By Darryl Alder
Nov 06, 2015

Mac’s Messages on How Scouting Prepares Missionaries

It’s not often that we feel a need to point you to another blog, but the LDS-BSA Relationships blog has just run a series of insightful articles on the effects of Scouting on a missionary’s preparation. These articles are great resource for parents, leaders, and prospective missionaries that can help them make better use of Scouting as a mission prep tool. The author, Mac McIntire, has blogged weekly on the LDS-BSA Relationships blog for about 14 months and the Boy Scout, our blog, has featured him twice.

A Mission President’s Wife’s Concerns:

  1. Feet. Many missionaries aren’t used to walking long distances and they don’t know how to choose proper footwear, which leaves them with foot problems and makes them less effective.
  2. Heavy backpacks. Missionaries are not used to carrying these and often don’t know how to wear them properly—this limits their usefulness and efficiency in the work of the Lord.
  3. Everyday medical emergencies. Missionaries need to be able to treat cuts, strains, bug bites, burns, stomach pains, colds, and flu.
  4. Extreme weather conditions. Missionaries often work in bad weather; they need to know how to persevere in harsh conditions.
  5. Coping with homesickness. With the lowering of the age requirement, many boys have not been away from home for long periods. 

In September, Mac reflected on a time in 2009 when, as stake Young Men president and high council member, he was surprised at the report from a mission president’s wife. During her report she “… lamented about how ill-prepared some young men are when they enter the mission field. She was shocked at the things she had to teach the boys once they were on their missions that she felt they should have learned long before they embarked to serve the Lord full time.”

As she spoke Mac listed her concerns and was glad to see that Scouting could help. He wrote:

“…the Lord already had put in place a program to address each of this sister’s concerns. The Young Men program—if carried out as the Lord intends—is perfectly designed through Aaronic Priesthood quorum duties, Duty to God requirements, and Scouting activities to prepare a young man for every situation he may face on his mission.

“With the lowering of the age requirement to serve a mission, many young men are going straight from high school and the comfort of their homes into the mission field where they have to fend for themselves. As a Young Men leader you have numerous opportunities to help prepare your youth for the challenges they will face. Almost every endeavor in which you engage with your young men is a prospective missionary preparation experience. Help your boys to keep this in mind when planning activities. Instead of choosing activities that are merely entertaining or fun, they may be more inclined to focus on pursuits that will have greater benefit to them in the future as they serve an honorable full-time mission.”

Using this incident and his own Scouting experience, Mac posted  five articles, sharing his understanding of the Scouting program in a uniquely LDS way:

In one of these articles he reminds us that:

snow“Scouting is designed to toughen up young men before their missions. This is why I suggested in earlier blog messages that boys need activities that require them to do hard things, even in bad weather, so they know how to persevere in harsh conditions (see Mac’s Messages #22, #23 and #24).”

If you are looking for ways to deepen your understanding of Aaronic Priesthood Scouting, you might consider following Mac on his weekly blog; we do.

Darryl head BW

Author: Darryl Alder | Director of Strategic Initiatives, Utah National Parks Council, BSA. As a high council member advising Young Men in his stake, he worked closely with wards and leaders to discover the value add Scouting can bring to the Duty to God and other Aaronic Priesthood programs.

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5 thoughts on “Mac’s Messages on How Scouting Prepares Missionaries

  1. AvatarKaren Adams

    My son only has 6 years to prepare! I feel behind on teaching some of these great points from Mac. Thanks for posting!

  2. Maria MilliganMaria Milligan

    I was definitely grateful for the time spent camping, backpacking, working, and serving as a youth when I was a missionary. I wasn’t a Scout, but my brothers all were and our family spent a lot of time doing Scout things. My little brother on a mission now talks all the time about how Scouting and NYLT helped him prepare and continue to influence his work.

  3. Susan CheeverSusan Cheever

    Moms need to teach their boys to sew on their own merit badges too. They need basic sewing skills so they can sew buttons back on when they fall off and make little repairs if their pants rip.

  4. AvatarSteve

    With its recent decision to continue to support and finance the Boy Scouts of America, despite a sudden policy change from BSA executives to now allow gay adults to serve as leaders in the Scouting program, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has some explaining to do. For some, the decision comes as a relief. For others, the decision comes as a shock given the majority of LDS Church members believe the time has long since come to part ways with the Boy Scouts of America.

    In a recent poll conducted by Dan Jones & Associates, survey results showed that a majority of LDS Church members support separating from the Boy Scouts of America, opting instead to begin their own male youth program servicing male youth all around the world, not just here in the USA.

    “Nearly two-thirds of “very active” Utah members of the LDS Church believe their church leaders should separate from the Boy Scouts and start a new male youth organization…”

    “63 percent of those who termed themselves “very active” in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — both men and women — say church leaders “definitely” or “probably” should drop the long-standing relationship with the Boy Scouts of America and start their own program for boys.” (Poll Survey)

    So why do LDS Church leaders continue to support an organization in which the majority of its members no longer wish to support? Perhaps it’s for some of these reasons:

    Anyone who has done even the most rudimentary of research on the subject knows that BSA executives are among the highest paid executives in the world for a non-profit organization – or any organization for that matter. Consider the following facts:
    Bob Mazzuca, former Chief Scout Executive, BSA, 2012 was paid over $1.2 million plus pension and perks.
    Wayne Brock was paid over $1.5 million plus pension and perks as he took over in 2013.
    Roy Williams, the fifth highest-paid non-profit CEO in America at the time, pulled down a whopping $1.6 million.
    Robert Gates, recently taking the chair in 2014 as BSA’s Chief Scout Executive, pays himself over $2 million annually in compensation, salary, benefits, pensions, insurance premiums, and other miscellaneous perks and benefits.
    Numerous additional BSA Scout Executives currently pay themselves well over $450,000 annually.
    Dozens of other BSA Scout Executives (including the Great Salk Lake Council) make over $250,000 annually, not including benefits or pension plans.
    Upon knowing these facts, most would be hard-pressed to call the BSA a “non-profit” organization. The more appropriate term may be “personal-profit” organization. Ironically, millions of those dollars come from hard-working, unsuspecting members of the Church of Jesus-Christ of Latter-day Saints who aren’t aware that their donations and tithing dollars go straight into the pockets of high-paid BSA executives. Worse, most have no idea that not one dime of Friends of Scouting (FOS) drives actually goes toward funding or supplementing local scouting activities in their own areas.

    So why does the LDS Church continue to fund and finance the BSA as its largest charter sponsor when it clearly knows these facts? Could it be that some of these executive positions are board member seats held by leaders of the LDS Church itself? Or, could it be that LDS Church leadership simply has no problem with its money going to support greed and over-bloated compensation packages in the BSA’s executive ranks?
    Still, perhaps the disenchantment with many LDS Church members is their knowledge of a dark and tainted history between the BSA and LDS Church in covering up thousands of incidents where young boys were abused and/or molested by their own leaders. In 2010, a jury ordered that the Boy Scouts of America pay $18.5 million to a Scout who was abused in the 1980s—it was the largest punitive damages award to a single plaintiff in a child abuse case in the US.

    In May 1991, the Washington Times published a major five-part investigation entitled “Scouts Honor” on sex abuse in the BSA. Staff from the newspaper had worked for two years preparing the series, reviewing internal and personnel records from the Boy Scouts; court records from more than 20 states; and more than 1,000 newspaper articles; as well as interviewing more than 200 people, including molesters, families of victims, Scout leaders, sex abuse experts and lawyers. The newspaper restricted itself to reported cases of male Scout leaders abusing Boy Scouts before the introduction of its Youth Protection program. In summation, they wrote “The Boy Scouts are a magnet for men who want to have sexual relations with children…Pedophiles join the Scouts for a simple reason: it’s where the boys are.”

    The series drew on three sources:
    Historical “confidential files” (formerly known as the “Ineligible Volunteer Files”) within Scout records, with details on 231 Scout leaders banned from Scouting for sexual misconduct from 1975 through 1984.
    50 lawsuits against the Scouts by families of molested boys from around the US.
    A list from the BSA of more than 350 men banned for sexual misconduct from 1971 to 1986.
    The newspaper discovered that 1,151 Scouts reported being abused by their leaders during the studied 19-year period, mostly before the implementation of the Youth Protection Plan. They published a detailed list of 416 cases from 1971–1990 where a US Scout leader was arrested or banned from Scouting for sexual abuse of Scouts, adding that experts said the real number of abusers and victims was probably several times higher. (Source)

    LDS Church leadership is well aware of these facts yet was complicit in covering up sex abuse and molestation cases by its leaders for decades. In one of numerous cases, Jeremiah Scott went on to sue the LDS Church for over $3M in damages for hiding and covering up that fact that the defendant in his case was a known pedophile and child sex offender to Church officials.

    “The Mormon Church covered up its knowledge of a High Priest’s sexual molestation of young boys for more than a decade according to a Portland, Oregon lawsuit that the church paid $3,000,000.00 to settle. The charges were brought by one of the priest’s victims, Jeremiah Scott.”

    “The church is so concerned about its public image,” Sandra Scott charged, “that it hide the truth from me that it had recycled a known pedophile into a position of authority in the church where he had unlimited access to young children.” Scott’s legal team hailed the settlement as, “the first big step for one victim in the long struggle to expose the Mormon Church’s epidemic pattern of providing a safe and secret haven for child molesters.” (PR Newswire Source)

    Granted, in fairness many organizations have skeletons in their past but it’s virtually impossible to comprehend the sheer number of cover-ups and concealments that took place over the past several decades in child and sex abuse cases by both BSA and LDS Church officials. To be sure, the LDS Church doesn’t like the term “cover-up.” Rather, it prefers the term “confidentiality” since many of these offenders were LDS Church members who were called to serve in both a spiritual and secular capacity as BSA Scout leaders. In this manner, the LDS Church could keep these incidents quiet under the blanket and protection of religious confessional confidentiality. In reality, what they were really doing was sweeping these incidents under the carpet and hiding the truth to protect their public image. And what part did the BSA play? The BSA was all too happy to support the LDS Church’s stance in turning a blind eye toward these cases given they had enough problems of their own to deal with.

    So why does the LDS Church continue to fund and finance an organization that now supports a behavioral lifestyle that runs contrary to its very doctrine(s)? And why does it contradict itself in formally condemning lifestyles by LGBT communities yet supports an organization that fully backs and now promotes such lifestyles?

    Could it be that both parties have a tainted history in which neither is squeaky clean? Could it be that the LDS Church needs a 3rd party entity with which it can play on both sides of an issue in order to advance agendas it isn’t willing to “officially” take a stand on? Or, could it be there are now thousands of gay sons, nephews, and grandsons of LDS Church leaders who are trying to find ways to support their families despite LDS Church doctrines? Or, could it be the LDS Church doesn’t want to lose its missionary pipeline – the real objective behind the BSA to the LDS Church?

    For others, perhaps it’s the absolute certainty with which most LDS Church members understand the following dangers:
    Quiet gay adults will continue to be called to serve in youth male leadership roles in the BSA, despite parents’ knowledge. The LDS Church will say nothing and will guard so-called BSA Scout Leaders’ sexuality in complete confidence. How do we know? Because this is happening all across the country today!
    Loud, proud, openly-avowed, and defiantly gay adults will target the BSA and LDS Church for publicity and legal opportunities to exploit policies which supposedly allow religious organizations to maintain their own membership standards. The LDS Church knows the minute it denies someone the opportunity to serve as a BSA leader in one of its sponsored units, the lawsuits will ensue. The LDS Church will again try to handle each on a case-by-case basis, settling out of court where possible and quietly covering up the details so as to not negatively impact public image.
    Those prone to pedophilia and predatory behavior WILL find their way into BSA and LDS Church male youth leadership roles. The LDS Church knows this yet seems perfectly content and willing to sacrifice its own morals, values, and gospel standards to risk the safety and security of its youth in the process.
    Those who support the BSA will argue it has and continues to do tremendous good in the lives of young men all over the world. This is true and we acknowledge the good the BSA has done but this argument isn’t about the good the BSA has done, it’s about the double standard that seems to permeate both BSA and LDS Church leadership bodies. After all, since when did the LDS Church subscribe to what they teach is Satan’s trick – couching a small portion of sin and temptation into that which otherwise looks perfectly fine and acceptable…e.g., movies, books, television shows, music, dress, food, drink, language, etc.?

    The LDS Church espouses integrity and honesty in its financial and temporal dealings with others yet continues to give millions and millions of dollars to an organization that lines its pockets with runaway compensation packages and financial perks unheard of in the private sector. Why? The LDS Church, at its very core, teaches that sexual relations are only to be had between a man and a woman, and even then only in the context of marriage, yet it funds, finances, and sponsors an organization whose policies and moral standards are no longer aligned with those of its own. Why? The LDS Church knows young boys have been abused and/or molested by its own members, and knows full well this decision places more young boys at risk to predators and opportunists looking to take advantage of relaxed polices by the BSA where gay adult leaders are concerned. Why?

    It’s time LDS Church officials clearly explain their decision and stop speaking out of both sides of their mouth. Right or wrong, good or bad, moral or immoral, all members of the LDS Church have a right to hear the answers to these questions!

    1. Maria MilliganMaria Milligan

      I can neither speak for the LDS church nor address all of your concerns, but I do want to clear up some inaccuracy and misconception in your comment.

      First, you mentioned a poll taken before the church made its decision. A more recent poll, taken after the church came out with its statement and decision to stay with Scouting, showed that 81% of very active Mormons are supportive of the church’s decision to stay in Scouting. Neither poll can be truly representative of public feeling due to selection bias, but it is important to note the difference between the two.

      Next, regarding the salary paid to the Chief Scout Executive (Mike Surbaugh is the new executive, Robert Gates is the volunteer president of the BSA and receives no compensation)—This salary is paid through an endowment fund set up by a private donor. No Friends of Scouting or other donations go to the Chief Scout Executive’s salary. All professional Scout salaries, including that of the chief, are set by the executive board of each council, which is made up of volunteers. No professional sets his or her own salary and the board can and does enlist third-party specialists “to make recommendations regarding competitive compensation arrangements for like services in other organizations.” (See article here)

      You have expressed concern about FOS donations staying local. Check out Darryl Alder’s article on where these donations go and how they help local Scouting.

      All instances of child abuse must be addressed and every effort must be made to prevent them. The BSA’s youth protection policy is in place to prevent these tragic incidents. When followed, it offers great protection for the youth in Scouting programs. The recently released Scouter Code of Conduct also lays out specific guidelines in place to protect youth. The BSA has one of the most comprehensive policies in the world for youth protection.

      I have seen the benefits of Scouting in the lives of my brothers, father, husband, ward young men and the hundreds of Scouts I have taught at camp and at home. I sincerely hope it can continue to bless lives and make young men better.

      I hope that helps address at least a couple of your concerns.


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