Sharing our Scouting experiences is one way we strengthen each other, so I thought I’d share one of my eleven-year-old (EYO) Scout experiences with you. Hopefully it will give you some ideas as you deliver on the promise of Scouting.
After the bishop extended this calling to me, I recall carefully and prayerfully pondering how best to put together an EYO Scout program that would ignite the boys with a life-long love of Scouting. I was moved to re-read the Church’s Scouting Handbook (the one with the olive green cover). As I read, I was impressed with this guidance:
Eleven-year-old boys meet separately from the Aaronic Priesthood–age Scouts because they are not yet part of a quorum. They preferably meet in the daytime, but if evening meetings are necessary, the boys should not be away from their homes late at night and must be carefully supervised until they return home. (Boldface added for emphasis).
I knew meeting in the daytime would be a challenge, but decided to follow the counsel as written. I settled on the EYO Scouts meeting every other week at my house starting at 5:30 pm for 2 hours. I buried a cut-in-half 55-gallon drum in my back yard, we erected a dining fly, and we built a corral with a pioneering gateway and flag pole. With cut-in-half logs as seats around the campfire pit, it was a cozy campsite.
Once a month I met with the patrol leader and assistant patrol leader, and we planned in detail our two monthly patrol meetings and our one outing. Because we would be meeting at 5:30 for patrol meetings and missing dinner at home, I challenged the EYO patrol to cook quality dinners and desserts using Dutch ovens at our patrol meetings and outings. The Scouts would arrive at 5:30, start a camp fire and start the coals for the cooking fire as a pre-activity. Knowing that they could start a fire upon arrival always stimulated their excitement. We would then hold an opening ceremony raising the flag on the flag pole that was part of the corral.
They would then prepare dinner—and oh, what dinners they would prepare! I like great cooking so the recipes I would give them to prepare were things like: jambalaya, rock-Cornish hens in a mustard-lemon sauce with peas and rice, Oregon Trail beef stew . . . you get the picture. After the first great meals, they were hooked on Dutch oven cooking and good eating.
While our meals cooked, we would turn our attention to the interpatrol activity working on other Scouting skills. The corral doubled as a hitching post and they built an ax yard for learning woods tools. Of course we would play Scout games, light the lanterns as the evening closed in, and then set the table to enjoy our Dutch oven meal. At the end of the evening, about 7:30 pm, we would close with prayer around the dying campfire—full of wood smoke, our tummies delighted, and comradery high. Parents would round the corner and chat for a while, then depart with their Scouts.
The result of this experience is that eight of nine boys made Eagle Scout. Within their year as EYO Scouts, each gained a love for Scouting and the outdoors rapidly mastering their First Class Scout skills. I was especially pleased that one was baptized and shared his testimony with his brother who also joined the Church. Both have attended BYU and both have served missions.
It was not easy to leave work early on those Wednesday afternoons. I was often torn but trusted that if I chose the right in serving the boys, that all would be wonderfully blessed. It always worked out well for me professionally, and it worked out well for the boys.
My hope in sharing this experience with you is that you will trust in taking your plan to the Lord and trust in the promptings of the Holy Ghost. I hope you will challenge yourself and lengthen your stride to build rich experiences that will last a lifetime with the youth in your charge and prepare them to be enthusiastic Scouts of the Aaronic Priesthood.
-Stan Stolpe has served in multiple Scouting positions at the unit, district, council, regional, and national levels in several different councils and overseas. His current positions include district roundtable commissioner, district Cub Scout training chairman, and assistant Scoutmaster for a new Scout troop. He resides in Alexandria, Virginia, serving in the Mount Vernon Virginia Stake. The views and opinions expressed in this message are solely those of the author.