Inspiring others in their Faith Journey

A Personal Story of “Duty to God”: Why I became a Unit Religious Emblem Coordinator

Before Boy Scouts, I was a Girl Scout.  As a Junior, I earned my Marion Medal religious emblem award for my Catholic Faith.  It was presented to me and to others at a beautiful Girl Scout Sunday mass over 45 years ago.

When my little boy (now almost 23 years old) came home enthused to join Cub Scouts, I made the usual first trip to the Scout Shop in Laguna Hills.  As we collected items for my little Tiger Cub, I asked if Boy Scouts had programs to learn about their faith.  I was shown an entire display of Catholic and Protestant program guides.  I looked through them and selected Light of Christ for my son.

We worked on the program booklet as a family.  Our son led a special candlelight service of faith sharing scripture reading with his grandparents in Chicago.   Our son reviewed his entire booklet with our pastor, who was not familiar with the program, but liked it.  My son’s Cubmaster came over to our home to sign off my son’s book, rather than wait for the next pack meeting.  He wanted to demonstrate to our son that deepening one’s understanding of faith was important!  The following January, our son received his award at a wonderful all denominations service in Garden Grove.

Given I was now “experienced,” I was asked to explain the Religious Emblems program to our Pack.  Our Pack was associated with an elementary school, so I needed to learn about the Religious Emblem awards for many different faiths.  I shared this at a Pack meeting and several parents expressed interest.  I guided them in the process.  Our Pack 714 went from ZERO religious emblem awards to 25% of the boys earning their Religious Emblem awards and 90% earning the Rosary Patch program from the Catholic Church (you are not required to be Catholic).  The following year and ever since, I have coordinated the Scout Sunday mass at St. Kilian Catholic Church.

At the Pack level, many boys, and now girls, and their families have deepened their faith journey.  Our church promotes Religious Emblems at Scout Sunday for over 1000 people to hear of the program each year.  As a Family Life Merit Badge Counselor, I am at ease with discussing Duty to God with youth of varying faith traditions and those struggling with belief (common in the late teens).  When the Council asked me to consider becoming the Council Religious Emblems Coordinator, I felt a real sense of “calling” to this volunteer position.  I revamped the training and provided tools for others in Orange County Council to educate and motivate their units to pursue earning Religious Emblems and deepening the understanding of their faith.  Now over 75unit leaders have been trained as Unit Religious Emblem Coordinators over the past 2 years and many youth have earned and are earning their Religious Emblems, making Orange County Council one of the top seven councils in the country in religious awards earned.

Next Steps: 

1) Share YOUR ripple effect story in your unit and with me at lindashep92@gmail.com and to help encourage Scout families all over Orange County.

2) Turn the individual ripple effect into a wave effect:  Identify your Pack, Troop or Crew Religious Emblem Coordinator in order to inspire others in their faith-journey in Scouting.

3)  Save the date and plan to attend the fall REC Training on Thursday Sept. 19 at 7pm at the Scout Service Center in Santa Ana