This year, May 21st, the LDS church celebrated its 100 year partnership with Boy Scouts of America, becoming BSA’s first chartered partner. Just after this anniversary they released this statement: “For 100 years, the Church has enjoyed a strong, rewarding relationship with the Boy Scouts of America. We are thankful for Scouting’s emphasis on duty to God and moral behavior and its positive influence in the lives of boys and young men. The Church will move forward in its association with Boy Scouts of America, with a focus on strengthening young men in their roles as bearers to the Aaronic Priesthood.”
Individually we show our support of Scouting by giving both time and money. Annually the financial support we give is called Friends of Scouting, and I ask you to join with me in making this campaign the most effective ever.
To do this, I want to share a couple of best practices with you that will make this work easy. First, you need to remember you are on assignment representing your Bishop and Stake President. The LDS Scouting Handbook states: “The Church supports the annual Friends of Scouting drive. These funds provide financial support for the local BSA council. Stake presidents and bishops oversee the drive in their units.”
Did you know that it only costs $100 a boy to deliver Scouting in our area, which makes camping, training, activities and civic service all possible along the trail to Eagle. So knowing that it costs $100 per scout, how many boys could you support this year?
Let me tell you first of all, 99% of all funds stay in our local area and what we do send to the National Office comes back in services more valuable than the 1% we give them. Locally our staffs are paid about the same as educators; our field staff salaries are about the same as teachers and our top executives are paid about like school principals. Of the dollars raised last year, two thirds was poured back into camping, activities, service and training by our executive staff and other services we offer with with our team of 42,000 volunteers. In all, our staffing costs are kept the lowest in the nation.
Regarding the question about BSA’s new membership standards, the church’s response to this was: “The Church’s long-established policy for participation in activities is … “young men … who agree to abide by Church standards” are “welcomed warmly and encouraged to participate” (Handbook 2: Administering the Church , 8.17.3). This policy applies to Church-sponsored Scout units. Sexual orientation has not previously been—and is not now—a disqualifying factor for boys who want to join Latter-day Saint Scout troops. Willingness to abide by standards of behavior continues to be our compelling interest.
These standards are outlined in the booklet For the Strength of Youth and include abstinence from sexual relationships. We remain firmly committed to upholding these standards and to protecting and strengthening boys and young men.
The Church appreciates BSA’s reaffirmation of its commitment to “duty to God,” which includes service to others and moral behavior—central principles of our teaching to young men. As in the past, the Church will work with BSA to harmonize what Scouting has to offer with the varying needs of our young men. We trust that BSA will implement and administer the approved policy in an appropriate and effective manner.
- First, your stake should hold a kick off and training meeting, which you might be at right now and be sure you don’t leave this meeting without making your own gift—it is pretty hard for you to ask others give when you haven’t made your own contribution.
- Second, every household in every ward (member or otherwise) should have a meaningful face to face opportunity to give support to the Boy Scouts of America. That means you might have to go back several times to catch someone hope
- Third, each worker collecting donations needs to return and report to their Priesthood leader. This means as soon as you collect any donations, you report to someone who reports to the Bishop, who reports to the Stake Presidency.
- Follow this rule: we should complete this campaign in two weeks or less, in fact it is often done in just three days in many wards.
- Fifth, and maybe most important, show gratitude at every level for any contribution of time or money to his effort.
There are also a few things not to do:
- Don’t ask for their contribution at a Priesthood or relief society meeting
- Don’t just send a letter asking for their gift to be given to a member of the Bishopric next week
- Don’t assign the work in Priesthood meeting without the stake training. Workers need to be able to answer questions like you just saw me do.
To close, I want to quote from Bishop Gary E. Stevenson who offered a keynote speech May 23rd this year at Boy Scouts of America National Annual Meeting
“I will do my best to do my duty to God,” Bishop Stevenson said, “Isn’t it impressive that this great organization, so far ahead of its time, established this foundation or mission statement, integrated it deeply into its culture, and practiced it, beginning in 1910. Ask any man who was a Boy Scout, and you will find near 100 percent recognition and an ‘off the chart’ recall of this mission statement.”
Bishop Stevenson said that duty to God is the heart of Scouting. “It is a founding principle as old and deep as the organization itself,” he said. “What does it imply? The World Organization of the Scout Movement defines duty to God as ‘adherence to spiritual principles, loyalty to the religion that expresses them and acceptance of the duties resulting therefrom.’ And a BSA duty to God task force said, ‘Spirituality, reverence, morality [and] ethical behavior . . . are terms which reflect and demonstrate ways to fulfill duty to God.’”
Thank you for taking the time to learn and listen to my passionate appeal to build boys through Scouting. I want you to know that I am personally grateful for your time and contribution. You are making a difference.