Sunday, July 6, 2014

Scouts: The Beginning of the End

At last, after three years of Cub Scouts and one year in the Guide Patrol/Blazers I was finally a real Boy Scout. But, as I said, just before I turned 12, Dad was released as Scout Master and made Elder’s Quorum President. The new Scout Master was Steve Barnes.

Steve was a towering figure in the ward. Well, he was about seven feet tall and wore size 18 shoes. So, he was physically towering – his size made quite the impression on us. He was a great man and we enjoyed him as Scout Master and he enjoyed being with us. But he didn’t have the spark that made scouting fun. I had seen how Dad had made scouting a joy. So I had a benchmark and the troop I was part of fell way short of my expectations.

Of course, being the overzealous person that I am, during my first year of scouting I was totally into it. By the time I was 13 I had all but two or three merit badges for Eagle. I was on a pace to meet or exceed Matt’s accomplishment of being Eagle before I was 14. But then I stopped.

Part of it was that being a Boy Scout in my days was instant social death. Now, in Jr. High and High School I had no social life outside my church peers. But if word ever got out that I was a scout, I would be open for ridicule. More so than the constant ridicule I endured being small, skinny, and wearing glasses.

Another part was the change in the Church about how to run scouting. As I mentioned when I wrote about Road Shows, the Church experimented with shadow leadership. This meant that the youth were to direct their own program with minimal support from the adults.

Well, when you tell a bunch of men that they were not to take control but to let the youth run the show, you have absentee and not shadow leadership. I am sure the women were much more involved than the men in their program. The victim of this male dominated retreat was that scouting died.

I must admit, it was a death I did not mourn. We had much more fun with Steve Barnes as our leader not having to worry about the scouting component. We had even more fun when Wayne Coe as called as his Assistant Scout Master. The term Assistant Scout Master was simply a title to pay homage to the old order. There was no scouting in Wayne.

Wayne was a Viet Nam vet and was totally cool. He had a fast car, a fast motorcycle, and looked like a chiseled Highway Patrol officer. He made our weekly meetings fun and the furthest thing from scouting. For our activities, we went surfing in Santa Cruz and never had to endure the misery of overnight campouts. We simply had fun. 

So, from age 14 to almost 18, my prime scouting years, I had no connection to scouting at all. But, I was still only two or three merit badges away from Eagle. As the end of my time in the church youth program was looming, I had to decide how important being an Eagle Scout would be to me. Could I be one of the small percent of boys who achieved Eagle? Or would I join the great herd of those who failed to make that mark? 

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