By Darryl Alder
Jun 16, 2016

The Captain and the Five Fields of Emphasis

This is part three of the online Varsity Vision—Team Coach Position Specific Training. Other sessions include:

  1. Varsity Scouting, a Tool for the Quorum
  2. Aims of Scouting and the Varsity Scout Program
  3. The Captain and the Five Fields of Emphasis
  4. Making an Annual Plan
  5. Executing the Annual Plan
  6. Planning Team Meetings
  7. Planning Team Events


The purpose of this post is to:

  • Recognize Varsity Scouting’s five fields of emphasis.
  • Understand the role of the team captain and coach.

Line Leaders and Keys

Varsity_team_captainThe team is led by a youth Varsity Scout team captain who is usually the teachers quorum president. Generally, his first counselor is the Varsity team co-captain. The quorum second counselor can be a Varsity team program manager or together they could be leaders of two squads.

“Having a calling means having responsibilities; holding keys means presiding over and directing the work of the priesthood. …The keys to direct the work of the Aaronic Priesthood in the ward belong to the bishop, the teachers quorum president, and the deacons quorum president.” — New Era, May 2012

“The exercise of priesthood authority in the Church is governed by those who hold priesthood keys (see D&C 65:2; 124:123). Those who hold priesthood keys have the right to preside over and direct the Church within a jurisdiction.” True to the Faith, p 126

Handbook 2:8.9.3 “Quorum Presidency Meeting” states:

Each quorum presidency holds a presidency meeting regularly. The …teachers quorum president conduct[s] their presidency meetings, and they preside unless a member of the bishopric attends. Quorum advisers and secretaries also attend these meetings. Secretaries take notes and keep track of assignments…Where Scouting is authorized by the Church, quorum presidency meeting may be used to make plans for the quorum’s Scouting unit after the items above have been discussed. If youth and adult Scouting leaders are not already present, they may be invited into the meeting for this discussion. Young men of other faiths who hold leadership positions in the Scouting unit may be included. The quorum president continues to preside over this part of the meeting. He may invite a youth Scouting leader to conduct it. Quorum advisers ensure that each Scouting activity is consistent with the objectives listed in 8.1.3.

Quorum PresidentA captain who is a priesthood key holder is in a unique position to serve his quorum using the Varsity Scout program. Your role as teachers quorum adviser and Varsity team coach is to coach the quorum president as he administers the Varsity team program and serves quorum members. The quorum president needs your guidance to enlarge his vision in reaching out to all young men who live within the ward boundaries.

The Captain is the team’s leader. He provides the example of leadership and takes charge of all leadership and team meetings. In leadership meetings, he asks program managers to report progress on their event plans. In team meetings, he turns the floor over to each of the program managers for progress reports and announcements. At activities, he calls the team to order and then turns events over to the program managers who planned them.

Varsity Scout Program Areas of Emphasis

The Varsity Scout program is based on five program areas of emphasis that offer youth members a wide range of opportunities. All program fields are equally important and each field should be represented in the program planning of the Varsity Scout team. In some activities all five areas of emphasis may be included, in others it may be limited to one or two. In either case the objective is to give as many youth as possible planning and leadership opportunities through activity preparation and execution.

The five program fields of emphasis are:

High Adventure/Sports

Varsity Scouts plan and take part in a wide range of tough mental and physical activities, from backpacking to whitewater rafting, and from bowling to triathlon. These activities are supported by BSA resources that aid teams during the planning process. High adventure is the key to Varsity Scouting. Teacher-age young men need greater challenges and new adventure.

The high adventure program consists of quarterly adventures of shorter duration (2-4 days) and an annual high adventure in the summer of a longer duration, a week or more in length.The quarterly adventures are generally of the team’s own making. The annual summer high adventure is generally from Monday to Saturday within a manageable travel distance. The summer high adventure can be of longer duration and at distant locations based on the needs of the quorum/team members and the approval of their priesthood leaders.

There are excellent high adventure programs at BSA High Adventure Bases in Florida (Florida Sea Base), New Mexico (Philmont Scout Ranch), and Minnesota (Northern Tier). Many Scout council camps throughout the United States also have excellent high adventure programs.The summer high adventure can also be of the team’s own making and is not limited to BSA camps and high adventure bases. A necessary resource for planning high adventure is the BSA book, “Passport to High Adventure.”

Most teacher-age young men love sports. Varsity Scouting capitalizes on this interest. Sports means more than just playing pickup basketball on mutual nights or shooting baskets. It means having a program to learn, practice, and compete in the sport.Basketball is an easy one because most young men like to play it and most church stakes run a basketball league for young men. Use this as part of the Varsity Scout program. Get a basketball coach, teach the Varsity Scouts basketball skills, rules, plays, and strategies; play in the league games, and maybe challenge other Varsity teams to a game. This would make a great program during the winter months.

There are many other sports that can be programmed in the same manner according to the young mens’ interests: volleyball, softball or baseball, soccer, street hockey, racquetball, tennis, bowling, and golf. There are outdoor sports: cycling, mountain biking, skating (ice or in-line), hiking, mountain climbing and rappelling, climbing wall,swimming, canoeing, kayaking, white water rafting, sailing, rowing, water skiing, snow skiing, and snow boarding. There are shooting sports: shot gun and skeet, rifle marksmanship, black powder rifles, and archery; and there is fishing. Merit badges can also be earned in most of these sports.

A second aspect of Sports is for the Varsity team to support its members who play a sport at school or on a community league. The Varsity Team can go to one of their games and cheer the member on. Short reports can be made in Varsity Team and quorum meetings on the members’ participation in the sport. The Varsity team member can teach the other team members about his sport.

A third aspect of sports is for the Varsity team to go to a sports game or meet. Many sports offer free or very reduced tickets on occasions to Scouts.


Service encourages youth to identify a community need and to take action to address that need. Service helps youth make a difference in the world beyond themselves and in the process develop the disposition to put the needs of others first.This program area is self explanatory but very important to the growth of young men. There should be a service project quarterly. This will meet the needs of both the teachers quorum and Varsity team for service. Priesthood service and Varsity team service can be synonymous, with the exception of Priesthood ordinances and home teaching. This service will also meet the needs for Scout rank advancement and for the Aaronic Priesthood “Duty to God” award.

One Scouting service project, Scouting for Food, should be on the annual calendar each spring. This is a nationwide Scouting service project to collect donated food stuffs and provide them to food banks for the needy. The Varsity team should help with food collection and the stocking of food banks. Another area of service is Eagle Scout service projects. There are also ward or branch service projects. All these service opportunities need to be correlated so that the Varsity Scouts have adequate service experiences but the number of service events do not become overbearing. Service should be balanced with the other areas of emphasis in Varsity Scouting.

Personal Development

The Varsity Scouting program stresses personal development through spiritual growth, leadership, citizenship, and social and physical fitness. The program manager responsible for personal development helps team members select and participate in activities that will enhance their personal development. In the Church, the spiritual area is usually meet by giving talks in church, participating in priesthood ordinances, home teaching, quorum instruction, seminary, the bishop’s Sunday evening discussions, temple baptism trips, and youth conferences.

Another part of spiritual development is to have devotionals and appropriate spiritual instruction on Varsity Team high adventure or camping type events. A personal development (spiritual) Varsity team program manager can be responsible for oversight of the Varsity team’s participation in these spiritual development events under the supervision of the quorum president/team captain. He can help plan, be on the committee for, publicize, report on, and conduct these events as appropriate.

Social development usually means joint and combined activities with the Young Women and stake dances. It can also mean quorum brotherhood events for the Varsity team members such as getting together to watch a good video with food and conversation, or a board game night with food and conversation, or a sleep out (or in) with food and conversation, or a father and sons camp out or cook out with food, games, and conversation (Notice, for a teacher -age young man, a good part of social development involves food and conversation).

Leadership development can use team developing and problem solving games and events to teach and practice leadership and followership. Another valuable exercise is to teach these young men how to accomplish various aspects of leadership: planning an agenda, event planning, backward planning, working with volunteers, meeting management, traits of a leader, great leaders, etc. Introduction to Leadership Skills is a team standard each year and can be run easily by the personal development program manager.


Varsity Scouting uses the same advancement program as Boy Scouting; however, it cannot be the basis of program planning if you want to keep this age group’s interest. When properly used, advancement can promote personal growth through the acknowledgment of a youth’s competence and ability by peers and adults.The advancement program is more than just earning awards—as a Varsity Scout progresses through the program, he will learn valuable skills and competencies that have been identified as vital to achieving success in education, in a work environment, and in life.

Varsity Scouts can be encouraged to advance and be provided opportunities to move through each Scouting rank on the trail to Eagle Scout. In fact, it can be a part of a Varsity Scout’s personal development to set goals and achieve them, give service, practice leadership, and provide the positive incentives of personal awards. However, not all members of your Varsity team will be interested in advancement. Some may have earned Eagle, but it is not for everyone. Only those interested in getting it and willing to put in the work to get it, should. The team, however, should not be an Eagle factory. If it is, those young men who are not interested in merit badges will stop coming to Varsity team meetings.

The best way to do advancement and meet all the needs of all the Varsity team members is to do interesting and fun parts of a merit badge topic in Varsity team meetings and activities and then direct those members who want to pursue the merit badge to a merit badge counselor or Varsity team coach or assistant to complete the requirements. For example, if the aviation merit badge is going to be taught, the team is told that they will be doing some fun and interesting things in aviation, instead of “We are going to do the aviation merit badge.” Those that wish to earn the merit badge can use the fun and interesting things that the team is going to do to complete some of the requirements, like get out and go flying in a plane, go to an air show, visit an Air Force base or airport control tower, have a pilot come to a meeting and talk about learning to fly, fly in an airplane simulator, go to a radio control model airplane show, or go to Air and Space Museum.

This way all the Varsity Team members have a great time and those that want to get the merit badge can go on to do so. In this manner, advancement opportunities can be provided almost every month.

For those on the Eagle Trail, their advancement needs to be monitored and they need help to earn the required badges, properly conduct an Eagle Scout service project, and properly complete an Eagle Scout application. This is the duty of the Varsity team advancement committee member and the team coach.

Special Programs and Events

Varsity Scouting’s emphasis on sports and adventure helps provide team-building opportunities, new meaningful experiences, practical leadership application, and lifelong memories to youth. However, there are a select set of Varsity activities that are bigger than your team can handle alone. These programs and events can be anything not otherwise covered in the other four fields of emphasis. Things like On Target, a mountain man rendezvous, turkey shoot, fitness competition, participation in camporees, hike-o-rees, Scouting on the Mall, ward or branch Halloween parties, etc.

You may have one team member assigned as the special programs and events program manager or you may assign specific events to team members to be program manager for that event. An important position in Special Programs and Events is a Varsity Team Order of the Arrow Representative (TOAR). The TOAR keeps the team in communication with the district and council Order of the Arrow to help with service projects, camp promotion, OA fellowships, and OA elections.

With this explanation, you can see there are plenty of opportunities for each team member to have a job. Stay tuned next week as we show you how to put these youth leaders to work to Make an Annual Plan.

Darryl ThumbnailAuthor: Darryl Alder | Strategic Initiatives Director, Utah National Parks Council, BSA. He was a Team Coach for three years during the pre-pilot phase of Varsity Scouting and then became a trainer when the program was launched.
Much of this article came from Varsity Scouting at

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.