After months of preparation, the conference “Leading Varsity Scouting in LDS Teams” launched in the Miranda meeting room. Every faculty member contributed to displays that lined the walls: everything from Rendezvous gear to posters showing the relationship between the Scouting programs and Priesthood quorums.
Ours was the second largest course during Week 6 at PTC. Cubs had 39, and we had 28 participants. Our conference members came from all of the western states except Nevada and Oregon. Five councils outside the Western Region were represented: three Texas councils, and one each from Illinois and Indiana.
The peerless PTC staff made it a great experience right from the opening conference and throughout the week. Their attitude of service and their animated spirit of playfulness added a lot of fun to the week.
At the very beginning of the course, participants were organized into Squads, where they held elections for a Squad Leader and five Program Managers—one for each field of emphasis. Squads were described as watch-care units responsible to look out for squad members and report back to the Team Captain on the welfare of participants and their families.
Next, those elected to a position (including everyone in the conference) met in their respective Program Manager Groups, where they learned that they had a course event to plan, just as youth would do in a regular Varsity team.
Instruction was given in the form of short sessions, each focused on a specific topic. Topics chosen included standard Varsity organization and team operation, but the background theme was always how the elements of the Varsity program enhanced the work of the Teachers Quorum. Areas we were able to cover not usually found in Varsity training included the relationship between the Teachers Quorum and the team, Commissioner service, and new record-keeping software from BSA. Interestingly, on the day we taught about this new software, BSA announced that it was de-activating the old software and switching over to the new system. Perhaps we were the first course anywhere in BSA to give this go-live announcement.
Participants represented literally all of the church leadership positions connected with Varsity Scouting: being evenly distributed among Bishops and Bishop’s Counselors, Stake and Ward Young Men Presidency counselors, Varsity Coaches, and Committee Members.
Russ Hunsaker (back to camera) and his wife Rose provided support for all Week 6 conferences, but Russ was especially helpful to the Varsity conference. At the end of the conference week, we told Russ we would double conference attendance next year. He asked why that could not be tripled. That gives us a good goal to shoot for.
Emphasis was placed on hands-on instruction. One of the events during the week was mirror making as an illustration of the traditional yearly On-Target Varsity Scouting event. At the end of the week, we exchanged signals with mirrors placed on a bluff located on a ridge outside the PTC. The sun wasn’t as cooperative as we wished, but the point of the exercise was made.
The spiritual tie-in of On-Target with the priesthood theme is that prophets have always gone to the mountain top to ponder and to seek inspiration and enlightenment. This year President Thomas S. Monson wrote the annual greetings letter for the On-Target event. This letter is read by the boys each year during the On-Target event.
In addition to the On-Target event, the participant Program Managers planned and executed other events, including an orienteering course, a low C.O.P.E. experience, Varsity games, an advancement program that resulted in earning a Varsity Letter award, and a conservation service project. In addition, participants fulfilled a major requirement for the BSA “Trained” award (the other two being Youth Protection training and Outdoor Leadership Skills training).
Author: Andy Gibbons | Vice-Chair, Western Region Varsity Scout Program Committee Program Chair