Unification News for March 2001

TFV and Scouting

by Doug Bates

"For the followers of most religions, sex should take place only between people who are married to each other… Abstinence until marriage is a very wise course of action." Does this sound like True Family Values? You may be surprised at the source of this quote. Read on.

I started as a Cub Scout Den Leader in 1997, when my oldest son was of the age to join. It was natural for me to carry on a tradition that began 70 years ago when my father joined Scouting. He achieved the Eagle Scout rank and later became a Cub Scout Leader, inspiring me to reach the Eagle rank as well. My love for kids and my desire to give something back to Scouting made it easy to volunteer. I also saw it as an important part of blessed children’s upbringing, and as a practical yet significant contribution to the community.

I soon found that this was not to be the Scouting experience I grew up with. The values of Scouting have remained remarkably consistent even in the face of public opposition, but the social environment has changed dramatically. When I started with ten Scouts, five had single mothers, clearly in need of a good male role model. Besides this obvious need, however, there was a general lack of appreciation for the benefits of Scouting.

When I was a Cub, Den Leaders were called Den Mothers, because mothers normally stayed at home and had time after school to hold den meetings. Now, most dens must meet in the evening and compete with an increasingly busy schedule of sports, clubs, and homework. Kids face pressure from peers for whom Scouting is just not cool. For many parents, it’s just another burden on the agenda.

Over time, our den dwindled to seven, three of whom were blessed children. With the support of three blessed families I gained a lot of confidence that I could make a positive difference in the life of each boy. As long as I planned each event with enough fun to keep them interested, I found them fertile ground for character education as well as skills training. Scouting provided the medium through which to extend True Family Values into the realm of public behavior and relationships for youth.

I can vividly recall a small experience that gave me a powerful lesson as a Scout. I had done something clearly wrong when I was caught by the Troop Leader. He asked me why I did it, and all I could say was, "because the other kids did it." He knelt down to look me in the eye, and ran his finger down my backbone. "This is what makes you different," he said quietly, "your spine." I may never know if I’ve had such an effect on anyone’s life as that simple statement had on me. But I do know that I don’t have to be perfect to have a positive influence on the world around me, I just have to be involved.

The quote in the first paragraph above is from the Boy Scout Handbook, Eleventh Edition, p. 376, in a section entitled "Sexual Responsibility". In the Fifth Edition that I used as a Scout, there is no reference to sex. Times have changed. In our efforts to change the present with the new Word, we can increase our audience – and influence – by allying with the enduring institutions of the past. The Boy Scouts needs our help too, to clarify young men’s role and responsibility, and to appeal to youth with a vision of what they can be.

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