First, I’ll do what I’m asked to do by the leadership of the Church. That’s a matter of obedience—something I must do and something I want to do.
Secondly, I’ve come to believe that it’s not just a matter of obedience or “going along.” It makes good sense. Why do I say this? Well, it’s for the following reasons:
- A core of committed Varsity and Venturing advocates have tried for years to train adults who were responsible for providing an effective Scouting program (Varsity and Venturing) for Teachers and Priest quorums, but with little general success. Yes, things were occurring, but it was spotty at best. So my first reason for my support of the decision (beyond the matter of obedience) is that, despite the efforts of some, the programs just were not being implemented. So, why continue to try to push this huge bolder up hill any longer?
- The announcement places the responsibility for providing a rich, well-organized activity program for 14-18 year old Aaronic Priesthood members clearly on the shoulders of those who hold Priesthood keys and upon Young Men presidencies and advisors. It’s not Scouting’s responsibility. Scouting will continue to provide resources for stakes and wards if requested but it’s not Scouting’s responsibility. This is as it should be. Parenthetically, the Scouting programs have always been a resource or tool to assist stakes and wards to meet their purposes for their youth—at least we hope that’s been the case. With the announcement, this becomes more clearly defined. Church leaders have the responsibility. Those involved in Scouting at the district and council level are willing—actually anxious—to serve as a resource.
- The education provided to stake presidents through the Little Philmont training is outstanding in meeting the challenge of providing meaningful activities for our youth, especially our older boys—that is, if implemented. In a nutshell, as I understand it having attended several of these trainings, the elements of the Little Philmont experience are:
- The importance of adult-youth relationships
- The importance of the call issued to youth leaders
- Activities that are Priesthood driven, boy led, and adult advised
- Annual planning of those activities
- Use of a Boy Scout publication called “Program Features”
I fully support the Little Philmont direction. It’s inspired. It fits hand-in-glove with the Church’s announcement. It provides Priesthood leaders and youth advisors with a powerful, yet simple, way to be effective in providing meaningful activity and leadership experiences for our youth—increasing the likelihood that our young men will be prepared to meet the goals established for them by our Church leaders.
Author: Steven Baugh | Commissioner of Education, Utah National Parks Council