News From The Field: Tokyo, Japan

by | Feb 4, 2021

My journey in Scouting started in Tokyo, Japan, and that is where it continues now—only this time with a wife who is fully involved and six kids who are all enthusiastic participants. Scouting is a huge part of our family recipe. It just works for us, and it is something that we all find joy in. Scouting is, in short, fun.

Several years ago, I was chatting with a ski guide on a chairlift. She mentioned that there are three types of fun. Type 1 is the thrill of zooming down a water slide or bursting through a bank of powder on a pair of skis. Type 2 fun is the relief and pride one feels after a risk is rewarded. This kind of fun is experienced after safely landing on the ground after parachuting from an airplane. Type 3 fun is looking back on previous experiences with fondness and nostalgia. The ski guide said that it was her job to help all skiers at the resort experience all three kinds of fun.

After many years of sitting around quiet campfires and thinking about this experience, I concluded that there are at least two more types of fun that need to be added to this list. One (which I call “type 4”) is the joy of helping others experience the other types of fun. The other (“type 5”) is the fun of knowing that a job that needs to be done is being done right.

I have often thought back on these experiences and considered how Scouting is the ultimate formula for delivering all of these types of fun to participants. We experience type 1 fun when we shoot a bow and arrow or learn to use a knife or hike over a rise and see a gorgeous wilderness lake. We have type 2 fun when we finish a rainy hike or safely complete a rappel or finally pass off a challenging rank requirement. We have type 3 fun whenever we look at our sash of merit badges or think back on an old Scout camp experience and recall the people, places, and events that helped make us who we are. As leaders of older scouts, we derive type 4 fun through servant leadership. And perhaps most importantly of all, we eventually progress to the point where doing our duty (including our duty to God) becomes a great source of joy, and we experience type 5 fun.

So why am I still Scouting . . . in Tokyo, Japan? In short, it is because I can’t imagine anything more fun. Not only is it satisfying to experience these types of fun myself, but what a joy it is for me to watch as my kids experience them, too. My youngest Scouts want to play fun games (type 1). Later, they learn to do challenging things and be rewarded (type 2). They develop a set of happy memories (type 3). Eventually, at some point, their focus turns from themselves to others, and rather than being a pure participant in an event, they would rather be on staff or work in the kitchen (type 4). And at some point, they see something that needs to be done, and they just go take care of it on their own, because they find joy in a job well done (type 5). When we do Scouting together as a family, there is a type of fun for everyone.

In 1987, I joined LDS Pack 16 in Tokyo and progressed to Arrow of Light. In 1991, I joined LDS Troop 16 in Tokyo and participated actively for one year before moving to Orem, Utah, and joining Troop 29. While in Orem, I earned the rank of Eagle. Now, with my own family, I have spent the last 9 years, back in Tokyo, working with the Scouts. I have been a Cubmaster (Pack 5, American School in Japan), Scoutmaster (Troop, 16, LDS), Assistant Scoutmaster (Troop 5, American School in Japan), District Finance Chair (Far East Council, Asia East District), and a Cub Scout Roundtable Commissioner (Far East Council, Asia East District). I completed Wood Badge, I joined the OA, and I have also helped organize many District events. My wife is also fully invested and holds multiple unit and District positions. And in all of that, I can’t imagine anything more fun. So that is why I am still (and expect, for many more years, to be) Still Scouting, in Tokyo, Japan.

Brett – Tokyo, Japan