By Michelle Carpenter
Apr 02, 2017

What Scout Executives Learned about Mormons from Visiting Utah

Thousands flocked streets of Temple Square in Sunday best. Some held signs hoping for tickets. Protesters settled on corners yelling through megaphones. 

Meanwhile, a group of Scouting executives and professionals from across America gathered near the front of the conference center, many listening to General Conference for the first time ever.

For the professional Scouters and others in attendance, peace replaced the chaos outside. 

These Scout Executives came to conference as part of a two day LDS-BSA Relations Seminar. Their goal? To learn more about the needs of their Scouts (and units) in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. But, conference was only a small part of the itinerary. 

Those in attendance visited many Church sites including the MTC, BYU, and Welfare Square on Friday. 

But, Saturday was dedicated to conference. The professional Scouters, both Mormon and not, watched the Saturday’s morning and priesthood sessions. They also heard presentations by Brother Stephen W. Owen and Brother M. Joseph Brough of the General Young Men’s Presidency, in a private room in the Lion House between sessions. 

According to Non-LDS executives and Scout leaders, the overall experience helped them gain a better understanding of LDS culture, terminology, and Scouting needs. LDS leaders in attendance said it helped them better understand how Scouting is a tool to help boys come to Christ. 

Here’re some of the lessons learned by those attending the seminar: 

What Scout Executives Learned about LDS members in Scouting

Many Scout Executives have a large percentage of LDS members in their councils. They said they frequently meet with stake presidents and bishops to plan and cater to their needs.

  • LDS Terminology 

The seminar not only helped these professionals learn new words, but it also helped them build a context for words they already knew. A few Scout Executives talked about how content they were now that they are better able to understand the Church’s lingo and communicate more effectively. 

  • Church History

The Church history sites impacted many of the executives. Many didn’t know much about the Church’s history and commitment to welfare. One Scout executive had this to say. 

“In regards to the MTC, Welfare Square, and sessions is that the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have a real passion for their faith. They have a passion for helping the community, the under-served, and the needy,” said Kevin Fox, Camping Director for the Denver Area Council.

  • Why Scouting is important for missionary service

Almost all of the Scout Executives said that the MTC was their favorite part of the weekend. It was a profound experience for them to walk into a room filled with Elders and see a majority of them raise their hand after being asked how many were Eagle Scouts. 

What LDS Scout Executives Learned About Scouting

LDS Scout professionals and stake leaders in attendance said they learned a lot as well. They were reminded about why we use the Scouting program in the Church. 

  • The purpose of Scouting is to help youth come closer to Christ

One stake leader’s wife said she was reminded that Scouting goes hand-in-hand with the priesthood. It’s not just an activity program, so boys can have a great time hanging out. It’s a means to teach essential Christ-like attributes. 

  • Statistically, Scouting helps boys go on and stay on missions

Brad Harris, BYU campus director of the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance, showed a slide about reasons people are influenced to go on and stay on missions. Ahead of seminary, Duty to God, and all other youth programs in the Church, Scouting was listed. This just went to show LDS members in attendance how positive experiences like privation and camping prepare boys for the toughness of missionary work. One council professional said four out of five boys in his language class at the MTC raised their hands stating that they were Eagle Scouts. 

  • Leaders MUST fulfill their callings

One speaker at the seminar told a story about how after accomplishing some things in his life he desired to call his Scoutmaster and say thank you. He did so, leaving his Scoutmaster in tears. Because of a good leader, he grew. Some leaders don’t plan. They don’t get it. But, if a leader steps up to his calling, he can help a boy change course.

This weekend was a powerful experience for both LDS and non-LDS Scouters alike. Testimonies were strengthened and memorable experiences were had. Even with the heavy conference traffic and busy schedule, the Scout Executives who attended the seminar this weekend were edified and uplifted. 

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Author: Michelle Carpenter | Marketing Associate, Utah National Parks Council

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9 thoughts on “What Scout Executives Learned about Mormons from Visiting Utah

  1. DerrickDerrick

    I am always grateful for when Scouting and the church work together to further the work of building young men up. I got to help make a presentation to some Scout Executives in 2008 at one of these same events and it was very memorable for me.

    Reply
  2. Nacho

    Now if only those leaders actually cared about their scouts and scouting. I worked at a scout ranch in Utah. We had scouts ranging from 400-600 per week for 8 weeks. I can tell you that out of all the scout leaders, and all the troops there. Less than 20% of the leaders stayed more than 2 days. I remember one troop that had their leaders change twice in a day. If we could do more than just a lip service to the importance of scouting within the church. We would have actual scout camps, and not merit Badge mills. Don’t even get me started on the Eagle projects that consist of an ice cream social that barely breaks even. It’s a mess, and most of the troops don’t deserve the charter they have.

    Reply
  3. Sean

    Nacho, your comments seem very judgmental and jaded. Though I am sure there is some truth to your observations it is hard to believe that they are accurate in a general sense. They do not reflect my experiences at all.

    Reply
  4. Matt Edwards

    Scouting saved my life in many ways. At the beginning of one summer I ran away from home when I was 15 years old. After being put in jail for a day (for running away), my parents gave permission for me to work at a scout camp for the summer. I was always active in scouting, but my experience working at that scout camp helped me tremendously. It was an abusive environment at home and this was a needed reprieve for me. I became an Eagle scout, served a mission, became a journeyman carpenter, have degrees from 3 universities, and have had a great career in education. My wife will have 5 Eagle pins after my youngest child ( 5 sons two daughters) earns his Eagle next summer. Scouting isn’t perfect and the latest “worldly” changes have made me sick. However, I cannot knock a program that has done so much for me and my family. Thank you BSA.

    Reply
  5. Jason

    There needs to be some major re-commitment on the end of the members with Scouting. Coming from just having been a Scout Master for a couple years I can tell that if it’s not important to the parents it’s not important to the kids. Somehow it needs to be driven home to the parents relentlessly why we still do Scouting and that it is imperative for them to help make it a priority, especially when there is so much work put in by the leaders.

    I personally think that Scouting the “LDS” way is so much different than normal Scouting, that they should just create their own thing and leave Scouting out of it. Too much cost, cost for the leaders, for the kids, etc just for merchandise, clothes (that they never wear) etc. Scouting has lost it’s “edge” and is no longer cool time to try something new. It’s like still trying to sell Amway. Besides most kids who actually get their eagle their parents do most of the work and those that don’t are on their own which is why they don’t get it. I have seen numerous eagles who can’t tie a knot or start a fire and have a terrible attitude about Scouting but they got their eagles because their parents pushed them through it. This is about 90% of the LDS eagles.

    Reply
    1. R L P

      @Jason, not sure what time period in Utah you are referring to, nor geographic location, but I can speak to the Porter Rockwell District recently. In the last 6 months I have participated in about three dozen Eagle Boards of Review and the attitude of all the Scouts has been exemplary. (Maybe I have just been lucky. A couple pairs of the parents sheepishly admitted they did not help their Scout much and it was due to the leaders, as you mentioned, but that also contradicts the idea that their parents pushed them through it.)

      I admit I miss the days of real wilderness survival skills (in Oklahoma) where we ate Cactus and slept under the stars, but those on not the only valuable skills to prepare a boy for the workplace and confidence can be built through accomplishing any merit badge, not just the traditional ones.

      Eagle Boards ask about how they demonstrated leadership and what they have learned from the Scout Oath, Promise, Motto, and Slogan. Boards don’t ask them to demonstrate fire building or knots, so adding those as a requirement may be a good idea, but they just aren’t a requirement at this time.

      Reply
  6. Steve Terry

    I am disappointed in the negative comments. Not that they are not shared by many, but because of the broad stroke that is used to put the majority of leaders and units into this paradigm. I have been involved in Scouting in unit, district, and council positions, as well as corresponding church positions for 40 yrs. While i have seen the problems described, and many more, It is not the fault of BSA or the Church that these conditions exist. I would dare say that those leaders that are not putting forth the effort to provide an dedicated and optimum experience for their YM, would provide the same effort, regardless the program they were working in. The same conditions exist for virtually all callings and positions in the Church.
    The majority of youth leaders i have worked with are dedicated and are doing the best they can to follow the program and provide the life lesson our youth need to navigate the path forward in their lives.
    I would encourage all leaders to dedicate themselves to make the commitment and take the responsibility to learn their calling and how they can serve the YM they have stewardship for and focus on what they can do and not what is working right or wrong at the time.

    Reply
  7. Jay

    In our stake they have put a 2 hour travel limit on any Scouting activity, including Varsity High Adventure. My stake is located in Lehi. That puts some of the world’s most amazingly beautiful destinations out of our reach, including all of Utah’s National Parks. This seems wrong to me. I am confused about the motivation for this limit, supposedly it is fuel costs but I’m not sure what difference it makes considering the scouts earn the money for the annual summer trip.

    Reply
    1. R L P

      Since the Provo 1st Ward went frequently to Havasu Falls, we were planning that this year, but had to cancel after planning it with the boys due to the 2-hour travel limit.

      Reply

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