By Michelle Carpenter
Jan 11, 2017

Shifting Your Scout’s Requirements from Checklist to Cultivation

I participated in every extracurricular activity imaginable in my Iowa high school–track, drama, speech, key club, cross country, swimming, yearbook, choir, newspaper, etc.

Somehow, though I’m not sure how, I ended up having time most every Wednesday to head to mutual. I loved going to mutual. It was fun and spiritual. Plus, on Wednesday nights I got to be with people who actually didn’t think my lofty Mormon values were crazy.

Still, while activities were beneficial, Personal Progress felt like just another item to add to the list.

I rushed to finish the requirements the summer after graduation. I checked off values by putting in as little effort as possible, and I consequently learned substantially less from the experience than I might have.

While earning an Eagle Scout Award and earning a Personal Progress medallion are unique experiences, the challenge of helping youth internalize requirements is not.

Bill, a new blogger for LDS-BSA relations, discussed the problem in a recent article:

“The program that these Scouts had experienced, and at the time I was a strong proponent of, was one in which the Scouts would show up for their troop meeting on a typical Tuesday night and the adults would teach the Scouts and test them on whatever they needed to know or do to pass off the next merit badge. To these Scouts, and many others like them, I imagine it felt like they were going to another class just like the ones they go to at school. An adult stands at the front of the class lecturing the “students.” The students take notes and try to understand and remember the material being taught; they may have homework to do after class and will be tested on their mastery of the subject matter. Many Scouts don’t like school very much and, hence, the comment about burning their Scout shirts. Where did we go wrong?”

Bill learned that a solution to the problem was to shift from adult-led Scouting to Scout-led Scouting. When he started a new calling, they made changes to their management, and the boys attitudes shifted along with the changes.

Bill said about current attitudes in his new troop:

“The meetings have a lot of energy, noise, and enthusiasm but some very important things are happening. These young men are having an opportunity to exercise real leadership and authority under the supervision of adults. What I see is a group of very young men taking on some very significant responsibilities, doing the best they can, and achieving amazing things.”

Bill suggested that God trusts youth, and we need to also. I agree with him.

LDS members believe that a 14-year-old saw God and ushered in a new dispensation. They believe a 16-year-old lead a army of soldiers and became a prophet. And, they believe that someone about 13 or 14 gave birth to the Messiah.

Youth know how to take charge when entrusted.

As Scouts lead, they will gain a new perspective of importance while achieving requirements. If adults take charge of everything, adults will gain that new perspective.

Read more about what Bill had to say on the matter or check out his other insightful blog articles “Train ’em, Trust ’em, and Let Them Lead” and “The Genius of Scouting“.




Author: Michelle Carpenter | Marketing Associate, Utah National Parks Council.

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2 thoughts on “Shifting Your Scout’s Requirements from Checklist to Cultivation

  1. AvatarJohn Gailey

    This is spot-on! Scouting should not be about a lists of tasks to do with an advancement at the end (e.g. Eagle rank.) It is about the journey of becoming an Eagle Scout – the opportunities for the boy to learn leadership, team-building, learning how to follow peers, how to overcome obstacles, finding and learning from adult mentors, etc.


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