Boy Scouts, camping, and learning independence

Last Sunday, the Scout leaders in our ward went to the Relief Society and brought out the following factlet – “97% of missionaries who leave their mission early do so because of homesickness”.  I don’t know where they get their data, but the usage of this statistic bothered me because it was used as a rationale to guilt the mothers into sending their scout aged sons to a National Scout Jamboree.  Little details: the trip is three weeks long, takes place in West Virginia, and costs $2500 per boy.  To me, the cost is much too high, but that is beside the point.  The thought seems to be that campouts (and especially things like this extended uber-campout) fosters independence.  We don’t want our boys afraid to leave home, do we?  Send ’em on a three-week trip, completely chaperoned, where they get all of their meals, travel, entertainment, crafts, and housing without any significant effort on their part!

When the local high school marching band had an opportunity to play in the Rose Bowl Parade (held on New Years Day in Pasadena, California), the money had to be raised to get them there.  Each student had a significant amount of money they had to come up with to be able to go.  So, they had several fundraisers, one of which was door-to-door sales.  They worked together to raise the funds so that every member of the marching band could go.

The young women in our ward are currently having a fundraiser to pay for the costs they have in going to Girls Camp.  The cost per girls is nowhere near the amount being asked for the Scout camp, and it is likely that the cost of sending just one boy to this camp could pay for several years of Girls Camp.  Maybe I’ve been reading too many feminist blogs, but this doesn’t seem right.

You want to encourage independence?  Have your kid get a job and make decisions on their own as to what to spend their own hard-earned money on.  Help them learn the value of the money they are earning.  Trips and campouts can be fun, but just throwing in money isn’t going to foster independence; quite the opposite, in fact.

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  1. #1 by Rozann on 14 September 2012 - 7:10 am

    Two of our sons attended National Jamboree’s (2005 and 2010). Yes, it cost a bundle; the boys worked hard to earn the majority of their own money to pay for their trips, both expending considerable effort to be able to participate. Both enjoyed the experience greatly, in spite of some difficulties. Both came back more mature, self-reliant and glad they went. It really did foster independence from parents because they had to obey another adult in authority, make decisions on their own and learn some lessons about getting along with people. In my mind those are important lessons to learn before going on a two year mission. I believe it was money well spent. By the way, our boy’s Jamboree troops were NOT sponsored by the LDS Church, nor paid for with any church funds. It was all privately sponsored and paid for. So the comparison to Girl’s Camp is not valid. Our oldest son completely his mission, to Argentina, this year and expressed that his Jamboree experience really did help prepare him for the hardships of missionary service.

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