Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Guide Patrol: A Time of Transition

Once a boy reached 11 he was done with Cub Scouts. But Boy Scouts officially starts at age 12. So there is this transition year when the boy is no longer a Cub but not quite a Scout. When I was growing up, that transitional state was called the Guide Patrol. But my time in the Guide Patrol was more than a transition between Cubs and Scouts; it was also a time of transition of the Scouting program at the Church level.

Now, trying to change an entrenched Scout culture is not a simple thing. But looking back, I can see a trend developing among the Church leaders. Primary and Jr. Sunday School were staples of the pre-youth group. But little doctrine was taught there. The Church could see that the youth needed to be better prepared for the challenges that would face them so they gradually changed the emphasis of Primary. 

The Guide Patrol was one of the early programs affected by this change. The Guide Patrol was supposed to prepare and excite the boy for Scouts. Its main themes were Scout themes. But Scout themes were not enough to truly prepare a boy for the Priesthood or for a mission. So, about six months into my time in the Guide Patrol, the program changed.

Now it was called the Blazer Patrol. While scouting was still a part of the program, the emphasis shifted to spiritual preparation. We would earn awards based on scripture reading, learning church history, and other more spiritually related topics. We were told we were like the Mormon pioneers and needed to act the part by improving our behavior.

Each award came with an adhesive back and you attached the award to your Blazer Banner. The prominent figure of that banner was a flaming torch. Hence, the name Blazer. We were blazing our path back to God. I liked that them much better than "We be loyal scouts."

I liked being a Blazer Scout. It focused on themes and awards that I could achieve and that I wanted to achieve. We did have to learn to sing the goofy Blazer song called Light the Torch. I still remember when we had a parent’s day and all us little Blazers had to stand in front of our Moms and sing. I couldn't find the lyrics on the web, but it started like this:

Light the torch, light the torch
Blaze your way to the kingdom of God.

So, Guide/Blazers reawakened my interest is Scouting. I attribute this to two significant components. First, I had great leaders. Jim and Carol Harris were a great team. They were kind, approachable, and they had a swimming pool at their house. In fact, Sister Harris taught me how to swim.

Second, the awards and curriculum really interested me. It was a great balance between scouting skills and church teachings. So, having survived the crucible of Weblos, excelled in the haven of Blazers, I was ready and willing to be a real Boy Scout. But, there was one problem. As soon as I reached Boy Scout age, Dad was released from being Scout Master.

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