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Young men are in crisis, Boy Scouts can help

Published: Sunday, Feb. 26 2012 12:00 a.m. MST

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JBQ
Saint Louis, MO

As a Navy vet with a short amount of time as a Scout, I found this article to be "well worth the price of admission".

Leopard
Cottonwood Heights, UT

Sure, boy scouts are great, so is little league and all the rest, but what is most important is a father or at the least a close male relative who mentors a boy. Unfortunately 40% of births for women 15-34 is unwed. Built in social pathology and poverty for decades if it was turned around today.

Hutterite
American Fork, UT

Scouting provides a great experience for young men. But, as leopard posted, boys need positive role models. I'm not sure how to put men into the picture more, but clearly young people are having sex, and we need to change our attitudes there. We can start by ditching the attitude that the punishment for sex is a baby.

Just Another Guy
Washington, Utah

Thank you for this article! I agree that the BSA program is a wonderful inspired program to help and assist families.
As a young BSA leader I struggled to understand how best to make the BSA work for all boys. After a while it finally became clear to me. I realized that there were boys that came from very functional families and there were those who came from very disfunctional families and the whole range in between. I finally understood that the BSA wasn't supposed to take the place of a father or a whole family but that it could and did help to fill the gaps and voids where traditional and non traditional families struggled.
Thanks to the BSA and thanks for recognizing it here today!

Vernal Mom
Vernal, UT

Thanks for this opinion piece and for BSA! As my third and youngest son recently earned his Eagle, I am grateful for the many hours of service provided to him in Boy Scouts. Sure, Scouting is not for every boy, but our son liked it and has had many examples including his older brothers. He had wonderful leaders who helped him from Cubs on. So many boys are dropping out of this program, but I believe you can incorporate Scouting into very busy lives including sports, etc.

XelaDave
Salem, UT

Scouting is great but my experience at many levels makes me wonder how many mothers earned an Eagle vs. young men- my experience is that more moms have earned one but that is just my n of 1

Jefferson Green
Salt Lake City, UT

Yes, scouts can help boys when lead by well trained and dedicated leaders. They can also ostracize boys who are not typical alpha male jocks. My wife and I have withdrawn our son from scouts because he was consistently bullied and teased and his leaders did nothing to stop it. My son has high-functioning autism which basically means that he acts almost normal but not quite. He's not disabled enough to be a project he's just different enough to be a target for alpha male jock wanna-bes. By removing him from scouts we have taught him that if he is in an intolerable situation his parent's will intervene. Unfortunately we have taught the rest of the troop that they can torment the weird kid until he goes away and suffer no consequence what so ever. I know that for millions of boys scouting is wonderful and fondly remembered but that experience is far from universal.

A voice of Reason
Salt Lake City, UT

Hutterite, well it surely isn't a punishment... but it certainly can be a consequence.

Either way, I do agree with the original role model point, at least in that fathers are necessary.

New to Utah
PAYSON, UT

This series on the war against men and boys is the best series DN has produced. It is truly a war and the liberal media, Hollywood and all the womens rights have contributed to this ongoing disaster. The BSA has stood up to the powerful leftists who are tearing down the values of our country. We need fathers who are responsible but also legislators and women who will denounce political correctness and violent video games and the sex drenched tv shoes that glorify gratification as young mens goal.This series deserves an A.

Allen
Salt Lake valley, UT

@ XelaDave

You're right, many eagles are earned by mothers. I was a Scoutmaster in Massachusetts for 12 years. I had quite a few scouts get their Eagles, and not one of those Eagles was earned by the mom or dad. The scouts got their Eagles because they wanted to.

One of the Eagles was my own son. I was a counselor in our Bishopric and we had no Scoutmaster at the time. As my son's 18th birthday approached, I had counseled with my son about his Eagle and possible Eagle projects, but he wasn't interested. Finally, with just five weeks before his birthday, I told my son this weekend was it. He either got busy on his project or he wouldn't get his Eagle, because there wouldn't be enough time to get his proposed project completed. He finally decided "yes", and I appointed myself to be Scoutmaster and worked with him. After he got his Eagle, I told the Bishop I would be glad to serve as his counselor or as Scoutmaster but that I couldn't do both. He said, "Stay as Scoutmaster".

Another example was a boy who was 16 and was rebellious against the church. He would sass the Bishop in the Aaronic PH meetings. There were two wards meeting in that building, and the two Bishops decided to combine the youth programs of the wards. I became the Scoutmaster of the combined group. I interviewed all of the scouts in the other ward, and when I interviewed the rebellious boy, I asked him if he would be interested in doing a genealogy class for his Eagle project. His response was, "Is it OK to wait until after football practice to do the project?" (I knew from talking with his dad that this boy loved genealogy). It took us about 7 or 8 months to plan the project, and after the class was over, our Stake President said that that class should be taught in all of the towns in the Stake. Our experiences in planning this project are described in detail in my mormonsite religious blog.

Allen
Salt Lake valley, UT

@Jefferson Green

Yes, it is sad and destructive when boys ostracize other boys, and it does happen. In my troop in Massachusetts we had a policy of only saying good things about other boys. I had to remind the boys once in a while that we only say positive things about others, but for the most part the boys voluntarily followed the policy. I had a mixture of boys from age 12 through 17 in the troop, and they came from several different towns and schools, so there were plenty of differences between the boys and plenty of opportunities for boys to make fun of the others. Our patrols were organized on the AP ages, and that helped.

For those purists who think I was violating church policy by have all three AP ages in one troop, we were a small ward that was scattered over an area larger than the Salt Lake valley. If our troop were limited to only the Deacon age, we would have only had about 3 or 4 boys in the troop, and opportunities for leadership development would not have existed. My Bishops approved the extension of the troop to cover all three AP groups with patrols for each AP group. Blazer scouts didn't camp overnight with us but joined us Saturday morning as another patrol.

Allen
Salt Lake valley, UT

This article is about Nurturing boys into men, and I thought I'd relate a scouting experience that illustrates one way that that can happen.

I had a boy in my troop who was 15 and was a Teacher in the AP. He regularly attended our weekly Mutual meetings and campouts, but I learned from his mother that the boy never did anything himself to prepare for the campouts. His mother did everything to get him ready. I counseled with the mother to let go of the boy and let him be responsible for his preparation.

During the next campout, we were in the middle of our campfire program when the boy came. I realized his mother had let go. He brought no food and no winter camping equipment. He did have, though, a frying pan and a baby receiving blanket. I knew the temperature that night would be in the high 20s (F), but with a prayer in my heart I let the boy stay. As the mother drove away she probably thought I was crazy.

The boy and I joined the troop, and I sought our Senior Patrol Leader and his Assistant (both Priests). I told the two boys they had a problem, and I explained the situation with the boy. The two troop leaders talked with the Patrol leader of the boy and said, You have a problem. The PL welcomed the boy to the campout and made appropriate arrangements for the boy to share a tent with another boy and for the patrol to share food with him.

During the next day, I waited until the morning scout activities were finished, and then I took the boy aside and asked one question: What could you do to make your campouts more interesting to you. He started with A and went to Z in preparations for camping. He knew what should be done.

A month later the boy came to our campout well prepared. His mother told me he did it all by himself. I enjoyed watching the boy, during the next several months, blossom into a vibrant, active teenager. Truly, he was becoming a man.

Allen
Salt Lake valley, UT

This is my fourth and thus last contribution to this article. I became trained as a scout leader in Phoenix and voluntarily went with the troop on several of their campouts. While on a 10-mile hike I noticed one of the scouts was lagging behind, and I dropped back to visit with him. He told me he didn't like scouting and that he came with the troop only because his mother made him do that. I didn't say much but just listened to him. I moved to New England a few months later, and I've never known what happened to the boy. I hope he was able to find his place in society.

I give this story as an example that the church policy towards youth activities needs to be flexible, because each scout is different. In my case, I dropped out of Mutual when I was 14, because I was told I couldn't remain in the troop and had to go into something called Advanced Scouting. I was the only boy in that program, and it wasn't any fun. About a year later I got my ham radio license and became active as a ham. I would have enjoyed an Explorer program in ham radio, but Exploring didn't exist at that time. Even if it had, I would have had to leave the ward organization and possibly the stake organization to find such an Explorer Post. One of the problems wards and stakes face is finding a common denominator of interests among the boys and then focusing their scouting program on that common interest. I was fortunate during my 12 years as Scoutmaster in Massachusetts that all of my boys enjoyed hiking and camping. We were a backpacking troop and did all our camping as if we were backpacking, even though in most campouts the parking lot of our cars wasn't far away.

I remember one campout when we had about a foot of snow on the ground. The weather warmed up while we drove to the campout location and it rained, the result being a foot of slush on the ground. I knew we couldn't camp in such conditions, so after we parked, I took the boys up a hill to higher ground, hoping we would find a good campsite. We did, under a tall pine tree. The ground was dry and soft with pine-needles. The boys like that spot so much that we went there for several campouts.

2 bits
Cottonwood Heights, UT

Hutterite,
What does the BSA or this topic have to do with sex??? I don't get your point.

Jefferson Green,
Who do you think you were punishing by removing your son from Scouts? The leaders?
I think you are punishing your son. There is a lot to learn in scouts even if you aren't popular or fit in well.

That said... if your leaders were well trained they would have done something about this situation. We have an autistic boy in our troup and he is treated with more care than any other boy in the troup (by the boys AND the leaders).

Maybe instead of just removing him from Scouts, you should enrole him in another Scout Troop. That's not against the rules. We have boys from outside our troop boundaries who attend our program because they had problems in the troop where they live. Don't punish your boy.. for the leader's mistakes.

New to Utah
PAYSON, UT

I participated in scouting in Colorado, Idaho and Oregon. My son was an excellent boy scout and learned all the knots and compass skills and earned his eagle. He had little interest in the church but the leaders and experience in scouting helped him achieve lofty goals becoming a contracts lawyer in the Seattle area. He loved scouting so much that he volunteered to be a scoutmaster. The young men loved him and he enjoyed the geo caching and knot tying skills. He was totally loved by the boys but after one year a few parents asked if he had any boys in the troop which he didn't. As an attorney he decided that he better resign his scoutmaster position because of a few parents tainted and ridiculous political correctness.l have so little respect for the attitude of some of the people in Washington and zero respect for their ultra liberal governor but I guess this is about scouts. The point is boys and young men are being thrown into the maelstrom and we need to help them.

2 bits
Cottonwood Heights, UT

New to Utah,

I don't know where you (or your neighbors) got this idea that the Scout Master must have scout age boys of his own. My kids have all married and moved on with life, and I'm just now getting my first turn as a Scout Master. Every parent knows I don't have any kids in Scouts any more. But they don't have a problem with it either. My assistant Scout Master also has no kids in Scouts anymore (they have all earned their Eagle and moved on).

There is no requirement to have sons currently in Scounts to be a Scout Master. Your son may have been using that as an excuse, because regardless of his legal background, he should have known that there is no requirement to have Scout aged boys to be a Scout Master.

My Scout Master growing up was WAY too old to have boys in Scouting, and come to think of it... he didn't even have any sons (4 daughters). But he was a Silver Beaver and the best most well trained and dedicated Scout Master there ever was (better than I'll ever be).

His philosophy was... I don't have sons but I have several daughters. I want them to marry good men. Where do you think those good men will come from if you turn your back on the Scouting which helps train good men in your neighborhood???

Parents with Daughters have even MORE reason to want a good scout organization in their neighborhood.

bigelhad
TAYLORSVILLE, UT

The boy scouts lost all credibility with me when they banned homosexual boys from participation. Bigotry and predudice are not the values I want young men to learn.

patriot
Cedar Hills, UT

Scouting is a lot of fun no question. The camp outs are great and loads fun! The merit badges are sort of a joke however - sorry folks. Boys goto Merit Badge pow-wow's and camp Maple Dell for example and earn loads of merit badges just because the program is set up that way - to get them as many badges in a short amount of time as possible. Do they really learn anything? Not much. It's just sort of set up for them rather than having the boys really having to dig - on their own - to pass off the badges. The only things that are really 'earned' are the life saving badge and perhaps the eagle project itself. When you have to swim out and rescue someone in a pool or lake there is no fudging that. Having said that I still think scouting is worthwhile and alot of fun. I will say that boys who are involved in athletics probably get alot more skills that will actually help them on their LDS missions and in life in the work place. Lessons learned in athletics such as self discipline, hard work, self confidence, working under pressure, etc.... Anyway, just my personal experience having been a scout master , young mens president and having boys in athletics as well.

Jefferson Green
Salt Lake City, UT

2 bits

I didn't remove my son to punish anyone. I did it because sending him to scouts was punishing him and repeated attempts to address the problem with scout leadership were completely ineffective. We looked at sending him to another troop and were told by scout leadership (I don't remember the exact title of the person) that our options were to find a troop outside of the church or a troop specifically for handicapped children and frankly, he is not that handicapped. I would love for him to have a positive experience in scouting and i know he would learn alot but i will not volutarily send him to be bullied, ostracized and belittled every week by members of my own church. Sorry if that offends anyone but that's how I see it.

2 bits
Cottonwood Heights, UT

Patriot,
I agree with your complaint about the merit badge mills at some summer camps. It cheapens the whole experience. But you can't get your eagle just with the merit badges you get at Summer Camp or Community sponsored merrit badge classes. That's why we work on merrit badges every week in our troop (except when we have a combined activity).

If you aren't working on merrit badges almost every week... not many of your boys are going to get their Eagle by the time they are 14. And if they don't get it by the time they are 14, most of them will quickly lose interest. It's critical to get on it when they are still in Scouts (Not Venturers, etc).

But I agree some summer camps are a joke now days. That's why leaders have to work EXTRA hard to make sure the boys are actully learning the skills taught in those classes they take at Summer Camp and do extra stuff to make sure they learned their stuff.

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