Monday, April 12, 2010

Call it what you will, so long as you DO IT

I've been more worried about the Varsities in our ward and whether they'll be having a high adventure activity this summer. I finally got around to talking to their leaders this Sunday at church and found out that they do, in fact, have an idea of what they're doing. They don't have a date set, but they have a location and some activity ideas. Okay, now if I can just figure out what happened to the three volume Program Feature book that I gave to the semi-inactive former Varsity Coach, the Varsities should be in pretty good shape.

For some reason, I was thinking the Priests were going to be in much better shape. I just happened to ask one of their new leaders what they were doing for their high adventure this summer. He said he didn't think they were doing anything, since the YM President said that's a scouting thing, and they don't really do scouting stuff.

Arg. Do we really have to start this up again? I explained that while it's optional to register the Priests as a Venture Crew or just run as a priesthood quorum, whether or not you're running as a scouting unit, you should always have a high adventure activity. I got to go on three as a Priest: camping out at a huge lake for waterskiing and cliff diving, a whitewater rafting trip, and a cycling trip. They didn't go a full week, but went probably 2-4 days apiece. We spent a lot of time getting ready for the cycling one, but pretty much just showed up to the other ones. I don't remember having anything to do with the choosing or planning of the activities like we should have done, either. But we did something.

Over the past few years in our ward, the Priests have done things decidedly less high adventure than what I did when I was younger, notably paintballing and hanging out at a cabin while cooking Dutch Oven. But they did something.

The Priests now are the same group of boys who I had as Varsities. When I was called by the Bishop, he told me they hadn't had a summer activity the previous year, and my number one responsibility was to make sure they had a high adventure activity the next summer. We did. Actually, we had two three-day high adventure activities, which I hope kind of made up for not having anything the previous year. Oh yeah, and we made some sweet throwing tomahawks.

To ditch out on the boys the last year, because doing a high adventure activity would be too scouty or because it's hard to find time to do it is just lame. The boys deserve to go out big and have something to remember the rest of their lives. They deserve to have a chance to put into practice all the leadership and survival skills they've been learning over the past decade, more than half of their life at that point.

It's also important for the younger scouts to see the awesome activities the older boys are doing and know they have something to look forward to. Hey, work hard at the merit badge camp this year, and you'll get to go on this awesome backpacking trip next year! Or, work hard at the merit badge camp this year, because for the next couple years your leaders don't want to do anything with you.

Is there a wonder neither the boys nor the leaders are motivated to do anything if attitudes like that abound?

Saturday, April 3, 2010

New Duty to God Program

A couple hours ago, during the Saturday morning session, President Eyring announced a new Duty to God program. He didn't give details but did say that there would now be one book for all the groups instead of three books (one for each) like there is now. has a little additional information, but not much. There are still going to be different requirements and certificates for each priesthood quorum; they will just all be contained in one book. It's interesting that while there are certificates of completion, the church points out that the principal method of recognition is presenting the young man to the ward or branch for advancement to the next quorum.

The young men will have the option to finish up the old program requirements they're currently working on but will be encouraged to switch to the new program when it becomes available sometimes this summer.

A change that I would like to see is to allow YM leaders to also earn the award. YW leaders can complete Personal Progress by serving for a year and completing 3 of the 8 areas from that program. It makes sense that the YM leaders would be able to earn Duty to God also. It's not that we need the award to keep us motivated, but I believe it helps keep the boys motivated if they know their leaders are working on the same requirements, and it keeps us honest.

In Varsity Scouts, leaders can earn the letter and pins that the boys earn, plus leaders from all branches of scouting have the training knots they can complete. On the church side of things, leaders can earn the On My Honor award. My experience is that few youth or leaders receive On My Honor, even though if you're doing what you should be doing you earn it. I'd like to see more people get awarded what they earn. If you earn it, you should be recognized. If you don't earn it, that means something isn't happening that should be happening, and keeping the requirements for the award in mind will remind everyone what they should be doing if the program is working right.