On February 8, 2013, the Boy Scouts of America will celebrate its 103rd birthday. Founded in 1907 in England by Lord Robert Baden-Powell, the Scouting movement was established on the belief that boys could be taught character through outdoor activities—conducted under the guidance of a Scoutmaster.
American publisher William Boyce brought Scouting to the United States, and the Boy Scouts of America was incorporated in 1910 (adding "brave," "clean" and "reverent" to the English Scout Law). Scouting was integrated as part of the Young Men's Mutual Improvement Association in 1911, and in 1913, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints became the first official chartered organization of the BSA, adapting their own “M.I.A. Scouts” program to the national movement, and establishing a pattern whereby other organizations could internalize Scouting. Since then, prophets and Church leaders have been active in promoting the Scouting movement, and today approximately 16% of total Scouting youth are registered in units sponsored by the LDS Church.
But what does all of this mean to the average female? Whether or not we are boys, or men, or are active in the Scouting organization, the Boy Scouts of America has likely touched our lives in a positive way.
I am a girl—and I’m grateful for Scouting. Most of the young men I dated were Scouts and went on to become Eagle Scouts. On a date, they knew how to open the door and show respect. They could carry on an intelligent conversation. They weren’t afraid to sing – a quality I appreciate. Their Scouting activities had taught them to work with their hands, follow through on an assignment, and make something of their lives. I had good dating experiences, thanks to good Boy Scouts.
Beyond his leadership skills, however, he can fix things around the house. He even mends his own clothes! His sewing skills were developed sewing on patches and beading Indian costumes – a hobby he picked up through Scouting. When we are stuck in the snow, or want to cook in a Dutch oven, or have a science project to complete, he has the knowledge and experience to help us. And most importantly, in a world where morality is deteriorating, I am grateful for his lifelong commitment to live "on my honor." My married life has benefited from Scouting.
I am a mother—and I’m grateful for Scouting. I worried when my oldest son went to his first, week-long Scout camp. He packed his own back pack. He set up his own tent. He built his own fire. He wrote his own skit. He made his own arrow. He crafted his own cardboard boat. He rowed himself across the lake…and sank. But he grabbed his paddle and swam to safety. He cried. He wanted to come home early. He stuck it out…and came home a different boy. The following week he conducted a court of honor, attended the baptism of a fellow Boy Scout, organized a campout, and bore his testimony in Sacrament meeting. I’m grateful for Scouting.
As the mother of several sons, it is obvious to me that boys are uniquely rambunctious, noisy, and active, and are generally in need of greater physical and mental direction. Thank goodness for Scouting activities which provide them with productive, moral ways to use their hands and minds.
Baden Powell said that “Scouting is a game with a purpose.” Scouting’s purposes have always supported my purposes—as a daughter, woman, wife, and mother.
And so, even though I’m a girl, I am grateful for Boy Scouting. This inspired program has blessed my life, and the lives of my family members. I join my words with those of President George Albert Smith, “I feel grateful to the Lord that Sir Robert Baden-Powell was impressed—may I say, inspired—to give scouting to the world.” (September 1948 Improvement Era, p.558)