My boyfriend doesn’t like outdoorsy, camping/fishing things all that much, and thought scouting was rather torturous. I can confidently say that I see no connection between the gospel and scouting whatsoever, and might even discourage my future sons from attending: more time to spend learning an instrument, playing a sport, reading, spending time with the family, or whatever other worthwhile thing they happen to enjoy. Merit badges on rope knots do not classify as “useful” in my book. (Although, I will admit, some of the rock climbing or rafting expeditions look pretty fun: however, arbitrary requirements about getting your Eagle and driving, etc., seem ridiculous.)
Personal Progress, esp. after it changed, is mostly a pain in the neck and did nothing to bring harmony into my home. The suggestions are good, on the whole, but it’s the checklist nature of it which made it hard to juggle as a busy teenager.
I went to most the YW activities, but as a Laurel, esp., with school and dance and seminary, I didn’t bother going to the fluff ones, like movie night or let’s try on wedding dresses (no joke). My YW’s president, in response to my assertion that I couldn’t come the following week (probably had an AP exam that Thursday morning or some such), said something like, “You should get your priorties straight.” Are you kidding me? I thought. I was the only girl my age who was active (as in going to all my Sabbath meetings regularly), I rarely missed early-morning seminary and was on the Council my senior year, I read the scriptures daily, I was one of the few who didn’t experiment with drugs, etc., and here she was harping on me that I wasn’t going to watch Never Been Kissed? I’m not trying to make a laundry list of my perceived righteousness, just point out that I really did try to be a good Mormon kid, and that going to the dumb activities was more important to my president than actual Church activity. I would be the only person over 15 when we went on temple trips.
I’m sad to see a similar thing happen to my younger brother now that he is in Young Men’s. He has already read the entire Bible at 13 (!), he is respectful and smart and talented and accomplished and you can tell he already has a testimony of the gospel, and yet his leaders get on his case if he chooses not to play basketball for the umpteenth time and watch TV with is family. Meanwhile, the guys his age do nothing but play video games and generally mess around.
cchrissy, you said, “I kinda worry about boys who don’t like scouts, and how it’s so entwined with the YM program.” Well, my boyfriend is one of them, and your son could very well face that problem. I think that Young Men’s should be completely separate from it. Couldn’t they work on the Duty to God program? It seems more connected to the Gospel.
Parents and Youth Leaders, don’t harass the good kids in your family/ward if they choose to play in a soccer game, study for a test, or taking a dance class instead of tying a quilt or learning first aid (again). Their testimonies won’t be shattered, I promise.
As to the original question posed, my experiences were actually, on the whole, positive. The best Church experience for me growing up was Seminary: it helped me figure out what was important to me, personally, and afforded me opportunities for leadership with great kids. (I didn’t go to school with anyone from my neighborhood.) Seminary seemed a lot more solid than a lot of the other fluff they throw together, at least in my experience.]]>
This is so true, and I think it’s important to understand one’s LDS church youth experiences in this context. I have some fantastic memories from girls’ camp and other youth activities and some corresponding horrible memories from the same events, and so much of the difference between the good and the ugly was a question of on-the-job training for relationships and dealing with people. (Of course high school and youth groups have a small-town cliquey atmosphere that you mostly get to shed later, but the basic social skills remain the same.)
I remember my LDS teen experiences quite vividly and have written some (fictional) stories based on them (Young Women’s and Youth Conference) which I think capture some fairly common experiences in trying to fit in.]]>
I lived in two different wards during my teen years – moved when I was just past 15. Both wards had youth groups where the kids were pretty much all friends and all actively attending activities and meetings. That was good. We had a lot of good times together and did many stereotypical Mormon kid activities – sledding parties, movie parties, large group Prom dates, etc. (Neither ward was in Utah; one was in Pennsylvania and one in Alaska.) We also did fairly big fundraising activities to pay for temple trips, Girls’ Camp and Youth Conference. I look back and feel amazed at the amount of time and energy our leaders gave to the YW program with all that stuff.
A problem was that many of the boys in one location were not actually living Church standards. We were still friends, but some of these boys seemed to occupy a different world, morally. It got weird to take the sacrament when you knew the priests had been partying/breaking the WofW. I think it did teach me, indirectly, not to rely to much on the worthiness of the priesthood bearer or leader, but to focus on the meaning and importance of the ordinance.
The strangest experience was with a girl who announced to all the rest of us that one of the others in the group was lesbian. This was the ’80s, and not in Greenwich Village or San Francisco … none of us knew how to react. I know we distanced ourselves from that girl, and I think I will feel bad about that for the rest of my life. In retrospect I believe the announcement was a smokescreen; the girl who told us the “secret” is now openly lesbian.]]>
I now live in the southeastern USA. My oldest son, who is now an adult, was verbally abused by his peers. When we complained to leaders we were told, “Boys will be boys” and “this would not be happening if your family was more popular”. Now my younger son is in YM in the same ward. He has a great set of LDS friends. He is treated well. Both boys are scouters, enjoy the Gospel, dress well, and are attractive. Of course it should not matter if they did not have those qualities. The rules about what is “cool” are determined by the personalities in that age group and what behaviors the adult leaders and parents will allow.
I don’t think it is where you live, but the caliber of adults in leadership. Mean people begat mean children. Unless you have leadership that is willing to stand up to the bullies you will have individuals in and out of the church like my sister and son who will look back at their church youth experiences with sadness.]]>
However, reading about others’ experiences makes me wonder if I should move out of Utah when I want to raise my future family. There are other reasons that make me think that I don’t want to raise a family in the church in Utah, but these especially make me wonder about it.]]>
I loved girls camp, if only because I was reminded that I wasn’t the only teenager in the universe that believed what I did.
Interesting thread to happen upon!]]>
It’s OK, some people should stay mormon. I seriously don’t want to push my TBM MIL any more than I have to to get her to back off of me and my kids. (DW is plenty capable of handling her Mother). I don’t want her losing her support system because I know without it her life would come tumbling down and she’d be a total wreck and I don’t want to be responsible for picking up the pieces.]]>
All in all, I think it is more important to help them develop testimonies of the Gospel apart from what goes on at church. I try and teach them that is the priority. Of course, I guess that goes without saying, lol. I’d like to be able to de-emphasize worrying about church social politics. I like most people whether or not they are just like me. I want my kids to be open to diversity and give others a chance. Right now, my children are all at varying levels of testimony and commitment. The ones who struggle, do so mainly due to social reasons of not fitting into what they consider the “Mormon mold”. The one’s who are most strong churchwise , managed to find a way to cling to the gospel principles despite disatisfaction with certain social elements.
I joined the church right out of high school and so I never had the opportunity to be involved with primary or mutual. I felt like I missed out. I think it is one of those situations where you want what you’ve never had, because even in the young adult program, I experienced a great deal of culture shock that was really hard to adjust to.]]>