunities. In our ward our scout leaders make it to roundtable about once per year, and none have been to Woodbadge. An untrained leader is almost no better than no leader.

    6. While there is a lot of emphasis on camping, particularly in the West, there doesn’t have to be. Camping can be done as needed for particular merit badge and advancement requirements, but other activities can and should be planned. I think a lot of times camping is the default because it’s cheap and doesn’t require a lot of forethought or real planning. Adult leaders, particularly if they are trained and experienced (again serving for years) should be able to identify the needs of the kids they work with and plan accordingly. If adult leaders develop a plan to help each kid advance, then activities can and should be planned around other merit badge/advancement requirements.

    7. Drop FOS. If the church can spend $1.5B on malls in SLC, then we ought to be able to fund scouting from general church monies/tithes. Or follow Peter’s guidelines above. Don’t just get up in PH/RS and ask for money.

    Anyway. That’s my 2¢, maybe I should’ve donated it to FOS. :)

  18. 18.

    Great post, Ziff. I really like the points you make.

    One issue is whether/how certain activities and institutions associated with the Church are or should be gendered–and ironically enough for Ziff the anti-Scout, not only does his wife enjoy hiking and camping but several of his sisters love it as well, myself among them. :) (Of course I’m not sure that means I’d have enjoyed Scouts!) But the same Church that bullied Ziff into outdoorsy activities created very few opportunities for us girls to interact with nature. I adored Girls’ Camp as a YW, but even then, staying in cabins in the mountains miles from civilization, we had to plead for opportunities to go hiking. It seems like we spent an inordinate amount of time sitting on wooden benches studying bizarre principles of first aid for people in extreme environments who developed hypethermia while exploring a tundra or were bitten on the nose by a rattle snake–the sorts of situations we would never find ourselves anyway since we weren’t allowed three meters outside the campsite. Of course I really can appreciate that our leaders couldn’t be responsible for girls scaling cliffs or jumping from trees. But it was disappointing to drive three hours into the mountains and then not be allowed to hike for more than fifteen minutes; I wish they’d created more opportunities for that.

    The broader and more important issue is what (if anything) in the Church is optional, especially in a Church that involves time-consuming bonding activities that are potentially very rewarding but may or may not appeal to our personal interests. How many knots do you labor to tie if you’re not a scout by temperament? How many doilies should you crochet if they come out looking like decomposing rats and you have no personal use for doilies? On the one hand leaders, especially of youth programs, have to concoct constant activities and most likely none of them will appeal to everyone, but they surely deserve our support nevertheless. On the other hand, how long should you flagellate yourself with participation in Church programs you really have no use for?

    I’m not sure where the line should be drawn, but I definitely think scouting should be optional.

  19. 19.

    Of course, the biggest argument FOR keeping Scouting is what the Young Men will turn into without it — some semblance of the Young Women program.

    Every Young Woman I know, including the ex-YW (like DW), wishes that they had something more programmed like the boys.

    Ever see the crap the 8-11-year-old girls do compared to the Cub Scouts? Utter garbage.

    (I’m a father of a soon-to-be-YW. I’m a bit hostile right now.)

  20. 20.

    Everybody seems to have a different perspective.

    Queuno,

    My wife thinks the looser structure of the YW program is actually an advantage, because you can do whatever you want. Same goes for the achievement day program for the 8-11 y.o.’s. I HATED cub scouts, (pinewood derby, ugh) and made my parents’ lives miserable until they allowed me to go to 4-H instead, where I was much happier. I got to wear jeans and cowboy boots instead of that stupid blue and gold cub scout beanie.

    Peter,

    I appreciate the work you do in the BSA, it’s important, and you and your colleagues deserve more credit than you get. I’m saying that now, and I mean it sincerely, because the rest of what I have to say might not sound complimentary.

    But the issue is not about whether BSA is a good thing; the issue is whether the church shold sponsor it and make participation mandatory. I agree completely that parents should not make advancement compulsory, but it is a bit too much to place the blame entirely on the parents. Much of the focus of the organization is to entice cooperation with badges and insignia of rank. I’be been going to adult roundtable meetings now for about 15 years, and it absolutely blows my mind that grown-ups give each other demerits for being out of uniform, and that I am expected to wear not only a scout uniform, but also some kind of idiotic fake-Indian necklace made with a leather string, plastic bear claws, and colored beads denoting my years of service to the BSA. If a young man said he wanted to camp and do the service projects but not wear a uniform and be left alone with rank advancement, he would be considered officially off his rocker by every scoutmaster in America. I really don’t see that the church has any business supporting this kind of thing.

    I dismiss your claims that participation in BSA increases participation in missions, not because I dispute your experience, but because the church has already settled this question through its own internal research. I have seen young men become active and serve missions by playing church basketball. There are many good programs for young men available — BSA, 4-H, YMCA, service auxiliary at the local hospital or rest home–and I’m confident that, with the right leaders, participation in any one of them would increase church activity and build character. But it would give me the heebie-jeebies if somebody bore testimony of 4-H, and bugs me just as much when people see scouting as part of the church. Again, the question is not whether these are good things, the question is: What business does the church have sponsoring this?

    Two more quibbles and I’m done. I’ve been subjected to quite a lot of Total Quality Management training over the course of my career. One of the basic principles of TQM is that, if a process is difficult to implement, it is bound to fail. When the troops in the trenches continue to get it wrong in the same ways over and over, it is not their fault. The blame lies with management, which has obviously created an unwieldy process. When the reason for lack of success in Scouting always comes back to the local people not being adequately trained, there is something fundamentally wrong with the program. Finally, I agree that BSA needs to improve its marketing. I’ve worked in YM most of my adult life, and when teenage boys see the pictures BSA puts out depicting what uniforms they’re supposed to wear, it is always worth a good laugh. Berets, sashes, shorts, and green knee socks!?!?!?!? With garters!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!? That is a pretty good indication, imo, of the extent to which BSA is increasingly out of touch, and therefore irrelevant.

  21. 21.

    I’m no fan of scouting, (mostly because for me, it interferes with real appreciation of the outdoors), but even if we do keep it as a church program, all that pseudo-native american nonsense should be abandoned immediately. While it may have been understandable prior to the civil rights movement, it has become completely anachronistic and an embarrassing vestige of a time when stereotypes and charicatures were just convenient ways to talk about inferior cultures. Theoritically, all that Indian Lore teaches respect for Indian cultures, but in my experience, it has not been given any real thought and ends up being far more cartoonish than accurate. I find it offensive, and can’t imagine a more realistic presentation of European’s (yes even the Mormons) relationship with native Americans.

  22. 22.

    sorry that last rant ended in a bit of a muddle, What I meant to say is that I can’t imagine the church or Scouting presenting an accurate presentation of the relevant relationship’s and that if we really want to be respectful to these cultures, perhaps a bit more candor is warranted… and perhaps a bit fewer plastic bear claws on leather string.

  23. 23.

    garf,

    If you want to laugh yourself silly sometime, watch the episode of King of the Hill where the boys get inducted into the Order of the Straight Arrow.

    Sample quotes:

    HANK: Here are your Silence Sticks.
    BOBBY: Those are Slim Jims.
    HANK: That’s what the white man calls them. Wematanye calls them Silence Sticks to test your spirit of shutting up.

    DALE: Oh, man. What kind of lefty hootenanny is this?
    HANK: Look at that one, bouncing around in front of God and everybody. Would it kill a tree if she wore a bra?

    HANK: We of the Order of the Straight Arrow call upon the spirit Wematanye, protector of the sacred ground that brings us cool water to drink and energy-efficient clean-burning propane gas for all our sacred heating and cooking needs. Wematanye says, respect the earth! She’s ours, by God, our taxes pay for Her. Also, it says here you gotta love all Her creatures. Let’s see…oh, here we go: Though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, you’re gonna recommend us to the spirit in the sky, with liberty and justice for all. Wematanye is with you, and with Texas. Amen.

  24. 24.

    but because the church has already settled this question through its own internal research

    Yes, and scouting did not fare well at all in that.

    The problem is that scouting is a camping theme park these days. Instead of a paramilitary organization designed to prepare young men for military service in rough terrain, it involves marching from permanent camp to permanent camp …

    For some kids, in some situations, it is a great experience they can’t find anywhere else.

    I’ll have to dig up the alternative to scouting I once worked up.

  25. 25.

    My wife thinks the looser structure of the YW program is actually an advantage, because you can do whatever you want.

    That only works if you have good leaders. In most of the Church – a mandated structure actually leads to a better program. (We like to bash the nature of the lesson manuals for priesthood/RS — but seriously — we have better lessons *as a whole* because of them.)

    Most Church members need structure.

  26. 26.

    garf – I’ll keep the Indian rituals, if they’ll just abandon the paramilitary theme. Patrol leaders? Buglers? Quartermasters? Please. Let’s rename them to a quasi-corporate theme and it’ll catch on better.

  27. 27.

    OK, I had no idea just how bizarre Scouting was, and evidently still is. Plastic bear claws? Demerits for adults? Knee socks with garters? “Indian” lore? Titles like “Quartermaster”? I’m having a hard time controlling my giggles…even as I’m forced to confess that I myself was involved in at least some of these things (the fake Indian lore and plastic beads on a leather string) at a girls’ camp in Utah (didn’t realize at the time how much we were evidently ripping off from the BSA!). But even we girls forewent the garters, not to mention the uniforms, quartermasters, binders, endless pieces of paper, advancement, rank, etc.

  28. 28.

    Eve, check it out here and here. Yes, those are RED garters with the green knee stockings.

    I have fantasies of holding some kind of an auction where our young men can bid on how much money they would require in order to do a certain requirement. Railroading merit badge, $25.00. Beret in public, $100.00. etc.

    Yes, we still have a quartermaster. He is responsible for keeping track of all the tents, lanterns, dutch ovens, and so on. Also a sergeant-at-arms (disciplinarian who enforces rules like no littering and no swearing and lights out time on campouts) and a commisarian, who is responsible to plan menus and buy food.

    As I said, it blows my mind.

  29. 29.

    I wonder how a split from the BSA would work out as far as assets such as camps is concerned. It would probably be somewhat expensive for the Church to suddenly not have access to those facilities. The YW camps could be used, but they’d be overwhelmed. The cost of buying new ones just in Utah would be huge. Outside of Utah I suppose that the occasional weeks could be rented at someone else’s facilities.

    I have a friend that has been divorced twice. One of his favorite jokes is, “Why does divorce cost so much? Because it’s worth it!”

    That is perhaps easier to say after the divorce. Before the divorce the dread of the pain and cost of the breakup is huge. The Church and the BSA are still years from the divorce and it will be painful, expensive, and eventually worth it.

  30. 30.

    Thank you soo much for this topic!!!

    Out of sheer protest to the B.S. of America, I resigned from my year-long position as the Varsity Coach in my ward. I told the bishop over the phone, “My heart is not in scouting now, it never has been, and now I know it never will be.” The bishop was very gracious about letting me go. I advised he find someone who had their heart in the program. I immediately felt so relieved, a little guilty, but I should have said no to the calling in the first place.

    My disillusion began at a young age. As a young enthusiastic scout I remember having mixed feeling about going out and selling those stupid coupon books. My tiny heart would race as I poured over the rewards for multiple sales: stickers, mugs, t-shirts, mountain bikes, paint guns, etc. However, I was a terribly shy kid. It was traumatic for me to knock on a strangers door and try to talk to a grumpy adult. Nevertheless, everyone else was doing it, and I would daydream about receiving that bike in the mail after selling hundreds of coupons. I swear I still have a little PTSD anxiety from some of the mean people I encountered. After a long day, with only a few sales, I would come home devastated. My dad says he began to hate scouting the moment he saw me in my little blue uniform choking with tears because things hadn’t gone the way I had expected. I still feel like the B.S. of America abused and exploited my innocence and enthusiasm to satisfy their hierarchal financial hunger.

    I loved the camping, the fellowship among adults and boys, etc. but I hated the uniform, the merit badges, the stupid games and jokes, skits and songs—and the BYU Pow Wow, don’t get me started! I remember wandering aimlessly across the campus in my cute little uniform next to cool college guys and pretty girls. I may as well have been naked! And I’ll never forget how boring the classes and teachers were. My friends and I were absolute hellions at any official scout camp or activity; we were kicking and screaming rebels because there was no other way to resist the pressure to conform to the scouting way.

    On the other hand, when we were just hanging out, camping in the woods or hiking in the mountains as a group of young people and a few adults—no scout crap to deal with—we were a team, we would even get spiritual, and sometimes cry! Yes much of this had to do with the outdoors, but official scout camps are in the outdoors also. I suspect our behavior at scout functions was a natural response to the fakeness of it all, and our behavior at nonscout functions was different because it felt more natural and spontaneous.

    As Varsity Coach, I loved being with and mentoring the boys about the gospel and life, but the ridiculous amount of regulations, paper work, sillyness, and pressure to push the boys through the eagle scout hoops drove me to becoming totally disenchanted with the B.S. of America.

    No gays? No atheists? Excuse me, but some of my best friends fall into these groups. Not only are scouts being trained to be beaurocrats, but bigots also. If I were in charge, I would exclude the latter two.

    Subsidized by the department of defense until 2006? Hmmm, I wonder why.

    Can they get any more creative on how to create more pointless positions so the church will pay more charter fees each year?

    I’ve heard the CEO makes over 1 million each year. How much of that is our tithing money?

    I’ve heard three talks in my ward equating the gospel and scouting. So does that mean there are two true churches? Where does the one begin and the other end?

    Please, President Monson, drop the B.S. of America. Continue with Duty to God, and create a program preferably coed with activities similar to scouting, but without the paperwork, complexities, and silliness. Each stake could have a group of specialists in the arts, sports, science, history, etc. And activities would be led by these individuals in conjuction with the young mens and young womens leaders. Something like this would be much more productive. The good things that scouting offers can so easily be duplicated in the church. Many of them are already duplicated in the Duty to God program.

    Many believe the missionary program is supported by the B.S. of America. I think it gets in the way. So many boys don’t care about getting an eagle so they don’t come to YM. They would come if this basically pointless award and the program behind it were forever removed from the church and replaced with something more engaging and authentic.

  31. 31.

    […] bet fewer people would be complaining about the Boy Scout uniform if more girls like Kate had been in their troop. (There’s more of Kate in her uniform, if you […]

  32. 32.

    Ahem. Well, that trackback from my blog certainly looks like spam, and considering the sensibilities of some here it probably is spam. I won’t be offended if the admins decide to delete that trackback. :)

    Those not wishing to view scantily clad scouts shouldn’t follow that link.

  33. 33.

    I never was into scouting as a youth, but was required to go to cub scouts by my parents. As I got older I thought boy scouts might be more interesting and I might enjoy the camp outs. And then, as was apparently the tradition in parts of Utah in the late 70s, I was initiated into scouting. It was my first camp out and I’m sure these fine upstanding leaders, who were also my priesthood leaders, thought it was a regular right of passage that would build character or some sort of whatever. When they stripped me and my friend (who was also a brand new scout) naked and made us hike 4 miles back to camp in a crowded canyon I suddenly lost my desire to ever attend another scouting event. Funny… neither me nor my friend got the coveted eagle. Maybe that’s what they were going for. Maybe they hated scouting as much as I do now and if they terrorized the new scouts they might have less work to do.
    And, does that inspire confidence in your priesthood leaders? My guess is that if scouting were an inspired church program the chances of something like that happening would be much smaller. I sure hope nothing like that ever happens these days. But how many initiations into the young men’s organization have you ever heard of?
    I’ve been called as a scout leader 3 different times in my adult life and that includes now. I find it very difficult to care. If a young man wants to pursue it then I’ll be there to help, but I will never push it on anyone.
    Sure, I should been a stronger young man and not let it effect me and I should have gone on to get that eagle so it might help me on a resume down the road or something. But the reality was that I was a shy kid who didn’t have great role models. It would have been so easy for that single event, in a non-inspired program, to ruin my spiritual journey. But I always wanted to go on a mission and I went (and didn’t get initiated), got married in the temple (and didn’t get initiated) and I’ve served in various calling ever since.
    I was so happy to get away from scouting as a youth and have always been uncomfortable with it as an adult. Again, I should be stronger and get over it.
    So, in the future when I’m called to a position in scouting should I have this frank conversation with the bishop/counselor who calls me? “Sure bishop. I’ll do it, but just so you know…. I’ve always had a real issue with scouting based on the pervert leaders I had as a youth.”

  34. 34.

    Yikes, A Guy. Your experience sounds way worse than anything I had to put up with. I was mocked by leaders, but never forced to hike naked! That’s insane.

    I think it’s admirable that you’re still willing to serve in scouts at all. I’ve never yet been called, but if I ever am, I will have definite questions about just how inspired the calling is. :)

  35. 35.

    Wow! I think the relationship between your church and Scouting is twisted! I’ve been involved in scouting in some form most of my life. Scouting pushes a belief in God not a belief in a church. At pack meetings we have a “moment of prayer or meditation as is your custom”. But granted it is most often a church that is the sponsor of a pack or troop. (we used to have a troop that was sponsored by the Elks! Adults had to stay clear of the bar if in uniform or at least cover the uniform :) )
    I’m just the opposite, I’m not the church type. I go on Scout Sunday and maybe six other times a year. Every troop I have been in has been pretty much hands off between the church and scouting and vice versa. Maybe things are just different in Florida.
    Yeah, Friends of Scouting kinda torques me off too. They only hit up the scout families around here. After all the other monies we sink into fund raising like popcorn and Family Fest they ask for more. I almost blew my stack when I got an e-mail suggesting I donate part of my 2008 tax rebate to the council.
    Scouting has its place but I am surprised by such a strong church affiliation. Or pack and troop recruit from the local schools not the churches. Only three or four of our 80 boys go to the sponsor church. I agree with you that church and scouting should not be put together as you describe. The scouts are supposed to be run by the parents with sponsor liaison not run by the church … unless the bulk of the boys are in that church I suppose.
    If your pack / troop is like you describe you need to get away from both that scouting group and that church.

  36. 36.

    […] a Bear Den assistant. Although I think the scouting program has helped many boys for generations, I object to it being part of the LDS church. First, not all boys enjoy scouting. Second, girls don’t […]

  37. 37.

    My daughter joined Girl Scounts in 4th grade she is new a Sophmore in High School. She joined because we move across the US and she wanted to make friends and learn new things. What she has learned from her “leader” is to lie, cheat, and scam to reach goals…and from the girls in the troop she learned she is worthless. No one in that troop ever listened to her opinions and never did they consider doing anything she wanted to do. What I learned was the leader has no training and she signed up every mother as a co leader and told us all we didn’t have to take any training courses. The girls in the troop do as little as possible. They make the badges fit the things that are already doing. Because my daughter was new she was made to go out on her own and do the things this click of girls had alredy done. She feels the silver award she was given last year was not earned really. Now the troop is doing the gold award in the minimum time. This has been the leader only goal. To get her daughter the gold award so it can go on her college app. The leaders do nothing to support my daughter. When the forms came to sing up for next year she started crying. Her Girl Scouts experience has really damaged her self worth. She feels so negitively about this experience she is not going to even try for the gold award. She says the leader has been horrible to her and has been pushing her to do things that are not her choice. Scouting is supposed to be about nurturing girls to become well rounded individuals with a strong sense of self. Several years ago I called the local council and was told that leaders are supposed to take classes and that there is no one to over see the “leaders”. There are not enough volunteers. Seems like this should be a paid position. Somebody needs to be protecting the girls. Parents assume the leaders are screened and trained, Their NOT. Somebody in the Girl Scout organization needs to wake up.

  38. 38.

    […] encouraging. Yes, I know this is probably surprising coming from me, given I’m typically a complainer. I’m sure I’ll find things to complain about soon enough. For now, just the good […]

  39. 39.

    Beagles My husband and i felt quite lucky when Jordan managed to finish off his inquiry using the ideas he gained from your web pages. It’s not at all simplistic just to be giving freely information that some others may have been trying to sell. We …

    I would like to point out my admiration for your kind-heartedness for those people that have the need for assistance with that topic. Your special commitment to passing the solution up and down had been really powerful and have helped women like me to …

Leave a Reply