By Ken Cluff
Sep 17, 2015

I Have a Secret: Varsity Scouting Teacher-Age Young Men

Varsity Venture Priesthood Missionary, Varsity scouting teacher-age young menI have the secret! I’ll share it with you as long as you tell everyone you know, and then it won’t be a secret anymore. Are you ready? Here it is…

Varsity Scouting should be viewed as an essential and integral component of the Teachers Quorum program to achieve priesthood purposes in the lives of young men ages 14 and 15. A functioning Varsity Scouting program can make a significant difference in promoting priesthood activity.

A special purpose of Varsity Scouting is to provide tools to assist leaders and parents to hold on to young men during this especially challenging age period when many young men become lost from the Church. The following guidelines are designed to help the Team Coaches and Quorum Presidency implement an effective Varsity Scouting activity program.

Varsity Coaches have asked me what I would do when the boys have lost interest in Scouting? Then I ask them when you say scouting, are you talking about 11-13 year old boy scouting? And they usually say yes!

how does Scouting support the purpose of the Aaronic Priesthood and help young men become better missionariesThe Varsity Scout program encourages a well rounded activity program for our young men incorporating activities in the following Five Program Fields of Emphasis:

  • Advancement – The achievement aspect of Varsity Scouting, including advancing to Eagle Scout and earning the Varsity Letter, Varsity Letter bars and the Denali Award.
  • High Adventure – Doing anything that the boys have not done before. This is generally the outdoor/camping part of the Varsity Scout program.
  • Personal Development – Program activities which stress any of the following: Spirituality; Leadership; Citizenship; Social and cultural development; Physical Fitness.
  • Service – Activities which involve Team members in individual or group service and help to develop a service oriented life.
  • Special Programs and Events (SP&E) – Involvement in your District and Council activities.

Varsity Scout PlanningThis may also include the involvement of your Varsity Team in other activities such as competitive athletics. I think Varsity Scouting is a game with a purpose. The purpose is to build young men of character, who understand their duty to God, country, family, and self. The ‘game’ accomplishes the purpose by putting young men in tough situations that require decision-making, leadership, teamwork, commitment, and follow-through. So, what does that mean for your Varsity Scout team? Let me suggest that you redefine success. Here’s what I mean by that:

  • Enjoying a gourmet meal (cooked by an adult) on a camp-out isn’t a success, but burnt burgers, cooked by youth, is.
  • A flawlessly executed camp-out, planned and delivered by adults, isn’t a success, but a youth led camp out, even if the tents are forgotten and no one gets any sleep, is.
  • An adult calling another adult to ask them to help with a team event isn’t a success, but socially awkward phone call from a youth, even when all of the relevant information isn’t communicated, is.
  • An emotionally moving court of honor, perfectly orchestrated by adults, isn’t a success, but a court of honor planned and conducted by youth, regardless of its content, is.

Varsity Scouts in ActionThe Boy Scouts of America has stated to following objectives for the Varsity Scout program:

  • Development of desirable traits of personal character
  • Training and participation in good citizenship
  • Building of physical fitness
  • Promotion of service to others
  • Development of self reliance
  • Growth in leadership abilities

The above goals which BSA has set for the Varsity Scout program are worthy goals. They are also goals which the Gospel of Jesus Christ is designed to instill within Teacher age young men holding the Aaronic Priesthood within the Church. While the end goal of the Boy Scouts of America is to produce strong citizens, the goal of the Church goes beyond that goal with the goal of preparing young men to follow Jesus Christ and thus prepare themselves for Eternal Life in the Celestial Kingdom.

The Varsity Scouting Five Program Fields of Emphasis are consistent with the Church’s objectives for the young men of the Teachers Quorum. Wisely used, the Varsity Scout program can effectively function as the activity arm of the Teachers Quorum in building a strong Christ-like character to prepare our young men for their present and future responsibilities. We encourage all Priesthood leaders to think of the Teachers Quorum and the Varsity Scout Team as one single entity serving the everyday growth needs of Teacher-age young men.

bensonScouting teaches a boy to take care of himself and stand on his own two feet. It is an inspired program for a demanding time. This is that time! I would to God that every boy of scouting age could have the benefits and blessings of this great program.”
President Benson, 1978

My experience is that almost all young men lose interest in the 11-13 year old program when they get to be 14 or older. They want to lead and plan the programs themselves; they want high adventure activities that use the outdoor skills they have learned at a younger age, but as means to other ends, not as ends in themselves; they want sports included in their activity programs, also career development, dating skills, cars, etc.

That is why we use the Varsity Scouting program for our older young men, instead of Boy Scouting. In many years of working with this program in connection with Teachers quorums, I have almost never seen a young man not be interested in well-designed example of this program, unless
he is not interested in constructive things at all.

This program is so comprehensive and flexible, if it is well developed, Varsity Scouting simply works—boys love it and grow stronger, their quorum is strengthened, testimonies are built and relationships of influence are built between young men and their adult leaders.

Ken Cluff
Author: Ken Cluff | Editor, The Varsity Vision Newsletter

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