Girls and boys in kindergarten through 12th grade associated with Protestant and Independent Christian Churches are eligible to participate in the P.R.A.Y. program series. Students are required to have original workbooks and present their work to the pastor for final approval. The program must be completed under the auspices of the church.
Pastors are often “caught off guard” when Scouts approach them about earning their religious award. Sometimes a pastor doesn’t know about the P.R.A.Y. program until a Scout wants to earn it. What is the role of the pastor in the P.R.A.Y. series? Is the pastor automatically the counselor? What are realistic expectations for the pastor when setting up the program? What options do pastors have?
The P.R.A.Y. program requires pastors to oversee the program and conduct a final review with the participants. As a church program, the P.R.A.Y. program requires the signature of the pastor – not the parent, unit leader, or instructor. This is to ensure that candidates complete the P.R.A.Y. program under the auspices of the church and meet with the pastor in order for them to receive their church badge.
Most pastors choose to get more involved than just interviewing the children at the end of the program. There is a wide range of involvement by pastors, but it basically boils down to whether pastors prefer that the young people work individually at home with their parents or whether the young people attend a P.R.A.Y. program class at church.
Pastors typically meet with the family prior to starting the curriculum. They walk through the requirements, explain their expectations, make suggestions, and set deadlines. Depending on their preference (or depending on the family and their church background), pastors may require candidates to meet with them after every section, but many just require a mid-point check up or a final review at the end of the program. In this type of set up, the time with the pastor is not so much instruction, as it is discussion and reviewing the candidate’s work. Regardless of how many (or how few) meeting times, families have appreciated this individual time with the pastor and the personal investment in their child’s faith development.
Sometimes pastors have taught the class themselves. This is most often the case with small classes or when an established group (such as a Brownie Troop or Cub Scout Den) approaches their pastor. With the God and Church program for grades 6-8, some pastors have incorporated the curriculum into their confirmation classes so that all confirmants are eligible to receive the award.
When a church sponsors more than one P.R.A.Y. class (either they offer more than one level or their enrollment is so big that they have multiple classes at each level), the pastor most often approves a coordinator who handles the scheduling, supplies, adult volunteers, paperwork, etc. The pastor can then choose the level of involvement, which can range from visiting different classes, teaching a session, or attending the “party” at the end of the program. The very least that the pastor would have to do is conduct the final review at the end of the program and get to know the children and connect with them in this way.
Some pastors interview each child. Others do the final review in a group setting with the entire class. The purpose of the final review is not to quiz or “stump” the children, but to dialogue with them and help them express what they have learned. The final review is not a “test” but rather an opportunity for the child to get to know the pastor and have a conversation on faith issues at the child’s level.
If the pastor hasn’t been involved in teaching the children, there are sample questions for the final review available on line. The pastor should ask the counselor/teacher if there are any particular lessons or insights that should be brought up during the review.
The pastor is a key person in interpreting the Scouting program as “ministry,” but the entire congregation – from the church council to the building committee to the newsletter publisher to the outreach committee – must embrace this concept. Click here to read how all the components of the church are involved in a Scouting ministry.
The Counselor is the person who “teaches” the P.R.A.Y. curriculum. This person should be an active member of a Christian congregation and willing to give of time and self to help young people grow in Christian faith. (Parents may serve as Counselors for their own children, especially at the younger levels.) Resources and curriculum cannot replace the impact that a dedicated adult Christian can have on the lives of young people.
Expectations of the Counselor:
Parents have the option of enrolling in the Adult Mentor Program. In this program, the parent is an active learning participant alongside the child. The parent would have lessons and projects to complete in the Mentor Workbook just like the child, and then both parent and child would work on the student curriculum together. The mentor program is designed to provide the adult/parent with additional opportunities to model his or her Christian faith and to help a young child talk about his or her belief in God.
The counselor is the pastor (or other adult assigned by the pastor). The counselor serves as an instructor who gives assignments to the young people, and it is the young people who do all the work.
Mentors are parents who have chosen to work alongside their children on the P.R.A.Y. curriculum. Mentors are active learning participants (students) with lessons to complete in their own workbooks just like their children. Both mentors and children work under the supervision of the pastor or counselor.
The Adult Mentor Workbooks are designed to help parents focus on their faith and their relationship to their children. The lessons are patterned after the student curriculum so that the parents are studying the same topics and scripture as their children, but at an adult level. For example, in the God and Me program, when the children read the story in the Bible about Jesus blessing the children, they will talk about how they are important to Jesus and how they are loved by him. Their parents, on the other hand, may discuss other questions: Have you ever acted like the disciples? When has “important” work kept you away from your children? What can you do to bring your children closer to Christ? Children will understand how important it is to grow in faith when they see their parents doing their “homework” (reading the Bible and answering questions).
Parents need to complete their work in the Adult Mentor Workbook prior to working with their children. After completing their own lesson, parents will then focus on helping their children complete their work in the Student Workbook.
Churches that offer P.R.A.Y. programs for children can encourage parents to serve as mentors. Parents are encouraged to attend classes with their children. At some point in the class, parents will meet separately to discuss the lessons in the Adult Mentor Workbook and share their thoughts with other parents.
Yes, parents can “wear two hats” and serve as counselors and mentors. When the pastor asks the parents to work on the program with their children at home, the parents are in essence serving as counselors, i.e. they are “teaching” their children and helping them be successful in completing the requirements. At the same time, they can also choose to be “mentors.” Being a mentor is an entirely different role. A mentor has to answer questions and complete the requirements in the Adult Mentor Workbook. Parents who choose to participate in the Adult Mentor program are challenged to model their faith and share their faith with their children. They are showing their children that it is important even as an adult to always seek to grow in faith.
It depends on the youth agency. GSUSA and Camp Fire USA allow the pin to be worn on the uniform, but BSA does not (BSA permits the patch to be worn as a temporary patch, but not the pin).
No. The only way that an adult can receive the square knot is to be nominated for one of the national adult recognitions.
The mentor pin may be worn by parents who have successfully completed the Adult Mentor Program. This is a program for parents to work on while they lead their children through the P.R.A.Y. Series. There is an adult workbook that must be completed.
The Adult Recognition Awards are by nomination only (they are not work/study programs like the youth awards). These are honors given to worthy adults for their outstanding service to youth through both their church and one of the national youth agencies. Most of the awards require a minimum number of years of service. Recipients of these awards are unaware that they are being nominated: an outside party must nominate them to receive an award by submitting the required application, letters of recommendation and resume. Please check on specific eligibility requirements by visiting adult-nominations and clicking on the appropriate adult brochure/nomination form.
There are numerous settings in which the P.R.A.Y. program may be completed. You may be working with one child or with twenty, or you may be conducting a class for one or more mentor pairs. Your class may be made up of youth from one denomination or many. You may be meeting once or twice a week or only once a month. It is impossible to provide a separate counselor guide for each situation, and we would not want to suggest only one format in which the program could be completed. Please modify and adapt the program for your specific needs and situation.
Regardless of how you set up your class, please note that the P.R.A.Y. program requires that the final review be done by a pastor.
Here are some basic steps and items for your consideration to help you set up a class. Keep in mind that if you have been approached by a specific group, such as a Cub Scout, Girl Scout, or AHG group,some of the following steps may already be decided and may not be applicable in your situation.
The age old debate about the P.R.A.Y. program is whether or not to require individual instruction with the pastor/counselor, or to teach it in a classroom setting to a large group of children. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to do it. Here are some thoughts on this issue.
There is no better motivation for a young person than having the pastor personally involved in teaching the P.R.A.Y. programs on an individual basis. The P.R.A.Y. program will have the biggest impact in this independent study setting. At the younger levels, individual instruction can also make for great family ministry. Children will complete the bulk of the curriculum at home with the help of the parents, and then bring their work to the pastor for review. Parents welcome the opportunity to share their faith with their children and are often surprised by their children’s eagerness to learn more about God. In larger congregations, this individual approach may not be feasible. It is very time consuming and can limit the number of youth a pastor can teach. Scheduling can be an issue.
Offering structured classes requires more organization and adult volunteers. It requires lesson plans, craft supplies, and a 4 to 6 week time commitment for the younger levels and an 8 to 12 week time commitment for the older programs. But it also has the potential of attracting more youth and becoming an outreach ministry to Scouts in the community. Structured classes do not necessarily eliminate parental involvement in the program. Pastors can choose to require parents to attend, and even require parents to complete the Adult Mentor curriculum. Some families need this type of structure in order to complete the program. A larger group setting also allows for greater synergy and peer learning and sharing.
Choosing to take the children through the program individually or offering structured classes depends on your individual situation. A pastor or congregation does not have to be pigeonholed into doing the P.R.A.Y. program one particular way. The P.R.A.Y. program is flexible and offers a myriad of choices to fit your circumstances and needs.