Robert Louder, a member of a stake presidency in the Utah National Parks Council, begins with a vision of how he has seen confidence grow in the boys around him as they participate in Scouting:
“You see a young deacon, a twelve-year-old Scout, bewildered by the whole situation, and you watch them grow as they are given opportunities to lead,” he said. “They stand in front of a group and they’re befuddled at what they’re going to say, but with the help of a good Scout leader coaching them, and training them, and teaching them, by the end of the year, they get a little better.”
Eventually these young men are fourteen, fifteen, and so on, becoming more and more confident in themselves. President Louder said he’s seen older boys take charge in meetings, directing others, all with great confidence—many of them with much greater poise and confidence than he himself had as a youth—because of those great Scouting opportunities to lead, guide, teach and demonstrate.
Utah Governor Gary Herbert said merit badges are a great way to learn skills that help Scouts become self-reliant which in turn help young men feel confident that they can address the challenges of life because they are prepared.
“Another good Scout value, ‘Be Prepared,'” he said. “That preparation that we learn in Scouting helps us to prepare for life, whether that’s getting a better job, getting education; whether it’s becoming better husbands and fathers…brothers, friends, neighbors. All those things that we’re taught in Scouting help us become better leaders of tomorrow.”
For former NFL football player, Chad Lewis, earning his Eagle Scout Award was a confidence-building experience. Lewis’s friends had differing opinions on how “cool” it was that he was becoming an Eagle, but here’s what he thought it meant:
“I thought it took a lot of work. I thought it took a lot of follow-through,” he said. “I thought to get your Eagle Scout, you’ve got to be a finisher. It’s easy to be a starter, but it’s hard to be a finisher. The confidence that it gave me, at a time when I needed confidence, was really crucial. And it taught me that if I can do this…, I can finish this, I can get this and earn this badge, then guess what? I can do other things that are hard.”
Sometimes you might not think that you can do hard things, Lewis said, but Scouting teaches determination to keep moving forward one merit badge at a time, one campout at a time.
“It’s not easy to go and be a success at something overnight, it takes a lot of work—chipping away, being consistent, working hard, being dedicated. Well, guess where I learned that? I learned that when I was a twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen-year-old in the Scouting program, and I’m very grateful for that.”
Brad Harris, author of Trials to Testimony, believes that Scouting builds confidence in a young man in many ways. First, Scouting is not just a season, or a league, or a couple of years in a young man’s life; it’s ten years of strategically planned program to help catapult them into adulthood.
The Utah National Parks Council hosts a youth leadership camp, National Youth Leadership Training (NYLT/Timberline). Harris said he has seen new young men coming into the Missionary Training Center who have attended this training.
“I’ve seen young men at the MTC who have been to Timberline,” he said. “They kind of rise above the others because they’ve been trained how to be leaders, especially if they go back as staff. So, they have confidence leading.”
In his assignment at the MTC, Harris asked the MTC president what he would like to see in missionaries. He told him three things: leadership experience, significant away-from-home experiences, and work ethic.
“Scouting, if properly applied, helps provide confidence for a young man being away from home because we see separation anxiety quite often, especially among the eighteen-year-olds. So, young men who have been to several Scout camps—been away from home many times—that helps them overcome the difficulty of being away from home the first time.”
The same goes for helping the young men have leadership experience and practice hard work. The Scouts then know they have done hard things before, and can do hard things on their missions.
Ryan Wood, a Scoutmaster in our council, sees confidence building in a young man at every level of Scouting, from Cub Scouts to Venturing. He told a story of a young man on a high adventure 40-mile hiking trip. This young man knew that the trip was going to hard and his leader saw him prepare for three months by going to the gym to get in shape for the hike.
“Nobody asked him to, but he knew he needed to do it for himself,” Wood said. “As he did it, and as we did the hike, you could see him beaming with confidence because he was able to accomplish something that many boys struggled with. That same confidence prepared him for leadership positions that he shortly after received, and was able to lead young men with that confidence that he gained through that experience.”
This is the fourth installment in a series of six videos produced with special thanks to Eagle Scout, Harrison Webber and Web-5 Productions for the Utah National Parks Council, BSA. Each video will focus on one of the Six Pillars of Being Prepared: Testimony, Service, Mission Preparation, Confidence, Life Skills and Integrity.
Author: Melany Gardner | “The Boy Scout” Editor and Marketing Specialist, Utah National Parks Council