If the Scout motto is Be Prepared, why do so many young men ask their leader, “What are we doing this week for activity night?” Perhaps it’s because the young men have not been taught by example how to model the motto.
Well-planned and executed Scouting and Aaronic Priesthood activities with a purpose help young boys hear the whisperings of the Spirit that will bring them to Christ and lifetime activity in His Church. Unplanned, disorganized, ad hoc activities lead to confusion, disappointment, and disinterest in both Scouting and Church involvement. Boys need something to look forward to. They need a calendar filled with exciting, fun, and meaningful activity nights, combined activities, camping trips, and Scouting outings that will hold their interest more than other worldly pursuits.
The young men are supposed to plan, direct, control, and carry out Scouting and Aaronic Priesthood activities with the help of their shadow adult leaders and the unit Scouting committee. You cannot expect your boys to identify purposeful activities without your help. There are numerous Scout resources available to survey the interests of your boys and channel their thinking toward meaningful, character-building activities. You can easily guide the boys to identify weekly activities, service projects, outdoor experiences, and campouts that will be fun, uplifting, and purposeful.
I encourage you to hold an annual planning meeting with your boys. At a minimum you should develop a quarterly calendar that shows what the boys will be doing each week. Your calendar could also include priesthood quorum assignments and the lesson schedule for each quorum meeting so your boys come spiritually prepared to discuss the principles of the gospel.
You create wonderful opportunities that generate anticipation and excitement within a boy when the boys plan activities in advance. Pre-planning also allows the senior patrol leader to make assignments that teach each young man to be responsible and do his duty. When the boys plan their activities it allows you to meet with a boy before the activity to mentor him on his leadership role and debrief him afterwards to discuss lessons learned. You can teach the boy how to set an agenda, outline and organize an activity, and coordinate the equipment and resources necessary to make the event a success. You can help a boy become an effective priesthood leader by teaching him planning and organizing skills that will help him in the future as a missionary, employee, priesthood leader, and father.
I bear you my solemn witness that planning is key to a quality Scouting program. When the boys know in advance what they will be doing, they invite their friends to participate. They come prepared with the proper attitude, attire, and equipment. They get excited in advance and carry that excitement with them throughout the experience. They bond together as a Scouting unit as each boy carries out his assigned duties. And they learn, by experience, how to be better priesthood holders.
I plead with you to let the boys lead. Let them take charge. Let them plan, organize, delegate, and control their own Scouting experience under your subtle tutelage. Let them communicate with each other, support one another, and achieve wonderful results when they work together as a cohesive Scouting unit. Let them feel the exhilaration of seeing their planning effort come to successful fruition. When you plan in advance you can stand on the sideline and marvel as you watch your boys become true leaders of boys.
Take a Moment to Reflect
- Are you diligently striving to fulfill your calling by having well-planned, well-thought-out Scouting and Aaronic Priesthood activities and lessons?
- Are you holding annual and/or quarterly planning meetings with your boys to let them plan, organize, direct, and control their Scouting and priesthood activities?
- Are you setting the example and teaching your boys the planning and organizing skills they will need to be successful on their missions, in future employment, as priesthood leaders, and within the walls of their own homes?
- Do you sit back and marvel at how creative and productive your boys can be when you allow them to plan their Scouting experience?
Turn Your Reflection Into Action
- What will you start doing, stop doing, or do better as a result of your reflection?
“Young men do not usually become inactive in the Church because they are given too many significant things to do. No young man who has really witnessed for himself that the gospel works will walk away from his duties in the kingdom and leave them undone. As our young men learn quorum management, they are not only blessing the Aaronic Priesthood youth in those quorums, but they are preparing themselves as future fathers and future leaders for the Melchizedek Priesthood quorums” (Spencer W. Kimball, Ensign, May 1976, p. 45).
-Mac McIntire is a dedicated Scouter who has blessed many lives through his service and acute understanding of the Scouting program. He currently lives in Las Vegas, Nevada. The views and opinions expressed in this message are solely those of the author.