I just finished reading a new book by Brad Harris, author of Trails to Testimony, called A Parent’s Guide to Raising Successful Missionaries. Even though my two Eagle Scouts recently left for their missions – one to Modesto, CA in September and the other to Rosario, Argentina in December – I still wanted to read this new book for several other reasons:
- Brad’s earlier work made a huge impact on the way I understood the deeper purpose of Scouting
- I wanted to see if we had “done it right” for our own boys and their readiness to serve an LDS mission
- I still feel a deep responsibility and opportunity to influence the youth in my unit as their Scoutmaster
What this book reconfirmed for me was how scouting offers a great opportunity for boys to prepare physically, mentally and morally to serve a mission. In other words, an LDS mission should NOT be the first time a young man (or young woman) has:
- been away from home for an extended period of time
- cooked their own meal
- shopped for groceries to make that meal
- cooked a few different meals on a stovetop (no microwave)
- washed dishes by hand (no dishwasher)
- done their own laundry
- gone a few days (even a week) without a shower
- gotten up early (by 6am)
- read the Book of Mormon from cover to cover
- walked more than 10 miles in the same day
- bicycled more than 20 miles in the same day
- balanced the use of electronic devices, or even gone without it for a while
This is what Scouting in the LDS church should do for a young man…prepare him for life AND to serve an honorable full-time mission! If your young man participates in the scouting program and all its related activities, he should be much less shocked by all the things that will need to be done on his own during those 2 years. That said, I see scouting as the building blocks for serving a successful mission which in turn becomes the building blocks for becoming stronger husbands, fathers and future leaders in our communities.
Brad and Sandy did a great job putting this resource together to help parents prepare the rising generation of missionaries in the LDS Church. Their research, experiences, observations and insights came from a variety of sources including surveys from 17 mission presidents, 104 returned missionaries who served in 65 different missions in 30 countries, and 46 parents of successful missionaries from 15 states. They also read the weekly e-mails of 17 missionaries scattered across the world for two years while following their own daughter on her mission for eighteen months.
I think you would appreciate this book if you’re looking for ways to support your scout’s experience, confidence and willingness to serve in what might be that next step in his life.