By Annaleis Smith
Sep 26, 2017

LDS Den Leader Training: Part 3 – Why the Church uses Scouting.

Welcome to the LDS Den Leader Training Part 3 – This series of post is designed for Wolf, Bear and Webelos den leaders who have been called to serve in Cub Scout packs chartered to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  We hope to give den leaders the basic information they need to conduct a successful Cub Scout program, as well as an understanding of the connection between the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) and the LDS Church.

  • Introduction – Help, I’m a new Den Leader!
  • Part 1 – What about Den Meetings?
  • Part 2  – The Planning Process
  • Part 3 – Why the LDS Church uses Scouting
  • Part 4 –  BSA vs LDS What’s the difference?

Why the Church uses Scouting with its young men

From the LDS Scouting Handbook 1.1 Purpose of …Primary Scouting can help young men and boys enhance close relationships with their families and the Church while developing strong and desirable traits of character, citizenship, and physical and mental fitness. Under priesthood leadership, Scouting should complement the efforts of …Primary classes in building testimonies in young men and boys. Scouting under Church sponsorship should become an extension of the home, Priary classes… Scouting functions as part of the Church’s activity program for boys and young men. Scouting activities should be planned to fulfill gospel-centered purposes.

Now let’s compare that to the BSA’s purposes of Cub Scouting.

Purposes of Cub Scouting (BSA)

  • Character Development
  • Spiritual Growth
  • Good Citizenship
  • Sportsmanship and Fitness
  • Family Understanding
  • Respectful Relationships
  • Personal Achievement
  • Friendly Service
  • Fun and Adventure
  • Preparation for Boy Scouts

Purpose of Scouting in Primary (LDS)

  • character
  • building testimonies
  • citizenship
  • physical fitness
  • close relationships with familes
  • and the church
  • develop strong and desirable traits
  • service? of course!
  • activity program for boys
  • preparation for the Aaronic priesthood

Did you notice how many of the purposes are very similar if not the same.  Is it any wonder the church uses Cub Scouting with our primary age boys?  It is simply a great way for these young boys to have fun, learn, explore and to progress and grow into the young men we desire them to be.

The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is “to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Scout Law.”

Which one of us can’t see the benefit of boys (future husbands, fathers and leaders) who spend years learning how to do their best, to do their duty to God and their country.  To help other people at all times. Who know the value of being physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight. And are there any of us who doesn’t want their son to grow up to be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean or reverent? There isn’t one of those values of Scouting that doesn’t fit with the purposes of primary or of the LDS church.

President Thomas S Monson once said “…if ever there were a time when the principles of Scouting were vitally needed—that time is now. If ever there were a generation who would benefit by keeping physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight—that generation is the present generation.”

A Bit of History

The history of Scouting in the Church began in some ways in 1875, when Brigham Young organized the Young Men Mutual Improvement Association (YMMIA or MIA) to provide leisure-time activities for the young men of the Church. Later, athletics became part of the program.

As news of the organization of the Boy Scouts of England in 1907 and the Boy Scouts of America in 1910 was received by the Church leaders, the Scouting idea was investigated by the Athletic Committee of the YMMIA. On November 29, 1911, the MIA Scouts were officially recognized by the General Board of the YMMIA. The MIA Scouts, upon invitation from the BSA National Council, became a part of the Boy Scouts of America on May 21, 1913. This is the BSA’s longest formal partnership with a national chartered organization.

When properly carried out under the direction of primary and priesthood leaders, Scouting supplements activities for young men of Aaronic Priesthood quorums and boys in the Primary. Scouting also assists in accomplishing the eternal purposes of the priesthood and families.

Cub Scouts are organized into packs and small groups called “dens.” All boys ages 8, 9 and 10 in the ward should be a part of Cub Scouting. This organization fits the small groups that boys like to be part of as well as the organization of the primary.

Rosemary Wixom, a past Primary General President Wixom on stage said:

“Scouting, along with the Faith in God program, lays a foundation which prepares a boy to keep his baptismal covenants. It builds confidence in boys by creating opportunities for service and character-developing experiences. Memories are created as boys gather for Scout meetings and events. There is a sense of unified respect for God and their country as they practice leadership skills and develop a moral compass for the future.

“Scouting contributes to a boy’s preparation to hold the priesthood of God. Scout leaders have a sacred responsibility. They help boys learn Scouting principles that also help them live the gospel. We thank each leader as they foster faith in Christ and prepare boys to make temple covenants and become a missionary, husband, and father.”

Your Calling as a Scout Leader

You have been called to an important role, but it is one that is simple and fun thanks to the support provided by the Church and the Boy Scouts of America. This training will help you prepare fun den meetings to help prepare young men for the priesthood, missions, and leadership in families, the Church, and the community.

David L Beck, past General Young Mens’ president gave the following counsel to the YM leaders but it applies just as well to Cub Scout leaders.

“In a program as demanding as Scouting, some leaders are concerned and tentative and might feel inadequate or overwhelmed. These feelings are normal. The best way to deal with such feelings is to just jump in—now. The Lord has called you, and He will qualify you1 and bless you to the degree that you learn your responsibilities and magnify your calling.

Training is essential to understanding Scouting and feeling confident that we can implement the program. Training motivates us to succeed because as we develop a degree of mastery, we gain confidence that we really can be successful Scout leaders…”

Step 1 – Youth Protection Training

Protecting youth from abuse is a priority of the BSA and the First Presidency. Every leader must take Youth Protection training to maintain registration with Scouting.

A good indication of the importance of Youth Protection and safe Scouting is that the BSA’s Guide to Safe Scouting is the only resource on that is not produced by the Church. Additionally, the Church’s Scouting Handbook for Church Units in the United States, directs,

“All adult Scouting leaders must be properly registered and complete Youth Protection Training before beginning their service.” (Bolding added for emphasis)

To take the Youth Protection training, go to and set up an account for yourself.  Be sure to use a user name and password you will remember because there are many other courses are also available at this site that you will want to take.

Youth Protection training has several purposes: to protect our young men, to help leaders avoid situations that can be considered abuse, and to help leaders identify youth that are being abused and get help for them.

If you have not already taken this training, make it a priority now!  Then plan to continue taking trainings throughout your service.

Step 2 – Register

While it is true that there is no other calling in the church that requires you to register with another organization but as a Scout leader (as noted above) it is required.  It’s not hard and it does not take long In fact if you have never been registered with the BSA before the new online registration process makes it super simple and fast.

And registering as a leader means you are covered under the BSA insurance. If you don’t register and something happens, you are the one liable. Registering helps protect you!

Step 3 – Get a uniform and get trained

A leader who wears a uniform shows the proper example to the boys.  It also shows that you take this calling seriously. The same with training, sure you can limp along and just do whatever but taking the time to get trained helps save you time in the long run.  And all training can be taken online now too.  It couldn’t be easier!


As a den leader, you are one of about 500,000 Cub Scout leaders, serving about 1.5 million Cub Scouts in around 50,000 Cub Scout packs. But to the boys in your den, you are the most important of those leaders. Through you and the program you plan and lead each week, a young man will have experiences that he will remember his entire life.

The Church has been using Scouting experiences for more than 100 years to help prepare young men for missions, leadership, parenthood, and life in general. We challenge you to make sure that those experiences are safe, well-planned, and fun—for you and for your Cub Scouts.


Author: Annaleis Smith is a Stay at home mom of 5 (3 boys 2 girls).  She has been a Cub Scout leader since 2003 (in the same ward).  She has been a cubmaster, den leader, pack trainer, Boy Scout Committee Chair and is now the cubmaster for the 2nd time.  She has been involved with roundtable at the district level since 2008 and involved in various council committees since 2010. She loves Cub Scouting and her favorite thing to do is to train other Cub Scout leaders.

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