Western Region Leaders Meet to Brainstorm
This is part 2 of an 8-part report. You can read the other posts here:
- The Chief’s Thoughts on the LDS Partnership
- Adapting and Implementing Scouting for LDS Purposes
- Unified Alignment and Service Model
- Leadership Training
- The Impact of Technology
- The Cost of Scouting
- Summary and Conclusion
Tuesday December 8th, eighty-nine Scouters and professional staff met at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building for a day-long summit in Salt Lake City. Under the leadership of Larry Gibson, Western Region President, the meeting convened to explore what Gibson explained was the meeting’s purpose:
- To determine new ways to strengthen our relationships and support of the LDS Church with Scouting
- To commit ourselves to specific action-steps that our councils, areas, the region and the National Council can take to strengthen our relationship and support of this Scouting church partner.
He reminded the group that we need to do the same with our other partners and then explained our double duty in representing Scouting and the LDS Church’s needs by showing us a two-brimmed hat. He said that we needed to use fidelity in representing both points of view and needs. Then he asked that we climb out of our box and think in new ways, putting aside bias and personal opinion.
The Chief Scout Executive shared a few of his thoughts and then we went to work.
Five Themes of Service to LDS Partners
President Gibson started again by stating that since 55% of all units chartered in the Western Region are LDS, it is time to do what is best for the church. We need to understand the Church’s needs and then change what we can with resources we have and accept the rest.
He explained that the next few hours would be devoted to five table topics:
- Ownership of Scouting within the LDS Church
- Service and Communication
- Leadership Training
This then acted as the agenda for the remainder of the day. Interestingly, on the reverse side of this discussion agenda was printed our Council’s Why Scouting Matters—6 Pillars for Communication with LDS Leaders. Readers may recall that this was developed after extensive research by Rushford Lee, Utah National Parks Council VP of Marketing, by his firm Research Emotion Design (RED) and published first in May 2014.
What are the key issues facing The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Boy Scouts of America?
- Adapting and Implementing Scouting for LDS Purposes:
- LDS church leaders will, as always, select their own Scout leaders based on church standards.
- BSA employees and volunteers are obligated to ensure Scouting helps stakes and wards meet their goals.
- The best way to accomplish this is to facilitate open, productive communication between Scouting representatives and stake presidents and bishops.
- Scouting representatives should listen to the specific needs expressed by stake and ward leaders as they share their vision for youth in local wards. The BSA should then assist the stake and ward with all available resources in adapting and implementing that vision.
- Unified Alignment and Service Model:
- Because church leaders and Scouting representatives are partners in delivering the Scouting program and its benefits to local youth, they will be most effective if they are unified.
- This partnership is best facilitated through frequent, productive communication, improved customer service on the part of BSA councils, and positive interpersonal relationships between Scouting representatives and LDS volunteers.
- The BSA should work to support priesthood-driven goals by conforming to the church service structure and language.
- Leadership Training:
- Scouting works most effectively when volunteers at every level are committed to the church’s vision and thoroughly trained in Scouting programs and methods.
- The council should ensure BSA trainers teach LDS stake representatives, who in turn teach ward Scout leaders. This ensures volunteers at every level are taught Scouting methods while allowing LDS leaders to exercise their stewardship.
- The BSA is responsible to make this training easily available for stake and ward leaders. This will include automating and simplifying online education tools so volunteers have easy access to necessary information and materials.
- Scouting should provide online tools that are readily available and easy to use.
- Wards should be able to re-charter units, register new youth, and record advancement online using well-functioning programs that they can access from any electronic device.
- To better serve stakes and wards, the BSA should make use of all available technology to simplify and streamline Scouting information and processes. This should include a series of online articles and videos that, once completed by volunteers, qualifies them as trained Scout leaders.
- Cost of Scouting:
- The BSA should explore lower-cost options for uniforms, advancements, program materials, and other direct Scouting costs for families and wards.
- Donors need the reassurance that local donations benefit local Scouting programs.
- The disconnect between the donating Latter-day Saint and the Scouting council must be addressed.
- The BSA must be transparent in the use of funds and is responsible to show LDS leaders the value they receive as a return on their investment.
The 89 participants were asked to pick a topic. Once self-selected, these became table topics for each group of eight to ten. President Gibson challenged us to explore the topic for its deeper meaning and then determine a desirable outcome. Finally, from that exploration, we were to list five action steps we can take to serve our LDS Scouting partners better.
Detailed reports from those table discussions will follow in upcoming posts.
Author: Darryl Alder | Director of Strategic Initiatives, Utah National Parks Council, BSA.