My son — with significant prodding from his mother — has been an inspired Boy Scout, and he just completed his Eagle Project. Actually, this is not unusual in our neck of the woods, as almost all of the young men in our ward attain the rank of Eagle. Having missed the scouting experience myself, I have been amazed at how much he has learned through the scouting program. Indeed, I was so impressed with the program that I recently offered my 16-year-old daughter a deal: fulfill all of the requirements for Eagle Scout (slightly amended to meet her interests — i.e., no camping), and receive a scholarship for college.
A few days after I issued my offer, the mother of one of my daughter’s friends told me about their most recent family vacation. It was their last trip together as a family before the young woman left for BYU, and the parents allowed the young woman to select the activity. She chose a high adventure conoeing trip in the Boundary Waters. According to the mother, this young woman had longed for such activities and was jealous of her younger brothers, who frequently went on camping trips with the scouts. The mother also mentioned that the young woman felt left out of some of the learning that happened in connection with merit badges. (“Don’t young women need to know about Citizenship in the Nation?”) When I mentioned my idea to create an Eagle Scout program for my daughter, this mother was very supportive.
Emboldened by the positive reception of this mother, I later mentioned the idea to the father of another young woman in our ward, and I was surprised by his reaction. Not upset, exactly, but surprised and wary. After all, my daughter has the Young Women’s program. Adding another program to school and extra-curricular activities, well, that was just too much pressure.
Perhaps he is right. Having made this offer to my daughter, I now see that the biggest obstacle is the lack of institutional support for such a program. If she earns her “Eagle,” she will have to do it of her own initiative, outside the usual channels, without the supervision of Church leaders, and without the resources of the Church. It’s a lot to expect.
I wonder why we should feel this imbalance between the programs for the young men and the programs for the young women. (Disclaimer: Having grown up outside of the Church, my experience with the youth programs is limited to a brief stint as Young Men’s President and my time as a parent.) I know that the Church has experimented with various programs for the young women, so I assume that the current version — Personal Progress — is the product of many years of experience and the best intentions. Nevertheless, when compared with the Scouting/Duty to God programs for the young men, Personal Progress seems narrow and incomplete. And, frankly, it doesn’t seem to be very fun.
Sounds like a very generous offer. My only question was how your daughter would pass off “merit badges.”
Well, she can join a venture crew and do all the stuff. My daughter signed up to do Philmont. School started a week earlier than planned, so she passed her space off to a kid in the ward who is being home schooled and she went instead.
But Venture crews are co-ed and do everything.
My experiences with scouting aren’t the same as yours and I’ve camped with a lot of eagle scouts I wouldn’t trust to dig a latrine trench … but I started my camping with winter camps (my birthday is in December) in Alaska and the scouts up there were different from the ones down here.
It is my perception that the Church is shifting away from the BSA programs, and the development of the Duty to God program seems to be the vehicle they are grooming to replace Scouting.
There is still a great deal of institutional support for Scouting, but I think its tide has already ebbed and is declining.
The recent challenges to BSA’s position on social issues may have prompted the development of the Duty to God program “just in case,” but I don’t see any sign that it is going to be shelved.
So your daughter may be a part of the last generation of LDS Eagle scouts, even if she does not get the organization’s patches to prove it.
It’s your daughter, so it’s your business, but if you have the means to do so, I’m frankly puzzled as to why you wouldn’t support her in college whether or not she had an “Eagle Scout” equivalent.
I think — and hope — greenfrog is correct that the Church is moving away from support for the BSA, and I see that as an extremely positive move. I have never been comfortable with the Church’s support for a paramilitary program that, as was pointed out over on the Three Against Hitler thread, is cast in much the same mold as the Hitler Youth or Soviet Young Pioneers. A greater focus on gospel instruction and Aaronic Priesthood training — the actual mission of the Church — would be welcome.
In other words, something closer to the Young Women’s “My Personal Progress” is probably what we ought to be doing for the Young Men as well, rather the other way around.
The back cover of the current issue of Sunstone has a relevant cartoon.
A Church leader is at the pulpit reading the announcements: “Upcoming activities: The Young Men will be going bungee jumping, getting ready for their river rafting trip as well as horseback riding and working on their cliff diving and archery merit badges. The Young Women will be tying a quilt.”
Diogenes, is it your opinion that money is a necessary component of “supporting” one’s children in college? Would a refusal to fund one’s child’s college education amount to a lack of support?
Besides perhaps the fact that Scouts wear uniforms, scouting (as I experienced it) is not “paramilitary” or anything like unto the Hitler youth program as I would imagine it.
Scouting also can provide a great means to fellowship and mingle with non-LDS in an LDS setting. I had two non-LDS friends who became Scouts in our LDS-sponsored scout troop and later a local non-LDS troop asked to merge with ours for greater strength and support. It was a great experience for all of us. It might be difficult to ask a friend to come to church meetings, but asking them if they’d like to go camping and earn some merit badges is usually recognized as a positive thing.
The way society is currently treating the Scout program just shows how much our cultural values have been turned on their heads. Next thing you know, they’ll be burning Norman Rockwell paintings down at the city square.
In some other countries the Church already has dumped the national scouting association in favor of its own program that is very much based on the BSA. I would guess that the church is preparing to leave because of the possibility of future inclusion of gay scouts/leaders in the BSA.
“…something closer to the Young Women’s “My Personal Progress” is probably what we ought to be doing for the Young Men as well, rather the other way around.”
obi-wan, could you clarify? Gordon said, “…Personal Progress seems narrow and incomplete. And, frankly, it doesn’t seem to be very fun.” I happen to agree with him and wonder why we would need to conform to the program that doesn’t seem nearly as complete, fun, interesting, useful, etc, etc.
You really need to take a good hard look at Punished by Rewards. One of the major problems of the Scouting program is its emphasis on artificial rewards and behavioral manipulation. Both work in the short term but are detrimental over the long run.
Perhaps rather than dangle merit badge type nonsense over her head you should find out what *she* is interested in and support her in that.
Gordon, you’re not the only one who has seen som discrepancy or differences between the programs offered to young men and young women in the Church.
My sister used to feel bad because she wasn’t able to go on a once-a-month campout like I did with the Scouts.
My mother did the forbidden and wrote a letter to the President of the Relief Society, suggesting that the young women needed a program that provided similar instruction and experiences to young women as the young men were receiving in the Scouting program. I think she got a polite form letter of some sort that basically showed this idea wasn’t going to go very far.
“I think — and hope — greenfrog is correct that the Church is moving away from support for the BSA, and I see that as an extremely positive move. I have never been comfortable with the Church’s support for a paramilitary program that, as was pointed out over on the Three Against Hitler thread, is cast in much the same mold as the Hitler Youth or Soviet Young Pioneers. A greater focus on gospel instruction and Aaronic Priesthood training — the actual mission of the Church — would be welcome.
In other words, something closer to the Young Women’s “My Personal Progress” is probably what we ought to be doing for the Young Men as well, rather the other way around.”
Let me respond from where the rubber hits the road. In July I spent an entire week with our young men (deacon aged) at Scout Camp, where we were indoctrinated in such paramilitary ideology and activities as how to cook a meal, how to make a camp, set up tents, make a fire, how to tie knots and how to use them, the history of rope, uses for rope, and how to make rope, improving swimming skills, including water safety, lifesaving, boating, nature and environmental science and how man relates to his natural environment, first aid, hiking, learning how to use a compass, learning proper use of fire arms, including how to safely load, shoot, and clean a weapon, both rifle and shotgun, how to interact with peers 11 to 13 years old in close living quarters for an entire week away from home (many for the first time), spending time in the service of others, including a service project for the camp, scripture study, prayer, and contemplating man’s place in God’s universe.
We tried to teach our young men that the concepts of being trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent, are more than just words we memorize. Rather, they are a way of life, consistent with our commitment to Christ, who was the prime example of these ideals, which we try our best to emulate.
I was fortunate enough to have this same experience last year, and look forward again to next year when I can attend a week’s summer camp with these young men.
Now I realize in today’s social climate the Boy Scout program is under siege from many differing ideas; however, to paint this great program with the broad brush of “paramilitarism” seems to belie some unseen agenda. Perhaps I’m reading too much into this post; however, I thought it important to set the record straight about what types of things our young men learn in the scouting program, and to have you hear them from one who actually knows from personal experience what goes on in a scout troop.
Thanks for this opportunity.
Guy W. Murray,
Scoutmaster, Troop 432
Arroyo Grande Ward
Arroyo Grande, CA
There is some basis in fact for Obi’s statements. Scouting came into existence largely as a way to prepare young men to serve in the military. And Baden Powell admired the Hitler Youth and especially Musolini’s youth program. (Baden Powell was outvoted when he tried to form an association between the scouts and the Hitler Youth). A good discussion of these events is in an article by Christopher Hitchens in June’s Atlantic Monthly.
That said, I don’t know how much of the military element is still present. I was a scout myself, living in several different troops as my family moved. I earned my Eagle Scout. And I don’t think that the organization today has a whole lot of Baden Powell’s military tendencies. I certainly didn’t see any admiration for the Hitler Youth.
It’s mostly a combination of sports, outdoor activity, and socialization. The church puts its own spin on it. It’s clearly the hodgepodge result of a lot of people with their own agendas (where in the world did the strange Order of the Arrow stuff come from). Within that hodgepodge, I think that any of B-P’s overt militarism has been heavily deemphasized.
Danithew: “Besides perhaps the fact that Scouts wear uniforms, scouting (as I experienced it) is not “paramilitary” or anything like unto the Hitler youth program as I would imagine it.”
The emphasis on camping (bivouac), command structure (troops, etc.) , uniforms (as you noted) are all hallmarks of a paramilitary youth group. All the skills that Scoutmaster Murray has just noted are taught at scout camps would transition very smoothly into an military field setting. The army is quite pleased when they get recruits who have spent their summers learning “how to cook a meal, how to set up camp, set up tents,” “proper use of firearms including how to safely load, shoot, and clean a weapon,” etc.
This should come as no surprise. Scouting was specifically founded as a paramilitary organization to teach the skills used by army “scouts” in the field. What do you think Baden-Powell did in the Boer war? Tied fancy knots and helped little old ladies across the street?
Spend a little time studying the Young Pioneers or the Hitler Youth and you find the they are frighteningly similar to the BSA as described so accurately by Scoutmaster Murray. Former Hitler Youth members who Ellen Switzer interviewed for her study on Nazism, “When Democracy Failed,” recall what a glorious time they had camping, bicycling, hiking, and learning crafts like model airplane building. They also relate the stirring teachings on patriotism, serving God and country, that inspired them to join the Wehrmacht, to report their parents’ unpatriotic activities, and to help identify the Jewish enemies of the state in their neighborhoods.
The line between patriotism and monomania is very thin. I note that the BSA has no “Civil Disobedience” or “Questioning Authority” merit badges.
Wow, lots of comments. Here are a few responses:
* danithew: On passing off merit badges, she should do the same thing that my son did. In most instances, my wife and I would serve as her merit badge advisors, but she could also recruit charitable wards members for help with merit badges on subjects where we have no experience.
* diogenes: This is a bit off topic, but since you are interested, I have told my children that I am supportive of their desire to attend college, but I am not planning to provide them with a free ride. This scholarship would be an addition to other support.
* Re venture crew: I have never been in a ward where the venture crew is active. I always assumed that is was a time-of-life issue. The youth get very busy.
* Not Ophelia, I have not seen that book, but there are others like it. I read a book with the similar theme called Why We Do What We Do: Understanding Self Motivation. The idea is that the world is not all carrots and sticks. The book “espouses our ordered, internalized sense of freedom, responsibility, and commitment.” Sounds like psycho-babble, but there is actually lots of interesting work on this. Anyway, I have concluded that having goals and institutional structures is not a bad thing.
* As for the comments about the Church going away from scouting, that was my impression, too … at least a few years ago, when the cases about gays and scouting were so much in the news. Since then I have been assured by many people higher in the Church hierarchy than I that this is not true. Actually, I think that making a break would be a lot harder than I had assumed because of all of the scouting resources (e.g., Scout camps, administrative system and personnel) that the Church could not easily replicate. The Duty to God would have to be expanded a lot to displace scouting.
* Scouting = Hitler Youth? Yes, I have heard that argument before, but I am with Guy Murray on this one.
Having grown up in the church and having five brothers no sisters. I always complained about the fairness of the two different youth programs. Not only in the youth program but also in primary. And I have heard all kinds of excused why girls do not get to go camping. Usually the excuses go something like, “We can not have a buch of girls running around the forest without priesthood leadership around.” Of course I have heard them all and the bottom line is, life is not fair.
My dad is a huge Scouter and If he had proposed to me what you did to your daughter I would have been really excited. I have always thought that the personal progress was a joke. I finished mine without much effort. But what really made me mad is that I recieved my award during sacarment meeting and the boys have a huge court of honor and an eagles nest when they receive their eagle scout.
Of course it has been almost ten years since I finished my personal progress and I have not been involed with young women since. On the other hand in almost every ward I have been apart of since I got married I have had a scouting calling of some sort. In fact when I turned 18 the bishop, whom I had bothered for years about the unfairness of scouting and perosnal progress, called me to be assistant scoutmaster to the 11 year old boys. I loved that calling. I can say it has been my favorite calling I have ever had.
Pardon, that’s Ellen Switzer, How Democracy Failed.
Bob Caswell — You’ll have to ask Gordon what he meant by “complete,” but I understood it in the Sunstone cartoon sense: including bungee jumping, archery, and horseback riding, as opposed to quilting.
I actually don’t see that any of those activities have much to do with training young men to serve in the Aaronic Priesthood. To the extent that we need recreational or bonding activities for young people, we can do without the uniforms and other BSA baggage.
Obi is right that Scouting teaches many skills that are useful in the military, and in some ways resembles the Pioneers or the Hitler Youth; so what? Our Church in many ways resembles Jim Jones’ church or that of the Branch Davidians; resemblances don’t necessarily a match make. Baden-Powell may have been a closet fascit (or even a closet homosexual) but his influence has waned over the years, and in the Church scouting is filtered through the lens of Church leaders and doctrine.
I was a mediocre and lackluster Scout who got his Eagle mainly because I had a Scoutmaster who tracked me down at parties and was waiting at my door at midnight when I got home from dates. I’m sure experiences vary from troop to troop, but there was never even the slightest hint of authoritarianism or paramlitarism — indeed, what a bumbling group of paramilitarists we would have made. And the absence of a “Civil Disobedience” merit badges indicates nothing so much as the fact that the BSA is a conservative, old-school organization (much like another conservative, old-school organization headquartered in SLC).
I do heartily agree that boys generally have a better and favored experience than do girls, and that something ought to be done to remedy the disparity.
The new Duty to God award really has been pumped a great deal. When they announced it at Church it really did seem to cover a lot of the bases involved in the Eagle Scout. So it would appear that the Church now has an outside option should the BSA go south.
It is true that some girls like hiking and camping, and so offering those programs just for boys is a problem. Especially when some boys obviously don’t like scouting but get dragged to it while the girl can’t go. There are a few options:
1. Start an equivalent program for girls. This has one real drawback in my mind, which is that programs involving that many resources are typically core programs, which is to say that active youth are expected to participate. I am guessing that such a program would not be in the interest of as many girls as it is boys. Maybe in a generation that will change, but I doubt it. So one is expecting girls to participate in a program that many, probably most, don’t really like. That’s a waste.
2. Like 1. But make it an additional, optional program. I kow of no comparable program in the Church that would require so many resources but is just for a few of the chosen demographic. Scouting takes a fair bit of money and lots of time. So the girls already have mutual, do they have another night for scouting? That’s overload. Or do they do scouting instead, while th euninterested girls do something else? This means running parallel young women’s organizations and would require, to my mind, a lot of overhead for little return. It also hurts the cohesiveness of the young women, who probably already have enough problems with cohesiveness, thank you very much. If resources were infinite, maybe this would be an options. But as is I don’t think it is a good one.
3. (2), but have the scout girls meet with the boys, so that no parallel organization exists. This idea is bad on many levels. Joint campouts are pretty much a no-go. The girls don’t want to be boys, they want to go camping and do neat stuff with their own friends, or by themselves, but not so much with a bunch of 13 year old boys.
So what am I missing? ALthough there are girls who like camping, I just seriously doubt there is enough interest to make the program an expected part of young women. Girl’s Camp, perhaps a way of mitigating this problem, is probably enough camping to satisfy 50-75% of girls. Dragging those girls out camping once a month would be No Fun.
I suppose some people think that there is no difference between girls and boys interest in camping and rope tying. I think there is. THe argument is not that there aren’t some girls that like lots of camping, rather that there are many that do not, and would not enjoy having it be the focus of their young women’s activities.
I think that given the Church’s current commitment to rigidly separate spheres for the sexes, anything that looks like a move toward similarity in the programs for boys and girls is going to meet pretty strenuous resistance. Besides, if you actually teach girls to *do* things, instead of “making centerpieces that reflect the YW Values,” they may get uppity.
Frank, in our California ward there was a Beehive-Scout “campout” that involved the boys camping and the girls leaving the church at 5 a.m. the next morning to go cook breakfast for/with the boys. As Beehive adviser, naturally, I thought it was a great idea and wholeheartedly supported the activity.
(ha!–feel free to recalibrate your sarcasm meters now)
When I asked the bishop why they didn’t take the girls, he said what you say (slightly qualified) above: “girls don’t like camping.” I polled my Beehives, and 6 of 8 said they “loved” camping, 1 said she liked it OK, and only one said she didn’t like it. I submit that if you start telling girls they don’t like camping (or playing full-court basketball or going on 50-mile hikes or whatever) when they’re 12, it’s entirely possible to create a group of girls that really doesn’t like camping by the time they’re 15 or 16. It makes me angry that we do this. And don’t even get me started on Girls’ “Camp.”
Frank, a program for girls doesn’t have to be an exact replica of the boy’s program; I think the complaint is that the boys recieve a disproportionate amount of resources to do what they want to do. The girls would be placated if they had the same resources to do what they want do to, even if that may or may not be different from what the boys do in Scouts.
Gordon wrote: “I have concluded that having goals and institutional structures is not a bad thing.”
But the question is, whose goals are we talking about here? Punished by Rewards has nothing against goals when they are ones an individual has set for his or her own benefit. The problem comes when others set the goals and then use manipulative techniques to influence behavior and outcome.
Memorable example from the book — two sets of children given art supplies and asked to draw. Members of the first group are paid for drawing, members of the second group are not. They meet later for another drawing session, but this time no one is paid. Result: the second [unpaid] group contiues to draw; the first [formerly paid] group no longer will.
The emphasis on camping (bivouac), command structure (troops, etc.) , uniforms (as you noted) are all hallmarks of a paramilitary youth group. All the skills that Scoutmaster Murray has just noted are taught at scout camps would transition very smoothly into an military field setting. The army is quite pleased when they get recruits who have spent their summers learning “how to cook a meal, how to set up camp, set up tents,” “proper use of firearms including how to safely load, shoot, and clean a weapon,” etc.
You seem to miss the point obi-won. Regardless of what parallels might have existed in the past, the reality is that TODAY, scouting does not resemble a paramilitary program. Furthermore, if uniforms and organization and command structure were the only hallmarks of paramilitarism you would also have to indite the girl scouts, 4 H clubs, cheerleading squads, Aaronic priesthood quorums (white shirts and ties, and white for temple ordinances)–along with a host of other organizations.
The army is also quite pleased when they get recruits who can read, write, and speak English well, and these days, any number of Arabic languages. So, are high schools, and universities included in America’s paramilitary conspiracy? They have formal organization and command structure, and some of them even require uniforms. All of the scouting skills I described are just as useful for many things other than the military.
In short–you miss the mark when you label today’s scouting program as a paramilitary organization. You also do a disservice to those young men and women (several counselors at camp were young women) who participate and the volunteers who give of their time. I see parallels with those who argue scouting is somehow homophobic as well. The fact of the matter is we don’t sit around in scout meetings discussing sexual preferences or how to prepare for a career in the military so we can become like Adolf Hitler (not that there is anything inherently wrong with a military career).
You can rant and rave all you want about the Boy Scouts being paramilitary–but saying it (no matter how many times) does not make it so.
Guy W. Murray
Ah, there we go… I was wondering when Kristine would get involved over here…
Frank, your comments about girls not liking camping sounds an awful lot like “Women don’t like following politics and therefore don’t need the right to vote.” Does it seem all that silly to actually let the young women tell us what they want to do, then provide them with equal resources that the young men receive?
I had a great time in Scouting because we were able to have a say in what we got to do, where we went, and what activities we’d do once we got there. Maybe girls don’t like girls camp because it sucks. In my ward growing up, and in my wife’s ward, it was a highly structured environment with activities planned everyday (mostly crafts) and hikes that everyone had to participate in. Why not just let them go up and appreciate nature like the young men? If we wanted to hike, we did. If we wanted to sit on a rock and read, we did.
I remember when we were camping close to where girls camp was taking place. We decided (with the full support of our leaders) to ambush them with water balloons. We started launching them via surgical tubing from pretty far, and then rushed in. We got a stern talking to from the young women’s leaders because we’d interrupted whatever activity they’d been doing. The girls later told us it was a forced testimony meeting (everyone has to bear their testimony, regardless of whether or not they want to). According to the young women, they were indebted to us for ruining it.
Bob, I was trying to think of something nice to say. Finally, the effort became too much :)
I had heard before that Baden Powell admired the Hitler Youth and imitated them to some extent in his creation of the Boy Scouts. It still seems to me that the Boy Scouts ended up with unique and wholesome values that are completely contradictory to fascism, racism, genocidal murder and everything else that is represented by the Nazis.
For that reason I still think the comparison between the two is very unfair and a bit lowhanded, due to the fundamental and obvious differences that exist in the values represented by these two organizations.
But I’d be interested to hear what the folks at http://www.jewishscouting.org/ think on this matter.
Every few years my ward would take all the young adults 14 and over on a three day trip to the Teton High Adventure Base and go down the Snake River in Canoes. The girls enjoyed it as much as the boys, though a few complained about the lack of blow driers.
I think that more camping activities for the young women and for combined groups would be great.
For the record, I don’t like camping. Why sleep on the ground when I have a perfectly comfortable bed at home? The only thing that gets me excited to do that is being very far away from other people in the wilderness, and that does not describe most of my camping experiences.
You polled 8 Beehives and finds largely positive results. OK. But usually in polling it’s best to have a few hundred observations. Beyond that, it’s better to observe actions rather than claims. Thus it may be the case that a poll of Beehives finds pro-camping spirit, but do they really want to go camping once a month? Maybe. But camping is not Boy Scouts. Girls do go camping once a year. You and John H. have much to say about Girl’s Camp. Well OK, then Girl’s Camp needs to be fixed in some places (just like every Church program is a mess at least somewhere). Maybe the whole thing needs to be reworked. Fine. But do girls really want to wear scout uniforms and tie knots? Or do they want to go camping every once in a while? If they want to go camping once in a while, the chief obstacle is getting them equipped. But that can probably be done. I unwisely used camping as shorthand for the whole scouting program. I don’t know if most girls like camping monthly because we have so little evidence. But I really doubt they want to tie knots and clean guns as much as the boys do.
Solution: Occasional camping trip for girls. Guess what? That is already (partially) instituted with Girls’ Camp. Add a trip in the Fall and/or Spring and you would probably have as much camping as 4 of your 6 Beehives wanted, and more than the other 2 ever did. The last two die-hard campers are out of luck, but perhaps not more than the 2 who didn’t want to do all that camping anyway. Once again, though, this can take a lot of resources, so something else will have to go. In some wards, with cam-loving girls, that’s fine, in others it would be a waste.
Davis mentions resource equality. This is a strange duck. We should put resources where they will do the most good. Artificially dividing them evenly between boys and girls looks fair but isn’t a particularly good way to get the most for the Lord’s money. I am not saying Scouting is the best way to go; I’m not the Bishop. But go compare Church activity rates between 16 year old boys and girls and tell me where we are having problems. It’s with boys.
This does not mean that the resources should all go to the boys. it means that boys and girls are different and we should direct reources where they do the most good, not just split the baby down the middle and hand half to each claimant.
The wards I’ve seen tend to let the boys fund raise for their extra scouting resources, but the actual tithing money is the same to Ym and YW. But that fund-raising is explicitly tied to the fact that they are outside the Church umbrella, and so can pull off fundraising without endangering the Church’s tax status.
Hitler also drank water and ate food. He was known to wear clothing and he had facial hair. DOWN WITH FACIAL HAIR! DOWN WITH CLOTHING!
It is a bit silly to try to infer something from the fact that kids in Hitler’s Youth groups liked camping. So what? I like camping, but that doesn’t make me a Nazi! If Baden Powell had some weird views I have trouble seeing how those impact modern scouts. It isn’t as if we think he was a perfect exemplar or something.
Furthermore, what exactly do we mean by paramilitary? Obi-wan seems to want it to mean things that ape military structure. Why is that bad? Do we think the military is evil for some reason? Is training youth to “Be Ready” for possible catastrophe in our future a bad thing? Just because something has a military structure does not make it Nazi.
“But go compare Church activity rates between 16 year old boys and girls and tell me where we are having problems. It’s with boys.”
Frank, the picture looks really different a couple of years later. The Church is hemorrhaging 18-25 yr. old women. Fun and froofy activities tend not to build lasting foundations.
And special Scout fundraising makes me so mad I can’t type straight. But “separate and therefore justly unequal” leaves a lot to be desired as a rationale for the extra resources devoted to young men.
I didn’t mean to pry into your parenting philosophy, but you did volunteer the information and it does seem germane to the discussion.
I’m certainly pleased that you feel your son has benefitted from the Scouting program — although your caveat that he completed it only with his mother’s prodding speaks volumes. I admit to considerable sympathy for Not Ophelia’s point regarding internal and external motivations, although perhaps for different reasons.
My experience with Scouting, both personal and observational, has been that it encourages superficial acquaintance with a variety of subjects, and mastery of none — except, of course, in outdoorsmanship, where there is a large cluster of required badges. I understand that this is intended to produce “well rounded” Scouts, but outside of camping skills, this approach doesn’t even produce a jack-of-all-trades — it merely produces a collection of brightly colored cloth patches.
It appears to me that young people who excel at anything they care about — gymnastics, drama, soccer, robotics, garage bands — have little time, and less interest, for the kind of dilettantism Scouting requires. Real excellence in a few areas of true interest seems more likely to produce not only greater enjoyment, but better college admissions, (non-parental) academic or atheletic scholarships, and generally better life skills.
I have not observed that the collection of patches does the same.
I have for the past three decades been deeply grateful to my own parents, who quietly encouraged me to jettison the Church Scouting program (which I confess I loathed like poison) in favor of focusing on my high school classes and personal interests. I never became an Eagle Scout, and probably don’t remember how to tie a bowline. But these have never been skills that I have needed, professionally or personally. To the contrary, the interests that I developed on my own as a teenager led to an prestigious undergraduate scholarship, a clutch of coveted graduate fellowships, and they still stand me in good stead today.
I don’t know anything about your daughter’s talents or personality or aspirations. But I am deeply skeptical that the Scouting approach is a good method to develop any of them.
My own approach would be to encourage whatever interests my teenager wants to pursue, and commit whatever financial resources I could to furthering the child’s choice through college, rather than couching that support as a reward or “scholarship” — and especially not as a reward for some program that I had picked. That’s just me. It seems to be working in my situation so far; check in with me in a few years and see how it turned out.
I have no attachment to froofy. We can get rid of froofy and I will not defend it. It sounds unquestionably bad bad bad. No more froof.
(what is froof?)
Unfortunately the Church keeps activity rates pretty close to the chest. Are you actually claiming that more 24 year old males are active than women? I would find that remarkably hard to believe. If you are instead saying that at each age from 18-24, a larger percentage of active women go inactive than active men go inactive, I would find this still quite hard, but not as hard to believe. That’s because all the boys are already gone! Hence the question is at any age, are there more inactive girls or boys. I would be very surprised if there were any age from 16 to 30 where activity rates are higher among men than women. Make that 16 to 65. Wait, no, 14 to 85.
Second, the point is not total numbers inactive, but how much activity does another dollar of resources buy me? Thus we care about the margin and not the level. In this way of thinking, any evidence of differences between boys and girls suggests that there may be different reponses to more resources. And so equal resources are questionable.
Third, it may be that although the marginal dollar gets more activity out of the women, we have so few men that activating another man is worth more because they can marry an already active women and become a strong unit, whereas the activity sex imbalance implies that more active women exacerbates the single-female or active female/inactive male problem, leading to possible re-inactivity for some women. So that would be one reason to favor one gender over another even if the marginal return favored the opposite. Obviously, you deal with this by incorporating these ideas into the value of an additional dollar.
As for Scout fundraising, I already discussed that this may well stem from tax issues unrelated to the desire of the patriarchy to oppress women.
I have a friend who’s doing a pretty intensive study of activity rates and retention, and Kristine is (as usual) exactly right. Young women are disappearing from Mormonism. Youth in general are leaving in droves. The problem is, we don’t really talk about it or acknowledge it because of precisely *how* they are leaving.
Those that stay reassure us that our youth are just fine. The youth that stay generally aren’t Sunstone-types or big questioners. In short, the youth that participate are the perfect representation of what a good Mormon boy or girl ought to be.
But those who leave do so quietly and peacefully. That’s where the problem is. While apologists prowl online forums for anti-Mormons who might drive half-a-dozen people who stumble onto their website away, or while some panic that Grant Palmer’s book is wrecking the faith of the few hundred people who have bought it, bored, uninspired youth are leaving by the thousands. We gleefully repeat Elder Maxwell’s declaration that anti-Mormons leave the Church, but they can’t leave the Church alone – a statement that probably applies to a few dozen people. In the meantime, packs of youth leave the Church quietly, without saying a word. They aren’t angry, they aren’t bitter – they just don’t care.
If memory serves, Gordon and I were members once upon a time of the only LDS ward I’m familiar with that sponsored a Girl Scout unit as well as a Boy Scout unit.
About activity rates, Frank, you may be right. My sense of the Church’s concern for the huge loss of women comes from things my dad told me Stake Presidencies were told to focus on a few years ago, and from the continued focus on transition from YW to RS; not at all the sort of data from which to draw firm conclusions.
I favor devoting equal resources to boys and girls on principle, regardless of the practical outcomes, so your economic analysis seems impressive, but ultimately irrelevant to me.
I don’t think that the Scout fundraising inequity derives from oppressive patriarchal intent; however, I think that if the institution cared enough, it could quite easily find a way to equalize the funding and quality of girls’ programs. I think it should.
Youth inactivity is a problem at all times and in all places. Specifically:
Does your inside track show higher inactivity now than twenty years ago? How about one hundred years ago? How does it compare in and outside of the U.S.?
To clarify, are you actually claiming that you know the Church has more active 24 year old men than women? If so, do you know what data are being used?
Lastly, how are the above numbers different after ignoring converts, as the youth program is not such a big deal for them. If, for example, we convert more young adult women, we should expect more inactive young adult women due to the natural dropoffs among converts. But such a complaint would not be very telling for the youth program, in which these women never participated.
diogenes: “My own approach would be to encourage whatever interests my teenager wants to pursue, and commit whatever financial resources I could to furthering the child’s choice through college, rather than couching that support as a reward or ‘scholarship’ — and especially not as a reward for some program that I had picked.”
I will apologize in advance if I misread you, but you seem to believe that parents should acknowledge a teenager’s interests as given (or spontaneously generated from … where?) and simply encourage them. Of course, we do encourage our daughter in various discovered interests, but I also believe strongly that young people should be exposed to new things, even if they need some prodding. In my view, one of the great benefits of scouting to my son was that it offered a systematic way to be introduced to new activities. Sure, my son could have tried out sculpture and rifle shooting and cycling without scouting, but I am not sure that he would have thought to do those things on his own. Scouting not only gave him an incentive to try new things, but it provided a framework for the initial steps. You might view the merit badges dilettantism, but why not view them as a chance to test the waters. I know that my son is now an avid cyclist, and I attribute that to a combination of scouting and Lance Armstrong.
Also, isn’t this a bit like having general education requirements at a university? We want our children to have a wide range of life experiences, and I have a hard time seeing the harm in using the scouting program to guide that process.
Danithew: “It still seems to me that the Boy Scouts ended up with unique and wholesome values that are completely contradictory to fascism, racism, genocidal murder and everything else that is represented by the Nazis.
For that reason I still think the comparison between the two is very unfair and a bit lowhanded, due to the fundamental and obvious differences that exist in the values represented by these two organizations.”
I take it danithew missed the part of my post where I noted that the Hitler Youth professed the same unique and wholesome values.
As one former Hitler Youth and Luftwaffe pilot put it after the war, “I had always believed that God was on Germany’s side . . . because we were right. While I was in the hospital [as a POW], and after I got out to see what our bombs were doing, I began to have some serious doubts about my ability to guess what God really wanted.”
I did not say that the BSA are Nazis. I said they bear watching, and that I don’t see how involvement with them furthers the Church’s mission.
Frank McIntyre’s slaughter of the strawmen isn’t really terribly helpful either, since none of his screed actually addresses any of my points. But, yes, we should be deeply suspicious of any organization that takes it upon itself to help our youth “Be Prepared” For The Glorious Struggle.
The lesson of the Hitler Youth is that It Can Happen Here, or anywhere else that nice, normal, patriotic people take their niceness, normalcy, and patriotism uncritically.
I note again that BSA does not offer merit badges in Loyal Opposition or Questioning Authority.
More youth are leaving today than have left in the past. However, that seems irrelevant to the problem.
From my perspective, too many youth are leaving the Church. We can defend the Church by trying to say the numbers are the same, or it comes from converts, or anything else that doesn’t imply the Church is somehow doing something wrong. We could ask detailed questions about the data, then attack the data and suggest there really isn’t a problem.
But I would argue it doesn’t need to be that compliated. Are youth leaving the Church? Yes they are. Can we take steps to help alleviate that problem? Yes, I believe we can. Enough youth are leaving that it’s a problem and that positive steps ought to be taken to help them maintain a healthy faith and involvement in Mormonism. One of those steps might be to actually ask young women what they want to do for activities, and what we can do to help them. Another might be to help them with fundraising and help them feel valued. Another still might be to help them appreciate that they should have an education because we value their minds and what they have to offer, and not just encourage them to go to school in case their husband gets hit by a bus someday. But that’s another thread.
I am sure we do lose many young women. I am sure it as an appropriate thing for leadership to focus on. The same goes for young men.
“I favor devoting equal resources to boys and girls on principle”
What principle might that be? I fear that what you mean by “principle” is a set of assumptions you haven’t examined. Ward budgeting does not seem like a place to make an unexamined stand. I am guessing that your “principle” is equality of resources across gender. So should we have the same number of urinals in women’s bathrooms as in men’s? That would be ludicrous as an “economic analysis” of urinal use among women makes clear. Should we devote as many resources in society to “Bras for Men” as for women? Should family expenditures on personal hygiene and beauty products be divided evenly between the genders? This would be another bad idea. Should the Elder’s Quorum and High Priests have the same amount of money as the Relief Society? Why? They don’t use it the same. What is so sacred as the dollar amount?
Should there be the same number of adults overseeing YM as YW? Why?
Girls and boys have different needs. Ignoring those differences hurts leaders ability to help them. “One-size-fits-all” seems a little bit of a strange principle.
It’s silly to deny that scouting has a lot of explicitly military elements. While the militarism might have faded a little, they still wear military style uniforms with ranks and salutes and flags and little colored patches sewn on their chests. They also have an emphasis on heierarchy and patriotism. (Granted, some troops may emphasize these elements more than others.)
But even sillier is the “Reducto Ad Hitlerium.” Hitler did X, the scouts do X, so the scouts are like hitler! The BSA is not the Hitler Youth anymore than the US Army is the Wehrmacht.
For what it’s worth, in our ward budget the YW are allotted 4 times what the YM (or any other auxiliary) get. This excludes the Scouting budget, which is a stake program funded by donations and fund raisers. So I don’t know what the total resources devoted to YM and YW are comparatively, but I do know that the YW use more tithing money.
I have always been *amazed* at the frequency with which the ‘helping YW transition to RS’ article appears in the Ensign and never had a good explanation for it. Are you thinking that the prevailing theory is that YW aren’t transitioning well and are leaving the Church, therefore if we helped them transition, there wouldn’t be a problem?
Teenagers do not actually need institutional help in questioning authority.
If your point is “It can happen here”, I am sorry I missed that from your earlier posts. And yes, it can happen here. But this is true with or without Boy Scouts. The principles actually taught today in Boy Scouts about being trustworthy, brave, clean, reverent, and doing a good deed daily surely lessen the chance of us getting all Nazi-like as a society. Once again, just because Nazi youth camped doesn’t mean camping is bad. Just because Nazi youth were taught to be patriotic does not mean patriotism is bad. Perhaps you don’t like people being taught to be patriotic. If so, say that and then we will know what we are disagreeing about. If you dislike the existence of the military or the way the military teaches people, say so, and then we will know what we are disagreeing about.
You add “for the Great Struggle” to the Boy Scout motto. I now see the problem. If your scouting program taught you to prepare for some Nazi-like white supremacist Great Struggle than it is understandable that you had a bad experience. Few other scouting groups have “Be Prepared for the Great Struggle” as their motto, implicitly or explcitly. To make more of the actual motto than is there is akin to seeing food storage as a plot for the coming Mormon takeover.
The reason my questions matter is because they help us see where to concentrate our efforts. If more youth are leaving now than before, is this due to outside forces or because we stopped doing something good or started doing something bad? As I noted, if the problem is among converts, it is pointless to solve that problem by a reworking the youth program!
On your larger point, I totally agree that many youth leave the Church. And one of the challenges of leaders is to get them to stay and build testimonies. This is not new, and it will not go away. But it is one thing to acknowledge the problem and quite another to observe that is getting worse or getting smaller. Each has different implications.
So how does your friend know Church activity rates have declined among the youth? What are the data being used? Is it reliable or piecemeal? I spend a lot of time with social science data and so I have found (from sad personal experience) that it is easy to get things wrong if one is not careful. It is easy to ask the wrong question. It is easy to use the wrong sample. It is easy to have problems with the data.
BSA vs. Personal Progress is a somewhat touchy subject around our home. My daughters like YW activities and the program but would like to see more activities that look like scouting (including campouts, scout camp and high adventure). My wife and I supplement the PP program in our home with family campouts that include campfire cooking, hiking, biking, canoeing, rock climbing, rappelling, etc. But we’re an outdoor family of sorts. Most young women in our ward do not get the same exposure to such activities. Is that a bad thing? I personally thinks so, but there are many YW and YM leaders, and other ward and stake leaders, who would disagree with me on this.
Having been called to serve in callings that directly involve the youth for most of my adult life, and now serving as the President of the Priesthood of Aaron in my ward, these are just some of my own current observations regarding this issue:
* The differences between YW (PP) and YM (BSA/DTG) programs can be explained by what we collectively embrace and value in the church regarding gender roles, expectations, desires and perceived needs.
*The content and implementation of PP and BSA/DTG programs in the church illustrate how the traditions of our fathers and mothers are passed on, modified or abandoned from generation to generation.
*YW leaders tend to implement and follow the PP program more thoroughly and consistently than do YM leaders with BSA/DTG programs.
*We have not figured out how to adequately recognize the significant PP accomplishments of our young women when compared to the recognition we give to our YM for scouting accomplishments. Compare, for example, what we do when a young woman receives her YW Recognition award and what we do when a young man receives his Eagle Scout rank.
*There still needs to be more cross-pollination of the PP and BSA programs. The DTG has incorporated some valuable things from PP, but the PP program needs, as suggested by Gordon and others, to incorporate some things from BSA if we are going to use two different programs for our YW and YM. While BSA crews are co-ed, as far as I know church crews are not, and there are no plans to change that.
*Girl’s camp organizers often miss the boat in exposing our YW to the wonderful world of the outdoors and how to survive, thrive and appreciate being in it. There seems to be some confusion, perhaps stemming from the guidelines themselves, about whether girl’s camp is a youth conference, ESY week, a week long seminary experience, or a week long road show.
*It seems that stake and ward YW leaders are the most resistant to incorporating BSA-like activities into the YW program. Perhaps this reflects there own experience as YW in the church or it may be that they are just trying to be faithful to the current program, which really is quite good.
*There seems to always be certain percentage of YM who just don’t give a rip about scouting and do not benefit from it. I need to come up with better approaches to prevent them from feeling excluded from the YM program. Likewise, there seems to always be certain percentage of YW who just don’t like scouting type activities and are very happy that they don’t have to participate in such things very often. I don’t understand it, but I’m learning…
Geez, I’ve gone on enough. I’ll stop and just listen…
The principle is that human beings, aside from some fundamental biological differences (as your urinal and bra examples show), have pretty similar needs, especially in terms of the needs the Church can meet.
Young Women’s programs and Young Men’s programs have very similar needs–both need to provide opportunities for youth to serve and opportunities for fun and recreation with friends who share similar values. If we provide less money for the Young Women’s program to meet the same goals as the Young Men’s program, we are saying that, institutionally, we are not as committed to the YW as the YM. That’s a bad message to send. Institutional actions have symbolic as well as practical effects.
And yes, I think the Elders’ Quorum should have the same budget as the RS. If they have extra, they should spend it for babysitters while they’re providing free moving assistance every weekend of the summer (yeah, I’m a little bitter!).
Unless your children are living in a cave or on a deserted island, they are going to be exposed to experiences that will turn into enthusiasms — actually, come to think of it, even in a cave or on a deserted island they are going to develop enthusiasms — caves and islands are pretty interesting and neat.
I would guess that your son’s cycling is a case in point — Lance Armstrong is not part of the merit badge program, but part of the general environment your son lives in. I wouldn’t claim to know more about your situation than you do, but most of the kids I know who have excelled in anything related to merit badges have done so despite the program, rather than because of it.
Once those enthusiasms happen, then yes, you run with them. Some of them may peter out, but all of them are the child’s choice and the child’s passion. I think they are inevitably more beneficial than projects that the child is forced, coerced, or manipulated into pursuing.
I am certainly an advocate of increasing children’s exposure to possibilities, but a program of “gold star” rewards is not only unnecessary to the process, but I believe is actually counterproductive. I gather from your posts here that you have taken at least some of your children to China and to Europe — wonderful exposure to new potential interests. Did you offer them a pin or a patch to go?
Note that the Scouting Program doesn’t “guide” the process — it dangles an artificial reward (“You get a pin at a court of honor, and Mommy and Daddy will be so proud of you!”) in a prestructured format (“If you don’t complete Knot Tying, you don’t get to be a Life Scout and everyone will be so disappointed in you . . .”) for trying a bit of this and a bit of that, and never much of anything.
I also cheerfully admit to having rather mixed feelings about general education requirements, but the thing to be said in their favor is that, while not conferring expertise, they are not superficial in the way that scouting badge requirements are superficial. They also have serious downsides, and I suspect we could get along fine without them.
I don’t want to claim that parenting is one size fits all, but I do think some approaches tend to work better than others, and this is the one that seems to work around here.
Okay I have sat out on many threads but I can’t read and not comment on this one…
First off, the scouting program, when implemented correctly is an excellent program to build confidence and survival skills. It lacks in the spiritual growth arena, so the church has tried to implement a Duty to God enhanced program. However, in wards I have been active in, the scouting program seems to disintegrate around freshman year of high school. It then turns to a camp-out, basketball camp. Rarely does it lend itself to real-world skills.
Young Women’s on the other hand has gone through some good changes over the last few years. Being a YW past president, I know that the program is not a cake walk type of program. There are some things there that could help a YW gain confidence and self-esteem while also giving her an opportunity to really develop herself into a capable and very resourceful person.
My problem with the comments most have made here are the polarization comments that the church isn’t doing enough for the youth. This isn’t true. The church is there to support parents in raising their children, and to find the church at fault when usually the parents aren’t involved (at all usually) just isn’t fair.
I applaud Gordon’s idea of the “eagle” candidate program for his daughter. He has personally addressed her needs. Yay. finally a parent who is willing to go the distance!
It makes me crazy when members of the church expect the church to “provide” for them. The church is there to support them. The YW program is great. It expects parents to be involved. For any of you who have a teenage daughter do you know what is expected of her in the PP program? Is she just doing the basics? Is she stretching herself to gain skills or just reading her scriptures daily to check off a list? Scriptures, check; sacrament meeting, check; YW each week, check; made a meal for family, check; it goes on and on. But is that really enhancing a life or just getting by? You guys are Harvard and Columbia – will your youth just get by?
The same goes for the scouting program. We have a ward full of 13 year old Eagles. What are they going to do with the rest of their years in YM? Play basketball and camp? Ugh.
The youth of today need to learn from their parents how to evaluate a program and develop a list of goals. My 13 year old daughter lived in a city that had a public access television studio. (Most urban areas have them now) She decided she wanted to be involved and learn skills that would help her in getting into a communications program in college. She went to UT, talked to a counselor, found out how best to create skills to enhance her college application. She then volunteered and after sometime became a producer of a show at age 13. This was because she had the PP program telling her to stretch a bit and really learn a life skill. Crocheting, knitting and cooking are not the only ways to get through the YW program. If a daughter wants to camp, camp! If she wants to someday be a docent for an art museum, begin now – study and learn as much as she can.
These are the types of things I wish parents would discuss with their youth. Don’t expect thte church to give you a life. Use the programs to enhance your life and improve your life. Don’t wait for someone to hand you something, life is what you make it.
The only real criticism I have with the YW/YM programs currently is the disparity of funds. The YM get the lions share of budgetary funds. The YW have to be creatively accessing funds continually. But, then again that is a skill that comes in handy later in life also.
diogenes: Gotta go help someone move, so I don’t have long to reply. By the way, my son is going too, and I will buy him a frozen custard afterward. Maybe I shouldn’t, though? He should probably value service for its own intrinsic worth.
Thanks for the quick response.
“The principle is that human beings, aside from some fundamental biological differences (as your urinal and bra examples show), have pretty similar needs, especially in terms of the needs the Church can meet.”
The whole point of me noting the different activity rates among men and women is to dispute this claim of essential sameness. If the two groups are much the same in terms of what they need and respond to from the Church, why is one group far less active than the other? My claim is that the principle is flawed, boys and girls have different weaknesses and strnegths. I think the evidence I cite supports that claim nicely.
Second, you note:
“That’s a bad message to send. Institutional actions have symbolic as well as practical effects”
This is very true, and probably why many YW/YM budgets are the same. But understand that the argument is that some people think different budgets mean different loving. This is a bad and false notion that should be refuted.
Thus we can recognize that we may want keep budgets the same because it will hurt feelings to make them different, even as we recognize that those with hurt feelings are making poor assumptions about the nature of budgeting. In a perfect world, we could teach them truth. Since we can’t, we have higher inactivity rates because we are constrained from allocating money more effectively.
First best: Teach everyone how to budget and budget intelligently. Lowest inactivity rates.
Second(?) best: Can’t teach people about proper budgeting. Budget equally, lose some extra youth to inactivity due to bad budgeting.
Third(?) best: Can’t teach people about proper budgeting. Budget intelligently but lose perhaps even more to inactivity because they misinterpret the meaning of budgets.
You’re right, he should. But if you buy yourself a frozen custard, you should share.
Good gracious, diogenes, if you were my parent or YM president I would have spent my entire youth doing nothing but listening to rock music and reading Sports Illustrated. There something to be said for sticks and carrots and dilettantism.
Frank, I agree with you that it might make sense to have unequal budgets for the reasons you give, and that an inflexible commitment to “equality” can be misguided.
But do you really think the disparity in funding comes from a careful analysis of marginal benefits? I very much doubt it.
I’m more inclined to agree with jonathan thomas, that “The differences between YW (PP) and YM (BSA/DTG) programs can be explained by what we collectively embrace and value in the church regarding gender roles, expectations, desires and perceived needs.” That’s probably really what Kristine objects to.
Presumably Godd knows what funding he’d like to see. So it is not out fo the question that, is it really matters, the Bishop can find out if his budget is consonant with the Lord’s plan. So there is no requirement that the Bishop be an analyst, only that he seeks and gets inspiration. Of course, this may not always happen.
My hope is that it will now be clear that equal budgeting is not a priori better than unequal budgeting. I am doing my part to try and dispell people’s belief that they know best, by showing what best looks like, and as you note, it is hard to figure out. The Bishop may not achieve the “best”, but there is good reason to suspect backseat drivers claiming better information. They probably don’t know the marginal returns either, and they lack the mantle.
Frank MacIntyre — my point is and has been that the BSA operates very close to the line between patriotism and jingoism, and that I don’t see how an association with them furthers training in the Aaronic Priesthood. Period.
I could say the same about the Democratic Party, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the National Rifle Association, and the Office of the President. Especially the current Office of the President.
The fact that a particular social institution is not currently leaning toward fascism does not mean that we shouldn’t keep an eye on it to assure ourselves that it doesn’t begin to leaning toward fascism. The fact that your engine overheated that last time you drove through Donner Pass doesn’t necessarily mean that it will do so this time, but you would be smart to keep an eye on the gauge all the same.
I don’t think my experience in Boy Scouts was especially out of the ordinary — lots of camping, setting things on fire whenever possible, and constant indoctrination into the Cult of The Flag (Catechism: Why must the flag never touch the ground? How do you honorably dispose of a worn flag? How is the flag properly displayed at night?).
Also, frequent diatribes about how unpatriotic Vietnam war protesters were, and admonitions about how the Church supported the Vietnam war (all of which I later learned to be false, especially the latter set of claims).
From my involvement with Scouting in our stake today, I don’t see that anything has changed much, except that some of the younger Scout leaders tend to substitute claims about the Church’s support of the war in Iraq (which are also demonstrably false). The older ones still continue to vent about Vietnam, though.
“Good gracious, diogenes, if you were my parent or YM president I would have spent my entire youth doing nothing but listening to rock music and reading Sports Illustrated. There something to be said for sticks and carrots and dilettantism.”
Yes, Greg, but you would have gone on to become the CEO of Viacom or AOL/Time-Warner.
Instead look at you now . . . :)
Frank, you say, “This is very true, and probably why many YW/YM budgets are the same. But understand that the argument is that some people think different budgets mean different loving. This is a bad and false notion that should be refuted.”
I’m not quite sure it’s false. I think any parent understands that if one child likes the (relatively) cheap sport of reading, while one is passionate about ice hockey, a different budget is in order and doesn’t necessarily mean the parents love the ice hockey player more. But at the level of an institution with 4-12 million members (depending on who’s counting), I think it’s virtually impossible to make any reasonable judgments about what will motivate boys and girls and how budget allocations might make a difference. That being the case, it seems that fairness would be a good default.
Otherwise, you’re in danger of landing at “well, girls are naturally more religious, so we don’t have to give them as much for them to continue their affiliation with the institution.” That may be true, but it doesn’t seem right. And it seems like it leads more or less directly to all the bad jokes about how women really do all the work in the Church, even though the men get to lead and take credit. Just because someone will give you her love and labor for free doesn’t mean you should take it without meaningful thanks.
The real beauty of the system is that diogenes may be wildly off base for parenting 90% of kids, as long as it works for the one’s diogenese has, it will be fine. So God knows where he sends kids, and we can ask Him how these children should be raised. And hopefully we get answers. But those answers are not of any particular value for Gordon or me or you unless we receive some personal inspiration that those methods work for our children.
So not only am I opposed to treating the two genders the same, I don’t think even think any two individual children should be treated the same! I bet Kristine’s really ticked now! :)
Obi-wan wrote: “The fact that a particular social institution is not currently leaning toward fascism does not mean that we shouldn’t keep an eye on it to assure ourselves that it doesn’t begin to leaning toward fascism.”
Doesn’t it bother you that you’ve chosen a pseudonym belonging to a member of a paramilitary organization?
Wow, to think that I could be spending even LESS time with my family, and instead be spending ALL my waking hours figuring out how to beat Wall Street analysts projections each quarter while overseeing a company whose bread and butter is propagating junk culture!! If only…
“The real beauty of the system is that diogenes may be wildly off base for parenting 90% of kids, as long as it works for the one’s diogenese has, it will be fine. So God knows where he sends kids, and we can ask Him how these children should be raised.”
And of course since we live in the best of all possible worlds, all the kids will turn out fine since the kids were sent to the place where they will be raised the right way, eh?
“And hopefully we get answers.”
Yes. Sometimes we find them on Times & Seasons when somebody points out something we hadn’t though of before.
Have any teenagers around the house, Frank?
“Doesn’t it bother you that you’ve chosen a pseudonym belonging to a member of a paramilitary organization?”
I strongly encourage everyone to support fictional paramilitary organizations.
It is at times like this that I get a sudden urge to run out the church doors with my daughters slung under each arm
The funny thing is (other than you Frank) I can’t think of anyone in my sphere of influence (my ward, my family, even this list) who doesn’t agree that the YW/YM inequality is unfair and think some fix is in order.
Obi-wan wrote: “I strongly encourage everyone to support fictional paramilitary organizations.”
Why, if real-life paramilitary organizations are abominable?
“Yes. Sometimes we find them on Times & Seasons when somebody points out something we hadn’t though of before.”
Here is the line of mine you forgot to quote:
“But those answers are not of any particular value for Gordon or me or you unless we receive some personal inspiration that those methods work for our children.”
So I do recognize we can get answers by way of others. How could I not? But this does not in the least change the fact that one-size-fits-all-parents parenting is less effective.
As for all kids turning out for the best, I imagine if you are so inclined you can figure out the implicit caveats to reconcile my statement with the fact that the world isn’t perfect. If you can’t, let me know and I’ll detail them for you :) Here’s a hint, my saying something is good doesn’t mean I think it is perfect.
I have no teenagers in the house. Surely you aren’t suggesting that I will become a believer in one-size-fits-all parenting after having a teenager!? This would seem the exact opposite of the case. Maybe you mean I will be anxious for advice. I will. But, like all of us, I recognize that that advice may not be right for my kids. And the best source of advice is through prayer and personal revelation. I have no problem with such revelation coming through a confirmation to other’s words (see above).
I grew up in the interwar era of the 80’s when no such war diatribes were evident. So I have no direct evidence. If by “keeping an eye” on a program you mean helping teachers not to make false statements about Church policy, well I suppose I’d have to agree wholeheartedly. Surely you also favor “keeping an eye” on Primary as well, because let me assure you many a primary teacher has mistakenly claimed things as doctrine that aren’t. And the errors humans make in this church all the time are far more egregious than inferring Church support for a little war.
So I am on the record opposing both froof and having teachers make false statements about Church doctrine.
But it seems that you would prefer we exit Boy Scouts. In this you disagree with the (vast?) majority of the Apostles. Can you explain to me why they have been so seriously misled these past hundred years? Could it be that your views of the benefits of scouting are colored by your politics?
If your children are of the proper age, I am sure they would greatly enjoy being slung under your arms and run out of the Church. My 2 year old would be delighted.
Looking through the thread, Check out Ed’s comment agreeing with the principle I espouse, though he disagrees with the practical application.
The funny thing is that Ed and I both have training in resource allocation and how to do it for maximum effect. What I have espoused here is a run-of-the-mill application of that rather simple theory. Few people seem to understand that theory, hence your finding that few agree with me.
Also, I guess I’m a little bothered that you think my ideas are such that your children should be protected from ever being in the same church with them. Perhaps you think I don’t believe the reasons I gave, but just hate women. Or perhaps you just don’t understand my argument but don’t like the conclusion. I’m fine with the latter, but find the former odd.
Where’s Kingsley? I miss his quips. I’m sure he’d have something witty to say about supporting fictional paramilitary organizations.
Gordon wrote: “Gotta go help someone move, so I don’t have long to reply. By the way, my son is going too, and I will buy him a frozen custard afterward. Maybe I shouldn’t, though? He should probably value service for its own intrinsic worth.”
Well, if you said ‘I’ll buy you a frozen custard if you’ll help me with this move’ then the custard becomes the kind of extrinsic reward I’m talking about; one that may undermine whatever intrinsic values you’re trying to teach.
Frozen custards are not, in and of themselves, a problem. It all depends on context.
We do not budget wards at the General level. We have each ward make their own budget. And this is for precisely the reason you mention, so that local Bishops can try to meet local needs. I’m fine with a default of fairness if one is clueless. But if a Bishop feels that something else is best, and prays about it. I’m fine with that too. This is the gist of my comment to Ed.
I describe a way to get resources based on a goal of retaining the youth. If the goal is to give meaningful thanks, then obviously we should do a different allocation. More money should go to those that do more for others. Perhaps there should be a stipend for the Bishop and the Relief Society President. But I think that is a bad way to spend money. We are not trying to pay people for services remdered, but to marshall expensive reources to help those on the edge. This is why we spend money on the youth out of proportion to their representation. We perform massive age discrimination in budgeting, and I think it is justified for exactly the reasons I mention.
Mmmmm… Frozen Custard.
It is fine to say we should be careful about too many extrinsic rewards, but as best I can tell, God gives us all sorts of extrinsic rewards and punishments, as he tries to mold us towards being a person that does what’s right simply because it is right. So the strategy does have its place.
Hey, we all miss the King, but I was the one who first provided the Bloggernacle its much-needed ‘chupacabressence’.
As for supporting fictional paramilitary organizations, in Kingsley’s honor, below is a list acceptable to the BPRD. Some of these may require a little googling, for you losers:
1. Danites (or are they fictional?!)
2. Jedi (G.Lucas being LDS)
3. the Phoenix Foundation
4. the Skeksis
7. NIMH (as in, secret of)
9. Wolverines (Patrick Swayze’s BEST movie, IMHO)
10. your choice of a) S1W, b) the Order of the Phoenix or c) UNCLE.
You’re saying that we should allocate resources differently for girls and boys because boys need more incentive to stay active in the church. Then you say that you really don’t like one-size-fits-all policies, even for all boys or all girls. Carrying your allocation scheme to its most extreme and individualized conclusion, wouldn’t we want a system that gave the most resources to the most inactive individuals? If a boy is completely inactive, we could just pay him to come to church, but the more he comes, the less money he gets. So then he’d go inactive again and we’d have to pay to reactivate him?!
Of course, that is ridiculous*, so I’m wondering how individualized you really want to make budget allocation. Or is stopping at age and gender specific enough?
*(Actually, this may not be that ridiculous. Imagine a ward with an inactive boy who really likes skate boarding. A creative youth group may spend a lot of resources to put together a day of extreme sports with the explicit intent of getting this boy to attend. Prodigal son analogy time.)
I’ve heard many times that the youth programs are given high priority in ward budgets because we want to retain the youth. But I have never heard before that the YM get more money because it takes more to keep them interested in the church than it does the young women. Just because more boys go inactive doesn’t mean spending more on their activites will reverse the trend. That may be the case, but I would agree with whoever said it had more to do with tradition and perceived gender roles than a calculated analysis of dollars spent vs activity rates.
Re: potential disutility of gender-equal youth resource allocation that Frank McIntyre has addressed…
A really efficient allocation of resources would take into account not only the factors mentioned, but also the potentially negative impact (disutility) that unequal allocations themselves have on the relevant subjects (which seems to be quite well documented on this thread).
As to the argument that under the supervision of the apostles, “all that is is right,” I’m not persuaded. I must be bad.
I am certainly not saying that I know how to achieve the optimal allocation. I am describing what that allocation looks like and saying that should be the goal, rather than equality for its own sake. I do not even know that more resources benefit boys. If you read my comments, particularly the original one, I hope I made clear that I understand that the best place for dollars is not whoever is doing the worst. The best place for a dollar is wherever you get the most bang for the buck.
As you note, sometimes wards do expend resources just to get the attention of one or two boys with particular interests. Obviously, money alone will not get us what we need, but camping and scouting can open doors to fellowshipping that leads to bigger things.
You note that you’ve never heard this reason before. As I commented to Ed, it is not neccesary for the Bishop to know the reason for his ward allocation. What matters is that he seeks guidance from the Lord who knows all things, and knows what is right for each ward.
See my comment to Kristine where I outline first, second and third best solutions. You are absolutely right that we should take into account the false or true beliefs of others and how their feelings are affected. But that is very different from accepting those beliefs as true. If the disutility comes from mistaken beliefs, let’s work to revise those beliefs. I elaborated on this in the comment to her.
“As to the argument that under the supervision of the apostles, “all that is is right,” I’m not persuaded. I must be bad.”
Well, of course you’re bad Greenfrog. We’re all bad. That’s why we’re in this Church. Even the Apostles are bad and must repent. And they do. But look, the Church has strongly supported the Boy Scouts Program for how long? I’m fine with saying that individual Apostles make mistakes, but I want more than Obi-Wan’s dislike of the military to overrule the collective decisions of dozens of very bright, very spiritually in-tune men who happen to hold the keys of revelation for the Church. Unless you are secretly a lurking Apostle, you lack those keys. So I’m not sure that murmering about Boy Scouts is the best way to build the Kingdom.
“Ed and I both have training in resource allocation”
Oh well then you must be right.
“Perhaps you think I don’t believe the reasons I gave, but just hate women.”
I don’t think this at all, honestly, but it is a fall back position for a lot of men to discredit wild feminist propaganda. (I’m a big fan of WFP by the way) I don’t think you hate women, but I do think you fail to see (or care about) the effects that your very rational argument has on women.
1. There is a blaring inequality in fund allocation between the YM/YW. This includes I think, an inequality in other tangibles like time and effort. This results in YM doing more stuff and generally having more fun. I haven’t seen anyone deny this. Only try to justify it.
2. The YM/YW are very aware of this inequality.
3. We tell the YM/YW frequently and with great sincerity that they are different, but valued equally.
4. Young women are discouraged from noticing or questioning the obvious. That boys get more and do more, and it looks like a lot of fun.
5. Something doesn’t add up. Are we valued equally or not?
As to your argument:
1. I find it inherently distasteful to think that it is somehow justified to make young women feel less valued because young men are less active.
2. Your theory hinges on the notion that spending more money on young men’s activities can somehow equalize activity rates. I am not convinced that this is true or desirable.
Because: (and I’m sure I missed a few)
A. Perhaps we are failing to give our young men the spiritual depth they need in order to increase their activity levels. Is scouting and $$ really going to solve this problem? I don’t think you’ve effectively argued this point.
B. A lot of people argue that men are naturally less spiritual than women and this is why they are generally less active. I don’t think this gives men enough credit and maybe gives women too much credit. I think a least part of the reason that men are less active is simply because men are less social. Men do not need friends for their emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being the way that women do.
I’ve just been reading some really interesting science on this, I can go into it more if anyone is interested or wants to argue this point.
Women are very invested in our female friends and our social relationships. YW, RS, are excellent vehicles for fulfilling our emotional needs. Men are not driven by social relationships this way and are less likely to involve themselves in social activities. I don’t see this as a failing, since men don’t seem to *need* the social activities for their emotional and social well-being.
So maybe (and I could be totally wrong) instead of throwing more money at YM in an attempt to increase their activity levels, we should instead try to shift our expectations and to meet their unique social and spiritual needs.
I’m sure this is not complete and it may be incoherent, I’ve got a rug rat trying to suck on my toes and other on my lap, so . . . sorry, my time is up.
“Oh well then you must be right.”
I’m glad you agree. Oh wait, you were being sarcastic. Dang. As for my credentials, I promise that I was not trying to be snooty (we have Jonathan Green running around somewhere to make that argument). You noted that I was the only person you’d ever heard making the claim I made. The implication seemed to be that I was therefore very likely to be wrong. I offered up another argument which was that I had specific training in the question, but others didn’t, so that could explain why they disagreed with me, rather than the fact that I am a crackpot. That’s the only reason I mentioned credentials.
In your 1-5 there is the implicit assumption that equal resources means equal value and inequal resources implies unequal value. This is what I dispute and what we might want to learn to think about. Just because a diamond costs more than a cup of water does not mean the diamond is more “valuable” in any innate sense. Dollars are not “value”, dollars are resources to be used to help people by keeping programs running.
Your “inherent distasteful” argument is much like Kristine’s “on principle” argument. See above.
As for “equalizing activity rates”, I am quite sure that the puny ward budget is insufficient to do any such thing. As I have said twice above, I do not know where the dollars should go. But I know what a good allocation should look like and there is no reason to expect it to involve equal money across genders, much as it currently does not involve equal money across wards or equal money across age groups.
I use activity rates as evidence that girls and boys are different, and so may have different needs. That is all. I do not know what those needs are. If many wards give more resources to boys, that needn’t be assumed wrong; it may well be that that is a good way to spend money. If my choice is between assuming that the Bishops are doing the right thing and assuming that they are doing the wrong thing, lack of equality is not particularly good evidence that the Bishop is wrong. That is my argument.
You mention that women may be more into Church for social reasons. That is an interesting idea. Clearly women seem more involved in Church, so explaining that difference would be a useful thing to do.
Now is as good a time as any to mention the parable of the shepherd who left the 99 to look after the one that was lost. Thankfully there are no genders in the story; the idea of disproportionately allocating resources to bring back the inactive or the lost (or those likely to be come so) is, unless I’m missing something, doctrinal.
I dont have kids, since I am single, but, if I did, i’d rather have them be membersof the bSA, rather than join any of the left-leaning kinda activities or groups that moveon.org t ells me is best them. Plus, Obi-Wan, and diogenes why the hostility to the military and to the present Commander-in-Chief? In the closet democrats, followers of George Soros, are you? LOL!!!!
“In your 1-5 there is the implicit assumption that equal resources means equal value and inequal resources implies unequal value”
The practical FACT is that this statement is true. Girls do feel less valued. That is a problem. You refuse to acknowledge or address that problem.
“So I’m not sure that murmering about Boy Scouts is the best way to build the Kingdom.”
I’m not sure that ignoring and justifying blatant inequality is the best way to build the Kingdom.
“the idea of disproportionately allocating resources to bring back the inactive or the lost (or those likely to be come so) is, unless I’m missing something, doctrinal.”
The problem being that you’ve failed to demonstrate that disproportionate spending in favor of YM over YW actually succeeds in anything except making YW feel less valued. Hum, we’ve been spending more on boys for the last fifty years, and still the girls are more active. Let’s keep spending more on boys and see if this solves the problem.
Frank, I still disagree with you, but it has been a fun discussion (for me–probably exasperating for you; sometime remind me to tell you about Econ. in my high school, so you can understand my stubborn resistance and apparent–no, real–incompetence!). My parting wish for you: may you someday be blessed with the opportunity to explain your theory of youth funding allocation to an uppity 12-year-old daughter!
She’s only two, but she’s already uppity. All my children are uppity. I can’t imagine why.
By the way, I saw John Payne while he was out at the reunion. I told him he needed to take more economics :) I look forward to tales of your economics class, probably taught by the football coach…
Putting the word fact in large letters does not make it true. I do address the problem of girls feeling less valued because of unequal allocations. I discussed above three possible allocations and noted that equal allocation may be needed because it is too diffcult to explain allocation theory to people because they, like you, are hung up on weird notions of dollars=value.
I find it odd that you are so concerned about girls feeling undervalued. They are doing better than the boys at staying in Church. You are very concerned about inequality. Here’s one for you to get riled about. Fewer boys are active. Where’s your heartfelt concern for the boys who go inactive and their plight?
“The problem being that you’ve failed to demonstrate that disproportionate spending in favor of YM over YW actually succeeds in anything except making YW feel less valued.”
For the fifth(?) time, I am not saying I know what the right allocation is. I have made this point several times above.
Frank McIntyre writes. “Now is as good a time as any to mention the parable of the shepherd who left the 99 to look after the one that was lost. Thankfully there are no genders in the story; the idea of disproportionately allocating resources to bring back the inactive or the lost (or those likely to be come so) is, unless I’m missing something, doctrinal.”
You’re missing something. Several things, actually.
According to Joseph Smith, the 99 are the scribes and Pharisees, and there’s nothing you can do for them, ’cause they’re going to hell anyway. So you might as well take a shot on the lost one since you’ve nothing left to lose at that point.
I doubt that very many wards are in the position where there is nothing they can do for their active youth, because they’re such lost causes that the ward might as bet their whole wad on long-shot inactives.
“Girls and boys have different needs. Ignoring those differences hurts leaders ability to help them. ‘One-size-fits-all’ seems a little bit of a strange principle. ”
You realize, Frank, that that is the major underlying idea behind affirmative action?
“I want more than Obi-Wan’s dislike of the military to overrule the collective decisions of dozens of very bright, very spiritually in-tune men who happen to hold the keys of revelation for the Church.”
Shall we make a list of the Church policies that, despite our acceptance of apostolic inspiration, in hindsight seem a bit uninspired?
No, let’s not. That would be depressing (as well as time-consuming). President Hinkley admonishes us to be positive and think positive thoughts about our leaders.
So I return to where I began: “I think — and hope — greenfrog is correct that the Church is moving away from support for the BSA, and I see that as an extremely positive move.” Positively inspired, I’ll say.
Couple of comments to various posts:
The scouts in Alaska are different (I am from Homer, Alaska and earned my Eagle there). Often Urban scouts camp out in areas that are managed parks, whereas in Alaska, we got to camp in many, many wild untamed places.
As for the concept of dilettantism: well, I think of it more as a “Jack of all trades”ism, but I think there is a lot of danger in too much specialization. Sure, in scouts you don’t truly master any one given subject, but at the same time you get exposed to everything from Theatre to Cinema to Atheltics to Computer programming to Music to Engineering to Political Science and more. It’s much better than High School for helping a young man explore various areas of thought before society forces him to make a choice. And it leads to a richer life later on: once the former scout sepcializes, he can have a lot more hobbies and provide more service in the community. I may be an English major, but (for example) I used the skills from the Cooking, Woodworking and Knot-tying (forget the actual name of that one) badges more often than I ever thought I would back in the day. The Citizenship badges taught me to be more aware of the political process, making me an informed voter and a critical reader (in the good sense) of the news.
About college: My parents didn’t pay for one bit of my college education. They couldn’t afford to. Actually, now that I teach, I get sick of students that have their parents pay for everything. They don’t care as much.
Situations differ and I won’t make judgements in any specific cases, but I tend to think parents who pay for their kids college experience do their kids a disservice.
This may be a generational thing. My parents were the first in thier families to go to college, and they got no support. My generation (and younger) seems to feel entitled to college.
But as for scouts: I loved it. I have five sisters, all of whom got their medallions. They weren’t interested in scouts at all, though they occasionally wondered why they didn’t go camping as often as the young men.
I often wondered why there wasn’t a Girl Scouts program in the church and never got a good answer. I do agree something more needs to be done for the YW – but in my ward I also know that the YW program had more money from the budget/tithing funds because it was assumed the YM would do fund raising to pay for their activities.
Wow a busy thread that *doesn’t* deal with homosexuality. I’m amazed!
I just got called to the scouts (well Weblos actually) and I must admit I’m finding it somewhat frustrating. Even though I love camping, climbing and other such matters, it seems a little too organized for my tastes. Too many stupid “do this and that” sort of thing. Perhaps that’s why some complained about it being paramilitary. I don’t think it is that paramilitary unless paramilitary organizations have weird requirements to pass of and a fetish for badges. Heavens, back home in Canada our scouts was far more paramilitary than what I see in Provo, and a heck of a lot more fun to boot.
Regarding camping, don’t women have girls camp? I’m honestly ignorant of such things, but it doesn’t appear that scouts actually go heavy camping that much unless the local leaders decide to take them. But what exactly is keeping young women from having their own activities? Isn’t the problem that (unfair and perhaps wrong generalization approaching) most women *don’t* want to do the things young men do?
I say this after being single for quite some while and loving women who love the outdoor life but noticing that they were far and few between. Further most women who claimed to enjoy the outdoors seemed to have wildly more mellow ideas of what that involved than men.
Don’t get me wrong, if we could socialize women to be like that I think there is a large number of men who would love it. However it seems to me that if there is a problem it is in society and not necessarily the ward budget.
The BSA has discontinued the Rifling/Rifle & Shotgun Merit Badge. Really, check it out at their website. They have also discontinued the basket-weaving merit badge. So it’s getting less “paramilitaristic” and less “effeminate” (sorry I couldn’t resist).
“Besides perhaps the fact that Scouts wear uniforms, scouting (as I experienced it) is not “paramilitary” or anything like unto the Hitler youth program as I would imagine it.”
Err, history, history.
Frank McIntyre says, “As for my credentials, I promise that I was not trying to be snooty (we have Jonathan Green running around somewhere to make that argument).”
Frank, Frank, why so defensive? Go ahead, be snooty. I give you permission. In fact, I hereby appoint you to the Times and Seasons First Order of the Snooty. Your education, your experience, your rugged good looks–they count for an awful lot. Why should my unformed opinion of resource allocation count as much as your expert judgment? You’re right, it shouldn’t. So go ahead and snoot. You’ll feel much better afterwards, trust me.
obi-wan said: “I think — and hope — greenfrog is correct that the Church is moving away from support for the BSA, and I see that as an extremely positive move.” Positively inspired, I’ll say.
So, you agree that policy can be inspired on ocasion?
greenfrog may be right. I hope that we would all be open new policy. But, why the disdain for the old? Has no good come of it whatsoever?
I was a scoutmaster in the LA area about twelve years ago. Half my troop was in involved in gang activity. These were no little wannabe gangs. There were some actual killings in our nieghborhood.
I believe that even if there were no overtly spiritual moments during our outings, that it was still well worth the pain of dragging those boys along. It was important for them to get away from the concrete – to get away from there comforts – to see that the world was a much bigger place than their little battle ground.
I further believe, and you can label me a sexist, that it’s important for a boy to survey the earth that he must one day subdue. He needs to get out into the woods and acquire an appreciation for things created – that he may sense the hand of God in all things and learn to be a good steward over those things. Most boys take no thought to look up into the heavens nowadays. How marvellous it is to see them discover the stars during an outing – which discovery invariably leads to contemplating the universe and its creator.
Scouting is designed to point the mind of a boy toward manhood. Of course the notion of manhood is all but worn out and ready for the social scrap heap. Inevitably scouting must follow the same course.
Jack, that is the most bizarre sexist statement I have ever heard.
Do you really believe it is any less necessary for a YW to do these things?
(In fact, as the one who will most likely select the family car, nag the kids to turn off the lights when not in the room, make decisions about virtually all purchases, etc., if *anyone* in the house needs an appreciation for creation, it’s the mom.)
Julie, Yes, Culver’s. They are all over the place here. Do you go to Culver’s in Austin?
Mark, That is interesting. You are right about the website, but I just went to Scout Camp this summer, and they were offering both the gun merit badges and the basket-weaving merit badge. Hmm.
Jack: “it’s important for a boy to survey the earth that he must one day subdue.” Why only boys?
Last time I looked BSA had also dropped Karate and Judo.
As a father of five girls, I can say that there are problems. Part of it is that many of the leaders don’t know how to lead girls in anything but the “girly” stuff that frankly bores my oldest in the house.
Its a failure of vision, among other things, combined with a lot of other issues.
The Girl Scouts have a Gold award that’s a lot like the Eagle Scout award. Gordon’s daughter could sign up for this and have all the advantages of leaders, institutional support and ready-made requirements — and aimed at girls, not boys.
The reason I gave you permission to label me a sexist (not that you actually have yet) is because I was well aware that arguments would arise out of what some would see as implicit suggestions of sexism in my last comment.
Scouting is designed for boys. I was sharing some of my feelings as to why I think scouting has a possitive effect on boys.
Perhaps, on another thread were programs specifically designed for girls are discussed, I can return the compliment of being mortified that the benifits of such programs are not being discussed in a broad enough context so as to include boys.
Jack — There will never be a thread that discusses boys’ envy of church programs designed for girls, so you will never get to return that compliment.
I was so jealous of that dumb pinewood derby. Year after year the five of us girls watched while our brother raced his little car. I couldn’t figure out why God didn’t want girls to know how to build and race those little cars.
“I had heard before that Baden Powell admired the Hitler Youth and imitated them to some extent in his creation of the Boy Scouts. It still seems to me that the Boy Scouts ended up with unique and wholesome values that are completely contradictory to fascism, racism, genocidal murder and everything else that is represented by the Nazis.”
Hmm…considering that the Boy Scouts originated in England in 1907 and the Nazis didn’t get started until 1919 at the earliest, that’s a pretty slick trick for old B-P to model the Scouting movement on the Nazis.
As to a program for women, the Girl Scouts have a great program but the administration of the program is controlled more by the local councils than by the sponsoring organization. If an compromise could be reached I think that the Girl Scout program would be a good solution. Either that or having a real functioning Venture program at the ward or stake level.
In regard to the religious element in Scouting: BSA has left that to each religious denomination to set up their own programs. In our church we have the Faith in God (Cub Scouts) and On My Honor (Boy Scouts+) programs in addition to the Duty to God LDS program.
I am an Eagle Scout and have been involved in Scouting as a leader for over 18 years. As a youth I was active in a non-LDS troop and had a great time. As a leader I have dealt with many LDS and non-LDS troops and have trained leaders in running the Scout program. If the program is run correctly both the leaders and the scouts can have a very positive experience. Many of the scouts that I have worked with have gone on to careers that were a direct development of either merit badge work or field trips to various employers and professions. Good luck to the LDS Church if they think they can startup a new program separate from Scouting.
Okay, now the kids are asleep, the kitchen is clean, the lactating is complete, and the house is quiet so maybe I can think straight. I have been misunderstanding you. I still think you’re way off base, but some of my earlier thoughts were probably irrelevant to this particular discussion.
First I must address this “Fewer boys are active, Where’s your heartfelt concern for the boys who go inactive and their plight?”. I love this. If you can’t shut down the angry feminist with the “woman hater” remark then pull out the trusty “but what about the poor boys, you don’t care about them” remark and see if they foam at the mouth.
But, using another of your favorite rhetorical devices, I could refer you to my previous post, but since I have a sec I’ll just quote myself, “Perhaps we are failing to give our young men the spiritual depth they need in order to increase their activity levels.” “we should instead try to shift our expectations and to meet their unique social and spiritual needs.”
I do have a concern for the boys who’s needs are not met by the current system. In fact I’d rather like to use this as further evidence that the current system is rather a lot less than optimal.
I don’t fundamentally have a problem with using an allocation system of the type you advocate. I do have a problem with you trying to use this theory to justify the current system. Maybe that was not your intent, but it certainly came off that way. I feel that the current system is deeply flawed and unfair (I bet you’d’ve never guessed that).
Partly because the “weird notions of dollars=value” is actually not so weird, I would argue that it is an ingrained American assumption. It is the measure by which I measured my own worth as a YW in the program, and I saw that I wasn’t valued as much as the boys.
But also because it isn’t just $$, it’s also time and energy and rewards and fun and all kinds of good stuff that girls don’t get. I’m sure you would propose that the allocation of those goods also be given to the places where they would do the most good as well. Hunky Dory.
I think one problem here is that you’re somehow convinced that your really interesting theory somehow applies here. If you could only explain allocation theory to every member, if we could only understand, then the inequality problem would disappear. (Either because we would all see that there is no inequality because dollars don’t equal value, or because we would all see that the Eagle scout who remains active is of more value to the church than the medallion holder who leaves the church because we have too many single women anyway) Perhaps this would solve all our problems, but I doubt it.
There are lots of really great ideas that would make the world a better place if only we all understood them and lived by them. The law of consecration anyone?
What use is a really nifty theory that we mere mortals can’t understand because of our weird notions (hammered into us every day by our nifty capitalist society) that money matters? I completely support you undertaking to educate us all, just don’t try and tell me that this is the system were using now in the church, and that is the reason why boy get more stuff, (and I’m not sure you were saying that, but I do think you were implying it) because that would make me crazy.
And Gordon, I really like your offer to your daughter. I wish my dad had made such an offer. I wish no dad had to.
A quick search on the Church web site shows several excellent talks that interpret the passage consonant with how I did. I have no problem with parables having mutiple interpretations. That is one of the neat things about them. (I searched conference talks with the words “sheep” and “ninety” in case you are interested). Relating to the discussion about lost youth, here is what Elder Banks says the Church Research Division found when polling the less active. Let me add the caveat that sometimes what people say is not always as informative as one might hope:
“Most active members believe that less-active members behave differently because they don’t believe the Church’s doctrine. A study by the Church’s Research Information Division does not support this assumption. It shows that almost all less-active members interviewed believe that God exists, that Jesus is the Christ, that Joseph Smith was a prophet, and that the Church is true.
As part of another study, a group of active members who previously had been less active were asked why they did not attend church. The most common reasons given were:
• Feelings of unworthiness.
• Personal or family problems.
• Parents or spouse were less active.
• Teenage rebelliousness or laziness.
• Conflicts with work schedules.
• Church too far away, lacked transportation.
They were then asked what had influenced them to return to activity in the Church. The most common answers were:
• Faced with crisis in life.
• Overcame personal problems.
• The example of a spouse or girlfriend/boyfriend.
• Influence of family members.
• Wanted the gospel influence for family.
• Fellowshipping from ward members, moved to a new ward where people cared about them.
(See Research Information Division comparison, Sept. 1999.)
WIthout getting into a long discussion of affirmative action on the scouting thread, et me respond to your claim. Certainly if you think one size fits all (OSFA) is the way to go, there is no way to justify Affirmative Action. But rejecting OSFA does not require accepting that the specific policies collectively labeled affirmative action are the best way to go. When those policies are mandated at the Federal level, they often lack the needed flexibility. So I can certainly reject both AA and OSFA without any incoherence.
Also, AA is a whole set of policies, some of which are not too objectionable and others which may be more so.
I’ve been thinking about your civil disobediance merit badge and I’ve decided I really like the idea. Even the military provides basic ethics classes that teach the proper times to disobey authority. Not that I think this is likely to happen in the church youth programs.
But I do wonder if the natural tendency of teenagers to question authority combined with the churches general disapproval of questioning contributes to the rising inactivity rates of teens and young adults. Could we teach the skills youth would need to question faithfully and really help transition some of those Young Women into Relief Society?
“Shall we make a list of the Church policies that, despite our acceptance of apostolic inspiration, in hindsight seem a bit uninspired?
No, let’s not. That would be depressing (as well as time-consuming). President Hinkley admonishes us to be positive and think positive thoughts about our leaders.”
I’m betting you and I would have lists of very different length!
I am concerned that your definition of “inspired” is pretty much “things I already agree with”. If you were Lehi’s son and he said it was time to hike out of Jerusalem, which one would you be? Nephi, who prayed about it. Sam, who accepted it but may not have prayed about it. Or Laman and Lemuel who didn’t seem to pray about it and decided it was the wrong move because it went against their previously held views? I suppose you would be your own son, and not one of these types, but you get my point.
So how about a list where you thought a leader was not inspired and you were wrong? That would be a much more interesting and informative list!
Great idea, Frank–you go first.
If you wish to put ideal budgeting in the same category as the Law of Consecration, how can I disagree? This was the gist of my post about a second best solution since it may not be possible to get people to understand the optimal way to do things.
“I do have a problem with you trying to use this theory to justify the current system.”
It is not needed that Bishops understand optimal allocation. All that is needed is that they seek revelation. Perhaps you think ward budgeting comes from “traditions of the fathers”. Some of it surely does. But some of it does not. Unequal allocations do not differentiate between these two cases, because unequal allocations can occur in both cases. Therefore, you will need to have other reasons to believe the budget is uninspired, because inquality alone is not informative.
“Partly because the “weird notions of dollars=value” is actually not so weird, I would argue that it is an ingrained American assumption.”
I suggest you abandon this assumption and encourage others to do so. It is, as best I can determine, wildly non-scriptural and goes against the learning of men, and so has little to recommend it. The confusion lies in the fact that value is a component in determining expenditure (or price and quantity), so value is related to expenditures, but is not the sole determinant. Expenditures come from intersections of supply and demand, so they include all sorts of other things that have nothing to do with value. Thus water is valuable but we spend little on it because it is plentiful.
The same goes for other forms of expenditure like time. Although it was not my experience that the ward spent more time on the boys then the girls. It may be your experience. Maybe your ward is wrong, or maybe they are trying to respond to observed needs with limited resources as best they can. You seem to think you know which is the case. I am quite sure I do not.
By the way, it is good to see your heartfelt concern for boys, foam or no.
As you may have noticed, I give a strong presumption to leaders that they know things I don’t. Couple this with the fact that I’m but a child of 29 and you’ll surely excuse the fact that I have nothing on my list.
Obi-wan does not appear to offer leaders a strong presumption, but if he does I’d be happy to hear it.
It’s important to remember that Frank is an economist. Consequently, he’s spent a great deal of time training himself to believe that markets are efficient.
Once you’ve twisted your mind around that fantasy for a few years, it’s trivial to assume that your Church leaders are always inspired, that the ward budget is based on rational criteria, that you’ll always be directed to know what to do with your teenagers, and to still have room to adopt at least three more impossible beliefs before breakfast.
For the record:
1. I don’t believe that markets are always efficient.
2. I don’t believe that all direction from Church leaders is inspired,
3. I don’t believe that the ward budget is always based on rational criteria
4. I don’t believe that you’ll always be directed to know what to do with your teenagers.
I have already specifically disavowed views 2-4 on this thread. Therefore I do not assume them. As for 1, come take either of the classes I teach and you will see that I don’t believe 1 either.
Being trained as an economist, though, I do actually know what I mean when I say a market is inefficient. Many people, unfortunately, do not.
I’m surprised that this discussion seems to avoid the autonomy that Church gives to YW classes in determining their own activities. It’s not as though there is some Draconian correlated guide demanding exact compliance in week-to-week activities.
If the Laurel Class president came to BYC and said that her presidency wanted October’s joint activity to be a Pinewood Derby like the Cubs have, I’d be at the Church early that autumn Wednesday putting the track together.
If a class presidency feels there’s enough interest in the class to support the occasional hike, yard-work service project, or even a well-planned overnighter with proper supervision, I say more power to them! YW doesn’t have to always be tatting and tole-painting (though these too have their place).
And on the YM side, none of the boys get out without my teaching them some basics of sewing. I usually teach them how to make a pillowcase or a simple pair of shorts. Those who get really interested learn how read patterns and make a simple Hawaiian shirt. Once the girls at school compliment them on the cool shirts they made from the fabric the boys chose (and trust me, when allowing YM to choose fabric for their shirts, loud is often an understatement) the boys almost always want to make more.
We also ask the Young Men to put together the Special Musical Number for Sacrament meeting semi-annually. The Young Women do the same, letting us hear the teenagers sing at least quarterly.
Why the artificial limitations? Outside of things that are specifically priesthood duties, plan it, get it approved, and do it!
I love the fact that this topic is garnering so much attention, since that indicates to me that the youth of the church themselves are getting a decent amount of attention. The trick, then, is to work to make sure that it is the right type of attention.
As has been pointed out, budgeting is a very local concern. The Bishop(ric) decides the allocation, and does so based on any number of factors, from the number of YW vs. YM, the proposed budgets submitted to him by those groups, the funds available to him, surplus from the preceding year, planned fundraisers to help cover the cost of the annual camps, and the Lord’s input. It is not a fun thing to do. Too often, because the bishop has not been given any proposed budgets or information on the cost of Scout Camp and Girls’ Camp at the time he is making the budget decisions, he is not able to accurately plan for those. Sometimes a BSA-run scout camp may differ radically in cost from a stake or ward-run girls camp. If the bishop decides to stick to the principal from the budget guidelines that encourages bishops to eliminate fundraising wherever possible, he may end up allocating more to the YM just to cover the camping costs. At any rate, railing against “the Brethren” for a decision that is not made on their level is not the solution to any disparity in the programs. The solution would be for the YW president to approach the new budget year with a carefully mapped out proposal of what the YW want to do that next year. As long as it is not fiscally irresponsible and the activities are tied into the YW values, the funding will likely be given.
This leads me to my next point, which is that the program should be based on what the YW and YM want to do, to the extent possible. We should never forget that the adults are advisers, and that the quorum and class presidencies can be trained to run the show. My stake is currently emphasizing this, and we have been strongly encouraged to hold weekly presidency meetings with each of our AP quorums/YW classes. The adviser can give a skeletal framework, based on the requirements of the DTG/Scouting/PP requirements, but then the boys/girls take over. For example, on a certain day, we needed to do a quorum service project (there are lots of these to be done in the new DTG program). I asked the Deacons Quorum Presidency what they wanted to do. They talked about different options and eventually decided that they would like to go to the Bishop’s storehouse to help stock shelves, since many of them have never been there, and we had had a recent lesson on fast offerings in which we discussed the storehouse extensively. The quorum president gave himself the assignment to call and arrange for this, did so (it took longer than I would have liked and I had to follow up quite a bit, but hey, he is only 12), and next week we will be going. Another example: I had the quorum presidency call each of the Deacons, including the less active boys, and ask for two optional merit badges they would be interested in working on at mutual. During our presidency meetings, we rely on this list in planning activities. We can even lean heavily on the badges chosen by the less active, and use it as a way of getting them involved. Meanwhile, if there appears to be a merit badge that isn’t going to be worked on in a while, but I still want to get some individualized attention for that boy, I can find somebody in the ward to be a merit badge counselor for the kid and work one on one with him to do it. I don’t see any reason why similar principles couldn’t be applied in planning the YW activities. Then noone could really complain that their preferred activities weren’t being done.
Do the YM ask to learn sewing? Or do you provide adult guidance to steer them in that direction?
It actually started out as a YW Priesthood Appreciation Night. The Laurels wanted to make bow ties for the Priests to wear as they blessed the Sacrament (the MIA Maids were baking bread for the teachers to use for preparing the sacrament and I honestly can’t remember what the Beehives did). Knowing that sewing is one of my talents, the Laurels asked me to teach them to make bow ties.
That happened inearly November. In November’s BYC the Priests and Laurels were reminded that they volunteered to be the waitstaff for the annual grown-ups-only Stake Christmas Dinner/dance. The priests, looking dashing in their new bowties, thought it would be really cool if everyone had matching Christmas bowties to wear as they served dinner. They planned it and we made them the day after Thanksgiving.
Soon after, several of the boys were complaining that they needed white shorts to wear in a New Year’s parade their high school band was invited to march in, but they couldn’t find any anywhere. I reminded them that they had just learned the basics of machine sewing and that they could make their own. So I ended up helping them make the shorts early in Christmas break. It took off from there.
Now it’s kind-of become a tradition. A good one at that if I say so myself.
MDS: “the program should be based on what the YW and YM want to do, to the extent possible”
Flashback to BYC, late 80s:
Bishop: “What do the YM have planned for this week?”
YM leader: “Campout up in the snow this weekend”
Bishop: “Sounds good. What do the young women have planned?”
Me, Mia Maid president: “Quilting. Hey, campout in the snow sounds fun, how come we never do anything like that?”
Mia Maid leader: “I have 4 kids. I barely have enough time to do my laundry, let alone take you girls camping. Also, we would need men to come with us. I shouldn’t go without my husband. Who would watch our kids?”
Me: “Can we go with the boys this weekend?”
Adults in unison: “NO.”
Me: “Okay.” Ditto for fishing, rock climbing, etc.
Have things changed? I’d be surprised. I’m not faulting those women for not giving up everything they were juggling to take me camping, it wouldn’t have been possible. I’m just pointing out that there was a lot of inequity based on sex in the church — more than at home or school — and it sucked.
I remembered what the Beehives did. They conspired with the parents of the Deacons to get the boys’ dress shoes. The Beehives polished them and gave them back to the Deacons on Wednesday Night in preparation for passing the sacrament on Sunday.
“a YW Priesthood Appreciation Night.”
Apparently I touched a nerve. Why the consternation?
“The Beehives polished them and gave them back to the Deacons on Wednesday Night in preparation for passing the sacrament on Sunday.”
Did the RS have a special night where they tailored the mens’ suits and darned their socks? That’s about all the servitude you’re missing in that medieval ward.
Now wait a minute. These young women took the time (one night) to come up with clever ways that they could show that they value the service the Aaronic Priesthood provides and you turn that into medieval servitude? Gimme a break.
Without knowing all the details, a few observations:
It sounds like you were asking for a pretty quickly-planned campout.
Women can and do go camping with the girls, leaving their kids behind, although it isn’t easy. My wife was YW president while I was in law school, and I ended up with our 1-yr.-old while she went to camp (camp took place during high school spring break in Florida, since the idea of camping in Florida’s summer isn’t very attractive). It sucked. I got kicked out of Trust and Estates when she got too noisy. Many of my classrooms weren’t stroller accessible (so much for the law school’s ADA obligations). Luckily, some of my friends on law review and ward members who were professors on campus helped me watch her during classes where the professors weren’t tolerant of a kid in class. At any rate, we were able to do it because we had planned ahead. (There’s another discussion here about the wisdom of calling mothers with a slew of kids to be YW leaders, but I’ll leave that for another day).
The meeting you were in, BYC, just isn’t the meeting for planning things like this. That should be done in your class presidency meeting. BYC is focused mainly on the combined activities. I’ll freely admit that there are many wards where the youth are given close to zero say in what they get to do at mutual and the adults plan everything based on their preconceived notions of what is wanted, but that is far from the ideal. That is why I am so pleased that my stake is pushing us so hard to train the quorum and class presidencies and let them plan their activities.
I imagine the reaction you got to your proposal to go with the boys had more to do with the church’s stance on co-ed camping than with the idea that women could not go snow camping. In fact, a few years ago, the Relief Society in the ward I grew up in, including some really old sisters, had a Relief Society Winter campout that apparently was very successful and fun. My mom had a blast and it sounds like it was a great thing from a comraderie standpoint.
“second best solution since it may not be possible to get people to understand the optimal way to do things.”
It’s so comforting to know that while the rest of us sit here in blissful ignorance you, Frank, *know* the optimal way to do things. Too bad we can’t all be as wise and educated as you are.
Sorry, I know I’m laying on the sarcasm pretty heavy, but you do realize that is what you just said? Does that level of certainty disturb you at all?
I know about as much about allocation systems as I know about chemistry, and that ain’t much. But for you to contend that there is either A. no problem because we just don’t understand the truth of the matter (and you do because you’ve studied economics and/or trust the priesthood or whatever) or B. a solution we can’t understand due to our lack of knowledge and lack of faith in the priesthood is kinda useless in a discussion.
One of your reoccurring themes is how ignorant we all are about allocation theory and how our lack of knowledge prevents us from see that you are right. Hum, somehow I just don’t feel comforted by that.
“I suggest you abandon this assumption and encourage others to do so.”
Okey Dokey. You have given me new things to think about, which is good. And useful. However, I still find your refusal to acknowledge a discrepancy in the way we place value on our girls and on our boys a little disingenuous.
“It is, as best I can determine, wildly non-scriptural and goes against the learning of men, and so has little to recommend it.”
Yes, non-scriptural and money-driven value systems (like dirty usury-driven capitalism) are a terrible scourge upon the earth. I will do my best to fight them at all times.
I can’t believe that people can bicker about so many things. Having earned my own Personal Progress Medallion and also having served in the YW program for several years. I feel that the Personal Progress Program is what the young “women” of the world need to help them draw closer to their Heavenly Father. I do not have brothers or sons, so I am not as acquainted with the scouting program. I assume that it has been given prayerful thought by Church leaders since it has been selected and endorsed by Church authorities. Maybe each one of us should reflect on whether or not we sustain these leaders, instead of second-guessing them on this.
“It’s so comforting to know that while the rest of us sit here in blissful ignorance you, Frank, *know* the optimal way to do things.”
For the sixth time, I do not know the optimal allocation. I know that if the goal is to use resources to help youth become and/or stay active and develop testimonies, then the optimal allocation will have a certain form equating marginal benefits and marginal costs. There is no particular reason such an allocation lies at equality. That has been my claim since my first post on the subject.
Next, my contending that there is relevant information that we do not have may be unhelpful if we wish to assert that we know what is supposed to happen. But it is very good to know that one does not know. In this case, several people on the thread seem to think they know what is right, and that equal budgets is right. Strangely, since you accuse me of hubris in claiming to know too much, I am the one saying that we simply do not know enough to make strong claims about what is right. I have limited my strong claims to saying that I know the general form that the optimal allocation should take. This is a much weaker, and therefore less hubristic claim.
“However, I still find your refusal to acknowledge a discrepancy in the way we place value on our girls and on our boys a little disingenuous.”
On this thread I am trying to limit my comments to things about which I am well informed. I am often unsuccesful, but it gives me some focus.
“Yes, non-scriptural and money-driven value systems (like dirty usury-driven capitalism) are a terrible scourge upon the earth. I will do my best to fight them at all times.”
You are absolutely correct. Capitalism has nothing to recommend it as a system of value. Capitalism (by which I’m guessing you mean free markets) has much to recommend it as a way to allocate resources optimally. So yes, I heartily encourage you to fight against attempts to use capitalism as a value system. Just as I would discourage using evolution as a theory of value, or the law of gravity. Markets allocate resources, they do not reveal value. It is unfortunate that many people think otherwise.
“One of your reoccurring themes is how ignorant we all are about allocation theory and how our lack of knowledge prevents us from see that you are right. Hum, somehow I just don’t feel comforted by that.”
This is Jonathan Green’s view, not mine. I explained already why I referred to my training. The idea I am expressing is straightforward and not esoteric at all. To maximize how much we help youth, put dollars where the dollars have the higest impact on helping youth. There is nothing mysterious about this idea, but it is one that often gets overlooked. Many people on this thread seem to have gotten the point. You seemed to have a very negative reaction, but perhaps you thought I was saying something else.
I can’t believe that people can bicker about so many things. Having earned my own Personal Progress Medallion and also having served in the YW program for several years. I feel that the Personal Progress Program is what the young “women” of the world need to help them draw closer to their Heavenly Father. I do not have brothers or sons, so I am not as acquainted with the scouting program. I assume that it has been given prayerful thought by Church leaders since it has been selected and endorsed by Church authorities. Maybe each one of us should reflect on whether or not we sustain these leaders, instead of second-guessing them on this.
My mind is boggling trying to figure out what the requirements for a “Questioning Authority” merit badge would be.
1. Steal this merit badge book.
2. Burn it.
“You seemed to have a very negative reaction, but perhaps you thought I was saying something else.”
Because if I understood you, I would of course agree.
“For the sixth time, I do not know the optimal allocation.”
No, (nor did I make that claim, you may reread my previous post if you wish) but you do claim to know:
“it may not be possible to get people to understand the optimal way to do things.”
Which specifically implies that you do know the optimal way (the allocation system of course). That if we could understand this (as you do), then we would be optimal. Excluding all other possibilities. With certainty. Which seems silly to me.
Your contention is (as you have stated) not that you know the correct allocation, only that the allocation is necessarily the optimal system. All other choices being second, third, or unholy.
In fact you are so sure of this, that when I have questioned this assumtion repeatedly you misunderstand me. I do not think you’re claiming to know the best allocation. I am simply disturbed by your extreem fondness for the mighty allocation system, that has yet to prove very useful to this discussion.
gst — you left off the last merit badge requirement:
3. Disregard all instructions, including these.
As best I can tell, you think I am claiming that current budgeting is optimal. I am not claiming this. Since I do not know what is optimal, I would be hard pressed to pass judgement on the current system. I would encourage you to also not pass judgement on the current system on the basis of unequal budgets, because equal budgets is not a necessary condition for a youth-welfare maximizing budget.
If your goal is equality, then of course this goal is easily met with equal budgets. They can be budgets of $.01 and still meet this goal. But I think equality is not the goal. I think the goal is to help the youth.
I made a caveat that equal budgets may be the best available option (which I call second best) because, as you have so ably demonstrated, many people hold equality dear to them as its own goal. Some even become irate at the notion of other means of allocating resources. THis may be because they think that budgets determine the value of an organization. So we may have equal budgets so as not to hurt those people’s feelings or alienate them. Ideally, we’d help them understand that budgets don’t determine value. If we can do that then we are free to allocate resources so as to maximize helping the youth, whether that means equal budgets or not (and by the way, I don’t care whether “optimal” is more for girls or for boys). We are “unconstrained”.
“Your contention is (as you have stated) not that you know the correct allocation, only that the allocation is necessarily the optimal system.”
When I say allocation, you seem to think I am talking about the _current_ budgeting system. Allocation is just a word for any way one might distribute resources. It can be equal or unequal. It can be the current system or some other possible system. This word difficulty may explain part of the problem. Your statement above is false. As I noted above, I do not claim the current allocation to be the optimal one.
The Questioning Authority merit badge should proabably have some musical component. There should definitely be some Pink Floyd involved.
I know you’re half-joking but I think having some formal lessons about questioning authority could be a good thing. We talk so much about obedience in the church … but perhaps we ought to have a lesson that is more nuanced…
The title might be: “Obedient to Who?”
There is one Culver’s in the entire state of Texas. It is one block from where my husband works (grin).
jjamm5– You are periously close to violating the rule about questioning other’s personal righteousness/testimony. If you don’t feel the need to explore this or other issues, fine, but we do. You need to realize that you’ve done the equivalent of going to catlover.com and asking why we aren’t talking about dalmations.
Here’s a theory,
What we have going on here is a lot of text (passing by without noticing each other) and a subtext (which is rather insulting on both sides). Let me illustrate.
I said (text):
“Yes, non-scriptural and money-driven value systems (like dirty usury-driven capitalism) are a terrible scourge upon the earth.
I imply (subtext):
That simply because a system is money-driven or non-scriptural doesn’t necessarily mean it is invalid or unholy. There is also a hint of raging-liberal anti-capitalist sarcasm, which is always fun. (I’m sure there’s more, less flattering subtext, I’m being fairly easy on myself here)
I wrote (text):
“I will do my best to fight them at all times.”
I imply (subtext):
I am deliberately misusing your advice to rage against dirty capitalists. Aren’t I clever? (probably not so much, huh?)
Your subtext is even more interesting to me. Because I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not WHAT your saying that bothers me so much as HOW you say it. Obviously this is the meaning that I am bringing to your words, all my baggage included. You may have meant nothing of the type, but still it should be interesting for you to see how I perceive your words.
You wrote (text):
You are absolutely correct.
(subtext): In my(Ashleigh’s) limited understanding I have stumbled upon a truth, but you (Frank) will show me why I’m still ignorant.
You wrote (text):
Capitalism has nothing to recommend it as a system of value.
(subtext): I don’t know what I’m talking about. You are about to show me why.
You wrote (text):
Capitalism (by which I’m guessing you mean free markets)
(subtext): I don’t even know enough to label things correctly.
has much to recommend it as a way to allocate resources optimally.
(subtext): You know the proper way to use these terms, you’re the only properly informed person in this conversation. I don’t even know the difference between a value system and a resource allocation system, and the line is obvious, the differences clear, and my ignorance exposed. (BTW it’s nice to know that *this* is what optimal allocation of resources looks like. Free Markets RULE!)
So yes, I heartily encourage you to fight against attempts to use capitalism as a value system.
(subtext): while intentionally ignoring my intended meaning, you’ve used semantics to demonstrate my ignorance and so now you feel free to disregard and dismiss me. Because you have shown my understanding of this topic to be shallow and useless.
You wrote: Just as I would discourage using evolution as a theory of value, or the law of gravity.
(subtext): Even more evidence to show that I am ignorant on this topic to the point of ridiculousness.
You wrote: Markets allocate resources, they do not reveal value.
(subtext): your specialized usage of these terms is a superior semantic system, my usage by comparison is sloppy and useless. Therefore the point I was trying to make (which you never addressed) is obviously ridiculous.
You wrote: It is unfortunate that many people think otherwise.
(subtext): Me and the ignorant fools who don’t understand you.
“When I say allocation, you seem to think I am talking about the _current_ budgeting system.”
Nope, I don’t mean that, but the thing is, I think you and I can’t communicate effectivly. Which is unfortunate, because I’m sure we’re both really fabulous.
But it seems like you write something, and I read something entirely different. When I write something, you appear to read something entirely different. We don’t seem capable of actually communicating with each other.
I was totally misunderstanding your “theory of allocation” stuff, (I assumed you were discussing some actual economic “Theory” but it seems you were not) but I’ve got to take the kids to the park and pizza. And the irony is, we may not actually disagree about anything significant. I think we have succeeded in demonstrating that we are oil and water.
Let’s have salad.
The best I can tell the Hitler youth came into existance in the 1920’s. The BSA started in 1910 and the scouting movement was started in England before that.
Where was Adolf Hitler in power in 1910 to start his Hitler youth? According what little I know about it. He started studying history in Vienna in 1908. He didn’t even join the NAZI party until 1919.
How could Baden Powell model his program after a program that didn’t exist until at least ten years later?
I have been told by an authority much higher than I ever will attain, that Scouting was put in the church under the direction of a prophet and that speculating about if and when it might leave the church is a waste of time and effort. The prophet hasn’t stated that it is incompatible with the purposes of raising our young men in the Lord’s way.
It seems to me that at times in the church we campaign against scouting hoping that some political pressure will chase it away. I sometimes wish that the energy spent fighting the scouting program in the church was directed at using it as the tool it was intended to be in helping young men become men. It seems almost fashionable at times in the church as members to bash scouting. I wonder what other church programs might be bashed but in a more covert fashion.
Finally, I appreciate the note about offering one’s daughter the opportunity to “earn an Eagle.” I believe that the central core of all we do should be the family and it sounds to me like this is a father who has taken his role as he should.
Posting here for the first time to quiety mention that the underlying assumption structuring this entire discussion–namely, that boy-identified acitivities (camping) are more fun, desirable and useful than girl-identified activities (quilting)–is itself a sexist proposition, and it seems to be shared by nearly all participants. I myself am a backpacking, rock climbing mother of two–no domestic diva here–but I find it offensive to write off the domestic arts (in which, I hasten to repeat, I am sorely lacking myself) as trivial and boring.
Thanks for your comment–it is a very important idea.
We have definitely had a cultural shirt to boy-id-ed activities (girls playing sports in record numbers, etc.). I guess the question is whether the Church should be in the business (so to speak) of providing the YW/YM with what the YM/YW think is fun (with, of course, the desirable side benefits of fellowship and a wholesome environment, leadership opportunites, etc.) or try to get the girls interested in quilting. I honestly don’t know the answer to that question.
I would speculate, tho, that we should save our energies with the youth for bucking really damaging social trends like, you know, premarital sex, and let the girls go camping instead of quilting.
One major inequality I see in the church’s current youth program is that being an Eagle Scout actually means something–something impressive–outside of the church, while having a Personal Progress medallion means nothing. Boys spend their church activity time working toward something that can go on their college applications and resumes. Girls . . . not so much.
Alright then. Have a good weekend.
Heather, On the outside value of Eagle Scout v. Personal Progress medallion, there is no solution to that, is there? I suppose we could make the program equal my making the boys’ achievement as meaningless to the outside world as the medallion, but that seems sort of silly.
Rosalynde, Thanks for commenting. There are so many views represented here that I am not sure you can generalize about people assuming that “boy-identified acitivities (camping) are more fun.” For me the discussion has been a lot more about the relative depth and quality of the two programs, though there certainly have been a lot of camping comments.
It’s true that scouting pre-dated Hitler Youth. Any assertions that scouting was modeled on Hitler Youth are flat-out wrong.
However, it remains that there are some troubling connections. Baden-Powell made several statements about what a great program the Hitler Youth was. He made similar statements about Musolini’s program. And he tried to form some sort of organization between the Scouts and Hitler Youth — he was outvoted on it by other Board members.
As I stated above, I don’t think that much remains in today’s scouting program of any such connections. But it can’t be denied that Baden Powell, in the 30’s, thought that the Hitler Youth were great.
(Side Note: This wasn’t such a crazy position to have at the time. Many English were strongly pro-Hitler in the 30’s. He brought stability to Germany, and his racist ideas included England in the top racial group. Hitler was convinced until a year or two into the war that England would eventually rally to his cause, and that England and Germany would rule Europe together.)
I noticed above some generalized comments about the Church’s programs for the youth, that we are losing youth because we don’t know how to keep them interested, and the like. Even though I started this thread with a rant about the imbalance between the YM and YW programs, generally speaking I think that the Church does an amazing job with the youth. We provide opportunities for leadership, public speaking, service, and learning that would be difficult to obtain for many youth outside the Church (especially those from the lower economic classes). Yes, many youth fall away, but I am very skeptical of claims that the YW/YM programs are to blame for that.
Also, several people have observed that local leaders can do a great deal to bridge the gap that now exists, and I believe this. For example, my wife just left with a Suburban-load of YW on a day hike. We can do better, but the sky is not falling.
There are at least a few possible solutions to the outside imbalance between the Eagle Scout award and the Personal Progress medallion.
1. The church could find a secular(ish) program for girls, or for boys and girls, and form an agreement with it as it has with the Boy Scouts.
2. The church could end its agreement with the Boy Scouts and use its own youth program, like the Duty to God award. (I don’t think this is that silly of an idea.)
3. In YW activities, more emphasis could be put on things like regular volunteering, learning computer skills, or basically anything that would have outside value.
When I was in YW, I was never very bothered by differing budgets or the different amounts of fun in YM/YW activities. What bothered me was that I, as a good Mormon girl, was expected to waste a large portion of my valuable high school free time working on Personal Progress, something that most colleges outside of BYU would not even recognize, let alone find impressive. And there were the good Mormon boys, spending an approximately equal amount of time on something that would be impressive (to Americans, at least) for life.
Maybe I am just uninformed, but I don’t know of any girls equivalent to Eagle Scout that is widely recognized as being comparable. I know that the Girl Scouts have something, but I don’t even know what it is called, and I suspect that I am not unusual in that regard. So, while the requirements may be comparable to those for Eagle Scout, it doesn’t carry the same weight. Perhaps having the Church embrace such a program — adding thousands of young women to the rolls immediately — would lead to greater recognition, but I don’t know if we have that sort of market power.
Your second solution merely makes the boys’ achievement as meaningless to the outside world as the medallion. I assume the point of that is to make the programs equal, but pursuing equality by bringing one side down has never appealed to me. Much better to raise the other side.
I like your third suggestion best. While the achievement may not be recognized by the outside world in the same way as the Eagle Scout, making the programs equally challenging and equally worthwhile in terms of life preparation would be a big and welcome step.
“We can do better, but the sky is not falling.”
I beg to differ. My experience suggests John’s earlier post is correct, that we are in serious trouble.
This is starkly apparent if you have ever had the responsibility, as I have on a yearly basis, of reviewing with local CES teachers any stake’s “Potential Institute List” — page after page after page of young men and women who could be attending Institute, and who we invite to attend Institute, but who have gone totally inactive and/or have dropped through the cracks to the point that we often can’t even find them.
Whatever the merits or demerits of Scouting, it is clear that it is NOT spiritually preparing the majority of our young men to receive the Melchezidek Priesthood. Many, probably most, drop out of the Church and disappear between high school and college. The roll of Prospective Elders in every stake I have visited is frighteningly long.
The same unfortunately appears to be true of YW “Personal Progress” — we’re losing them by the thousands and the tens of thousands.
From repeated messages in Stake Presidency training, we know that Salt Lake knows this has reached a crisis stage, but it’s not clear that they know what to do about it, or at least what to do differently. They keep repeating the same admonitions about “strengthening youth,” which are perfectly fine in the abstract, but it is painfully obvious that our implementation is a disaster.
I hope we can do better, ’cause the sky is falling.
Is attending Institute the measure of activity? I’m not sure that would work. People drop off the face of the earth or through the cracks for a variety of reasons. A lot of people just don’t bother to attend institute but are still active in going to church.
The question isn’t whether people attend Institute. Every year Salt Lake requires each stake to identify to CES all young men and women in the stake who could potentially attend Institute (i.e., who aren’t away on missionary service, away at some college or military service, etc.). The Stake Presidency and/or High Council is responsible for compiling the list. CES uses the list to contact and invite potential students to attend Institute.
The process requires a ward by ward review of the circumstances of every young adult within the stake boundaries. Those reviews are shocking and frightening experiences as you realize the number of young adults who are not only not going to be attending Institute, but not having anything to do with the Church whatsoever.
Interesting comments on the Boy Scout program and Hitler youth. Isn’t it possible that Hitler may have copied some of Scouting’s attributes when he (or one of his henchmen) created the Hitler Youth?
obi-wan: “Shocking!” “Frightening!” “The sky is falling!”
You might be right, but I doubt it, and your arguments about institute are unconvincing to me.
It occurs to me that our different perspectives might be due to a different baseline. If you expect every young man and young woman to remain active in the Church, then the numbers truly are appalling. Coming from a culture where church was about the uncoolest thing imaginable, I tend to think that our numbers are astonishingly good.
“obi-wan: “Shocking!” “Frightening!” “The sky is falling!” You might be right, but I doubt it, and your arguments about institute are unconvincing to me.”
First, let me repeat what I said to Danithew: my comment has nothing to do with Institute, or Institute attendance. Cooperation with CES merely happens to be the mechanism by which the yearly review occurs.
In the Stake where I reside, our review for the current year indicates 85-90% of the young adults of record are completely inactive. In the region, it ranges between 80-95%. The numbers are pretty typical for the area.
We don’t have good numbers for prior activity, but it appears that nearly all of the names reviewed were active enough as youth that Bishops can extensively comment on their likes/dislikes and current status. Less than 5% seem to be “never heard of or saw this person before.”
I don’t know what your baseline is, but I’d say losing 80-95% of our youth is pretty bad by anybody’s standards.
I also repeat that Church HQ is clearly alarmed and keeps issuing directives that Stake Presidencies must give this more attention, although Salt Lake doesn’t seem to know what specifically to do any more than we do. At least, they haven’t suggested any specifics (other than to try reactivating them by inviting them to Institute, of course).
obi-wan: It is really helpful to see your numbers. Thanks for taking the time to share those. I don’t know all of the numbers here, but I just talked to the Institute Director last Sunday and he told me that the singles ward (ages 18-30) in Madison has an average of 50-60 people per week. Since those won’t be exactly the same people each week, I assume the number of “active” singles is probably a bit higher, but this is just a guess so I won’t quibble. Then let’s say that 80% of the singles in this stake are inactive. That means we have somewhere in the neighborhood of 200-240 inactive singles ages 18-30 on our rolls. Is that possible? I suppose it is. Is this alarming? Perhaps. If you say that HQ is alarmed, I have no reason to doubt you. Is it attributable to a failure of the YM/YW programs? You still have not convinced me. (Not that this is your main goal in life.)
We have been talking about the youth programs of the Church, and you claim that they are broken and need to be fixed. Your evidence is that lots of single adults are inactive. I assume that your argument goes along the following lines: a really great youth program would (1) reactivate those who were baptized at eight years old and fell away before they reached the youth program; (2) retain those who reach the age of 12 as active members of the Church; and (3) build strong enough testimonies among our youth to sustain them after they reach the age of majority. Given the varied influences on a person between the ages of 12-22, I think that you expect too much from the youth programs.
To Gordon Smith: The highest award in Girl Scouting is the Gold Award. It has skill requirements, activity requirements, badge requirements, and a service project. Having served 4 years as a District Advancement Chairman in BSA, working with 250 LDS and non-LDS youth to obtain Eagle Scout rank, and having reviewed the Gold Award requirements of the GSUSA, it appears to me that the Gold Award is the equivalent of the Eagle Scout Award.
To Obi-wan: I remember from my own experience as a youth when I participated in a non-LDS troop that I was into the activities, merit badges, and fellowship with other Scouts. By contrast, I also attended an LDS troop run by a leader that had no understanding of the BSA program and tried to shove Aaronic Priesthood lessons down our throats during Troop Meeting on MIA night. I can count on the fingers of one hand the boys (now men) who are active in the church today. Leave the preaching for Sunday quorum meeting and lead by example doing activites during the week. The BSA program is the ACTIVITY arm of the Aaronic Priesthood; abiding by the Scout Oath, Law, Motto, and Slogan teaches boys to lead a well-balanced life.
“I don’t know all of the numbers here, but I just talked to the Institute Director last Sunday and he told me that the singles ward (ages 18-30) in Madison has an average of 50-60 people per week. Since those won’t be exactly the same people each week, I assume the number of “active” singles is probably a bit higher, but this is just a guess so I won’t quibble. Then let’s say that 80% of the singles in this stake are inactive. That means we have somewhere in the neighborhood of 200-240 inactive singles ages 18-30 on our rolls. Is that possible?”
The algorithm is somewhat more complicated than that — first, assuming that many of the people in your local singles ward are UW students, some of them may not have their records in your stake, but in their home stake elsewhere. Second, some number of your stake’s active YSAs are going to be away on missions, at other colleges, or in the military.
But assuming your stake is a normal size, 250 or so singles between 18-30 is a probable number.
“Given the varied influences on a person between the ages of 12-22, I think that you expect too much from the youth programs.”
Um — why exactly would we bother having youth programs if they are not converting the youth? There’s no reason for the Church to be in the business of baby-sitting, career counseling, and/or entertainment. There are other community groups who do those things, and do them better.
Let me put it this way: based on what I’ve told you, my bishop is a statistic. Of four children raised in the Church, only one, the youngest, now attending Utah State, remains active. The others dropped out between the ages of 18 and 22. The eldest married outside the Church and now attends an evangelical church of some type or other.
His story is not unusual. I gather that you have something in the range of 4-5 children. If, ten years, from now, only one remains in the Church, are you likely to say “Hey, honey, 20% isn’t too bad — you can’t really expect more than that given all the influences on young people nowadays.” Somehow I doubt it.
Wow. Are you guys *REALLY members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints? I logged on looking for ideas for the Young Men in my ward; what I found looks like a bunch of haughty high-minded self-agrandizement. Please, remember whose church you represent and and whom you aspire to become. Hmm.
obi-wan: “why exactly would we bother having youth programs if they are not converting the youth?”
This will seem like a smark aleck response, but I don’t intend it to be: Church programs do not convert youth; that is a job for the Spirit. In my view, Church programs support the parents in raising their children. Even when youth leaders and parents do their best, however, the youth must gain their own testimonies.
In my view, therefore, laying the problem of young adult inactivity on the doorstep of the youth programs is quite a stretch. Still, if your numbers are right, it doesn’t surprise me that the Church leaders are anxious to do anything that they can to improve the situation, and the youth programs are the most sensible point of entry, since they are subject to control of the Church.
jfrank: It’s usually a good idea to read the comment policies of a site before you post a comment. Try this one: “Critiques of others’ positions are to be expected, but those critiques should be of the argument, not the person.” Or this one: “it is … unacceptable to call into question a commenter’s personal righteousness.”
By the way, does the word “irony” mean anything to you? You might look it up the next time you think about using the word “haughty.”
Ah, the zeal of youth.
OKOK. You’re right. I had a moment of weakness and I deserve the lashings you (gordon, jack) doled out. Forgive my ignorance regarding your site and understand this: I have the highest respect for your personal accomplishments and stations in life. However, I viewed the words above from a different perspective from which you wrote them (not knowing who you were, your past experiences, beliefs, ambitions). It seemed to me that the comments were coming from a collection of Political Scientists (of which I am one), than from members of the Church. Bottom line is this: I believe that instead of opining the effectiveness of a Church program aimed at strengthening the youth, perhaps we should leave that responsibility to those who have been given the appropriate keys, while we ourselves get to the business of showing charity to each young person – active of inactive. Am I missing something here?
jfrank: Yes there are many commentors here at T&S who are extremely accomplished in their respective fields. I’ve learned much from their insights. But, lest you become overly intimidated, I’ll have you know that I personally am nothing but a troll without a highschool diploma.
Continuing with your thought about showing charity toward the youth, I would like to say that this is the very strength of the youth programs in the Church. As a father of six, I can attest to the high quality of leadership over the youth organizations in our ward. My children love their leaders and eagerly look forward to the next activity. Regardless of whatever weakness there may be in the YM/YW organizations as set forth in general policy, I am confident that the love and concern which most adult leaders have for the youth cover a multitude of “organizational” weaknesses.
That said, I’m not convinced that obi-wan’s numbers reflect only a deficiency in the youth programs. It just might be possible that the world is becoming a little more wicked –
jfrank, That was a very classy response, and I am glad that you stuck around. I hope that you will stay and participate in other threads. I think you will find that most of us are sincerely trying to work out puzzles that we encounter in the various aspects of our Church lives. Sometimes we misfire, but all in all, I think you will find T&S attracts a diverse and thoughtful crowd.
In this instance, I started a thread with some questions about the youth programs, and I have learned a lot from the comments. In the most recent exchange, for example, I learned a lot from obi-wan about the extent of the youth inactivity problem in his stake, which forced me to think about the issue in my stake. Even though we still find ourselves disagreeing, I think we have narrowed down the range of issues on which we disagree. Moreover, he has forced me to think more deeply about what I expect the youth programs to accomplish for my children.
Just tonight, in response to this thread, I had a very long talk with my two teenagers about their responsibilities to seek and obtain a testimony of the Gospel. And I recommitted myself to do all that I can to help them in that process. If that is what T&S does for me, I would count it a success.
“This will seem like a smark aleck response, but I don’t intend it to be: Church programs do not convert youth; that is a job for the Spirit.”
Gordon — that is, pardon my dated vocabulary, a cop-out. Missionaries don’t convert people either, that is a job for the Spirit. That doesn’t mean we are going to stop sending out missionaries or stop trying to get them to do a better job.
Fill in the same blank for every other Church program.
If youth programs have no appreciable impact on youth conversions, because its a job for the Spirit, then we can all close up shop and go home. Which is fine, ’cause it will save us all a lot of bother.
If the programs can have an appreciable impact, and clearly aren’t, then we are blowing it, and need to fix them. Take your pick.
obi-wan: I think we about at an end here, but in the event that we have interested spectators, I refuse to let you end on this strained bit of reasoning: “Missionaries don’t convert people either, that is a job for the Spirit. That doesn’t mean we are going to stop sending out missionaries or stop trying to get them to do a better job.” First, I have never suggested abandoning the youth programs altogether, so I have no idea where you are headed with that. Second, missionary work is an excellent example in support of my point. Since I have been in the Church, the missionary department has tinkered with many aspects of missionary work, but guess what? No silver bullets. As long as the missionaries aren’t chasing people away from the Church, the various programs designed to “get them to do a better job” don’t really make much of a difference in convert baptisms.
My last hurrah: You seem to think that improvements in the youth programs can make the difference between activity and inactivity for a substantial number of youth, and I simply disagree. In my view, activity v. inactivity has a lot more to do with the influence of parents and friends and Church leaders than with the content of the youth programs. If you took the programs away completely, you would remove the influence of youth leaders, and that would make a difference on the activity issue. But changing the content? I don’t buy it. The content still matters to those who go through the programs, however, even if it does not determine whether they are active after they get out, and that was what motivated my original post.
Apparently your area has many problems with singles. From this you wish to infer that the youth program needs to be fixed. This is not the way to do program evaluation. Gordon’s very good point is that the singles in an area are not simply a deterministic function of the youth program. Their activity is affected by selective migration, parental attitudes, the primary program, peers, individual attitudes, the singles program, the institue itself, and a bunch of other effects. A good youth program might be able to help a little bit in institute attendance, or a bad one might hurt a lot, but it is simply implausible to infer that the bad outcome you see is all the result of solely the youth program.
This is especially the case when there is selective migration, so that more active singles tend to congregate in one place/city and less active singles tend not to be in that place. Singles are very transient, so if your area has substantial inflows or outflows, this could be a very important part of why your area has such high rates of inactivity, but other areas do not. You provide a nice case study in this with your Bishop. The active child is at Utah State, so unless you live in Logan, there is some important migration to consider.
Of course, singles’ activity in institute may well be horrendously low church-wide, but it is strange to expect the youth program to be the major determinant. It can have some effect, but it is a condiment to the meal provided by the family and peers. You could just as easily indite the primary program, the current singles program, or the parents in your stake. A bad outcome does not reveal what the failure is, only that some failure exists. Unless the youth program is one of the 2 or 3 major determinants in institute attendance, it probably is not the place to look to fix institute failure.
Lastly, do you feel that inactivity at institute is largely the same as inactivity in the Church? I would find that hard to believe. As an 18 year old back for the summer fro BYU, I didn’t regularly attend institute even as I prepared for my mission! Just as many women don’t attend Enrichment, many people probably skip out on institute. This may reflect a need to change institute or encourage attendance, but I don’t see how one can infer that the major problem is bad youth programs.
The way to study a program and actually get a reliable answer is to compare different areas that are otherwise comparable, or whose differences can be controlled for, but with different youth programs. Then compare how the youth who went through each of the programs fare. This has to be done carefully in order to get it right, but that is the basic idea behind good program evaluation.
Wow, I can’t believe I read that entire thread. After spending that time I can’t help but make a few points.
Before I go further I want to make some statements to avoid being misinterpreted. I don’t think an equal allocation of resoures is optimal, but do think that something should be done in respect to the girls program. I also think the scouting program can be improved, but believe it to be a great program and hope the church continues to utilize it.
Before we can allocate resources to the YM/YW programs we have to know what the purpose of those programs are. It seems like a good place to start would be to strengthen those in those organizations to be stronger in the gospel. I would argue that due to the different roles men and women have, that different methods should be used to acheive those goals.
I am a guy and have been involved in the YM program, so I have stronger opinions on what is working there and what could be improved. There are certain characteristics that we want to promote in our young men. Leadership ability is a primary one. Scouts is largely about teaching that ability. This is what troops and patrols are valuable. to be a leader you have to have somebody to lead.
Many of the posters on this thread seem to believe the purpose of YM/YW programs is (or should be)to have fun. While that may be a byproduct, I think that is short sighted.
On my mission a few people went home without finishing. Not because they weren’t worthy or even because they didn’t have a testimony. They just didn’t like being on a mission. The problem discussed about youth going inactive seems to be of a similiar cause. In my opinion this is getting to be a major problem for the church and to me the problem is the same and is often the problem with the young mens program.
It isn’t about how much resources are used, but about structure, both in the program and society in general. In my ward, many of the young boys play video games all day and get beaten on hikes by 70 year old ladies. I think learning not be a wus makes you stronger in the gospel. Boys should be taken on long hard grueling hikes, not because it is fun, but because it makes them men.
The problem isn’t that the church uses scouting, but that most wards don’t really use it and implement all the structure it provides. Part of that may be because of the size of the troops. I think LDS troops are to small and leaders tend to move in and out of the program to often. Perhaps there could be a stake troop that meets all together, and each ward has patrols? I like that idea.
I don’t remember very many sunday school lessons, but I can remember a bunch of things I learned both from leaders and other scouts on outings, not the least of which is the feeling of accomplishment when you acheive something. That includes the reward of finishing a hard hike where I wanted to sit down and die, and the reward of a patch to put on my sash. I don’t see anything wrong with being exposed to lots of things a little bit through merit badges. If it is superficial exposure, then I think that is a problem of implementation, not the program itself. I want my kids to be exposed to all kinds of stuff. That doesn’t prevent them from doing other stuff at a more involved level. That lesson taught me that work and effort are required to get ahead in life, which translates into have the gumption to finish a mission even when it was hard.
Ok, now that I have finished that diatribe. I don’t think the problem with the YW program is not enough camping trips. But I do think they would benefit from some sort of program where they learn gospel principles outside of a church building. As a boy I often learned more from another youth in the process of just doing stuff with others who have a testimony. The nice thing about camping is their is sufficient time that teaching moments don’t have to be forced. Sometimes they need a little prodding, but often youth just come up with them on their own through the program activities.
While I am not saying it isn’t important for girls to learn leadership, there are lots of other charcteristics as espoused by the young womens values that the church seeks to instill. It is the difference in those characteristics that drives the programs to be different. The young womens program needs to find more innovative ways to teach those characteristics. Not only by having activities dedicated to those characteristics, but by practicing them together in unrelated activities. Youth learn much more by a good example of a fellow youth and that can be encouraged in activities.
Arman: “Wow, I can’t believe I read that entire thread.”
I can’t decide if you should be praised or mocked! ;-)
But seriously, thanks for your thoughtful comments.
I think mocked is probably more warranted. I do have one more idea. There is a congressional medal that anyone can earn both boys and girls that is quite prestigious. LDS youth do much of this anyway as much of it is service based. There seems to be a desire for an award for girls can get, this is one I would like my daughter to pursue when she gets old enough. You can start at age 13 1/2. There are four area’s you set goals in and by reaching those goals you gain levels toward the congressional gold medal for youth. The categories are volunteer public service, physical fitness, Personal development, and expedition/exploration. But you can read all about it at the link below.
There seems to be a lot of speculation about the purposes of the YM program here, which strikes me as odd, given that there are clearly enunciated purposes for the Aaronic Priesthood:
Purposes of the Aaronic Priesthood
Young men between the ages of 12 and 17 are in a time of preparation and personal growth. Accordingly, the purposes of the Aaronic Priesthood are to help each person who is ordained to:
Become converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ and live by its teachings.
Serve faithfully in priesthood callings and fulfill the responsibilities of his priesthood office.
Give meaningful service.
Prepare and live worthily to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood and temple ordinances.
Prepare to serve an honorable full-time mission.
Obtain as much education as possible.
Prepare to become a worthy husband and father.
Give proper respect to women, girls, and children.
We recite these every Sunday and every Mutual night.
Someone came to me last Sunday and suggested that we read these at the beginning of each priesthood opening exercise on Sunday. It sounds like your ward does that. I can’t decide if this is more like the sacrament prayer, which I listen to every week, or the safety instructions at the beginning of every flight, when I just read the newspaper.
How come only YM & YW recite pledges? Are the M.P. & R.S. so on track with their organized purpose that they don’t need one? When I was a teen they didn’t have the A.P. recite that pledge. I only heard it first a couple of months ago, and wished they had done it when I was a youth because it would have helped frame my progress in that quorum.
I too can’t believe I read that whole thing. For what it’s worth, I was effectively a YW convert (we were mostly inactive from when I was 10 until I was 14, my mother joined when I was 6, and anyway my nonmember father had custody until I was 12), and I *never* felt like YW was particularly worthwhile. I wanted to get the medallions, though I never finished anything other than the Beehive award (started college at 16 ^_^), but that was just because I had experience in Girl Scouting and Campfire and liked that sort of thing. We were in a small branch (my second year of Seminary there were two students – me [the only Laurel] and the only the Priest) and the focus of YW was “desperately keeping you people coming to church,” which meant lots of “fun” activities involving cookouts and crafts (the only Priest later was asked to teach the youth Sunday School class – every third or fourth Sunday was devoted to games of “Spiritual Hangman”) My youngest sister on this side of the family is currently in YW in our much larger ward (40 girls attending YW on Sundays or Wednesdays), and the focus of YW is “keeping you people occupied for an hour” (as far as I can tell). She regales us with chronicles of spending five months tying quilts for every activity.
As much fun as it is to contemplate whether it’s better to let children be themselves and be free or use a structured program of rewards to instill patterns of behavior and ensure basic competence (we’re also home schooling veterans, so that debate isn’t new to me), it’d probably help the youth of the Church more if the programs we have in place now would be utilized properly. But then again, I am in the “mission field,” I suppose. Maybe things are different out West; then again, my experience in visiting wards in the Long Beach, CA area (where everyone else in the youth had annual passes to Disneyland, Knott’s, and Raging Waters, and as a direct result I couldn’t attend a third of the youth activities) suggests otherwise. Personal Progress can be an excellent program (and is easily tailored to girls who have outdoorsy interests) for those who actually use it. And, incidentally, a lot of the stuff is pretty fun.
“DOWN WITH FACIAL HAIR! DOWN WITH CLOTHING!”
BYU already has the first one down. Waiting for the second one to happen any day now…
This is a very long thread that seems to have pretty much died a while a go, but I just found it and I wanted to make a couple comments.
To those of you who believe that the BSA is going to someday depart from The Church’s standards and that The Church will subsequently drop the program, just remember how many of the scouting executives and volunteers are LDS. Rumor has it that it’s over half. As long as that is the case, I don’t see the BSA caving in on the values the Church loves it for.
To those who wish there was a generally recognized program/award for young women comparable to BSA and the Eagle ranking, and especially to those who suggest the Church start a program like BSA for young women, please remember that the BSA was not started by the Church, rather by people who were anxiously engaged in a good work of their own accord, not being commanded in all things. It was after the program was established that the Church adopted it. A similar pattern could (and probably would have to be) followed to get a similar program and recognition for young women. I doubt the Church really cares about national recognition or something you can put on a resume, but if the program fits, it is obviously not against such a thing.
Looks like this topic burned out two months ago but I just found it tonight. Couldn’t begin to read all the comments. Got down to about 90 or so and had to fly through the rest.
I have been a Girl Scout Leader for the past 10 years and have found it to be a marvelous program for my daughter. One very positive thing for me also is that the church can’t kick me out by calling me to a different position — a problem that has been an annoying but necessary part of my experience as a Young Women and Boy Scout leader in the church.
For my daughter, in Girl Scouts she has been able to participate in a great variety of experiences which are as varied as earning her community service pin by working 50 hours at the Humane Society to back packing for three nights in Haleakala National Park. Through GS she has also been a tour guide at a botanical garden, volunteered with Special Olympics and Relay for Life and run a three-day drama camp for younger scouts. She is currently writing up her Gold Award Project proposal (which by the way is more difficult to complete than an Eagle Project) and this summer she is attending an International Girl Scout Camporee in Oregon.
In comparison her Young Women experience has been quite narrow. Because of her extensive scouting experiences, my daughter’s take on the YW program is that it is great for spiritual growth but extremely lacking in other aspects of personal development.
Until recently I served as committee chairman for our ward scout troop for 5 years. We have three sons and I can with great authority say that the comparison of the YW program with Scouting (even before Duty to God) is a joke. The commitment and time required to achieve an Eagle as compared with the YW medallion is at least five to one. Add on to the scouting program Duty to God and the ratio of time commitment for young men vs. young women is probably about eight to one. Do we really need to plow that much more commitment, time and resources into our young men than our young women? Not to mention the obvious fact that the YM program is so much more balanced than the YW program. When I go to New Beginnings and YW in Excellence I can’t help but think that these families can’t possibly be taking this program seriously. It is so obviously lacking in balance. Besides spiritual topics, which of course are of prime importance, young women also need to learn about important areas that will affect their lives in the future such as money management, first aid, citizenship, physical fitness, nutrition, languages and cultures, community service, the environment, nature and outdoor life — not just Girl’s Camp.
It would be an insult to the hard work of the young men when they get Eagle to have a similar presentation to YW for completing their program. There is such a disparity between the two programs in time, effort and acheivement. It is sad for my daughter — thank goodness she does have Girl Scouts!!! She will be duly recognized in a magnificent ceremony when she does complete her Gold Award complete with the lettes of recognition from our state’s senators, reps and the President of the United States.
As far as why the church does not use the Girl Scout program the answer is twofold. One is that the Girl Scout program is not franchised as the Boy Scout program is. Therefore, the church can not “own” the program as it does the Boy Scout program. Secondly, Girl Scouts has always been run by very “progressive” women. It was progressive — controversial– from the start and is still run at the national level by liberal women whose philosophies do not always jive with the Church’s goals and principles. However, for me on a local level I have never found a conflict between my values as a member of the church and the content of the program of my Girl Scout Troop.
All the discussion about budget above to me is irrelevant. Give my daughter a program she can sink her teeth into. It should not be Boy Scouts or Duty to God. It should meet the needs of the girls and in so doing should, of course, have as much depth and breadth as the program we give our boys.
Yes! to comment #181. I absolutely agree. I would like to hear a response from the Young Women’s General Presidency. I do not feel that it would be challenging the Church at all. I am a faithful Mormon who believes it is not blasphemous to ask our leaders questions about what appears to be inequality in the teaching and training of our young men and young women.
A view from the UK.
Over here, the YM program is detached from Scouting and has it’s own series of awards more akin (although in some cases a little more physical) to the YW program.
This leaves both sexes free to pursue scouting (either in mixed troops or single-sex) for their own development and benefit.