Someone sent me this link last week; apparently the Church is putting Personal Progress online. Young Women will be able to read, journal, and keep track of their progress at this site. I think it is a fine innovation. For some Young Women who spend significant time online, this will be an attractive idea, for others it might help them keep track of their accomplishments, and for some, it will not affect them one way or another.

On the whole, I’d say it is a step forward. Maybe not a very important step, but it is a step.

It is New Beginnings season and since I have a Stake Calling, I get invited to attend 9 of them. Lucky me. This year, most New Beginnings programs have included (whether featured or mentioned) an introduction to the “new” Personal Progress program. They are not talking about the previously mentioned website. They are talking about the new book, journal, theme cards, pendants and rubies, posters, stickers (yes, stickers), and ribbons. Whew. It’s a lot of stuff.

While the program itself has not changed enormously (aside from turning very very pink), all of a sudden I am having flashbacks to my mom’s panicked Tuesday afternoon trips to the Scout Store to get the right badges and pins to present to the Cubs at the quickly-approaching Pack Meeting. Why do we need all this stuff to make goals and learning worthwhile?

For a while there, I had been tricked into thinking that the Young Men were coming our way: that Duty to God was finally a parallel program for Personal Progress. That Young Men, their leaders, and their parents might come to value that program more than the Scout program which, let’s face it, isn’t a Church program. Scouts is fine for those interested in scouting and seems like a better use of an adolescent’s time than video games, but it isn’t a religious program. I was excited that our youth were actually spending their time assisted by goal-setting programs that, while they may help kids develop life skills and testimonies, at least lent a structure to the youth program that was based in religious growth and understanding.

But, quite frankly, the addition of all this stuff makes the Personal Progress program look a lot more like a scouting program with all the extrinsic markers of experiences: done, values: developed, and progress: made. It feels very check-listy. It seems so juvenile.

Two steps back. At least.

Oh goodness: no honor bee in my future, I guess. As you can see, I am in a little bit of a Personal Progress funk: can you talk me out of it?