Mac’s Message #45: The Role of Parents and Families in Scouting

Mac McIntire

Mac McIntire

Parents and family members are additional resources to support your Scouting and Aaronic Priesthood efforts. Since strengthening families is a primary goal of the Young Men Aaronic Priesthood program, and Scouting is an extension of families, Young Men leaders should make a strong effort to involve families in their Scouting programs and activities. I believe the more involved a boy’s parents are in Scouting, the stronger that boy’s commitment will be to the Scouting program.

Most Scouting leaders realize mothers are the primary support for their son. It’s no hyperbole that mothers are often more responsible for a boy becoming an Eagle Scout than the boy himself. Perhaps the entire Scouting program in the Church would collapse if it weren’t for faithful mothers who shepherd their boys through the Cub Scout, Boy Scout, Varsity Scout, and Venturing programs.

But, like some adult Scouting leaders who don’t understand the true purpose of LDS Scouting, some parents can place too heavy of an emphasis on their son becoming an Eagle Scout and fail to support the more important reasons why the Church is involved in Scouting. This singular focus on the Eagle rank can cause parents to also falsely believe their son is done with Scouting once he has acquired his Eagle badge. As I mentioned in Mac’s Message #30, Scouting is an effective means to an even more important end. Parents can only truly support your Scouting and Aaronic Priesthood efforts to the extent they understand the true purposes and important linkage of these two programs.

We need to be much better at orienting parents to Scouting. They need to know that Scouting is a character-building program. Merit badges and rank advancement are just one of the eight methods of Scouting that are designed to help turn young boys into strong men of God, capable of being effective missionaries, husbands, fathers, and priesthood leaders. Parents need to be taught to support the entire Scouting and Aaronic Priesthood programs. They need to be invited to take an active role in Scouting and Aaronic Priesthood activities, and not abdicate to Young Men leaders their responsibility as parents.

We are reminded in Handbook 2, Administering in the Church, “Parents have the first responsibility for the spiritual and physical welfare of their children (see D&C 68:25–28). The bishopric and other Aaronic Priesthood leaders support but do not replace parents in this responsibility” (8.2).

Once parents have been oriented to the real purposes of Scouting, Scouting leaders should develop a proactive plan to involve parents and families in the Scouting programs and activities. Parents can be given specific tasks, assignments, or projects to work on. They can serve on the Scouting committee in a variety of support roles. As a Scoutmaster, I identified over fifty responsibilities parents could fulfill to help support the activities of the troop.

Parents and siblings should be invited to attend Scout Expos, Camporees, Klondike outings, and family day at summer camps. Perhaps family members could be included in some other Scouting activities, such as hikes, bike rides, or other physical activities. Obtaining the biking merit badge might be more fun if a boy could ride along with his parents and siblings. The cooking merit badge might be more impactful if a boy cooked a campfire meal for his family. Numerous merit badges require a boy to demonstrate a skill he has learned. What a wonderful opportunity this would provide a young man to impress his family members by instructing them in fire safety, first aid, lifesaving, electronics, computers, or other areas of expertise he gained through Scouting.

Fathers should be encouraged to help with campouts, hikes, and other activities. With some guidance beforehand, fathers can assist with two-deep leadership and provide the oversight needed for Scouting activities. Fathers should also be enlisted to help boys work on merit badges and advancement. Having come from a single-parent family with no support from a father, I know I would have advanced further in Scouting had my leaders assigned a “father” mentor to help me with my Scouting requirements. Fathers ought to be the key figure in a boy’s Scouting and Aaronic Priesthood years.

At the recent LDS Priesthood Leadership Conference on Scouting at Philmont, I again watched the movie Follow Me Boys with Fred MacMurry. In that movie I was impressed that the Scouting unit held regular parent nights where the boys were able to demonstrate the skills they had learned in Scouting. What a wonderful idea—far better than mere courts of honor. Perhaps the pack meeting concept ought to be extended to the troop, team, and crew. I’m sure this would enhance the enthusiasm of parents for Scouting when family fun is made a part of the Scouting program. Imagine how impressed younger siblings would be when their older brother teaches them what he has learned in Scouting. The Duty to God process of learn, act, and share would become a routine part of a boy’s life if these types of activities where included in your Scouting unit’s annual calendar.

As always, I hope you are catching the vision of the true power of the Scouting program. I testify that Scouting is not just for boys—it is for boys and their families. Scouting is a means by which boys can grow closer to their mothers, fathers, and siblings. It is a program designed to engage parents in developing their sons into the type of person they wish them to be. Scouting is one of the ways the Lord can “turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to the fathers” (Malachi 4:5). I pray you will be inspired in your Scouting efforts as you help your Heavenly Father knit together the hearts of the families under your stewardship.

 

Take a Moment to Reflect

  • Do you understand the importance of involving families in your Scouting and Aaronic Priesthood efforts?
  • Have you oriented parents properly so they understand the true purposes of Scouting in the Church?
  • Are you proactively involving parents and families in your Scouting activities? Have you invited parents and families to attend Scouting events?
  • Are you seeking opportunities to specifically involve fathers? Have you assigned “father mentors” to your fatherless boys?
  • Have you thought about holding family nights to allow your boys to demonstrate their Scouting skills to their parents and siblings?
  • Is your Scouting program helping your boys to grow closer to their families?

 

Turn Your Reflection Into Action

  • What will you start doing, stop doing, or do better as a result of your reflection?

 

Our Father in Heaven has placed the eternal destiny of children in the hands of parents, but more particularly on the shoulders of the father, the patriarch of the family. That responsibility cannot be delegated!” (Elder Robert L. Backman, “What the Lord Requires of Fathers,” Ensign, Sept 1981.)

 

-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.

 

 

 

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  1. Not only can parents help their sons develop the skills to pass off a merit badge, parents can be recruited to become merit badge counselors, providing a great resource for many boys. Almost every parent of a Scout has expertise in some area for which the BSA has a merit badge. I have found that parents of Scouts are pleased to be asked to share their skill with boys in the troop or even from other troops, even if it requires some BSA training to learn the ropes of counseling a badge.

  2. Mac McIntire says:

    Gene,

    I know how you feel. I’m sure there ate a lot of us in pain right now. I feel like I just learned my best friend is terminally ill. However, may I suggest we all wait for an official announcement from Church leaders before taking such acrion. It just seems to be a more proper protocol. Just my opinion.

    Thanks for your years of service in Scouting.

    Warm regards,

    Mac

  3. JD says:

    I can see how we can use inactive members or part-member families in our rescuing efforts. I will be using the talent surveys with the families I hometeach. Thanks Mac.

  4. JD says:

    Mac – I can see how we could use part member families and inactive members in our rescuing efforts. I will use the Talent Surveys with my hometeaching families – Thanks!

  5. Jason says:

    If our ward did not have parents involved, we would not have a scouting program. The ward leadership does not care enough about the program (or YMs) to call enough adults to either program. Camp outs would be cancelled as would weekly scout meetings. They also seem oblivious when scouts are frustrated with these leaders and vote with their feet during weeks when it is clear that nothing is planned or organized due to the called leaders failing to be around. Thank goodness for parents who step up and fill in when needed so we can have a program. On the last campout, not one adult that attended was called as a leader in the ward. Only one of the parents was even a member of the ward. As is customary, the YM’s pres bailed at the last minute. He was supposed to fill in for the scoutmaster that had to work. My teens have missed out on joint activities because there were not enough drivers that showed up. I have no confidence in the new program for 14 and up boys being successful come January in our ward. They just don’t care. The only reason we are able to do what we are doing now is because there are enough parents that will step up when needed and plug the holes. There are plenty of people to fill these callings but it isn’t a priority for the leadership. Very sad and the boys notice. It’s a great lesson for them I suppose on how many adults just don’t care about them.

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