The Minister and the Boy
by Allan Hoben
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The best policy is for the pastor to figure out how boys' work can be begun without coming before the church for an appropriation. It is well to begin in a very humble way with such funds as the boys can raise and the backing of a few interested people, securing from the trustees of the church the use of some part of the premises subject to recall of the privilege on sufficient grounds; and—a consideration never to be slighted although often hard to get—the good-will and co-operation of the sexton. With the sexton against him, no pastor can make a church boys' club succeed. The club will make no mistake in paying the church something for the heat and light consumed.

If an indoor area sufficient for basket-ball and a room suited to club meetings can be had, the initial apparatus for winter work need not exceed a parallel bar, a vaulting-horse, and three floor mats in addition to the basket-ball equipment. This will involve an outlay of from $75 to $150. Good parallel bars are as expensive as they are serviceable; but boys have been known to make their own, and this is highly desirable. Indian clubs, dumb-bells, and wands may only prove a nuisance unless they can be carefully put away after the exercises. Anyway, boys do not care greatly for calisthenics and most drills can be given without these trappings. Granting that the boys have faithful and wise supervision, the undertaking should be allowed to rest upon them to the full measure of their ability.

When it has become clear that funds and quarters can be provided, the matter of formal organization should be taken up. The ideal church club is not a mass club where certain privileges are given to large numbers of boys who take out memberships; but a group club, or clubs, under democratic control. Prior to calling the boys together for organization, the pastor will have blocked out the main articles of a constitution, and will have formulated some ideas as to the ritual and procedure which shall have place in the weekly meetings of the club. In order to do this intelligently, he will need to study such organizations as the Knights of King Arthur and various independent church clubs that have proven successful in fields similar to his own. Often there is something in his own field that will lend definite color and interest to his local organization. The following sample constitution is offered for purpose of suggestion only and as a concession to the sentiment attaching to my first boys' club of a dozen years ago.


I. We be known as the Waupun Wigwam.

II. For to be sound of body, true of heart, unselfish, and Christian we be joined together.

III. They that have seen ten to fourteen summers may join our Wigwam one by one if we want them. High names have we. These names we use in our Wigwam.

IV. At our meetings around the Campfire each Brave is Chief in turn and chooseth one to guard the entrance. Medicine Man serveth us continually. He knoweth his Braves. He chooseth Right Hand to serve him. When days are longest and when days are shortest we choose one to write what we do in Wigwam, one to collect small wampum and one to keep the same.

V. They that be older than we, they that be our friends may visit us in our Wigwam. Woman by us is honored. Chivalry by us is shown. Whatever is weak is by us protected.

VI. Measured are we when we join the Wigwam and once a year thereafter—our height, calf of leg, hip, chest, and arm. This by Medicine Man who keepeth the writings and adviseth how to improve. He praiseth what good we do, and alloweth not "what harmeth body, defileth tongue, or doeth ill to mind."

VII. Small wampum pay we all alike according to the need of the Wigwam and the Campfire.

VIII. Deeds of valor do we read in Wigwam and Indian tales of old. Each telleth of brave deeds he knows. A motto have we. This Medicine Man giveth every three moons. We have our war whoop and our battle song. We loyally help Medicine Man in his work and when he speaketh in the Great Tent.

IX. When admitted to the Wigwam we very solemnly vow to be obedient to all its laws and to try to please our Great High Chief in Heaven who ruleth every tribe, World without end. Amen.



The Braves being seated in a semicircle, the Chief, clad in blanket and attended by Right Hand, enters. All arise. Chief takes position. Waits until there is perfect silence.

Chief: My trusted and loyal Braves!

All: Hail to our Chief!

C: I am about to sit with you around our friendly Campfire. Brave —— —— will guard the entrance that none come into the Wigwam at this time. Let such as be of our Wigwam advance and prove themselves.

Each Brave comes forward in turn, whispers the motto in the Chief's ear and says, May I, —— ——, be known as a loyal Brave of the Waupun Wigwam?

C: As such be thou known.

All: So may it be! (When this is done the Chief continues.)

C: For what are we bound together?

All: For to be sound of body, true of heart, unselfish, and Christian we be bound together.

C: What virtues are the greatest?

All: Faith, hope, and love.

C: Who is great?

All: He that serves.

C: What is our sign?

All: The sign of the cross.

C: Sing we a song of valor.

All sing: "The Son of God goes forth to war."

C: Let us be seated. (He gives one rap with the tomahawk.)

C: Brave —— ——, admit any who are late and have given you the motto.

C: Medicine Man will read from the Book and pray. (All kneel for the prayer.)

C: Brave —— —— will read what we did last.

C: Brave —— —— will find who are here. (Each one-present answers "Ho" when his name is called).

C: Brave —— —— will tell what wampum we have.

C: Is there any business to come before our Wigwam? (Reports, unfinished business, and new business.)

C: Is there one fit to join our Wigwam? (If there is a candidate who has secured his parents' consent and who at a previous meeting has been elected to membership with not more than two ballots against him he can be initiated at this time.)

C: Brave Right Hand, what shall we do now? (Right Hand says how the time shall be spent.)


Chief calls to order with a whistle. Each Brave takes his place quickly and quietly. (Moccasins or gymnasium shoes are worn in all Wigwam sessions.)

Chief gives two raps. All arise.

C: My Braves, we are about to leave the Campfire. Let us join hands and repeat our covenant. (All join hands and repeat clause by clause after the Chief.)

We covenant with our Chief and one another:

To be true men, To protect the weak,

To honor woman, To make the most of life, And to endeavor to please God. So do we covenant.

Then the national anthem is sung and the following yell is given:

Who are we? Chee Poo Kaw Waupun Wigwam, Rah, Rah, Rah!!

This club proved of value in a town of three thousand which had a dozen saloons and no organized work for boys or young men. It was supplemented by a brotherhood for the older boys. In the clubroom was a large fireplace in which a wood fire burned during the sessions. The room could be partially darkened. The walls were covered with Indian pictures and handicraft, and the surrounding country abounded in Indian relics. In the summer the club went camping on the shore of a lake nine miles distant. From another of the many successful clubs of this type the following article on "Purpose" as stated in the constitution is worthy of note:

"We gather in our Wigwam that we may become strong as our bows, straight as our arrows, and pure as the lakes of the forest."

Clubs patterned after rangers, yeomen, lifesaving crews, and what not have been successfully projected to meet and idealize local interest; and the novelty and slightly concealed symbolism seem to take with boys of this age. But the most important factor is never the organization as such but the leader.

For the period of from fourteen to seventeen years probably no better organization has been devised than the Knights of King Arthur. Its full requirements may be too elaborate in some cases but freedom to simplify is granted, and also to eliminate the requirement of Sunday-school attendance as a prerequisite to membership and the requirement of church membership as a prerequisite to knighthood. Leaders dealing with this age should read The Boy Problem by William Byron Forbush and The Boy's Round Table by Forbush and Masseck (Boston and Chicago: Pilgrim Press, 6th edition, $1.00 each).

Ordinarily a policy of relationship between the club and Sunday school and church will have to be formulated. It is always best to let the Sunday school and the church stand on their own merits and not to use the club as a bait for either. Nor should ranking in the club be conditioned on church membership. Boys should not be tempted to make the church a stepping-stone to their ambition in this more attractive 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 itself.

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 ascent.

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 solidarity.

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 occupied.

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.

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 schools.

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, Macmillan.

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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