It’s that time of year again… when we get to go out and ask people in our neighborhood to make a donation to the Boy Scouts of America as part of the “Friends of Scouting” drive. I have headed up this effort several times in the past, and this year I got to do it again. Yipee! Just what I love doing, going door to door and putting people on the spot by asking them for money. I typically get three responses: 1.) “Sure, I’d be happy to make a donation to the BSA.” 2.) “No thank you.” 3.) “Is the money for our troop or for the general BSA budget? If it’s for BSA administrative costs, I won’t donate.” Well, it is for BSA administrative costs. It helps maintain scout camps and scout shops. And it also helps pay for salaries of professional scouters, which turns many people off. Some suggest that since the BSA is primarily a volunteer organization, there shouldn’t be anyone who earns a salary. Of course, that is impractical. A large organization like BSA needs to have full-time administrative support in order to function. I’ve heard criticism that some of the top scout executives make a LOT of money, but I think that by in large, their salaries are modest. The Friends of Scouting fundraising drive is an essential part of our council’s annual budget and since I believe in the benefits of scouting, I am willing to coordinate the fundraising efforts and make a donation myself. Still, it’s not really something I look forward to each year. Thankfully, we’re pretty much done now. I just have a few more people that I need to collect from and then I’ll be turning in the money on Thursday.
I sometimes struggle with all of the resources that we put into scouting: awards and patches, camps and workshops, training and more training. But the LDS Church is a strong supporter of the program and so I try to be as supportive as I can. I have to admit that earning patches and beads doesn’t really motivate me and I’m not sure it really motivates the boys. They’re more interested in iPods, texting and My Space, not to mention sports and other extracurricular activities. Hopefully scouting can provide an alternative to all of the vices of the modern teenager’s life. And while I’m not really that big into the “nerdier” side of scouting (awards/patches for everything under the sun, crafts, silly songs and goofy skits), I do love the outdoor activities and the practical skills that the boys learn about first aid, survival and conservation. The scouting program also focuses on building character and cementing strong values, including love of God, country, community and family. In addition, powerful spiritual lessons can be taught while sitting in a canoe on a quiet lake, while hiking a difficult trail or while sitting around a campfire late at night. Those lessons are often more memorable and meaningful than anything that can be taught in the church classroom.