Matt Greenfield
By Mat Greenfield
Feb 22, 2015

The REAL Problem with Scouting in the LDS Church

I’ve been fairly heavily involved in LDS Scouting for about fifteen years now. I’ve served at the unit, district, council, and national level. I’ve worked alongside parents, merit badge counselors, BSA employees, camp staff, senior council and national volunteers, and of course, youth. At this point, I’m ready to make a full declaration of what is wrong with Scouting in the LDS Church.

Let me first make two key observations.

  1. benson

    President Benson greets Jamboree Scouts

    The LDS Church’s involvement in Scouting is not accidental. In fact, the opposite it true. The LDS Church supports Scouting as a result of revelation. President Benson clearly stated in 1978 that Scouting is an inspired program for our time. (Scouting and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint, Appendix A)

  1. The Scout program works. Many prophets have testified to Scouting’s efficacy, including most recently President Gordon B. Hinckley and Thomas S. Monson. In 1996, President Hinckley stated:

Hinckley“I love the Scouting movement. The promise of the Scout Oath and the 12 points of the Scout Law direct young men along the path of being prepared for the 21st century. They provide a solid and powerful magnetic force toward development of a well-rounded and noteworthy character that counts. If every boy in America knew and observed the Scout Oath, we would do away with most of the jails and prisons in this country.” (Scouting and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint, Appendix A)

President Benson passionately stated that Scouting was “not on trial” affirming that it “builds men of character and spirituality and trains them for citizen and leadership responsibility. Scouting teaches a boy to take care of himself and stand on his own two feet.” (Scouting and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint, Appendix A)

Then What’s the Problem?

So, if Scouting is an inspired program that works, what does my ‘full declaration’ of what is wrong with Scouting consist of? One simple truth – we don’t implement the full program. 

From my observation, many wards and stakes treat Scouting as if it were a buffet dinner, taking a little of this, a portion of that, and a side of something else. They implement only some of the program and then proclaim, “It doesn’t work! We’ve tried it!” They indict the program as a failure when in fact the failure arises as a direct result of the elements of the program they did not implement.

Let me illustrate with a few examples of perceived problems within Scouting that arise from our ‘selective implementation’.

Situation Problem
An eleven-year-old leader complains that the boys won’t sit still for the Scout lesson. He fails to use the Troop Meeting Plan which divides up a meeting into seven parts and keeps the boys moving from one element to the next.
A Scoutmaster experiences burn-out after less than a year in his calling. The ward fails to provide a fully-staffed Troop Committee to support the Scoutmaster in all tasks that don’t involve working directly with boys.
Young men complain that Scouting is too much like school with ‘lessons’. Adult advisors fail to use the patrol method and involve youth leaders in decision making.
A Bishopric second counselor is concerned that the ward Primary Presidency aren’t involved in the Cub program. He fails to hold monthly Key Scouter meetings to engage all ward stakeholders in understanding and supporting all levels of the Scouting program.
An advisor struggles to engage members of the Teacher’s Quorum in mutual activities. The Varsity Team focuses on merit badges which are more suited to Deacon age young men, rather than running the purposefully developed Varsity program.
New Young Men advisors struggle to understand their role in the programs they are assigned to. The stake fails to provide leader-specific training and recruit Unit Commissioners to serve as consultants to each ward unit.
Parents prioritize sports activities over Scouting because their son doesn’t seem to be learning anything. Adult advisors fail to recognize the role of Priesthood keys held by young men and the requirement for Scouting to be youth led.

The dangers of the ‘buffet-method’ of Scouting are self-evident in the poor levels of engagement that are characteristic of too many wards. President Larry Gibson of the Young Men General Presidency warned of this in [an] … Ensign article, when he said:

larry-m-gibson-large“Many Young Men leaders in the Church understand the [Boy] Scouting program; fewer understand the Varsity and Venture programs. We encourage Varsity and Venture leaders to implement these excellent programs. They have been well developed and are some of the best tools anywhere for teaching leadership and self-reliance. Because we use the sacred funds of the Church to register our young men as Scouts, we need to make sure the Lord is pleased with how we use what we purchase.” 

In addition, President Gibson’s admonition cautions us that we will be held accountable for the choices we make about implementing the full Scouting program, and supporting it with our best efforts. So, no more buffets!

Matt Greenfield
Author: Mat Greenfield | Scout trainer and blogger at Scouting Liahona

 

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391 thoughts on “The REAL Problem with Scouting in the LDS Church

  1. David West

    I’d like to think I have a unique perspective. Despite being the Asst. Scoutmaster over the 11-year-olds in my church unit, I moved my cub age boys into our community pack (and ended up as Cub Master because of my experience). I’ve served as 1st counselor in the young men’s presidency, and as the Varsity Huddle commissioner.

    Too many Priesthood leaders believe you can separate Scouting and Young Men’s. When a tour plan isn’t approved for lack of training, I’ve watched adult leaders tell the youth to leave their uniforms at home, saying they will hold the camp as a Young Men’s activity instead. They use this rational to justify participation in prohibited activities like paintball or 4-wheeling, and embark on adventures like water sports or climbing and repelling without adequate training.

    I’ve even witnessed a Scouting calling extended to an individual who has a felony conviction involving child abuse. I later learned the individual failed their BSA background check, but the Bishop decided to keep them working with boys and falsify a registration for another individual.

    No other callings in the church offer so many training opportunities, yet very few see value in the investment; “Hence many are called, but few are chosen.”

    Right now, my heart aches for a young man in my ward who turned 12 and was ordained a deacon late last year. I ‘m not perfect, but the meetings I supervise follow the patrol method as well as any new scouts can. This young man asked me , “Can I still come to scouts instead of young men’s after I’m a deacon.” Instead of being part of a strong program, this young man has quickly fallen from activity. In the three months since being ordained, he has attended Sacrament meeting only once.

    Your article is absolutely correct. The Church needs to demand more of and for our youth. Scouting is the laboratory where priesthood principles can be tested and confirmed.

    Reply
    1. Jeff Johnson

      David, you are so right about how many people do exactly what you mentioned about trying to separate Scouting and Young Men’s. They aren’t two separate programs. They are both parts of one program. The scouting parts and priesthood parts are intertwined and support one another. They are meant to be cohesive. The Young Men’s attire to Young Men’s/Mutual Night is the Scout Uniform. This attire doesn’t just need to apply to the Young Men but also to the Young Men leaders including all of them. In a lot of cases, the way their charter is registered happens to be that one person is the Main Scout Leader and the other leader is the Assistant Scout Leader. Therefore, it makes sense that all leaders involved are wearing a uniform. One way to incorporate all Scout Skills and Duty to God requirements is having the Young Men use the Troop meeting plan for all Young Men activities during the week. Boys need to be proud to wear the Scout Uniform because it is also stating I am a proud priesthood holder.

      Reply
      1. Shelly

        Our Ward has YM and Scouts happening at the same time. They use YM as a way to get the boys to their Eagle faster. Scouts is treated so poorly in our Church, it is sickening. My boys don’t want to finish scouts as they want the YM activity instead. So unfair, but asking them to do the program correctly has caused me to be labeled a “problem” in the church. I am a trained Scout leader, from basic to Woodbadge, so I know and understand the programs in/out of the church.

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      2. Rebecca

        My sons both had their Eagle by 13. None of this was due to any effort by anyone in our ward unit. The scouting in the church is a pathetic attempt at running a superbly organized program. The problem no one wants to actually do their calling. They are all only interested in the title itself. No one cares to follow through and make sure the boys are progressing and accomplishing the goals they have set. My son has four palms coming to him, and we can’t even get a single leader to set this up for him or keep a schedule of when his next board of review should take place. This has all been my job as the mother. I consider myself of having earned two Eagle Scout awards. I have done all the work. I have taken my sons to classes, and camp outs, and meal planning, and hiking, and biking, and swimming, and helped plan their projects and service hours. Why? Because no leader in our church wants to put out enough effort to do any of this. But then ask them to present an award or hold a court of honor more than once a year and you are asking the impossible. I wish I would have sent my boys to a non LDS run scouting program. They definitely would have had a better experience than they did with the church program. It’s pathetic!

        Reply
        1. Zac

          Wow Rebecca you paint with a very broad brush. If your boys earned their Eagles without any help from “anyone in your ward unit” you and your boys didn’t do your part either. Each rank advancement needs a board of review, each year there is a registration and chartering effort, many other things are performed behind the scenes that apparently you don’t appreciate. And using words like “no one wants to actually do their calling” and “no one cares to follow through” is offensive and untrue.
          I’m fairly confident there are many merit badge counselors and ward and stake leaders that are invested more than you know.
          I would like to hear your boys stories, did you really earn their Eagles or did they? I’ve witnessed parents who were far more interested than their sons. That’s not all bad, but branding everyone for a lack of support is not true.
          I’m truly sorry that you have had a bad experience, but use your obvious passion to improve your program rather than tear it down.

          Reply
        2. Russell Dailey

          Rebecca,

          I believe that leaders play an important part in Scouting and I understand parent’s frustration with leaders. I know that I am definitely a better Scoutmaster today than I was 20 years ago when I was called for the first time. I have three thoughts:
          1. Leaders need the support of parents. If you were involved in a non-LDS unit you wouldn’t be sending your son to YM’s on activity night. You would be at the activity. Non-LDS units have/require much more support from parents. You portray a you vs. them regarding LDS leaders. I recommend that all parents try to realize that they are members of the Pack/Troop/Team/Crew and that they participate to make it better. Serve on the committee and be responsible to notify Scouts and parents about ranks and requirements.
          2. I don’t think that any adult should be “responsible” to track and remind Scouts about palm awards. By the time the young man has earned his Eagle, he should be able to work towards and request meetings needed for advancement. That is what I do with young men in my troops. After I explain to them that it is part of their personal growth, Scouts usually get it. The ones that are really interested in advancement usually follow up. The ones that aren’t interested don’t.
          3. Which leads me to my third point. Advancement is only one of the eight methods of Scouting. I encourage parents to look at the character, leadership, service, etc. that are occurring in Scouting programs. The BSA started with the goal of having all Scouts be First Class. The personal decision to continue the advancement and become an Eagle was for the truly committed. Our culture has changed to where you have to be an Eagle Scout OR ELSE…no driver’s license, no cell phone, no whatever. If everyone really focused on teaching the values and principles of Scouting and then let their son’s advance according to their own standards we would have fewer Eagle Scouts, but possibly better Scouts.

          Just my thoughts.

          Reply
          1. Ashlee

            As a parent of 3 boys I believe your third thought is part of the big problem! I appreciated Rebecca’s comments although I do feel like there are some awesome dedicated leaders its a just a big pool for them to swim in alone… It takes everyone playing a vital part! But I have gotten such a sour taste in my mouth from my personal experiences as a mom for one because it has become this push to get your sons eagle before 14 “emphasis on GET YOUR SONS EAGLE”. It’s been so frustrating as a mom trying to figure the program out to help my sons because (like Rebecca and you expressed) the leadership and thus the program is not being administered correctly. But there is a huge pressure and stigma about your boys getting their eagle…? How about we focUs instead on these boys becoming worthy Melchizedek holders and good fathers… The duty of God gets no focus. I probably don’t understand the true relation between the scouting program and the development of the priesthood but I don’t think I have experienced the true program either. As primary president it was so hard to get the support of priesthood leaders and to inspire, train and then the next month… Inspire train new leaders to guide these boys. Just trying to help the leaders get how the two programs go together is hard enough then trying to get them to implement it?! I spent countless hrs that I wonder if we simplified things like we do with the girls (activity days works around only the faith in God, YW focus on their personnel progress) which are both wonderful programs, that we wouldn’t be over shooting it and expecting so much time out of the home. I feel for these dads, husbands who work all day then give all weekend, during the week countless hrs to try and make a difference. It feels like the focus needs to be revamped. It use to be an honor, a resume building quality in the work force to have earned your eagle… I just don’t see it that way. It’s mostly boys who don’t care and moms doing most of the work. Have you spoken to moms about it lately? It’s a joke. Let’s start putting our valuable time into the focus on the home. The day and age that we live in and the trials that our children will face will be best supported by our time, inspiration, service and effort as leaders if we focus on supporting the home because truly the reality of the scouting program being run correctly with as much man power that is needed isn’t going to happen. Sad but true.

        3. Moira

          Unmotivated scout leaders is a perfect example of, in my opinion, why people shouldn’t say yes to a calling UNLESS they feel they are in a good place to put in a full effort! I have seen this my whole life…especially in Scouting in the church…anyone else see that?? and i really want to know where it says that YM/Scouts has to be for every YM activity….i read in the Handbook and it didn’t say that anywhere…am i reading wrong material? My son hates scouts because unmotivated leaders, and it always turns into hide-and-seek, basketball, or everyone talking. I have heard that scouting works better outside the church, do you notice that too? None of this is accusitory, i just want to know where to look. Thank you for your feed back

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        4. Marc

          Oh, Rebecca. Where do I begin?

          No unit leader can stop a scout from working the program and advancing, as you have shown. I also believe that almost no scouts can make Eagle without active parent involvement, as you have shown. I also believe that no scout deserves Eagle if his mother “did all of the work” as you have claimed. If you are over-generalizing, perhaps you should revise your post. If you are stating what is accurate, then perhaps you should admit that your 2 sons don’t deserve their rank.

          Parent involvement is required. There is not a single scenario where a boy can show up on Wed night and go on camp outs for 4 years and walk into his Eagle award. Rank progress failure is a failure of the Troop Committee, of which you as a parent are a defacto member.

          Remember this: a fair to poor Scout Leader gives 400 hours per year of VOLUNTEER time to your sons’ troop. A great one gives 700 hours or more per year. What are you doing for others not in your family that equals that?

          Reply
          1. queuno

            *Coughing while laughing*. What about wards that neglect to give a scout the assignments he needs to serve in a position? What about wards that only schedule 1-2 BoR a year for all kids.

            This happens more than you think.

            Troop committes are called by the bishop, as per the manual. There is no de facto membership.

        5. Erik

          Rebecca,

          I am a Eagle Scout and a newly called Scoutmaster. I am committed to making sure the scouting program in my unit is operated properly, yet I am still learning how to implement the true Scouting program properly. I probably won’t implement it properly for a couple years as I will still be figuring out how to help the boys make it a boy led program.

          Your response to complaining about how the ward leaders don’t implement Scouting properly is truly not part of the Boy Scouts. I didn’t hear anything in the Scout Oath or Law about what you don’t want in life, it tells you what you should focus on in life. Remember that we are people just like you good at some areas in life and not so good in other areas in life.

          I don’t know if you volunteered for a scouting position in your ward (If you are such a go-getter, yes you can ask your bishop to be put as a Committee Chair) so that way you are acting officially in a scouting position to not only help your son, but actually providing Scouting leadership to help other Scouts. Star Life and Eagle are about learning leadership and helping others, not just looking at glorifying that you earned 2 eagles.

          Am I a trained Scout Master? Have I completed Youth Protection, Leader Specific Training, Outdoor Skills, Woodbadge and am signed up to go to the National Training Center at Philmont? Yes I am, but I still am learning to make the Scouting program a BOY LED PROGRAM. This isn’t about me, this isn’t about a badge or a pin, this isn’t about mom earning 2 Eagle Scouts, or putting your check in the box. This program is about BEING someone, actually applying the oath and law to be trustworthy, to be helpful.

          I might recommend that you learn a little more about the Scouting program and realize that this isn’t preparation to make your son LOOK like a better candidate to go to Harvard or Yale. This is a program to help your son BECOME someone and reach his full potential and not your full potential.

          Reply
          1. Robert Larson Runyan

            Scouting is for the boy to become a man, Love the church but i was in scouts before Lds support. We were a earned group as individual scouts. Now I am LDS I still hold scouting high in my life. Not as a parenting mark.

          2. Steve Faber

            You are so right Erik. As a scoutmaster for the second time around, I still learn new things about how to best implement the boy-led program. I think you are right, part of the process that takes so much time is helping the boys learn and understand how they can be the leaders.

        6. mom

          Quit complaining! If you want your sons in scouts then your husband can volunteer your own time. Scouts shouldn’t be a part of church. Why should another mom who doesn’t even have sons be “called” to scouts. She then has to be subjected to a background check and spend hours of her own time in scout training. Then spends hours every week away from her own family to help your son earn awards. Boy scouts is a great program but shouldn’t be a church calling!

          Reply
          1. Mark Baldwin

            Hey “mom”,
            This is not a complaint just some insight from a different perspective. Parents definitely need to be engaged in what their boys are doing in Scouts. Not just for the boys but also for themselves. Scouting improves families. But I would like to address your question “Why should another mom who doesn’t even have sons be “called” to scouts”. and why it should be a part of the Church.
            I have been called to serve in several Young Men Presidencies in the Church. Each of these callings included registering and participating as a Scout leader. I have greatly appreciated the opportunity to have contributed to the growth of many of the boys that belonged to other Church members. I am also grateful that Church leaders(some of them who had boys in Scouting) felt that I had something to offer these boys.
            I believe that every Church calling I have ever had has come from the Lord through thoughtful consideration from his appointed leaders who in turn have received confirmation from the Lord that the decision was right. I have never questioned why it is right. (was it right for the time, was it right for the boys, or was it right for me). I simply accepted the calling, learned what was expected and did my best to serve HIM, and the boys.
            That service has been one the most rewarding of all the callings I have had. I continue to review the progress of many of those boys as they have gone on to serve missions, married and started families of their own. I may not be their father but I am extremely proud of them.
            You should know that my wife and I have not had boys of our own and that has made Scout callings even more sacred to us. Sometimes a Scout calling is not just about the boy. Background checks, hours training, hours of camping and helping boys with advancement were worth every minute.
            To other statements you made, said “Boy Scouts shouldn’t be a Church calling”and”Scouts shouldn’t be a part of Church”
            I would respectively disagree. The scriptures suggest that we learn to help and serve one another. The Scout Oath, Law, and Duty to God seem to indicate that it is our duty to help and serve one another. Scouting leadership is a great way to serve others. What a great way for Church to be a part of Scouting. With Church and Scouting everything a boy learns through Sabbath day instruction can be applied through Scouting principle the rest of his life.
            Lord Baden-Powell”Our objective in the Scouting movement is to give such help as we can in bringing about God’s Kingdom on earth by including among youth the spirit and the daily practice in their lives of unselfish goodwill and cooperation.”

        7. Bill O'Steen

          “My son has four palms coming to him, and we can’t even get a single leader to set this up for him or keep a schedule of when his next board of review should take place. This has all been my job as the mother. ”

          While I appreciate the frustration you have with the unit leaders, at his level in scouting, he should be the one tracking when he is ready for the next palm, not the leaders or parent. This teaches the boy responsibility for themselves. If he is trying to get the Scoutmaster Conference and Board of Review for these ranks, and the unit will not schedule him, there is a process in the Advancement guide he can follow to get this done.

          Reply
        8. Susan, Scout leader and Scout Mom

          Rebecca, you’re so right when you say that “you earned the 2 Eagle Scout” awards. When I have told others what passes for Eagle Projects in my council and my District, people started laughing. Cleaning a primary classroom? Having dad, the Bishop, arrange for the blood drive and the scout just had to show up, standing outside Walmart handing out slips of paper asking people to buy things?

          Where is the legacy on this? Do the Scouts really get to learn leadership, I thought having to approach people for raising funds and then supervising the Scouts and other volunteers was part of the program.

          I worked with an Army Colonel who was shocked about how Eagle Projects counted around Utah.

          Reply
        9. Chris

          Why are those who truly desire for their children to be involved in scouting put up with the LDS pathetic scout program. Why don’t you take them to a non-LDS scout troop? I think our feelings of having to support the ward program when it stinks is actually adding to the problems of allowing men in the ward to no learn or do their duty. We took our son our, he had a great local troop, but you have to be prepared for lots of stuff like camping ALL weekend, including Sunday’s, and ton’s of other little decisions that will come up which rub against church attendance and priesthood activities. Careful on casting those stones.

          Reply
      3. dorothea

        The leaders of Scouting, because community calling, do not have to be ward members, nor members in “good standing” with the church. They are used together with the mutual program, but they are actually separate as is the funding. And if they want the young men to wear the uniforms then the ward needs to pay for them. We were told to buy them, but at the time had no job and twins. We could not afford the money, it was an extra we could not pay. I have seen more abuse in the scouting programs than any other program and am not a fan. This program is a magnet for child molesters.
        I am also sick of the amount of mothers that do the Eagle for their boys. It should be on their own merits and hard work. An Eagle just means the mothers work hard, not the boys.

        Reply
        1. Marie

          I’m sorry that it seems that you have had a bad experience. I don’t think that this is the norm. As for the uniforms I don’t know how many other LDS wards do this but around here most of us have a fund that we use to help the families to get their young men in uniform. We also if the help is needed help with books and getting the young man to meetings. We are not trying to make anyone feel bad or be embarrassed but instead are trying to make sure that any family that wants to be a part of Scouting can.

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        2. Sandra Folsom

          I was a WEBELO leader back in 1993-95. I had a blast. I had 5 daughters and two of them loved to come with me. I planned with my manual and carried out the plan. Many times the boys would rather play tag or basketball, but that was always the award for doing their scout work first. I think the Key is to have leaders, that knows how to lead, and to work their plan. As for the scout uniforms, we always had extras in the closet that boys who have moved on, donated. I’m not above asking for help. Put out a FB shout out and you’ll be amazed what you can do. Also Scout always needs help. The parents are our first resource. Can you help?

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        3. EdWatts

          I earned my Eagle on 15 FEB 1968, when I was but fourteen years old. Neither my mother nor my father earned that distinction for me, and I find it problematic that any parent would do so.

          Or course, I am from an earlier generation, one without “helicopter parents” and the “Everyone gets a trophy!” philosophy. America has become a place where it’s easy to “look good on paper” without having any real knowledge or skills. I have counseled several young men on their Eagle projects, and I have encouraged every one of them to “Think bigger! How could you change this to have a MUCH greater effect upon the community or the entire world?” THIS, my friends, is where we should be looking.

          The real issue I have with LDS Scouting, having become a “Mormon” in my twenties, is that LDS troops spend ‘WAY too much time on “Priesthood” activities rather than “Scouting” activities. I admit that there can be a lot of “overlap” between the two, but they are two different universes, and they should be presented as such.

          I love my God, I love my Savior, I love my Church, and I love B.S.A.; but they are DIFFERENT organizations; I will not accept any “calling” in LDS Scouting because of the [intentionally] blurred lines between the programs. Now, with the Boy Scouts of America accepting openly “gay” scouts, it’s just a [short] matter of time until the pervs infiltrate the adult leadership as well.

          What, then?

          Reply
      4. julie

        I agree with most of what your saying but I do not believe the young men program and scouts are same. Part of the problem that parents think they are the same. There is a reason that the church separates them on their website, manuals and in their training programs. A young man can attend youth activities including the young men program and not be a scout and be a great young man.

        Nor do I think a uniform is required for all scout meetings. Especially the overpriced uniforms. Can you site were in any of the manuals it says the young men should be in uniform at every mutual activity? From what I can find in the scouting handout for church it states “8.14 Uniforms
        Young men registered in a Scouting unit are encouraged to wear the appropriate uniform. No young man or boy should be excluded from Scouting if he is unable to purchase a uniform……….. ” Even then it should only be at scouting events which not all mutual activities are suppose to be. Such as the combined YW/YM meetings. My husband who was excluded in his ward growing up because he did not have a uniform. Never mind that his parents were refugees, his dad got seriously ill and his mom was working 12+ hours a day to feed their family. The young men ran Young Men as scouts and it drove the youth away. He gained little spiritual insight while in young men activities because every mutual was about badges.

        Reply
        1. Miles Moore

          Right on Julie I agree. I finally got tired of the scouting program noncense and started a Sea Scout Ship (troop)… I took matters into my own hands. My Son is the leader of this ship (boatswain) and told me recently how much he loves it because I make it fun yet we also have to work as well. Not all Fun and games, but not all work and badges. My son said the same… its all about the badges and rank advancement. Funny thing is now that he is having fun with the ship (troop) he is now interested in the badges and ranks… only because with Sea Scout each rank advancement has some great adventures attached to it. As for uniforms we require none however we have a simply shirt and cap uniform that you can purchase or not even though all our scouts want them. We offer financial assistence so no scout is left out due to low income. Our ship is non denominational. I am lds us and the Skipper/Scout masters. I find it refreshing to have people of different faiths involved. Plus its for boys and girls, which adds a lot of excitement to our activities. You can learn a little about our ship at http://www.funtosail.com via clicking on the scout tab. Oh and by the way it seems like our local scout program trys to take the fun out of everything. Not sure why this is, maybe they just do not know how to make activities fun?

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        1. Patrick

          True story-

          When I was 13, I was a first class scout. And had been one for a few years despite having done the work for Star (and then some) Meanwhile I saw kids younger than I progress though the ranks at blazing speed.

          So what was the problem? When I asked the Scoutmaster, he told me. I was the only non-LDS member in an LDS-chartered troop, and unless my family and I converted to the Mormon faith, I wouldn’t get past First Class. On the other hand, if we did convert, I’d have my Eagle within a year or two.

          That was my last scouting event. When I was 14 I went into the cadet programme in Civil Air Patrol instead.

          I grew up reading my brothers old Boys Life issues. I was a happy Cub, a happy Webelo, and would have been happy as a scout, save that my troop and Scoutmaster felt I was a second class citizen due to my faith being different from their faith.

          You want to know what the REAL problem is with Scouting in the LDS church?? It’s the fact that Scouting and the LDS church are not separate. When you have LDS scouts who can’t even tell people what they did for their Eagle Award (look up Paper Eagles), and a church paying for Scout memberships, then you have a real potential for abuse. When you have people feeling it’s a religious calling to be a scoutmaster, you have a real potential for abuse. When you have people actively discriminating against non-LDS Scouts, you have a real potential for abuse.

          I’m not saying all LDS scoutmasters and troops are like this. I’m not even saying the majority of LDS scoutmasters and troops are like this. HOWEVER, has long as you have some LDS scoutmasters and leadership treating Scouting as the LDS church’s own private reserve, you’re going to have problems like the above.

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      5. Joe

        complain complain, that’s all anyone does anymore. These issues “are so minuscule to real world problems. Get over it and it quietly try and implement a solution. Matt re evaluate yourself . You’ve got some psychological issues i

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    2. Braydon

      I think we have to take a step back and see the reality of the situation here; the church is larger outside the USA than inside. My siblings served missions elsewhere and none of the places had scouting. Therefore, it is unfair to state that the church and scouting are “inseparable”. In fact, Duty To God appears to be the church attempting to move away from official scouting in some aspects. That being said, I don’t have any ill-will towards the scouting program, but it downright false to assume that the YM’s program has to function within the confines of scouting. It doesn’t and it shouldn’t. Not all young men are interested in it and no where is it doctrinally required – and don’t use a quote from a GA 4o years ago, that doesn’t count.

      Reply
      1. John Pack

        The young men would be interested in scouts if it were run properly. The problem, as the article said, is that most LDS units aren’t running a scouting program. Some run an advancement program. Some run a sports program. But a real scouting program changes at each level — and it’s lead by the youth. YM advisors who plan and execute the activities are doing a huge disservice to the young men.

        I once had a parent tell me their son wasn’t interested in scouting any more. Then I described how the Varsity Team is supposed to run — and they admitted that their son would enjoy that program. But so many wards run troops at the Teacher and Priest age — and ignore the programs designed (at the request of the church no less) for those ages.

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      2. Dan Chatterley

        I appreciate the few comments already made about the international scope of the Church and the local US program of BSA. We live outside the US and do not have scouts in our ward and in no way do our boys suffer because they only have the young men’s program. In fact, I see the opposite. I am the Stake Young Men’s President and I see young men throughout our Stake who spend their Wednesday evening, Sunday’s and some weekends participating in activities that are focused on service in the Priesthood and increasing in faith and testimony in ways that I do not feel the BSA program could do.
        We do have a local Troop through the military instillation that is not Church affiliated and we have found that they have similar problems to Church run Troops. In addition, we have encountered some less-than-desirable aspects to non-Church affiliated Troops. Being separate from the Church, the Troop frequently has campouts on Sundays, many boys have language not encountered at Church events, and we have had more bullying events. What we like about the non-Church affiliated Troop where we live is that all the leaders are volunteers that are either parents of the boys or long standing BSA leaders with a wealth of experience. They bring a vested interest in the program and are willing to see it succeed.
        I recently heard from one of our adult leaders talking about scouting that was enlightening for me. He said that he was diligent in attending all the scouting meetings as a young man and earned his Eagle in what was a very well-functioning Troop with many involved and helpful leaders. He has wonderful memories of scouting and will attest to the fact that he learned many great life skills that he still uses today. But, after he left home at age 18, he went inactive from the Church because he lacked any strength in his testimony. He feels that he would have made very different decisions at one of the most pivotal times in him life had he worked more on his faith in the Gospel. He sees how his own boys are growing strong in faith through the young men’s program and he wishes that he also grew up without scouts because he might have had more time and attention to the Gospel and faith promoting activities. I know gaining a testimony is an individual experience but I find this to be true in many of the adults with whom I speak about scouts.
        I am not saying that the BSA program is not beneficial. I simply feel that is should not be the focus of our young men’s teaching and guidance within the Church. In my own opinion, I think the BSA program should be separate from the Church. Member should not have callings to do scouts. It should be driven by volunteers who have either experience in scouts or a vested interest in its success.
        As leaders of young men, we need to take a serious look at what is most important. I would offer that our focus should be building faith in Christ in our young men so that they have the necessary strength of testimony to sustain them as adults. With this as our focus in the Church, our boys will be happier and more successful in whatever endeavors (scouts, student government, music, athletics) they choose to pursue.

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        1. George E. Hyde

          Mat – You nailed it. It takes commitment – Time, Training and Tenure – to get the Scouting Program fully implemented and functioning and most LDS Sponsored Units lack in one or all of these. Keep up the good work!

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      3. Joel Zabriskie

        The comment about a quote from a GA 40 years ago prompted a couple of thoughts about something that happened more recently. In their annual meeting of the National Board of the BSA in May 2013 they adopted a Memberships Standard Resolution, clarifying who can join the organization. Within minutes of the announcement the LDS Church issued a public statement endorsing the action and policy. (See url: https://www.lds.org/church/news/church-responds-to-boy-scouts-policy-vote?lang=eng) The statement also indicates a letter signed by the First Presidency would be sent to LDS congregations. “The letter will include the reaffirmation of Church policies and standards referenced in today’s public statement.” The letter, dated May 28, 2013 (see url: http://www.scouting.org/filestore/MembershipStandards/LDS-Church-Statement.pdf) was sent to leaders in the United States including Bishops and Branch Presidents. It also included an instruction to read it in sacrament meeting. It is my understanding that a letter from First Presidency cannot be issued unless the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve have discussed the matter(s) and are in unanimous agreement. That means all 15 Brethren who I sustain as Prophets, Seers and Revelators have endorsed Scouting as the activity arm of the Aaronic Priesthood. Five months later, on October 29, 2013, the Church went to tremendous efforts to celebrate the 100 years of partnership with BSA at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City. All can enjoy this event by watching it on YouTube. (See url: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=imlMAKrKMMY)

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      4. Darryl AlderDarryl Alder

        Brayon
        You are right that we can find old LDS Church leaders who believe in Scouting, here is a list of the prophets who did http://blog.utahscouts.org/duty-to-god/lds-church-scouting/

        How about Bishop Stevenson at BSA’s Duty to God Breakfast May 2013, (See http://blog.utahscouts.org/duty-to-god/duty-god-action/)

        Even better in October 2013 President Monson, who has served on Scouting’s National Executive Board for nearly 44 years, said “I love the Boy Scout organization … Scouting changes the lives of boys in positive ways” He recalled his own adventures as a Boy Scout, including his first overnight camp during a cold winter weekend at Tracy Wigwam in Millcreek Canyon. Scouting, he added, brings out the best in boys and their leaders.”As you continue to participate in this fine program, your abilities to think, to plan and to achieve will be heightened,” he said. “This, along with your personal integrity and spirituality, will help guide you and keep you on the right path as you journey through life.”

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    3. Lorne Patzer

      I am from Canada. It has been interesting to read many of the comments on this blog that have seemingly gone viral in a short space of time. As a 35 year Scouter who was released a year ago, I wrote the following 2 letters to the Stake Presidents in Canada. While the Canadian program differs slightly in its organization and terminology to to USA program I think some of our problems parallel yours and I it that some might find my thoughts of use. Here is letter #1.

      LDS Scouting

      For 33 years, I have been registered with Scouts Canada as a Cub Leader, Scout Leader (both 11-year-old and Deacon age boys), Venture Leader, Group Commissioner, and as a sponsor of a group (Bishop). It has been my honor to serve in these capacities. Some of my greatest moments of satisfaction, in giving service, have come about as a result of my involvement in this organization.

      I am however, very concerned about what I see happening with Scouting within the Church. Primarily, I see three scenarios unfolding that are increasingly making it difficult for our current organizations, at the Ward and Stake level, to succeed.

      Scenario number one has been happening for many, many years. It is the lack of trained and qualified people within the ward organization, particularly in urban centers, to deliver a high-quality scouting experience. This problem seems to be self-perpetuating. More and more of our young men are going through scouting programs that are inadequate and deficient. Then, in returning from missions, they are now called to serve in Young Men’s presidency’s and as Advisers. Having had for themselves poor role models, they are now in turn are asked to act as role models and have very few sources they can turn to for help. The cycle repeating itself over and over!

      The closest analogy that I can think of is that of parenting. It takes an exceptional individual to overcome the poor parenting one may have received in order to, in turn, pass on good habits. For the most part, poor parenting skills are passed on from generation to generation. No different than in our scouting programs.

      Scenario number two. Increasingly Scouting, both in the United States and Canada, has been confronted with the need to become compliant with society’s expectations. This has resulted in an increase of oversight required to administer the program. All volunteers must now take several courses designed to enhance child safety and give the volunteer a better understanding of what is expected. All of which are noble goals requiring however, a significant increase in time and energy to deliver a program. Wards that were struggling to put this program together now, find themselves falling even further behind. In addition to this, Scouting has become computerized and unless people are called with a certain level of computer skills, it is becoming increasingly difficult to register all a Ward’s participants and have Leaders sign on to take these courses.

      Scenario number three deals with the physical equipment needed to carry out a Scouting program. A good Ward Scouting program requires, at a minimum, the following pieces of equipment: two patrol boxes adequately filled with pots, pans, stoves, axes, saws, knives, cleaning materials, etc. Several tents of varying sizes, tarps, propane bottles, lanterns, water bottles, and the list goes on. Few are the Scout or Venture leaders who wouldn’t also be excited to have access to canoes, rappelling equipment, fishing equipment, snowshoes, cross-country skis, etc. Few and far between, are the Wards that have even the minimum equipment in good working order, stored in an organized manner in an easy accessible location.

      In my past life, I was a tradesman. Today, I am still quite involved in the use of tools that are needed to keep a small farm functioning. Without the use of proper tools these jobs become very difficult. The outdoors components of Scouting and Venturing are no different. If we put poor tools into the hands of our Youth Leaders and Advisors, we have no right to expect superior or even good results.

      What is to be done?

      I have reflected on this much over the last several years. I have concluded that there are a few simple steps that would go a long ways towards helping alleviate the problems, as they now exist, as a result of these three scenarios.

      First, relinquish all Ward charters and consolidate them into one Stake charter.

      Two, create a Committee of Quartermasters who would report to the Stake Young Men’s presidency regarding all Scouting related activities in the Stake. Some of these Quartermasters would be responsible for registration and interacting with Scouts Canada on a local level, some would be responsible for equipment, some would be responsible for training.

      These two steps would significantly reduce the amount of redundancy and poor communication that currently exists within our scouting programs. Instead of a representative from each ward attending monthly scout hall meetings (which rarely happens), only one or two Quartermasters from the Stake would need to be there. Instead of a representative from each ward trying to figure out how to register their boys and leaders, only one or two people from the Stake would need to do this. Instead of a Scout or Venture leader forfeiting the opportunity to have his boys experience rappelling or canoeing, he could instead approach a Quartermaster who could in turn direct him to someone who would share that skill set with both the Leader and the boys. Instead of feeling overwhelmed or inadequate because of poor equipment, a Scout/Venture Leader would be able to check out and in equipment that Quartermasters have kept in good repair. Instead of having many patrol boxes in each Stake, there would only be five or six, instead of having 30 or 40 tents in each Stake, there would be 15 or 20. Money that is now being spent on equipment that is redundant, can now be redirected to provide things like; canoes, snowshoes, cross-country skis, fishing equipment, etc.

      Instead of Wards functioning as groups, they would now function as patrols within the larger Stake group. Instead of Wards having their equipment crammed into little cubbyholes, cupboards or scattered around with various members, equipment would now be centralized into, perhaps a double car garage that would be located at each Stake Center.

      The key to all of this is the Committee of Quartermasters. This committee would consist of men who have real and significant talents that can be employed to the betterment of Scouting within the Stake. I envision that they would generally be older men, men who are too old to go on a 10 mile hike. Men who have grown up in the outdoors and who have a wealth of experience. Men who can fix a lantern or a snowshoe. Men who love boys and who in spite of their age still feel like they have something to contribute. Men, who have in their younger years, ran scouting programs and graduated Chief Scouts and Queens Ventures. Men who are roll models for a new generation of Scout Leaders.

      A Ward does not have the resources to create such committee. I know because I live in one. For most of the last six years since being released as the Ward and Stake 11-year-old Scout Leader, I have been the Ward’s Group Committee Chairman and Registrar. Seven months ago, I was called into the Bishopric of a YSA ward. I should’ve been released as a Group Committee Chairman. Unfortunately, there are few others, in the Ward, that have done what I have described in the preceding paragraph. The Ward asked that I stay on for several months. In our whole Stake, there are perhaps a one to two dozen people who might match this description and most of them, like myself now, have other callings. A Stake could create such committee, a Ward cannot.

      I cannot help but feel that this is important to the Church in Canada and that we need to fix it. If what I have described above is relatively accurate, we need to start thinking outside the box in order to apply a remedy, as the current system is becoming more and more challenged. My hope is, that this open letter to the Stake Presidents of Canada, will stimulate conversation and possible solutions.

      Sincerely,

      Lorne Patzer

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      1. Lorne Patzer

        Here is letter #2

        LDS Scouting II

        In my first missive, dated July 25, 2014, I addressed the structural concerns that I have or perceive regarding scouting. This second letter deals with a more sensitive aspect to Scouting in the Church. Our attitude and our expectations.

        I have had a couple of conversation’s with a very dear sister and a friend, about Scouting. Please note that this lady is very articulate, well read and intelligent! She would be considered by her Relief Society sisters to be the salt of the earth and an upstanding member of the church.

        These conversations have almost always been prefaced by the question “Lorne, why do we have to do scouting in the church?” I will not belabor you with my responses but, as we disengage from our conversation with each other, her concluding comment usually follows the line of thought that, “the Young Women’s program does not need outside church involvement, why should our Young Men’s program need the same?”

        Another sister, somewhat older, has had the following observation. “It used to be that the parents of Young Women watched with envy the Young Men’s program and all it’s varied activities through Scouting! Today, for many parents, the reverse is true.”

        This is for me, a much harder subject to write about than talking about the structure of Scouting. There is no one solution that can be neatly applied to shaping attitudes. There are however some expectations, that I want to share, that would go a long ways towards projecting a Ward’s and Stake’s stance on the importance of Scouting.

        Again, I will use an analogy. A Mission President stands in front of a group of missionaries at a Zone Conference. He says all the right words. He is encouraging them to do all the right things. The trouble he is wearing golf slacks and a golf shirt. No suit, no tie, no white shirt. You will understand that his missionaries, and the parents of those missionaries, will have a hard time reconciling what is perceived to be a double standard.

        Perception is important. If perception is not what is expected, people will start to second-guess and have trouble reconciling what is happening with what is supposed to happen.

        When I attend a Scout activity what do I, as a parent in particular, expect to see. I expect to see, leaders in uniform and the protocols of Scouting being conducted regularly. Note, Young Men in uniform would be a bonus. If I do not see this happening, my view towards scouting, as a parent becomes jaundiced. As a young man, I soon realize that all we are doing is paying lip service. That there is in fact, a double standard.

        We can address training, we can change structures but, unless Stake and Ward leaders are very specific about their expectations, we cannot affect change to attitude.

        I ask therefore, are the following expectations are unreasonable?

        1) that Young Men’s activity nights are dedicated twice a month to Scouting/Venturing only. It is impossible to achieve the Chief Scout designation or the Queens Venture award with any less of a commitment.

        2) that once a month the combined Young Men’s/Young Women’s opening exercises would be dispensed with, so that the Young Men can do a formal horseshoe.

        3) that on these two activity nights that all Advisers, Young Men’s presidency and Bishopric would be dressed in uniform. No exceptions. In trying to implement this concept I once had a Bishop say to me, “Lorne, I can’t do that. Sometimes, I have temple recommend interviews on that night and I don’t feel right about being out of my suit.” The end result is that his Young Men and their Leaders almost never saw him in a uniform.

        4) that Group Committee meetings, even if held on Sunday, should be attended by Leaders, Registrar and Commissioner, all in uniform.

        5) that Stake people, including Stake Presidencies, if attending a scouting related activity, also be in uniform.

        Those of us, who are involved in scouting, might say that these expectations are self-evident. But I ask are they? If we have these expectations why, by and large, are they not happening. I believe that they are not explicitly communicated nor adequately reinforced. No where in the Handbook of Instructions nor in the scouting handbooks are these items specifically addressed. Because they are not specifically addressed, we seem en masse, to drift to the lowest common denominator. Not unlike the Word of Wisdom, before it became a commandment.

        Further, I believe that there is a strong correlation between those Wards not fulfilling points 1-3 and the percentage of Chief Scouts or Queens Ventures that have come out of their programs. Sadly, I have also heard this comment, when making this observation that, ” we are not so concerned about how we are doing in scouting, as we are in the number of Young Men who serve missions.”

        This approach to attitude and expectations sounds simplistic. But that is the beauty of it! It is way more difficult to attend Young Men’s in a uniform, as a leader, and then not conduct scouting activities. A formal Horseshoe leads to proper Investiture’s and proper recognition of a young man’s scouting accomplishments (protocol). A Bishop and a Stake President in uniform is a powerful statement to a young man and their leaders.

        If a Stake President held a special leadership meeting on scouting and dressed in his uniform laid out these five expectations and further if, when he met on a regular basis with his Bishops and asked them if these five expectations were being implemented, I think considerable good would come of it. These two wonderful sisters, that I have quoted, might have a different perception of what Scouting is and what it can be, if some of these expectations were actually to be realized.

        Sincerely,
        Lorne Patzer

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      2. Sharon

        I agree with many of your ideas. I am also in Canada and currently have 2 ym and have been a Cub leader twice and Primary President. Our ward has basically abandoned the Scouting program once they reach 12 years old. Its sad because the boys still have a good Cub program and a decent 11 year old Scout program and then it just stops. As a parent, I realized the battle was lost because my boys have no interest in Scouting now, since their leaders have no interest and aren’t doing it.
        The reality is that we don’t have many options on who to call within our ward, so it isn’t like calling new people would change anything.
        I have said for years that there should be a Stake Troop and that activities geared toward earning the Chief Scout (and Queen’s Venturer) should be offered on a Stake level. The reality is some young men aren’t interested in earning them, but that shouldn’t stop the ones that want to. I felt that the ward patrols could be given requirements that they need to cover on a couple youth nights a month and then the stake troop could meet about once a month to do the requirements that are more intensive. Young Men who don’t plan to earn the high awards would probably choose not to attend the stake troop meetings.
        The original post is good, but I feel it is only realistic in areas of the church with large, stable wards. That isn’t a reality for many of us outside of LDS hubs.

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    4. JD

      Great article. Great news, there is a SOLUTION! It’s called the Unit Commissioner. The UC (Unit Commissioner) is like the Home Teacher for a Unit. It’s not a church issue, it’s a Bishop and Stake President Issue. I encourage all to go to their District (Roundtable) and volunteer to be a Unit Commissioner for Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Varsity, Venturing. Go get trained (calling or not) and volunteer. Encourage Stake Presidents to go to Philmont LDS Aaronic Priest Week and come back and do a little Philmont for their Stake. All Leaders should read the Green Scout Handbook by the Church and follow it’s instructions. Stake Primary and Stake YM and 2 High Councilors should be serving as Unit Commissioners and Asst. District Commissioners. Those Stake Leaders should be providing Leadership guidance and Training for those newly called leaders. A Sample 2 Year Plan for Every Quorum should be created so a new leader can just execute the program and then make changes along the way. The Bishop has the keys for his Ward. Bishops should go and get Wood Badged Trained. Read Trails to Testimony. It’s about helping these Boys become Men of God. ILST should be provided for the Boy Scout (boys), Varsity Vision for the Varsity aged boys, and ILSC for the Ventures. Send your boys to NYLT (Advanced Leadership Training) (google these terms). These should all be boy led Units. When you volunteer for Scouting (District), you can’t be released. Be a Leader…be like Nephi, and go and do it.

      Love the boys and help them to become great Leaders (we need more great leaders). We all learn better by doing – Scouting is experiential learning and fun, when implemented correctly.

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      1. Tasha DeKockTasha DeKock

        At last… Someone finally said the answer. If unit commissioners were truly owning and doing their job, issues would be identified and addressed much sooner. As a person who has served Scouting in 3 different states, my observation is that Commissioner service is lacking within the Church. When done correctly, it really can and does work.

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        1. David

          Because of my stake calling, I am a Unit Commissioner. I attend the monthly commissioner meetings. The non-LDS commissioners are long-experienced scouters, not someone assigned for a few years and who’ll quit as soon as their assignment ends. They don’t need basic training, they’ve lived it and know it. But as for me, I barely have any idea about what’s what, for example, I don’t know the difference between explorer and varsity (although nearly all the explorer & varsity units in the district are LDS).

          The meetings usually consist of different commissioners telling about various district activities they’re organizing (to which our LDS troops don’t ever show up), preparing their troops for rechartering & JTE, helping their troops recruit new scouts & fundraise or reviewing the training records of the troops in the district (and they always comment on how the LDS troops’ lack of trained leaders really hurts the statistics). Then they get to the LDS unit commissioners. Some of us can report that we’ve visited troops, and invariably one of us ask what the different acronyms mean (JTE = Journey to Excellence).

          Can you imagine if we mixed up which commissioners visited? If one of the old non-LDS scouters was assigned as commissioner to some of our troops? I bet he or she would have some advice to share. And for me, I’d get a chance to see what others are doing and how they organize themselves and those would be things I could share with the LDS troops assigned to me.

          In other words, don’t think that the answer to poorly-run ward scouting magically lies with the stake. The stake leadership is made up of people from the wards. If the wards don’t know what they’re doing in scouting, why would the people plucked from the wards to oversee it at the stake level be any different?

          Several parents have complained to me about how poorly-run their ward’s scout program is. I ask what it is they want their child to get from scouting. If they seem committed to the ideals of scouting and the experience of it, not just wanting to drop their kid off and for someone to make sure he progresses all the way to Eagle, I suggest they put their boy in a non-LDS troop and warn that this means that they, as the boy’s parent, will be expected to be actively engaged because those troops can’t just call on random people to come and take charge of the leadership positions. It works out well because there are some troops that meet on a day different from the young men activity, so the young man isn’t lost from participating in his church activity. My hope is that those parents and boys will eventually get callings where they’ll take charge of LDS troops and implement outside ideas of how things should run.

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        2. Leslie

          I am the stake primary president and our big focus for cub scouting has been to get commissioners for every ward. It can be hard when they are not used to it. But it is happening and we are seeing many improvements!! You have to have people that care, are willing to work hard to make things better. It can be a slow process…

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    5. Patty Lingwall

      I agree, but let me talk from my perspective. I live in Salt Lake City, aka the mission field, and I have been a Den Leader for 21 months and still have not had a Cubmaster, once. Before you get all up in arms about my leaders and no support, let me explain. I have three callings at the moment. One of the other Den Leaders is the Stake President’s wife, who is in her Primary Presidency. The other Den Leaders are much older ladies who have been doing Scouting for decades, DECADES, and are pretty burned out to be honest. We split the stake in half to do Scouts in order to have good size troops and with the hope that we will get the support we need. Soon we will be combining into one unit, in hopes that we can get more support. The boys are there, the leaders are not, but as I look around my Stake I understand why. Scouting takes a massive force to do well, and quite frankly we do not have a massive force. We can barely run wards on a proper level. It is a hard topic to deal with. I think about it often.

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      1. Sharon

        Patty, I know where you are coming from. As I read the post I agreed with lots of it, but as I thought about the membership in our ward knew that it just isn’t possible. In some wards and stakes with a strong adult membership core it is doable but lots of us do not have that. The few members that are fully functioning are exhausted.

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    6. Helen Danielson

      Yes, the LDS church may have a “buffet style” approach in SOME troops. I do not think it is fair to say it is in all. I have been a part of scouting in my Ward and we had support and we also had the boys run the program. I have 2 sons that both received their eagle awards. When my first son was applying for his Eagle, we had a lot of problems with the Scouting office in Phoenix. Their records were incorrect and very unorganized. The guy who was not LDS was very anti-LDS. I reminded him that if it were not for the support received from the LDS church he would probably be out of a job. Back in 2000, the LDS church was providing 85% of all funding to Boy Scouts of America. That is a huge amount of money! Before you start looking at all the negatives that the LDS church and scouting have, I think you should see just how much good and support they give to the program.

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      1. PhxLDSScouter

        One of the biggest challenges, I see, from my 33 years in Scouting in and out of the Church, is the amount of folklore that’s not based in fact whatsoever. I find it amazing how many people try to have as little to do with Scouting yet seem to know so much.
        For example, the LDS Church has never provided 85% of all funding to BSA. Not even close. That’s why BSA has been so affected by the efforts to change the membership policies. The policy has been responsible for major pullouts of financial support from corporations like Intel or UPS and organizations like the United Way. And particularly in the Grand Canyon Council (from the Phoenix service area), where the LDS community is roughly 70% of the youth membership, we don’t come close to providing 70% of the funding. As a matter of fact, our council has run at a deficit and has relied on some individual benefactors to keep us out of the red. One big funding source is summer camps, and many of us LDS avoid going to camps as much as possible and try to provide our own “Zions Camp.” While we do decent camps, we don’t get anywhere near the kind of experience of a good council camp.
        Where we really fall down is in the support of the organization behind Scouting. For example, the COR in each ward is a member of the Council Committee (as well as the District), but few ever participate in the running or management of the Council or District. We tend to rely on the Stake YM leadership to provide all the support for the Church in the Scouting organization, but that’s not their role.
        People often forget that this is an organization made up of participants. We act like Scouting is something we buy and it is provided to us by the local professionals – like we’re customers. In reality, it’s not that at all, but a program for us to take and use. The boys are the customers and the Ward leadership is the provider. We really don’t do our fair share, yet we often complain that we aren’t getting enough.
        But I don’t think the point of the blog is that we as a Church don’t support Scouting enough, it’s that we aren’t delivering the program that’s there. The buffet example is very good. It seems like we pick the desserts (the Eagle Award so we can show how good we are – see, I’m an Eagle!; or going camping, let’s just go camping) and skip the meat and vegetables and then wonder why we are malnourished.
        The reason the Church uses Scouting is because it’s a well thought out program that provides what we want to provide our young men. Scouting itself isn’t incredibly important, but what it does is. If we didn’t have the program, then we’d have to build a program as effective, and it’s not as easy as putting out a new version of Duty to God (like some people think). Sure, the Church could set up and run our own Scouting-like program for YM, but why would we go through that effort? Without the push for Scouting with the training and all that goes with it, can you imagine how weak our YM programs would be? I know every ward I’ve been in has struggled with YW (whether they realize it or not) providing even a similar level of development. They often rely on camp for it all, and that’s not how you build life changes. My own daughters would struggle with the decision “Do I go to Mutual tonight where all we’ll do is talk about Personal Progress (and not actually do anything on it) or work on this assignment that’s due.
        We really need to get our heads in the game with our youth. They desperately need us.

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    7. Elizabeth

      It is YOUR responsibility to deny any predators access to our youth. When our Bishop tried the same thing, I informed him that if he went ahead and called the child rapist, I would vote “NO” and I would stand up when I did it. So, he tried to finesse it and have the jerk volunteer. Not having that, either. A call to the council resulted in the Bishop considering whether or not he wanted his charter revoked. This article is correct: Implement the entire plan as it is.

      I, too, put my children in a community pack when they were Webelos. Probably my best Scouting experience; certainly more parents were heavily involved.

      As a Silver Beaver, I am one of the few women in the LDS church to be so honored. This is due, in large measure, to the fact that I protected the boys. Above everything else. I obeyed the rules as they were written and expected others to do the same. As a woman, I did not have any REAL control over the troop, but that didn’t stop me from doing my best to protect them.

      Wow, did this push my buttons!

      Elizabeth

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      1. Caden Webb

        Bahaha. Sorry, but I was totally with you until mentioned the silver beaver. Shame about the silver fawn though…

        I will agree about the child endangerment issues. There is a lot of trust that we parents put in scout leaders, and it undermines everything for years if such a leader is put in place. Good for you for staying your ground.

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    8. Susan CheeverSusan Cheever

      You hint at one of the reasons for the problem with LDS units. By the nature of the program, leaders often change. Some leaders are committed to running a strong program, but there are adults in the Church, some of them parents of boys, some of them called as Scout leaders from time to time, that do not believe in the program. Those individuals, when confronted with dedicated leaders, will sometimes just “wait them out” assuming that like Utah weather in Spring, the YM leadership in their ward will change soon enough.

      Reply
  2. adano

    There is a root cause underlying many of the problems listed above: Too few people. As a boy, I attended a three-ward scout troop. This meant we had 15-20 boys for our troop. Not only were activities more fun, but implementing the patrol method and having a fully staffed scout committee were real possibilities–not just possibilities, but they were actually done.

    I’ve been doing scouting in my ward for 6 years. We usually have 2-5 boys in the troop. If we had 2-deep leadership and a fully staffed committee, we’d have far more adults than young men. While that isn’t inherently a problem, it is when you consider that the bishopric also needs to place personnel into other auxiliaries. The result: Lack of committee support for scoutmasters, who then get burned out and lack the time to go do trainings. And it’s less fun for the boys, since they show up to an activity with 2 young men and 2 adults.

    I’ve asked more than once if we could consider asking the stake leadership about merging troops, but the answer is always that our SP isn’t interested.

    If you want much stronger scout programs, that are fully implemented, a starting point is to merge wards into bigger troops.

    Reply
    1. Jeff Johnson

      Adano,

      With recent changes to the Church Scouting handbook, what you say was not a possibility is now a possibility. I’m talking about troops combining as the need arises. It does need to go through approval process. Hopefully there will be more interest and inspiration to do something about small troops aligning up with others in the stake. If so, those boys and leaders involve can now have the potential to have a much better Scouting experience.

      Reply
    2. April

      Or you could recruit more boys to join your Troop. 🙂 We had a similar problem when I was a Den Leader in my ward. Too few boys and too few adults, so everyone suffered. But after we recruited several non-LDS boys to join our Pack, things dramatically improved! There were more boys so the activities were more fun, the parents of these boys were energized and excited to help, and the Bishopric called more leaders so that we could run a fantastic program for everyone. Combining Scout groups could be one solution, but since that isn’t getting you anywhere at the moment, why not consider growing your Troop? And in case you didn’t know that recruiting was something approved and encouraged by the church, the following is from the Scouting Handbook for Church Units in the United States (May 2014) under section 8.4 – Combining Scouting Units:

      Combining activities for small units during the week may be authorized by the stake president, so long as each ward maintains a properly registered unit; each is staffed with adult leaders; and retention, recruitment, and activation efforts are maintained by each ward or quorum.

      Reply
      1. adano

        Our ward boundaries include only a few blocks, and there are literally no LDS boys we could recruit into our troop. We have the occasional inactive boy or non-LDS boy, but I assure you, we recruit them to the point they actively avoid us.

        And I know what the handbook says. The trouble is that the stake president opposes combining.

        Reply
        1. JR

          Do what I did…I pulled my son from the LDS unit and put him in a non LDS troop. Best decision we made. He is thriving and comes home excited about scouting. No where does it say you have to do scouting with your ward. Interesting because there is another family who is now looking in moving their son.

          Reply
          1. Gary Miller

            While sending your boy to another troop is good for your boy. We also need to ensure that these young men also attend the ward unit as well. Remember we are trying to grow good solid Melchizedek Priesthood holders, Husbands and fathers. The young men need the involvement of their Quorum and their Quorum needs them. My boy went to another troop as well but also attended his ward troop.

          2. Hugo DeCampos

            Great move! Scouting is all about the boys – not about building the Kingdom. If your ward/stake isn’t providing a quality program and the necessary support to doing it right, then going to a well-run non-LDS pack/troop is the right thing to do. It’s all about the boys…

          3. SRB

            Just because he attends a non-LDS chartered unit doesn’t mean he can’t attend “Mutual.” Choose a scout unit that doesn’t meet the same night.

          4. RT

            JR
            I was one of those parents who saw a benefit of moving my son’s out of the LDS Scouting program into a non-LDS program. We had a Ward where the Scout Leaders would repeatedly fail to show up for the Scout Programs. Instead the boys were directed to play basketball instead and this went on for a lengthy period of time.

            After seeing that there was no change at the Ward level, I checked to see if another ward might have an properly run program. After checking I found that the problem was common in our Stake.

            I moved both son’s into a non LDS program which accepted them with open arms. I received a call once a week from a member of the Scout Committee that helped re-enforce what the Troop would be doing in the next meeting. Both boys “Earned” their Eagle Scouts and are now serving proudly in the United States Marine Corps. I have no regrets on removing them and placing them into a properly organized and functioning troop, LDS or not.

    3. jaudall

      Indeed, small numbers are our biggest problem. You comment is right on. There’s no good reason why troops shouldn’t have a minimum number of scouts to be chartered. You can NOT do the patrol method with 2 boys in the troop. There’s no good excuse for lame activities because too few boys show up. Lot’s of scouts and fun activities bring out boys who normally wouldn’t come. Few scouts and ‘lame’ activities discourage attendance of even the most motivated scouts.

      Reply
      1. LB35

        The resistance from some priesthood leaders comes because the troop is supposed to be aligned along quorum lines. That is why we have an 11 year old Scout program in the Church; they are not in the Deacons quorum yet so they have a different patrol. Mixing wards means you don’t have a single quorum but several. In my last ward we had 2 active young men and they were combined with the young men from the other two wards in our building so they could have a troop with a dozen young men each week. The Handbook allows for this to be done, but some leaders are opposed implementing this solution because of the “quorum mindset”.

        Reply
        1. Rick

          Thats not really an issue, regular/community/real/not LDS troops all have a new scout patrol. The difference is in other not lds sponsored units those new scouts are helped along the way by the regular/older scouts.

          The problem I’ve seen in the church is that the Primary doesn’t want anything to do with those 11 year old boys, they are not wearing the cute blue cub uniform anymore. The scout troop where the new scouts are registered doesn’t want anything to with them since obviously you cannot be a real scout without the Priesthood. The entire mess is ridiculous.

          Reply
    4. Jon Hansen

      I do not think merging units is the answer. I have seen time and time again this not working. I would be very surprised if every scout age youth in your geographic area is attending scouting. So to me it is a recruiting problem. If you have a great program then boys will want to bring their friends to experience the joy of scouting with them. Work with the district membership committee to make a recruiting plan. Hold an open house, be at the back to school nights at the local schools. Far to often the membership plan for LDS units is wait for Cubs to advance. Go out and recruit. There are boys waiting for a scouting opportunity.

      Reply
      1. adano

        Your suggestion doesn’t work in places where ward boundaries cover only a few blocks. This really isn’t a recruitment issue.

        Reply
      2. Kai

        We have a troop with a combined 3 wards. It works great. We have more boys and more leadership.

        Everything works better.

        It’s a terrific solution for areas with relatively few young men.

        If you’re in a ward with scout troops of only 3 or 4 kids, combining with another ward is a great way to improve the scouting program.

        Reply
      3. queuno

        At the end of the day, while you fix the recruitment issue, concerned parents will find troops that fit their needs. You can’t penalize families with poor troop infrastructure.

        Reply
    5. Dawn

      Thank you! I have been thinking the same thing for years. If we had scouts on a stake level or even a building level we might even be able to find men who “want” to be in scouting. We moved our second son to a non LDS troop and what a difference. We had leaders that were in scouting because they understood and loved the program. Our oldest even said he wished he had done the same thing.

      Reply
        1. Scott MajorScott Major

          Stop letting it be a “Ward Boundary”. Let it be a social boundary. If a boy knows another from school or sports or whatever, why does that boy HAVE to go to the 2nd ward just because that is where he lives? Let the new recruit go where he is comfortable with the people. If he and his whole family get baptized or start coming back to church, THEN let’s talk “ward boundary” until then…

          Reply
          1. adano

            If your comment is directed to LDS leadership, great.

            But if it’s directed toward me, there’s not much I can do about that. You should see the hairpulling that goes on in BYC when a youth from our ward says they’re attending mutual at a friend’s or relative’s ward. “What do we need to do to make him/her feel welcome here??!!”

    6. Gary Miller

      While combine the troops with other wards is a good idea to have larger units. There are problems if it is not carried out properly and things that need to be well thought out. The first problem is one ward usually ends up being the strongest in the unit and they end up carrying the whole work load. The second problem is that of Quorum integrity and the Quorum President who holds the keys being able to preform his responsibilities. My guess this is way most Stake Presidents are against the idea.

      Reply
    7. Paula

      Yes! Our YM/scouting program is a joke. There are something like 2 leaders there for less than 6 boys on mutual nights, and I only ever see them playing basketball. Why am I “volunteering” in cub scouts if I’m going to pass the boys off to THAT?! 6 boys is just not enough boys, and there are not enough active worthy weeknight-available men in our ward to pull it off.

      Meanwhile, my daughters attend activity day girls less than half of the time boys doattend cubs. I’m not okay with that.

      Reply
  3. Melissa

    Wow…this all seems to follow what I said a while ago in another article that was written about the LDS Scouting program. At that time, I got an email from someone at our local Council Office. I told them that the problem would not be solved since it has been the same since my son joined Scouts in this Troop/Pack.

    I have moved my son over to a Community Unit where he is excelling. Since he has been there (July 2014), he has been able to complete all of his Eagle-required Merit Badges and then some- as in he has several palms completed. He is working on his Eagle Project as we speak.

    I have wanted to help out on the LDS Boy Scout Committee, but have not received the calling. I could help with various things, but I am not part of that “special group”. Many of the people on our LDS Boy Scout Troop Committee are in a certain group and unless you are part of it, then your boy(s) do not get the assistance they should be getting.

    Reply
    1. Anne

      I was not called to join our committee either, I volunteered. From committee member I have gone to Unit Commissioner (by calling) and now will be starting as Roundtable Commissioner (by invitation from our district leader, ie.
      volunteering). You do not have to be “called” this is still a volunteer program even in the church. I have “volunteered” to fill many roles in the cub scout program and have never been turned down.

      Reply
    2. Gary Miller

      One of the problems with our YM attending non lds units is that they often have camp outs on Sundays. Thus pulling the YM away from their priesthood duties. And if the YM leaves the camp out early his is neglecting his duties as a Patrol member. Thus causing the YM to decide between his priesthood duties or his patrol duties.

      Reply
      1. Melissa

        Anne, it may be volunteer where you are, but not in my neck of the woods. I crossed a few lines when my son moved to the Community Unit. The leaders seemed to think that it was taboo and that I would hurt my son’s advancement. Few of them say anything to me at any LDS Activity. He has excelled in his Community Troop, far more than in his LDS Troop. So, the leaders seem to take offense to me helping them out. An additional note- If they thought it was taboo, then why would NO ONE answer any of my questions about how to help my son work through his advancement. There was NO meeting of any sort to explain the Boy Scout Advancement process and, like stated above, NO ONE would answer any of my questions or tell me who could answer my questions if they did not know the answer.

        Gary, I guess I am lucky that my boy’s Community Troop Scoutmaster is LDS, so I don’t have to worry about the camp outs interfering with my son’s priesthood duties. An added note on that is that the deacon age leaders seem to not care about my son’s activity except when it comes to him helping get the non-active boys (of which my son is friends with several) to an activity (example- today’s email about tomorrow night’s activity). This is when they make contact with my son or me. Really sad.

        Reply
      2. RT

        I moved my children into a non LDS Troop. Out of 5 plus years that they were involved with this troop, I can only recall one time when anything was scheduled for Sunday. Neither of my son’s attended due to their duties and callings in the Church. I have great respect for these leaders and what they did for the Scouting Program, unfortunately our LDS Scouting Program did not follow the guidelines from both the Scout Program or the Church Manual which caused the change into a program that was running properly.

        Reply
  4. JJ

    I think you are missing a huge point in this article. Volunteer vs Calling. Community troops work because the people there have volunteered. They are involved because they have evaluated their time and their priorities and have committed to do what it takes because it is an important priority for them. In an LDS church unit you are called. Period. And expected to serve because you are called. However, that doesn’t mean the called person has the ability or time to dedicate to all the weekly, weekend, training, and extra activities that are involved with scouting. Many times they are fathers of young families struggling to get everything done. They put forth the time and effort they have, trying not to feel guilty, and become burned out because its just to much. LDS Scouting should not be a calling, but should have volunteers who are willing and able to give the time they need, then the program would work better.

    Reply
    1. Jeff Johnson

      JJ,
      If you believe in inspiration about a calling and accept it, then you should also understand that God will help us fulfill our callings. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have been given the calling or we will be asked to be released. God qualifies those who truly submits to his will. Faith plus action will produce personal commitment, no quilt, turning weaknesses into strengths, and a spirit of motivation with the help of the Holy Ghost. The hard part is trusting God when accepting a calling even a Scouting one. However, it is possible to be just as dedicated with God’s help as if you were in a different sponsored organization that is solely based on volunteerism. Once it gets into your blood, the passion drives everything.

      Reply
      1. LB35

        Jeff Johnson: Sometimes a bishopric doesn’t really know all the things going on in a person’s life before issuing a calling. Doing that is a form of the “take no thought save to ask” approach to seeking revelation (see D&C 9:7). I am a stake executive secretary and my presidency always visits with a couple and finds out what is going on in their lives, then makes a judgment about extending the call or not. We once had a recently released bishop under consideration for a vacancy on the high council, but after visiting with him and his wife, things were learned that resulted in delaying that calling because they really needed a break from high demand callings. A year later, the man was called to the high council. The point is, just expecting everyone to accept any calling that is given often puts people in the position of having to run faster than they have strength (see Mosiah 4:27), especially when bishops have not done all the homework.

        Reply
    2. Jon Hansen

      I agree, but we can still have callings work. Instead of saying, ‘hey will you be the scoutmaster, it will not take to much time, mutual night and some camping, here are the keys to the scout shed and we will set you apart next week.” We could extend a calling more like this, “we think you would be a great influence in the scouts lives. Here is a list of responsibilities of the scout master. Attending weekly meetings in full uniform. Competing the required trainings for your position within 90 days. Attending monthly Roundtable meetings. Committing to monthly campouts and summer camp. Do you have the time to do all of that and will you commit to doing those things?”
      If the expectations are known up front then the calling will be magnified and a great scout program will develop.

      Reply
      1. Diane

        What drives me crazy is just when the Scout leader is trained, spent the $$$ on a uniform, and is doing a great job running the pack/troop, the bishop calls them to another calling, or the Stake gets them. I know there are other important callings that need to be filled on the ward and stake level, but as a mother of three boys, it hurts when they lose awesome leaders.

        Reply
      2. David

        I was upfront with my Bishop–I will not be camping and I don’t plan to give up Saturdays for activities (hiking or bike rides, etc). I’ll do my part for a well-run activity on Wednesday evenings. He said that’s fine, I can ask the fathers to take on the responsibility of campouts.

        For my part, I did as promised and Wednesdays went well. The fathers organized 2 campouts that year and I helped the boys prepare. Of course, the parents complained that the boys weren’t camping enough and I turned it back on them and said, “So take them camping. I’m not stopping you.” They expected me to do it all. This is not a babysitting club. These are your children, not mine, invest your time in them. I know they have other children and other activities and so this is an inconvenience. Why would they think it’s any different for the person called to work with their scouts, we have a life, too.

        Reply
    3. John smith

      You are so right. most of the time you have 2 or 3 callings at the same time,plus trying to raise a family and work a job. You just can’t be all things to all people. also about the time you get trained and feeling that you know the program your called into a new calling and all that training never gets used.

      Reply
    4. Andrew

      In my experience it’s definitely part of the problem. There’s a huge difference between wanting to do something and being assigned to do something. Sure we can improve our attitude and get into it, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a calling with other members of the presidency or scout group that are barely present, barely help, etc. So you end up with a 2nd councilor doing all the work for everybody, and they too have jobs, kids, etc. But the Bishopric is also in a tough spot, you need active hard working members in the key positions, and the stake takes a big chunk of your active members, and so you end up with poorly staffed groups that are marginally functional. This might be different in some areas of the world than others.

      Also Scouting requires a time commitment that not everyone is willing or able to put in. But as people generally don’t refuse callings, they over commit. I know I did, and I know various others who did as well. You take a guy who’s working two jobs, has a bunch of young kids, and expect them to be a great scout leader… well they aren’t.

      Reply
    5. Kim

      I’ve said this for years. The church needs to do away with Scout “callings,” and instead allow those who are interested and invested in the Scout program to serve in those positions. Time and time again I see people put into scout callings who clearly are not interested at all, and do not even attempt to magnify the calling. I even had a bishop tell me that he had to put an individual (with a prior felony conviction, mind you) in as a Den Leader, because there was no place else to put that person. Trying to explain there was no way on heaven or earth the BSA would approve this leaders application fell on deaf ears, and said individual was left in, even though this person did absolutely nothing. Granted, I sort of felt that was a tender mercy, because this really wasn’t a person one would want working with 8 year old boys. 😉

      Reply
    6. Gary Miller

      I would submit that when you say yes to a calling you have now became a Volunteer. A calling is no different than someone who was asked by the committee chairman and COR in a unit not sponsored by the LDS church. You have the option and responsibility to say no if you feel you don’t have the time it needs to fulfill the calling. When you say yes to the calling then you have the responsibility to ask for a release if you can’t fulfill it later on. Especially if you are in a calling that effects the lives of the youth.

      Reply
    7. G

      Your right ask for volunteers and why dont we recruit like other units do. Our ward only has 7 boys half dont care about scouting so the program suffers. I went to a non lds troop so i excelled. get the community involved.

      Reply
    8. RT

      This!

      Our family is in an interesting position as my husband has held callings in Scouting for most of our marriage. But we have four daughters so in an effort to give them the same quality of a program, we’ve joined 4H. 4H is by far the more powerful program. Two reasons…

      I’ve yet to see a single LDS person called to Scouting continue being involved once they are released. They are in scouting because of the calling, not because they are personally passionate about the program. The opposite is true of 4H. A good percentage of our project leaders started off with their own kids. The kids graduate and the adults keep teaching because they feel so passionately about the projects (which are topic specific – so sewing, horses, robots, etc.) and the kids. Several of the best adult leaders in our program have been running their projects for 30 – 40 years (and the kids line up to get in. The leader’s passion and expertise is invaluable).

      How do we get that level of commitment and passion in LDS boy scouts? I don’t know that is it possible when leaders are there by assignment rather than by passionate commitment.

      The second side of the equation is the kids. 4H can be (and for us it definitely is) much more time consuming and rigorous than boy scouts (at least LDS boy scouts). It’s also much more child driven. The kids have a ‘club’ that is primarily run by them with adult back support. Then the kids choose which projects in our county they want to participate in that match up with the kids interests. And that to me is the key. They kids pick what they want to focus on, if they are not interested in the topic, they drop out. Which leaves the kids with passion for what they are doing in the projects. And then, if the kids wants to advance in 4H it takes an immense amount of work (12 public speaking engagements per advancement!!!). And so only those kids who are deeply committed and absolutely love it stick with it. The other kids drop out.

      How do we get that level of commitment from the kids in and LDS troop when it’s mandatory and the kids don’t have any particular interest in the topics?

      I’ve watched my husband struggle with this. The boys throw out ideas for activities and projects, the adults get it going, and then the boys loose interested, don’t show up, or spend every free moment playing video games on their phones. It’s like the kids don’t really want to be doing it at all. (And my hubby is no slacker. They’ve got a great team of adults that go all out trying to make the program fun and interesting and as boy driven as the kids will do.)

      Reply
    9. LB35

      One problem with the “calling method” is that people get moved around so often. I have heard Scout leaders from outside the Church complain that not many of our Scout leaders take things as seriously as they should, or that as soon as they get trained and are really running things well, they get released and are in a new calling. In my stake, my Stake President basically will not allow any good leader in our young men’s programs get called to anything else except as a Bishop or an early morning seminary teacher until he has be in the program 5 or 6 years. I think this produces better results than shuffling people in and out of the Scouting program after only a year or two.

      Reply
  5. Boyd Zollinger

    you nailed it. Carry it on step forward to include the Stake High Council member in charge of Scouting. Each Stake should have a member on the District Membership Committee and include every boy in their Stake. Members and non-member boys alike. They should recruite nonmember boys beyond their own Stake boundaries. Wards that have small numbers should recruit everywhere for non-member boys to fill their Troops rather than combine Ward Troops. The Stake High Counselors are Assistant District Commissioners. They should read the Commissioners Handbook and follow it.

    Reply
  6. koohlman

    Ever since I was a youth in the scouting program I have seen every last one of the problems that you mention and really if I could add something I would say that all of it comes from the main root that people don’t understand what the full scouting program is and they don’t want to work to do the training that they need. If there are people called into the scouting program that have even the slightest understanding of what can come of it and if they have individuals that are working to help them to understand and motivating them to complete the training and following up with them every step of the way to ensure that things are getting done the way that it needs to.

    Something else that I feel that falls short within the scouting program in the LDS church is communication, we talk with the youth all of the time that communication is key to help anything to work and from the things that I have see time and time again the times that things have fallen flat have always been when there is one individual that doesn’t communicate with others, they don’t go to meetings, they don’t get the training that they need.

    Things can be amazing this program is something that can really make men out of boys but what it needs is the support within the program and without, something to push the leaders to fulfill their responsibilities to the ward/branch and to the youth.

    Reply
  7. Richard Hotchkiss

    I live in a small rural town. We attend a branch and have a troop of 14 boys 11-16. It is a community troop where my two boys and one other is a member of the church. My assistant scoutmaster is a member of another church. He is an outstanding asset. We hold committee meetings bi-monthly with the help of parents. Our troop is probably more closely run like a community troop than an LDS troop. We do not divide the troop by age to to the lack of adult leadership. I’ve ran all LDS troops before, and I enjoy running a community troop sponsored by the church more. I have a troop full of boys who want to be there and participate rather than boys who are forced to be there.
    Another problem I’ve seen in church scouting is that men are “called”. Men who have no knowledge of scouting, and no interest in knowing how to run a troop….. But they were called and “don’t turn down callings”. I love wise bishops who will find a good scoutmaster and leave him alone to do his calling for many years; and sometimes even decades.
    I also love the idea of combining resources and combing wards.

    Reply
  8. JM

    I think scouting should be taken away from the church. I hate it. The Duty to God program is enough. There are too many problems. The one think I hate about the church is scouting. When I was Young Mens President, I agreed to the calling as long as I did not have to do scouting. The Bishop agreed. We had a dad do scouting for those that wanted to do it. We had 10 young men, 1 got eagle 9 served missions. Scouting is NOT the answer.. I hope we cancel it. we can save millons.

    Reply
    1. Scott MajorScott Major

      It is clear to me that you had a bad experience AND you don’t really understand the program. I don’t think that Scouting is the end all be all but it really helps young people have “mountain top” experiences. That is to say – go out into nature and feel the spirit. How many times did that happen in the Book of Mormon and Bible? If you think you could run a program with MILLIONS of people involved, and not have to have paperwork, then you clearly have not ever been involved with anything bigger than yourself. You want to know why Scouting doesn’t work? It is because leaders are selfish and self serving. If someone called by their Church leaders were to do the calling regardless of how they felt about it, then we could all grow together. It is because people say they only want to do certain parts of the calling that they didn’t find success, not because success couldn’t be attained.
      If you understood the Aims and Methods of Scouting and how to implement them, I am sure your attitude would change. I have sat in the room with a Stake President who was firmly against Scouting and watch his attitude change as he started to understand the Aims and Methods of Scouting.
      I’m feel bad that this is so strongly worded but I get tired of people expressing such negativity about something they clearly don’t understand.

      Reply
      1. DJP

        With all due respect; How should we accommodate young men not interested in Scouting and who don’t attend Mutual when we are Scouting? What are our priorities regarding the distinctions (if any) between YM and Scouting? As foreign as it may seem, many young men don’t like the Scouting program. Perhaps it’s the perception of rigidity, or the uniforms, or negative previous experience, or whatever. Is the YM program for those boys? Is Mutual a YM/Priesthood activity or Scouting activity? Because it sounds like you make no distinction between them.

        Reply
        1. Scott MajorScott Major

          @DJP – I don’t think there should be a distinction between Scouting and YM activities. I think that they should be one in the same. Scouting offers such a wide variety of fun activities, skills, and opportunities, I have a hard time thinking that any boy wouldn’t want to participate. That said, I do not think that every single boy wants to “advance” and that is ok with me. There are 7 other aims of scouting besides advancement. Just like the article says, the problem you bring up is boys aren’t interested; my solution is to find activities that all the boys want to do. I don’t care if it is a merit badge or not as long as they are following some kind of program/plan.

          Reply
          1. queuno

            You have to offer something to the boys who got their Eagle at 14, and the answer isn’t “make them in charge of other scouts”…

      2. Paula

        Somehow the YW seem to manage to have sacred experiences in the mountains and a vastly less expensive GIRLS CAMP. I paid $35 to go to girls camp as a youth, meanwhile my brothers had to raise over $400 each to attend scout camp.

        Reply
      3. John

        Scott, your comments are spot on. I think that at least one member of every bishopric and stake presidency should be required to attend Wood Badge to help catch the vision of what the Scout program has to offer. (Where there is no vision, the people perish.) I have seen so many people ignorantly say “we should just get rid of it” or “let’s just expand the Duty to God” when they have no true concept of the powerful tool that they would be casting aside. Is it possible to get a boy on a mission without the scouting program? Of course. But what a disservice to him. He could have so much more than just mission preparation through a properly-run scouting program. Anyone with a “let’s get rid of it” opinion should hold their thoughts until they have attended Wood Badge and see if their view still holds true.

        Another benefit to scouting that has not been mentioned as much is the bridge that it often is between church members and nonmembers. There are many boys out there who would not be interested in coming to church but who readily want to participate in scout activities. This principle also holds true at the highest levels of the church. Our top leaders maintain positive relationships with other faiths through our embracing of the scouting movement.

        It’s ok to admit people that someone who was not a Mormon came up with an inspired program to help boys. I do not believe that the church could come up with its own, better alternative that offers as much as scouting offers. That is why the church continues to embrace scouting. It is not going away any time soon. If someone has a problem with it, they should seek to educate themselves as to why the church leaders continue to embrace the movement. There is so much power in scouting if we fully implement the program. Yes, it can be hard. Yes, it is time-consuming. But it is well worth our efforts. As noted above, if every bishopric and stake presidency were Wood Badge trained, many of the problems people are describing would be alleviated.

        Reply
    2. Collette

      I agree! Duty to God should be enough and could be expanded and developed to be more equivalent to the Young Women’s Program instead. Not every boy likes Scouting and forcing it drives some away. And boys who don’t have dads or parents involved are also at a big disadvantage in the program unless there are consistent, organized and knowledgeable leaders for the whole duration they are in Scouting, which in reality is unlikely. I think there are great things in Scouting program itself, but if the Church could zone in on what really makes them great and adapt that to Duty to God in a more simple way than Scouting does, I think we would be less stressed as parents and leaders about “fulfilling requirements” in such a regimented way and more focused on what is really important. I think in the end we could actually have a more quality program.
      But I doubt the Church will drop their ties with Boy Scouts not only because of the good it “can” do (esp in the community), but also because being an Eagle Scout is kind of a Mormon rite of passage and Scouting concepts are a part of Mormon life and upbringing. It has become an engrained tradition.

      Reply
      1. Allen

        Scouting is planned by the youth, executed by the youth, and experienced by the youth. If they don’t care about advancement – guess what? It’s not up to ANY adult to try and force them. Scouts advance at their own pace, as they set their own goals. Why in the world would any parent or leader stress out about some kind of insane “regimented” approach to advancement? Don’t know what that is, but it ain’t scouting.

        So what’s not to like? Want to go camping? That’s scouting. Want to learn about a career? That’s scouting. Public speaking? That’s scouting. Helping others in quiet ways away from the limelight? That’s scouting. Want to plan an activity without meddlesome adults forcing their way into the conversation and taking over? That’s scouting. With the exception of some inherently risky activities, or activities that don’t comport with the ideals (i.e.. shooting at people, whether or not the ammunition is real or harmless), if the boys want to plan it, they can do it. That’s scouting. And it’s the leadership we should expect from Mutual, which is likewise planned and operated by the youth.

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    3. Allan

      It is always interesting to hear people counsel the Prophet and Quorum of the Twelve on what is right for the Church. Apparently neither the Lord nor his prophets agree with you that the Duty to God program is enough. Given your perspective, the Prophet and those who serve with him are laboring under the false impression that Scouting is inspired of the Lord and will help young men achieve the objectives of the Aaronic Priesthood.

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      1. Erin

        Duty to God is enough for the Young Men outside the United States. There isn’t an equivalent program for BSA available for the 56% of Members living in other countries.

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        1. Meri Kay

          You obviously don’t understand scouting/varsity or Venturing! These programs if done correctly can include all the boys interests and teach them to be leaders. It is the activity arm of the priesthood if used properly the Duty to God program can be very effectively incorporated into it. It should be the best mission prep training they could ever receive. If it is run correctly ever boy would have a voice and an opportunity to serve.,

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          1. David

            Lots of people making same type of comment, but no one actually explaining what is varsity or venture…inquiring minds want to know

        2. John

          Erin, what you are saying is basically that because some other country doesn’t have electricity, we shouldn’t use it either. I’m sure our church leaders would dearly love to have a well-functioning scouting program available in all countries in which the church operates. Should we not take advantage of this great tool in the U.S. just because we cannot do so in other places?

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    4. John Pack

      You only hate it because you don’t understand it — and because so many wards insist on running troops at the Varisty (Teacher) and Venture (Priest) levels. And many of the troops are so focused on awards that they don’t let the youth lead — and, as such, are not really scouting programs at all.

      Reply
  9. Ken Lambertsen

    Matt,
    Thank you for sharing your insights and truths. Those who have been involved at any point in time with Scouting, know first hand that you/we can do much better at every level of Scouting not only within the LDS Church, but within any sponsoring unit of Scouting which includes any professional and any National administrator. Hence the beginnings of the Scout Oath; “On my honor, I will do my best….” Yes, there is much more to deliver, and it involves the entire village leadership. BSA does however need to do quite a bit more to make it more convenient to be involved and stay involved. I’ve been a proponent for many years that BSA needs to come up with a lifetime membership option. I can’t believe that we still have to fill out hard copy Adult Applications every year for re-charter. We should all have membership numbers and it should all be electronic. Training is getting there, but online applications would really help. I’ve made a repeated offer to BSA that I would pay $1000 for a lifetime membership and therefore never have to fill out anymore paperwork.
    Kindest regards,
    Ken Lambertsen
    Denali District Chairman (Silver Beaver)
    Great Alaska Council
    35 years in an adult uniform and filling out all the paperwork.

    Reply
  10. Ann

    I must respectfully agree and disagree all at the same time. Yes, the church membership as a whole does not fully invest itself into the scouting program and so it does not function as well as it could. BUT, I believe that the church needs to DROP BSA completely. The problem we have is that a religious organization is trying to fit with a secular organization each of which have their own agendas (if you think BSA doesn’t have an agenda then you are fooling yourself).

    I’ve lived in several states, some in the “mission field” in addition to Utah. I was in the stake primary presidency out in the “mission field” and our stake primary president decided that we should all share the responsibility of the cub scouting program because she had seen how hard it was for one member of the presidency to fulfill her calling. If she hadn’t then I would have been over all of cub scouting within our stake. Do you have any idea how many meetings EACH MONTH I was supposed to have attended if that was the case (we were district commissioners simply because we were called to be in the stake primary presidency)? Well over 20 meetings! EVERY. SINGLE. MONTH. And that would have only been a PORTION of my calling. Oh, we have girls in the stake too? Activity days? Oh, we are supposed to train the primary presidencies in each ward? Forget the fact that I am a mother of 6 children at home. Completely and totally ridiculous!

    Every few weeks we would get together for a presidency meeting that would invariably last 3+ hours. Approximately 85% of each and every presidency meeting was trying to deal with cub scouting issues, no exaggeration. We had a ward that only had 1 or 2 boys in wolves for instance but maybe 4 in bears. Another ward might have 3 wolves and no bears, etc, etc. So, we had a few trying to combine for meetings. It was a NIGHTMARE. Seriously. Trying to get the bishops to work together to call a cubmaster in one ward and an assistant in another ward. But, then they had to recharter as individual units (per the handbook) and have 2 deep leadership. It was a logistical messy knot.

    When I talk with people about my frustrations and desire for the church to drop BSA they look at me like I grew a set of horns or something. They assume that I hate BSA. The opposite is true! I think it is a wonderful organization. It does great things. I just don’t think it belongs under the umbrella of the church. And the sooner the church distances itself from BSA the better.

    When you put someone in a position where they have to start picking and choosing what meetings they will and will not attend you are setting yourself up for failure. The church is a volunteer organization, but we are taught to never say no to a calling. Well, about 2 months ago I was called to be the cubmaster (yes, I was shocked. I’ve never heard of a woman being a cubmaster) and I flat out refused. It is the first time I have EVER turned down a calling in my entire life. I’ve had as many as 4 callings at once because I don’t say no. I refuse to feel bullied into buying an overpriced shirt and patches just to “fulfill my calling”. And no, I don’t think that the church should buy shirts for everyone, that is ridiculous as well. Can I afford it? Sure. Do I want to? Absolutely not.

    Oh, and the budget! Seriously?!?!? It makes me fuming mad that the scouting program has to be fully funded because the boys have to get their pins and belt loops in addition to the cost of the actual activities but the girls get almost nothing. Don’t believe me? Ask to see the budget for the primary (and don’t forget to include the costs that the stake and church headquarters pay for the program). If there is a ward out there where the activity girls program gets even a QUARTER of the funding that the boys do then I have never run across it or heard of it. My sister is the activity day leader in her ward and they have 20 girls in the program (it is a wealthy ward, so let’s just get that out of the way). Her budget for the ENTIRE year? $25. Not per month, but for the entire freaking year! How much does a cub committee chair spend at the scout store each month on average for 20 boys? I’d guess most likely somewhere around $60 at a minimum and that is just for AWARDS. Really?

    But you’ll say, the scouting program is good! It helps the boys grow into good young men. Of course it does! Does the church already have a program in place to help facilitate that exact same thing without the BSA? Of course they do! Is the BSA evil? No, of course not. Boys can still join BSA just like girls can join Girl Scouts if they so desire. Wait, they have free agency to join a secular organization? They aren’t forced through the ranks because otherwise they are neglecting their priesthood responsibility? I have a son who just turned 12. He loves scouts. He would probably ask to join even if it wasn’t “required” to do so at church. And I would have happily paid for the awards and dues because it would be our choice. He would have also then attended his young mens meetings learning to become a righteous and useful man (oh, you mean like what the girls attend each week?). They could learn to fix a leaky faucet (homemaking skills!), replace a shingle on the roof, change a tire, learn how to cook a meal that isn’t over a campfire or a BBQ grill, learn how to iron a white shirt, study the scriptures instead of just playing basketball? etc, etc, etc.

    I grew up with a dad who was scoutmaster for 15 of the first 17 years after he got married (I joined the picture 1 year in) and I lost count after that. He loved being a scoutmaster. His bishop knew a good thing when he saw it. Someone who was actually interested in being a scoutmaster and had the time to devote to it. Whenever I talk with a friend or family member whose husband is in the YM’s program they ALWAYS lament the fact that at a bare minimum half of their husband’s vacation days are claimed by the scouting program. Oh, you wanted to take a 2 week family vacation to drive the church historical sites? Sorry! You don’t have the available days, but you can take unpaid leave! Um, no thanks.

    So, while the church is run by volunteers it is often somewhat grudgingly given. Because we don’t choose where to serve. We are asked/commanded. So, don’t get mad when the poor overworked mother of 6 who has been railroaded into being a district commissioner doesn’t attend district commissioner meeting each month. She has school concerts, parent teacher meetings, or a sick child at home that she has to care for. Because after all the calling doesn’t actually matter in the long run, you’ll get a new one in a year or two. That child that she has been given stewardship to raise and care for is more important and that responsibility is for life.

    Reply
    1. MJ

      I too have really struggled with this, and after much deliberation and prayer I got an answer. The church’s participation in scouting just might be less about our individual boys than providing a place for the boys not of our faith a place to learn. Without our church’s support, scouting would fail. While I personally dislike scouting (our 1 son is never going to get anywhere, our ward doesn’t want to accommodate his mild disability) I can see a need for the rest of the world to have something that brings boys of various backgrounds and faiths together in a common goal. The world needs scouting, and the world needs us to support it. Think of it as a missionary assignment that the Lord has called us as a church to do.

      Reply
    2. Steve

      For the record Ann, I feel exactly the same way. it’s a good program; I just pray the church will disassociate itself from the program.

      It’s interesting that whenever I say something to the effect that “we’re spending too much time and money for the value we’re receiving in the program”, the solution always offered is “Well, if you spent more time and money to run the program right, you’d understand how valuable it is.” This is essentially the solution the author gives.

      I’ve been involved n scouting thing the better part of the last 30 years. To this point, it has been a net negative in my life. I’m tired of seeing eagle scouts fail to go on missions, or enter the Temple because they don’t have a testimony of the Book of Mormon or an understanding of the Atonement.

      Scouting can help a young man, but it is not sufficient. Unfortunately in my experience when you run the program “the right way”, all too often, you run out of resources to adequately help the boy in the more weightier matters of the Gospel.

      But, that’s my opinion, i’ll just do what i’m told to do.

      Reply
      1. Harry

        I have been a Scout Master 5 times both in and out of the Church and I have seen little different in either program. It all comes down to the parents helping and supporting the program. I am a convert to the Church and started a Scout troop in the Methodist Church before becoming LDS. If you let the youth plan the activities and have parent support, Scouting will happen and will be successful. I have 42 years with the Scouts as both a youth and adult. You do not as a parent have to be called to be part of the Scout committee. I just vol. this past month to be a part again after serving a mission for the past 1.5 years. I love this group and yes I wear my uniform every Wed. night. The leaders of our Church knows what Heavenly Father wants for the boys and no other plan is better than Gods plan. I believe this with all my heart. If it is ran correctly all the boys will want to be a part. Some will never earn a badge but it is not about badges, it is about boys.

        Reply
    3. JR

      With the lack of time you declare to have it’s amazing you used it to write the above garbage. To be honest I gave up reading it after the first two paragraphs.

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    4. Alison Moor

      Ann, thank you for your insights.

      Given the decades-long disparity in youth programs between girls and boys I was disheartened (and I’m trying to be nice here) to hear the the “problem” with scouting is that we don’t put enough into it already. Sincerely, Mat, you need to look at the use of resources more closely, as in the actual numbers. If Scouts has a problem we have a much bigger problem on the other side of the aisle that just might deserve some consideration.

      Greg, I use my full name. Do you dare leave yours?

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    5. Travis

      Well said! My wife is in the Primary Presidency and feels much the same way. The girls don’t get the same focus and money. It doesn’t seem right especially if we are following the quote up top about using our tithing money wisely.

      Frankly, tithing shouldn’t go toward Scouts! It should be a parents responsibility and the Scout Program should pad that a little so that they can help other “needy families” who can’t afford it. If my son wants to participate in Scouts, then I am happy to pay for it and don’t mind paying a little extra to help another family out.

      I think more missionary work could be done by letting these boys step out of their element and join community ran troupes, teams, crews, etc. I would still encourage my boys to do scouts or at least try it because it was good for me. Scouts ≠the Priesthood. Sure they have similar missions, but they aren’t the same, otherwise that would have been a part of the Restoration.

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    6. Kari

      Ann, I’m a Cubs den leader and it’s sad that the girls do not get the same funding in your ward. It must be a Bishop decision because the girls activity in my ward is matched to the cub scouts. The girls were able to see a play and do other activities since they are not bound by loops and pins and had money left over in their budget. Have your primary president fight for your girls. 🙂

      Reply
  11. Kadie

    I respect your views on this. I agree that scouting can do great things for the young men in a branch and ward. I also can and have witnessed the burn out, more so because the ward does not have enough active members to fulfill a fully “staffed” program. Well, a fully staffed young men’s leadership, little lone a boy scout leadership. But one question I would love to see posed and answered is, how do we avoid scouting completely taking over a young men’s program (because a full fledged successful program can be timely and costly) and still help the young men get a testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and not just a testimony of scouting and merit badges? Don’t get me wrong, I have seen the good of a great scouting program, but sometimes things like Duty to God and testimony building takes second string. The even balance has lost some focus.
    I have three sons, and due to time, money, and distance from the church they do not participate in scouts. But their situation is one where they live in a lifestyle that teaches them to work hard, be outdoors constantly, serve others on a regular basis, and be responsible for their actions. Now I understand that not all youth live in our kind of lifestyle, and that is where scouting can become beneficial. But I truly feel their spiritual needs should be of equal if not more time than there is put on earning badges. I would love to see more council and instruction on how we can not just dabble at the buffet table of scouting, but also get the whole feast of the gospel with the amount of time and energy it takes. I know their are some leaders who have been successful at both and would like to hear how they have been able to balance them both.

    Reply
    1. Maria MilliganMaria Milligan

      I like the way you put that, Kadie. And I agree, “their spiritual needs should be of equal if not more time than there is put on earning badges.” In fact, spiritual growth is WAY more important than merit badges. I’ve been spending more and more time thinking about this lately, especially because I spend time with the Scout-age boys as their Sunday School teacher. I love Scouting and what is can do for youth. I want to find ways to connect Scouting activities to spiritual truths and lessons, not just every once in awhile, but every time. I’m still working on how to do that effectively. I wrote an article with some ideas on making those connections a few weeks ago if you’re interested:

      http://blog.utahscouts.org/boy-scouting/using-new-program-features-troop/

      We’re actually working on turning this article and the two others linked in it into a series. So for every program feature we’ll talk about how you can make connections with the church’s Come Follow Me curriculum within the activity itself.

      I’ll also see if we can get contributors to write articles about how they handle time and energy management. Are there other kinds of articles or topics you’d like to see addressed in the blog?

      Reply
  12. Quintus Schulzke

    Well said! Nothing is missing at all from your editorial here. It points to the root of the problem. If you want to get to the finer points or expound on others, it’s quite clear it all can be resolved by implementing the full program, whether with engaged volunteers or those reluctantly called to duty. The harder we’ve sought to get a step closer to implementing the complete program, the better things get. I could hardly believe it when last month our LDS troop won troop of the year for our district. Our success was absolutely a team effort, support built in all areas of the program from committee membership to inciting greater parent involvement to using the patrol method so the boys are bought in together to having a successful program that caters well to their desires and strengths; furthermore our troop has attracted boys of all faiths to where while chartered by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints it has become like that city on a hill which cannot be hid and we are benefiting as much from our non-LDS friends. Our troop is not all the way there yet, so I offer encouragement to LDS troops everywhere to have faith enough to start with small changes in the right direction towards implementing the full program, just like that faith like a mustard seed. God bless all you scout leaders and supporting leaders who keep trying and building up those boys in your stewardship!

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  13. CC

    Another big problem is that it seems as though sometimes leaders are put into scouting and after a year or two when they finally get the hang of it, they get released from their calling and put somewhere else so all of that experience and training is wasted and a new person has to usually start at square one learning about the program etc.

    I love the idea of having volunteers because I would love to serve in scouting but I am rarely given that opportunity.

    Reply
  14. PH

    I myself, and many others I know would be more than happy if the Church got rid of the Scouting program. If families want there boys in Scouts, they could still sign them up with a local troop. To many Scout leaders expect young men and there families to stop everything they have going on in place of scouting. Many boys are participating in great sporting programs (that also teach great values) and then leaders expect them to miss practice or miss games and tournaments on Friday nights and Saturdays to attend camp outs. Duty to God is a great program and could be expanded. Those of us that are not big Scout fans are basically “forced” into the program because of our Church membership. I thinks that’s wrong and I know there are many that feel the same way. Get rid of Scouts and those families that love scouting can still have their kids participate with other troops that are run better and are more committed. Problem Solved.

    Reply
    1. Scott MajorScott Major

      Thomas S Monson said that Scouting was for “every boy”. Perhaps you didn’t think about all the youth out there that don’t have any program to participate in? Being a member of the LDS church should mean that you focus on doing service for others as well as your own. As was pointed out in another comment by MJ “the church’s participation in scouting just might be less about our individual boys than providing a place for the boys not of our faith a place to learn.” If you were really implementing the full program, you might have ground to stand on. IMHO, you don’t.

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      1. Daniel Strong

        You my friend have some very judgmental comments on this. I think this man makes a great argument against scouting. I, for one, find a sporting team that my son is voluntarily involved in to be worth WAY more then a scouting activity that he is forced to participate in even though he, and half the other kids want nothing to do with it. I grew up being forced to do all the scout garbage and it certainly did not benefit me. I do not excuse my attitude at the time but I was also a young boy. I don’t think there is a one size fits all solution to this problem like this article’s author does. I know that every boy is different and the Lord calls men to be leaders that may be able to help those boys who have zero interest in the scouting program. I know that is why I was a young men leader when I was. Most wards I have been in past and present has a plaque on the wall honoring the eagle scouts of the ward but there is no plaque honoring the duty to God men. This is where my problem with scouting is rooted. We play very little attention to the spiritual well being of our young and instead tell them they cannot drive or be recognized if they do not get their eagle. How embarrassing that we but this worldly goal above a Godly goal of duty to God and serving a full time mission. Okay, enough of my rant. Just understand that people not agreeing with scouting in the church does not equal apostasy.

        Reply
        1. Scott MajorScott Major

          @Daniel Strong – First, thank you for using your name on here. I think that some people like to say something to stir the pot but can’t own up to it.
          I guess I do have judgemental comments on here because I feel so strongly that Scouting can do so much good for our young people (and future leaders). I don’t agree with everything you said but I can tell you one thing that we seem to see eye to eye about is Duty to God in Scouting. I feel like if you have done Scouting without doing your Duty to God, you have a wasted opportunity. I constantly preach Duty to God in Scouting and I am hoping that can be something that we can all do better. I actually feel so strongly about it, I wrote my own blog article about it. (http://blog.utahscouts.org/duty-to-god/prepared-developing-testimony-christ-testimony/)

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          1. Bryan L.

            Some of us don’t use our full names because we’re afraid of the backlash we may get in wards or branches. And yes, there are plenty of wards or branches that would look at those of us who don’t love the BSA as apostate.

            So, for that reason, please understand that not using our full names doesn’t make our comments less valid…it just says we don’t want to ‘stir the pot’ in the wards where we live.

      2. Alison Moor

        Scott, in spite of what Monson said, scouting isn’t even available in most parts of the world. Somehow those poor unfortunate boys still manage to learn and live the gospel without lashing a latrine (or by lashing one out of necessity and not for fun.)

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        1. Scott MajorScott Major

          @Alison Moor – Again, props for using your full name. I think it shows you mean what you say. I don’t disagree with you as a whole but I do think that the Boy Scouts bring a lot of good things to the table. Also, almost every country in the world has some version of Scouting because it can be such a positive force for good. I know the LDS Church doesn’t adopt all forms of Scouting and that’s ok.

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      3. Steve

        Scott, in response to your comment. If scouts did depart from the church, then what would stop kids of other faiths from learning with our YM? Scouting is not a prerequisite for such learning or service. The girls don’t seem to need a BSA-like framework to invite their friends to learn.

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        1. Scott MajorScott Major

          Steve – I would LOVE if that could happen! Do you think if the LDS Church dropped the Scouting program, all of the sudden boys would invite their friends to…something? (Let’s be honest BB). The YW don’t use Scouting, do they invite people now?
          My point is, we don’t HAVE to have the BSA to invite others but I think it makes it easier to do so. “Come to our activity where we will have fun, learn together, get ‘something’ out of it.” Are Merit Badges unique in design or materials? Of course not but it is SOMETHING.

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          1. Steve

            Absolutely they would and do. The girls are better at inviting friends than my boys are. Scouts is not popular at my kids schools (uniforms, handshakes etc…) I find it to be a deterring factor.

            Our stake did a basketball tournament and 10 non-members played with us. We took them on a campout (as part of scouts) and they all came there as well. We didn’t overtly work on merit badges, but we worked on the skills of building a fire and the simple things you do camping. We gave a lesson on teaching the kids how to pray around the campfire.

            Get rid of the uniforms – get rid of the badges. Keep the framework for youth protection and insurance – and then you’ll have a program where you can focus on the Gospel.

          2. RT

            “The YW don’t use Scouting, do they invite people now?”

            In our area the girls absolutely invite their friends. A well run program attracts. We have non member friends who specifically asked us to invite their daughter to girls camp when she turned twelve after hearing our older daughter speak about how great it is. Ditto for Activity Days.

    2. Steve

      I myself, and many others I know would be more than happy if the Church got rid of the Aaronic priesthood. If families want there boys in priestood, they could still sign them up for catachism. To many Aaronic priesthood leaders expect young men and there families to stop everything they have going on in place of quorum activities. Many boys are participating in great sporting programs (that also teach great values) and then leaders expect them to miss practice or miss games and tournaments on Friday nights and Saturdays to attend service projects. Duty to God is a great program and could be expanded. Those of us that are not big Aaronic priesthood fans are basically “forced” into the program because of our Church membership. I thinks that’s wrong and I know there are many that feel the same way. Get rid of Aaronic priesthood and those families that love it can still have their kids participate with catechism or bible studies that are run better and are more committed. Problem Solved.

      Reply
      1. Steve

        What in the world? So, you’re implying that Scouts = the Aaronic priesthood? Scouting is NOT the Priesthood. Nor is it even a part of the priesthood. Scouting is part of the activity program for the Young Men’s organization. Read the church handbook of instructions.

        Through the ordinances of the Priesthood, families are sealed for time and all eternity. The Priesthood is eternal and perfect. Scouting is finite and imperfect. Never, equate scouting and the priesthood. Not only is it blasphemous, but it serves to expose your fundamental misunderstanding of the doctrine.

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      2. Bryan L.

        I hope you’re trying to make extremely erroneous comments to prove a point. I’m not sure what the point is that you’re making, but I truly hope your comments are just to make that point.

        The priesthood is NOT scouting. Please never try to prove a point by alluding to something like that.

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      3. PH

        Oh boy LOL you really are lost. So now Scouts is the equivalent to the Priesthood of God? This is why so many parents have issues with some Scout leaders.

        Reply
  15. GT

    The real problem with scouting is the period beyond eagle.
    We do a great job from bobcat to eagle.Then what? Venturer, Explorer,Varsity .. Labels have changed over the years and as YM age they get different interests. If they are into a sport or dance they are at it 4 hrs a day and weekends . Sunday is the one cohesive day of rest . The culture of scouting sometimes is another thing that is unattractive to some YM leaders .Some trained leaders are more interested in the badges on his shirt than the YM getting his .Goofy chants and skits aren’t always fun for everyone .Quorum presidents are not senior patrol leaders so whose agenda is more important ? The question comes up are you going to Round table ? . No answer.The societal assault on the family and the male has carried over into scouting. Every good organization is under attack including scouting . Getting 14-18 year olds to do scouting after getting their eagle is always going to be tough..maybe age restrictions like in Cubs. 8 yrs wolf , 9 yrs bear, 10 weblos ,11 tenderfoot ,12 second class ,13 first class 14 star 15 life 16 eagle. No sooner .. That would help legitimize and bring it up a notch..get as many merit badges as you want during that time .. The fast track to eagle at 14 kills it all .. Just saying ..

    Reply
  16. LM

    The bureaucracy of the BSA is what kills me; so much paperwork, so many meetings, and so much expense. At a general primary training a few years back, they described scouting as a library, and that the lds church only subscribes to only a few volumes. I’m glad.
    I realize that some people love scouting, and that is what they want to spend their time doing. I think that is great! But for the rest of us, we want some balance. We like the program, we serve in scout callings, we help our sons advance. But scouting isn’t our life.

    Reply
  17. Jesse Stay

    This is great. One quick addition though: the church, as a whole, seems to choose the buffet as well. For instance, the policy on not allowing fundraisers is inconsistent with the overall Scouting program, which allows and encourages fundraisers and even dues. Having grown up in both LDS and non-LDS programs, the programs that did fundraisers were always capable of giving more to the experience of the boys. And Venture Scouting, while there can be all male and all female units, includes both males and females within the program. Same for adult leadership within Boy Scouts and even Varsity Scouts. I think in that age group there is good reason for Boy Scouts to allow women to play a part – the boys and girls are much more motivated when they can work together. So there will always be those gaps.

    In addition, there’s something to be said about having an entirely volunteer-run program vs. one where people are “called”. The attitudes are much different. There needs to be a balance in the Church where we find ways to make it more of a community program, just sponsored by the Church so those outside and inside our faith can get more involved and truly volunteer (without feeling they have to be a part of the church). I have been turned down when I volunteered for various positions in my Ward units (and I’m LDS!).

    Reply
    1. John W Garrett

      You’re right, Jesse! I’m glad that your experience includes Scouting both in and out of the church. It really helps to have a perspective of what is Scouting, and what is magnifying your calling (or not!).

      Reply
  18. Greg

    Having served in a number of scouting positions already in the church I’ve seen many of the same issues you raise. One I was surprised you didn’t mention that has been the hardest for me to understand is that of a lack of involvement from parents. Parents think that they should just be able to drop their kids off every week and let “us” handle scouting. We have the same issues that you mentioned about not always enough leaders, young leaders with work schedules that make constant attendance difficult, lack of funds, etc. To combat a lot of that I’ve tried finding out what parents are good at and asking them to help, and I have been dumbfounded at so many have just refused to help, of course never telling me no, just “not this time, over and over.
    I don’t think scouts leaving the church is the answer, but buy in from parents and in turn scouts is needed to overcome the issues mentioned above. Scout leaders are there to guide, they don’t run the program, the boys do. Some years it will be great because you have great (Youth) leaders, others maybe not as good. As long as we keep giving boys opportunities to serve and stretch themselves though I think we’re doing the right thing.

    Reply
  19. Marjanna hulet

    Wow, hit a nerve with this one. I have been involved with scouting for years, starting when my oldest son became an 11yr old and there was no program to speak of. Fast forward and I am the ward committee chair in a ward with not many boys, but a thriving scout program. You are right, of course, about the patrol method, and we certainly struggle with that. But we keep cranking out eagle scouts because of one key thing: year round camping. When my husband became scoutmaster he started it, and now it is part of the tradition of the ward, and he is now young men’s president. Not all the boys go every month, but they all know that every month the troop is going, without fail, no excuses. It energizes the boys like nothing I have ever seen.

    Frankly, our troop has so much fun with the campouts, my daughter became jealous. So I have started a co-Ed venturing crew as a community group so she can be in scouts too. Young women meetings are “nice” in her view, but she yearns for the adventure and fun of the outdoors. And the once a year “camp” with its focus on testimony building and crafts isn’t cutting it. Especially when Compared with the backcountry canoe trip, the 4 day backpacking trip into Yellowstone. What is interesting about my Venturing Crew (which I run correctly–youth led all the way) is that it is packed with LDS kids, mostly. The girls, who–like my daughter– are looking for something more adventurous than young women’s, but also boys who are bored to death in their wards, whose focus is on boy scouts, not venturing.

    Reply
  20. Nic

    I feel like this conversation is geared towards Utah or other big cities ith a large LDS population. I live in a fairly rural area of PA. Our ward boundaries are an hour from end to end. Our small ward can’t even fill presidencies, let alone scout callings. We have 2 men serving in the YM presidency and a scout master. They do the best the can, but we have limited resources as far as help. I see no way for our ward to run a scouting program the way it is suppose to be run. All it has become is a stressor to all involved. I am sure it is a great program for many wards, as it was for mine back in UT, but here sacrament attendence alone is a big struggle for us. Scouts is far down on the list of issues our bishopric is dealing with.

    Reply
    1. Jmom

      This is how I feel exactly. I hate scouting, as a part of our YM program. When my husband was YM Pres. over a small ward, should be a branch, he carried almost all the responsibility of scouting as well. It was such a stress on our household. He had 12 scouts, and 6 of them were members, so the other 6 didn’t pay dues and were covered by the ward budget (which was smaller than most, but bigger than the YW). Two of his boys were musicians and computer geeks that hated camping. Soon they stopped coming, because scouting rules YMs, and stopped progressing. If we weren’t affiliated with the bureaucracy of BSA the program could remove parts that don’t interest kids and are best for the group. We are a world wide church, we print all our books and pamphlets in other languages, shouldn’t we realize that if half the members of the church don’t apply than it shouldn’t be a part of the church. Lastly, I hate the friends of scouting drive that is pushed so hard in our church meetings. I hate that the money goes right to the top and isn’t used by our local troop. Waste of money!!

      Reply
  21. RMM

    One very REAL Problem with the Scouting program is that there is nothing similar for the girls.

    Don’t point to the Personal Progress program. That has its strengths, but is in no way equivalent to the Scouting program, since a good percentage of the program requires the girls to read and reread the Proclamation on the Family and write short responses. In-between reading and rereading the Proclamation, they have brief series of scriptures to read and write short responses. It’s a fine program, but it is almost entirely religious training, so it is similar to Duty to God, not to Scouting.

    “The LDS Church supports Scouting as a result of revelation. President Benson clearly stated in 1978 that Scouting is an inspired program for our time.”

    That is not true. President Benson stated in 1978 that Scouting was an inspired program for his time. That does not mean that it will always be the right program for our youth. We believe in continuing revelation, and if Scouting has ceased to fulfill the needs for many of the youth in the church or doesn’t work outside certain highly-concentrated areas of membership, perhaps the Church will change the program.

    Reply
    1. Jesse Stay

      RMM, there *is* an equivalent for girls. The Church just doesn’t support it. Venturing allows both boys and girls, which to me for that age makes a lot of sense where they are starting to show appreciation for the opposite sex. It’s a great opportunity to give them time learning to do productive things with those of the opposite sex, and I think the 2 genders drives motivation to come out to activities more. I still can’t understand why the Church doesn’t support young women in the Venturing program.

      Reply
    2. RT

      I have to agree with this (and it is why we joined 4H). I was shocked when I went thru the personal progress book and realized that so many of the activities were reading scriptures, conference talks, and the proc and then writing their ‘feelings’ on the topics in a journal.

      Reply
  22. Clif

    I appreciate the post and the opinion expressed that the Scouting program/Patrol method is not adequately implemented. I agree wholeheartedly with that much of it.

    The author of this post is much more optimistic than I am that the problem can be fixed. Most of the reasons why have already been mentioned above. The Scouting manual calls for patrols that consist of 6-8 boys and troops that consist of 3-6 patrols (or something close to those numbers). Show me an LDS ward, especially outside of Utah, that has anything even remotely close to those kinds of numbers. I have seen LDS “troops” that wouldn’t even be a patrol in a legitimate scouting unit.

    When I have attended summer camps with the boys, it has really struck me how you can so quickly pick out the LDS from the non-LDS scout troops. Frankly, it’s embarrassing. But it kind of makes sense when you realize that non-LDS scouts are there because they want to be there as opposed to the LDS boys who are there because it’s the church’s YM program and, let’s be honest here, most active LDS boys are not free to opt out.

    The one other item that I would mention is funding. It sucks. The church can pay all the lip service it wants to give to scouting. But beyond paying the annual membership dues, the funding is practically squat. I believe the church allows one fund raiser per year which in our ward pays for the bulk of summer camp at the local council scout camp – which works for the 12-13 year olds but the teachers/priests have almost no interest in. But how about trying to raise $2,000 per boy to go to a High Adventure base? Absolutely laughable. You’re doing really well if you can just come up with a couple hundred bucks to go to a local camp.

    Reply
    1. Jesse Stay

      I have often argued, having grown up in a non-LDS program implemented with a full program like this, that Packs, Troops, Teams, etc. would be FAR more effective if implemented at the Stake level rather than Ward level. There is huge benefit to the numbers if it’s implemented correctly, I believe.

      Reply
      1. RMM

        That’s still a solution for an area with concentrated memberships. In stakes that take an hour or more to drive from one end to the other, where inner city youth don’t have easy access to transportation, where getting 15 or 20 youth together would require an hour and a half or two hours on the road for many of them, shouldn’t there be other activity options? Particularly for the families also participating in early morning seminary?

        Reply
  23. AS

    Its hard to fund a full scouting program within the church. Those wards that tout they are are more likely to fund part with leaders (including bishops and SP) that fund activities without turning in receipts. Yes, I’ve seen it in my own ward/stake. Just one of my three boys was interested in Scouts. Two received their Eagle and one did not. Guess what….all three served missions. Duty to God is completely overlooked in our stake. The YM leaders do NOT emphasize it and never plan activities to help them pass it off even though, like the Faith in God program it should be seamlessly implemented with scouting. Duty to God is a better YM program, is better at helping YMs testimonies and preparing them for missions than scouting will ever do. All three of my boys have earned their Duty to God. My youngest son was the last one in our ward to earn it well over 4 years ago. No one ever writes an article on the importance of Duty to God! Scouting may be “inspired” but Duty to God was written specifically for members of the church by members of the church through inspiration and revelation. After one scout leader in my ward constantly nagged my son and myself about getting his Eagle finished I asked him why he wasn’t bugging my son as much about getting his Duty to God. He pretty much told me it was something the boys can do on their own with their family. Scouting is not for every boy. The boys should be able to join a Community pack if they are interested just like the girls can join GSA. The church could save hundreds of thousands of dollars a year that can be put towards other youth programs.

    Reply
    1. JA

      I have to agree with your son’s scout leader that the church’s Duty to God program is meant to be done more at home with family and personal time, along with in Sunday classes. Quorums that focus just on that are not going to get boys excited about coming on mutual nights. Boy Scouts are encouraged to learn and do their duty to God, so it is a natural fit with the scouting program. Scouting is meant to be adapted to the interests of each boy. It’s a real turnoff to some boys if the focus of their troop is mainly advancement. I believe that the main focus should be coming together to fellowship, learn valuable skills, and experience all kinds of growth (spiritual, physical, mental etc) in the outdoors. Leaders and parents should be sensitive to boys that seem turned off by scouting, and make sure things run in a way that the boy still wants to come and have a good time. And following Varsity and Venturing principles for teachers and priests is very important, so they don’t feel everything is the same as when they were a deacon. Easier said than done I know, but parents and leaders talking and working together can go a long way to include every boy.

      Reply
    2. David West

      Duty to God just doesn’t matter. It has no prestige. Young Women won’t make it a deal-breaker when deciding who to marry. Even the church barely bothers to print a certificate for recipients. We no longer honor youth with impressive awards like Faith in God and On My Honor.

      Earning the Eagle rank matters. 30 years later, an Eagle Scout will still list the accomplishment on their resume.

      Reply
      1. Patrick Ostler

        @David West

        There’s probably a kinder way to say this, but a reality check is necessary. Maybe it matter on a college application, but after 30 years? If you don’t have more significant accomplishments to your name than an Eagle Scout in even 10 years time, you’ve got problem on your hands. If that’s one of the few highlights in that amount of time, isn’t is disingenuous to say that scouting was beneficial for you since it failed to lead to bigger and better things?

        I’ve been helping to recruit new college grads at a Fortune 100 company. I’ve seen one or two resumes come through from college students who list their Eagle Scout award on their resume. In my field, there are criteria that hiring managers use to determine qualified applicants, and an Eagle Scout award is not on that list. Put bluntly, it’s irrelevant and viewed as such.

        Reply
        1. Chad

          I have hired doctors for the past twenty years. Over that time I have had several that have listed it on their Curriculum Vitae (CV). I look at those individuals more closely than I do the others. Being an Eagle Scout, even from LDS troops (which can become Eagle factories oft times), or better said from a NON-LDS troop, is still a feather in the cap.

          Reply
  24. Katie Moore

    As a former Primary President or member of a Primary Presidency (making a total of 5 times) I can share the frustration with you of priesthood leadership not being willing to make Scouting, or Primary a priority. Once again I live in a branch and once again I am told that we are too small to have Scouts for the primary boys and therefore my son must join the community troop. NO! No way! I homeschool my children and then I am expected to just hand my kids over to people I don’t know, with values I do not have, and frankly, whose sexual orientation I don’t know? NO! No way! Been there, done that. We TRIED a community group in another place we lived. It was centered at a Christian church and was mostly homeschoolers. And guess what? While my back was turned, while I was not in the room, they were proselyting my children. And when they were not proselyting, they were placing the seeds of doubt in the brain about their LDS faith. The more wicked this world grows, the less I trust it. In my opinion, the Scouting program is the first place where worthy endowed men in our wards and branches should serve. Period. This is the training ground for our future church priesthood, and if the men of today are too apathetic to do anything about it, well then, they will reap what they sow: lazy men who only give a half-effort and never ever want to go the extra mile, and never, no never, take joy in the Gospel or find meaning and purpose in the principles of true manhood.

    Reply
  25. Eric Bunker

    Mat, thanks for your years of service to young men via BSA. I too, have years of service as a leader and advancement Chairman. I have desired all my life to be involved in a fully implemented scout troop. I have pondered for years on how to do such in an LDS community using wards as the basis for troops. Sadly, I found it is not possible to do so in an average ward. A good scout troop needs at least 100 boys. Scouting comes at a great financial cost to the church and its demand on volunteer hours if fully implemented would be 4 times that which is invested in the young woman’s program.

    If wards are too small for individual troops, why not make the stake operate one large troop. However, the problem is that a stake president does not have keys to operate in the Aaronic Priesthood work. That belongs to a Bishop in a ward. Church leadership has been trying to find a way to operate scouting without going around those who have priesthood keys.

    President Eyring came to our stake to divide it in 2004. I was a stake clerk and invited to attend a presidency meeting with an apostle present. He gave us insight on how the 15 Apostles work in a council, that none of them is a yes man. He used Scouting as one of the issues debated in their meetings. Then President Hinckley and President Monson got into many spirited discussions on whether to stop scouting or keep it. President Hinckley raised the question if the church was getting the best value for tithing dollars spent and adult leader hours they are asking for.

    I personally think that Scouting in its present form will not last with the church much longer.

    Reply
  26. AM

    Ultimately, scouts is designed to build up young men from young boys, to create upstanding citizens. The LDS church loses sight of this by manipulating the scout program to fit church designs. We are a non-LDS family in a Utah community of about 95% LDS families. Segregating scouts by church standards has caused our now 12 year old son to lose interest. All the activities of his troop are centered around YM activities and the priesthood. Imagine for a moment if you are an LDS family with a son in a Catholic sponsored troop and your son is expected to conform to the nuances of that churches doctrines and atmosphere. It’s borderline proselytizing, and uncomfortable to a child who has been raised in a different faith. It creates an aura of segregation and discomfort for the child, as well as a stigma of insufficiency. Yes, as others have stated, the LDS church needs to get out of the scouting business, not only because of the adult members who are called to those positions are sometimes unwilling or unqualified, but for the children’s sake. Ultimately, that’s what counts. Combining boys of LDS, Catholic, Jewish and other faiths as well as secular can only serve to better prepare our youth for the real world they face as upstanding, adult citizens.

    Reply
  27. JF

    There will be audible cheering throughout the LDS church when a bullet is finally put in the LDS/BSA relationship. The BSA is a great program, yes, but has become ill-fitting for an international LDS church. It’s a square peg in a round hole. What the church needs to do is build out a robust program that involves boys AND GIRLS and expands on the existing Duty to God and Personal Progress. All the best to the BSA. But let’s put an end to this. It’s tough to swallow, but the real problem with Scouting in the LDS Church is Scouting in the LDS Church.

    Reply
    1. Scott MajorScott Major

      The BSA actually provides a program for girls that outside of the LDS church is wildly successful. The LDS church does NOT want to adopt it for their Young Women.
      Now that you know that…what was your point again?

      Reply
      1. O Tan

        Well, there was that little point of the church being an international organization now. In the time I lived in England I was surprised to learn that there was no scouting program there. I asked about the Ward Scoutmaster and they all looked at me like they’d never heard of such a thing (probably hadn’t). I found it weird that in the country that was the birthplace for scouting, there was none. Maybe not quite so “inspired’ after all? I mean, how DO any of those young men grow up active in the church?! Amazing how my companions on my mission from foreign countries where there was no scouting had any testimony at all, right? Scouting is fine, but far from necessary and far from doctrinal. I can pretty much guarantee you that when I go to be judged, I’m not going to be asked what my scouting rank or achievements were.

        Reply
    2. Ryan Cook

      I do think that because prophets have initiated it, we can’t really deem it as a mistake, it is a good tool that we can utilize, even if just in America.

      Reply
      1. O Tan

        But is the BSA as it exists today the same program that was praised when “intitiated” by said prophets? If not, then you can’t exactly draw such a clear connection.

        Reply
    3. GAL

      So glad you mentioned the international aspect. The entire time I am reading these comments I am reminded of my time growing up outside of the US and recently raising my children in countries outside of the US. So can I assume that because these countries don’t have the scouting program under the church umbrella, these millions of young men are less than their US scouting counterparts? I have been in foreign wards where the Duty to God program takes center stage and is absolutely amazing. I’d prefer my boys have this focus vs BSA’s.

      Reply
  28. thunderbolt

    Okay, I’m not a Mormon, never was, but the biggest problem with BSA is the bureaucracy at the top and the corporate influence which led to 2013’s unfortunate decision. As a former Scout, that was a serious letdown.

    Reply
  29. Ryan Cook

    I feel that I took from scouting what I could. I think it’s important to remember that we are taking scouting to the gospel and not the gospel to scouting. I think it’s even more important for young men to earn the Duty to God award. Looking back at my scouting years, the whole process from bobcat to eagle, I’d say it is a good tool, but only one. I think it’s a good opportunity for young men to apply what they learn in quorums. I think back and regret things like quorum meetings that are almost entirely devoted to scout-related things. We should use the program better, as long as we keep the priorities straight.

    It’s also important to remember that it’s not an essential part of the church. It’s not a world-wide thing. Having served a mission in Russia, the church got along fine without scouting. I do feel that if they did have an outside auxiliary like scouting, it’d be easier to keep young men active in the church, however.

    Reply
  30. GeneN

    Want an “outsiders” perspective?

    Its simple… the LDS PROGRAM DOESN’T DO “SCOUTING” – it does a morphed version that at one time was Scouting but no longer is. Consider:

    In a “traditional” or “community” troop:

    We camp Friday and Saturday nights, and come home on Sunday. LDS troops? NOPE.
    We have the boys run the meetings. LDS? Nope.
    Our older boys learn to work with younger troop members – one big family. LDS? NOPE.
    Traditional troops don’t teach merit badges in meetings… especially not Eagle Required. Those the boys are expected to take initiative and get them done. LDS troops? NOPE.
    Earning the rank of Eagle in a traditional troop is rare and special. LDS Troop? NOPE.
    Earning the rank of Eagle by age 13 in a traditional troop? VERY RARE. LDS Troop? NOPE.
    16 year old Scouts work and teach and set the example for 11 year old new Scouts. LDS Troop? NO… off to Varsity or Venture.
    We run our own church services out on outings. LDS Troop? NOPE.
    Our leaders are there because the WANT to be there. LDS Troop? “JUST GOT CALLED 2 DAYS AGO”
    Scouts are experienced and well behaved. LDS Troop? Mostly… but out of all the bad troops at camp, 90%+ are LDS in my experience.

    Allow me to illustrate it another way – to me, its like your church looks at Little League and says “Man.. that’s a great program. Let’s partner with them and get our boys involved.” So you do… and then you have to change it. 4 strikes per kid would make it better. 2 outs per inning would be better… change coaches three times in a season because the Bishop says to… Make sure every kid is a hitting champion or golden glove so that they will accomplish more in life later.

    You take a great thing and your morph it until it doesn’t work. The worst part is that you are changing and ruining the program for all the community troops as you make your changes.

    I wish you all very well and hope for the best… but Scouting was not and never has been a church program. It is a community program run and led by the boys, from ages 11 to 18. As a unit… not three or more different groups of boys. Period.

    Reply
  31. CJ

    This is the same problem the LDS church has with home teaching, visiting teaching, temple attendance, missionary work, and a host of other callings and responsibilities including scripture study, personal prayer, and so on. We do great with the big stuff, but in the day today things we tend to only do enough to get by. I have been in several congregations and in my experience there is an average of 10 to 20 families that do everything they are asked to do and the rest do not. More than once I have been an organization leader in a very large ward and had no one I could call to assist me because either no one would accept the calling or, if they did accept it, they would not do it. It starts with our own testimony. This is what will motivate us to serve to our best in our callings. I have served in scouting. I currently serve as the Cub Scout committee chair because my son is in the pack and, despite the fact that I have another very busy leadership calling, the bishop could not find anyone who would/could do it.

    https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2006/10/the-power-of-a-personal-testimony?lang=eng

    Reply
    1. Steve

      The BSA is not the gospel. The majority of the problems I have with the scouting program in the church is – people think it is.

      The Gospel is perfect. The scouting program is far, far from perfect. And it is offensive to dismiss the concerns of those who have had negative experiences in the program because they “don’t do it the right way”.

      Reply
    2. Bryan L.

      This arrogant attitude about people who don’t love scouts is the one common thread I’ve seen in every long-time scouter I’ve known.

      The thing you fail to acknowledge is that the Gospel of Jesus Christ will bring joy to EVERY SOUL ON EARTH. Scouting will not. It isn’t a path to salvation, it isn’t the words spoken by the son of God, and although it may be enjoyable for many people, THERE ARE PEOPLE IN THIS WORLD WHO DON’T LIKE CAMPING! I can fully implement every aspect of scouting with 100% implementation, and it is still an outdoors program, no matter if there are a couple of badges for painters or people who like the indoors. Scouting is an outdoor program. Look at the requirements for rank advancement – camping requirements make up 1/3 to 1/2 of the rank advancement requirements!

      Whether you realize it or not, everybody doesn’t have to like outdoors, tying knots, and identifying plants and animals in their local area. The gospel is about conversion and becoming more like our Father in Heaven. Scouts is not about conversion, it is about learning skills and checking things off that many kids SIMPLY DO NOT ENJOY…no matter how much of the program they implement.

      Please accept that just because you liked being outdoors doesn’t mean we all need to enjoy it to be saved.

      Reply
  32. Kevin Gecowets

    In 27 years as an LDS Scout volunteer I’ve seen the good, bad, and ugly of LDS Scouting. There are troops that run youth led programs. There are wards where the Young Women are better campers and outdoors(wo)men than the Scouts. There are wards where there are two scout aged boys. There are wards and stakes that work extensively with the district and just as many who wouldn’t know how.

    A common thread with the best Scout troops. The Bishop is/was a trained scouter and knows the commitment of the SM and CC positions.

    My own boys and youngest daughter wanted to do Scouting after age 16. The YW and YM are not running the program. So we made the commitment in addition to YM/YW to join a Venture Crew, along with Mom and Dad as leaders. My boys are the first LDS OA brothers that weren’t “sash and dash” in recent memory.

    But remember the church is not scouts and scouts is not the church. The sheer number of activities and meetings that LDS/Mormons commit to make full activity, to the level of the community members, in Scouting difficult. Unless you are like us and decide that Scouting will be the extra curricular focus for the family outside church.

    Reply
  33. Tom Brand

    What church members need to realize is what Lord Baden Powell said about Scouting and religion:

    “There is no religious “side” of the movement. The whole of it is based on religion, that is, on the realization and service of God.

    If more members were to understand that the BSA is a religious movement we may be leaps and bounds ahead of where we are. Just like Elder Packer’s talks on the dissemination of the priesthood throughout the world has been accomplished in excellence by the church, the power of the priesthood is lacking in many ways. It is the same with the boy scout program church wide. We’ve done a good job getting everyone registered on paper but the program lacks the power necessary to change the lives of these young men because it isn’t being properly implemented.

    Reply
    1. AM

      “…the BSA is a religious movement…”
      Then I ask sir, whose religion? Yours? I do not believe the BSA was started as an arm of the LDS church, or any specific church for that matter.

      Reply
    2. Bryan L.

      If it were a religious organization, why is the administration paid such high salaries? Shouldn’t they be volunteering their time?

      The BSA may have been a religious movement in the beginning, but has become little more than a bureaucratic organization with overpaid leaders. I believe it has changed many lives throughout the country, but I believe its effectiveness was diminished as more rules and regulations have been added by uninspired people.

      Reply
  34. Darren

    I was YM president for three years. It was a cultural problem; some parents didn’t like scouts because of its focus on ranks and badges that were not relevant to their boys. Yes, we have an Art and Music merit badge, but clearly the program is designed from a certain type of kid who likes camping and all that outdoors stuff. The irony is that I own an outdoor specialty shop and love camping and kayaking and canoeing and all that stuff, and some of my boys liked camping too, others didn’t, so they didn’t fully participate and as a result felt as if they were somehow inferior because they weren’t as outdoorsy as some of the more gregarious kids. They were brilliant musicians, composers, artists and were very active in civic activities. Scouts had nothing for them.

    Don’t tell me they “just didn’t apply themselves” or some other excuse. Some kids don’t like Scouts. If they’re Methodists, no problem. If they’re LDS, they’re going to be either forced to participate in activities they don’t like or don’t attend.

    I am in favor of divorcing the Scouting program from the YM program. The Church tells YW to prepare for the temple. The Church tells YM to go camping and stuff. Why not have a YM program modeled after the YW program? Sure, there are significant gender differences, but the model for the YW is successful.

    FWIW, my son is an Eagle and loved the outside stuff (the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree). I don’t have an axe to grind with the BSA in general, I just think it doesn’t meet the needs of all the YM, so it is de facto exclusionary. Even if you implement the full program.

    Reply
    1. RJ

      Exactly! No one would sign their son up for wrestling if he had no interest. People mistake the scouting program being “inspired” for being “required”.
      Honestly though, IMO all this discussion doesn’t matter. WHEN the scouting program caves to outside societal pressures the church will part ways. It’ll happen within the next decade. The BSA successfully sat on the fence with the latest decision to try to appease everyone. It won’t last long. Prepare for a LDS world without scouting. I do fully expect an extended duty to God program with some outdoors segment to replace scouting.

      Reply
  35. Jack Sanford

    I have always admired the Young Women Personal Progress program (long before the current Duty to God program was rolled out). As a bishop and member of YM presidencies, I have always felt torn between the two programs; Scouting and Duty to God (yes, I know they overlap, but I could never fully wrap my heart and brain around them at the same time). I only have to look at the plaques in the hallway of our ward house. For every 10 Eagle Scout names on the board, there is only one Duty to God. I appreciate Mat’s article and his identifying the situations and problems, as well as the other suggestions for improvement suggested by others in the forum. In the end, helping the boys build their testimonies and prepare for life’s challenges (physical, social, mental and spiritual) should be at the heart of any program.

    Reply
  36. J Brown

    I’ve been a Den Leader, a Webelos leader, a Cub Committee Chair and a Troop/Varsity/Venture Committee member/Sec/Chair over the last 30+ years. I am a mother to four boys who participated in Scouts and I have a tremendous testimony of Scouting (implemented correctly). Here is another problem I see to add to the list.
    Situation: The Troop program is not following BSA or Church policy (failing to implement the program properly) resulting in improper teaching of the Scouting values and trickling down to boys having social and morality issues.
    Problem: The Scout Leaders dismiss the Troop Committee as being an integral part of the program and do their own thing. The other problem is the Bishopric not being trained so they can understand the proper relationship between the Scout Leaders and the Scout Committee and counsel the Leaders. The secondary problem is this: The Troop Committee has women on board, so they are dismissed by some as not having valid opinions on correct policies or experience in Scouting because they are women – even though they are mothers of the boys involved and have made time to find out the policies. Though the Church has advocated for female expressions and opinions to be valid and needed, there are some men who still don’t accept this and think that women can’t totally understand Scouting because they aren’t men and don’t go on the campouts.
    Here is another problem:
    Situation: We finally get a Varsity Leader who is willing to be trained to do the actual program; he assigns program managers and gets the boys excited. Then they call him to the Bishopric and the program falls apart. Problem: Scouting positions are not valued like they should be. According to the YM General Board, if the Scouting program is functioning – leave the leaders alone! They need to be in there at least three years to make a cohesive program that can be handed down to the next leaders.

    Reply
  37. Ted Jones

    My personal opinion is that the Church remains in scouting primarily because the church has worked so hard over time to gain its influence at the national level of scouting. Through scouting some members of church leadership feel that they can influence other denominations. This is evident by changes brought about by the Church in scouting such as making the Family Life merit badge required.

    Unfortunately, in my experience, the Church has not exerted its influence to the point where those serving in its local units benefit from its vastness. For example, I have yet to see any response to years of inquiring into any efforts to standardize, integrate and automate scouting rechartering and record keeping into the Church’s MLS computer program. Instead, countless hours which adult “volunteers” could be spending on implementing the scouting program instead are WASTED expending time on bureaucratic efforts which the Church could put its clout behind but hasn’t. Anyone who has had to deal with the debacle that is rechartering or who has had to deal with internet advancement would understand this. And, to those of you who may say, there are third party programs which can be purchased, no church sponsored unit should have to expend repeatedly expend funds when the Church could expend much less by standardizing something included for all church units. In any event, my local units have tried various third party programs with limited success and none of them integrates with the Church membership system. Moreover, these third party programs still are limited do the the many short comings in the the antiquated BSA scouting advancement interface. It has been well over ten years since I’ve been told/promised that the scouting advancement program would be improved but, there has been no change. Just go to the internet Advancement page (https://scoutnet.scouting.org/iadv/UI/home/default.aspx) to see that BSA still only supports Internet Explorer.

    I could go on, but I’ll just leave one more thought: if you have NOT had the privilege of actually purchasing advancement badges and merit badges and pins, go sometime to your friendly distribution center and see just what what each of those little patches and pins costs. (I suppose countless volunteer hours and the donations from friends of scouting only go so far.)

    Reply
  38. Alison Moor

    GeneN, very interesting comparisons. Not surprised, but it’s more problematic than I thought.

    Darren, hear hear! I have two current scouts (my four oldest are girls). They like the program (although I think it’s far more convoluted than it needs to be) and have fun—most of the time—sometimes. We have good leaders, but they aren’t über campers and it’s very survivalist focused.

    When I was a kid, I read Boys’ Life more than either of my brothers. It had so many cool things and the boys got badges and awards and uniforms. We had nothing in Primary at all and a booklet to fill in YW. (Wow. Exciting.)

    When I was a youth, the YW Personal Progress program was more of a well-rounded program (with goal categories like “World of Nature” and “Arts” (or something like that). Over the years it became very spiritually focused with the goal of reaching the temple. And after years of work and dozens of projects, the girls get…a metal pendant…usually in Sacrament Meeting. (Court of Honor anyone?)

    As you noted (Darren), having youth programs with such disparate goals (not to mention funding) is nonsensical. If youth should focus on getting to the temple, let’s standardize that for both YW and YM. If they should focus on learning skills and having fun, let’s do that. But let’s not, yet again, push for MORE for the YM, while the YW have always trailed miles behind.

    OK, I’m off to crochet a hot pad. Because girls like that kind of thing.

    Reply
  39. Andy

    I appreciate the article, and the author’s desire to help. I believe that he missed one item from from the table above, as a common viewpoint on why Scouts isn’t fully implemented at the ward level. What do leaders do about the discrepancy between the focus on the Young Men vs. the Young Women. I have been in wards where all of the focus, ward callings, time, money, and thought pours over the BSA and the Young Men. The Young Women, and Primary are often an afterthought. That kind of ‘support’ rubs people the wrong way over time. I would be curious to know what the author’s experience is in addressing that concern.

    Reply
  40. Travis

    I think scouting has a place with our young men, but that goal would be better accomplished by separating the two. I don’t even care if the Church puts money toward it and encourages the participation, but I think it would be doing the church and scouts a favor by allowing boys and leaders that “Want” to volunteer specifically for that program be a part of it and be more committed to it. I am an Eagle Scout and don’t regret it at all, however I think the reality of it is that the YM program needs to be more adaptable to the boy’s interests and desires and YM Leaders are there to help tie the gospel into that and teach Christ Like Principles. They should be more like a “3rd Party” other than their parents or bishop to help be a Big Brother to help mentor the boys in the gospel.

    Too often if you don’t fit the specific scout mold, that boy gets left behind because they aren’t interested. Some kids like sports, music, debate, dance, or some other activity and would rather spend time focusing on that. Yes, I realize there is a “Merit Badge” for that, but I don’t think it is the same. Too often we lose those boys because they are a square peg we are trying to cram into a circle. I love camping, hiking, high adventures, etc, but honestly the thing I remember most is that my leaders cared about me and helped mentor me in life and where there for me when I was struggling.

    Now that I have been a young men’s leader for several years, I really struggle with Scouts in the Church. It doesn’t seem quite right that my testimony has to be tied to a 3rd Party Organization that isn’t the Gospel. Yes, they teach similar principles, but that seems to be changing with the worldly pressures and frankly many of the upper brass of the scout program don’t follow the scout law or oath. Too often they aren’t courteous or humble about it and just like ride you because you are doing it wrong. Yes, scouts can be a missionary opportunity, but too often I have also seen it be the exact opposite. Our neighbors and good friends got really turned off from the church because of the disfunction with the scout program, specifically the die hards that “knew everything” and wouldn’t let others shine. Key Scouter’s meeting were Rant Sessions about how everyone was doing it wrong.

    At the end of the day, I don’t care if my boy or one of the boys I help mentor becomes an eagle scout. I hope they become “Disciples of Christ”. Can Scouts help with that, sure! However, I have seen people learn great principles in other activities like sports, music, or anything that they put their minds too. Therefore, I think we need to find a way to help all the YM and YW no matter their interest. The 13th Article of faith says, “If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.”

    All this said, I am not the prophet and I will follow the prophet, but I really think if we don’t change some things, we are going to keep losing some of our youth, especially in this information society we live in.

    Reply
    1. KJ

      Amen! BSA is not entitled to inspiration for our YM so why do we let them determine the agenda for our Priesthood activities. Isn’t it the stewardship of the Priesthood to determine Priesthood activities NOT a BSA employee?

      Reply
  41. L. Rivera

    My husband grew up in another country, no BSA in his LDS training. He served a mission, loves the gospel and is a wonderful man! As a father, graduate student, full-time high school teacher and athletic coach he is extremely busy. They keep calling him to scouts and he does not love it! While he tries to read and understand the program, he is almost never able to attend training and he is frustrated trying to implement a program that is so foreign to him.

    Reply
  42. Donna Stapley

    The scouting and YM program in our ward was wonderful. The scout leaders were very involved and many boys were able to obtain their merit badges.

    The problem I had with scouting involved the scouting commissioner who was over our Unit. When my son achieved his Eagle, I had to buy the Eagle awards. I went to the scouting office to do this, but because it was the end of December, they were doing inventory. I begged and pleaded with them to sell me the kit and they wouldn’t. I told them I would pay cash, whatever they needed, I just needed the Eagle awards. They wouldn’t give it to me. I saw our Unit Commissioner walking down the hall, talking to some other scout leaders. I approached him and told him my problem of trying to get the Eagle awards. He barely gave me the time of day, telling me to find someone else who had recently obtained their Eagle awards and ask to borrow theirs.

    I asked him who else had recently obtained their Eagle award. He couldn’t help me, he just told me to ask my ward leaders, then he hurried away.

    When we have “Friends of Scouting” that money pays the commissioners wages. When the commissioner doesn’t do anything to help me, when I’m really in a bind and begging for help, and he does nothing to help me, then I don’t want to support him. He didn’t support me.

    I give money for my sons to do scouting, but I never pay for the “Friends of Scouting” anymore. I would rather give it to the ward scouting budget.

    Reply
    1. S M

      Sorry that happened that way.

      Unit Commissioners are not paid. They are volunteers. BSA Commissioners are all volunteers, from the Unit Commissioner serving you locally to the National Commissioner.

      That being said, he should have been more helpful, but your Scoutmaster is really who would have been best placed to help. Unit Commissioners usually only visit the troop about once per month, and while they get reports on how many youth are advancing, they don’t necessarily ever even know the names of the Eagles. I was a District Commissioner, so I have an idea how this works. I have not been directly involved with LDS Scouting, so some of its “unique features” I only know from a distance. I will say it is unheard of for the boy or his family to have to purchase the Eagle Scout Award recognition kit, at least in non-LDS units, that would never happen. Some places it is paid for out of council funds and shipped to the Scoutmaster once the approved application has been processed, other places the troop pays, but never the award recipient.

      Often there is a bit of a delay in getting the Eagle application fully processed at council and national, and until that is done it is impossible for a council to give out any part of the recognition kit. Also, without proof of advancement in hand, most scout shops will not sell ranks even to adult leaders (the reason behind that are rather unpleasant and best not discussed publicly). In the older days of paper advancement it usually took 4-6 weeks after a Board of Review for the application to clear at national and Eagle recognition to be available, and so we usually suggested not scheduling the Court of Honor for at least two months.

      BSA does have paid Executives.

      Reply
  43. G. Kearney

    I have been involved with scouting both within the church and the community for nearly all my life. I have been in the scouting program or had my children in scouting programs in the United States, Canada, Australia, and South Africa. I have attended world and national jamborees and served as the national LDS Jamboree Chaplain in Australia.

    Scouting can be a great program for young people, both boys and girls if you let it be so. In Australia, where church based scouting is very rare we had many LDS youth in the program both boys and girls they did well my son even got the Australian version of Eagle Scout. But the struggle we had with the Church at times boarders of the silly. Such as if a girl could substitute her young women’s recognition for the priesthood requirements for the On My Honor Award.

    Do we want to improve scouting? Then follow the scouting program as outlined by Baden-Powell stop running the program for the youth and let the youth run it. Young Women should be part of the venturing crews in the church. I can think of no better way to keep the boys interested and prepare the young people for missions and life. If scouting is good for the boys, teaching them citizenship, leadership and self reliance, then those same qualities are good for our young women as well.

    It is long past time to join the rest of the world and have scouting be the activity arm of young men’s and young women’s program. The BSA permits it, and in truth if the LDS Church were to go to the BSA and say that would like to have all the girls 8-18 do scouting I bet the BSA would agree to that as well. The lack of scouting in the Church overseas is, in the cases I have seen, a real problem as the young men’s program really is non-existent without it. It showed in our Young Men’s activity rates in Australia.

    Reply
  44. Scott McMarrow

    My son hates going to Priesthood on Sunday. He doesn’t like wearing the Sunday uniform of a white shirt and a tie. He finds the whole Duty to God program irrelevant to his basement dweller lifestyle. He would prefer that we dump The Bible and The Book of Mormon for some more modern books like The Maze Runner. The leadership should have a parallel program that allows him and his disinterested friends to shoot hoops and play video games during that time of Church. Not.

    Scouting is the program for our Young Men until the leadership provides another direction. Go get trained by the Council which is supported by your Friends of Scouting contributions. If you don’t know how to organize and run the programs (Troop/Team/Crew), it isn’t going to magically happen. Buy a uniform. If you don’t wear it, the boys won’t wear theirs. (I came to football practice without my uniform ZERO times in High School.) Planning takes places during non-activity nights with the youth leadership. (Remember… the Scout Master is the master of the scouts while the youth are the leaders. Adults facilitate the youth.) There is no better way to lose boys on a night when it is designated as a planning night. If the boys are sitting on their butts… that is a problem. They need to be moving e.g. sharpening knives, climbing, and building fires. Many have heard the phrase that we should put the outing back into scouting. Go camping and actually stay later on a Saturday versus packing up prior to lunch. Challenge the youth by camping in extreme weather conditions.

    I am grateful for the Scouting program. Many of my former Scouts are adults who have gone in many directions. There is an eternal bond with those men as we both learned a lot from each other. I feel that thru Scouting I have had a part in assisting them to become good men of faith, family, friends, and community.

    My 11 yr old Leader in Newark, OH was Brother Jim Coots. I was the only 11 yr old Scout. Each week we had a great program that launched my excitement for Scouting. Thank you Brother Coots. I can never repay you but I honor you by doing the same for my 11 yr old Scouts. My Scout Masters were Erskin, Perkins, Watson, and my father.

    “When asked where religion came into Scouting and Guiding, Baden-Powell replied, It does not come in at all. It is already there. It is a fundamental factor underlying Scouting and Guiding.” (Religion and the Boy Scout and Girl Guides Movement–an address, 1926).

    Reply
    1. Bryan L.

      Your attitude to the people who have a hard time with scouts is one of the biggest gripes I have with the program. For anybody who wasn’t spoon-fed scouting as a kid, we’ll never understand the ‘eternal bond’ you scouts share. Even as a scoutmaster, I didn’t feel that bond with other scouters. I DID feel like I was stretched thin with time spent going to unhelpful trainings and committee meetings, and my bond with my family suffered.

      I don’t believe the scouting program today is anything Baden-Powell intended it to be. The over-inflated salaries of the BSA administration, the political direction, and the looking-down attitude of the long-time scouters makes the BSA an organization that alienates more than it embraces.

      When I was released as a scoutmaster after three years, I suddenly had a lot of extra time each week and the bond with my family was improved with that extra time…

      Reply
      1. Scott McMarrow

        Without knowing me, you are unable to determine attitude/tone.

        Did you attend Scout camp? When you spend a week with a youth… it provides you with an incredible window into both better understanding them and their home environment. Seven days plus camping is a lot of potentially positive time with a youth. By doing things with them it creates a bond/shared experience, especially when those activities are challenging e.g. the boys who went snow caving when its was -30 have something that they will always talk about when they see myself and other adults who were with them. There had to be some positive experiences for yourself after 3 years.

        Scouting does take time and your time with the youth is greatly appreciated. The impact on one youth will echo for eternity.

        It takes a community to deliver Primary, Sunday School, Scouting, etc… While I have entrusted my children with others… they are doing the same with me. We all give of our time to service others. I am impressed by the adults who continue to give of their time and monies well after their youth are no longer in the program. They view it was part of their Citizenship.

        It takes a professional staff to run Scouting. I was with some Council workers yesterday. One of them shared that he has his children enrolled in the ACA as he cannot afford the option provided by the local council. He and the others in the room do not have over inflated salaries. Their work is appreciated.

        Scouting welcomes volunteers. Any bad experiences are regrettable. We are a collection of imperfect people.

        BSA has values, not a set political direction. BSA invites those who will abide by the values to join.

        Reply
  45. Courtney

    From a mother of a recent Eagle Scout, and husband who has been a scout leader of every kind for many many years, there are just way too many training meetings and board meetings and committee meetings. Then the leaders have no time for family and it is just scout stuff all the time. It is so hard to be supportive of my husband and son being fully committed and involved with the program because if you do it correctly, the family suffers and the leader is always away at scouting meetings/training. Just my perspective right now and over the many years we’ve been involved in scouting.

    Reply
  46. Doug Carlile

    I have been a Scouter for about 40 years – both in primarily LDS and nonLDS areas. I do agree that we LDS folks have a Scouting problem but it related to vision not program.
    1. When Scouting leaders are chosen and called did anyone sit down with that leader and spouse and fully explain what was expected. If both can’t agree and accept with full commitment, then don’t install them.
    2. When asked to serve did anyone think to inquire about the other commitments of the individual? If other commitments will compromise their ability to serve they are just being set up for failure.
    3. Do those of you who think Duty to God is the end all or a substitute for activity ever really analyze a couple of things? Primary aim of the LDS Church is to strengthen home and family. Duty to God is designed to do that by having youth work with their parents and share with their siblings those things they are doing for Duty. It is not a check list for the YM leader to monitor. Please take a long look at Preach My Gospel and Teaching in the Savior’s Way then evaluate how those guidelines correspond to Duty to God.
    4.. Activity Night (Scout meeting) is not a nursery where we drop of our youth so we can have a couple of hours without their bother. As a Scoutmaster of 17 boys at one time I could not have survived without parent involvement. At one summer camp we had 14 boys and 9 dads in camp.
    5. The two best 11 years Scout leaders I have ever seen were two mothers. If you want to wrestle with a bear just get between her and her “cubs.”
    6. If I were a bishop staffing a ward before any other positions were filled I would choose my Young Women president, Young Man president, Primary president and Relief Society president. Then I would ask them for suggestions of their supporting cast – including the Scout committee. After that I would fill the balance of the ward organization with the other members.
    7. The two best assistant Scoutmasters I have served with were a nonLDS father and a father who was great with boys even though he wasn’t attending Church. Take away the glass ceiling when filling positions.
    8. Define and then expect a certain base limit of commitment from parents. More than once when I have been told there weren’t enough dads willing to help on a campout I told the committee chair to visit the families who “couldn’t” go and explain to parents and youth why Johnny couldn’t go on the campout. That never failed to remove some of the “couldn’t goers.”
    9. People will sacrifice or pay when they believe they are receiving value in return. I love seeing YM earn Eagle Rank but not if it is diluted by “chicken” projects that don’t challenge them or if the Scouting values are not imbedded if their life choices. When we short change the true Scouting vision and wonder why parents are not supportive take another look at the value we are (or are not) providing.
    10. Part of the missing parent support is lack of understanding the expectations. It is not a freeby. Sleeping bags, wood carving kits, pocket knives, etc. cost hard earned dollars and kids quickly get the message if they are begrudgingly equipped with sub quality gear. It probably cost me over $3000 for each of my sons to be in Scouting even though the church “funded” the program but when I did my parenting correctly it was worth every cent. Was I 100% successful – no but mostly yes.

    I fully support Scouting in the church – not just because it’s in the handbook but because of the results I have seen in boys who are now fathers. It works but not if we only give selected parts of it that appeal to adult leaders. It works when the YM are involved in leadership, planning and managing the program – fully invested, fully implemented and consistently carried out.

    Battery warning just came on so I better clam up.

    Reply
    1. G

      I agree my best scoutmaster was my first scoutmaster. He was not active in the church but he never gave up on us, loved us and cared for us like we were his kids. Amazingly because of us and the love of god and respect for him we had, when all 8 of us got eagle, he went to church and has been active for 27 years. We brought him back and he changed our lives. The two nonmembers in our troop got baptized and went on missions. All of us troop 644 boys are still active and got our Eagles and have worked in young mens. Our bishop thought outside of the box and really used inspiration. He found a man who was a passionate scouter, loved working with scouts and asked him to lead our troop. My webelos leader was 75 yrs old when he led us. My scoutmaster was 55. So yea think outside the box and find leaders who loves working with scouts and loves the program. Ask them to run the program and it will grow scouting works. That in my opinion is the difference between lds and non lds scouts. Non LDS scout units ask for volunteers who will stay in scouts. LDS units call the leaders who could care less about scouts and then the boys suffer. Nothing in the church handbook for scouts says scoutmasters can only be members. If you find a parent who wants to help, use them and you will se success. I volunteer for scouts because I have a vested interest, my own two boys. I want to make sure my kids have a successful scout program so I have volunteered to make sure my kids get the same uplifting, positive excellent scouting opportunity. If you find people who want to work with scouts use them. Scouting has to be led by people who want to have scouts and believe in scouts. If not me than who, If not now than when.

      Reply
    2. John

      Doug,

      Yes! Yes! Amen! Great comments. Thank you.

      When I was in the bishopric, issuing a call to a potential scout leader was a different, special experience. We specifically told people not to respond with a “yes” or “no” right then. We would fully explain the heavy time commitment, the trainings, etc., and answered questions. We would not accept the knee-jerk “yes” that we Mormons have been trained to give and we would speak to them in a few days after they had a chance to discuss the matter as a family, etc. We would also make clear that “no” was perfectly valid. A calling of that magnitude may just not work for some at a given time of life. That’s ok. We explained that we would rather have a “no” and find something better for them than get a “yes” and have them not be able to be fully committed.

      This method worked very well. Receiving a “yes” in this scenario is much more meaningful than getting a “yes” because we have been trained never to say “no.” I would recommend this procedure to all bishoprics when it comes to scout callings. (This method would probably be better, frankly, for any calling, but especially time-consuming, heavy-commitment callings like scouting.)

      For this to happen, however, you need a bishopric that has the vision of what the scouting program can do for its boys.

      We had a small group of boys in the group (less than ten), and it was a remarkably good group. They had great leaders.

      Reply
  47. Rob Anderson

    I’ve been a young men’s president for the past 11 years in three wards and a stake (outside of Utah). I have lived in three countries, but have raised my kids in the eastern USA. I have two boys of my own in the program. I support it because it is the church’s program and it is good, I like it, but I feel your analysis is extremely short sighted. You speak of the USA and the church as one in the same. Click on the BSA link on the church’s website and all you get is American content. The church is global and while you know that, your words show you really don’t get that. Everything is now standardized in all auxiliaries across the world but one thing, BSA. How is that a good thing? More than half the church membership has no interest in becoming an “eagle” and a patriot of the USA, nor should they, it has nothing to do with the gospel. That is not to mention the imbalance in the program’s focus between the YM and the YW. Without knowing anything about you, I bet you are from Utah and have always lived in Utah. The affiliation with the BSA has no place in a global church. Inequality between YW and YM has no place in the church. The scout program has no place in the church, it does not prepare a young man to serve a mission and prepare to be a worthy husband and father and Melchizedek priesthood holder like the Duty to God program does. My guess is the scout program is gone or replaced with a church program within 10 years, hopefully less. It stays because our leaders grew up with it during its glory days, but times are changing and I believe our leaders understand that.

    Reply
    1. G. Kearney

      You know scouting exists in other countries besides the USA. But let’s us take a look at what happens to the youth programs of the church without it shall we. Lets look at Australia as an example. Prior to 1988 the LDS Church despite being a tiny percentage of the population of that nation was the largest sponsor of scouting there.

      In the years that followed the World Jamboree in Sydney and a series of unfortunate events that transpired there LDS Scouting went into a dramatic decline to the point where today there are but four LDS scouting groups left. So the church ended scouting in Australia and replaced it with? Nothing. There is no young men’s activity program. Some wards do better than others but it is hit or miss at best. The results in activity rates of young men speak for themselves.

      Some young LDS members and their families still see the value in it. LDS boys and girls continue to be scouts in Australia (like mot of the world Scouts Australia is today coed) and continue to find value in that. Scouting is one of the very few institutions found world wide. The Church could use it and the scouts would welcome them to do so. I once spoke to the Chief Scout of New Zealand who expressed her frustration at the loss of LDS Scouting in that nation as well.

      Scouting need not and in fact is not a USA/BSA exclusive thing but the Church must come to understand that it will likely never have the pull in international scouting that it enjoys with the BSA. Once over that international scouting could well serve the church and the youth of the church we need only have a vision beyond the confines of the LDS/BSA experience.

      Reply
  48. KJ

    I have to disagree. I’m an Eagle Scout. My father and grandfather and 7 uncles are Eagle Scouts. I currently serve in YM and have been a scout leader. I’m currently the dad of cub scouter and a full-time educator of students ages 14-18. My opinion is that scouting will go the way of other outdated programs in the Church after President Monson passes away. We are a global Church and BSA is an American program. The Church has already put into place other LDS-specific programs that duplicate what scouting does when it is expertly performed. BSA has a LOAD of uncomfortable political issues around it that have jeopardized both it and the Church by extension. Most of all, it’s rarely practical or enjoyable. I didn’t enjoy teaching the merit badges and rarely felt that the young men enjoyed learning — did I mention that I teach this age for a living and LOVE teaching! If a professional teacher who is a 3rd generation Eagle Scout with BSA training on top of professional degrees can’t make it fun and meaningful then I don’t know that you can blame that on not fully executing the program. Sometime I ask myself why a church, any church, would expend its limited and sacred resources to some of the trivial, outdated, politically motivated activities of the BSA. In a time when youth are struggling to focus on the moral basics why do throw so many tangents at them? The Duty to God program and uplifting Priesthood activities including camping and other outdoor excursions speak more directly to what we are seeking to do — build testimony.

    Reply
    1. John

      Funny how two people in the same church can have such different experiences with the same program. My boys love doing merit badges. But guess what? If a boy hates merit badges, that is not the end-all and be-all of the scout program. Advancement is only one eighth of the methods to use to help them.

      One of things that inspires me most about our Church is that we are not just about building testimony. That is one of the most important things we do, to be sure. But we have a church that also cares about someone’s financial well being. We have a church that wants to prepare boys to receive a good education. We are not just about teaching them doctrine, but also about helping them explore potential careers, about giving them a taste of the wonders the outdoors has to offer, etc. etc. We are about creating good citizens, not just good church members, who will become productive contributors to society.

      The scout program is an amazing tool for accomplishing the building of testimonies–plus much more. I hope the church never casts aside this powerful tool that is effective in the hands of all who truly understand its potential and have a vision for how we can fully tap its vast potential.

      Reply
  49. Jeff Anderson

    I am sorry, but I cannot agree with the argument to increase the influence of scouting in LDS wards. I was an Eagle Scout, and had a grand time as a youth, but when I was called to be a youth leader, I was very disappointed with what I saw in the scouting program. I found it staffed with men who never grew up, and had little interest in teaching the boys to be adults. Instead, I saw men who saw scouting as an avenue to continue their own childhood. Rather than guiding the boys, I saw them feeding the problems that the boys had. Recently our ward has called some very good youth leaders, and there has been an increase in missionary service. They have not over emphasized the program. I found the roundtables to be insufferable. I was absolutely disgusted by the behavior that I saw there, and wrote a letter to the scout office about the matter. At the time we had a scouter in our ward, who later received the Silver Beaver Award. He came to me and said that “There were a lot of people looking for me.” The implication was that there were “scouters” out there who wanted to do me bodily harm because of my complaint. I am grateful that the scouting program is seeing diminishing influence in our LDS wards. It has diminished the low-class influence that seems to be drawn to the program.

    Reply
  50. Travis

    I think my other issue with scouting is that Scouts tends to run the Priesthood instead of the other way around. The problem with turning over the “activity arm” of the church is that the tail wags the dog in many cases. That is I guess why I think it would be better to separate the two, so they can function the way they are supposed to. Members shouldn’t be expected to be “Scouters”, when scouts really has nothing to do with their salvation. Sure it is a great organization and in most cases, it can’t hurt, but it shouldn’t be the “Catch All” organization to keep boys engaged.

    Here is an example. I went to college. I got my degree in Accounting. I am a big believer in higher education and I think it could be a huge benefit to everyone. However, the reality is that College isn’t for everyone. Some people aren’t interested. They would prefer to pursue a career that doesn’t require it such as being a contractor, plumber, electrician, or business owner. Most of them are very successful and provide well for their families and contribute a TON to society.

    The Scouting Program is great! It does a lot of good in the world and is great for a lot of kids. However, it isn’t for everyone and I don’t think it’s place is leading our Priesthood Quorums, which is essentially how it would work if it were fully embraced.

    “Render therefore unto Cæsar the things which be Cæsar’s, and unto God the things which be God’s.”

    Reply
      1. Travis

        What happened to: A Scout is … helpful, friendly, courteous, kind…

        That was mean’t for the moderator because it looked like my post wasn’t going through.

        Reply
  51. DarthOpto

    Personally, I hated scouting growing up. It was a miserable experience, and the leaders were jerks. I would be completely happy if the church pulled out of the scouting program altogether. I believe that the Duty to God program should be the main focus of the YM program.

    When I was growing up in a small branch in Maine, we had the option of Seminary on Wednesday night or Scouts. I chose Seminary, because I got more out of it than I did from Scouting because the Scout leader was a jerk.

    Reply
  52. Anson Service

    From what I have learned, the Boy Scouts of America is a far different organization today than it was even 20 years ago. The CEO is paid millions for a salary, and executives are also paid so much that it is tough to justify donating money to the BSA when the execs are flying first class. That is not being thrifty. Add to that the shirts and pants are all too expensive, the fees are too high, and the camps cost too much. Why did they need to change uniforms. Was the last design not working any more? I see it as a money making endeavor now for the executives over anything else. I could go on and on. BSA needs revamped before I will allow my children to participate and before I will donate another dime to BSA>

    Reply
    1. Travis

      I agree! It does seem to be very money motivated any more. I think Scouts back in the Baden Powell era was much different then it is now. It was hip and cool for that era and more pure!

      I think where the church dumps millions into it and essentially props it up, the scout program has no “competitive motivation” to make it a better program because it doesn’t operate in a free market so to speak.

      If they are truly using the patrol method like they say, they would figure out a way to use more feedback from the youth on how to make it more relevant and popular in the modern world without sacrificing values.

      If the program can’t operate without the churches involvement financially, then does it really deserve to stay? Is it really the quality of program our youth need in the modern age? Just thoughts.

      Reply
  53. Jandb

    I really struggle with scouts. My son was born with several severe heart defects. We have worked very hard to make his life as normal as possible despite his heart problems. And we were very successful, I can’t even think of a time before he turned 12 that he felt any different from kids with “normal” hearts. But all that changed with scouts. It is a constant struggle trying to help him earn merit badges when the requirements are things he physically can’t do. The camping one is almost impossible because he can’t go above 6500 ft without oxygen, and his troop almost always goes above that. He has been left out of scout camp for the past 2 years because they have gone to too high of an elevation for him. We actually ended up paying over $250 last summer to go to a camp in ID with my brother-in-laws troop, just so he could go to camp and get the camping nights and earn the merit badges. And then this year they were planning on going to another camp way above his limits. He was so disappointed and felt really left out. So I had to become “that parent” and make a stink until they changed it. There is no way he will be able to do the requirements for the hiking or biking or swimming badges, so we will need to figure out accommodations for his “disability”. The thing is, he never felt “disabled” until he joined scouts. If scouts were not the young men’s program in the church, it is definitely not something he would join, it just is not where his interests lie. But because your activity in young men’s is judged by if you attend scouts, he goes. Honestly, I am trying to get him through his eagle as fast as we can so he can just be done. And in the end, has scouts helped his testimony grow? Not yet. But has his involvement in scouts made him feel “less than”, left out and disabled? Yes. And that is not ok for church to make him feel that way.

    Reply
    1. wiley

      Hi Jand,

      You really need to have a talk with your Bishop or Stake President about that. Scouts is not exclusive (at least not here in Canada) to just the able bodied. We even have a special award for those that show fortitude in the face of adversity, I have seen a few of those awarded.
      As a Group Commissioner, I have final approval on all outings and if my Scoutmaster ever pulled this stunt, I would be pulling him into the Bishop’s office for a little one-sided chat. He would also be told in no uncertain terms that all events WILL be planned so that your son can participate in EVERYTHING and be submitted in writing a full year in advance for my approval.
      Sometimes you have to make unpopular decisions and I’ve had to make my share.
      Sometimes it just takes one man with enough forward vision to stand up for whats right. “Choose the Right” I believe the slogan goes…

      Sometimes the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Sometimes its the other way around. This is one of those times.
      On top of that, what are the boys being taught!
      “You are LDS so you are more special than other people?” “You don’t need to have compassion on those that are weaker or afflicted?”
      I would love to see the reaction if your Scoutmaster who is excluding your son was to have to answer those questions to the Saviour.

      Reply
  54. James

    The other problem with Scouting in the church is that too many leaders value the uniform above the boy. Uniforms are used by the military, scouts, and gangs. Uniforms represent a cohesive unit. But uniform extremism also creates segregation between those who love scouting and those who do scouting because its part of the program. I personally love what scouting does for boys. But the culture of scouting is a far cry from what my boys find interesting, fun, engaging, and relevant. It has nothing to do with cool or fashionable.

    Scout leaders in the church need to know that scouting in the church is a forced deal unlike other extra-curricular activities. It is not gospel doctrine or essential for salvation. It is an inspired program. Not a perfect program nor is it led by men (at the top) who hold the priesthood and serve as Gods mouth piece. By acknowledging this they can better serve all boys in the ward and stake and get over the fact that not everyone loves scouting and not loving scouting does not make them bad, less worthy, less important or less stalwart boys.

    my .02 cents

    Reply
  55. Bryan L.

    As the 11-year-old scout leader, let me tell you what I perceive as the greatest problem with scouting, and why I believe that if the BSA were a company it would have been bankrupt years ago…

    The very attitude of the scouting program is very elitist. Unlike the Church, where a convert can learn and grow and become one with the saints, the scouting program does NOT operate this way. Everybody who is in the BSA organization is keen to tell you how young they were when they got their eagle, how every son they had was an eagle scout, or how they’ve attended woodbadge 500 times.

    For those of us who weren’t scouts as a youth and are called to the scouting program as adults, we’re not one with the saints/scouts. When they eagle circle gathers at courts of honor, we get to sit with the ladies and the others who aren’t as good as the eagle’s nest. When we talk about activities that sound fun, the gung-ho scout leaders tell why this isn’t good because it isn’t like one of the 12 thousand activities they’ve done. When we get called to scouting, WE have to buy a very overpriced shirt and pants, WE have to pay to attend some training or another, and WE have to figure out which badges to buy and where to put them. When we ask where a badge goes or what the heck silver arrow/wood badge/round table/etc. is, we’re treateed like idiotic second-class citizens who don’t belong among the die-hards. With the scouting program, there is no becoming one with the saints/scouts unless you were raised on a diet of scouting all your life.

    The only thing more frustrating as a newbie scout leader is the lack of intuitive training or useful tools from the BSA. With a website that consists of training about the policies of the BSA and protecting the organization from legal liability, and very little about HOW to actually be an effective leader. The BSA is a great resource for anybody who already knows everything about scouting. For a ‘new convert’ to the program, the fellowshipping from longtime scouters is terrible. If the Church welcomed new converts this way, they would fall away within a few weeks.

    Bottom line? I think the problem with the scouting program is the BSA itself. It’s wonderful to work with the scouts, it’s not so wonderful to work with the scouting program. If it weren’t a calling, I would have stopped going after a month.

    Reply
  56. John W Garrett

    Mat,
    I’m so very grateful that you posted this! The comments that follow your post clearly identify the problems we deal with throughout the church where leaders are called but not adequately trained. I have a strong testimony that anyone who doesn’t love Scouting has not actually experienced Scouting. That is most often caused by untrained leaders. Why is it that whenever we promote training, young men leaders and primary leaders think we say it’s raining and run for cover?? “Let every [one] learn his [or her] duty…” Scouting is an inspired program and builds boys up more effectively than any other method. Sports do not, music does not, theater does not, student government does not. I excelled in all of those areas in high school and college, but only Scouting influenced me to be a man of character. If anyone thinks those other areas builds men of character, you haven’t been watching the news…

    Reply
    1. Travis

      I appreciate your comment, but I can honestly say I have been trained and like one other poster put it, the training is not that good. They don’t really lay it out in a logical way in my opinion. Maybe your training sessions were better than ours. There were just a lot of egos to deal with. Not everyone was this way, but it does seem to be the norm.

      The reality is that Scouts just isn’t for everyone. It is a great program for the right people, but it shouldn’t be a one size fits all approach to inspiring our young men to be disciples of Christ.

      I disagree respectfully 🙂 that Sports, Music, Theater or other activities can’t build the same character. I was very involved in business clubs growing up and looking back I think they at least had an equal or maybe even a better impact on me because it was something I was really interested in. Again, I had a great experience in Scouts because my leaders were balanced and realistic in where Scouts fit in my life. My Young Men’s leaders supported and encouraged those activities and tied it all back to the Gospel at the end of the day.

      Reply
    2. James

      Sorry John but your imperial conclusions are incorrect. Not that they are not true in some circumstances, just far from true for every person and situation.

      I have been trained. I will never ever ever love singing and doing skits with grown men and women at Cedar badge. It creeps me out, is extremely uncomfortable and is not me. Scouting has developed a culture around its core that is not good for every person. The core is great and fantastic. Scouting is not for everyone.

      My boys sports programs are for them. They do get leadership opportunities, they face adversity defeat and rise against it, put mental will and stamina against physical weakness, works as a team, problem solve to ever changing situations. Combined with the Priesthood activities of Duty to God that teach them family, service and God are served before all other things – my sons are doing OK.

      At the end of the day Parents have the responsibility to make sure that whatever activity or group they allow their children to be part of , that the adults at the helm are more interested in building up boys (or girls) than that actual program itself.

      Reply
  57. John W Garrett

    To go just a touch further, prophets have described Scouting as the activity arm of the Aaronic Priesthood. This is often misinterpreted to mean that it is a program of activities. The deeper meaning is that Scouting, effectively applied by inspired leaders, can insure that young men remain active from 8 to 18. Wards with high inactivity rates among deacons, teachers, and priests are consistently not delivering Scouting to their young men. This happens primarily because they don’t seize the opportunity to receive the training they need. Thus, youth, parents and ward members think that Scouting doesn’t offer much because they aren’t actually offering Scouting.

    Reply
  58. O Tan

    You know, as a kid I never really cared for scouting beyond going to scout camp and going on campouts. I didn’t have any kind of a supportive family and I couldn’t afford a uniform, book, anything. I worked my butt off to earn money just to go to scout camp the one year I went and it was fun and I had fun earning the merit badges there but I really don’t see the lifetime impact of scouting. It really bothered me as well that my value and worth in the eyes of the adults in my ward relied heavily on whether or not I ever became an Eagle Scout. I held the rank of Boy Scout (never even made Tenderfoot) and yet somehow I served a full mission, married in the temple, put in 8 years in the military, have remained married and am raising 4 kids and throughout it all by some apparent miracle, I have been active in the church the whole time and have served in a wide variety of capacities in church units all over the world. Scouting may have some good tools and there may be some good things for youth in it, but involvement in scouting doesn’t make the man and being the world’s greatest scout has nothing at all to do with having a true solid testimony (which is far more valuable than any merit badge or scouting rank). If my sons want to get involved with scouting, I’ll support them all the way but if they don’t, I’m just fine with that too. In my experience and in my honest opinion, scouting is entirely optional and is taken way too seriously by a lot of people, including the author of this article.

    Reply
  59. Mike Chidester

    Scouts is an organization that does a lot of good. As a Young Men’s president in my ward, we spend a lot of time, effort, and expense trying to make scouts effective. But the premise of this post is that “everything scouts does is right; people just need to follow it more closely.” There is no examination of the issues that make scouting unpopular/difficult to implement/disliked by those in the LDS church who faithfully contribute and follow it (because we believe in our leaders’ counsel), but have serious issues with it and are less inclined to just “suck it up” than their parents did. I am one of those people. And as I talk with friends and neighbors, I think this sentiment is growing. Some of the issues are:

    THE CHEESY CULTURE
    When I was a scout, I liked camping and a lot of the activities. But I hated the uniform and the ugly green pants from another generation. I dreaded courts of honor because we would have to do some forced skit that wasn’t funny. I felt like cheers and the general over-the-top excitement that I was supposed to feel at scout camp was forced and unnatural for me. When I get an e-mail from our local council office, each message ends with this phrase: “Have a “Scoutstanding” day.” Scoutstanding? Seriously? If the YMCA or a youth basketball organization approached me like this, I would roll my eyes and discount whatever message they were trying to relay to me. As a 12-year-old I didn’t like it; you can imagine how I feel as an adult. And for those who argue that my YM need to wear their uniforms every mutual activity until they leave for missions, then find something that a guy who drives and dates likes to put on. Many kids just feel weird.

    SIMPLIFY THE PROGRAM
    The fault for not fully implementing the scout program cannot be placed solely on the participants. Think of what is required to fully implement the program. Weekly meetings to get the youth to plan the activities and create a Troop Meeting Plan. Weekly den meetings. Monthly Key Scouter meetings. Scout Committee meetings. Time to plan and prepare for campouts. Board of reviews. Monthly camping trips. Pack meetings. Courts of honor. YM presidency meetings to coordinate with the YM quorums. Stake scout training. Don’t forget to take a Saturday to go to University of Scouting. And in addition to the week at scout camp or varsity camp, it would be great to see you at Wood Badge. And I’m sure I’ve missed something. The LDS Church simplified its meeting schedule to streamline for a world where family time is at a premium and youth are busier than ever. Scouts needs to be streamlined to simplify the program. If you are asking as much as what is listed above, the majority of the world will never fully implement the program.

    CUT THE COST OF SCOUTING IN HALF
    Scouting is expensive. We do a large annual fundraiser to cover most of the cost of scout camp and then equipment. But even that doesn’t fully cover the cost of annual camps, with families covering $50 to $100 per boy Then there are $40 shirts, $10 merit badges, $30 pants, etc. Where I live outside of Utah there is a store that sells second-hand scout shirts. My sister-in-law asked us to go find 15 of them for kids in her ward, because their families were having difficult affording them.

    Then go around and ask people who don’t even have scouts to contribute good money for friends of scouting because…just because. I will pay my annual requested amount for FOS for 17 years before I will have a boy in scouting. Simplify the uniform, the programs, and the top-heavy administration so that these costs are reduced.

    BSA has real issues that it doesn’t seem to be working to address. Until I see some real effort on the part of the scouting organization to solve the problem, criticisms like these sound a bit hollow to me.

    Reply
  60. Jacqueline Hutchins

    I’ve held most of the positions in Cub Scouts, 12 years there, and spent 11 1/2 years as Advancement Chair for our Troop/Team/Crew. I have 3 sons who are Eagle Scouts, earned their DTG, graduated from Seminary, and served missions. Outside Utah but a ward of about 54 YM. I have a real love/hate relationship with BSA. I saw great growth in boys as they got their Eagles (most of our YM did), but as others have said, the money, the manpower, and the time is unreal. I dropped $200-300 quarterly for our COH. Success is not cheap. I would grit my teeth to recharter 3 groups at a cost of $65 (at the time) for the the rechartering fee. That didn’t count the cost per boy and leader. And we had some nonLDS boys, but mutual isn’t always scouts, hello, combined activity? That gets awkward with people if they feel you are proselyting their son. And the boys and girls programs are grossly disproportionate in funding. Our girls did do camping and other activities beyond girls camp, but with so much priesthood holder time going to the boys, it’s hard to have a more robust girl’s program. And yet, I am now in one of those countries where the church no longer uses the scouting program for the boys, and frankly, the program most have here for YM is just sad. Ours is better than some because our YM Pres is the equivalent of an Eagle Scout, and trying to use the outdoor parts of the program to teach the boys some skills. The scouting leadership structure doesn’t fit well with the ward Aaronic Priesthood structure. There are ways it could, but not by using Troop/Team/Crew. And finally, I have a lot of sympathy for the men who are trying to balance as scouting with their other life responsibilities. Most are doing the best they can, and deserve more patience, benefit of the doubt, and support from parents. There’s more but U’ll stop ranting.

    Reply
  61. Todd

    Good to hear the comments of others but we all seem to point the finger at everyone else besides ourselves, just like this article does. Rather than the BSA taking a long hard look in the mirror of how confusing it is to run their entire program they just say we’re not “Running the Program.” Anything that requires months and years of constant training to finally begin to understand the “Program” is in need of a makeover. Real genius is being able to take something complex or large in scope, and be able to simplify it to the point where anyone with little to no experience can understand how you want to program ran. Going to training’s once a month, training camps (Woodbadge, etc….), meetings at least once a week for some scouting activities (not to mentions the hours spent planning those activities), key scouter meetings, meetings, meetings, meetings….is not efficient, it just shows how confusing and complex the “Program” is. (Don’t get me started on Rechartering and Internet Advancement inefficiencies). Please don’t get me wrong because I value scouting and am an Eagle Scout myself, but the reason you have so many deadbeat scout masters is because the “Program” is difficult to understand, it has to become a second job, in addition to being a father and supporting other kids in their other interests. Also, I’m not saying I want scouting or the requirements to be easier, but I want a map or more specific directions of how things should operate. Lastly, those who are complaining about poor scouting programs, look in the mirror and please volunteer YOUR time and dedicate more of YOUR time to helping and not just complaining because too many just complain behind their computers but won’t step up with their personal time. If you want the “Program” ran better, make the package and its contents easier to understand and efficient. Best of wishes to all our fellow scouters out there!

    Reply
  62. Jonathan Duncan

    Wow, brilliant article. A lot of great comments also.

    One thing about the LDS Scouting program that has bothered me is the lack of “dues”. The church pays for the program. That is nice. However, it eliminates one of the key responsibilities that young men should be learning: “working your ticket” (aka hard work and self-reliance).

    The phrase ‘working your ticket’ comes from a story attributed to Baden-Powell: Upon completion of a British soldier’s service in India, he had to pay the cost of his ticket home. The most affordable way for a soldier to return was to engineer a progression of assignments that were successively closer to home.

    Ever watch the movie, “Follow Me Boys”? Where did the boys get all their equipment? They earned the money themselves and paid their dues. How invested were they? 100%. Why? Because when I spend my own money on something, I value it much higher. When something is given to me for free (gee that is nice, but) I do not value it as highly and I usually take it for granted.

    Individual Scouts should take initiative and find ways to earn money through both working and donations. As part of that initiative, individual Scouts should be free to join with other Scouts when necessary to have group fund-raising efforts. Notice I did not mention anything about organization level fund-raising efforts. Scouting should be run by the Scouts. The money should be raised by the Scouts. There are far too many adults/Scouters running the Scouting organizations these days. The ideal is for adults/Scouters to be mentors and guides, resources at most. When a Scout Troop is run by adults, it is doomed to fail and it defeats the purposes of Baden Powell.

    Reply
  63. wiley

    The problem with Scouts in the Church is that we have lost sight of Baden Powell’s original vision. When he set Scouts up he didnt want to create an organization and publicly said so. He wanted boys to have fun and learn a few things not taught in school. He took 21 boys to Brownsea Island. From that camp came millions of Scouts around the world. The Church adopted Scouts because it was a morale compass and a great program for boys. Doesnt matter what happens in the press, that is the world’s news. The program works, if applied correctly.
    The problem is that it isnt applied correctly. Everyone is insistent on meshing Priesthood with Scouts. I think that on Sunday and mutual nights thats fine, but on Scout night you do Scout things. I sprinkle in a little Religion in Life (one of our badges) but the main focus is on Scouting. The boys get enough religious instruction at Church, Family Home Evening and Seminary. Let the trained Leaders do what they do best. Bishops, if your Leaders arent trained, they WILL FAIL. Training is everything. My brother in law said “Elders Quorum Presidents are a dime a dozen, but a good Scoutmaster is worth his weight in gold”
    I know thats true. Boys that have great Scout experiences tend to stick around in my Ward.
    I would ask the Church leadership where all those Stake Presidents, Bishops, Seventies and so on are going to come from in the future?
    Show me a Bishop or EQP who can quote scriptures an I will respect him. Show me one who can cut down a tree with an axe or find usable water when nobody else can in an emergency and I will respect him even more.
    I even overheard someone say “Wish there was a program to prepare missionaries for the field so they can deal with the hardship”
    I just smiled and said to myself “There already is.” and walked away shaking my head.
    We have a saying here in Canada “Get the OUT in Scouts”
    Tonight we had the Scouts doing knife safety and the Cubs doing Artist badge, both indoors. One sister standing out in the foyer had a pet hedgehog. I asked her if she would show her pet to the boys. The boys thought it was great and I doubt many of them have ever seen a live hedgehog before. Not to blow my own horn, but as a well trained Scoutmaster I saw a chance to bring the outdoors, indoors. I stopped everything that was going on to focus on this event. At first they didnt notice the sister and she was going to leave but once one boy saw the hedgehog and came over, the rest followed. Then the Scouts wanted to see what was up so they came over as well. Voila! An unplanned event used at the right time made a great experience for all the boys together, even if just for a few minutes. It doesnt need to be rigid or over structured, thats too much like school, but spark one boy and the rest will follow. The boys were totally attentive to the rest of the lessons after their brush with wildlife. Find out what grabs your boys attention and milk it for all its worth, even for just 5 minutes. Awards and badges really dont matter that much, I got my award tonight watching a spark of wonder light up in each and every boys eyes coming face to face with a tiny living thing they had never seen before. That was their reward as well.
    That IS what makes Scouting worthwhile.

    Reply
  64. mary

    Wow, live in UT, do you? Do you know what scouting in some little branch out in the “mission field” is like? Scouting is not a saving ordinance, and holy fricking grief, it’s a pain when you don’t have enough active members to even have a full staff of primary teachers. Do you think it’s the priority of the primary pres. in those kind of wards to have a full cub scout committee when she doesn’t even have the staff for a music leader or a sunbeam teacher? And do you think the boys and their parents want to drive 45 minutes to church (yes, that’s how far away many of us live) and go to the church for a program with only a few other kids, then drive all the way home and get all the kids to bed and up the next morning at 5 am because we have early morning seminary–no release time like you have. Oh you scouting people and the way you defend this program like you defend your testimony of the prophet. Try living outside of UT for a while and see how much you come to HATE and LOATHE it!

    Reply
  65. Victor

    I’m sure the Bot Scouts are a great organization, but from the letters and comments in this article, all it sounds like it’s just the first step to be indoctrinated into the LDS church. Not every “Young Man” is Mormon, not every “Young Man” going camping is wanting to go to a fire side chat, and NOT every “Young Man” want to be in Sunday School again, with a Scout Leader using his position as the next step to being Bishop. If GOD is needed in every aspect of every piece of life for fear of going astray, maybe it’s not the kids that need to be saved! There are too many parents with an agenda and not enough time letting kids be kids. It’s time to let someone who’s knows what they’re doing pick a scout leader, and if you’re not sure, get out of the way! But this seems to happen in every aspect of LDS life. I umpire baseball, and I watch the kids with good coaches and bad coaches, and it’s obvious who is who, and it’s also obvious when things good bad, who gets the blame. It’s gets harder to understand why the church has to have a hand in everything. If children of other religions treated scouting the way the LDS does, we’d call them extremist and fear sending our children to such an organization, but because it’s YOUR religion, it’s OK? I am glad the LDS have embraced scouting to help boys learn some things they might not learn otherwise, but sometimes it’s goes a little to far! I’m also sure alot of parents with kids in scouts need to understand, that “scouting” is not another term for daycare. Parents need to step and participate.

    Reply
    1. wiley

      Actually my pack and troop have more non members than members. It works great. The boys all get along and because there are different religions and nationalities our member boys get to learn something about the others that they would otherwise never have known. I guess I am blessed to live in a melting pot city where there are other cultures to study and learn from.
      I believe in the concept of seperation of Church and State especially where Scouts is concerned.
      All the non-member parents get a letter outlining how we do things a little different and I have had no problems at all. Because we are in a big city, space in other groups is almost non-existent. So those parents see that putting their child in an LDS group is better than no participation at all.
      Parents need to participate for sure – with you there.

      Reply
  66. Rick

    I think it’s easy to blame scout leaders for being “lazy”. But I don’t think that’s entirely the case.

    I’m a scoutmaster in a ward with only a few active young men. I have an assistant scoutmaster that hasn’t been at church in months. So the young men’s president attends all activities as my second leader. We’ve tried to include other volunteers from the ward but we don’t have that many active men who aren’t swamped with multiple other callings. This also means we have a very small committee.

    I’m a young father who works full time and is also working on a Masters Degree most evenings so I have very little extra time for my own family. Thus, every weeknight activity and every weekend activity takes away from the very limited time I have with my own family. Are you starting to see the problem here?

    I’m also early in my career so I get very little vacation time. Scout camp eats up a huge piece of it and again, it’s time away from all of my family. This is really hard for me, especially because my own son isn’t even close to scouting yet. Now, I have ward leaders who believe in the scouting program as it is designed. I do too. So they want me to go to woodbadge. But I literally have no vacation time left to attend. And since I’m LDS, I have to attend the trainings that don’t go over Sunday, which means Thursday – Saturday. That’s two vacation days I don’t have.

    Now it sounds like a lot of people here would call me lazy for not attending woodbadge. You might call me lazy for not having thoroughly prepared campouts each month and for not using all parts of the scouting program. But can you see how hard it might be for a scoutmaster like me to juggle all of the planning, preparation, advancement, etc. while still trying to focus on the most important peope in my life (my own family)? Because believe it or not, I will be held much more accountable for what fail to do for them than I will for what I fail to do for your son.

    And because Boy Scouts is the activity arm of the Young Men’s program, we have a group of boys that don’t care all that much about scouting. So I spend every week trying to make it fun and exciting while trying to teach the principles that will help them become good men. These boys barely care enough to show up. Getting them to come to a planning meeting and take charge of the activities has been almost impossible. Yet I work on it because that’s how scouting is meant to work.

    Now contrast all that with a communtiy troop. In a community troop, most of the boys are there because they want to be there, not because it’s expected or because their parents are forcing them. The leaders actually volunteered for their position, usually because they have their own children in the program. Which means that time with the scouts is also time with one or more of their children. Most of those volunteers are older than I am and aren’t trying to balance an early career with school and a very young family.

    So before you call us scout leaders lazy, consider our situation. Scout leaders in the church generally don’t volunteer. They’re asked to do it. And if they’re like me, they say “yes” because they believe that callings are inspired. But because of that, scout leaders in the church are probably less excited, interested, capable, etc. than leaders outside the church who choose to participate because they just love scouting and because it’s a great bonding activity with their own children.

    I don’t want to be too argumentative. I believe in the scouting program and think it needs to be implemented fully to reach its chartered objective. I just also believe that we as parents need to have a little more understanding for scout leaders and work to support and sustain them rather than complain about their laziness.

    There’s only one righteous judge.

    Reply
  67. Christine

    After serving as Primary President I was called to by a den leader with my husband. I received and sought out training. As a Primary President I thought we had a great program, they invited us to pack meetings and I thought I was overseeing it just fine. As a Den Leader (now with training) I understand that I was not over seeing the program. I had not set in place a Cub committee with parents to help plan or have input. I honestly feel that anyone who is called as a Primary President should serve in Cubs first. The Stake would hold training for Cubs but the presidents would be in a different room being trained on things other then Scouts. I see the lack of knowledge of the program in the current primary presidency and feel like I wish they knew how great our ward program could really be.

    Reply
  68. Mark

    I agree with the author, the REAL problem with scouting in the LDS church is that we don’t implement the full program. This is an understatement and, frankly, oversimplification of the problem.

    Why do we, in the LDS church, fail (intentionally or unintentionally) to implement the full program? In my experience (limited as it may be – your experience may vary), one of the reasons (not the only reason, but often a major reason) why we fail to implement the full scouting program is (… drumroll …) MONEY!

    The scouting program is expensive. Ok, maybe that point is arguable – “expensive” is subjective – what is expensive to one person may not be considered expensive to another. Without doubt, the scouting program assumes (and requires) that participants (adults and youth alike) are able and willing to absorb certain expenses. As I observe successful non-LDS scout units, fundraising and finances are a major aspect of the program. In LDS units, however, we are told:

    See handbook 2, section 13.2.8

    As an exception to the rule, we are allowed to conduct fundraisers in limited circumstances and for limited purposes. See handbook 2, sections 8.13.4; 8.13.7 and 13.6.8. In my opinion, these church policies make it difficult (not impossible, but extremely difficult) to implement the full scouting program. I am not suggesting that the solution to the problem is to throw more money at it. (SIDENOTE: I am also aware and fully acknowledge the disparity in funding the YW compared to the YM that so often occurs when well-meaning leaders attempt to solve one problem – fully implementing the scouting program with “adequate” funding, but end up creating another problem. The boy/girl budget disparity is an issue that should be addressed, but I don’t really think that is the point of this article or really the responsibility of the BSA.)

    I would be interested in seeing more articles about HOW to implement the full scouting program in the context of the LDS church and within the budgetary constraints of LDS policies.

    Reply
    1. Mark

      Oops. I messed up the HTML tags somewhere in my comment above. Sorry.

      In LDS units, however, we are told:

      “Stake and ward budget funds should be used to pay for all activities, programs, and supplies. Members should not pay fees to participate. Nor should they provide materials, supplies, rental or admission fees, or long-distance transportation at their own expense. Activities in which members provide food may be held if doing so does not place undue burdens on them.”

      See handbook 2, section 13.2.8

      Everything else that appears in my comment above as a quote – blocked off and italics – Those are my own thoughts and are not quoted from any other source. Sorry for any confusion.

      Reply
  69. concerned mom

    Another MAJOR problem related to leaders not following the handbook in general: not having scout leaders complete child safety training our register with the overseeing council. We have a scout leader who acted like he was grooming my son. Something was of in his behavior towards him and I began reading up on the subject. It was cold molestation style grooming. I had him investigated. He had never been caught to this point, but there is a family history of some pretty heinous stuff. About a month later he was called to the scouting program where he routinely takes boys one-on-one from the building or into classrooms alone where he is not observed. After several discreet warnings to the leadership, who ignored us, we called the overseeing council only to find out that after six months, they still had no record of him working in the scouts.

    So long as leaders refuse to administer even the most fundamental points of the handbook and put my child’s safety ahead of being nice to someone who acts like a perp and refuses to love the scout leader enough to redirect his behavior, my child will not be involved.

    Reply
  70. Ben Monson

    “Men’s hearts shall fail them.” Doctrine and Covenants 88:91.
    I am not involved with scouts, but just reading this blog is disheartening as fingers are pointed at the “LDS Church” for being at fault instead of stepping up and taking responsibility. It’s interesting how quickly we are to blame an entire organization run by imperfect people instead of stepping up and taking responsibility for our actions/choices or the select people who are not meeting “our” standards for scouting. The Gospel of Jesus Christ, Jesus and God are perfect. Nothing else on this Earth is. So why demand that the scouting program and the leaders called must be perfect otherwise it’s the Church’s fault? I am always amazed at how quickly humans are to point out the faults of another or of an organization or a program rather than looking inward and addressing the “offenses” and other issues within. Maybe consider the verses in Matthew 7: 3-5 unless you are opposed to what Jesus is warning us, ALL, of.

    Reply
  71. Scott

    Your article has zero to due with implementing the full Scouting program rather you state the incompetence of the scouting program in your area. You seem to push all of these problems on the Church as a whole and not hold the Scouts or parents responsible.

    Reply
  72. Ken Holmes

    This article did make me reflect on my LDS Scouting experiences. Members belonging because they feel it is a HAVE TO – compare with youth that join because they WANT TO – complicates a good program. Members of some troops are required to attend meetings, wear the uniform, and pay fees while other units accept frequent absences, jeans, and no money commitments. When leaders get trained, especially Wood Badge, they are excited to fully implement the program and relish developing youth into better adults. Would you allow an untrained surgeon operate on you?

    Reply
  73. Scott Smith

    Thanks, Mat, interesting article. I believe, however, that this problem is not just endemic to LDS Scouting. New leaders, regardless of the chartering organization, don’t know what they don’t know. Those new leaders then get training (via district/council/national resources and on-the-job), they begin to understand more of the complete program and complete picture. If, we manage to keep them around, they start to catch on and catch the vision, it begins to work for them. Unfortunately, LDS Scouting has a higher turn over of leadership given its nature. If non-LDS scouting units turned its leadership over the way LDS can, the scouting units simply do not survive. Our units always survive, because of mandate, but they will not thrive until they begin to have tenured, trained, and seasoned adult leadership.

    Reply
  74. Zac

    I haven’t bothered to read all of the comments but something that is obvious missing from the original post is to point out that in units sponsored by community organizations the parents of the boys in those programs pick up a lot more of the tab than those sponsored by LDS Units. Consider the Charter and registration fees paid by the church. Consider that the church provides for a meeting place. Consider the cost of scout camps and merit badge pow-wow’s. Consider the cost of awards. The financial outlay for scouting is often a wards single highest budget.

    Are there problems? Yes. But I believe most of them could be overcome by being more involved as parents with the Scoutmaster and other Scout leaders in the ward. I’ve never met a Scoutmaster who would turn down help, and I’ve never met any that want you to hijack his program either.

    I’ve been in the scouting organization since I was 8, I earned my Eagle, with the help of my family and troop. I’ve served in many positions of leadership in Cubs and Boy Scouts. I have spent a considerable amount of my own time and money on various scouting functions. To the point that for several years all of my vacation from work was spent at scout camp. I love the program, I know what it can do.

    I had leaders that were awesome and some that were barely there, but they all gave something.
    Everyone casting stones needs to find a way to be part of the solution in your own wards. In the words of Pres Uchtdorf, “lift were you stand”.

    Reply
    1. Steve Faber

      Zac,

      I wish I could have 12 of you on our scout committee (3 on the Scout committee, 3 on the Varsity committee, and 3 on the Venturing committee). However, therein lies our challenge to be diligent and patient with what we’ve been given. Lift where you stand, bloom where you’re planted. I’ve made the mistake of reading all of the comments, some in particular several times, but I’m hopeful good fruit will result on all sides. Thanks for offering your perspective.

      Reply
  75. Andrew Olsen

    Before I comment about the slew of comments above, I want say that I agree with the Mat Greenfield that the buffet approach to Scouting does not work. As a youth in the LDS Church I had both types of Scouting experiences from leaders who saw Scouting as a buffet and then they found that it didn’t work all the way. As a youth, I felt the impact of leaders who chose not to implement the whole program…those leaders didn’t last long. I also had the experience of having an amazing Scoutmaster and Varsity Coach who implemented the whole program and as a result, we (the youth) had a great experience. Rather than perpetuate the type of buffet leadership that doesn’t work, it is up to us to take whole Scouting program and run with it and good things will happen. Our leaders won’t be burned out and our youth can plan and do activities that they want to do. When the youth are selecting and planning their activities, rather than the adults, an interesting thing happens in Scouting. All of a sudden the youth are doing things in Scouts that they want to do.

    I have read several of these comments of people who have not had a good experience in Scouting and want it pulled out of the Church and I think it is too bad that they feel that way. Scouting has been a great influence in my life and I am thankful that we as members of the Church have opportunities to be part of something so great.

    President Thomas S. Monson said “In this world where some misguided men and women strive to tear down and destroy great movements such as Scouting, I am pleased to stand firm for an organization that teaches duty to God and country, that embraces the Scout Law. Yes, an organization whose motto is “Be prepared” and whose slogan is “Do a good turn daily.” (click this link for the full article https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1993/10/the-upward-reach?lang=eng). I agree with President Monson and feel it is important to stand firm in the support of the Scouting.

    Two years ago the LDS Church produced this movie about the importance of Scouting and in the Church. It is on LDS.org, but here is a link to it https://www.lds.org/callings/aaronic-priesthood/video-gallery?lang=eng.
    I would encourage everyone commenting here to watch this clip, and then REALLY think about some of the things you are saying.

    Reply
    1. Travis

      I think most people would agree that Scouts is a good program, even though there are some serious issues with the operations of it. But I still believe it isn’t right for all our youth. Some just have different interests plain and simple and that has nothing to do with how it is implemented.

      A lot of the youth don’t care for the uniforms, cheers, and things that just aren’t cool. It is just a reality. It is great for those that do, but everyone is a little different. Unlike the gospel which has a plan for everyone, Scouts isn’t for everyone.

      I think the real issue for me is that Scouts tends to run the Priesthood instead of the other way around. When I have seen it “fully implemented”, youth get a great testimony of the BSA and not necessarily of the Gospel and that is an issue for me. Plus, leaders get burned out because that is all they do.

      Yes they can work together, I just think they would work better separate. Scouts can then be implemented fully and the Aaronic Priesthood can focus on building testimonies.

      I am now the Ward Mission Leader and I have to say the quality of a lot of our Missionaries isn’t as good with the age changes. A lot of them have been very immature and it doesn’t help build confidence with the members and referrals. I realize that there is always going to be this issue to some extent because of the age, but I don’t think these young men and women are as ready spiritually as they could be. If the Scout Program dominates the Aaronic Priesthood, I don’t see that changing any time soon. Even I who got my Eagle Scout 20 years ago can say that I should have spent more time preparing spiritually for a mission and studying the scriptures.

      Realistically, as many mentioned, there is no way to fully implement it the way it is supposed to in the Church. It is a bloated program that needs simplified and fixed in so many ways to make it more streamlined as many have mentioned. If we are all being honest, it could be way more efficient!

      If we just have “True Blood Scouters”, running the aaronic priesthood in the leadership and they stay in those positions permanently or even long term, I think ultimately the boys will pay for it and we will lose the true purpose of the Aaronic Priesthood. Testimonies will become a secondary focus.

      This is just my opinion. I don’t share it lightly, but where the author seems to be putting the fault on the church and leaders not fully implementing the Scout Program, I have to speak up because I completely disagree. The most success I have ever seen in getting young men on missions and converted to the gospel had very little to do with Scouts, specifically at the older ages when boys are Priests. Most Deacons love the scout program, but interest dwindles when they get older and things like dating, jobs, sports, and other after school activities kick in. Putting guilt on parents or other leaders because they aren’t pushing kids to prioritize Scouting over those other activities is ridiculous, especially where these boys are fully committed to their Aaronic Priesthood Duties. Who cares if our youth don’t always come on Tuesday Nights because they are anxiously engaged in other activities that are important to them and can also build character. We are supposed to be there for the boys and be a mentor and an example of Christ to them. Having a Job is a great thing for a High School Young Man. I can’t tell you how many people have come to me and told me how turned off their kids have become to the Scout Program because leaders are pushing them too hard to become Eagle Scouts and trying to force feed them the BSA. That is not productive and with the BSA being so attached to the Church, these boys don’t feel like they can have one without the other and many times fall away.

      Although I completely respect your opinion, I really believe the best thing for the BSA and the Church is to be separate. I still fully support encouraging the boys to join the program and encourage our congregation to serve in it. I would be more than happy to volunteer and help the Scout Program out because it was good for me and I would love to give back, but it isn’t for everyone and more importantly it isn’t the Aaronic Priesthood or a Saving ordinance of the gospel and has no place being specifically involved in the Church.

      Just my opinion and as always I will follow the Prophet!

      Reply
  76. Scoutmaster

    I’m sorry but this article is simply wrong. Lets be real, the mission of the LDS young men’s organization is to build up young men to be missionaries and good husbands and fathers. “Full implementation of Scouts” like this author posts does not accomplish that. Leaders who care do. Growing up I went through scouts. To this day I hold my adult leaders in the highest regards as someone I want to be like. They didn’t force us to wear the BSA shirts- they said come as you are. Emphasis was placed on personal growth and confidence not earning merit badges. I earned my Eagle, but learned how to be a real man from watching them. Now I’m the scoutmaster and I run my program just like my leaders. I don’t make it to every roundtable, and we don’t where BSA shirts everywhere, but my fellow leaders and I do take the kids camping throughout the year, we have a detailed schedule of high adventure type activities, and most importantly we have young men excited about their church group. I have boys who have no father figures and boys from poverty homes that have never gotten the change to camp or do scout type activities. I’ve seen boys over come fear of water to become swimmers, boys who conquered their fear of heights to be able to repel down cliffs. Overcoming these fears leads to confidence in themselves and creates a strong group bond. Each outing we have a testimony meeting and fireside and have heard some of the most heart felt testimonies I’ve ever heard. ( things that never happen on testimony Sunday ) Scouting is our activity arm to get to this point. We don’t pledge allegiance to scouting, I pledge my talents to build boys into good men. And yes I use the “buffet” approach, and it works. Mr. Mat Greenfield you are wrong, full implementation to scouting is not the answer, having adult leaders who care are willing to be role models is. That role model could be a sports coach, a teacher, or a ward member who’s willing to give of his time to make a difference to young men.

    Reply
  77. Spencer

    Why is a huge amount of church resources put towards all of this for young men, while young women maybe get a token summer camp thrown to them as a bone? Perhaps the church should disassociate from scouting and create programs that help all the youth instead of just half.

    Reply
    1. RT

      I don’t disagree with you in principle, but our stake’s one week of girls camp is worth a whole year of the boys’ BSA. It’s the best week of the year for most of our girls and the adult leaders. Women complain because they don’t get called!

      Reply
      1. Spencer

        I agree it is probably a great experience, but part of that might be because they aren’t being offered those experiences all year round like the boys are. I have an too many to count women friends who have shared experience with feeling like less of a person because not only are they not offered as much responsibility because they are “delicate flowers” and the lack of the priesthood, but also because so much effort was put into making young men into moral priesthood holders, but there the young women were kind of ignored, both in number of equivalent activites and funding.

        Reply
    2. Charlotte

      I know this is a bit off topic, but the church does not have an equivalent program for our daughters. Activity Days and YW are nice – but they are no where near the scouting program in terms of resources, leaders, FUNDING, or RECOGNITION.

      Reply
    3. G. Kearney

      Or just let the girls do scouting. The BSA permits girls to join venturing crews and sea scout ships and there are many successful coed crews and ships in operation. Further the church has the influence with the BSA to have the whole program become coed, as the scouting programs of nearly every other country on earth are now.

      A trivia challenge here, can you name the 3 countries without coed scouting?

      Reply
  78. Ryan BertramRyan Bertram

    I agree with the post overall. Some additional thoughts:
    1. One way for units to be more successful is to match the personal talents and interests of leaders with a particular position. All to often, the individual “called” to a position is not the right fit.
    2. In most councils, starting professional pay is $35k/year. Some may think this is high; others may not. It is a competitive salary in the non-profit world. Those working in the profession aren’t doing so for the money…they are doing it out of passion and the ability to make a difference. It is a very rewarding career.
    3. There is no professional at the local or national level making “millions.” The highest paid professional is the Chief Scout Executive of the national organization. This individual makes approximately $500,000+ per year.

    Whether professional Scouters are paid too much or too little is an argument that has been around since the inception of the organization. It is simply the reality of a working for a volunteer-driven non-profit organization.

    Reply
  79. Norman

    I have read many of the posts on here and I find them interesting. I won’t criticize them, but let me share my experience. I’ve been in the Church for my entire life. The first member of my family joined the Church in 1849 in England, and migrated to Utah about 10 years later. I participated in the scouting program in the Church as a youth, in many a troop like those described in the article and comments. After serving many years in Church callings, including bishoprics, high councils, and HP Group Leader, at the age of 50 I was asked to be the Scoutmaster of our troop. I had two of my own sons in my troop. When the call was issued, I discussed with the Bishop a number of conditions. I explained that I had watched scouting in the Church for years with sadness. My conditions were; an active and functioning scout committee, all adult leaders were to get properly trained by the BSA, and lastly, that we would not be a poor troop. The Bishop agreed. The committee was strengthened and became active. Committee members, YM Presidency members, the councilor in the bishopric all went through various BSA training programs, including Outdoor Adventure. We registered the troop with a couple of the local supermarket stores that made contributions to charitable organizations through the customer loyalty cards. The better of the two put about $1600.00 a year in the scouting account. We held a huge fundraiser each year to pay for all the boys to go to summer camp. We set up a program with the boys where they would take two Eagle Required merit badges each year at summer camp and we would do one per quarter in the troop. This allowed the boys to get all twelve eagle required badges within the two years they were in the deacon’s quorum. We developed a good list of merit badge counselors and had them trained. I was the scoutmaster for two years, and the plan went well. We had training, we had support, and we had equipment. Life was good.

    The down fall came in a change in the counselor in the bishopric over the YM. All of a sudden he wanted to call the shots. He didn’t like where we went to camp, he wanted to dictate where we went on our monthly campouts. He insisted his son be the quorum president after the YM President previously recommended two other boys. He wanted us to focus more on having fun and not so much advancement. He didn’t understand that advancement and accomplishment was what the boys thrived on.

    Two years after I was released, at my request, I had scouts writing on facebook how bad scouting was after I had been released. Someone on the committee decided we had too much money in our scout account and cancelled the programs with the supermarkets. Now, they struggle and only go to an organized summer camp every few years. Eventually, all the boys who entered the deacons quorum while I was scoutmaster earned their Eagle. But too many of them had to push prior to turning 18 instead of 15 under the program we had.

    Is there a problem with scouting in the Church. Yep, but it isn’t a failing of the Church, rather those who attempt to exercise unrighteous dominion over programs that have leaders called to run. That and the fact that we don’t have scout leaders with 20 years of service.

    Reply
  80. Will Thomas

    While serving as scoutmaster for the past 10 years in a handful of wards, my opinion of this article is; that is well written and states the problems with LDS scout troops correctly. I just think the solutions he states aren’t as easy and as time efficient to implement as he makes it out to be. Can it be done? Yes, but there is only so much service time you can get out of ward members and parents and is it worth it to remove service times from other organizations in order to accomplish the scout program as it is designed to be? My two simple solutions: either run a stripped down LDS version of scouting that will instill the scout oath & law qualites in the young men. This would be much less rank & merit achievement oriented (similar to the troop meeting plans) or pool together service hours of leaders & parents and bring the scouting program to a Stake level to create a much larger troop and more patrols (similar to what you would see in non-LDS troops). With the first of my 3 boys just about to start their scouting journey, I’m sure I’ll continue to be involved in scouting for the next 18 years as a parent and probably still a scout leader, I’ll just continue to do what I can, but my focus will be more on instilling the scout oath & law into my sons than ranks & merit achievements. Just reaching Eagle rank won’t help a boy down the road. It is the positive experiences that the boys go through and instilling in them the desire to live the the scout oath and law the rest of their life that will do the most good. Again, just my opinion.

    Reply
  81. SMB

    I am the mother of 6 Eagle Scouts, 5 of whom have gone on to serve this Nation. I was delighted to see this article! For many years I have anguished over the very issues that have been discussed. BSA Scouting is not optional! The majority of responses I have read sound whiny and equivocating. My husband is a Silver Beaver and I have been both a Cub and Scout Commissioner. However, my boys were always part of a community pack and I was their Den Mother. My husband was, off and on as “callings” required, the boys’ Scoutmaster. He subscribed to the idea that Scouting is Outing and his troops camped out every month – heat, rain, sleet, snow! They had a hike every month, usually on one of the many historical trails which were so plentiful in the East. They attended Scout Camp every summer and had an enriched experience as their Scoutmaster was committed to it. They wore FULL uniforms to all meetings and at camp. We held uniform exchanges and kept a stockpile of uniforms in a closet. They looked sharp and no one in our community called them a”ragged Mormon bunch”. They had unit pride and cohesion. At one point we were enduring another in a series of brothers, called to be the scoutmaster, who considered it to be a “demotion”. How insulting and demeaning to the boys to realize, and you know they did, that they were a demotion from loftier jobs! I finally called the Stake President and begged him to release my husband from the high council and allow him to return as Scoutmaster. I told him he could find an high councilor under any rock, but a good Scoutmaster was hard to find. Then I threatened to take them and put them into the community troop! As some have said, the Scouting program makes dealing with the boys a much easier job, but you have to have a passion for it and for the boys, and follow the program. The boys can detect the counterfeit… To those who used the completely lame excuse of a lack of scouting internationally I say ” that’s just your lazy ignorance”! Scouting was founded in Great Britain by Lord Baden-Powell and brought to the United States. It remains a strong international organization to this day. Moreover, if you are living overseas, it is very easy to find a BSA troop… Just look for the nearest American Military Base or Post. The military does a great job of supporting scouting… My sons are now involved with Scouting in the Church and are carrying on our family legacy of Excellence in Scouting for their sons. I say to you: get off your rear ends, turn off your electronics, and realize our young men (and young women, but they seem to be doing a better job) are the future of both our Church and our Nation!

    Reply
    1. G. Kearney

      I would point out that scouting is found in nearly every nation of the earth. I would also urge members living overseas, particularly in English speaking nations to consider the experience of the local national scouting program.

      Reply
  82. Charlotte

    I choose to put my boys in community scouting, rather than LDS scouting. It’s more efficient and the leaders WANT to be involved, rather than called/obligated (not that all LDS scouting leaders are obligated and not wanting to do it, it’s just a different feel).

    But the main reason my boys are in community scouting, is because I don’t want to support a church-run program that is not equal to what my daughters have available to them. I know this is a bit off topic, but the church does not have an equivalent program for our daughters. Activity Days and YW are nice – but they are no where near the scouting program in terms of resources, leaders, FUNDING, or RECOGNITION. Therefore, both my sons and daughters are involved on YW/YM at church, but then are also enrolled in the community boyscout and girl scout programs. Just me two cents.

    Reply
  83. Jaco

    I think the church should get out of scouting all together. Too many members are burdened with other callings, young families, long hours at work. Scouting is one more thing – and the church doesn’t have the staff needed to run it effectively. My boys go to community scouting programs that are run far better than any LDS because the people who lead are volunteers who want and have time to do it. They are not called or “voluntold” to do it!

    Reply
  84. Scout on

    From a mother who’s 19yr old son is inactive, due in large part to him leaders while he was 12-18-
    Scout and YM leaders have the future of our church in their hands. I don’t think the all realize the weight of their calling, the eternal importance of it. YM need to learn to serve together, to make lasting bonds and friendships in the ward and with members their age to stay active. They need to feel that their leaders care about them and want them all to succeed in life and in the church. Please, heed my advise- plan meetings that are engaging and are full of doing. If every week is either a lecture from YM leaders based on last weeks priesthood lesson or a planning meeting for future activities, boys will stop attending. Not all of the boys will get their Eagle by 16, do not discount them, work with them all to finish theirs. Plan your activities in advance and stick to the schedule. I cannot count the number of times activities were canceled or had a time change and no one told us. We would show up to an empty parking lot. That is the fastest way to make a boy feel unincluded and unloved. If you have a special needs member, plan a way for him to be involved in the activities. We had leaders ask his limitations and the very next week plan activities he could not participate in. Our son was hospitalised and nearly died at 12 yrs old. Including him and learning to work with is minor disability due to his illness could have been an amazing learning and growing opportunity for all the boys. Instead the compassion and support ended soon after the meals and the wheel chair were gone. Finally-please please realize that if your young men have the scout skills and morals, you do not need to do a messionary skills prep activity in place of scouts once a month. The two go hand in hand. That’s why it’s the church YM program.

    Reply
  85. Steve Faber

    I would personally love to read a post on “The Boy Scout” blog in response to Melany’s article and this article from Mat, from a non-scouter, perhaps a mother, or perhaps someone who is a parent of only girls, who can lovingly address some of the deep concerns of scouters or non-scouters who are and who are not members of the LDS Church about what I often hear as the most challenging aspects of scouting in the LDS Church:

    1) money (cost of uniforms, cost of BSA camps, Friends of Scouting – where the money goes and why, the perceived high salaries for professional scouters, etc.),

    2) perceived inequality between energy/resources spent on YW vs. YM activities,

    3) sacrifice of time away from ones own family for scouting activities, especially when you don’t have a son of your own in the program.

    4) the perception that “Young Men’s” and “Scouting” are two different things,

    5) personal experiences on “calling” vs. “volunteering”, etc.

    I know the spirit is working on whoever you are to write down your thoughts. If anything, these posts appear to have started conversations that will hopefully result in good fruit.

    Reply
  86. Howard Beckham

    When I was called to Cub Scouts, I had no real training and just “fumbled around with the program for three years. Then I was call as Assistant Scout Master and the long time serving Scout Master sent me to the basic leader training shortly there after and even paid out his own pocket (because the Ward would not) to send me to Wood Badge (this was the old Wood Badge Program that in many ways I like better than the new one).
    I served with the same Scout Master as his Assistant for over 15 years. I am still serving years later on the Troop Committee. Our Troop had somewhere close to 25 years of the some people as adult leaders and we applied as much of the BSA program as possible. I believe we where the exception.
    Today, the adult leaders are scouting alumni, even Eagle Scouts, but they have never attended any BSA training let alone Wood Badge, even though our council has had several special LDS Wood Badge courses. Church Leadership do not seem to make it a priority requirement for the Young Men Program to be trained as BSA Scout Leaders. We have a hard time getting them as a committee to go though the 1/2 hour on line Youth Protection training every 2 years.
    Your points are right on target and I hope the Church Leadership takes the feedback constructively and helps to make the improvements in the LDS Scouting program that can make it achieve the true goal that the Prophets have told us it should.

    Reply
  87. Roy Carroll

    Compounding the problem as you stated it (and which I agree with) is the fact that scoutmasters and young men leaders are not called for a long enough period of time. I was a scoutmaster in a ward in Pennsylvania, and was the only LDS troop in our district. I attended roundtable, woodbadge training, and camporees with leaders who had been scoutmasters for 25-30 years. Many of those troops had assistant scoutmasters, (notice the plural) who had been serving for 20+ years, and senior assistants who had achieved the rank of Eagle and wanted to stay involved in scouting because it was the best show in town. I personally feel that a young man leader’s call should resemble that of a stake president in terms of length of call. It takes time to develop an effective program, and to be converted to the full scout program, but once done, the benefits are incredible.

    Reply
  88. Paul

    I’m surprised by all the negative responses, so I thought I’d reply with a positive one. My family has been involved with scout for 50 years. My Mom was a leader when my oldest brother was in scouts. He went on all kinds of fun, appropriate activities. Earned his rank advancements at fun activities, eventually becoming an Eagle Scout. My parents were unable to have as many children as they wanted due to medical reasons. So, they elected to adopt. At the adoption agency they were told by the receptionist their chances of being able to adopt were next to none, since they already had children. A Placement Agent happened by and overheard. He noticed my Mom was wearing her Eagle Scout Necklace, awarded to her when my brother earned his Eagle Scout Award. He promised my parents he would see they were able to adopt, because he knew the type of parents it took to help a young man earn an Eagle Scout Award. Later I too earned my Eagle Scout Award. My Mom, unlike many parents, never bragged about her children’s accomplishments. On occasion when some other parents got to bragging too much, she would simply wear two Eagle Scout Necklaces to Church the next week. My wife has a dress she wears, on occasion, when she is especially proud of our son with every one of the Mother’s Pins on it, for every rank, including Eagle my son earned. I can tell you from experience the Scout Program, is not an easy program. But, if done right, there is no conflict with Sports, YM/YW activities, the Duty to God Award, learning to lead, learning to be men of Character. To do it right requires teamwork from the leaders, the parents and the boys. If as a Mom you feel you earned the Eagle Award, congratulations you did, but you failed the Scouting Program and your son, by not letting him earn it. My parents helped me and my brother, as my wife and I helped my son, but he did the work, learned the skill, etc. Likewise, for the Church and Scout Leaders. They provided the opportunities for all three of us to succeed. I’m a firm believer you’re either part of the problem or part of the solution.

    Reply
  89. R L P

    Probably been said already, but journalistic titles like this make the whole attitude of an article less accurate.

    Should have been called The REAL Problem with Scouting in Some LDS Wards [or Troops].

    Is my LDS Troop in Oklahoma City having these problems? Perhaps, but my current troop in Utah is not.

    Don’t overgeneralize, like I did about journalistic titles. 🙂

    Reply
  90. Charles Roe

    It’s probably already been said in the other 239 comments, but it seems to me that for many scouting is viewed only as merit badges, rank advancements and camping and unfortunately that is the way many of the units are run in the LDS Church. The program is much more that that and if there is focus on the elements of the scout oath and law within these activities the purposes and objectives of the Aaronic Priesthood, including the Duty to God program can be easily met and accomplished. The problem is leaders that do not understand and follow the scouting program, don’t take the time to be adequately trained, even according to the LDS Handbook 2 and LDS Scouting Manual and do more than just work on merit badges in week night meetings. The program isn’t the problem, rather the adult leaders associated with the program. This starts with the Bishopric who should call as the scoutmaster for example not someone that loves the outdoors, rather someone that has a strong testimony of the Gospel and is charged with and being converted in his calling to the leading and teaching young men to be more Christlike and servants of God.

    Reply
    1. Steve Faber

      I agree with you, but as I’ve heard the Young Men General President of the Church, David L. Beck, repeatedly state, “Duty to God is not a program.” Fulfilling our Duty to God is really practicing the first and second great commandments, to love God and love our neighbor. In relation to callings to serve in scouting, I like your phrase, “being converted in his calling.” I hope each individual on this blog expressing doubts, concerns, apathy, indifference, hate, etc. will find it somewhere in their hearts to become converted in their callings, even if they are callings in scouting.

      Reply
  91. Melany GardnerMelany Gardner

    I think the 200+ comments on this article (some positive, some negative) have opened up a very important conversation. But in my opinion, I think there is something missing in this conversation of who’s right and who’s wrong. The Lord’s opinion.

    Do you have doubts, questions, concerns, misgivings, misunderstandings about the relationship between the BSA and the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? Why not try asking the only person who knows your heart, knows the youth in your influence, and loves them, probably more than you do.

    See my response to Mat’s article and following comments: http://blog.utahscouts.org/lds-scouting/is-the-boy-scouts-of-america-an-inspired-program-a-challenge-to-all-seekers-of-truth/

    Reply
  92. Charles

    Hi Mat, I appreciate your thoughts regarding the BSA and its role in the young men’s organization of the LDS church, but, as somebody who has served in the Young Men’s Organization in various capacities for the better part of two decades, I have concluded that the REAL problem with scouting in the LDS Church is the BSA itself.

    The BSA is an early 20th Century Anachronism that simply doesn’t appeal to most youth, anymore. Very few of today’s young men are interested in donning uniforms that look suspiciously like those worn by the Hitler Youth during the 1930’s and 40’s, or in spending large amounts of time earning merit badges and other awards that don’t have any particular relevance or obvious benefit to their lives. The REAL problem with scouting is that it is incredibly (for lack of a better word) lame.

    I can tell you from my own experience that many young men become altogether disinterested in the Young Men’s Organization of the church because of its symbiotic, almost parasitic (I consider the BSA the parasite) relationship with the BSA. I became completely inactive in Young Men’s after the age of 14 because I couldn’t stomach participation the scouts.

    I think it’s a terrible miscalculation by the brethren to make the young men of the church participate in an organization wholly independent of the priesthood and (more importantly) the gospel of Jesus Christ. I think it’s a mistake to force our young men into activity in the BSA when all they signed up for and really want is association with other members of their church quorums.

    And don’t get me started regarding Friends of Scouting.

    Revelation is given by specific leaders, and for specific times. As more of the old guard, the old defenders of scouting pass from this world and younger men replace them in the church hierarchy, I believe we will see an end to the church’s affiliation with the boy scouts. There are already rumblings. I don’t expect the church to be officially involved with the BSA in 10 years.

    I will be disappointed if we are.

    Reply
    1. Steve Faber

      Joseph Smith taught the importance of sustaining our Church leaders: “That man who rises up to condemn others, finding fault with the Church, saying that they are out of the way, while he himself is righteous, . . . that man is in the high road to apostasy.”

      See you at Roundtable in 10 years?

      Reply
      1. Scott G

        I do not believe that God guides every decision a leader makes.

        I believe that God calls capable men and trusts them to run the church the best way they know how. If a leader is straying too far from God’s plan, God will intercede, but I don’t believe God is micromanaging every decision made. Scouting is definitely an area that I believe God is saying, “Yeah, good idea. I’ll let you guys handle that.”

        To say that we should blindly agree with everything the leaders do means that they are not getting constructive input on how to make things better. They can’t rely on God to provide ALL the constructive input, so we need to supplement this.

        It irks me to no end when people claim that the leaders are above criticism. Sustaining them is not the same as letting them do whatever they want without any checks and balances or constructive feedback.

        Reply
        1. Charles

          Scott,

          This is precisely my view. I don’t believe the supreme ruler of the universe micromanages the daily affairs of the church. I don’t believe he made the leaders of the church above reproach or criticism, either. Criticism should always be positive, and never mean spirited or disrespectful, but, our leaders (even those at the highest levels) are not infallible, and I don’t believe that every decision they make is directly inspired by god. Only cults believe that that their leaders are infallible, or that their leaders words are absolute.

          Even a cursory review of church history demonstrates that our leaders are both fallible and prone to mistakes and misjudgments. We, as active, tithe paying members of the church, have an obligation to voice our objections to official policy and decisions when they arise (blind faith and obedience is what allows things like the Mountain Meadows Massacre to happen). At the end of the day, I answer to my own conscience, and to god himself. Not to my church leadership.

          Steve,

          Come on man…it’s not an act of apostasy to suggest that an organization completely independent of the priesthood and the gospel of Jesus Christ should no longer have official ties to the church.

          And no…you will never see me at a scouting roundtable. 🙂

          Reply
      2. Steve Faber

        After Reading Scott Hinrich’s response to Mat’s blog at http://reachupward.blogspot.com/2015/02/lds-scouting-its-imperfect-and-plenty.html?m=1 I recognized that I made a judgement call that is out of my league when quoting the prophet Joseph Smith, and that I responded with a lack of kindness to Charles’ comments. I think Scott is right on in his summary of Mat’s article and articulates his stance on the LDS Church and Scouting so much better than I.

        Reply
  93. Klint

    I like this blogpost. I however wish to add that the author asses the full scouting program CAN be implemented in every ward. Try a ward with only two active young men, or a ward with so few priesthood holders that every man who goes to church already has five callings (save the convicted cello s, who are ineligible to serve with young men). Yes, in a perfect world the full scouting program should be implemented full swing. However, when only two people are available to serve as scouting leaders to two young men, and these leaders travel with work constantly, and are barely able to complete the annual BSA training requirements, it makes the full program impossible to implement. So a Buffett program, probably the only option. I know, this is a Utah blog, but the LDS church does not just exist in Utah, but scouting is everywhere. It is a wonderful program, but the challenges can be greater than the solutions presented in this blog. Great suggestions,though.

    Reply
  94. Brent H.

    Sorry. I’m going to say it. Scouts and the church are to intermingled. There was a clear distinction a couple decades back. If you did not want to participate, no problem. And scoutmasters served for years. Now it’s turnover central each time new YM leaders are called. No wonder it’s become a “pick and choose buffet style” program now. I’m not aware of any other scout sponsoring organizations, that combine their organization and scouts so close together. Yes the YM program is important. Either adopt the entire scout program or don’t sponsor it at all. I grew up in a ward troop that also had non members participating. I just don’t recognize the scouting program today. Not what I was part of years ago.

    Reply
  95. Chip Nolan

    A lot of good points have been raised in this blog. It was interesting to see the wide range of opinions in the comments…I certainly identified with many of them.

    I grew up a military brat and have served almost 22 years myself so I have moved around all my life…have lived both here in the US and abroad. I participated in Scouting as a youth (earned my eagle) and have served multiple times as Scoutmaster. I’ve been through my share of training to include Wood Badge. I love the outdoors and enjoy working with the YM. I also enjoy many aspects of Scouting…but like most endeavors, I do not enjoy every aspect. A few things I have gleaned along the way (and continue to learn!):

    1) Purpose. The Young Men program is not about Scouting…it is about helping YM achieve the purposes of the Aaronic Priesthood (See Chapter 8 of the Church Handbook of Instruction). The priesthood is organized into quorums. Each YM needs the quorum…the quorum exists to serve each other and serve others (both spiritually and temporally). The quorum also needs each YM and they should feel an obligation to support the quorum in fulfilling their priesthood obligations and assignments. That obligation comes with receiving the priesthood.

    2) The Quorum. Quorum presidencies plan their activities to address the needs of the quorum members. This can be done with or without Scouting. Scouting provides a robust program with a lot of flexibility that can be tailored to the needs of the YM. Some YM say they do not enjoy Scouting, but I bet there are some Scouting activities that they do enjoy doing. For me a Scouting activity is the same thing as a quorum activity. Take away Scouting and you still have the quorum trying to meet the needs of its members through different activities (as guided by the Spirit).

    3) It’s not all about you. It’s important that our YM learn what the priesthood is all about – SERVICE to others. That means it’s not always about them. Sometimes they will be asked/assigned to do things they do not want to do. YM need to learn to do things they do not like to do and do it with a spirit of cheerfulness. This may mean participating in some activities that do not interest them. I’ve often heard YM say, “I’m not going to Scouts this week because I’ve already done that.” Those Scouts don’t get it. They may have done it, but it’s not about them…it’s about being there for the quorum and looking for ways to serve and help others.

    4) Every quorum is different. Every ward/unit program will be different because its members are different. I have served in wards where we combined all three quorums and had 6-7 YM. I have also been in wards where the quorum had as many as 17 active members and a couple of non-member Scouts. The key is to tailor the program to the needs of the YM. Even in the same ward, that will change over time. That is the priesthood way and Scouting can be a part of it if it makes sense.

    Just as every unit/quorum is different, every district and council is different. I’ve had both good and bad experiences everywhere I have lived…seldom is the grass greener on the other side! Take what you have and bloom where you are planted!

    5) YM Led. Some of our YM hold priesthood keys which come with a lot of responsibility. The Aaronic Priesthood is a learning lab for the Melchizedek Priesthood…just as the patrol method in Scouting is a learning lab for life. In order to learn, the YM must lead and be in charge. This is not always pretty, but it is the best way for YM to make mistakes and learn from them in a safe environment. Letting the YM lead is harder and more time-consuming for the leaders, but we cheat the YM if we do not coach/mentor/train the YM and then step back and let them “learn by doing.”

    6) Good, better, best. There are a lot of great activities that our youth are involved in…music, sports, student government, jobs, etc. Sometimes these activities conflict with each other but hopefully the youth (and their parents) will consider quorum activities among the “best” activities and support them whenever they can. This is easier done when (1) the stake and ward leadership are on board and provide the right vision and guidance and (2) the program is well-run and interesting for the youth.

    7) Cool factor. I know some YM think Scouting is not “cool” but I think more often than not, they “learn” this attitude from a weak program with leaders that allow the attitude to develop. I’m not a big fan of silly camp songs or cheers, but even “cool” Scouts can come up with something unique that they are comfortable with (one year our YM wowed the crowd with a Maori Haka dance!). Even though I’m in the military, I’m not a fan of the “complete” uniform but do believe the YM learn some important concepts (standards, attention to detail, unity identity, etc.) by earning the money to purchase a shirt, sew on the appropriate patches, and wear it when appropriate. This is easier done when the cool factor is fostered from early on.

    8) Advancement. YM can choose to follow rank advancement or simply participate in the Troop/Quorum activities. We should encourage YM to earn eagle without pushing them…it’s a great opportunity and en even greater accomplishment, but it’s “not for everyone” and YM get turned off when pushed…to the point of not wanting to do any more Scouting once they “get their eagle.” This attitude is totally against the Scouting spirit. One of the most important questions in the eagle board of review is, “how do you plan to give back to Scouting after you earn your eagle?” If a YM has no desire to support the program and those that follow him, then he is not eagle material. YM have until 18 to earn their eagle. I understand parents’ desire for them to complete it sooner, but goals should be individual and I personally do not think most YM are mature enough to earn the eagle rank while a deacon. An interesting statistic – 80% of the last class of incoming male freshmen at BYU were Eagle Scouts. This is not a requirement, but I think it shows that it is important to BYU. I would expect it to be fairly high considering it is the activity arm of the YM program but this is extremely high (the average at our military academies is 15%…which is considered very high!). It could also indicate that the LDS Church has an “easy” Scout program where YM are cranked through the process with poorly trained leaders and slack standards.

    9) Missionary Work. We often don’t look at Scouting this way, but we should since non-LDS Scouts share more in common with our beliefs than most other folks. The problem with some LDS units is they become insular and just do their own thing. YM can reach out to their non-LDS friends and invite them to participate and even join. The Venturing Program is actually designed to recruit YM from the local high schools to participate in whatever focus area the crew chooses, but I have never seen this done….a missed missionary opportunity. Non-LDS fathers can be invited to participate as leaders. Units can participate in district and council activities and serve in leadership positions at those levels. I have seen districts made up of 50-60% LDS units where very few LDS leaders attend Roundtable. I know we’re all busy and cannot always attend…and it’s not always productive, but instead of asking what we get out of it, we should ask how we can give to the district that does so much for our YM.

    10) Leader Training. I’ve done enough high speed stuff in the military to make Scouts look like romper room but I believe training is important in any endeavor. That said, if leaders would just read the darn Scoutmaster Handbook from cover to cover (it’s an easy read), they would be more prepared than most Scoutmasters…even those with Wood Badge training. Seek education and be a self-learner…it ain’t that hard.

    11) Leadership. This is the greatest challenge from the Stake level on down to bishoprics and YM presidencies. Stake presidents and bishops need to take a vested interest and provide clear guidance to the stake and ward YM presidencies…and get them trained (i.e. at least read the appropriate books!) and involved. They also need to emphasize the importance of the program to both YM and parents. Scouting advancement is individual and optional, but Scouting activities are QUORUM activities…every member should support them.

    12) Young Women Program. YW can have as robust a program as they want (in many ways their program is more flexible) and all the comments above apply to them as well. While YW may not have a nationally recognized award, they could have a lot of the same experiences…even work on merit badges if they are interested. My biggest critique of the YW program (from what I have seen) is YW advisors do all the work instead of teaching the YW to function as a presidency and plan/execute activities to address the needs of their class members.

    In the end, it’s not about Scouting or the eagle rank…it’s about what our YM BECOME as they learn, grow and experience working together in a quorum in preparation for greater callings later in life (mission, marriage, family, etc.). Scouting can certainly play a large role in this…and should if it meets the needs of the YM. But in doing so, we should think outside ourselves and find ways to be good missionaries and reach out to our non-LDS Scouting community.

    Thanks to all who posted their insights…hope mine can be of use to someone.

    Chip

    Reply
  96. Jason

    I completely agree that the Scouting program is being completely mishandled. But it’s at the National and District level, not the local level. There are some definite issues there, too, but it’s not systemic like the National scouting program. At the local level, there aren’t enough people in the church (in most places) to run the program fully… at least if you still want to have any spiritual church callings filled. So saying that’s the problem is like saying that the problem with earth is sin.
    At the national and district level, I have yet to meet anyone in a boy scout uniform whom I would want to associate with by choice. They are all so wrapped up in “I’m a boy scout leader” that they’ve lost touch with the boys and with the reality of life. The Boy Scouts have become quite nearly a neo-Fascist organization at that level. I can’t stand it.
    All that being said, I do agree with the Prophets (that’s a good thing ;-)) in saying that scouting is an excellent program for getting boys ready for the 21st century. I wish I knew how to really make it work again without the National/District bureaucracy and without having to resort to a 30-person team of adults for a troop of 5-10 boys. If we can figure that out, then we’ll really be giving the boys the tools they need to survive (spiritually and temporally) in the 21st century!

    Reply
      1. Charles

        No. The Boy Scouts of America is a totally separate entity from the church, the priesthood, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Scouting should NOT be a “calling” within the church at all. I don’t see how the church can possibly justify calling people to serve within an organization wholly independent of the church.

        I didn’t covenant to serve in the Boy Scouts when I was baptized and confirmed a member of the church. I didn’t covenant to serve in the BSA when I received the Aaronic or Melchizedek Priesthoods, either. And I certainly didn’t covenant to serve in the boy scouts when I went to the temple.

        Scouting should not be a church calling. It’s that simple.

        Reply
  97. Donald

    I am thankful for my Scoutmasters. They impacted my life in many positive ways. However, my experience growing up in Colorado (non LDS troop) and participating in Scouting was much different than those in the Utah Councils. My Scoutmasters were true volunteers!

    They were not Scoutmasters by assignment (or calling). They volunteered! They were lifelong scouters who loved the program. They provided the needed continuity of trained leadership! Their programs, working hand in hand with other community volunteers, worked.

    I was shocked when I first participated in a LDS Troop in my 20s. Although the LDS called leaders were committed and loved the boys. The difference in the program was night and day.

    I’m in my 16th year of Active Duty US Navy service with 2 Iraq tours under my belt. Having an “all voluntary force” sets the US Military apart. I witness this daily.

    The REAL solution: Free the Scout Leadership from LDS callings. Separate YMs and Scouting. Encourage and maintain a volunteer leadership force. Encourage and develop the Volunteer Lifelong Scout Leader!

    Reply
  98. G. Kearney

    Some time ago I wrote a report on international scouting and the church youth. At the end of it I made some suggestions I offer them here:

    1. Accept that international scouting will never be, nor should it be, a clone of the Boy Scouts of America or of the BSA/LDS relationship.

    2. Create an international LDS scouting office similar to the LDS/BSArelationships office. This office need not be a full-time paid position. This person or persons would interact with world scouting bodies and develop the cross program information needed to support international LDS scouts and scouting families outside of the BSA system.

    3. Recognise that in many, even most, national scouting programs LDS young women will be part of scouting. Adjust the church scouting recognition requirements to reflect this reality.

    4. Consider the adoption of Church scouting outside of the Aaronic priesthood/scouting model used in the United States. Scouting as an activity arm of both the young men’s and young women’s program for example.

    Develop a mission preparation program that employs scouting to teach the practical skills young people will need as they move from home life to mission service and beyond.

    Reply
  99. Bob Morrison

    Scouting and LDS indoctrination must continue to be one and the same. With 30% of adults leaving the church, you cannot have too much indoctrination in the early formative years.

    Reply
  100. Christopher Herbert

    One of my favorite memories growing up in Scouting in the Long Beach Council area, we were at Stake Conference being held in the Millikan High School’s gymnasium to hold all our Stake members, and the Stake President getting up and directing his remarks to all the Bishops in attendance. I remember him saying that “you take the best man in your Ward who can help the boys being active and to serve each other in the Young Men’s Program and make him your Scout Master, even if he is in your Bishopric”. My father who had been a Scout Master previously, was then serving as a councilor in a Bishopric. Shortly thereafter, he was released and returned to the position of being a Scout Master for a total of 23 years in our Lakewood 3rd Ward.

    When I was asked to serve as Deacon’s Quorum President, during Presidency Meetings we worked on Quorum member’s activity contacts, weekly to monthly group activities, parties, service projects – all under the direction of my Quorum Advisor. At the same time I was the Senior Patrol Leader and would be with my Scout Master – father, hold the Senior Patrol Leader’s council meetings and would work with the Patrol Leaders for the next meetings, camp outs, summer camp and service project hours that boys needed for their advancement and the running of each weekly meeting – all in uniform, since that was what I was serving in as the role of a Scout. I still remember attending the joint YM/YW activites that were held every so often, that I did not wear my uniform for. When I turned 14 years old, I stayed back in my father’s Scout Troop as a Junior Leader, and later a Junior Assistant Scout Master. I continued attending every weekly meeting, going on every monthly campout and yearly summer camp with our Scout Troop until going to BYU and serving a Mission. My father was Woodbadge Trained and we were a full uniform group. There was a direct response of willingness and positive character of each scout willing to wear his uniform. Each Patrol Leader, Senior Patrol Leader and Junior Leader Position I helped with had a direct correlation of training used later on in the meetings and planning and helping with companions and others in each of my L.D.S. Missionary Districts while serving for two years in Montana & Wyoming.

    The other experience that helped me prepare for my L.D.S. Mission where elk burger is prevalent, I attended and participated in the California early morning Seminary Religious classes. For one year, our Seminary Teacher had so many students wanting to be part of her experience, she held two classes before High School started, and I went every morning for the 5:00 am class time. Seminary and Institute, accomplishing the “Duty to God Program” helped me greatly in being a “Better Missionary” and afterwards for life.

    I first became a Scout Master while living in Provo, Utah, while a student at BYU and before any of my four children were born. I found out that I was now both the Deacon’s Quorum Advisor on Sunday and Scout Master for the YM Activity Program. I found out that the Priesthood Quorum Activity Program I was so familiar with before my Mission, had been dropped by the L.D.S. General Authorities. I found out that I was both the Quorum Advisor and Scout Master, having a greater influence in the boys overall training and growth and activities. At monthly Roundtable sessions, I found out that if there was difficulty in doing both positions, some Advisors served as Assistant Scout Masters and some Scout Masters served as the Assistant Quorum Advisor, especially as the two deep leadership BSA guidelines were put into place.

    I appreciated those Bishoprics who went to Basic Training, Roundtable, Woodbadge Training Sessions and had the vision of Scouting in better supporting the General Authorities and making the Scout Master position better understood and supported. My best Stake Presidencies that had the “Vision of Scouting” in supporting their General Authorities had gone to Woodbadge Training Sessions and/or attended L.D.S. Week at Philmont Scout Ranch to be taught by the General Authorites in attendance there.

    Shortly after being called to be a Scout Master, I attended the Basic Training Courses indoors and an outdoor weekend. I soon found that the monthly Roundtable Training Session was essential to my own “Vision of Scouting”. Our Stake Presidency set up a “Little Philmont Scout Training Weekend class where all individuals serving in our Stake Scouting programs, were asked to attend the Friday thru Saturday sessions. They set aside the event being held in Park City at the Yarrow Hotel/Convention Center at the time. My best recollection and respect that I had for our Stake Presidency, they were all in full uniform. Our Stake President said: “When I am being the Priesthood Quorum Advisor on Sunday, I wear the hat of the Priesthood Advisor and help the boys accomplish their Sunday duties and Priesthood responsibilities, in perspective to each Quorum age group. When I serve in the Young Men’s Acitivity Program as Scout Master, I wear the hat of the Scout Master, being in uniform and help the boys accomplish the means and purposes of Scouting”. Being a Priesthood Quorum Advisor did not allow me to use my Sunday’s meetings and responsibilities to supplant and take away or replace the responsibilities and planning meetings needed to help the boys accomplish their “Leadership Positions, Roles & Responsibilities required for First Class to Star, Star to Life and Life to Eagle Ranks”. Sorry, but it does take a extra time to sit back and watch the boys / young men hold both meetings, one Presidency Meeting with you as Quorum Advisor, if you think that is important, which I do, and the other – Senior Patrol Leader’s / Patrol Leader’s Planning Meeting with you as their Scout Leader, to not take away the essence of the boys leadership roles, character and growth as a Boy Scout, Varsity Scout or Venturing Scout. The boys then conduct the next Scout meeting, campout, service project, activity, etc… I have helped in Eagle Board of Reviews in the past, and saw listed on the Eagle Scout’s Application, the leadership position written down being a Patrol Leader, so I asked the boy what he had learned from holding his Patrol Leaders planning meetings; then he stared back at me and said “what’s that”?
    All you have to do is look at every Leadership Position description from say Senior Patrol Leader down to say a Troop Guide or Den Chief that is assigned by the Scout Master and each and every description list ends with, “Wears the uniform correctly”. It is not only one of the 5 to 7 items listed for the Leadership Position requirement for advancement, but is also a part of Scout Spirit, besides how the boy supports his Patrol Leader in making the Patrol Method assignments for meetings, camp outs, cooking, setting up camp, clean up – all the while the Scout Leaders are sitting in their lounge style chairs reading their favorite book while their food is being cooked. One of my favorite campouts, my other leader and I were reading our books while our gear was brought over, our tent was set up and in time our meal was served. We had a lot of boys recommended for the next board of review, where a year earlier, when we as leaders were doing mostly everything for the boys there was less interest in attendance and activity and too much anger between the boys.

    As I had character building experiences in my youth of always wearing the next larger size of Scout Uniform as I grew, the same applies each time I serve in any position related to the BSA Scouting Program, or asked to help on a Scouting Activity Staff. If you do not think that obtaining a new or used uniform is important as a new Scout Leader, I have to ask you – how many weeks, months or years are you going to let go by without ever “being” a Scout Leader? Or are you just hoping to be released before you finally go out and make the ultimate commitment by buying your new uniform or finding a used uniform.

    After serving in the early 1990’s for nearly 5 years on the UNPC Boy Scouting Committee and Assistant Advancement Chairman with Arline Smith for a couple years, along with teaching the Advancement Classes at the BYU Merit Badge Pow Wows including at UVU Campus, then afterwards being replaced by a new council committee staff, I had a special thank you where I heard a voice say, “Thank you for helping to raise the standards of the Council. The young men coming out of the Council are “Better Missionaries” than they were before.” And that my dear leaders is what you are doing in the Scout Program “if” you are supporting the L.D.S. General Authorities’ Vision of Scouting for our boys and young men, as you also accomplish the special duties of being a Quorum Advisor on Sunday and transition into a Scout Master during the week.

    Training, training, and more training is “being” a Scout Leader. Then when you think you’ve been to the monthly Roundtable Training session enough for learning to understand and love the General Authorities’ Vision of Scouting, you will then want to help others learn. If you are not going to Roundtable regularly, you will never gain the “Scouting Vision” the General Authorities have. And with the help of the Holy Ghost too.

    “If” you support the General Authorities Vision of Scouting, then your boys are accomplishing the “Patrol Method” and the same principles apply for the Varsity Scouting Program Letter / Manager Instructors and Venturing Scout Programs where all the adult leader does is show up in his full Scout Program’s respective uniform, sit in a corner, keep’s his mouth shut and say his respective Scout Master’s, Varsity Leader’s or Venturing Leaders “Minute” at the end just before closing. And learn to eat the cooking of your boys and not the other way around! If you do not understand the Patrol Method Vision of Scouting and your boys ages 11 – 18 are not doing / performing their leadership roles, you are not doing “Scouting” – period! And then on Sunday, the Scout Master (turned) Advisor uses the same concepts as the boys conduct their Quorum Presidency Meeting and later the actual Quorum Meeting and Lesson Instruction. The Advisor is there only for clarification, adding what was not covered and the completion of the boy’s / young men’s training of being a “Better Missionary”. Then is starts all over again for the next Scout Program activity.

    Instead, I recognize that many of us have resurrected the old Young Men’s Activity Program that was dropped so many years ago and due to our lack of “Vision” concoct our own special activity program by calling it scouting and do very little or ignore completely the BSA Leadership Position descriptions and give the Eagle Rank to boys who got their 21 Merit Badges and only did their Sunday duties. The General Authorities do see for example, the Varsity Scout Program, Varsity Letter, Program Manager Pins as part of the BSA deal.

    I enjoyed helping last night with our District Eagle Banquet staff by presenting three unique slide shows for many Eagle Scouts being recognized after the meal. I still wonder how many of them will be the “Better Missionaries” that the Holy Ghost was alluding to, who had the opportunity to live the Scout Program and participate in the “Patrol Method and Leadership Training” the Scout Program has to offer, by accomplishing and doing most or all of the items listed for each leadership description as listed my BSA National; that once the National Advancement Chairman told me at Philmont Scout Training that we are not allowed to add to or take away. How many boys are un-knowingly participating in a lie, as they and their leader’s signatures are written on each Eagle Application and sent to BSA National’s Eagle Scout Secretary to have their Eagle Presentation packets processed for later Courts of Honor. Whether or not those signatures are true, that’s the kind of boys we are presenting to the Lord and sending out into the world for His Mission Presidents to work with.

    When we picked up our son from his L.D.S. Mission in Brazil, he lacked the comforts of our home here in the U.S. and it felt like he was still in the Scout Program, sleeping or almost camping each night in very rustic settings, hiking long distances, helping others, serving companions and members and helping in District patrols of Elders and Troop type Zones of District Patrols along with his Mission President – Scout Master and Junior Leaders and helping many learn of something from heaven. All in a different uniform of a white shirt and tie, but same attitude.

    The “Better the Scout Program” the “Better the Missionaries” we send the Lord out into His World, who is the greatest Scout Master we have to pattern our lives after.

    I hope if I am ever called to be a Bishop here in the U.S.A., that I never tell any 14 year old boy being set apart as a new Teacher in the Aaronic Priesthood Quorum that “We Do Not Do Uniforming” as both of my sons were told years ago.

    Hope our UNPC and any other BSA Council near by can learn from this Blog, where the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints leaders still can have a positive influence with those in charge of Chartering Organizations each year, who make a promise by signature to make the effort needed in making the BSA Program truly their “Activity Arm for the Aaronic Priesthood Quorums” so the people who do love Scouting and volunteer to serve in various training committees whether it be for Roundtable, Specific Leader Training, Timberline, Woodbadge and any other training staff members – are full instead of being canceled from lack of interest.

    Once I had the Patrol Method’s Leadership program functioning with my 11 year old boys, my training time was nearly over, because it became the older boys were now training the younger boys and the round robin cycle turns on it’s own. The same goes for each more advanced scouting age program.

    And then on Sunday, the boys I had participated better at church for me, and now today the church’s main emphasis is where the boys / young men have a greater part in conducting and running their Sunday School and Quorum Priesthood Lessons and the adult leaders are being told to do less. Sounds a lot like the Patrol Method Leadership Skills being lived all over again – same concepts, but in white shirt and tie – “Better Missionaries”? Yes.

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  101. Durgan

    I have problems with how the LDS church runs scouting, in that it seems the LDS church has different rules for scouting than the rest of the world, or even the US.

    In cub scouts, they are encouraged to go camping (family campouts) and have many outdoor and other activities. In the LDS church, campouts for cubscouts as well as many of the other outdoor activities enjoyed by Non-LDS packs seem to be outlawed.

    This continues to the new scouts (called Blazer or 11 year old scouts) in that in many places they are restricted on how many campouts they can have (3 in our current area, much to my amazed curiosity). If they are members of a normal troop, there really is no limit to the campouts, and they normally go camping at least several times a year, if not every month.

    There are restrictions on how much money they can raise, on fund raisers, and many other essential elements to scouting that help raise leadership values and responsibilities in the patrol leaders and other positions of the boy scouts.

    Many here talk about the YM being less restrictive than the Boy Scouts, but I find the opposite in many instances. The LDS church puts restrictions on the Boy Scouts that don’t exist outside their organization, and why they put these restrictions mystifies me.

    Furthermore, when people talk about restrictions in regards to getting Tour Activities approved, I find that many of those activities are not approved in regards to proper planning or safety concerns. The activities would be approved (and even more than the LDS church would approve probably) if they had the proper planning and the safety (which is put there due to experience of accidents in the past and finding proper ways to try to ensure the safest precautions are taken) guidelines taken into effect.

    The biggest factor for me seems to be about funds. The LDS church seems bound by their budgets, whereas with non-LDS troops, that budget for the troop is only limited by how hard the boys want to work in raising the funds for their activities.

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  102. Ron

    Mat, your right!
    I’m sitting here reading a lot of the reply’s and pulling my hair out. Did they not read your article. All of the complaints I could give the same answer to RUN THE PROGRAM!!!!! The program works, don’t pick parts of it, don’t only do parts of it, run the program. I don’t understand why this is such a hard concept for members of the church to grasp. The church dose not function this way, Christ instructed us how the church was to be structured and we have followed those instructions. You can go to any Sacrament meeting in the world and it will be the same as the Sacrament meeting in your ward. The same goes for Scouting.
    The prophets have testified that scouting is the activity arm of the YM’s program. Scouting doesn’t replace the YM’s program or Duty to God. If you are running the program the right way you will see that rank advancements and merit badges are being earned by all of the young men that are participating and you will have close to 100% of your young men active.
    I am a Varsity Coach and this is what I have seen with my team over the past four years, five out of five young men that have turned 18 and graduated are serving full time missions and another has just turned in his mission papers and four out of the five have earned their Eagle Scout Award. I also had a none member young man join our Team because the none LDS Scouting Teams were not running the program. He also has earned his Eagle Scout Award. I can promise you that if you follow and implement the whole program you will have young men that are prepared spiritually, mentally and physically for a mission and for life.

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  103. T

    Great article but yet just one more in the long list of articles on why scouting should be supported. Having served in the scouting program in many many wards with many bishops I believe that is where the first link where the scouting program is broken. When the Bishop calls adults that are trained or are willing to be trained and these adults understand the program the program succeeds whether the Bishop understands the program fully or understands enough to stay out of the way. Unfortunately for the youth of the church it seems more likely that someone is called not understanding or even being told what the calling entails leaving the scouting aspect out completely. To often I hear I must have something to learn or I’m being released because I’ve become to comfortable or learned what I needed to. I thought a calling was about service, in this case to the YM. Maybe someone should be called because they love scouting, they love the YM, because they love the outdoors, because they want to serve. In my ward, our YM are dealing with their 4th set of leaders in the last 5 years. In my opinion this is one bad for the ones that the program is supposed to be serving. THE YM. All that being said the only way it will be fixed is from the top down.

    T

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  104. K. Chai

    There are so many comments here that I failed to read all of them, but I did read all of them near the top. My opinion and experience may have been covered later, but I will share it anyway.

    I hated scouts in the young men’s program of the Church. I am a musician, working on a doctorate in music now, so imagine that I was also highly involved in music as a kid (now 36). I was outcast by the other boys in my troop/young men’s group because I didn’t play football or basketball. I had a decent amount of natural athletic ability but it went ignored as I rebelled against parents for forcing me into scouts. I was told, in no uncertain terms, that my grandparents required scouts of their boys, and that it was good enough for my parents to force it on my brothers and me. I was told no church dances if my eagle wasn’t earned by the time I was 14, and no dating or driving if not earned by 16. I finished it by 17 just be done with the hell it wreaked on my life.

    I hated working with the other boys, who only wanted to goof off and play basketball, but did not actually want to work towards scouts. I had interest because it was forced upon me, and I had to do all my work alone or with my parents because it never came from our scout troop. My dad was my scoutmaster until I was 14 or 15, so there was at least some support for the program. As I got older, the other boys at church henpecked me and another friend/kid in the ward until he just quit coming to church altogether, but that choice was not allowed in my family. I had to suffer. It was not enough that I lived in an area where few are LDS, the band kids hated me because I was in choir, the choir kids hated me because I was in band, I was gifted at school and was thus even more a geek, but that kids at church decided it was OK to treat me like shit too. All because I didn’t fit in with what they thought of as cool. I learned to hate those boys. They treated me like I was gay, and ignored for me for my supposed “sin.”

    I finished my eagle rank, because apparently that was the most important thing to accomplish in my life. I had visions of stabbing that stupid patch into my parents waterbed. I love it that much.

    If the church is fostering scouts upon young men just to make sure they go on missions, there’s a level of delusion. I went on a mission. I learned after the fact that other missionaries in my mission thought I was gay and decided to ignore me for it. Apparently a man who loves classical music can only be gay. The same things happened in my YSA ward as a young adult post-mission. I have learned to hate scouts, young men’s programs, and most missionaries due to this set of life experiences. To this day, if a bishop ever called or asked me to do scouts, the answer is an unapologetic NO. Not now, not ever. I have watched scouts be mismanaged as a kid; I’ve had scout leaders ignore my needs and interest; I’ve watched scout leaders tolerate emotional and mental abuse heaped upon those declared “different;” and I have a lifetime of misery as my proof that it is not imperative that we all participate in it. My children, if I ever get married and have any, will not be required to participate in scouts, church support or none. It will be made available to them as an option, and I will do my best to support their interest in it.

    My observations: the Canadian man suggested scouts be a stake level troop is a good idea. But I’d separate it from young men’s completely. Run from the stake level, scouts on a Saturday once or twice per month catches those who want to participate without forcing other young men into scouts who are not inclined to be there for whatever reason. If there were more activities that were fun and lead to merit badges, more boys would do it. That said, ward level young men’s activities need some amount of physical play, but interesting events can still be found. My group went and toured the airport and an airplane when I was about 15. Outside of the norm, yes, but I was fascinated. I think the weekly young men’s night should focus on spirituality more like the YW program, but neither program should be all discussion and no activity. I loved having a cooking night. Boys only did that about once per year, but more often could be good, if we expect the kids to be missionaries one day. I don’t know that my suggestion is a perfect solution, but it is a step. What I see in my ward is that girls are taught to be mothers and spiritual, and boys are taught to be scouts and missionaries. We can expand beyond those rigid expectations. Where is exploring different professions, finding service (not just as “projects”), and developing talents and skills emphasized today? If crafts are nice for the married women or other RS age women, are there gender and age appropriate crafts the youth can do?

    It seems to me the YW/YM programs are supposed to be designed to create compassionate, well-rounded individuals who will be responsible adults who add to society both inside and outside the church. If we fail to build quality and maturity into these kids, how can we expect them to become capable adults? Parents? Missionaries? Future church leaders? Scouts and the youth programs of the church fail because we are trying to compartmentalize and address certain aspects of our children’s development without trying to make them well-rounded among many areas and instead focus on one or two major goals: parenthood and missionary service. If we were to instead focus on their development as whole human beings, parenthood and missionary service would largely take care of itself. The achievement of Eagle rank, Duty to God, Young Women in Excellence, all as awards would still be nice but would be complimentary to their development instead of ends unto themselves. And in the end, who cares how many of the scouts serve missions if they are remaining horrible people, cruel and unkind, like I have experienced most of my life? Temple recommend holders can, and still do, make mistakes and mistreat people, as my experience has taught me. Just going through a program at church does not “save” anyone by itself or make someone a better person.

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  105. Stephen Bunker

    The responses to this post have been emotionally charged, but not surprising. My point here is LDS families don’t only have to look for scouting in their wards. Here’s my story.

    When my son turned 16, I was concerned that most of his extracurricular activities revolved around electronics. Frankly, my wife and I wanted him to be more socially, physically, and spiritually engaged. I had been his Deacon’s Quorum Advisor/Scoutmaster and had seen first hand the growth he and his Aaronic Priesthood peers had had because of Scouting opportunities.

    He advanced into the Teacher’s Quorum where only a cursory attempt was made to implement Varsity Scouting. I felt that we could supplement his growth through scouting experiences with NYLT and Order of the Arrow. These exceptional Scouting extensions helped, but it was like taking multivitamins once a month. We needed something on a regular basis.

    I had worked as a counselor in this YM presidency and knew through open discussion with the Young Men’s president that any attempt to implement a Venturing program would simply not happen. A short while later, I was released from my Young Men’s calling and moved on. Sadly, the message I received from ward and stake priesthood leadership was, “We support Scouting, but it’s not a priority.”

    I made it a matter of prayer of how we could enhance my son’s growth while still sustaining our priesthood leadership. I strongly felt Scouting was a solution. I heard about a Venturing crew in a neighboring town that was chartered by a community group. I called the advisor and asked if his crew was accepting new members. He told me about his crew: the days and times they met and that the crew was coed. I was relieved to learn they met on a night other than when our Ward’s YM/YW program met. The advisor said we were welcome to come to a crew meeting and see if we would like to join. I took my son (16), daughter (14), and my niece (17).

    To make a long story short, we have been involved with the crew since. My children are concurrently registered in their ward and their community unit. My wife is an Associate Advisor and I serve on the Crew committee. She and I look forward to assisting with meetings, outings, and the yearly weeklong outdoor adventures. My children associate with quality adult leaders who sustain and enhance our LDS standards. I’m even further impressed with the quality of youth who attend: they are respectful, adventurous, and accomplished. Oh, and they run the program.

    Fast forward 6 years. That 16 year-year-old son has returned from an honorable full-time mission and has married in the temple. My daughter is currently serving a full-time mission. In all, 5 of my 6 children (including 2 daughters) have participated with the crew—number 6 is too young. I have no regrets to looking for scouting elsewhere.

    It has been a win/win situation for my family: my children still participate in their priesthood quorums and activities; their circle of friends has expanded to include quality youth outside our neighborhood; they associate with quality adults; and my wife’s and mine involvement with the crew is rewarding because we can directly take part in our children’s growth and progress.

    If you are not happy with your LDS unit, concurrently register your child in a community unit or step up and start your own community unit (pack, troop, team or crew). What ever you do, be engaged: get trained, volunteer as an adult leader and/or join the unit committee. All too often LDS units strap the burden of a scouting onto the adult leader(s) when in should be shared and shouldered by the committee comprised of the youth’s parents.

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  106. Ellis

    Reading through the article and the comments, I’m seeing we all agree on three things –

    1. We do scouting for the outcomes it generates in boys’ lives.
    2. Scouting must be properly implemented to generate those outcomes.
    3. Many troupes struggle to properly implement scouting.

    Further reading through the comments suggests that the reason troupes struggle to properly implement scouting has less to do with laziness, and more to do with the fact that the program is being run by volunteers who have limited time to dedicate, and other conflicting priorities.

    Rather than a clarion call to “buck up and do more”, I wonder if it wouldn’t be more productive for all of us in the BSA to take a step back and ask “can we help boys achieve the same outcomes with a more lightweight, simplified program”?

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  107. Adam B

    Such a Utah problem. There are very few places around the world where full scouts could even be implemented with the numbers of boys and adults that are available. Further, no matter how beneficial Scouts is NOT a part of the Gospel. It is no more benficial to a young boy than any of the many positive activities that a young man can participate in (sports, FFA 4H, music, honors societies, etc) in helping them be better men. The idea that Scouts and spititual advancement are somehow connected can potentially alienate any boy who simply doesn’t like Scouts from a Gospel and church that ultimatley has nothing to do with Scouts. Scouts is a great program, but it is not the only way to raise a boy in the Gospel.

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  108. Caden Webb

    I have a couple of issues with this article.
    1. There is a big difference between something being “inspired” and “revelatory” (regardless of your religiosity).
    2. Scouting is compulsory for wards/stakes in America. Agency is a tenet of the LDS faith. Over half the boys and leaders don’t want to do scouting. We should stop forcing them to do it and stop trying to make them feel bad about about it. Plenty of LDS boys and girls all over the world get by just fine and grow up to be great people without scouting.
    3. Most wards don’t have enough people to fully staff a proper scouting operation.
    4. Leaders that are put in charge through callings or compulsion are clearly not going to be invested.
    5. The scout uniforms are kinda dumb. Just being honest. That’s one area that needs to be modernized. Kids don’t want to wear that.

    In conclusion, my statements and opinions are clearly superior to anything else that could be said in a frail attempt of a “rebuttal” to my claims. Case closed.

    Reply
      1. Charles

        As someone who has served in young men’s presidencies in four states (Utah, Washington, Wyoming, and New Hampshire), I would estimate that WELL over half the leaders and young men I served with would prefer that the young men’s and scouting programs were separate, and that scouting was no longer compulsory.

        I think scouting is a fine organization for those who are interested and want to participate in it. I think forcing our young men (and young men leaders) to participate in scouting is a terrible mistake, though. Wrapping scouting up with the young men’s program alienates many young men from both. I nearly didn’t serve a mission because I couldn’t stomach scouting, and became inactive in the young men’s organization for most of my teenage years as a result.

        We shouldn’t be forcing our young men (many of whom are already over-scheduled with other activities) to choke down equal portions of the BSA when all they want or need is the Priesthood, the pure Gospel of Jesus Christ, and positive interaction with their fellow quorum members.

        There’s simply no reason to continue forcing the BSA down the throats of our young men.

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        1. Charles

          Right now, the only way to avoid participation in scouting within our Young Men’s organization to NOT participate in any meetings or activities. Unfortunately, church leadership has made Young Men’s and scouting so integrally and closely tied together they are practically indistinguishable.

          Currently, when a young man in our church chooses to no longer participate in scouting, he is effectively choosing not to participate in the YM’s program as well. That’s NOT a choice our young men should have to make. It is incredibly unwise and totally misguided to have the two organizations so closely intertwined. We lose many, many young men because our leadership insists on making the BSA the “activity arm” of the YMs organization. It’s insanity.

          Scouting should be entirely elective within our church. In order for this to be the case, church and scouting must become entirely separate. It is absolute folly to make our young men choke down heaping portions of the BSA in order for them to sample the fruits of activity in the Young Men’s organization of the Aaronic Priesthood.

          Far too many of our young men are unable to distinguish between the taste of the BSA and the taste of the true fruits of the gospel. I speak from experience when I say that the taste of the BSA is not palatable to every young man. I could never stomach the uniforms, the songs, the oaths, the formality…I (and at least a half dozen of my LDS friends) became entirely inactive during my teenage years because we hated scouting so badly. Only a couple of us ever went on missions or made it back to full activity in the church. The unholy union between the LDS church and the BSA has resulted in countless young men losing interest in the Young Men’s organization, and by extension the church.

          We continue our close association with the BSA to our detriment.

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  109. mom

    Boy Scouts is a fantastic program and so is Young Men’s. However I firmly believe scouting shouldn’t be a church calling. I don’t think its right to call a ward member into the bishops office and ask them to be a scout leader. It isn’t church related, it is very time consuming, it requires a background check and additional training. Parents who want their boys in scout should volunteer their own time. Church time should not be used for scout propaganda or fundraising. A few months ago my ward used an entire hour of Sunday school to promote boy scouts and ask for money. I came to church for church not to be lectured about scouts and made to feel that I was a good member if I gave more money for the boys to go camping! I gladly give because I believe its a great program but it shouldn’t be a part of church. The young women earn their own money for camp while the boys send a member of the bishopric to your door and straight out ask for a check. Ridiculous!

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    1. Steve Faber

      The reality is that the LDS church calls its members to help with the work. The church’s web site states that Scouting supports the Priesthood in accomplishing the work (https://www.lds.org/callings/aaronic-priesthood/leader-resources/scouting?lang=eng).

      Perhaps the core these concerns, as well as other responses on this blog, is related to money? Perhaps Friends of Scouting (FOS)? Church leaders, especially bishoprics, should take a careful approach to Friends of Scouting. The handbook states: “The Friends of Scouting fund drive in the United States will continue as a separate, voluntary solicitation.” You should not have any reason to feel that you are not a “good member” if you are unable, cannot, or will not contribute to FOS. Especially if their presentation came across as “propaganda” (which denotes a derogatory approach to biased or misleading information – of which there are none on the LDS web site). There are plenty of bishoprics who I have seen handle FOS in a careful and appropriate way.

      It is time consuming, requires a background check and a bunch of additional training. Even when they are not called, parents are able and do volunteer to be on scouting committees and serve in other scouting positions in the unit/district/council. If you were called into the bishop’s office for a scouting calling, I would hope you would feel comfortable exercising your God given agency to turn down or accept the invitation.

      I personally believe that the relationship between the LDS church and the BSA is one good way that helps good boys become great men and good men and women become better men and women.

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      1. mom

        It is wrong to ask for money at church. It is wrong to use a ward directory to call members and tell them they want a $100 donation. Scouting is secular. It can be encouraged but not expected. In the LDS culture it is expected.

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        1. Steve Faber

          As mentioned, I think bishoprics should be careful about FOS. I do not think that asking for a specific amount is the right way to approach FOS, it’s better to share the vision of scouting in the church, then let members decide how much, if any, to give. I am curious to know if you might have similar concerns if bishoprics approached FOS in the same way that funds are solicited for fast offerings? There may be ways to view scouting as being secular, scouting is not the priesthood, scouting is just one way to carry out priesthood activities, under prieshood direction. The “heart of scouting” is Duty to God, which is not secular.

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      2. Charles

        Fine…scouting is great…but it shouldn’t be compulsory. A young man should be able to participate in the young men’s organization of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints without being forced to also put on your ridiculous Hitler Youth uniforms and participate in your long irrelevant little club!

        Why can’t you BSA fanboys get this through your heads?

        Why would you continue to force our young men to dedicate so much of their time and energy to a non-church, non-priesthood, non-gospel, largely impractical pursuit that is not even remotely essential for their salvation?

        It boggles the mind.

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        1. Steve Faber

          Nothing, including Scouting, should be forced on anyone:
          2.4.3 Effective priesthood leaders preside in love and kindness. They do not try to force their will upon others.

          The Church does not “force” Scouting on anyone:
          8.13.4 Where Scouting is authorized by the Church, quorums may participate in Scouting activities during Mutual. Scouting should help young men put into practice the gospel principles they learn on Sunday.

          I feel sorry that “force” was used in relation to Scouting in your youth, and perhaps in adult life.

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          1. Charles

            The sad reality is that one cannot be totally active within the YM’s organization of the LDS church without also being active (to some degree) in the BSA. It’s incredibly intellectually dishonest to suggest otherwise. You know full well that this is the case.

            You cannot on one hand state that the BSA is, by decree, the “activity arm of the Aaronic Priesthood”, then try to claim that scouting isn’t forced on our young men. You choose to be active in scouting (the activity arm of the Aaronic Priesthood), or you choose to be inactive in your quorum activities. There’s simply no way around this and it’s a terrible position to put out young men in.

            It’s a small mercy that I don’t have sons. I certainly wouldn’t push them to be active in the YM’s organization as it is currently configured.

          2. Steve Faber

            Charles and Travis, although I’m saddened by your perspective, I appreciate you sharing your perspective. It’s caused me to be more careful and understanding with those who have differing opinions about scouting.

  110. Braden

    I simply had no interest in scouting, and I only “earned” my Eagle Scout because my parents forced me to. Scouting has done absolutely nothing for me in real life. In the eyes of many, those feelings make me a bad member of the Church, but that’s honestly how I feel. I’ve since gone on to graduate from one of the top law schools in the country, have a successful career as an attorney, and have a wonderful wife and five children–and I credit none of my successes in life to the scouting program.

    Reply
  111. Chris L

    I get tired of those citing all of the church leaders statements without also citing the church handbook which says:
    8.13.4 Scouting
    Where Scouting is authorized by the Church,
    quorums may participate in Scouting activities
    during Mutual. Scouting should help young men
    put into practice the gospel principles they learn
    on Sunday.

    That is the FIRST paragraph in that column which, to me, says that it is the overarching vision of what the rest of the information for scouting (in the church handbook) should be looked through. I don’t think I need to cite Who ultimately approved this handbook.

    My story is that scouting was an activity that kept me busy while going through puberty and dealing with a parent with terminal cancer. I did a lot of fun activities, earned some merit badges, can tie good knots, start a fire with flint/steel, and can still give the scout oath and law because that was invaluable to me. I did not attain ‘Eagle’ status. What disillusioned me from the scouting ‘vision’ was much of what has been commented above:

    1. “Scouting should be the activity arm of the priesthood.” My opinion is that die-hard scout leaders take license with this to say that it’s the ONLY activity that YM should participate in. I disagree. With my circumstances, what shined through were church leaders willing to give their time and patience to support a kid that needed guidance during a tough time. It wasn’t scouts that saved me, it was the person willing to give their time to me. I credit the Christlike principles that they learned on Sunday to what they did on ‘scout night’.

    2. The journey is what is important, not the destination. I am also one of those not impressed with the emphasis that only an ‘Eagle’ scout is what is acceptable. I recognize that that’s a broad brush that I painted with, but I too have been made to feel that somehow I wouldn’t succeed in life without that rank. Having served a successful mission, married in the temple, graduated from college, served as 1st and 2nd counselor in Bishoprics,and having a successful career has taught me differently. I’m sure someone will pipe up that I somehow would have been more as an ‘Eagle’. I believe that the effort that I put into the things that interested me was ‘Eagle’ quality, but I didn’t feel to need to get recognition for it. Just because my desire wasn’t “set so much upon the things of this world, and aspire to the honors of men” didn’t mean that my accomplishments weren’t meaningful. I’ve learned that my validation should come from a much Higher source than that. My destination is also much more meaningful than that.

    3. A scout is ‘Thrifty’. This is a more recent conflict that I have had with the scouting organization that I don’t recall existing when I was younger. I know that the church pays for each scout’s and scout leader’s registrations with the BSA. That is a large annual chunk of money from each ward and stake. Then there is fundraisers to help pay for camp(s) each year. That, again, is a large annual or semi-annual chunk of money from each ward. Then there is ‘Friends of Scouting’ which is an additional burden of dollars over and above what has already expended from the wards and stake annually. With all the free volunteer labor, the high cost of apparel (BSA short sleeve shirt $44.99…REALLY), insignia, and materials it baffles me as to why the BSA needs any more money through my ‘friendship’. Frankly, the only other place where I’ve seen groups that sell each other so hard, enjoy silly skits and chants, and hyping each other up was at multi-level marketing (MLM) meetings. I don’t believe that’s what the BSA core represents, but sometimes I question if that’s what it has become.

    In the end, I am a big believer in giving our time, talents, and money toward ANY good cause that provides wholesome activities for our youth – be it scouts, YM/YW, sports, 4H, community programs/volunteering, etc. I think that scouting works well as one of those activities, but I don’t believe it is the only solution when read through the church handbook statement. The statement says “may” NOT ‘must’ or ‘are required to’ “participate in Scouting activities”. I believe that that statement is also inspired by church leaders to allow for adjustment for activities that suit local level leader inspiration and local circumstances. I, like many others, don’t appreciate feeling coerced in our time/talent/$$ participation in a program that is a peripheral organization (not appendage) to the church. I will support its goal of helping boys become better men, but I will not support the idea that it is the ONLY way that boys will become better men.

    That said, I will say that I appreciate anyone’s willingness to give their time/talents/$$ to help boys and girls become strong and good people.

    Reply
  112. Bruce Alger

    All of these comments have been interesting to read. I think Mat has zeroed in on the situation. But I’m not sure it is our place to decide if Scouting should go or stay, We are charged with making it work. Eleven Prophets in the last 102 years have decided that in the United States Scouting is something of good report and want us to use it. So the question is, do you sustain the Prophet? Some day a Prophet may say Scouting and the Church are going to part ways but until that time we should doing all we can to make it a success. When done right it blesses the lives of young men, it helps to prepare them to be good missionaries, citizens, husbands and fathers. Can you be those things without Scouting? Of course, but it helps, and if a person called to be a Scout Leader takes the time to get trained then the job is so much easier and effective. I noticed that Braydon told someone, “Don’t use a quote from a GA 40 years ago, that doesn’t count. REALLY?! What does that say about quoting Joseph Smith or Nephi or Peter or Isaiah or Moses?

    Reply
  113. Scott G

    One of the biggest problems, IMO, is that the scouts are TOO closely tied to the LDS church.

    By making scout master a calling instead of a volunteer position, you set yourself up for possible failure.

    Granted, many called are great scout masters. However, many have absolutely NO desire to do anything in scouting. Yet, the culture of the LDS church is that you never say no to a calling. And then the calling just gets done badly.

    I believe it would make a world of difference if the LDS church would relinquish such tight linking of scouting and young mens.

    I know that it’s “technically” allowed for boys of other faiths to join the boy scouts, but, come on… how comfortable is that and how often are they really welcomed? Same goes for leaders. Let non-LDS leaders volunteer to be scout master and un-link it from young mens!

    Reply
  114. richard raddatz

    WAIT THERE IS A PROBLEM? SCOTT BROWN HAD TOLD ME I BEEN DOING MY JOB AS A SCOUT LEADER WAS ALL WRONG SO I LEFT, AFTER 5 years I thought I had done well, glad he pointed that out

    Reply
  115. Klint

    Some good points made in the article. A lot of different perspectives in the comments, most centered on severing the relationships between the LDS Church and BSA. IT SOUNDS LIKE MOST ASSUME THIS WOULD GENERATE A TREMENDOUS DEGREE OF HAPPINESS.
    I am LDS and I am an Eagle Scout. I didn’t earn eagle until I was almost 16 – I was one of the slow ones, but I had an awesome time getting to that point. Just last year I went and looked at my eagle project, still somewhat intact some 24 years later, and took a picture of my children sitting on the fence I built with my troop. I want my son to be involved in this program and I hope it does as much for him as it did for me. I do not want this program severed from the LDS YM programs.
    Modern scouting does take a lot of time and resources, and many LDS units are not equipped properly with leadership, time or proper camping equipment. Some of the solutions offered, may actually be worth implementing as an improvement to the LDS/BSA relationship. My last ward had some great leaders, but some not so great ones as well, but they all tried to help the young men to be successful in their efforts. All who participated became better people as a result.
    Fact is, Scouting is for the boys. To help them become the great leader that is within their potential. The LDS Church’s relationship is a two way street with the BSA. A great deal of BsA funding comes from the LDS membership. In some parts of the nation, there would not be a single BSA resources available for non LDS troops if it were not for the LDS support of the BSA. In other areas, there would be a great deal fewer professional scouters without that relationship. Furthermore, without LDS scouting, scouting would likely become a “country club” activity that only the wealthiest individuals and organizations could afford. I believe Baden Powell would roll over in his grave to find that only the most well resourced groups were eligible to participate in scouting. It is not the point of scouting to have a “perfect” organization run in a perfect manner.

    I believe the problem with this blog is that it is written by a professional scouter who seems to have assumed that the relationship between BSA and the LDS Church should be a perfect program in order to develop the potential within the boys. Yes, a buffet style program is less than perfect, less effective, less than ideal, etc…. I get it, we all get it. What we fail to remember is that if a full program is required all the time, there are a vast number of boys who would not benefit from even the smallest implementation of the scouting program. The scout law and oath costs nothing to implement.
    It may seem frustrating to deal with all the resource deficiency issues, but we have to all admit that we are simply not trying to achieve the true objective of the LDS Church, or that of scouting, if we do not see the value in implementing a portion of the full program for the sake of the boys. Whatever deficiencies my program had growing up, it still helped me become a better leader, citizen, father, service member, man.

    Reply
    1. Scott G

      Great comment.

      What I would ask is, if the LDS church sees the BSA as a worthwhile organization, would it be moral for the LDS church to continue to support it even if there is no direct benefit to the church?

      If the BSA decided to change the way it operates in Utah to remove it as a “calling”, take it out of the ward buildings and open it up to all men and boys of any faith, would the LDS church still support it? Or is support only an option as long as the BSA is tied to the church?

      Reply
  116. Jeff

    Seriously, will someone please call Salt Lake on this!!!

    The author of this article is so correct it is ridiculous. I am an executive secretary in a Ward and a life-long scouter. It is BEYOND frustrating at times to see how the scouting program is being “implemented” in my current ward. Summer camps at non-approved sites might sound more adventurous at first, but the lack of structure ultimately just leads to a higher degree of potential risk with no added reward as far as the overall fun and experience are concerned. The varsity program and the venturing programs are non-existent…period. Far too many bishops fail to grasp why they are important in the first place. Instead, you have high school kids either doing (a) a bunch of boring merit badge classes (i.e., designed for 11-14 year olds) or (b) prepare entirely unstructured activities and meetings.

    I could not agree more with the author, the LDS Church MUST do a better job to ensure that the scouting program is being fully implemented rather than this BS, informal, lazy, unstructured, (and often dangerous) ala carte approach.

    My biggest concern is with the older boys — i.e., the varsity and venture scouts. I can guarantee there is not a single teacher or priest in my current ward that even knows what a varsity letter is or have ever heard of the bronze, gold, silver, and ranger awards for venture scouts.

    I grew up in a ward where scouting was cool. Every scout wore their full uniform to meetings and took pride in being a scout. In all areas, it was the kids who ran the program…not the adults. The troop and the patrol leaders worked together to create an effective team-like and fraternal environment. The adult we in every sense of the word “advisors.” Every summer we went to a BSA camp in the Rocky Mountains and took troop of the year award every year. Almost everyone obtained the rank of eagle, but only after YEARS of devoted service to the troop.

    I just really feel sorry for this ad hoc approach that more than 90% of the LDS wards now take with modern scouting. So many missed opportunities for growth. It is just so very sad. The reality is that over 90% of boys in LDS wards will every know what a real scouting experience is. It is just so very very sad.

    Reply
  117. Brian

    I am currently the National Sales Manager (constantly hiring) at one of the fastest growing companies in the US. I’ve seen a few comments on here that the Eagle Scout award doesn’t mean anything in the “real world”. My division of our company has been the strongest unit with the most revenue produced year over year. When hiring, I absolutely look for men with achievements such as college degree, history of work, etc. when faced with multiple candidates that have simar education and background, I choose the candidate with an Eagle Scout award 10 times out of 10. It shows drive and finishing power which I demand of my people. I’m not commenting on the problems with scouting in the church because some wards have it down and some don’t. Some have active parent participation and some have more parents who leave it to the leaders instead of doing their part to raise their boys. Some parents can’t afford the time or money because of circumstance. Some wards recognize and step up to help. So much over generalization has occurred in much of the previous comments. That said…the scouting program, run correctly, is a great boon to boys, their parents, the wards, and the communities at large.

    Reply
  118. Matt L

    Very interesting comments as I have browsed through the 300+ entries. I cant say the they are incorrect or blastphemous about what the LDS church is trying to accomplish. There is definitely a great need for improvement. A few thoughts I had while reading the blog and comments are as follows regarding LDS scouting units:
    1) Boy Led – it is very difficult when there are a 2-3 boys and 1 is interested in scouting. There is no real Troop with Patrols.
    2) Training – or lack there of. It has been difficult to get committee members and other leaders to training or roundtable. Why?
    3)Volunteer vs. being called – Doing the bare minimum because you were called is a dis-service to you and the boys.
    4) Merit badge factories – cranking out a merit badge in one night is not earned it is given.
    5) Integrating the priesthood and scouting – what are your activities accomplishing spiritually.

    What are the answers/solutions?

    Reply
    1. Anna

      I have an idea for an answer to #1. Ask the boys who are disinterested in Scouting what types of things they like to do in there free time and what types of things they want to learn about. Scouting will cover most, if not all, of the things they are interested in. Go through their Scout books with them and you will help them find activites that meet their desires. Then ask what they can do to complete the requirements, what they can get help with from a parent, and what help they will need from you. Once a boy sees that his input is needed and appreciated, he will step up and participate.

      Reply
  119. Del Walters

    I have seen great programs and leadership in the LDS Church as well as poorly ran programs. It’s all about the involvement of the parents. Many parents just drop off their boys and expect the leader to do it all. It takes a well organized committee in which each parent of each boy should be a member of. I was a Scoutmaster and I had great leadership and support from the bishopric and had a good organized committee, and our troop produced many Eagle Scouts, and we focused on outdoor activities such as monthly campouts. We also had regular Court of Honors to award and honor the boys as quickly as possible. Our weekly meetings were fun with scout skills combined with competition and relays for boys to show off their skills divided up into patrols. We were not perfect and needed improvement, but our success was because of parent involvement and dedicated leaders. My four boys earned their Eagle Rank and it was because of my wife’s and mine involvement and great and concerned scout leaders.

    Parent involvement is the key. Without it, you’ll never have a good and successful program.

    Del Walters
    Rialto, California

    Reply
  120. Peter

    Good thought behind the article, and generally good discussion. A couple of ideas to ponder that have not been brought up:
    1) There is a general assumption by some of those commenting that non-LDS BSA troops are all well-run and experience none of the same issues. This assumption is completely untrue. There are some very well-run units and there are ones that struggle for membership and some that are run very poorly. Those that have money are constantly fund-raising (from the pumpkin patch to christmas tree lot to the popcorn sales, and on and on). I have also found an interesting dynamic in some of the community troops in which there are very weird politics that go on amongst the adults and the kids. Again, some are fantastic, and others are not – Very similar to what many have voiced in these comments about LDS troops: There are many wonderful examples of good scouting programs and some awful failures in the LDS church. In the end, it comes down to what several a have mentioned: Caring, dedicated leaders.
    2) All church programs are meant to support the family. Whether or not my kids serve missions should have very little to do with my ward YM/YW program or my ward’s scouting program. It is my sacred responsibility as a father to seek guidance and counsel from the Lord and then do everything I can to righteously influence my children. If that means rolling up my sleeves and organizing wholesome activities in which my children can participate because the current scout or YM leaders are not doing it, then I must do it. I certainly am not going to blame anyone else if there is not a good program. If I need to join a non-LDS unit to accomplish what the Lord is directing me to do with my children, then I will do it. If I need to volunteer to support my LDS units, then I will do that as well. I have served in both scouting and YM positions officially, but I have also volunteered to help when I am not officially in the positions. I am absolutely certain that if every parent did better in this regard, we would not be having this discussion.
    3) Many here have mentioned the costs of scouting without comparing them to other endeavors. My children have been involved in high level sports, music, and 4H – everyone one of these activities has cost me more than scouting. While I have hopefully been patient and loving with all the parents of scouts I have encountered throughout my years of involvement, I have on occasion been sorrowed by some who have complained loudly about buying a $50.00 scout shirt, but then spent $200 to $300 that very month to buy their son a soccer uniform (not to mention the costs of hockey, lacrosse, football, or other more expensive sports). In non-LDS troops, the costs of uniforms are much more (they require pants, belts, socks, hats, and more) and they typically do not have the help that we give to those who really can’t afford it (We have a scout closet with extra uniforms, and I have had many a home teacher anonymously buy a young man a scout shirt when needed). As for the style of the uniform – have you seen what some sports teams wear? And don’t get me started on the marching band uniforms or the drill team uniforms – talk about cheesy – but kids proudly wear them when they are excited about the activity.
    4) I am appalled at the few stories in the comments about kids being picked on, ostracized, or not included because of illnesses or disabilities or personal characteristics. This is not scouting, and it is certainly not the church. Here I have to agree with the original article. If the scouting program were fully implemented this would never happen. For example: A venturing unit I was advising (I was YM president and Venturing Advisor at the time) decided that they wanted to learn to wake board. Plans were made and they excitedly set about to make it happen (Yes, they planned and carried out their own activities – and by the way, Venture scouts choose their own uniform). Part of the plans were to invite friends and less active members of the crew and quorum (not all crew members were priests as we had several non-members participating). As they reached out, they found that one young man – a generally active priest in the ward who had missed the planning meeting because he was participating in a track meet that night – declined to participate because he had serious ear infections as a child and had permanent tubes in his ears. He politely told them that they should go forward with their plans and he would simply join them on other activities. The boys called a meeting and, with what were hopefully the right questions from their adviser, some discussion, and prayer, they decided that they didn’t want to go forward without him. They changed the activity. The young man was very touched that they would do that for him and loved the activity they chose in which he could be included. Later, he insisted they learn to wake board and suggested that he could learn to drive the boat instead of wake boarding. All grew in love and respect for one another. This is what both scouting and the priesthood are about. Scouting units that do not have this kind of experience are simply not carrying out the program as designed.
    5) As for making the program mandatory or forcing kids to participate who do not like scouting, of course we shouldn’t. But consider the following: I have been an 11-year old scout leader and I have yet to meet an 11-year old who wasn’t terribly excited about scouting. If the program is followed, they remain excited because it is not about ranks or merit badges – those things happen naturally. It’s about hiking to an indian cave. It’s about learning to make fire 10 different ways. It’s about first aid relays. It’s about scary stories around a campfire. It’s about time with Dad. (By the way, I have always asked Dad’s to participate and have only rarely been turned down.) The excitement continues into scouting as they go to scout camp and do bike trips, and make snow shoes and begin to learn about caring for one another – if one member is interested in music, we go to his music activities or recitals or plays, etc. Again, the badges happen naturally if you are getting out and having fun. Once they become Varsity scouts (A program that only exists in the church) they are ready to start planning their own activities – several areas of focus are set up with advisers in each area. All scouts are taken care of as service is performed, personal development is addressed, high adventure is part of it, etc. Never is anyone forced to participate. Some have mentioned that there should just be YM activities and scouting should be separate, but I am not sure how YM activities would be any different than a well-run Varsity team. The same can be said for the Venturing crew.
    6) The reason it is so important for young men to have the scouting experience can only be seen when you get them outdoors. Most young men open up spiritually and emotionally when they are physically active, out in nature, and with a small group of friends. I know that the testimony meetings at girls camp can be legendary (for many reasons), but I have never had sweeter times with my boys, and hundreds of other boys I have been with, than those devotionals and testimony meetings held around a campfire with a half a dozen boys who have been active all day. If leaders are not holding these devotionals and testimony meetings on every outing, they are missing some of the most amazing fruits of the Spirit. It is in those moments that you realize why the scouting program has been supported by the prophets of our time.
    7) A well-run scouting program is a wonderful way to activate kids and bring in non-lds kids and families. Over the years, I have had the kids make their plans (with my hopefully gentle advice), including service projects, and then go invite friends. We have always had lots of friends. These friends are brought in through the activities, and then introduced to the Spirit as we try to bring it into every activity. Many have not joined the church, but others have. More importantly, they have all had fun wholesome experiences and my YM have learned that they need not be ashamed of their church activities. Plan them well and then invite, and their friends all want to participate, because the truth is that their friends are rarely doing anything more exciting or meaningful.
    8) Finally, some of the comments have come more from personal negative experiences than from anything else. I have a friend who hates, with a passion, football, because his father forced him to play it and the coach was an idiot who did nothing but yell and curse at him. To this day he gets really mad if there is even a football game playing in the background. Many have expressed some legitimate concerns about scouting here, and I certainly agree that not all is perfect, but let’s remember that our own bad experiences may not always represent the true character of something. My experience is that if leaders will dedicate themselves to working with boys to implement the programs, as designed, with Christlike love (which may mean altering some things to accommodate at times), then scouting is a divinely inspired program.

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  121. Travis

    The argument isn’t whether Scouts is a GOOD or BAD program for me? I think it is a good program for the most part, however it could use some positive change to make it more modern without sacrificing values.

    The argument for me is should the BSA be a part of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints? My opinion & answer to that is NO! Although it and many other activities and programs like others have mentioned are great for YM & YW, they should not be directly apart of the Saving Gospel of Jesus Christ. Sure they can support it from a distance, but one should not be expected to join ANY third party organization that are not attached to our baptismal & temple covenants in any way.

    That is ultimately what it comes down to for me. Let youth, parents, and others be a part and volunteer for any organization that they feel is worthy of there time and adds value to their lives without compromising their covenants. Scouts or any organization should not delegate to the priesthood how things should be done which unfortunately is often the case as it stands right now and as the writer implies.

    Any organization that is not governed completely by the Prophet, Apostles, Inspired Leaders, and ultimately the Savior shouldn’t be tied to the gospel in my Opinion. It allows for others to dictate the laws of the gospel. Members of the church shouldn’t have to feel like they ultimately have to join these other organizations to fulfill a calling or feel accepted in the gospel family.

    The reality is the Church and the BSA in my opinion would run much better if they were not tied together in the first place. Sure we can still encourage participation in the scouts and other worthy organizations like I will do with my boys, but it should not be one in the same.

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  122. Travis

    Using the Analogy of the “Tree of Life”, the in and outs and bureaucracy of the BSA ultimately clouds the plain and simple truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

    Reply
  123. Melissa

    My Turn!!! Why doesn’t it work? Wow? When does it work? It worked for my son when he was in in Cub Scouts. It started failing when he turned 11. But I was patient because there was a new leader recently called (as in just before my son’s birthday and he was new to scouting). Then his assistant was released like that fast. It took a month or two to get a new assistant Scoutmaster, who had lots of experience (3 sons who were Eagle Scouts) but didn’t want to step and the Scoutmaster’s toes (he told me this personally), and you can’t blame him for not wanting to do so (he is a really nice guy). Sooooo…after waiting for 8 months for my son to get ANY rank advancement, he finally got to his 1st class. Now it seems to me that it is kind of ridiculous that the leaders (at least in our Unit at the time) felt that getting the Tenderfoot, 2nd Class, and 1st Class rank advancements at the same time are a good idea.

    [Questioning this part because, as Cub Scouts, they are used to some type of award each month (pending that they work as hard at it as my son did). Yes, my son did have all 20 Webelos Badges in 6 months because his mother read the book with him and noticed that he did a lot of it on a weekly/monthly basis. And what he didn’t do during at home normally, his leaders and I helped him with completing.]

    By the time he reached Boy Scouts as a 12 year old, my son had completed many Merit Badges that he enjoyed and some he didn’t (you know them…the required ones that require some study like the Citizenship ones). He has completed all the required ones now, so now Mom is not hovering over him.

    I guess I ought to get to my point. My son joined a Community Unit in July 2014 due to the LACK of support from the LDS Unit Leaders in seeing what my son needed. We asked questions to the LDS Scout Leaders about how the program ran and would not get any answers. I got frustrated because I did not understand why I could not get the answers. So…off we went to the Community Unit. Wow…big difference. Like night and day. The Scoutmaster would answer my questions or give me direction as to where to look for an answer. And I would find the answer. No more just googling around trying to find an answer.

    And then my next point. My son did an Eagle Project Fundraiser (to help with purchasing supplies for his project) this last Saturday. Why has my son received more support from the boys in his Community Unit than his LDS Unit? I mean REALLY!!! He is frustrated with this, as well as myself because I see him hurting. I am hoping that there will be more support when it comes to completing the project. I have my doubts, but for my son’s sake I am trying to keep up the hope. After all, he has helped with 5 Eagle Projects (LDS Ones). I would think he would get the help especially since there are more boys in the LDS Troop than the Community Unit Troop.

    [I know I am daring, but I did ask one boy where he disappeared to after he arrived and he said he went home. I asked him where he would want C**** to be when he did his Eagle Project? I got no answer].

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  124. Daniel

    In my opinion scouting and deacons should be two completely different callings. When I was a scoutmaster I was totally overwhelmed with all of the things asked of me. Between scouts, mutual, training, campouts, adult training, sunday lessons and firesides, advancement meetings, pulling the parents teeth to do something I was so done after only a year. If they were two callings then it would allow the person in the callings to not have a meeting or scheduled appointment 6 out of 7 days of the week.

    Reply
  125. Melissa

    In my son’s LDS Troop it is two different callings. They seem to help each other out and where needed.

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  126. lora Jeane

    Reply to Mat:
    My ward is guilty of many of these problems. I will first admit I didn’t read all of the comments and replies before replying myself but I did read your article and I do agree completely. I am a step-mother of 3 boys and having boys is completely new to me (one 17, who hates scouts and anything to do with the church; one 13 who is mostly ‘bored’ stiff with scouts and has to be pulled along. He’s border-line; and one 10, who is still excited about it and hasn’t been disappointed yet. He’s still a cub though.) We, as a ward, are great at entertaining our cub scouts. However! I’m sadly watching one boy after another (of our own and our ward families) drop out of scouting before they even get to be ‘teachers’ because it is “lame”, “boring”, “stupid”, etc and in turn watching them drop out of church activity as well. On rare occasions a boy ‘gets it’ and falls in love with scouting and sticks with it all the way through. My own sons are not the rare case and I am thoroughly frustrated that, what I also see as an inspired program for training strong, confident, honorable and spiritually prepared men, is failing. I would love to help our boys experience all scouts have to offer but I have relied on my ward scout program for that and hoped that my husband, who is our Scout Master, could accomplish that. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have all the support he needs and is frustrated and burned out. This is very sad to me because he loves scouts, was one of those rare scouts as a youth and believes the same way you talked about in your article. My question then is short and sweet but the answer may not be.

    HOW DO WE CHANGE THIS?

    Reply
  127. Arvey McFarland

    As a young man I thoroughly enjoyed my participation in the BSA. Our troop was an amalgamation of young men from very diverse ethnic and social class backgrounds, our leadership were scouts themselves, ex-military, committed, extremely well organized, and everyone wore the full uniform or were sent home. Our training and activities were ‘first-rate’ and challenging. After joining the church and associating with its typical version of the Scouting programme, all I can say is it is a far-far different and lessor version of the one I remember and love. I think Lord Baden-Powell would be ashamed of the average LDS scout troop.

    If I had a son today, in lieu of our LDS scout programme, I would encourage and direct his participation in the Civil Air Patrol where young men aren’t coddled and praised for merit badges and rank they barely earn; but learn self-discipline, respect for self and others, love of country, valuable skills and training, and enjoy challenging activities.

    Reply
  128. Evan

    I agree 100%. According to Church Leadership, the ENTIRE BSA Scouting program (Cubs, Boy Scouts, Varsity Scouts, and Venture Scouts) is inspired, and where possible (the entire United States of America among the “possible” locations), it is to be utilized as the activity arm of the Young Men’s Program.
    There is also a very strong spiritual aspect to the BSA Scouting program, which is why the Aaronic Priesthood and Boy Scouting should not, and truthfully cannot, be separated. Scouting has a tremendous impact on young men, teaching and training them to be outstanding citizens and leaders. The rank advancement program teaches, trains, and motivates Young Men, largely through recognition, to be goal oriented, which greatly influences their future lives, as Honorable Priesthood bearers, Missionaries, Husbands, Fathers, and Grandfathers. The knowledge and skills learned through the BSA Scout Program are a very solid foundation, which is critical in the development of “MANHOOD”.

    Reply
  129. Doug

    I didn’t have time to read all the comments, perhaps these points have been addressed.

    I joined the church during college but I did earn my Eagle award in a troop sponsored by the Methodist church. The troop I participated in was very, very different from what I’ve seen in the LDS church. The problem with scouting:

    1) Mandatory participation from both leaders and the youth.

    Granted I’m sure there’s some mandatory participation in every scout troop, when it occurs it’s likely at the insistence of the parents. In the LDS church all youth are expected to participate, regardless of any actual interest by the youth or their parents.

    The leaders don’t get a pass. In my scout troop the scout master and his assistants where there because they truly had a passion for scouting. They wanted to be there. I’m sure many if not most scout leaders fall into this category in the LDS church but you can’t really discount the fact that there are some leaders that are there because they were extended a calling and they felt like they couldn’t say no. The passion isn’t there and the burnout comes almost instantly. How many scout leaders want to be there and how many feel like they are “stuck” and have to muscle through the calling for an unknown period of time.

    2. The boys in the LDS troop are all separated out by age, at least in the larger wards. In my troop the younger boys did things with the older boys, in fact the older boys were leading the activities. Contrast that with a troop where the boys are divided by age. That does a few things:
    a) The groups are small. It’s hard for a kid to get excited for scouts when there are 3 boys and 2 leaders.
    b) The younger boys idolize the older boys. This doesn’t really take place when all the boys are divided up into small age groups.
    c) There’s no sense of patrols being a unit within a troop. The older boys do their thing (often not even scouting on activity nights) and the younger boys do their thing. Separate, not working together.

    3. No camping on Sundays. A minor quibble but Starting a camp out on a Friday night and getting back home by noon on Saturday is not a camp out. I also think it’s pretty lame to head up to scout camp Monday at 3:00AM just to avoid camping on Sunday. I understand all the reasoning, I still think it short changes the experience.

    4. The LDS church has things set to a rigid schedule. Most kids are expected to get their Eagle at 14 years old then they are largely done with scouting and move on to other things during activity night. Allegations of being an awards mill aside, this practice really deprives the boys that are older than 14 from leading the younger boys. This goes back to the separation argument, so I’ll leave it there.

    I struggle with this issue. If I had a son I wonder if I would be tempted in any way to pull them out of the expected LDS troop in favor of a more traditional troop so they can get a more full experience.

    Reply
  130. Paige

    As a sister of an Eagle scout, reading this article and the comments is very sad. My brother had a great experience as a scout. I was even allowed to go on their non-scout canoeing trips. To this day he still has several friends that stem from that bond. I suppose I am also happy that his troop was never affiliated with a LDS church since we aren’t mormon. Since we now live in a mormon area it’s hard to find a troop that isn’t affiliated with a LDS church. Having my child join such a troop will never happen because the leaders can’t differentiate LDS youth meetings from scouting and since we are Catholic my child would be the black sheep anyway.

    Reply
  131. David

    I look forward to the day we finally kick the scouts to the curb and use the Duty to God program to guide our Wednesday activities. Too many boys and men are interested in knots, camping and outdoorsy things. If only those who were interested in scouting were a part of the program (boys and men), it’d be better run and they’d enjoy it more. And those of us who dread hearing “scouts” as part of the new calling the bishop is extending to us wouldn’t have to dread monthly campouts, trying to figure out (without training) what is supposed to be happening or tracking each boy’s progress.

    Reply
  132. Douglas Wilson

    I am 86 years old and am still active in scouting, as a member of our Troop Committee and with the specific assignment of helping young men earn the Eagle Scout rank. For many years, I have thought that the main problem in some Church scouting units is a lack of adult training and it continues. I was not a scout as a boy and during part of my adult life knew little about it. In August 1965, my 0ldest son was approaching his 14th birthday. He was in a sorry Scout Troop in our ward in West Palm Beach, Florida. He had completed his requirements for first class but as yet had not received his badge. That month, our family moved to College Station, Texas. The ward there was small and didn’t have many boys/young men. The scout age YM were in a community troop. Two other families with scout-age boys moved into the ward about the same time. The Bishopric decided to charter a scout troop and, to my surprise, asked me to be Scoutmaster. Fortunately, I had had a little adult training my last year in West Palm Beach, which did help me a bit. Otherwise, I was almost helpless. Because of our experience in Florida, I told myself that we were going to have a first-rate Scout Troop. So, the first 6 months of our new Troop, I took a lot of adult training and we ran the Troop strictly “by the book”: patrol method, uniforming, rank advancements, monthly campouts, meetings that were well organized and the same time, fun. I had a first-class Assistant Scoutmaster, a good Troop Committee, and a Bishopric who knew what was going on. After 6 months, we broadened out a bit but still used the same methods. We never had a large Troop because of the limited number of boys/young men in the ward. However, we did have several non-members in our Troop. In the 5 1/2 years I was Scoutmaster, we served about 50 boys/young men. We had 15 Eagle Scouts, including my two oldest sons (the other two received their Eagles in Arizona where we not live.) In 1970, the General Church YM Presidency officially recognized the “Top 50 Tro0ps of the Church ” (There were probably 3500 Troops in the Church). Our Troop, Troop 968, Bryan, Texas, was recognized as 25th of the Top 50 Troops.

    Reply
  133. Ryan S

    What a bummer of a read.

    I was just called as scoutmaster, so I went looking on the web for help. I read through *every* comment here, and honestly am now feeling a bit nauseous. You can always tell who the super scouters are in a ward, and those who don’t get into it as much, but I’ve never been exposed to such strong feelings on either side. I am also surprised that so many people who are opposed to the BSA/LDS program are reading and posting comments on a scouting blog…

    So after hours reading these comments, I feel somewhat invested, and feel like sharing what I’m taking away from this.

    A) I have to disregard many of the negative comments. Other than understanding people’s concerns with the program, and maybe avoiding some pitfalls, they don’t really help me implement the program in a way that will positively influence the life of the boys who will be in my program.

    B) The exception to A is where said concerns stem from the fact that scout leaders choose not to get the proper training, and therefor implemented a program that was not run correctly and in the process offended or turned-off certain boys and parents. This I need to avoid.

    C) But until the church divorces from scouting, am I suppose to go invent my own program? That would be bound for certain failure. So for now my best option is to embrace the scouting program, get trained, and serve these young men to the best of my ability.

    We’ll just take it a day at a time and see how it goes. Thanks everyone.

    Reply
    1. Steve Faber

      Great summary Ryan.
      “embrace the scouting program, get trained, and serve these young men to the best of my ability”

      I wish you the best of success in your role as Scoutmaster.

      Reply
  134. Kurt

    I have enjoyed reading all of the comments both good and bad. I have been Scoutmaster for about 9 months now. I certainly can do better, but I am proud of some of the things we have done so far. The hardest part for me is the parents. Parents believe that their son not wanting to participate in scout outings is the precursor to not going on a mission. If the boys don’t want to do “Scouts” or outings then the problem is me. Honestly I don’t know how to integrate with mutual. Sometimes the Young Men want to play basketball or meet at someone’s house and play video games. I think these are great opportunities for the young men to share a mutual interest, but it is not scouts. Or how about Christmas Caroling with the Young Women? I am meeting with the Bishop and Young Men’s president to plan how we do scouts and mutual, but our point of reference is that there are two programs. Some mothers have complained that on Scout nights their boys don’t want to come. There isn’t a real option for being an active young man and not going to mutual.

    Reply
  135. Annette

    I am astounded at the expense of the awards for cub scouts, not to mention all the other needs to be involved in cub scouts. Our ward budget does not have the money to foot the bill for this. And then there is the friends of scouting! I’m not one of them. I’m going to suggest to parents if they want to give to scouting give to the ward budget for scouting instead. Why do the awards have to be like buying gold? And do not even start me on the cost difference spent on activity days for the girls versus cub scouts!

    Reply
    1. Steve Faber

      There’s no rule that says you have to buy ALL of the pins/stuff for Cub Scouting. Our ward decided to stop buying the recognition pins for parents, since scouting is about the boy.

      There’s also no rule that says cubs get more money allocated to them than the Activity Day Girls. This recent post from Mark Francis of LDS-BSA relationships indicates budgets should be equitable, and that “it’s about the needs of the youth”, not just “cubs get more because their awards cost more”.

      http://blog.utahscouts.org/lds-scouting/an-interview-with-the-director-of-lds-bsa-relaltionships/

      Reply
  136. sam kriser

    Great article and I understand the points. I wanted to add my 2 cents to the discussion. I am a parent of 2 Special Needs young men. Both have aged out of scouts and both are Eagle Scouts. Both of my sons had a tough time in scouting with our ward in NM. It was like pulling teeth out of a tiger to get the leaders trained, even when the Stake Presidency asked them to attend the training, their excuse was they are Eagle Scouts and do not need the training.

    Both sons were BULLIED at church and the bishop’s response was. “What do you want me to do about it!” Needless to say, I pulled them out of scouting at the ward and went to a traditional troop where an LDS Scoutmaster took over. We stayed 1 year, the bishop was released and new leaders were called and each called and asked my boys to come. The BULLY moved and they ended up with a positive time for their last couple of years.

    My oldest never had a calling in any of the quorums, except for Sectary in Deacons for 2 weeks. He was made a Chaplin’s Asst so he could get the position requirement for Star, Life, and Eagle.

    There are a few stakes out there, I think my current stake is one of them, that treats scouting as a take it or leave it. They have called leaders and whenever I am there dropping off my daughters for mutual, they are generally playing ball. To my knowledge, none of the leaders have completed any of the training, except for Youth Protection (I hope).

    I have asked to be put in scouting in this ward. We moved into the ward a little over 1 year ago. I am FULLY TRAINED and WOOD BADGE TRAINED (Owl Patrol). Since I work every Sunday and every other Wednesday they will not place me in scouting. However, when they need someone to take the scouts camping, I am called and I gladly go!

    I think the local leaders need to CALL those who not only love and understand the purpose of scouting. Maybe differentiate from the Young Men’s Presidency and call a Scout Leader who is NOT part of the presidency. That way the young men can have their quorum functions as well as scouting leadership.

    Reply
    1. Melissa M

      My son joined a Community Unit because of the lack of Scouting that was occurring in his LDS Unit (and he was having issues with the Scoutmaster)…so he is dual enrolled, but attends the Community Unit only unless the meeting times do not cross over each other and then he doesn’t have to go to the LDS Unit if he chooses not to do so. He has loved the change. He has thrived! He is now the Senior Patrol Leader (in the LDS Unit he had not had held a position for about 1 1/2 years now) and recently received his Eagle Scout Rank.

      He has invited several boys from the LDS Unit to come check out the Community Unit and 2 of them have joined the Community Unit because they want to be involved in Scouting…not just basketball.

      The sad thing about the Scouting program in my stake is that the Stake President and at least one of his Counselors are Eagle Scouts and nothing is being done to fix the program.

      I am sorry to hear about the bullying that occurred with your 2 sons, and am glad that they were still able to both become Eagle Scouts.

      Reply
  137. Sam H

    I have a slightly different problem. I am a scout master and I try to cover lots of merit badges and take the boys camping. The problem I find is follow-through. It seems like both the parents and youth aren’t all that interested in doing the work. They are interested in becoming an eagle, but not doing the work. I will send out multiple E-mails reminding scouts to do their tracking for some of the merit badges. I’ll ask them how there tracking is going, but they never seem able to start. I believe this is due to lack of interest in parents, but I could be mistaken. I also just tried to set up a fun way to do the cooking MB, which includes parents coming in to help instruct scouts in culinary skills. I figured parents would be excited. I only got two volunteers and now I have to beg other church groups to supply adults to help. It is very discouraging and I get very frustrated. I’m trying to run a decent program, but don’t seem to have any support from the families. I’ll have a lot to say if any of the parents complain that their scouts aren’t receiving badges at upcoming Court of Honors. I’m doing my part, but I can’t go to each scouts house and do the work for them. If they aren’t interested in earning Eagle, that’s fine, but let me know so I can focus on giving them the scouting experience and not worry about follow-up to earn the actual badges and awards.

    Reply
    1. Steve Faber

      Place the burden of finishing merit badges on the boys and his parents. Perhaps you could just point the boys and parents interested in advancement to use Scoutbook.com. When they ask you for updates on the boys advancement, you can just point them there and they can find out themselves.

      This frees you up from discouragement and frustration, allowing you to counsel with the quorum president to create scouting activities that best focus on the interests and needs of the boys.

      Reply
  138. vickie

    So glad I’ve only got one more son that need to complete his eagle. Thrilled the younger scouts have included my slightly older son in their camping and other activities. The older two struggled in so many areas that others have mentioned above. My bishop even said to be more assertive and just make sure what needs to happen does. We’ll see if the new bishop feels the same way. With health issues we’re proceeding as quickly as we can but not all boys can be rushed. Wish they tied in not only when they turn 18 but also allow them more time if they haven’t graduated from high school.

    Reply
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  140. Flashandy1988

    Times have changed, agendas have changed, the scouting program has changed…get rid of the scouting program. We focus on missions and worthy temple attendance. Wednesday nights can be used to continue to teach some of the same skills but cut ties with the corrupt organization that is the BSA.

    Reply
  141. Poqui

    Scout leaders in wards and stakes ought to be chosen from those who love scouting and want to volunteer in it. I have been called into scouting on two occasions when I very clearly told them that I had no interest in the scouting program. They insisted that if I gave my all to it then I would learn to love it. Nope. I did everything by the book and still did not not like it. Stop making it a “calling” and let the scouters be scout leaders and leave the rest of us out of it.

    Reply
  142. Andrew

    After having a horrible experience in Ward troops while growing up, my wife and I made the decision that our son would never step foot in a ward’s pack or troop. I’ve had him in a community pack and he is currently getting ready to move to a community troop. He has had nothing but a positive experience over the past 5 years and is really looking forward to the troop he decided on joining. I have several nephews who, with the support of their parents, have also moved from LDS units to units in the community.

    In my experience, far too often, by the time an LDS scout leader has finally found his pace, has the training, and knows how to do things correctly, he is released from his calling as scout leader. Another issue I’ve seen, and it really gets my blood boiling, is the lack of documenting a scout’s progress. My nephew, as the latest example, has had to do several merit badges multiple times while sitting as a Tenderfoot scout for over 3 years. All too often, these two issues come from not having any longevity in the position, and no adult support (ie a fully staffed and functioning committee of leaders).

    Now this does not mean that I won’t help out with my ward’s units, because I do, just not at the expense of my son possibly losing interest in scouting as a whole.

    Reply
    1. Steve Faber

      Scoutbook.com might help alleviate the lack of documentaiton in scouting progress, it’s free to every individual boy to track his own progress, or you could get a family plan or help your unit get a Troop subscription.

      Reply
  143. Stephanie Cousins

    Our ward definitely does the buffet thing, but I do not think we currently have enough people willing to accept and magnify callings in order to facilitate a properly-run program. Our boys (age 14 and 17) only continue working toward their eagle because we won’t let them drive without it.

    Reply
  144. SissyK

    I have 3 sons who earned their Eagles. Our ward is big into scouting with very dedicated leaders and I appreciate everything my boys have learned from them. My youngest just got his Eagle in December and to be honest, I am so glad to be done with Scouting. I don’t agree with their policy now of allowing gays and we won’t be donating anymore money when the Friends of Scouting fundraiser comes up this year.

    Reply
    1. Steve Faber

      So, Scouting’s goal to you is for your sons to get their Eagles? That’s not the church’s goal for your sons, see http://blog.utahscouts.org/lds-scouting/an-interview-with-the-director-of-lds-bsa-relaltionships/.

      The LDS church allows gays, smokers, and all kinds of sinners in its doors every Sunday, too bad your donation won’t be used to further building an organization the brethren continue to support. Still, the church allows each member the choice of making this voluntary donation.

      Reply
  145. bill Blass

    A Scout leader should not be a calling in The LDS Church! That is the biggest problem. It is and should be a volunteer organization. when you “call” people who do not have a vested interest in it and are doing it because they are called to do it. You get untrained, mediocre Leaders. This does no good for the boys and the leader themselves. I does not matter how many time you say it is an inspired program, if you have uncommitted leaders who do not believe in the program. I have a bachelors in Commissioner Science in the boys scout. When I get Leaders that are newly called I cringe because I see an expiration date on them. To honest the majority of called leader are counting down the day till they are called to something else.

    Reply
    1. David

      Agree 100%. I’ve had three callings in scouting, and I count getting released as joyful moments. While in the position, I got trained, went to roundtable, yada yada. All the while, I hated scouts, I hated it as a teenager, I detest it as a grown up, and I was always up front with my leader about that, but so few people here are even willing to take these callings that they insist they need me. Btw, I’m a gay member, yes, we have gay leaders in LDS scouting, it just depends on the local leadership as to whom they “call”.

      Reply
  146. Katie

    Some wards and stakes are at a disadvantage because they don’t have leadership that is actually interested in scouting. Outside the church, the scouting leaders are there because they want to be, not because they were extended a calling for it. I think that makes a huge difference.

    Reply
  147. Scout leader

    I’ve been in scouting for over 40 years in Canada. After a stint in the military, in which I wore a uniform, marched, saluted and so on. I joined the Church about 25 years ago. I’ve be in various roles in YM for most of the time. The time has come to evolve. The scouting program is simply not in touch with where the church is heading. It is causing stress that simply does not need to be there. Stress with leaders and moreover stress with the youth. Sure it is a great organization and to many boys it is the only opportunity they have to do something meaningful outside of sports and school – lets be very clear though, it is not the oldest of the many young men’s organizations and because of its broad popularity it has had to twist and turn in many ways to accommodate lobby groups and non-religious groups. The scouting organization is shrinking year after year and desperately trying to bend and twist to change to stay relevant. Scout owned and run camps are closing everywhere, we lost 3 in our area in the last few years. For the last 15 years in YM’s I have not held a troop horseshoe or chanted or yelled. I put on my uniform once per year. To be fair I have worked with and still work with a number of leaders who have been able to maintain some level of the program, my son is in it and has lots of badges. BUT, as a ward we do most everything as YM not scouts. It is not because we do not ‘truely understand’ the program but rather because the YM do not want to do chanting, yelling, skits, marching, saluting, use names made up by Kipling, wear uniforms, pay insane amounts for Jamborees. The interest is simply not there. However, they do love the outdoors and performing service and fulfilling their priesthood responsibilities. The paperwork discussion is laughable. Generally paperwork is designed to limit the responsibility of the person you are filling it out for – namely scouts Canada or BSA. What about the insurance?? Well the church already has a program “Church Activity Insurance Program”. Additionally there is a form that the church wants filled out for activities – it is not the scout form. scouts Canada and BSA want their forms filled out. So Handbook 2 clearly lays out a Young Mens Program that covers all 100% of the Church. In the handbook, I seriously don’t understand why we cling to an organization that is well past it’s prime and certainly in decline.
    By the way, I’ve been in a hiring capacity for 20 years – Eagle Scout, Chief Scout, Queen Venture – don’t put it on the resume – It is the HR community’s perspective that they do not enhance a persons resume – to be fair it may enhance you as a person but outside of scouts it is viewed with a certain level of suspicion.

    Reply
    1. Steve Faber

      “Scout leader”,

      I challenge you to read Mark Francis’s interview and ask yourself this question: “What does the LDS Church think Scouting is?”

      http://blog.utahscouts.org/lds-scouting/an-interview-with-the-director-of-lds-bsa-relaltionships/

      I doubt you’ll find that the LDS Church thinks Scouting is: “chanting, yelling, skits, marching, saluting, use names made up by Kipling, wear uniforms, pay insane amounts for Jamborees”, etc.

      Scouting, according to the LDS Church is in fact what you’ve described: ” love the outdoors and performing service and fulfilling their priesthood responsibilities.”

      For those YM who want to dig into and get caught up in the “mechanics” of scouting and press on for rank advancements, etc., for sure let them. Then they and their parents can tackle the paperwork.

      Perhaps it’s time that we all evolve and understand why the LDS Church has adopted Scouting in the first place, and while “at this time”, as Stephen Owen, YM General President says, we too should be “all in”.

      Reply
  148. Justin

    Does anyone have any help for a 11 year old scout leader of a small ward (2 active 11 year olds)? My own boys go to a local non-LDS troop that functions as scout troops are suppose to function. I told our bishop I would help with the 11 year olds but the more research I do the more I am confused about how a scout program with 2 11 year old scouts is suppose to function. The next closest ward is 50 miles away so we can not combine wards.
    What are peoples thoughts about the Lone Scout program for LDS scouts in small wards/branches?
    At what point (less then 4 scouts) do wards/branches turn to local non-LDS troops?

    Reply
    1. David

      I feel your pain, I was an 11-yr-old scout leader at a time with 2, and then only 1 scout..and that was even when we combined with the other ward in our area. Scouts are happier the more scouts there are. Even so, we continued to do scouting, but I made sure our 11-year-olds were invited to go on the campouts with the 12-13 year olds, and from time-to-time would host events for all the scouts who still needed a requirement from Tenderfoot, Second or First Class, that was a way to, for one day at least, surround the 11-year-old with some other boys

      Reply
  149. HCBS

    Having served in many callings in the church, including YW and currently, Primary, I have noticed a few things:
    Somehow, the girls in Primary are taught the gospel and have fun and spiritual activities without need of trinket “awards” for every little thing they do. I don’t get why we have to buy so many little bobbles for the boys in cub scouts when we know kids can and do achieve and succeed without them. Also, the scouting program, as compared with the programs for the girls and young women, are expensive! Uniforms, books, and awards are all very pricey! And in the church, families are expected to fork it out for many of these items, regardless of income or circumstance because scouting is a program of the church! Add to that that our Primary boys are NOT doing Faith in God because cub scouts takes all the time. I really think it is time for the church to organize its own program for the boys and young men..oh wait, didn’t they already do that? What are Faith in God and Duty to God? Do we really need 2 programs for all the boys? Or how about moving to “Personal Progress” for young men? In my experience with the youth of today, all those medals and patches and ribbons and bookmarks etc. that we are giving out don’t mean anything anymore. The kids just lose them. The very act of doing good should be its own reward. We don’t need to have a ceremony every time a kid does something good. Not to mention that all of those leaders who don’t have the time to figure out one of the most complicated programs are being blamed for failing the boys, and that is not right. Also, the book for adults is like $20, and the church doesn’t pay for it. Add a $40 shirt to that! Being an adult leader in scouts, particularly if you have never been a scout, is daunting. The cub scout calling, for me, has been one of the worst church experiences I have had. I love the boys. I hate the program.

    Reply
  150. Jake

    To Mat’s comment: “In fact, the opposite it true. The LDS Church supports Scouting as a result of revelation. President Benson clearly stated in 1978 that Scouting is an inspired program for our time.”

    Would you be able to post a reference to this President Benson’s comments? President Benson stating that Scouting is an “inspired program” is not necessarily a revelation that the church is supposed to support for all time. I lived in Germany for 13 years and the German wards and branches do not “support” Scouting. I need help reconciling Mat’s statement with this fact.

    Reply

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