COLBERT: Scout’s Honor and Spirituality - Elements of youth ministry

October 22, 2019

“Nature holds a special attraction for many adolescents, and young people recognize our need to care for the environment. Such is the case with the Scouting movement and other groups that encourage closeness to nature, camping trips, expeditions and campaigns to improve the environment. In the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi, these experiences can be a real initiation into the school of universal fraternity and contemplative prayer.” (Pope Francis, Christus Vivit, #228)

Scouting can be a vibrant addition to youth ministry efforts at any parish. Whether it’s Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Troops of St. George, American Heritage Girls, or any number of other Scouting options available today — when a Catholic parish sponsors them, they are enhanced by religious emblems programs, celebration of the Eucharist, leadership and discipleship training.

When the pastor, youth minister and Scout leaders all embrace Scouting as part of a parish’s ministry with young people, a parish can expect to see...

A Youth Ministry Identity: Adult Scout leaders understand themselves to be youth ministers as well as Scout leaders; they are trained in youth ministry as well as Scouting. They bring to their Scouting the explicit intention of impacting the faith of young people.

Faith-Sharing: Faith is shared and celebrated regularly. Scout leaders are comfortable and well-prepared to share their faith. The Scouts know they are in a place of faith not only because of where they may meet but by the way the adult leaders speak and behave.

Prayer: Prayer is a strong, consistent part of the life of the Scouting program. Meetings begin and end with prayer. Creative, developmentally appropriate prayer activities are a normal part of the Scouting program.

The Eucharist: The Eucharist is a normal part of the life of the Scouting program. Scout leaders make it a point to make it to Sunday Liturgy.

Personal Faith and Spirituality: Leaders are themselves growing in their faith, availing themselves of retreats, workshops, etc. to further develop their own faith and ministry.

Religious Emblems: The religious emblems programs are held in high regard by the leaders, and it is a priority to assist young people in achieving the emblems.

Parish Participation: The Scouting program is clearly a part of the parish community, visibly present at parish events and activities, accountable to the pastor and parish staff. Leaders make efforts to build bridges of cooperation and collaboration with other parish ministries and work hard to help their Scouts become fully contributing members of the faith community.

Leaders establish a healthy, mutually supportive working relationship with the pastor and parish staff. They are active members of their faith community, effectively modeling the kind of faith and participation they are trying to develop in their Scouts.

As a proud father of an Eagle Scout, I can vouch for the effectiveness of engaging Scouting as youth ministry. I hope that parishes in the Archdiocese will embrace Scouting as one element of their comprehensive youth ministry. †

Tim Colbert is the director of the Office of Adolescent Catechesis and Evangelization.


Teen Talk: Teens from Around the Archdiocese share their perspectives...

How has Scouting helped your faith journey?

In Girl Scouts I have learned to help my community and not just myself. The more I help others, the better I feel about myself. When I am helping my community, it is God working through me. All people are loved by God, no matter what they have done or what their situation is, and are deserving of my compassion and respect.
— Aurelie, Girl Scout Senior

I have been in American Heritage Girls (AHG) for seven years. AHG helped me grow in my faith by teaching me how to be a servant leader, getting me involved in community service, and by providing a place for me to befriend other like-minded young women.
— Lisa, AHG Senior

I learn more about God and the communion of saints by doing badges and patches like The Our Lady of Fatima patch. We work together to serve those in need. We also pray together at meetings, and at events like Wreaths Across America where we pray for our veterans.
— Bernadette, AHG Explorer