Above is a brief video of our Flag Ceremony this year. (I apologize for the poor quality, it was just a quick clip I took with my camera phone to post on our Troop Facebook page.)
One of the main foundations of the Scouting program is service. In particular, service to God and your Country. One of the ways which our Troop (Troop 411 of Sandy, UT) teaches this principle to our Scouts is through direct service to our Sponsoring Organization, Hilltop United Methodist Church.
We sprinkle acts of service to our church throughout the year. In the summertime, our Scouts mow the lawn all summer long. I don’t mean to imply that this is easy, or painless. It takes a fair bit of nagging, reminders, assistance, and supervision from the various adult leaders to get it done. It doesn’t always get done every single week, but they do manage to get the job done for the most part. And they learn a good lesson—that service is sometimes hot, sweaty, and dirty work with no fanfare.
The boys also do the set-up for Hilltop’s massive semi-annual Children’s Consignment Sale. Visualize about ten Kid2Kid stores jammed into every corner of the church, with thousands of clothing items, toys, furniture, just everything. Our boys spend part of an evening setting up all the dozens of clothing racks, shelves, and other items needed to run the sale.
But the big highlight of our year is Scout Sunday. It usually falls on the 2nd Sunday of March. On that Sunday, our Troop helps run the whole service. Actually both services: 9:00 and 10:30. They start the service off with a Flag Ceremony and act as ushers, greeters, take the offering, and even run the sound booth. After the service, we serve our signature Dutch Oven Cobbler to the whole Congregation for Coffee Hour. And of course, clean up afterwards. Our Scoutmaster Doug Orr insists on Leave No Trace principles indoors or out.This year, we probably had 30 Scouts, leaders, and parents sprinkled throughout the congregation, all in full Class-A uniform, including some of our Co-ed Venture Crew.
It sends a powerful message to our church. It not only says that we appreciate all the support they give us throughout the year, but it also says, this is a quality Scouting program that your congregation can take pride in. And it serves indirectly as a recruiting tool, since the church members are inclined to mention our program to their friends and neighbors when they have a boy of Scouting age.
During the service, one of our adult leaders steps up to gives a little talk about our program. This year, it was our Assistant Scoutmaster, Tim Strickland. Tim and his brother James are two of the original Eagles from Troop 411’s history. He also has two sons Cody and Kyle who are part of our more recent Eagle contingent. This year, he gave a very moving talk about what the Scouting program meant to him at a difficult point in his teenage years. He shared that he had been severely depressed and considering suicide at one point, but felt that the support of the Troop and his Scoutmaster Darrel Blevins had kept him from making a big mistake and gotten him through this critical situation. That was a very moving moment for our Congregation.
Probably half of our Scouts come from outside our church—many are from other faiths, or no regular church at all. In some cases, Scout Sunday may be the only service they attend all year long. Hopefully, this tradition helps to introduce them to our congregation and vice versa. It also provides a great lesson on the importance of service and showing gratitude for the folks who help provide them with a place to meet, funding for our programs, and many kindnesses and support throughout the year.