The Kids Are on Fire

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In his book The Children David Halberstam chronicled the critical role high-school and college students played in the American civil rights movement. By turns angry and idealistic, these “children” often prodded their adult counterparts into action, most notably through sit-ins at lunch counters across the South.

I thought about that story this week when I read an amazing statistic. According to a National 4-H Council survey of high-schoolers, fully 88 percent of youth say they could lead in solving issues like affordable education, job creation, and the war on terrorism.

Now, you and I know those problems are a little more complicated than Scout-age youths can understand. But the point is that many of them have a passion to change the world. When we engage them in truly meaningful service projects–not the busy work that’s easier to plan and manage–we help them act on their passion. We also demonstrate that Scouting is a place where they can find meaning and purpose.

I’ve blogged about creating transformational service projects before, but let me offer another idea for helping Scouts generate service ideas. At a church youth retreat I attended recently, the facilitators showed a YouTube video of a 12-year-old who created a homeless feeding program in Detroit. We then broke into small groups to brainstorm ways our kids could be in service. The ideas they came up with were amazing, mostly because they’d just watched the video. You could do something similar with your patrol leaders’ council by using that video or something like it.

With your guidance, today’s Scouts could change the world just as much as the children of the civil rights movement did.

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