“I’ve got that Scouting Spirit up in my head…” You have likely heard or sung that song at a campfire or pack meeting. And it may be your most—or least—favorite tune. But all music aside, I’m writing today about the Scouting Spirit.
There is an undeniable spirit in Scouting. I can’t fully explain why, but I have felt it many times.
I first felt that Scouting Spirit when I went to Wood Badge in 2000. My husband was attending the course as a participant, and I don’t like it when he’s gone, so I asked if I could tag along. Since I was serving as the ward Cubmaster it worked out well for us to attend together. Never mind that I was six months pregnant. Never mind that it snowed during the course. Never mind that I left two toddlers behind with my parents. I was bound and determined to make the week work.
We arrived and I, being tired and feeling frumpy in my Scout uniform (does anyone even own olive green pregnancy pants?) was understandably a little nervous as I waited for the experience to start. After all, I’d heard enough people share their “testimonies” of Wood Badge. Was it really all it was cracked up to be? I glanced around at the other men and women arriving in Scout uniform and wondered what they were like.
Within a few minutes we divided into patrols and I was immediately proclaimed a “Fox.” How cute. My husband was a “Bear” and we bid farewell to each other across the meadow. Everyone started getting to know their patrol members and building some sort of something. Knots? Rockets? Woggles? I can’t remember. At least it was fun to meet people.
The afternoon wore on and we learned about group dynamics. “Forming, storming, norming, performing . . .” It sounded a lot like my marriage, my family life, and my Primary calling. Mmmm—I was absorbing valuable principles already.
That night we sang songs and watched a campfire. And finally we slept. I was exhausted. Then it was the next day, and the next, and the next. I can’t remember all of the details of that Wood Badge week. I clearly recall, however, that in spite of the surprise snow, the pregnancy discomfort, and missing my little boys, I started to enjoy Scouting.
I was shocked when we gathered for our final flag ceremony on Saturday morning and I cried! Big alligator tears ran unhindered down my cheeks. “Why?” I asked myself. Sure, it had been a great week, but I couldn’t deny that I had experienced something more. A spirit—the Scouting Spirit.
My husband and I drove out of camp and talked about what we had felt. While I couldn’t entirely explain my emotions, I did feel a distinct conviction that Baden-Powell and the Scouting program were inspired of God.
This story may sound trite to anyone who has not felt the Scouting Spirit. “She’s just an eccentric Scouter’s wife,” one might say. That’s a possibility. But, I have also felt the Scouting Spirit on other occasions. While sitting in a rainstorm on the side of a hill listening to Elder Neil L. Andersen speak at a National Jamboree. While visiting with eager, young Scouts in a sweltering tent at a World Jamboree in Japan. While singing “Silver on the Sage” at Philmont Scout Ranch. While researching the history of Scouting in the Church. And, while watching a young Cub Scout earnestly lead a flag ceremony at a noisy pack meeting.
There is an undeniable spirit that is felt in the activities of Scouting. Almost as if the Lord wants good people everywhere—regardless of religion—to pledge to be physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight. Scouting has a spirit that attracts respectable people from all walks of life to volunteer in behalf of boys and young men. It brings businessmen, politicians, religious and civic leaders, and parents and families together and combines their efforts to instill citizenship, character, and fitness in the young people of today. And Scouting draws boys and youth into a realm of adventure and purpose, designed to shape their futures in this value-shifting world.
Yes, I believe Baden-Powell was inspired to found Scouting in the same way that our founding fathers were inspired to build a nation. I believe that boys today still need this Scouting program, for reasons I can’t always articulate but feel deeply within my soul.
Perhaps the prophet Moroni explained it best when he said, “Every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good…is inspired of God” (Moroni 7:13).
It is this Scouting Spirit that strengthens me to cheerfully encourage my busy husband, volunteer in behalf of my boys, and sincerely support Scouting in the Church.
There is a Scouting Spirit that I know is real. I have felt it, and because of this I will continue my path as a supportive Scouting Spouse.
“We should appropriate every good thing that Scouting teaches us because it is a part of the gospel of Jesus Christ” (George Albert Smith, “Scouting Serves the Church,” Improvement Era, Sep. 1948, 558).
~Nettie H. Francis is a supportive Scouting spouse to her husband, Mark, and Scouting mom to her five sons.
Have you felt the Spirit of Scouting? Where and When? Comment below or email your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org.