The aims of the Boy Scouts of America – character development, citizenship training, and mental and physical fitness – are carried out through application of the methods of each program. You can probably name at least a few of them off the top of your head. Advancement, uniforming and the outdoors come to mind right away, but they all work together to help ensure that our core values are carried out.
For example, in Cub Scouting, the first two methods are Living the Ideals and Belonging to a Den. Den members help each other learn the Scout Oath and Scout Law and, through their actions, put those values into practice – by helping others, keeping active, and living up to the twelve points. Part of helping others is Serving the Neighborhood, helping neighbors, the needy, and family members, which wraps around to Family Involvement. Together with his or her family, the Cub Scout engages in Activities – fun things to do appropriate to age – and earns Advancement for doing so. It’s all done in Uniform, which identifies the Scout as part of our movement, unifying their actions and equalizing the differences while giving the Scout a way to display his or her accomplishments.
In Scouts BSA, a similar dynamic is at work, relying on many of the same methods to accomplish our goals. It all starts with the Ideals of the Oath and Law which guides their actions. Instead of dens, there are Patrols where the Scouts interact with one another, planning and conducting activities in the Outdoors in conjunction with the resources available through Adult Association. In working together cooperatively, Leadership is developed, as the Scouts learn not only to be leaders but through being led. In the process, Scouts experience Personal Growth and through setting and achieving goals that are within the realm of their abilities, they complete Advancement in many forms – ranks, merit badges and special recognitions. Tying it all together is the Uniform, which every Scout wears and recognizes as the most visible symbol of Scouting.
As you can see, removing any of the methods of Scouting from these programs results in the loss of key elements. If the Patrol method is weak – patrols not meeting and carrying out hikes and campouts as a unit – other methods suffer, such as the Outdoors and Leadership. Without adult association, personal growth becomes more difficult, as adults are there to encourage Scouts to do their best and be continuously and incrementally advancing the goalposts of what “their best” is. And without a uniform, Scouts are just a bunch of young people. Imagine a soccer team where everyone wears what they want. It wouldn’t be a very cohesive team, and neither is a troop, patrol, den or pack without uniforming.
Emphasize all of the methods of our program. Don’t put one above or before another. Each one is essential to a successful Scouting program. Think of ways to reinforce all the methods of Scouting so as to give our young people the best of the best youth program available to them.