By Community Submission
Aug 18, 2017

One Stake Leaders Thoughts On the BSA’s Continuing Relationship with the Church

During a a recent court of honor, I felt impressed to speak about the continuing relationship that the Church will have with the Boy Scouts of America. Here are a few of my thoughts that I shared with these boys, leaders and parents.

We all know that our prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, loves Scouting. The Brethren don’t want us to be frustrated, or anxious, or worried about the recent announcement that the Church will no longer run the Varsity and Venturing programs. Elder Jeffery R. Holland, at a national Boy Scout meeting earlier this year, quotes Groucho Marx, saying, “There is less going on here than meets the eye.” In addition he said, that there’s less changing than you may think.

We need to remember that the Church’s association with Boy Scouting is continuing. We are discontinuing the Varsity and Venturing programs simply because we’ve never been, in Elder Hollands’s words, “terrifically successful” in fulfilling those programs. As young men get older they become interested in young women, they start driving, and they start working. As the missionary age has changed to a younger age, I believe our leaders simply wanted to refocus some of those years and activities.

So, our association with the Boy Scouts of America continues, full and strong. All of our young men need to be registered as Boy Scouts, as will boys 14 and older who are continuing to work on their Eagle. Like I saw at the recent court of honor, many teachers and priests earn merit badges or rank advancements. These boys will continue to be registered as Boy Scouts and the program will continue.

Our leaders want to help all of the young men be prepared for the blessings of the temple; to be prepared for the blessings of serving a mission. Therefore, our activities will continue to follow some basic principles that I believe we have always tried to follow. Our leaders are encouraged to spend time and be with the young menPresident Henry B. Eyring said, “Even more powerful than using words in our teaching the doctrine will be our examples of living the doctrine…In priesthood preparation, ‘show me’ counts more than ‘tell me.” It’s great if we teach lessons, but it’s even more powerful if we demonstrate living the gospel, and we do that when we spend time with our young men.

We are also asked to focus on connecting young men with heaven. Our Heavenly Father is always there, and no matter what is happening in a young man’s life, at some point he will stand alone. When they know that they are connected to our Heavenly Father, they can do anything and accomplish anything.

The third thing that our leaders want the young men to be able to do is lead. Sometimes it’s hard for us old folks to turn the time over to the young men and let them lead. Sometimes we feel like maybe it’s easier for us just to do it. Not so. Our young men are the leaders and I have seen it demonstrated all the time during Scouting activities and courts of honor.

I want to thank the young men for all the good that you are doing. As you live the principles of the Scout Oath and Scout Law, please remember that you are exemplifying the attributes  of our Savior, Jesus Christ. We know that as a young man, He increased in wisdom, in stature, and in favor with God and with men. You are doing likewise. I bear testimony of the great work done through Scouting. Please continue on, work towards your Eagle, it is worth it. I share this in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Author: Brett Birmingham | Second Counselor in Provo Parkway Stake Presidency

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5 thoughts on “One Stake Leaders Thoughts On the BSA’s Continuing Relationship with the Church

  1. S.J. Allred, Grand Canyon Council, AZ

    President-
    Please ask your YM leaders to get trained. And function per the Green handbook. Your High counselors over YM and Primary need to be registered, trained and functioning in their Asst district Commissioner duties. Your Stake YM presidencies and ward CORs are needed on the District committees, just as the handbook asks. Varsity and Venturing didn’t fail because the guys lost interest. They lost interest because we didn’t learn our duties and fulfill them. We didn’t learn and work the program. If we dont change that and implement the NEW program, they will lose interest in that one as well.
    Thank you for all you do for Scouting.

    Reply
  2. Klaw

    I agree that there is very little changing from an organizational standpoint. HOWEVER, these small changes have created a title wave of change in the minds of the most important people in this whole equation, the parents. As a two-time Scout Master and two-time COR I can tell you that with all the extra curricular school activities like sports, music lessons, Stake Treks, and monthly combined Young Women/Young Men activities, that there is not enough time available for an LDS Scout to get his Eagle by the time he turns 14. Without the illusion that the Mormon Church has a Scouting support system for the 14-18 year old boys, the parents have begun to give up. Besides, what 16 year old boy who still needs a few merit badges in order to complete his Eagle is going to want to go to Scout Camp with the 12 year old Scouts when he could be on the high adventure activity with his peers? That is the crux of this entire situation.

    I will continue to dutifully do my best as a current Scout Master but I think that it is disingenuous of both church leaders and the Scouting organization to speak and publish articles as though nothing has really changed.

    Reply
  3. George Weight

    I appreciate Klaw’s concern–but the scenario he outlines is not new. We’ve always had parents who have developed different traditions like sports, music, school excellence, and not so much emphasis on Scouting. We’ve also had parents and leaders who have found the way to help their boys balance Scouting into all their other activities.
    Where we may have gone awry is by expecting young men to jump through several hoops–“pass off” requirements separately from school assignments and activities, consuming additional time and energy. We should have been more concerned about what the boy has learned, experienced, and accomplished. As long as a particular requirement is met, what does it matter where it was done?
    An example–most of the material learned in Utah Studies (generally at the 7th grade level) covers most of the requirements for the Indian Lore Merit Badge. A wise merit badge counselor will add the “experiential learning” activities that may not have been covered in class so a boy can earn the merit badge without a lot of repetition. (Some teachers do some of the “experiential learning” for the grade–for example, building a model of a tribal dwelling. A boy need not repeat that unless he wants to.)
    Parents who want to teach boys to balance their busy lives will keep track of school class requirements and activities and sit down with their boys to compare what they are learning with the corresponding Scout requirements. Much duplication of effort can be eliminated. It is all about what the boy is learning.
    As to the older boys: they need not go camping with the younger scouts. Their super-activities, outdoor youth conferences, treks, etc., still cover many of the Scout requirements for camping, hiking, nature, etc.
    The key is whether or not they are learning in an experiential way the required scout skills. (Family camps often do not, which is one reason counting “family camping days” is discouraged.)
    I’d also encourage keeping one’s eye open to developing Council support of the LDS program. In Utah at least, we are their major client, they will continue to help us develop program activities that will help our youth become strong adults. See, for example, Daryl Alder’s blog article at http://blog.utahscouts.org/lds-scouting/let-lead-leadership-development-lds-youth/#comment-1265494.

    Reply
  4. George Weight

    One way we are handling the older boys’ interests and needs as far as advancement is concerned, is to organize them into a “Varsity Patrol” and a Venture Patrol” with the advisors registered as assistant scoutmasters. This allows for the boys still working on Eagle or those who want to keep working on Eagle Palms to do so.
    In our particular ward, the Teachers and Priests like to do their super-activities together, and that’s okay. The “patrol” organization is chiefly for entry into Scoutbook, which our ward uses. The priesthood service and the activities are more oriented towards the quorum organization rather than a separate Scout patrol.
    BTW: The Scout Guide to Advancement clearly states that as far as membership is concerned, a scout who is participating in groups outside of Scouting that have similar missions and goals is to be counted as “active” even though he can’t always attend Activity Night.
    This is pretty much the way we’ve always done it in our Stake, which is the reason our Stake President–an avid Scouter–has stated we’ll keep doing things pretty much the same way we’ve always done.
    We’ll adapts as we get further guidance as it comes down the “priesthood pike”.

    Reply

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