Following the local news coverage of today’s youth can leave one feeling dispirited and depressed. The sad state of youth-on-youth violence reached its nadir two years back with the Liberty City shooting death of six-year old King Carter, caught in the crossfire of a drive-by shooting involving two teens who felt slighted by a Facebook posting.

Dive deeper into the roots of youth violence and one will find too many youths, particularly males, seduced by an anti-social “gangster” culture that celebrates disrespect for common social mores, a glorification of violence, and shallow materialism.

An antidote to this gloom and doom, however, can be found at your local Boy & Girl Scouts meeting.

Take Cub Scout Pack 1305 that calls MS Community Church home, where some 40 kids ages six and up meet weekly at Miami Shores Elementary for ceremonial rituals and activities that emphasize character development, citizenship, virtue, and selflessness through fun and learning.

Crisply uniformed Scouts begin each gathering with a flag ceremony and conclude with the joyful shouting of the Scout motto, proclaiming themselves “trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.”

On top of the outdoor activities more commonly associated with Scouting — like camping, nature excursions, and carving toy race cars from a block of pinewood — today’s Scouts are learning about Internet safety and bullying prevention, and they participate in urban excursions.

They can track their progress through the earning of merit badges that run the gamut from participating in nature walks and basic first aid to service projects, fire safety, and stargazing. Every merit badge earned by a Scout represents his individual achievement and accomplishment toward self-improvement. And everything is earned and nothing freely given.

The Scouts will be working to “give-back” to MSCC in 2018 – 2019. Plans are for an annual pressure washing of the church grounds, assisting with preparations of Rally Day, hosting after-church mealtimes, and further building out the newly established butterfly garden at the church entrance.

Scouting speaks a language of honor and virtue to a popular culture that often seems to snicker at those values. Yet all of us as parents know that kids are best raised in value-rich environments. If we could magically instill only half the Scout motto ideals into all our community’s kids, we’d be much better off.

To my knowledge, there is no program that does more for the character, education, and development of young boys than Scouting. When Little Haiti-based Troop 80’s Paul Spaulding describes how his Scouts — predominately from immigrant families with limited economic means — volunteered to pitch tents, cook up and serve S’mores, and assist in campouts for quadriplegics from Jackson Memorial’s Spinal Cord Unit as part of their service project, the future of our young people suddenly looks very bright.

John Ise

Church Member