Three reasons our family will Still be Scouting in 2020

IMG_3630.JPGLast year The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced it would discontinue its relationship with the Boy Scouts of America and introduce a worldwide youth program in 2020. While our family fully plans to embrace the new Church Child and Youth Development Initiative, we also intend to continue our participation in Scouting. Here’s why:

P22-4c67f.jpgReason #1: Structure. The Boy Scouts of America has been around for over a century, and the BSA has proven its worth as a structured program. This structure is a remarkable support to both Scouting leaders and Scouting families. Regular quality activities, handbooks full of information, and leader specific trainings all provide a tried and true ladder guiding youth to leadership, character, citizenship and fitness.

IMG_4231.JPGBSA programs—Cub Scouting thru Venturing—are based and built on age-appropriate activities, like stepping stones. My Cub Scout learns to handle a pocket knife, my Boy Scout earns the Woodcarving Merit Badge. My younger son takes a mile hike with his den, my older son hikes for 30 miles with his troop. You get the picture. My children are benefitting from a program shaped and tested for decades, with applicable achievements for each group, and all under an umbrella of specially trained leaders. Scouting is a safe place to learn and grow.

IMG_3573.JPGAdditionally, I love that Scouting youth have requirements—steps that must be followed—and hard tasks to complete. As humans, we rarely choose to over-extend ourselves, but the organization of Scouting gently and consistently compels youth to climb higher, be better, and accomplish hard things. In a world becoming increasingly wishy-washy and self-centered, I find the structure of Scouting remarkable and helpful to my parenting efforts.IMG_4234.JPGReason #2: Skills. Scouting is all about skills—building fires, camping, backpacking, tying knots, pitching tents, cooking, swimming, lifesaving, first aid. The list of Scouting skills is endless! Take a glance at the 137 merit badges offered to understand the full gamut of opportunities available to Scouts. Where pushing buttons with thumbs has become an all-to-common society staple for youth, I am grateful for skills taught through the BSA programs.

IMG_3641.JPG“Outing” is a key component of Scouting. Leave the lethargy and apathy at the door and step into adventure: rock-climbing, rappelling, canoeing, biking, rafting… the list goes on and on.img_4054.jpgAnd the fun isn’t just for the older youth. Last week our Cub Scouts learned and played the iconic game of marbles. Imagine seven 9-year-olds, squealing, laughing and cheering as their marbles rolled across the dirt. And in the preceding weeks our Cub Scouts hiked, whittled with pocket knives, cooked over a fire, constructed with carpentry tools, pitched tents, conducted science experiments, practiced safety, and built contraptions with simple machines. Scouting is all about skills.

IMG_3069 (1).JPGThe skills lead me to Reason #3: Substance. Scouting is chock-full of substance. Let’s face it; there are a million and one extra-curricular options for kids today. But I can’t think of another activity, club, pastime, team or sport based on Duty to God, Country, and Family. Each week I watch Cub Scouts raise their arms in the Scout Sign and recite the century-old Oath and Law—promising to be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind…the iconic list goes on.

IMG_2341.JPGWhen any youth commits to Scouting values, we’ve won a battle for our future. Like I’ve said before, our time as a family is precious, yet the substance—the values and character-building opportunities—offered through BSA programs put Scouting at the top of our extra-curricular list.

P4-a1fd9.jpgAnd my fourth point—if I may have one—is Patriotism. No one does patriotism like the Boy Scouts of America. Two weeks ago I stood with over 100 other observers at a campfire. The sky was crystal clear. The stars shone brightly. The full moon came up over the ridge. The fire glowed orange and red. It couldn’t have been a more picturesque evening. Around the campfire stood eight solemn Boy Scouts. With all the respect they could muster, they displayed a flag, tattered and torn. Then, while the audience watched, they shared history in broken and emotional tones, before respectfully retiring the flag in the flames.

IMG_3619.JPGThe audience was completely silent, engulfed in the emotion of the moment. My 12-year-old son was one of the boys by the fire. Four of his younger siblings watched him participate in that sacred event. It was worth gold to me to know that he had set a standard of respect for our family as he handled the American flag that evening. Yes, no one does patriotism like the Boy Scouts of America.

P14-36c94.jpgWill the partnership between the Church and the BSA end in December? Yes. But for our family Scouting will go on. The structure, skills, substance and patriotism offered by the BSA are—in my mind—indispensable. It is my belief that Scouting will compliment—not compete with—any other extra-curricular activity, including the forthcoming Church initiative.

P19-b63a8.jpgOur family looks forward to another century of citizenship, fitness, leadership, and character through the Boy scouts of America. In 2020 we will Still be Scouting.


12 thoughts on “Three reasons our family will Still be Scouting in 2020

  1. Meleana says:

    I’ve admires you from afar and upclose. It hasn’t ended, and probably won’t. Your standards, perceptions, expectations and intentions are very well honed. Thank you for being such a wonderful example to me and many others!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Cathy Price says:

    Nettie, this is beautifully written. Thank you so much for writting this. I love the photo of the family salute.
    Cathy Price
    Ps it was great seeing you at NAM


  3. Donna Copeland says:

    I was so happy to meet you in person in Denver. Your dear Mark has been such a Scouter’s Scouter for me and many others. I KNOW that you are the one who helps to be that sort of man! He is likely to be the reason I survive World Jambo!!! Thank you for sharing him with the world!


  4. Corey Davis says:

    Great article! I am sharing this with all families not just those of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Your 3 or 4 reasons to stay with Scouting are true for all families.


  5. drfather says:

    As a Catholic and a longtime Scouter, I am a bit saddened by this decision. I understand it – the difficulty of having the BSA program only available in the US, and trying to run comparable programs in other nations where the Church operates. At the same time, I believe Scouting helped destigmatize your Church for many non-Mormons. Even when I was growing up, when Protestants and Catholics dare not set foot in one another’s churches – and neither was sure what to make of Salt Lake City – everyone still packed their sons up for camp every year and them off into the care of the Boy Scouts for a week – where they happily mingled! By openings your meeting houses for Roundtables and training sessions, you invited your non-Mormon neighbors to get to know you – and given the many forces in society today hostile to your Church, I worry that it will be too easy minus Scouts to simply retreat back into the safe embrace of your own. And that would be too bad, and a loss for the larger community.

    Blessings, and I pray for the continued involvement of as many LDS families in Scouting as possible.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nettie H. Francis says:

      Thank you for your very thoughtful comment. Like you, I love the fact that Scouting is a place where God-fearing people of many religions can safely mingle and find good common ground. As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I have also seen the great benefit of opening up our meeting houses for Scouting events, training, and roundtables. This practice will truly be a loss to both the Church and the community moving forward. Hence, our family’s personal decision to stay involved in Scouting. Scouting will continue to be a bridge for our children to connect with good people of many faiths under the umbrella of Duty to God. I am hopeful that many of our Church friends will feel the same way and stay involved in the Boy Scouts of America. Thank you again for your insightful remarks.


  6. Giana Miller says:

    Nettie, i greatly appreciated your comments on the LDS Church and Scouting. I will be sharing this for sometime. I am Doc Miller’s wife, who will be at the World Jamboree and helping with the Church site giving out Book of Mormons. He is so excited. I also enjoyed your article on being a Mom and it’s importance. I want to follow you and will add my email. Best Wishes, Giana Miller


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