This post is part 1 in a series of 3. See part two here.
Tried and true, the LDS Scouting Handbook has helped church leaders know the policies and procedures for their faith in the use of Scouting for decades. From the Handbook itself: “This handbook outlines guidelines and policies relating to Scouting programs in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Bishoprics and Young Men, Primary, and Scouting leaders should be familiar with this information as they administer Scouting programs in the ward. …Differences between Church policy and BSA policy are noted in this handbook as needed. …This edition of the handbook includes revisions to policies in sections 3 and 8.
With the latest release on-line in May, the cover looks the same, but don’t let that fool you, right from the first section, 1.1, there are changes. In this article we have grouped changes we found into a few categories:
SECTION 1: Purpose of Scouting in the Aaronic Priesthood and Primary
Regarding the purpose of Scouting in the Aaronic Priesthood and Primary there is a word change from “can” to “should” stating that “Scouting should complement the efforts of Aaronic Priesthood quorums and Primary classes in building testimonies in young men and boys.” That certainly changes the meaning, but it is further clarified with this added sentence: “Scouting activities should be planned to fulfill gospel-centered purposes.”
SECTION 3: The Stake and LDS Commissioner Service
In section 3.2 we also note a couple of important changes regarding the role of Stake High Councilors. Their title changed from “Stake Aaronic Priesthood Committee” to “Stake High Councilors,” with these sentences added: “These high councilors register with the BSA as assistant district commissioners. They receive appropriate BSA training, participate in the monthly district commissioner meetings, and work closely with the district commissioner and unit commissioners in their stake.”
In that same section 3.3 the Stake’s Young Men Presidency is tasked with meeting …regularly with unit leaders, create close relationships with them, help them with rechartering, and inform them of BSA district and council activities, training opportunities, policies, and health and safety issues. And in 3.4 the Stake Primary Presidency role to these assistant district commissioners is explained with a word change from “organizations” to “leaders”: “The high councilor assigned to the Primary informs the stake Primary presidency of training opportunities and helps them provide support and assistance to ward Primary leaders.”
In 3.5 the duties of LDS Unit Commissioners is explained with a word change from “opportunities” to “evaluation programs”: “Learn about Scout policies, procedures, and evaluation programs.” Then the position duties are further clarified with these added words: “Establish a close relationship with adult Scout leaders in wards, interact with them regularly, and report the condition of Scouting in the stake to the assistant district commissioner.” and “Inform Scouting units of training opportunities, charter renewal deadlines, health and safety issues, and activities in the stake and in the BSA local district and council.”
SECTION 4: COR (Chartered Organization Representative) Bishop’s Counselors and Scouting Committees
In 4.2.2 there is a singe word change regarding registering Venturing from “when” to “if”: “Young men ages 16 and 17 and their leaders should be registered if the ward sponsors a Venturing crew or if rank advancements are being pursued.” And in 4.3 about Scouting Committees where the word “quorums” is replaced with “young men”: “The bishopric organizes ward Scouting committees to ensure that Scouting functions properly as a supporting activity for Aaronic Priesthood young men and for boys ages 8 through 11.” Also changed is “chair” to “chairperson”: “One of the committee members is called to serve as the chairperson” and this rephrasing from “whether members of the Church or not” to “including those who are not members of the Church”: “Qualified adults, including those who are not members of the Church, may serve on these committees.” The entire paragraph dropped from 2014: “All committee members, whether members of the Church or not, should understand and be willing to maintain Church standards.”
SECTION 5: QUORUM ADVISORS AND YOUTH LEADERSHIP
Aaronic Priesthood Quorum Advisors (Ward Young Men Presidency) no longer have to attend all meetings: “5.1 …Both the adviser and the assistant adviser(s) attend [all] meetings of the quorum and the Scouting unit and must be registered with the BSA.” This may open the door to sharing some meetings among leaders when youth are not present (due to two deep leadership requirements, when youth are present two leaders are needed). And as for planning among youth leaders in 5.2 there is a word change from “at” to “in” that read is: “Planning for Scouting activities should be done in presidency meetings and in the Scouting unit leadership meetings.”
In the introductory paragraphs a sentence has been added: “Careful planning is necessary to ensure that activities accomplish gospel-centered purposes.” Further into the introduction a word was added: “Scouting activities and meetings for Primary-age boys are preferable held weekly in the daytime.”
For 11-year old Scouts, in 6.2 has changed a sentence about advancement to this: “They are encouraged to complete as many of the First Class rank requirements as possible before turning 12, with the exception of the requirements for six overnight camps.” The requirement for six overnights takes effect January 2016 as part of the 1st Class requirements and then this word change from “First” to “Second”: “Eleven-year-old Scouts may participate in three one-night camps a year, which meets the camping requirements for advancement to the rank of Second Class.” Also about those camps there is a change from “As” to “If” and dropped word: “If desired, these overnight camps [experiences] may be held with the ward’s Boy Scout troop.” And another dropped word: “The eleven-year-old Scout leader plans the [overnight] camps in consultation with the ward Primary presidency, the bishopric adviser to the Primary, and the ward Scouting committee.” Regarding fathers and sons camping these words were also dropped words: “Fathers are [invited and] encouraged to participate in [the] overnight camps [-ing experiences] with their sons and with boys whose fathers cannot attend.”
6.3 explains a Stake or Ward’s role in Day Camps; words that were dropped: “If the BSA local council does not provide day camps or if they are not held within a reasonable travel distance [for Church members], a member of the ward or stake Primary presidency directs the organization of day camps.” To help plan these when a Ward or Stake chooses to run a day camp the planning guide
“(31374) is available at Church distribution centers” is no longer for sale but “is available online at LDS.org”: “A Day Camp Guide for Eleven-Year-Old Scouts is available online at LDS.org.”
The Assistant Scoutmaster or Leader of the Patrol of Eleven-Year-Old Scouts, as explained in 6.4, should, according to this additional wording “Register with the BSA as the eleven-year-old Scout leader.” Also these words were dropped: “[Encourage and] Help each boy achieve the Faith in God Award and advance in Scouting,” implying that all boys should be on track to get the Award.
Lastly in 6.5 Ward Primary Presidency has an added duty with these added words: “Coordinate Scouting with the Faith in God program to maintain a gospel focus.”
SECTION 7.0 Awards and Recognition
In the previous edition it states: “Faith in God Award. Cub Scouts and Webelos Scouts can earn the Faith in God Award by completing the requirements contained in the Faith in God for Boys guidebook. Boys of other faiths may also earn the award by completing the requirements.” This is fully revised with this publication: “Faith in God Award. Primary boys and boys of other faiths, ages 8 through 10, can earn the BSA Religious Square Knot Award by completing the requirements in the Faith in God for Boys guidebook marked by the square knot icon.”
Author: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints | Scouting Handbook for Church Units in the United States, Revised May 2015