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Friday, August 05, 2005 

I was a Boy Scout drop out

Well folks, this week's topic has inspired me. I have actually gone out and done research (not much and all of it on the internet (the source of all half-truth)). I am going to share with you the fruits of my labors: I went looking for that one list of demands that I heard that one time that Young Ladies in the church used to be asked to do.

Here is a version of it from the lds.org young women's site:

Some Requirements for Beehive Girls in 1916

1. Have a party with from 8 to 12 persons, with refreshments that cost no more than a dollar—and keep accounts.

2. Learn to float in the Great Salt Lake. Propel yourself 50 feet. Learn to get on your feet unassisted.

3. Without help or advice, care for and harness a team of horses at least five times. Drive 50 miles in one season.

4. Care successfully for a hive of bees for one season, and know their habits.

5. Pack a horse successfully.

6. Build a tree house sufficiently large for two girls to sleep in.

7. Pick 800 pounds of cherries or their equivalent in any six days.

8. Clear sagebrush, etc., off half an acre of land.

9. Identify 12 kinds of lace and tell the reasonable price and appropriate use of each.

10. Raise three trees that bear food which attracts birds in winter.

Fascinating, isn't it. (What is perhaps more fascinating is that on this same page, Elder Holland's face has been featured in a caption for an article written by Janette Hales, making it look as if the webmaster was a tad confused, but that is neither here nor there).

Additionally, a website on Personal Progress (that won't let me quote it) tells us that the Beehive Girls program was introduced to be a counterpart to the Boy Scouts. As you can see from the above requirements, both organizations were interested in nature (surviving it and domesticating it).

Obviously, Personal Progress isn't terribly interested in getting the girls outdoors anymore (Girl's camp clearly is, but, from all the information I have gleaned from listening to sister, wife, mother, and other Young Women, it is basically an attempt to have a better testimony meeting by taking people on exhausting hikes first (please feel free to correct me if I am wrong here).

I once thought that the recitation of the YW's values was spooky, the sorta thing that the Nazi youth would engage in. As the YW were not discernably more righteous than we young men, I was unsure as to the purpose of the chant and it affected my basketball.

As for Scouting, as stated in the title, I was a Boy Scout drop out. I earned my First Class rank and decided that it clearly couldn't get any better than that. Or rather, I didn't care about making Eagle, I seriously doubted that any future employer would care whether or not I was an Eagle, and I didn't care about the annual steak dinner which was the only perceivable benefit of earning an Eagle (oh, I forgot the other benefit, which would be that it would please my mother, another factor unfortunately low on my teenage list of priorities).

I knew how to camp. I knew how to bind a wound. I knew that if a rattlesnake bit me and I was alone, I was a goner. What other possible purpose could Boy Scouts serve?

The truth is that the equivalent to Boy Scouts is not the current Personal Progress program; it is the Beehive girls program from the 1910's. I don't know why but the Young Women's leaders seemed to figure out that Scouting, though fun, doesn't really do anything for the spirituality of its participants by itself. The wholesale integration of Scouting into the LDS youth program is fine, but the program (honorable as it may be) isn't inherently anymore spiritual than a basketball youth league. The Church was hoping that the Spirit could be introduced into it, and I believe that this can happen, but often times it ain't. My Scout Leader was (and is) a great guy and one of the better Latter-day Saints I know, but the glories of the revealed gospel just didn't come up that much as we ran around in the woods.

Which is why, as has been pointed out, the new Duty to God program is a much better equivalent to the Personal Progress program. It actually is trying to help the Young Men gain spirituality (as opposed to other, more paramilitary, traits). It isn't over until you get that mission call (as I understand it). It is a better program overall for the church. I just think that they ought to bring back the original Beehive Girls and make the Young Men do that stuff, too (I could do with 800 pounds of cherries myself).

So, to recap, Personal Progress is a better program than Boy Scouts for spiritual growth. Why does the Eagle get more airplay? Sexism (a topic for another post) and further attempts to boost the male ego. Is the Duty to God program better? Yes. Do Young Men have to recite the purposes of the Aaronic Priesthood now? Yes (at least, they do in my stake, I think). Is it as creepy as the Young Women reciting the Spiritual Values? Yes, yes. It still is.

Finally, brief histories of the Young Women's and the Young Men's programs can be found here and here, respectively.

Thanks for all the great Activity Days ideas...I have a half acre of marsh I'm going to have them drain and plow...and I could sure use a beehive or two...and as soon as my fruit trees are big enough, I'm going to make them build me a tree house and can all the peaches! (insert evil laughter here)

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Careful, CA! I'm sure that so doing would deprive some poor 13-year-old Boy Scout of an Eagle project and we all know what is more important.;)

In the U.S., fair use rights generally allow you to quote whatever you want (unless otherwise bound by contract). In this case, the copyright notice does not apply, as the material concerned belongs to the LDS Church, not the website owner.

I dropped out after making Tenderfoot or 2nd Class, but then I didn't start until late 7th or early 8th grade.

Thank you thank you--the recitation IS creepy. I hated it in YW and the women in my current branch do the RS themes--hate it still!

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This Week's Topic:

  • The Sabbath Day

Various Authors

  • Monday:
    Kaycee opted out of Mormondom 4 years ago. She calls herself agnostic.
  • Tuesday:
    Sarah is not your average Gospel Doctrine Teacher.
  • Wednesday:
    Carrie Ann comes from pioneer stock, and lives in Provo, but is open minded and fair.
  • Thursday:
    Ned Flanders hasn't been to church in a while, but maintains an interest in all things Mormon.
  • Friday:
    John C. is an academic with a sense of humor and a testimony.
  • Saturday:
    JP's not going to church and feeling okay about it.

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