Optical illusions are all about perceptions, about making meaning out of what we see. In the image above many only see the man playing the horn while others see the silhouette of a woman. Many have to take a closer look to see the dual image and some can never see both. This limited view is also how many perceive Scouting. Many associate Scouting with camping, merit badges and camp fires. Although these activities are a large part of Scouting the vision of Scouting is often more difficult to see.
Building Blocks of Scouting
The building blocks of Scouting have formed a solid foundation for more than 100 million young men in the boy Scouts of America’s 90-year history. Every aspect of that foundation serves as an important part of the whole program. From character building and personal fitness, the outdoors and personal growth, to leadership development and learning values, Scouting helps a boy develop into a well-rounded young man. This puts the dual image of Scouting into perspective and depicts how the program aims to help young men along their lifes pursuit.
The foundation of Scouting is built upon education, leadership development, citizenship training and values-based learning. Each block is necessary to ensure a strong foundation and none is more important than the other. We can compare this to making a cake from a mix (there are learning opportunities all around us). The mix, the eggs, water and oil are all necessary components of baking the cake and if you leave one or more out and do not put in the right amount then the cake will not turn out. It sounds simple but there are many obstacles and challenges along the way which any Scout, leader, parent or anyone ever involved in Scouting can attest to. But the challenges and obstacles themselves are part of the hidden learning that occurs as part of the building blocks of Scouting.
Boy Scouting works toward three aims. One is growth in moral strength and character. We may define this as what the boy is himself: his personal qualities, his values, his outlook. A second aim is participating citizenship. Used broadly, citizenship means the boy’s relationship to others. He comes to learn of his obligations to other people, to the society he lives in, to the government that presides over that society. A third aim of boy Scouting is development of physical, mental, and emotional fitness. Fitness includes the body (well-tuned and healthy), the mind (able to think and solve problems), and the emotions (self-control, courage, and self respect).
The methods are designed to accomplish the aims. These include the ideals of the Scout Oath, Law, motto and slogan. What parent or society does not want to raise a son whose honor means something, who commits to doing his duty to God and to his country, promises to help other people at all times and keeps himself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight?
Today’s youth are influenced by friends, the media, social media and public opinion. Youth are bombarded at every corner and are pulled in multiple directions believing many falsehoods spouted by multiple sources. Drugs, alcohol, violence have become common and acceptable choices of dealing with obstacles and struggles, of coping with loneliness and despair.
Scouts participate in patrols that gives them an experience in group living and participating citizenship. It places a certain amount of responsibility on young shoulders and teachers boys how to accept it. The patrol method allows Scouts to act in small groups where they easily can relate to each other.
Boy Scouting is designed to incorporate the outdoors. It is in the outdoors that Scouts share responsibilities and learn to live with each other. It is here that skills and practices that are learned are applied and come alive. Being close to nature helps Scouts gain an appreciation for God’s handiwork and humankind’s place in it. The outdoors is the laboratory for Scouts to learn ecology and practice conservation of nature’s resources.
The method of advancement teaches Scouts to overcome obstacles and provides steps guiding the process of advancement. The Scout is rewarded as he advances and overcomes each step without being overburdened and stressed. The steps in the advancement system help him grow in self-reliance and the ability to help others.
Scouts associate with adults who provide leadership and set the example. Troop leadership may be male or female, and association with adults of high character is encouraged at this stage of a young man’s development.
As Scouts plan their activity and progress toward their goals, they experience personal growth. The Good Turn concept is a major part of the personal growth method of Scouting. Boys grow as they participate in community service projects and do Good Turns for others. There probably is no device so successful in developing a basis for personal growth as the Good Turn.
Boy Scouting encourages boys to learn and practice leadership skills. Every Scout has the opportunity to participate in both shared and total leadership situations. Understanding the concepts of leadership helps a boy accept the leadership roles of others and guides him toward the citizenship aim of Scouting.
The uniform makes the Scout troop visible as a force for good and creates a positive youth image in the community. Boy Scouting is an action program, and wearing the uniform is an action that shows each Scout’s commitment to the aims and purposes of Scouting. The uniform gives the Scout identity in a world brotherhood of youth who believe in the same ideals. Plus, it is practical.
The aims and methods of the Scouting program have a purpose although sometimes we get so caught up in one specific focus that it is easy to lose sight of the purpose of Scouting which limits our view. Scouting is about building a strong foundation for young boys through education, leadership development, citizenship training and values-based learning. Its program has been around for 100 years and proven that it works. Open your eyes and learn more about what Scouting can do for your family and your community.
Author: Heidi Sanders | Marketing & PR Director, Utah National Parks Council