Separate but Equal?...You Decide
August 1, 2005
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints utilizes the Boy Scouts of America program for the young men ages 8-18. Basically, all the young men are automatically members of the local congregation’s scout troop. Tithing money pays the dues for all member scouts, and while all boys in the area are eligible to participate in the troop, non-LDS young men would pay their own dues. Members of the congregation are called to serve as “den-parents” and scout leaders. The young men earn badges and stuff, and do all the normal scouting stuff (former scout readers please comment) with the end goal of receiving their Eagle Scout Award.
For the young ladies of the Church, they participate in the Primary organization in a group called “Activity Days” from the ages of 8-11. While in Activity Days the girls participate in the “Faith in God” program. (The 8-11 year old boys can earn their Faith in God award and it is integrated into their scouting requirements). When the young ladies turn 12 they enter the youth program of the Church, aptly titled the “Young Women’s Organization”. In Young Womens (as is it grammatically incorrectly called) the girls participate in a program called “Personal Progress” until they are 18 with the end goal of receiving their “Young Woman Recognition Award.”
(I just recently learned that the adult woman’s organization, the “Relief Society” also has a goal program called “Pursuit of Excellence”, and it is quite interesting…)
Growing up in the Church, I set many a goal in my day. You must complete goals in every program. Since my nature is to be lazy, I grew up feeling like I always had something hanging over my head: a Faith in God goal, a personal progress goal, etc.
The Church creates these programs so that we can learn self motivation and self improvement. The underlying purpose is to build testimonies of the Savior. I think goal setting is good; I think it is healthy…it just goes against my lazy, lazy nature.
There is some argument that the Young Woman Recognition Award is the equivalent to the Eagle Scout Award. This is debatable (hence the reason for the topic choice…).
Of note, my very own grandmother, Jean Green, was on the Church Correlation Board that created the modern Young Women’s Personal Progress program. Some members of the Young Women’s General Presidency at the time wanted to focus on themes like “Behold, Your Handmaiden”, and it was people like my grandma who stood up and said, “Neither my self nor my daughters are handmaidens to anyone…they are daughters of God, and should respect themselves as such!” Thanks, Grandma!
The current program focuses on the following areas: faith, divine nature, individual worth, knowledge, choice & accountability, good works, and integrity. While these are great and fine and noble…I DO wish that we had a little more of the scouting grit…more camping…more outdoor skills. After all, aren’t we all supposed to trek out to Missouri sometime? Faith will only get me so far…
So now that I’ve explained a little of the topic, I want our readers and commentators to comment with their own stories of the Church’s youth program. Let it be glorious, tragic, hilarious, what-have-you… You former scouts out there must give us your input…do we Young Womanhood Medallion holders measure up? I will be adding my two bits in the comments as well…
The scouts may have gotten badges for completing goals, but we got BLING! Behold the gold. I hope someone comments on the fact that some Church leaders have admonished young women to wear their Young Womanhood medallions with pride (some have criticized this as “Look how righteous I am!"), or to only consider marrying young men who received their Eagle Scout award (and vice versa: only marry young women with their medallions). Let's discuss...
P.S. I didn't really complete any goals...I bought all those medallions on e-Bay...phew!