By Stewart Schow
Aug 06, 2015

Varsity Scouting, A Way to Teach the Lord’s System of Councils

While meeting in a resent Varsity committee meeting I explained my vision of how the Varsity Scout program is an example of what we call the Council form of governing. How the responsibility for activities are spread over the seven or eight  members of the Varsity team working on the five fields of emphasis.

Varsity Scout PlanningWhat other organizations have a Captain and Co-captains, a Scribe and Program Managers over fields of work?

If you think about it, there are many.  Within the LDS Church, there are Ward Council, Stake Council and Family Council. Each has a work to accomplish and efforts to be expended.  Varsity Scouting is an example of how Councils work.  The Captain has overall leadership responsibility and gives vision and goals to accomplish.  Then each Program Managers has the responsibility and opportunity to apply the vision and goal to his own specific area of labor.  He uses his own ideas and skills to make activities that will bless the lives of all who participate, thus increasing his own ability and skills in building the Team.

It is my belief that the Varsity team concept and program managers system provide a great way to teach how a council functions to the benefit of the whole group.  In his book Counseling with our Councils, Elder M.  Russell Ballard wrote

“Through years of such experiences, I have come to believe with all my heart that the council system of the Church has been divinely structured to bless the lives of our Heavenly Father’s children.  And to be perfectly candid, I sometime have a difficult time understanding why so many leaders fail to see the vision of how working through councils can enhance their ability to accomplish all that the Lord expects of them in their respective stewardships.” 1

Isn’t it a wonder to realize that the Varsity Team is organized to teach how a council functions?  Elder Ballard wrote that

“Since 1985 I have served as a member of a council comprised of twelve men.  We come from different backgrounds, and we bring to the Quorum of the twelve Apostles a diverse assortment of experiences in the Church and in the world.  Be assured that in our meetings, we don’t just sit around and wait for the President of our Quorum to tell us what to do.  We counsel with each other and we listen to each other with profound respect for the diverse abilities our Brethren bring to the Quorum. We discuss a wide variety of issues from Church administration to world events, and we do so frankly and openly.  Sometimes issues are discussed for weeks, months, and occasionally even years before a decision is made.  We don’t always agree during the initial course of our discussions. Once a decision is made, however, we are always united.” 2

Where else might we be able to explain how to come to a consensus to something the group should do, and how inspiration might work to make the process better? How might we better teach the council process than in the Varsity Scout Program?  How can we give our youth a better way to experience how to work together?  How do we start with many opinions and grow together in a decision that is good for the whole group?

I believe that Varsity Scouting was developed to make this possible.  And as I have shared this vision that Varsity Scouting gives us each a chance to learn and see how the council works.  It is clear that others can see that same vision.

I was speaking with a local business leader who had served in several leadership positions in the LDS Church.  He shared with me that he used the council system in his business dealings and others in his business often asked how his division was always a leading division in the company.  He explained that he organized members of his team as a council and got out of their way and so that organization did the most for their business.  He knew of the vision and I hope you can too.

Look for part 2 of this post: Expanding Our Vision Of Varsity Scouting, August 13th in this blog


 M. Russell Ballard, Counseling with our Councils, (Salt Lake City, Deseret Book, 2012),  p. 18.

ibid Ballard, p. 20.

Schow thumb
Author: Stewart Schow  | Council Varsity Scout Committee Chairman




see part II

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