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But, What If I Don’t Want To Stop Volunteering?

July 22, 2019

There are many things you could say to try to insult me. But, calling me a boy scout isn’t one of them. I’ve been a boy scout for a long, long time.

I started in 1976. I was eleven years old. I worked my way up through the ranks from Tenderfoot to Eagle. Even as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day Saints, I got a chance to be an assistant scoutmaster and then later at 20 years old, I became the youngest scoutmaster in the United States.

I stayed involved with scouting after I returned from my mission. I didn’t do so much during college, but as I started my own family, I became involved again with scouting.

I was a cub master, a Webelos leader, a troop committee member, an assistant scoutmaster, a scoutmaster, and then back to assistant scoutmaster.

Assistant scoutmaster is really the best position in scouting. You get to go on all the campouts. You get to be around the boys. . .and now girls, as they learn the scouting skills. You get to wear the uniform. You even get to occasionally still earn badges, although it’s really about the boys and girls and their progress.

On top of that, you don’t have to do the planning. You don’t have to have to go the troop committee meetings. You don’t have to fill out the paperwork.

The Mormon church does scouting a little differently than the rest of the United States. Although when you consider that the LDS Church was the single largest sponsor of scouting troops, perhaps the rest of the United States does scouting a little differently than us.

In what are called “community troops,” dads or old scouters volunteer to be the leaders, merit badge counslers, and tutor the boys. (Except in the new girls troops where it’s the moms and those young in scouting who are the leaders for the girls.)

But, in Mormon troops, the leaders are “volun-told.” You get a phone call from the ward executive secretary telling you that the second counsler in teh bisophric wants to meet with you next Sunday at 1:00pm after church. And then, the second counselor asks if you would accept a calling to work with the youth. You’ll be a teacher of the young men’s group on Sunday. And on Wednesdays and one weekend per month you are an assistant scoutmaster.

It’s great. The church has a built in structure to support the boys and the program. And it’s coming to an end in December. It’s no secret that the church is taking its boys, leaders, units and considerable resources and break with the Boy Scouts after more than 100 years of association.

For me personally, it’s been less, of course. Only 42 years. I’ve considered what I plan to do after the year closes down the church scouting program. It’s a question many of my friends involved with scouting have also been considering.

But, today part of the decision was made for me. The other part of the way the church does scouting is you are volun-told, you are also volun-un-told. Or woudl that be un-volun-told. I’m not sure. Spellcheck doesn’t find that word.

So, today I was asked to meet with the first counslor in the bishopric. He asked me if I’d teach Sunday School once a month. . .to adults. Oh, and no more need for your scout uniform.

I don’t know if I’ll volunteer with a community troop. My boys are pretty much done with scouting and my oldest grandchild just turned three years old. So, he’s a few years away from being scout age.

I’m very active in my church. It’s always been a combination of faith and works. Faith in the theology and working in the boy scouts.

Now, I’ve been given a different work. It’s still volunteering. But, honestly, I wasn’t quite done volun-tolding.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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