Re: Religion in Scouting
Settummanque, the blackeagle (WALTOML@WKUVX1.BITNET)
Tue, 15 Jun 1993 21:42:34 CDT
The question came up about religion and Scouting. I accidently
deleted the entire question (I think that question #3 is missing
here...if someone can repost that one question, I would really
appreciate it!) before I could answer it this evening....but here
>> We've been [informally/off the record] thinking about some sort of
>> non-denominational religious thing built into troop activities, such as
>> grace before meals or optional service on weekends that we have campouts.
>> Please comment on all that you feel qualified to answer:
>> 1) Does your troop/scouting group do any sort of religious
>> (non-denominational) activities? If so, what are they?
The seven units that I've served as "advisor" to (five Scout Troops,
two Explorer Posts as the "senior leader"; other units as
"assistants") all have some period of time set aside for personal
reflection. This ranges in the form of a brief "saying over the food"
to periods of time that NO programming is to be conducted and gives
each person time to pray, reflect, or simply to sit and stare (I've
called this time just that on our program sheets: "sit and stare
time". The first time that a parent asked me what that was, I simply
told them that this is the time set aside for the Scout/Explorer to do
absolutely NOTHING if they choose to do so. One parent called me on
this, until after the second campout that his son and the first one
in which he attended...he was so tuckered out from the constant
programming, that I found him at the edge of the campsite sitting. I
asked him what was wrong, and he said "I just realized why you put in
that sitting and staring time....that's not for them, that's for
We don't have "services" except for those conducted at District or
>> 2) If you answered yes to #1, what do you think of the activities? How
>> could they be changed to better your experience?
I don't think that they could be more better utilized. In all of my
units, I stress that we are constantly doing something. One of my
favorite memories of a "sitting and staring time" was three years ago,
when I took a group of Explorers from EKU to Chicago. We were going
fifty miles an minute until someone suggested that we spent some time
just looking at the sunrise from Lake Michigan on Sunday morning. Not
everyone was interested and when Sunday morning came around, three of
the group was unwakeable! We drove to the lakefront area at Fort
Sheridan (where we were staying at the Scout Lodge) and waited in the
partly cloudy morning for the sun to peek through the clouds. There
was not any sounds except for the birds, the occasional "Man, it's
cold!" (this was in mid- October) and finally, the sun came out over
the lake and we could sense *something* as we stood on the rocks.
It was one of those moments that made you glad to be alive and glad to
be right where you were.
We stared and sat there for about thirty minutes after the sun came
up, and then we returned to the warmth of the van and back to the
Lodge to wake the others up and to go eat breakfast.
Getting all of the Scouts to participate has always been a problem,
and I find out quickly those that don't have any kind of religious
education really fast. My job as a Scouter is NOT to educate them;
that's the role of our churches and their parents. My job is to
enlighten them that somehow, someway, all of the things around them
did not just GET THERE...there was some process and some reasoning and
it really don't matter if God or Jehovah or Jesus or even the atom
smasher *did it*; it matters that they appreciate what it is that
I've told this story before about the Scout that I've had in one of my
Troops in Germany...his father, an Infantry sergeant, thought that
Scouts were "sissy" and forbade him from coming to the meetings. His
mother, a German citizen, "covered" for him while he went to the
meetings, until he started waiting for the boy every Monday night and
would beat him and his mother something fierce. We finally got him
and his mother some help, and he started to go to the Catholic church
where his mother was forbidden to go to afterwards. Scouting *does*
make a difference in the religious upbringing of youth...because it,
like school and home, are grounds whereby the application of your
faith is used.
>> 4) ALL: What does the Troop Chaplain Aide do? What is their place in the
>> troop and how does he relate to the boys? I know the official definition
>> of duties, but what are his working responsibilities.
I've only had one Troop Chaplain, but I can tell you what *I* did when
I was part of the first group of Boy Scouts and Explorers appointed as
Troop Chaplains under the then-new BSA program to have youth Troop
I was responsible for the promotion of the religious awards program.
I was also in charge of insuring that at each campout or event, that
we have time set aside for "services". We had a great Scoutmaster
that could take lots of those "scoutmaster's minutes" found in the
Scoutmasters' Handbook and applied them to life in general. (so you
can see where I got those ideas for mine from!!) During the Council
and District events, I got the list of the "religious services" and
made sure that the SPL got the times and locations right.
I also made sure that when a Scout completed a religious award, that
the Troop knows about the time and date for the award ceremony in the
church. Finally, during the award ceremonies, I was the person bring
the Scout to be awarded forward to the priest or pastor.
Mike L. Walton
former Troop Chaplain (Troop 801, Fort Knox Ky.)
( Settummanque, the blackeagle... ) )
( (MAJ) Mike L. Walton (among other "endearing" names) ( )
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