Allan Hoben.

The Minister and the Boy A Handbook for Churchmen Engaged in Boys' Work online

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organization. The best policy is that of the "open door." Let the club
do all that it can for boys who are already in the Sunday school and
church, but let it be open to any boy who may be voted in, and then
through example and moral suasion let such boys be won to church and
Sunday school by the wholesome influence of the leader and the group,
quite apart from any conditions, favors, or ranking within the club

An unofficial relation between the Sunday school and the club will be
maintained by having club announcements given in the school and by
bringing the Sunday-school superintendent before the club frequently. In
some churches the boys' whole department of the Sunday school is the
boys' club, and this may prove a good method where it can be carried out
with proper divisions and specialization as to age, etc.

In discussing any proposed constitution, consideration should be given
to suggestions from the boys themselves and every question should be
threshed out in a reasonable, democratic way, strictly after the fashion
of deliberative bodies. The opinion of the leader is sure to have its
full weight, and matters needing further consideration can always be
referred to committees to be reported back. Questions of discipline
should be handled by the club itself, the director interfering only as a
last resort to temper the drastic reactions of a youthful and outraged
democracy. If there is a men's organization in the church tie the club
to that. This will guarantee strength and permanency to the club and
will help the men by giving them a chance to help the boys.

The form of the constitution and ritual will be governed by the age
which they seek to serve. Boys from ten to fourteen years may not rise
to the splendid formality of the Knights of King Arthur. Possibly the
idealization of the best Indian traits will serve them better. From
fourteen to seventeen or eighteen the knighthood ideals are most
satisfying, while one may question their utility after that when the
youth turns to reflection and debate and is suited by civic and
governmental forms of organization. It must not be assumed that any one
type of organization is good for all ages and does not need to be
supplemented, modified, or superseded as the boy makes his adolescent

If the pastor has limited time and limited help he will do well to
center his attention on the important period of twelve to fifteen
years; and in order to do his work properly in the club meetings and on
the gymnasium floor especially, he should have an adult helper as soon
as the attendance exceeds ten in number. It is far more important to do
the training well than to make a great showing in numbers and at the
same time fail in creating a proper group standard and in developing
individual boys. In the ordinary improvised church gymnasium one man to
every ten boys is a good rule.

In a church club that grew to have a membership of sixty, the following
grouping for gymnasium privileges was found to work well: boys ten,
eleven, and twelve years old, from 4:15 to 5:30 in the afternoon; boys
thirteen, fourteen, and fifteen years old, from 7:00 to 8:15 the same
evening; and boys sixteen, seventeen, and eighteen years old, from 8:15
to 9:30. Such a use of the plant secures economy of time, heating, etc.,
and with a little help one may give every boy two gymnasium sessions a
week, which is not too much. If possible, showers and lockers should be
provided; and in classification for gymnasium work allowance should be
made for retarded boys and for boys of extraordinary ability, so that
they may play with their equals irrespective of strict classification
by age. The best single test for classification is weight.

The leader will do well to see that everything is right and clean in
conversation and practice in the locker-room and showers. Also, foolish
prudery and shamefacedness must be wholesomely banished, and it will
benefit rather than harm the boys for their leader, after having taken
them through the exercises, to join them in the pleasure and stimulation
of the shower bath.

Not only the leader but as many interested church people as possible
should "back" the boys by attending their meets and games with other
teams. Remember that in order to command their full loyalty some loyalty
to them must be shown. The important function of the annual or
semi-annual banquet should not be overlooked. Such an affair is
inexpensive and unquestionably an event in the life of every member. The
mothers will always be glad to provide the food and superintend the
service; and in every town there will be found men of high standing who
will count it an honor to address the club on such an occasion, while
entertainers and musicians will also gladly contribute their talent.
Probably the average minister does not duly appreciate how much
high-grade assistance may be had for the mere asking and how much
benefit comes to those who give of their ability as well as to those who
are the fortunate recipients of such service.

The clubroom rapidly grows rich in associations as it becomes decorated
with the symbols of the club and the trophies won from time to time.
Things that have happened but a year ago become entrancing lore to a
group of boys, and the striking features of meetings, outings, or
contests lose nothing in sentiment and cohesive worth as the months
pass. The sophisticated adult may not fully appreciate these little
by-products of club activity, but the boy who is growing into his social
and larger self makes every real incident a jewel rich in association
and suggestive of the continuity and oneness of his group life. The use
of an appropriate pin or button, of club colors, yells, whistles, and
secret signals will bear fruit a hundred fold in club consciousness and

Summer is especially hard on the city boy. If there is no vacation
school, wholesome outdoor job, or satisfactory play, then mischief is
certain. Indoor life is particularly distasteful during the hot weather
and the flat is intolerable. Long hours and late are spent upon the
street or in places of public amusement where immoral suggestions
abound. High temperature always weakens moral resistance and there is no
telling into what trouble the boy may drift. Hence to relinquish boys'
work in the summer is to fail the boy at the very time of his greatest
need. The competent leader does not abandon, he simply modifies his
endeavor. As early in the spring as the boys prefer outdoor play he is
with them for baseball, track work, tennis, swimming, tramping, fishing,
hunting, camping; closing the season with football and remaining out
until the boys are eager to take up indoor work. The lack of formal
meetings in the summer need not concern the leader. It is sufficient
that he give the boys his fellowship and supervision and keep them well

In all of this outdoor work the program and activities of the Boy Scouts
of America are unsurpassed. In cultivating the pioneer virtues and in
promoting health, efficiency, good citizenship, nature-study, and humane
ideals no movement for boys has ever held such promise, and the promise
will be realized if only Scout Masters in proper number and quality can
be secured. Here again the gauntlet is thrown at the door of the church
and the challenge is to her manhood from the manhood of tomorrow.

[Illustration: CITY BOYS "HIKING"]

[Illustration: A WEEK-END CAMP]

The ideal club will have its summer outing. When properly planned and
conducted, a summer camp is of all things to be desired. For several
months it should be enjoyed in anticipation, and if all goes well it
will be a joyous climax of club life, an experience never to be
forgotten. But like all good work with boys, it is difficult and
exacting. Safety and the rights of all cannot be conserved apart from
strict military or civic organization; and no leader will take boys to
camp and assume responsibility for life and limb without a thorough
understanding and acceptance on their part of the discipline and routine
which must be scrupulously enforced.

Every boy should be provided well in advance with a list of the utensils
and outfit needed, and the organization of the camp should give to each
one his proper share of work. The efficiency and dispatch of a corps of
boys so organized is only equaled by the joy that comes from the
vigorous and systematic program of activities from daylight to dark.

The best way for the leader to become proficient in conducting a camp is
to take an outing with an experienced manager of a boys' camp; the next
best way is by conference with such a person. The _Handbook_ of the Boy
Scouts of America will be found very helpful in this respect, and
_Camping for Boys_ by H.W. Gibson, Y.M.C.A. Press, is excellent. It is
necessary to emphasize the necessity of strict discipline and
regularity, a just distribution of all duties, full and vigorous use of
the time, extra precaution against accident, some formal religious
exercise at the beginning of the day, with the use of the rare
opportunity for intimate personal and group conference at the close of
the day when the charm of the campfire is upon the lads. When boys are
away from home and in this paradise of fellowship their hearts are
remarkably open and the leader may get an invaluable insight into their
inmost character.

Whenever possible the minister will bring his boys' club work into
co-operation with the boys' department of the Y.M.C.A. Where the
Y.M.C.A. exists and the church cannot have moderate gymnasium privileges
of its own, arrangements should be made for the regular use of the
association's gymnasium. It is desirable that the stated use of the
gymnasium be secured for the club as such, since the individual use in
the general boys' work of the association is not as favorable to
building up a strong consciousness in the church club. The Y.M.C.A. can
best organize and direct the inter-church athletics and it has performed
a great service for the church clubs in organizing Sunday-school
athletic leagues in the various cities, and in supplying proper
supervision for tournaments and meets in which teams from the different
churches have participated. To direct these contests properly has been
no small tax upon the officials, for the insatiable desire for victory
has in some cases not only introduced unseemly and ugly features into
the contests but has temporarily lowered the moral standard of certain

Superintendents and pastors have been known to sign entrance credentials
for boys who were not eligible under the rules. In some instances church
boys have descended to welcome the "ringer" for the purpose of "putting
it over" their competitors. In grappling with these difficulties and in
interpreting sound morality in the field of play the Y.M.C.A. has
already made a successful contribution to the moral life of the
Sunday-school boy. Nothing could be more startling to the religious
leader, who insists upon facing the facts, than the facility with which
the "good" Sunday-school boy turns away from the lofty precepts of his
teacher to the brutal ethics of the "win-at-any-price" mania. The
Sunday-School Athletic League under the guidance of the Y.M.C.A. tends
to overcome this vicious dualism.

In some districts the leader of the church boys' club may arrange to
make use of the social settlement, civic center, or public playground,
thus holding his group together for their play and supplementing the
church outfit. The object in every case is to maintain and strengthen a
group so possessed of the right ideals that it shall shape for good the
conduct and character of the members severally. To the many ministers
who despair of being able to conduct a club in person it should be said
that young men of sixteen or seventeen years of age make excellent
leaders for boys of twelve to fifteen years, and that they are more
available than older men.

These leaders, including the teachers of boys' classes, should come
together for conference and study at least once a month. The Y.M.C.A.
will be the most likely meeting-place, and its boys' secretary the
logical supervisor of inter-church activities. Wherever there is no such
clearing-house, the ministers' meeting or the inter-church federation
may bring the boys' leaders together for co-operation on a
community-wide scale. The multiplication of clubs is to be desired, both
for the extension of boys' work throughout all the churches, and for the
development of such inter-church activities among boys as will make for
mutual esteem and for the growing unity of the church of God.


Footnote 1: General reading: W.I. Thomas, _Source Book for Social
Origins,_ The University of Chicago Press; G. Stanley Hall,
_Adolescence_, D. Appleton & Co.; C.H. Judd, _Genetic Psychology for
Teachers_, D. Appleton & Co.

Footnote 2: Books recommended: _Official Handbook_, Boy Scouts of
America, 200 Fifth Ave., New York; K.L. Butterfield, _Chapters in Rural
Progress_, The University of Chicago Press; K.L. Butterfield, _The
Country Church and the Rural Problem_, The University of Chicago Press.

Footnote 3: Books recommended: Jane Addams, _The Spirit of Youth and the
City Streets_, Macmillan; D.F. Wilcox, _Great American Cities_,

Footnote 4: See monograph on _Five-and Ten-Cent Theatres_ by Louise de
Koven Bowen, The Juvenile Protective Association of Chicago.

Footnote 5: See monograph, _A Study of Public Dance Halls_, by Louise de
Koven Bowen, The Juvenile Protective Association of Chicago.

Footnote 6: Books and articles recommended: E.B. Mero, _The American
Playground,_ Dale Association, Boston; K. Groos, _The Play of Man,_ D.
Appleton & Co.; J.H. Bancroft, _Games for the Playground, Home, School,
and Gymnasium_, Macmillan; C.E. Seashore, "The Play Impulse and Attitude
in Religion," _The American Journal of Theology_, XIV, No. 4; Joseph
Lee, "Play as Medicine," _The Survey_, XXVII, No. 5.

Footnote 7: Books recommended: Frank Parsons, _Choosing a Vocation_,
Houghton Mifflin Co.; Meyer Bloomfield, _The Vocational Guidance of
Youth_, Houghton Mifflin Co.

Footnote 8: Books recommended: Georg Kerschensteiner, _Education for
Citizenship,_ Rand McNally & Co.; William R. George, _The Junior
Republic_, D. Appleton & Co.

Footnote 9: Books recommended: John L. Alexander, _Boy Training_,
Y.M.C.A. Press; G. Stanley Hall, _Youth, Its Education, Regimen and
Hygiene,_ D. Appleton & Co.

Footnote 10: For bibliography see William B. Forbush, _The Coming
Generation_, D. Appleton & Co., and the appendix of _Handbook for Boys,
The Boy Scouts of America_.


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Online LibraryAllan HobenThe Minister and the Boy A Handbook for Churchmen Engaged in Boys' Work → online text (page 9 of 9)