Only 2% of the USA population is LDS, so think about how large that statistic really is.
People may wonder if it really benefits the Scouting program to have so many Mormon boys. After all, the Scouting program is implemented throughout LDS wards (church congregation), and many active boys sign up, even when they don’t want to. Leaders sometimes serve who don’t care much about Scouting because they’ve been asked to. This sounds like it may be damaging to Scouts.
On the flipside, people in the LDS church can question if Scouting benefits their boys. After all, the church does have other great programs for youth. Teenage girls are not part of any outside program. They work on personal progress, and their leaders plan weekly activities. So, why, then, don’t boys just have their own program?
When Bryan on Scouting wrote an article about how Utah topped the charts for Eagle Scouts, people argued in the comments, some indicating that Mormons just don’t have the same standards for their Scouts. But, he rebutted them in another article, explaining how the LDS Church fits into the Scouting program. He states, “Scouting in the LDS church continues to thrive today.”
But, what do you think? Do LDS boys need the Scouting program and does the Scouting program need LDS boys?
Let’s consider what Mormon Scouts add to the Scouting program:
- LDS boys are taught not to drink, smoke, gamble, engage in sexual relations, or swear. They are encouraged to live moral lives.
The high values held by the Church of Jesus Christ align well with the high values of Scouting. Scouts commit to be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful,
thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent. LDS boys who live their faith understand that these character traits are attributes of Christ. They are asked to perform and utilize these traits in church responsibilities and duties as well as in life. Thus, they can be great examples of Scouts in their community. This reflects well on Scouting and the Scouting program.
2. The LDS Church makes up a decent percentage of all USA troops.
Though numbers aren’t everything, it helps. It helps to have a group dedicated to Scouting. Wherever they are in the USA, an LDS ward is going to be involved in Scouting. Because the church is so organized and consistent, that’s a guarantee, as long as there are boys.
As long as there are LDS youth in the area, it ensures that Scouting will stay alive. Other boys will want to sign up too when their LDS friends are involved and having a good time. The church helps Scouting grow.
3. LDS Scout leaders have been taught to serve throughout their lives.
People are sometimes concerned with the kind of experience LDS boys have in Scouting. Does the church actually bring great troops and leaders to the table? It may be true that there are leaders in the church who don’t care. They don’t do their job as leaders; they just get through it. However, I think many leaders put in the work to make their troops great. I think this because of the many uplifting stories I’ve heard people tell me about their Scoutmasters. They served in Scouting, spent two years forsaking typical norms, and they came home made covenants to stick with their families.
These leaders believe Scouting is more than just a good youth program–it’s a tool to bring them to Christ. Because of their faith and confidence in the program, they help Scouting because they have a bigger picture in mind. It’s these leaders who reflect positively on the Scouting movement.
Now, let’s consider what Scouting does for LDS boys:
1. LDS boys earn their Eagle Scout, and then go serve for two years as missionaries. Scouting helps get them on a mission.
As part of Scouting, boys are encouraged to earn their Eagle Award. This award demands that a boy goes above and beyond in his service. Through it, he is required to lead others and do good in the community. Often, right after earning an Eagle Award, the boy goes out on his mission. He’s already been taught and trained to serve. He’s also already experienced privation, gained essential skills, and been separated from family.
While some may say other LDS youth programs can accomplish the same things, no other program has. According to a study done of 104 recently returned missionaries, Scouting was ranked above seminary, mission prep class, and Duty to God in helping with preparation. In fact, besides being ranked equally to Young Women’s, it was ranked above every other youth program in the church for preparation.
2.Scouting is a missionary tool.
Not everyone is interested in letting their boy come to church. However, many people may feel encouraged to sign their boy up for camping, activities, and a good time.
Boys can use Scouting as a way to introduce others to their LDS faith. In fact, the BSA said, “Young people might be hesitant to attend a regular religious service but eager to join a Scouting unit.” Read a recent blog article about a woman who was reactivated because of Scouting.
3. Scouting prepares boys for manhood.
Boys are not just prepared for missions but for manhood. A research study created by Harris Interactive showed a majority of Scouting youth reporting that it benefited them in the following ways: honesty increased, leadership increased, self-reliance increased, willingness to serve increased, etc.
Across the board, Scouting helped these boys maintain higher morals and more positive outlooks compared to those who never did Scouting. Is it important for us in the church to have righteous, upright men? Yes, it is.
So, does the Scouting program need Mormons? Do Mormons need Scouting? Yes, and yes.
True, some people believe the Scouting program is going to go away. People have been believing that for years, and it hasn’t yet. True, other programs can be created.
Will boys still be able to reach salvation without Scouting? Likely. Can the Scouting movement survive without LDS boys? Likely.
But, the program continues to be a great tool to help others come unto Christ. Those involved across the country benefit from having LDS members in Scouting.
Together, we make a good team.
Author: Michelle Carpenter | Marketing Associate, Utah National Parks Council