The other day, a youth minister friend sent me an interesting article. Entitled “Five Reasons Today’s College Students Are Nothing Like We Were,” it explores how the collegiate environment has changed in recent decades–and how people working with college students should change their approach as a result.
As I read that article, I realized we do tend to assume the college experience hasn’t changed all that match since we were on campus. Oh sure, the dorms are nicer and technology has improved, but most of the basics seem the same: Our kids pledge the same fraternities and sororities as we did. The familiar game-day traditions continue during football season. Commencement exercises are just as long, and the keynote speeches are just as forgettable. But the more things stay the same, the more they change–under the surface.
The same is true for Scouting. I think those of us who were Scouts as kids are actually at a disadvantage as adult volunteers because we assume the program and the kids it serves haven’t changed that much: We still go camping every month. The uniforms look pretty much the same. Eagle Scout is still the highest rank a Boy Scout can earn. But underneath the surface, everything is different.
To serve today’s kids, we need to understand who they are, not who we were. That youth ministry article offered some advice that applies equally well to Scouting:
As we open ourselves to young people, remember that they are, in many ways, from a completely different planet than the one that existed when we went to college. May we not make assumptions about their planet and how life works on their world. May we ask questions, and expect answers that do not always make sense.
What kind of questions are you asking?