I was never a Venture Scout, but as I read the new program features I can’t help but think this program would have been a huge help to me as I prepared to move out, go to college, and serve a mission. Most of all, I think this program could work hand in hand with mission preparation to help young people be more effective teachers and leaders.
When The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints published Preach My Gospel it revolutionized the way the church approached missionary work. Missionaries were encouraged to teach by the Spirit and present doctrines according to the needs of their investigators. This led to a greater emphasis on spiritual preparation for the young men and women who would need to have a better understanding of gospel principles in order to effectively use this new resource. The best preparation for this method was for these youth to learn how to be receptive to the Spirit and familiarize themselves with the scriptures and gospel truths.
Come, Follow Me, the new youth church curriculum, helps the youth learn these skills by encouraging the teachers to teach by the spirit and let the youth help guide their own learning.
If you use the principles of these two resources and combine them with the new Program Features for Troops, Teams, and Crews you can help your Venturing-age youth be better citizens, better leaders, and better missionaries.
I want to go through the First Aid Program Guide and talk about how you can use this guide with your Venturers as a piece of their mission preparation.
Weekly Meetings Build Confidence, Teamwork, and Leadership
Weekly Crew meetings are a great opportunity to help your Venturers make connections between what they do in Scouting and the things they do every day at school, church, and home. You’ll notice the suggested weekly meeting skills instruction is more advanced for Venturers, since it assumes a level of competency. These activities usually require the Scouts to come up with creative solutions to unique problems or figure out what to do when first aid situations go awry (as they often do).
These kinds of scenarios and activities will help Venturers practice flexibility in approaching and solving issues they encounter, which will be invaluable to them in the coming years as they move out, go to college, or go on missions.
Each activity you do in Venturing will be more effective in helping the youth be spiritually prepared if you do a parallel activity involving spiritual scenarios. Your crew can decide whether to do the spiritual activities immediately following the other activity or move it to Sunday, but either way you should draw connections at each. The potential spiritual metaphors practically write themselves: spiritual triage to determine how best to help people, what do do when things don’t go as planned as a missionary, calling in Divine backup, etc.
One of my biggest confidence-builders as a teen was becoming a lifeguard. It was nice to know that I was competent to act in an emergency, and I knew I was good at helping people and performing the necessary skills. Use this program feature as an opportunity to help your Scouts build the same confidence. They will also learn teamwork and leadership skills as they work together to solve these problems.
The E.D.G.E.Method Turns Students into Teachers
Each program feature gives a guide to using the Explain, Guide, Demonstrate, and Enable (E.D.G.E.) method to teach youth and then help them teach each other. I have a younger brother currently serving a mission who credits learning the E.D.G.E. method in Scouting and NYLT with his ability to adapt to teaching in a missionary setting.
In his letter a couple weeks ago he told us, “Just today I thought of EDGE while I was reading in Preach my Gospel. It applies to training, teaching, and everything! Also, the stages of team development are very relevant in a companionship. Good to know that all that Scouting was good for me (because I sure did enjoy it).”
Take advantage of this great teaching tool. Make sure your Venturers understand it and use it. You can help them become great teachers.
The Main Event as a Culminating Experience
The main event for the program feature is a chance for your youth to show what they’ve learned, solidify skills, and have a memorable experience that will be all their own. The suggested main event for this program feature is a Community Disaster Drill, which is a great way to simulate a real life experience for your Scouts to practice what they’ve learned. Check to see if your community is hosting one in the near future, or work to organize one yourselves. If you’ll be in the area in April 2015, check out Maple Dell Scout Camp’s Mock Disaster Exercise in partnership with the Utah County Search and Rescue.
This main event is another way for your Venturers to prove to themselves that they can handle difficult situations and act in an emergency. This will prepare them to deal with real emergencies and difficulties they may face.
From Venturing to Missions, Independence, and Leadership
These Venturing Program Features are designed so that the youth can lead, plan, organize, and participate in these events. When the program works as it is designed, you will end up with youth who are accustomed to taking charge of their own education, making and sticking to effective plans while being capable of flexibility when necessary, and confident in their abilities to take care of themselves and others.
When you combine these with Come, Follow Me and Preach My Gospel, you will have strong, independent leaders who are also well-practiced in drawing spiritual connections and following the Spirit. Youth such as these will be strong missionaries, great leaders, and vibrant forces for good in whatever community they find themselves in.
Author: Maria Milligan | Grant Writer, Utah National Parks Council, BSA