By Brad Harris
Jul 16, 2015

The Scout Cave

I grew up in Salt Lake City, near the base of Grandeur Peak and Mt. Olympus right on Millcreek. It was a Scouting paradise, just miles from Camp Tracy. Our LDS Chapel was more than 100 years old; it was nestled next to Millcreek and sported its own Scout cabin that stood for more than 50 years, this made that paradise even better.

Assistant Scoutmaster Kent Bostock looks on as Troop 2’s scouts start a meeting in their log cabin in a Buffalo church basement. Credit Brett Carlsen for The New York Times

Assistant Scoutmaster Kent Bostock looks on as Troop 2’s Scouts start a meeting in their log cabin in a Buffalo church basement, much like the one I grew up with.     Credit Brett Carlsen for The New York Times

Just after I turned 11, they had to tear down the Scout cabin, but the tradition was so strong it wasn’t long before the church’s emply furnace room was converted to an indoor cabin. Split logs lined the walls and it was filled with Scout gear. Promently on the wall was an advancement chart that motivated me toward the Eagle. Also in that room was an “easy chair” and we took a lighter weight lounge chair camping.

Recently reading in Brad’s Blog, I found the origin of the “Easy Chair Scoutmaster.” At The Boy Scout  we hope you will enjoy Brad Harris’ story  as much as we did:

The challenge of adults advising a successful Troop, Team or Crew is made more difficult by the distractions present each mutual night in LDS buildings. Think of the typical mutual night in your chapel. After opening exercises, the Deacons go to a room to do “Scouting”. During the Troop meeting they often hear the muffled sound of the basketball bouncing in the cultural hall and the occasional high pitched voice of the young women in the hallway. Can you think of any greater distractions presented to 12 and 13 year old young men? I have visited many troops meeting at Protestant and Catholic churches. They have dedicated rooms for Scouting. No girls or basketball as distractions. They can concentrate on Scouting.

A few months ago I recommended to a Scoutmaster in Springville, Utah that he consider conducting troop meetings outside the Church after opening exercises. Just this week I met with this Scoutmaster again. With his wife’s permission, this Father of six daughters, transformed his unfinished basement into a Scout Cave. In the cave a tent is permanent erected. The Troop Advancement chart is fastened to the wall. The troop and patrol flags have permanent resting places. This Scoutmaster stood up in Priesthood meeting and announced that from now on, the Deacons would be meeting at the Scout Cave on mutual night. Over the next few weeks, several High Priests came by his home to see the cave. Many have donated equipment to help adorn the place.

Prominently placed in the cave are two “easy chairs” for the Scoutmaster and Assistant. The 1938 edition of the Handbook for Scoutmasters says the following, “The test of the Patrol Method is in the easy chair. Get an easy chair and place it in a corner of the Troop meeting room. If you can sink into it just after the opening ceremony and just sit throughout the meeting, without a worry for its success, without lifting a finger or moving a foot until the time comes for the closing – well then your Troop is run on the Patrol Method – your boy leaders are actually leading.” The young men love the “club” feel of the cave. This Scoutmaster reports that since the cave has been used, attendance at mutual night has improved and boy leadership has emerged.

Harris ThumbnailAuthor: Bradley D. Harris | Brigham Young University.  He has taught Scouting education at BYU and is currently drector of the non-profit management minor and the Nonprofit Leadership certification program at BYU. He is the author of Trails to TestimonyHis purpose is to train students to become leaders in the nonprofit and fundraising sectors. At The Boy Scout  we look forward to future blog post from Brad

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