Having sent six boys on missions over the past 14 years, I’ve noticed several things that Scouting has done to help them prepare. First of all, just the fact that every summer they were away from home for a week of Scout camp, high adventure, etc. gave them the confidence that they could survive without their parents for a few days. Of course for most of them they were quite glad to get a break from parental nagging and have a week spent with their friends. But, still, they did get experiences away from home and survived them just fine without any panicky calls from homesick boys.
They also got practice speaking to adults confidently as they met with merit badge counselors, planned and discussed Eagle projects and held planning meetings with adult leaders. Some found this easier than others but they all at least got to a point where they could make their point clear and sound like they knew what they were talking about.
Finally, my boys learned to serve and even to mostly enjoy service in the Boy Scouts. A service project surrounded by your best friends makes a boring job much more fun and the memories of painting fire hydrants, raking leaves, shoveling snow and so on become fond memories of time spent with fellow Scouts.
A couple of my boys also attended and served on NYLT (National Youth Leadership Training) and Kodiak staff before their missions. They have both commented many times about how the principles they learned there are always coming in handy on their missions.
Returned Missionary Perspective
All the teaching skills I have started with NYLT. I learned to minister to individuals, to teach with a companion and to use the EDGE (Explain, Demonstrate, Guide, Enable) method to help others understand new principles. NYLT helped me grow individually because I had to step outside my comfort zone and work with new people on a regular basis.
One of my most powerful spiritual experiences occurred while at a Timberline course during the Religious devotional. We held it on a ridge overlooking the valley, and I had forgotten my jacket that evening. As the main devotional finished and testimonies began, it became colder. But the beautiful testimonies helped me feel the spirit in a profound way. I know that truth was spoken that night, and despite wind on that exposed ridge, I didn’t feel the cold.
NYLT is an inspired program that helped me spiritually and personally to become a better Scout, missionary, and student. It’s part of what helped me settle on teaching as my intended career. I think that every boy can benefit from attending this amazing course.
From the youngest son, Adam, currently serving in the Taiwan, Taipei Mission. Taken from several of his letters home:
NYLT and Scouting in general helped me learn how to set goals, plan for those goals, and succeed! Or fail, and be okay with it. It was good to learn about how teams, troops, patrols, companionships, etc. develop and especially that “storming” happens in every team (and it’s okay as long as you overcome it as soon as possible).
Also hard work. Being willing to work hard and get done what you need to. And Scouting helped me learn how to work with others, whether it be delegation or getting responsibilities or simply communicating with people.
Sometimes, a principle from NYLT will pop into my mind like SSC or EDGE. It makes me grateful for those years of making the long drive down to Springville.
How did Scouting help prepare the missionaries you know?
Author: Sylvia Pack | District Training Chair, Snow Horse District, Trapper Trails Council. Volunteer Scout leader for 25 years. Proud owner of a box full of mother’s pins and the callouses from sewing on dozens of merit badge patches. She gains more appreciation for Scouting every year as she sees how much good it does for youth and adults alike.