Moms are a major energy source for Scouting. As such they are stakeholders in the success of Varsity Scouting. Ask any Scout who helped them most to move along the trail to Eagle, and he will name his mom. Moms have superpowers. They can see into the future to what their sons might become, and they realize how earning an Eagle award can help them achieve that.
Moms become a powerhouse for Varsity Scouting when they continue to support their boys as they transition to a new phase of life. They can see their sons returning from a high-adventure camp, a week-long trek, or a leadership training course with increased confidence, an attitude of service, and increased awareness of who they are.
Moms can see the future of their sons better than anyone else, even better than a good Varsity coach. That’s why moms need to understand the Varsity Program and how it works.
When moms think of Boy Scouting, it is natural to think in terms of merit badges, rank advancements, and, of course, the Eagle award. Many moms don’t realize how rich the experience beyond Boy Scouting and the Eagle are and how much Varsity contributes to the development of character, fitness, and citizenship (including as a citizen at home). There are Varsity awards to be earned, but more importantly, there are new challenges to be met.
Changes are taking place in the life of a 14- and 15-year old youth—physical, emotional, social, and spiritual. At 14 a young man is ready to shoulder new levels of responsibility. It is unfortunate that for many boys, this is when support from home for involvement in Scouting drops off.
The unique feature of Varsity Scouting is that it is designed to support the tasks in life that are most critical for the 14- and 15-year old age group. It is organized differently from a Scout troop on purpose to provide more intense leadership assignments for every youth, more challenging physical and mental problems to solve, a greater dependence on the service of others, and a responsibility to give more service and to teach others. Just as a young man becomes capable of bigger challenges, Varsity Scouting provides those challenges under the close supervision of trained adult leaders who provide more concentrated support than before.
More is expected of a Varsity Scout, and a new level of support from adult leaders is there to help him rise to the moment, but if the only support for participation comes from outside the home, then it is easier for a young man to take the less accountable path and let Scouting slide. This is an especially easy path to follow in light of competing involvements in the form of sports, jobs, and school events.
What isn’t readily apparent to every parent is that these new areas aren’t equally accessible to all boys. Only a certain number are selected for the sports team, not everyone gets a job, and not everyone is included in school events for one reason or another. It is unfortunate for many young men that there is no group activity that can include every boy, especially the ones that are still (or are just becoming) ugly ducklings.
Moms who support their sons in Varsity Scouting see steady growth because their son becomes involved in serving and teaching others. They realize that their son might be the one who makes room for the fellow that could otherwise fall through the cracks.
With greater physical challenges there can come greater risks, and this concerns some parents. It seems to be true that young men coming of age feel “immortal”. They become risk-takers. This is true whether they are involved in Scouting or not. However, one of the best reasons for continued membership in a Varsity team is that challenges are faced within an atmosphere of training on how to participate safely in high adventure and how to face and overcome obstacles.
In a world that is becoming steadily more challenging and at a time of life that has its own special challenges, Varsity Scouting makes sense to a thoughtful Mom. We are expecting more of our sons today, and at an earlier age. It is good for the home that there is Varsity Scouting, and it is good for Varsity Scouting that there are wise moms.
Author: Andy Gibbons | Vice-Chair, Western Region Varsity Scout Program Committee