Years ago, on my mission, my companion and I were assigned to travel through Indian Reservations in Arizona, New Mexico, and the sections of Utah and Colorado in the Four Corners region. Our major responsibility was to help the elders in specific areas to organize Scout troops and to train them in Scouting program elements.
As part of that assignment, I had the opportunity to work with the LDS-BSA Relationships director of the time, Loo Roberts, to help those areas working with Scouting to understand the LDS-BSA partnership.
Loo taught us about the uniqueness of the LDS program, which he called “Option B.” That was my first exposure to the awareness that in the LDS Church, Scouting functions as a support to the Aaronic Priesthood and is not in competition with it.
I became aware that the development of Chartered Organizations—of which the LDS Church was the first—was done to support and enhance Chartered Organizations’ normal youth programs and not compete with them.*
Some may think my offering to alternate between the left-hand scout handshake and the right hand priesthood handshake (or more generally, the hand of fellowship) is a silly gimmick. You should know that I take the message behind it very seriously.
I think we need to constantly find ways to stress that unit leaders don’t set the two programs up in competition with one another. When properly implemented at all unit levels, they are synergistic: Scouting magnifying the proper exercising of the priesthood and vice-versa.
That’s one of my motives, but there’s another. I also hope to give our young men the sense that when they are called to Priesthood and/or Scouting positions in their adult lives, that they balance the two programs in a dynamic way, a true partnership and not one program pushing the other into the background.
Further, when they are called on missions, our Young Men can use what they learned in Priesthood and Scouting to support youth to fulfill their Duty to God, especially in areas where the Church cannot, for various reasons, authorize a Scouting partnership.
There may be many ways we can promote a proper understanding of the LDS-BSA Partnership besides depending upon Roundtable to do it all. I’d be willing to help in any way I can.
*I also have concerns that we fully accept the Scouting principle of diversity—that we encourage those not of the LDS Faith to value the Ideals of Scouting as expressed in the Scout Oath and Law, and support boys who enroll in our units to be valued as fellow Scouts; that we also encourage and support community Scout programs with interests common to our own.
What could you do?
Author: George Weight | Hobble Creek District Roundtable Commissioner