By Mat Greenfield
Oct 17, 2013

What is Scouting? Mat Greenfield Reveals the Secret of Scouting

Scouting has a secret! I’ll share it with you as long as you don’t tell anyone. Are you ready? Here it is…

Scouting is not a camping program! It’s a game with a purpose. The purpose is to build young men of character, who understand their duty to God, country, family, and self. The ‘game’ consists of merit badges, camping, uniform, patrols, youth leadership, and the other visible elements that we all associate with Scouting.

The ‘game’ accomplishes the purpose by putting young men in tough situations that require decision-making, leadership, teamwork, commitment, and follow-through.

Redefining Success

So, what does that mean for your Scouting unit? Let me suggest that you redefine success.  Here’s what I mean by that:

  • Enjoying a gourmet meal (cooked by an adult) on a camp-out isn’t a success, but burnt burgers, cooked by youth, is.
  • A flawlessly executed camp-out, planned and delivered by adults, isn’t a success, but a youth led camp out, even if the the tents are forgotten and no-one gets any sleep, is.
  • An adult calling another adult to ask them to help with a troop event, isn’t a success, but socially awkward phone call from a youth, even when all of the relevant information isn’t communicated, is.
  • An emotionally moving court of honor, perfectly orchestrated by adults, isn’t a success, but a court of honor planned and conducted by youth, regardless of its content, is.

So, what should you expect from your unit over the next few months?

Well, burnt meals, forgotten tents, awkward phone calls, and disorganized courts of honor.

In short, plenty of opportunities for young men to learn by doing, to teach each other, and to realize that they can do more than most of us thought possible. And that’s what I call a success.

President Benson understood the secret (no surprise there), and he told us all back in 1978:

“This is not an optional program … Scouting is no longer on trial… Scouting teaches a boy to take care of himself and stand on his own two feet. It is an inspired program for a demanding time. This is that time! I would to God that every boy of Scouting age could have the benefits and blessings of this great program.”

—President Ezra Taft Benson Regional Representatives Seminar, March 31, 1978

Author: Mat Greenfield | Council Trainer, Utah National Parks Council

This article was posted April 23, 2013 at Scouting Liahona titled, “The Great Scouting Secret.”

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