Venturing offers leadership training while engaging youth in interest-based activities. When properly implemented as the activity arm of the Aaronic Priesthood, Venturing serves to:
- Retain Young Men in the Aaronic Priesthood
- Prepare Young Men with Leadership Skills
- Increase the ordination rate to the Melchizedek Priesthood
Effective stake-led VOAs provide additional adult associations and mentoring that may better enable youth to strengthen personal testimony and to lead out in religious, community, and family life. The VOA models how young men can fulfill their Duty to God through the “Learn, Act, Share” concept. This document compliments the LDS Scouting Handbook, the Fulfilling My Duty To God program, and the General Handbooks of Instruction for LDS Leaders.
Purpose of a VOA
The ideals of Scouting are consistent with the ideals of the Aaronic Priesthood:
- Character Development – Gain testimony of Christ, faithfulness in priesthood, education
- Citizenship Training – Provide meaningful service, and proper respect to others
- Physical and Mental Fitness – Prepare for higher priesthood, temple, mission, and marriage
Stake leaders are charged with the sacred obligation to maintain uniformity in many areas of church administration.1 In stakes or wards with few young men, adaptations of church policy may be required to better meet the needs of these youth. A stake-sponsored VOA also presents an opportunity to provide a Venturing experience for young men who live in wards or branches that do not have a program because they have so few Priest-aged youth. This allows the stake to serve as a more effective resource to ward leaders in administering the Venturing program as the Aaronic Priesthood activity arm while maintaining the autonomy of the respective quorums within each ward.
While “The primary purposes of quorums are to serve others, build unity and brotherhood, and instruct members in doctrines, principles, and duties2,” the Church partners with BSA for the development of leadership skills in its young men. “Scouting is the best place on the planet to teach boys to lead boys.”3 Leadership is one of the seven methods of Venturing.
As members of respective priesthood quorums, young men are to be “preparing spiritually, participating in councils, ministering to others and teaching . . .”4 Venturing utilizes leadership as a method to help young men develop character, citizenship, and physical and mental fitness.
Economy of Scale
A VOA capitalizes on economies of scale to ensure that all young men have an opportunity to experience high adventure, leadership, and opportunities for growth and recognition regardless of the size of their respective priesthood quorums. A stake organized VOA can better meet the individual needs of the Stake by planning specific growth opportunities for their youth through:
- Stake sponsored sports and outdoor activity programs (Venturing Sports Bronze Award)
- Stake sponsored missionary preparation classes (Venturing Community & Religious Life Award)
- Stake sponsored Aaronic Priesthood and youth leadership events (Ideals of Venturing)
The VOA provides a venue for young men to meet in a council with peers in their stake to discuss ways to help individuals and families under the direction of presiding officers within Melchizedek Priesthood. In these councils, young men are able to bridge the Venturing leadership skills with the doctrines of the priesthood. As a result, they are able to work together to determine effective ways to serve youth members and meet the unique needs of their respective ward and units.5 This venue also prepares young men with the necessary leadership skills to effectively contribute to stake and ward Aaronic Priesthood/Young Women committees where youth are invited to attend.6
For the second half of this article, check out our post here.
1 Handbook 2 Administering the Church 2010, 17.1
2 Ibid, 8.1.2
3 David Pack—LDS Relations Representative for BSA
4 Handbook 2 Administering the Church 2010 8.3
5 Scouting Handbook for Church Units in the United States, Revised June 2012, 5.2, 8.4
6 Handbook 2 Administering the Church 2010, 8.1.2, 8.15.5, 10.10.5, 18.3.9
For tips to establish a VOA in your stake, see our article from earlier this year.
Author: Utah National Parks Council, Boy Scouts of America