By Darryl Alder
Jun 09, 2016

Aims of Scouting and the Varsity Scout Program

This is part two of the online Varsity Vision—Team Coach Position Specific Training. Other sessions include:

  1. Varsity Scouting, a Tool for the Quorum
  2. Aims of Scouting and the Varsity Scout Program
  3. The Captain and the Five Fields of Emphasis
  4. Making an Annual Plan
  5. Executing the Annual Plan
  6. Planning Team Meetings
  7. Planning Team Events

Aims of Varsity Scouting

The aims of Scouting are found in the mission of the BSA:

It is the mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law; the vision is to prepare every eligible youth in America to become a responsible, participating citizen and leader who is guided by the Scout Oath and Law.

Varsity Scout PlanningBSA promises all its chartered partners and their members life-changing experiences that are hard to get elsewhere. We achieve that through our aims and methods. Formally, the BSA has three specific objectives, commonly referred to as the aims of Scouting, which are:

  • Character development
  • Citizenship training
  • Personal fitness

Varsity Scouting joins the other families of Scouting—Cub Scouting, Boy Scouting and Venturing—to work toward these three aims.

The first is growth in moral strength and character. Character can be defined as the collection of core values by an individual that leads to moral commitment and action, and encompasses a person’s personal qualities, values, and outlook. Character means making right choices even when no one is looking or when no one will ever know. Character is standing up for what you know is right and just. Character is doing the hard thing and doing it well.

The second aim is participating citizenship. Used broadly, citizenship means the youth’s relationship to others. Scouts come to learn of their obligations to other people, to the society they live in, and to the government that presides over that society. Citizenship means more than just being born in a country. It means pitching in and taking part in society by:

  • Helping others and serving them
  • Being loyal to your nation
  • Making where you live—your neighborhood, your community—a better place

Scouting is a world brotherhood of young men who respect each other and their differences.

The third aim of Varsity 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). Fitness is a personal choice. Only you can decide how hard you work to stay fit. You may not live longer and you may still have health problems, but you’ll have a lot more fun if you’re fit.

In Scouting, a fourth aim, leadership development, is often listed. In Varsity Scouting we have this area well covered, as we will explain later.

You may be wondering how Scouting accomplishes these three aims. For Varsity-age boys, they are best achieved in a balanced team program that uses the eight methods of Varsity Scouting.

The Methods of Varsity Scouting

Varsity Scouitng Methods

The pneumonic “Paul Iota” helps Varsity Scout Leaders recall all eight methods

BSA learned a long time ago that Scout units cannot have a program that only focuses on merit badges or outdoor adventures. These need to be carefully blended together with other methods to get fitness, character and citizenship.

Let’s look at each method for a moment:

PERSONAL GROWTH: This method is one of the ways the Varsity Scouting program helps a boy develop into a worthy priesthood holder. 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. Probably no device is so successful in developing a basis for personal growth as the daily Good Turn. The religious emblems program also is a large part of the personal growth method.

As Scouts plan their activities and progress toward their goals, they experience personal growth. Frequent personal conferences with his coach help each Varsity Scout to determine his growth toward Scouting’s aims. At these conferences, these youth become more aware that the choices they make and the goals they set determine what they are and will be. Varsity Scouting encourages your quorum members to take charge of their own choices and become responsible for reaching their potential by setting worthwhile goals and filling their thoughts and actions with worthy, worthwhile things.

Varsity Scout Communication Team coachASSOCIATION WITH ADULTS:  Boys learn a great deal by watching how adults conduct themselves. Scout leaders can be positive role models for the members of their units. In many cases, a coach who is willing to listen to boys, encourage them, and take a sincere interest in them can make a profound difference in their lives.

Association with adults is one of the ways the Varsity Scouting program helps youth grow. These Scouts are growing into adulthood; often they will be thinking about what it means to be making adult choices.

Youth earn the respect of adults and make friends with them by working together in problem solving situations. Youth learn from adult association what it means to lead and be their own person. By working with their team coach, assistant coach and other advisors, youth practice this adult association at every activity.

UNIFORM:  The uniform makes the Varsity Scout team visible as a force for good and creates a positive youth image in the community. 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. The uniform is practical attire for Varsity Scout activities and provides a way for Scouts to wear the badges that show what they have accomplished. Varsity Scouts and leaders who wear the Boy Scout field uniform, wear orange loops on the epaulets of their shirts.

Some other uniform options for a Varsity Scout teams might include:

  • Varsity Scout Activity ShirtTan Boy Scout field uniform shirt with orange tabs and green Boy Scout trousers.
  • Brown “V” action shirt and utility trousers (for activities).
  • In cold weather, the burnt orange hooded sweatshirt and “V” baseball cap can be worn as the uniform.
  • Venturer green or gray shirt with orange tabs and green or gray trousers.
  • Varsity Scout ShirtA common T-shirt and pant developed by your team

A team should decide, in consultation with its coach, what its uniform options will be. Factors to take into consideration include the age of team members, the activity programs the Venturing crew’s team members may move into at 16, the finances of team member families, and the interests of the boys. The placement of insignia, awards, and patches for the uniform options are described in existing BSA publications. Insignia for the action shirt, hoodie, and baseball cap are imprinted on the uniform pieces. Awards and patches are not normally worn on this uniform or other activity uniforms chosen by the team.

LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT: The Varsity Scouting program 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 role of others and guides him toward the citizenship aim of Scouting.

Skill comes from practice; no practice, no skill. Leadership is a set of skills that can be learned. Varsity Scouts are at the stage of life where they are deciding whether to lead or to let others make their decisions for them. Leadership skills require:

  • Constant practice of the basics.
  • Close observation of good leader role models.
  • A strong desire to take charge of one own life.

Sometimes leaders don’t do it right the first time. When that happens, they analyze their mistakes, ask for feedback, and try to get it right the next time. That is where coaching comes in for you as the adult leader.

IDEALS:  The ideals of Varsity Scouting are spelled out in the Scout Oath, the Scout Law, the Scout motto, and the Scout slogan. The Varsity Scout measures himself against these ideals and continually tries to improve. The goals are high, and, as he reaches for them, he has some control over what and who he becomes.

Teaching high ideals is one of the ways the Varsity Scouting program helps boys grow into men. The Scout Oath identifies commitments that a church man should strive to keep and the Scout Law names qualities of an honorable priesthood holder.

A reflection after a mountain top experience changes fun to real life meaning

OUTDOOR ADVENTURE: Being outdoors is the number one method of Varsity Scouting. It is our main Varsity Scout training ground. We use the outdoors for:

  • Challenge (mountains and rope courses)
  • Adventure (rivers and trails)
  • Learning (rocks and sky)
  • Isolation and reflection (woods)

Scouting is designed to take place outdoors. It is in the outdoor setting that Scouts share responsibilities and learn to live with one another. It is here that the skills and activities practiced at troop or team meetings come alive with purpose. 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, practice conservation of nature’s resources and appreciate God’s handiwork.We walk lightly on the land and leave no trace so that others can use the outdoors for their learning experiences too.

TEAM/SQUAD METHOD: The squad method gives Varsity Scouts an experience in group living and participating citizenship. It places responsibility on young shoulders and teaches boys how to accept it. The squad method allows Scouts to interact in small groups where they can easily relate to each other. These small groups determine team activities through their elected representatives.

This method offers the boys practice leading. Every Varsity Scout is automatically a member of the team. This means more than just using the word “team”; team members begin to think and act like members of a winning team. Team action means:

  • Looking out for the needs and interests of each other.
  • Planning and then acting as a group to carry out the plan.
  • Overlooking each other’s mistakes and creating a positive attitude within the team by noticing and celebrating successes and good work.

The team needs a Scout’s loyalty and support; Varsity Scouts have a responsibility to the team to do their part, fulfill their position’s responsibilities, and be reliable. The team needs to be able to depend on its members.

ADVANCEMENT: Varsity Scouting provides a series of surmountable obstacles and steps in overcoming them through the advancement method. The Scout plans his advancement and progresses at his own pace as he meets each challenge. The Scout is rewarded for each achievement, which helps him gain self-confidence. The steps in the advancement system help a Scout grow in self-reliance and in the ability to help others.

Youth grow the most when you set high goals and then plan and work to achieve them. Varsity Scouting has unique awards that promote the trail to Eagle and also encourage leadership development:

  • Varsity Letter
  • Denali Award
  • Activity pins also encourage participation in a variety of challenging and rewarding team activities.

Varsity Scouting can be the “finishing school” on the trail to Eagle, but advancement cannot be the main focus of your program. To keep this age group’s interest there must be action, variety, and challenge, which is well beyond just earning merit badges.

Continue working on your Day Book here. Next week we will cover The Captain and the Five Fields of Emphasis. If you missed our introduction to this course, you can view it here: The Varsity Vision—Team Coach Position-Specific Training

ADarryl head BWuthor: Darryl Alder | Strategic Initiatives Director, Utah National Parks Council, BSA. He was a Team Coach for three years during the pre-pilot phase of Varsity Scouting and then became a trainer when the program was launched.

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