|1. Character Development||6. Respectful Relationships|
|2. Spiritual Growth||7. Personal Achievement|
|3. Good Citizenship||8. Friendly Service|
|4. Sportsmanship and Fitness||9. Fun and Adventure|
|5. Family Understanding||10. Preparation for Boy Scouts|
Before we can talk about how Cub Scouting helps a boy’s spiritual growth let make sure we all have an understanding of what I mean when I say “Spiritual Growth” So, Let’s look at a few definitions I found online in no particular order:
- Spiritual growth is the process of becoming more and more like Jesus Christ.
- Spiritual growth is a life-long process of manifesting the acts of the flesh less and producing the fruit of the Spirit more.
- Spiritual growth is simply matching my practice with my position.
- Spiritual growth is the personal development to enlarge the diameter of the sphere of consciousness.
- The process of inner awakening, and becoming conscious of our inner being.
Okay, I’ll admit some of those make sense to me and some make me think “What?” so let’s just say that no matter how you define spiritual growth – I think it’s one of those things that is SO personal and SO… well for lack of a better word, spiritual… that I’m not sure that it really can be defined in a way that makes everyone happy. So let’s get on to the HOW part.
Scout Oath and Law – The first part of the Scout Oath is to do one’s best “…to do your Duty to God…” and the last of the 12 points of the Scout Law is Reverent. And since (at least in my experience) we usually say the Oath first and then the Law this creates a bit of a spiritual sandwich if you will. We start with God, put lots of other good things in there like duty to country, helping others, being trustworthy, loyal… and finish with Reverent. This reminds us first and last that Scouting is an organization that believes in God. Sometimes we have a mistaken belief that we can’t talk about God at Scouts. Wow! That is SO not true. In fact I think if we don’t talk about God in Scouting then we are doing a great disservice to the boys.
Duty to God adventures – In the Cub Scouting program there is a Duty to God adventure that is required for each rank (except Bobcat). The Wolf adventure – Duty to God Footsteps – will help each Wolf Scout develop a consistent awareness of his duty to God. He will also explore ways that he can practice his family’s beliefs as part of living out his duty to God. In the Bear adventure – Fellowship and Duty to God – they will have opportunities to be good neighbors, reaching out in fellowship to people in their communities. They will experience the universal principle, common to many religions, that we should treat others the way we want to be treated. The Webelos adventure – Duty to God and You – and the Arrow of Light adventure – Duty to God in Action – teach that a Scout is reverent. He is reverent toward God. He is faithful in his religious duties and respects the convictions of others in matters of custom and religion. The BSA Statement of Religious Principle “maintains that no member can grow into the best kind of citizen without recognizing an obligation to God.” This adventure provides each Webelos Scout an opportunity to learn about and practice his religious faith.
Religious Emblems programs – The Religious Emblems programs are programs created by the various religious groups to encourage youth to grow stronger in their faith. The religious groups—not the Boy Scouts of America—have created the religious emblems programs themselves. The Boy Scouts of America has approved of these programs and allows the recognition to be worn on the official uniform, but each religious organization develops and administers its own program. In this linked publication there are over 40 organizations listed and multiple awards fore each. For LDS Cub Scouts this means completing the requirements in their Faith in God for Boys book with the square knot symbol.I wrote an article about this a while ago called Cub Scouting and Faith in God)
Outing in Scouting – We as Scout leaders have some unique opportunities to point out how beautiful God’s creations are and help teach a respect and love for all He has given us. There experiences and feelings that boys feel while outside learning about, enjoying and just being outside that they may not feel anywhere else. My son recently returned from Scout camp and told me about an experience which he described as “The second most peaceful he has ever felt.” That peace, that closeness to God, that respect for nature, the fun of the outdoors (hiking, camping, etc…) are all experiences easily provided by Scouting when the program is delivered as intended.
Leader “Shout-outs” – That seems an odd term when talking about spirituality but I think you know what I mean. Those times when an leader makes a specific effort to point out how Duty to God factors into the current activity. There is a video made by the LDS church a number of years ago, showing a den leader helping the boys build bird feeders. In this video she points out not only that birds are God’s creations but that Jesus was a carpenter – tie ins for the boys to think about while they are acting like carpenters and creating something for some of God’s creations. A leader that guides a reflection/discussion after an event and asks the right types of questions can get boys to think about how what they do during the week relates to what they learn on Sundays.
Duty to God – I can’t conclude an article about Spiritual Growth without linking to my all time favorite video about Duty to God. Hopefully most of you have seen this video created by the LDS church a few years ago with some great quotes by Baden Powell, Jimmy Stuart, John Wayne and others. If you haven’t seen this before it is worth watching. It’s worth showing to your boys at a den meeting, to the families at a pack meting. A very good explanation of where and how God fits into Scouting.
I’m sure there are other less obvious and maybe even some obvious ways, to help boys with their spiritual growth in Cub Scouting. What has your experience been? How have you seen spiritual growth in your Cub Scouts?
Author: Annaleis Smith is a “stay at home” mom of 5 (3 boys). She has been a Cub Scout leader (Cubmaster, Den Leader, Roundtable Staff & more) for over 12 years. She is currently a Cubmaster (2nd time), a Unit Commissioner and Assistant Council Commissioner for Cub Scouting in Utah National Parks Council.