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Scouting As Youth Ministry

Commentary » Scouting As Youth Ministry


Scouting as Youth Ministry

Last Revised on January 12, 2012

For decades, Scouting has played an enormously positive role in American life and culture. Not only do countless adults cherish fond memories of campouts, badges, learning and great fun - more importantly, the values and attitudes reinforced in Scouting have provided them with a sturdy framework of positive life principles.

In the Catholic Church, Scouting has been a longstanding partner in the development of character, values and conscience in young people. The twelfth point of the Scout Law ("A Scout is Reverent") has traditionally been the point of connection with religion and parish life.

As we attempt to help parishes create comprehensive youth ministry programs, we need to be clear how Scouting fits into the parish picture. Pastors who had a positive experience of Scouting in their own youth often welcome and support Scouting units. Others are not sure how, or if, Scouting fits into the modern parish. Some adult Scout leaders are not clear on how scouting fits into the life of the parish either, so they often keep scouting on the periphery of parish life, meeting and storing equipment on the parish premises, but having little contact otherwise. In many parishes, relations with Scouting have deteriorated or ceased.

A hopeful turning point comes with the insight that Scouting is perhaps best understood as one vehicle of a parish's youth ministry. Parish youth ministry typically involves a number of different programs (e.g. catechetical, service, social, spiritual, etc.). Furthermore, Scouting units are chartered not as separate organizations but as programs of the chartered partner, in this case, the parish. Clearly, Scouting is one of the youth-serving programs of the parish – in short, a youth ministry!

Based on this insight, this section was developed (a) to help parish and Scout leaders understand how Scouting might better serve the parish as one of its youth ministry programs, and (b) to help parishes and Scouting become better partners on behalf of youth.

In order to serve as an authentic parish youth ministry, the Scouting program should intentionally reflect our faith. That does not mean that it should be "super religious" or overly pious, but that we need to find ways to naturally and organically integrate our faith into the Scouting program. Of course, Scouting is not intended to replace or compete with other parish youth programs; rather, its menu of fun, adventure, hands-on leadership and life-education provides one more unique way for young people to grow. Just as the two ends of a bridge converge in the middle to mutually support one another, so Scouting and Catholic youth ministry need to lend their strengths to one another, for the betterment of our young people.

In recent years there has been much debate about the relationship between Girl Scouts of America and Planned Parenthood. To help you better understand the background and how dioceses across the country are responding, we have included the national Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry Position Paper in Appendix Two.

Related Policies:

All adult leaders in Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts in troops or packs affiliated with a Catholic parish or school in the Diocese of Wilmington must meet all requirements of adult leaders as outlined in Section Three (Safe Environment) of For the Sake of God’s Children. Clearance by BSA or GSUSA does not supersede or replace the requirements by the Diocese of Wilmington. 2006

If there are scouting programs in a parish, a representative from scouting must serve on the Youth Ministry Leadership Committee. 2007