By Andy Gibbons
Mar 27, 2015

Leading Varsity Scouting in LDS Teams

From the the Course Director of the Varsity conference at Philmont this summer:

Register PhilmontThe Conference and the Sponsor

The title of our conference is “Leading Varsity Scouting in LDS Teams”. The conference is being held under the auspices of the Director of LDS-BSA Relations, Mark Francis. Last week Mark held a phone conference with nearly one hundred LDS-BSA representatives from across the nation. At that conference, Gary Dollar was asked to give a briefing on the 2015 Varsity Scout week at Philmont. Here is what he said:

Gary’s Promotional Speech

“Let me take a minute to talk abut our LDS Varsity Conference this year at Philmont. Following the two weeks of LDS conferences, the following week, from July 12th to the 18th, we will be having an incredible week where we will actually be able to live through Varsity experiences and teach Varsity programming like it’s never been done before. We feel that this is a great opportunity for us to now infuse the entire nation with…the feeling of high adventure and fun and keeping the kids close. We know that this is the thing that they want, and at this conference we’ll be able to deliver it. 

“In the Doctrine and Covenants in Section 88, verse 106, it says ‘…And if any man among you be strong in spirit, let him take with him, him that is weak that they may be edified  in all meekness that they may become strong also’. And brethren, that is what this conference is dedicated to. We are going to hopefully get one person from every council that has Varsity  leaders. We reach out to you, because you know who they are. Please send them, let us inspire them, let us show them how to build out  …the Varsity Vision, and other things in your area to strengthen the 14 and 15 year-old young men and their program… We’ve got a great team, and we’re looking forward to serving, to excite, to enthuse, and have fun. I mean, who doesn’t want to go to Philmont? … Please reach out to those in your stake that might…come be a part of this, bring it back to your stake, so that we can move the dial and strengthen the young men in this age group. We just hope that you will give us the chance that we can show you these things.“

This is our target. 

The Conference Pattern

PTC2013Mark and Gary have asked us to organize a conference patterned after the Varsity Vision training plan that has been adopted by BSA National as a leader-specific training option. National has posted the Varsity Vision syllabus online, and some councils have already started to point to it as their council standard for Varsity leader training. At Philmont, we will not enroll youth as conference members, but we will have a chance for some interaction with youth attending Philmont for treks and training.

Our conference will have some unusual characteristics:

  • We will have more than the usual number of instructors; instructor staff will consist of:
    • A Coach/Course Director (Andy Gibbons)
    • A Captain (Steve Baugh)
    • Program Advisors for:
      • Service (Reed Tanner)
      • Advancement (Kevin Collier)
      • Personal Development (Gavin Christen)
      • Special Programs and Events (Doug and Linda Brewer)
      • High Adventure/Sports (TBD, pending) 

    In addition to these staff members, we will be joined by Gary and Laura Dollar.

  • Instructors will be organized as the adult leaders of a regular Varsity team
  • Each instructor, in addition to leading discussions, will act in their adult roles
  • Participants will be organized as if they were youth in a Varsity team
  • Planning and execution of major course events will be in the hands of participants who are acting in their leadership roles
  • Instructor-mentors will exemplify the skills of mentoring, as if the participants were youth


Philmont-Family-WagonOur participants (with their families) are those with any position related to Varsity Scouting. This includes Coaches, Assistants, Committee Chairmen, Unit Commissioners at the Ward and Stake level, and district and council volunteers and professionals (trainers, Huddle Commissioners, and district and council Varsity Committee Chairmen). We encourage district and council personnel who may not have full-time assignments for Varsity Scouting but who administer or supervise the Varsity program. Our task is to build the kind of culture around Varsity that other scouting programs have enjoyed for many years. We have a lot of people to train.

Participant Scholarships

We have received following notification of participant scholarship funding from the Philmont Training Center:

“A scholarship fund has been established to ensure that volunteers and professionals have an opportunity to participate in a summer or fall Philmont Training Center conference experience. This scholarship funding can be utilized for nearly every conference at Philmont Training Center in 2015.  We encourage you to nominate volunteers and professional Scouters who could make a valuable contribution to Scouting programs through participation in a Philmont Training Center Conference. Scholarship funding is limited so please apply quickly.”

Please let me know if you have someone who would like to apply for this (non-instructor) funding.

Register ASAP

One of the first things we should each do is register for the conference. Our minimum enrollment to satisfy the Philmont requirement is 15 people. Our maximum is currently 50, but we should not hold back on recruitment for fear of going over that mark.

To register;

  1. Go to the Philmont Scout Ranch Web page at:
  2. Select “Philmont Training Center” from the banner at the top of the Philmont page.
  3. Begin the registration process by clicking the large green button labelled “Register for Philmont Training Center”. 
  4. This will take you to a page that lists fees and the cancellation policy.
  5. If you do not have a Philmont account, create one by entering your email address and typing in a password.
  6. Select “register here”.
  7. Enter your personal profile information. If it already exists, check it for correctness.
  8. At the bottom of the page, select “Conference attendee”.
  9. Select the conference you are registering for. There is only one Varsity conference all summer, so if the old name is still shown, select it.

Family members who will participate in the course should register as participants.

Conference Topics

bikersThe scope of topics in this course will deal with standard Varsity topics as well as special topics specific to LDS Varsity Scouting. Non-LDS volunteers and professionals who attend will understand the program better, and they will understand the unique LDS purposes of the Varsity program as well. We will lead discussions and sharing sessions with participants on a number of LDS-specific subjects:

  • The relation of Varsity scouting to the Aaronic Priesthood quorum
  • The leadership habits and processes of a priesthood organization
  • LDS values
  • Preparation for a mission, family life, and priesthood leadership

These topics will be used in addition to the standard topics of Varsity team organization and function, Varsity program operation, and the five fields of emphasis. We will address basic Varsity topics for those new to the program, but we will also include deeper discussions of program principles for those ready for advanced topics.

Instructional Method

Since the Varsity program is experiencing a new burst of energy, we will rely on the knowledge and experience of the participants just as much as on the expertise of our staff to bring new ideas to the forefront. Just as we expect of our youth today, we will ask participants to teach each other, with staff support, and as a staff, we will resist the temptation to do for the participants what they can do for themselves. This will be an important principle for each of us to use in planning our own parts of the conference. Basic teaching principles should be drawn from “Come, Follow Me” and “Preach My Gospel”. 

This conference will use a syllabus developed especially for this conference. It is based on the Varsity Vision course syllabus. The conference schedule is built around the Philmont Training Center schedule, which emphasizes family time and activities as well as training events. After a period Monday afternoon where we organize the participants into squads, the participants will plan the activity event portions of the course, with the support and mentoring of the staff.

Author: Andy Gibbons | Western Region Area 2, Varsity Scout Committee Program Chair

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