Scouting: The Means to an End

Tex is guest posting in honor of the 101st Anniversary of Boy Scouts of America. Tex is a Junior at Tennessee Technological University majoring in Civil Engineering on a ROTC Scholarship. Tex served a two year mission in the Texas Houston Mission. He currently serves as a Elders Quorum instructor and Stake YSA Rep.

In the minds of many people scouting is about camping or playing army, but truth does not always equate to public opinion. Uniforms and camping are simply a means to an end. That end is turning boys into men. There is a reason why scouting is the Young Men’s program of the church. I believe, Scouting has been inspired by God to teach boys how to follow Lehi’s council to “arise from the dust… and be men, and be determined in one mind and in one heart, united in all things, that ye may not come down into captivity;” 2 Nephi 1:21

When I was a scout, my Dad was a scout leader from Webelos until I achieved the rank of Eagle. He was also a Scoutmaster for my eighteen year old brother. Dad was an overworked accountant, and yet I cannot think of a camping trip he missed until I earned my Eagle. He passed away in 2009; my favorite memories of him are what we did in Scouting. This was quality time for me, to be with my Dad and learn from him. He has been an example to me of what it means to work very hard and overcome adversity.  He taught me what it means to be a man.

My Eagle Court of Honor with Dad and Brother

Not only did I get to know my Dad because of the time we spent together in scouting, but I also was influenced by other Scout leaders, good men who have also inspired me in my life. I don’t know what my future holds, but currently my experiences in the Boy Scouts of America have had a more profound effect on the decisions I have made in my life than anything else. I am, who I am, in a large part, because of the Scouting Movement.

I love camping and the outdoors, but when I first started Boy Scouts I was very much a little wimp. The first time I went rappelling it scared me to death and I would not go near the cliff, but over time I forced myself to face my fear and just go down. When I started on the Personal Fitness Merit Badge, it took me thirty minutes to run a mile. I began to run on my own, and the next time I ran with the troop, I ran at a reasonable time. The first time I went shotgun shooting, I was afraid of the kick and only shot once and wouldn’t shoot again. We went on more shooting trips; with practice I overcame my fear. My first few summers at Scout Camp, I had a very hard time passing the swim test, and even when I did, I was still afraid to go into the deep waters of the lake.  Again with practice, I overcame that fear. I look back on who I was at 12 and 14, and can’t believe how much of a wimp I was. My experiences in the Boy Scouts gave me an opportunity to meet and face my fears and weaknesses and become strong (see Ether 12:27). These experiences taught me, if I allow fear to thwart me, I would miss out on so much.

When my dad was a Scout leader he always reached out and made a special effort to help the boys who didn’t have fathers. He believed that they needed someone to teach them how men lived and acted. Scouting is an opportunity to follow in the footsteps of our Savior Jesus Christ. “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless … in their affliction,” James 1:27. My hope is others will do the same for my eleven year old brother. He just went on his first Scout trip this past December; he needs to learn to be a man. There is no hurry for him to grow up, but when he does, I want him to have overcome his fears, to stand up for himself,  and to live his life to the fullest. This will not happen if he spends his life in front of a TV playing videogames, and never has any positive male role models in his life.

Eighteen Year Old Brother's Court of Honor, last summer, with our Home Teacher as his mentor

From my perspective, there are too many men in the world and even more boys who are not living up to the Scout Oath, Scout Law, and the Outdoor Code. People are withering away in front of the TV instead of living life and building character. How can we expect boys to grow into fine priesthood leaders when they lived their childhood with a Game Boy in hand, instead of experiencing life? How can a young missionary relate to the people they teach, if they have only conversed through texting, and social networks?

I once told my Mission President, the best mission prep I had was working at Boxwell Scout Reservation. Prior to my mission, I worked at camp for three summers. In that time, I taught young men who were not much younger than myself.  I also interacted with Scout Leaders who were much older than me. As valuable as those teaching, leading, and interacting experiences have been to my development, my Scouting experiences outside of Scout camp were also very valuable on my mission. I earned my Eagle at 15 and shortly after was made the Troop Guide. My job was to help teach the new 11-year-old Scouts and be a mentor to them, I kept this job till I turned 18. This was my first experience teaching. I did this before I even thought about working at camp, so by the time I went on a mission I had years of experience teaching and planning lessons and interacting with others.

The Scouting program of the Church is not an extension of the Young Men’s Program, but rather Scouting is the core of the Young Men’s program with a few religious things added in. There are four men in a ward who hold keys of the priesthood: the Bishop, the Elder’s Quorum President, the Teacher’s Quorum President, and the Deacon’s Quorum president. The Bishop and his councilors and the Elder’s Quorum President and the quorum both have a responsibility to plan, organize, and solve problems. However the deacons and teachers don’t really have any responsibilities other than the Sacrament. The Aaronic Priesthood is known as the preparatory priesthood for a reason. The boys are supposed to prepare to be priesthood leaders in the future. Scouting, when done right, gives boys the opportunity to plan and prepare campouts and other activities. It also gives them the opportunity to solve the problems they face in the outdoors and while earning badges, thus preparing them for the problems they will face in their priesthood callings. The uniformity of the Boy Scouts teaches the young priesthood holders about leadership in the church and how to work over and under people. The various troop jobs such as Chaplain’s aid, librarian, and Quarter Master prepare young men to take on responsibilities in future jobs and callings. Scouting gives boys the opportunity to work together in a quorum setting. Without the Scouting program the Young men would still have the responsibilities of the sacrament, but only basketball to learn about  priesthood leadership.

Many, in and out of the church, have negative feelings towards Scouting because they feel it has a connection to the military. This is very far from the truth. In Britain the Scouting Movement was started by a war hero, however the Boy Scouts of America was founded by businessmen and was based more on Native American traditions than on the military.  There is no Marching Merit Badge or any mentioning of the military in any of the current Scouting books (I only say current because I don’t know if there is stuff in the old books or not), however there are Indian Lore and American Heritage Merit badges. The last time I checked, identifying plants and animals and being conservation minded are Native American, not  military ideals. In fact, I think making Boy Scouts into military prep takes the fun out of it.  Patterning Scouting after the military would  take away the opportunity for boys to lead themselves, which is the purpose of Scouting. Some of the leaders I looked up to as a boy were former military, but I also had one who was a hippie. As a general rule the best Scoutmasters were fathers of the boys.

My eleven year old brother waking up in a tent he pitched himself

Currently my eleven year old Brother hates it when I drag him from his video games and make him go to Scouts, but I have watched him overcome his fear of meeting new people and afterwards he even admits that he had fun. I’m glad he is learning new things and gaining some courage, but what I hope he realizes when he is older is,  even though I am very busy with school, I still am willing to go out in the woods and spend time with him. I know my Dad loves me because he was willing to spend time with me.  I am doing the same for my youngest brother. That is what Scouting is about, men mentoring young men that they care about, and helping them become strong men in the gospel.

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About JA Benson

Joanna entered the world as a BYU baby. Continuing family tradition, she graduated BYU with a degree in Elementary Education and taught for several years. Growing up in Salt Lake County, her favorite childhood hobbies were visiting cemeteries and eavesdropping on adult conversations. Her ancestral DNA is multi-ethnic and she is Mormon pioneer stock on every familial line. Joanna resides in the Southeastern USA with her five children ranging in age from 8 to 24. Her husband passed away in 2009. She is an avid reader and a student of history. Her current intellectual obsession is Sephardic Jewish history, influence and genealogy. She served as a board member for her local chapter of Families with Children from China. She is the author of “DNA Mormons?” Summer Sunstone 2007 and “Becoming Hong Mei`s Mother” in the Winter Sunstone 2009

65 thoughts on “Scouting: The Means to an End

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention » Scouting: The Means to an End The Millennial Star --

  2. Pingback: 101 Years of Scouting | Junior Ganymede

  3. I was not a member of the Church and did not have the opportunity to be a Scout when I was a young man. Luckily, I lived in a small town and had friends and other leaders who took me outside and helped me learn to do *some* of the things that Scouts do. Now I serve in the Young men’s program, and I firmly believe that the Scouts offer an inspired program to help young men learn the correct values. My boys yearn to be in scouts but are still too young. A great program and a great tribute. Thanks Tex.

  4. I had both good and bad experiences with scouting. In essence, I agree with your presentation of what it should be. The sad thing, in my experience, is that scouting culture has not promulgated outside Utah as well as regular gospel culture has. What I mean is that, in Young Men’s, it was always a battle to get scouting done because of so many regulations. When I would discuss this roadblocks with friends in Utah they’d inform me that they didn’t have those rules out there.

    I think the church struggles with the decision of whether or not to fully do scouting, the way it’s supposed to be done.

    At sixteen I lost my father, and my widowed mother, having three scouting-aged sons, saw a huge failure in the leadership to help. I had only to complete my eagle project, and I’d have my Eagle Scout Award. I was turned down because of some quarrels the leadership had with my father. I only found this out years later, as well as saw that the exact same project was completed by another boy, for whom, it was okey-dokey.

    I guess what I’m saying is that I hope your version of scouting can take a greater part of the young men’s experience out here in California.

  5. I enjoyed this very much, but even more, appreciate the wisdom and insight you have shared regarding the ideals of the Scouting Movement. Spending time with the younger generation to help them become men, even when life demands we do other things, is truly a great act of love. Your father both knew it, and did it. A great example to us all.

  6. I read this, then had to think about it and come back to it. I come from a HUGE scouting family, but my brothers and my husband did not have the positive experience that you have had in scouting. Perhaps if fathers had been a bit more involved in their own sons scouting, it would have turned out better for them. My other concern is for the boy who has no interest in scouting…they do exist, and it seems that there a few options for the young man who does not want to participate in scouts. However, I’m so glad that you’ve had sucess in scouting, I think this is how it’s supposed to run and be.

  7. I have to say that I hate Scouts, but it is mostly based in jealousy. I was a confirmed tomboy. My YW leaders generally had to pry me away from learning knots or some such thing in order to go bake scripture cookies or make envelopes for our hope chests.

    I’d be a lot less antipathetic if there was an analogous program for girls.

  8. Pingback: » Why we left LDS Scouting The Millennial Star

  9. SilverRain, as a parent to a wonderful and vibrant little girl, I echo your desires to have an analogous program for girls. I want to ensure that if my daughter wants to learn to tie knots, or go camping, that she is afforded that opportunity.

  10. Joyce, your uncle was one of the reasons I earned my Eagle scout at age 13. 🙂 It was a blessing and a curse to have a scoutmaster who was also a podiatrist. We were never able to get out of hike because of foot problems. Your uncle was always ready, willing, and able to fix the problem. And darn it, I learned to love hiking because of him.

  11. The scouting programme is so quintessential American that you have even entwined it with the Aaronic Priesthood. Living here in the UK, scouting is simply not on the radar. It is unfortunate that this is the case, because the benefits of the programme are excellent. However when members of the church (no matter where they stand in the heirarchy) begin linking the scouting programme with the Aaronic Priesthood and how they are inseperably connected need to look beyond the shores of the USA……….if that is at all possible!

  12. Deaco- I was not aware that the church was not involved in scouting in Brittan-the birth place of the Scouting Movement. I have known LDS kids from Mexico who had BSA (Boy Scouts of America) troops in there wards and the BSA has a European council. I see no reason why the Church can’t do Scouting over there and that is the fault of leadership (probably SLC).

    SilverRain- I have heard my mom complain about the YW book and it sounds like they need an updating of it. As far as scouting goes The Girl Scouts of the USA are not recognized by the WOSM (World Organization of the Scouting Movement) and there are reasons for that. Prior to the BSA starting the co-ed Venture Program America was the only country with scouting to not have WOSM approved Scout program for girls. If you want your girls involved in Scouting type things and don’t feel like waiting around for the Church to fix things I would suggest enrolling your girl in Venturing when she turns 14.

  13. The Scouting program of the Church is not an extension of the Young Men’s Program, but rather Scouting is the core of the Young Men’s program with a few religious things added in.

    Whew. I’m glad I wasn’t drinking anything when I read that line.

  14. I have mixed feelings about scouts. It has benefited my boys, but I’m not sure that it has been in ways that are intrinsic to scouting itself; I think the same dedicated leaders, operating in the Young Men’s program outside of scouting, could have done the same–without the bureaucracy and the expense of Scouting. I also worry very much about the resource imbalance between Young Men and Young Women in the church. I don’t think that imbalance is excusable or sustainable in the long term.

    Also, you are mistaken to put scouts at the center of the Young Men’s program. Outside of the U.S., scouting is rarely if ever found in close association with LDS congregations.

    I’m far more concerned about my sons earning their Duty to God awards than their Eagles. And I say that as a father whose oldest son is on track to do both.

  15. Tex – Good, dedicated members of the church have attempted to start up scouting programmes and tie them with the church on a local level and it just hasn’t worked. In order for it to succeed cultural shifts would have to be significant. The Duty to God programme is an integral part of Young Men’s, however it is a major turn off when people (even in General Conference) start talking about the Scouting programme because it simply can’t be related to, here in the U.K.

    To say it is the core of the YM organisation is extreme folly and depicts how some members in the Americas cannot see the church operations outside of their basin, never mind internationally.

  16. I love camping and the outdoors, but when I first started Boy Scouts I was very much a little wimp. The first time I went rappelling it scared me to death and I would not go near the cliff, but over time I forced myself to face my fear and just go down. … I look back on who I was at 12 and 14, and can’t believe how much of a wimp I was. My experiences in the Boy Scouts gave me an opportunity to meet and face my fears and weaknesses and become strong (see Ether 12:27). These experiences taught me, if I allow fear to thwart me, I would miss out on so much.

    This paragraph, I think, is key. Perhaps I’m misremembering YW, but I don’t remember an emphasis on overcoming fear and challenging myself; rather, I was supposed to internalize a set of values and skills. I remember rappelling at Girl’s camp, but as I recall that was presented as a faith experience more than as something to challenge us. Then again, I’m more than a decade removed from the YW program, so I could be very wrong. That said, I think I would have found the motivation and challenge you describe for merit badges far more appealing than the way things were presented to us girls.

  17. This is a nice tribute to a program you enjoyed, but just to be clear, the Priesthood is the core of the YM’s program. You could end scouting tomorrow and the church would go on just fine, as it does internationally.

  18. I agree that scouting is an excellent means to help boys become responsible adults. I think most of scouting is very valuable to the YM of the church.

    My problem is with the BSA. It is an organization that is overly-bureaucratic, inflexible, perhaps the worst employer in America, and slow to react to the changing realities of modern life. I personally believe the church would do well to keep the core principles of scouting in place, albeit with more flexibility and spiritual emphasis, and ditch the BSA altogether. I hate to be too harsh, many are trying their best and have the boys’ best interests at heart, but institutionally I think there are too many problems to fix.

  19. “Scouting is the core of the Young Men’s program with a few religious things added in. ”
    I’m so thankful it’s not like this in the ward my son is being raised.

  20. Good luck jjohnsen!! (dripping in sarcasm) If they are sitting them down on chairs and preaching at them for awhile ( while the boys turn a deaf ear) and then letting them run amuck in the gym while the adults talk in the halls, that will really prepare them well to be a leader on their mission!
    Perhaps it is better to show them HOW to be independent, well rounded, and applying the Priesthood principles in a practical fun way; while giving them them little snippets of doctrine and scripture thus teaching them by showing, doing and hearing. This how a master teacher handles boys.

  21. Joyce- Here is the list of current meritbadges: The highlighted ones are the required MBs. It is a pretty diverse list. If a boy does not like scouting, either the program is boring, or you have a kid who has an aversion to the out of doors or hard work. Scouts teaches a boy fitness skills/interest that will benefit him in life. It teaches him to learn about, and do, things he has no interest in. This prepares him well for academia and a job. 😉

  22. Jeremy- You are right it is easy to earn both Duty to God and Eagle. They are not in opposition to one another. Duty to God is really a watered-down scouting program, plus seminary ( with scripture study), and FHE. DTG also requires a boy to be well-rounded and learn to make goals and achieve. From what i have observed, the ones who say we are going to to do DTG and not scouting, earn neither award.

    DSmith- THe Priesthood is the core, but how you teach how to apply the principles is with scouting. Boys need to learn by example; by doing, and seeing and hearing. Action speaks more to them, then some adult droning on and on on etc…

    JacobS- You very well could be right. Our Council is especially well run, so I have not another to compare it with. They have been a wonderful employer to my boys. Perhaps the church will some day ditch BSA (I have been hearing this mantra for the last 40 years) and just do DTG, and if done with scouting principles, DTG will be a success.

  23. “Good luck jjohnsen!! (dripping in sarcasm) If they are sitting them down on chairs and preaching at them for awhile ( while the boys turn a deaf ear) and then letting them run amuck in the gym while the adults talk in the halls, that will really prepare them well to be a leader on their mission!”

    Yes,because if your YMs program isn’t run like Scouting with “a few religious things added in” then the only other option is having the boys run around doing nothing but cause trouble.

  24. I have several thoughts on this. First, I am glad for your positive experiences with Scouting and the memories it provided you with your Father and brother.

    Second, I think people may have a negative response to Scouting because the founder really never intended it to be either associated, nor affiliated with any specific religion. In fact, here in Philadelphia there was a fairly recent court case involving the scouting program because they were receiving public monies and getting a discount rent because of it and then disqualifying members (both leaders and young boys) who stated they were gay.

    Third, this came to my mind as you stated that it help you prepare for your mission. In my last combined RS/PH combined session my SP stated that it was all our duty to help build these young men up in order to prepare them for there mission. It’s interesting to me that you would say how scouting helped you to do this, but IMO most of the programs of the church are geared toward the young men and like Silver Rain stated we get relatively little programs to teach similar skills which are necessary regardless of what sex you are. I think my SP clearly missed the fact that he left out 3/4 of congregation that day based on age, sex and gender. But that’s just my two cents

  25. When you go to Youth Night the boys don’t do a weekly fireside, they do scouting with some church stuff thrown in. If you take issue with this you have obviously never gone to Young Mens with your kid. Some of you are obviously twisting my words to make it sound like I have replaced Scouting with the gospel because you have a vendetta against Scouting.

    “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.'” -Thomas S. Monson “The Upward Reach”

  26. dblock- I am with you on getting a good yw program for girls, as I am also a mother to two girls. The yw manuals are easily 30 years old, as I recognize them when I was a young woman. A lot has changed in that time. CES does need to create a modern manual. I also think equal amounts of resources and money should be spent on the young women and and the young men. I do not think the answer is to reduce the boys program to the girls level, but instead rise up the girls program to the boys level.
    Again, sometimes parents need to take the bull by the horns. If you have an outdoorsy girl, find added experiences for her. My daughter Jie Jie, who is a Beehive, is not an outdoorsy girl and girls camp was just enough of a stretch for her. She has found challenge and learning to be tenacious, and overcoming shyness, in expressing herself in dance and piano. Hong Mei, on the other hand, I can see her in a Venture crew as a teen.

  27. Tex:

    Nicely done. Like some others above, I have some reservations (e.g. change “core” to “activity arm” and remove “with a few religious things thrown in” and I’m good), but that’s secondary to my praise for a great portrait of the purpose of the Scouting Movement and how it can be implemented well in wards in the US.

  28. “However the deacons and teachers don’t really have any responsibilities other than the Sacrament.” I totally disagree with this statement. The line about scouting being the basis of the YMs program is also huey.

    While my son enjoys scouts, I would not lose my testimony if scouting were severed from the church.

  29. the Priesthood is the core of the YM’s program. You could end scouting tomorrow and the church would go on just fine, as it does internationally.

    I think this is an important point. I really liked this post because we often hear so much negativity about the Scouting program, but I think it is important to realize that it isn’t a program that is worldwide for the Church. I absolutely love the Duty to God program and think that it brings in something that BSA doesn’t give our boys, which is a solid doctrinal foundation. Scouting is deemed the activity arm, not the core of the program.

    I also personally think that part of the benefit of scouting is that it may be the only thing boys who are not LDS have that can really instill values and a work ethic and other “preparation for manhood” principles and activities may have. When I donate to the BSA, I’m thinking about those boys, too, not just those in the Church.

  30. jendoop- Tex left out hometeaching. As for the rest of your comment, please take it up with President Monson. See quote in #25.

    Boys need to learn to be men from other men. Scouting provides that and part of the program is for Dads to mentor their boy and help the fatherless. We had men who did not want to do scouts, and the boys refused to do scouts, so their wives/mothers said, “we will do DTG”. The mothers ended up doing the DTG with the boys. What did the boys learn about the priesthood? Only that you leave the work up to the women. As a devout feminist mormon I strongly endorse a strong man. The world needs both. There are enough goofy Peter Pan men in the world and I do not want to create anymore of them.

    It is not DTG vs Scouting. DTG is alot of scouting plus seminary plus family home evening and scripture study. We should be already doing the family responsibilities and and seminary. It would be very hard to complete it without scouting. Scouting requires adults to have training and for 2 deep leadership. When done correctly, these are important checks and balances to ensure safety and reduces the chance of molestation. The core is men teaching boys to be honorable priesthood men. Scouting is a practical hands-on way for boys to learn these principles. Boys learn by example and by doing. THrow a little doctrine in there and they will remember it. You can talk them to death and they turn their ears off and they learn nothing. Quality not quantity is often the best approach.

    “I also personally think that part of the benefit of scouting is that it may be the only thing boys who are not LDS have that can really instill values and a work ethic and other “preparation for manhood” principles and activities may have. When I donate to the BSA, I’m thinking about those boys, too, not just those in the Church.” AMEN! MIchelle

  31. Boys need to learn to be men from other men. Scouting provides that and part of the program is for Dads to mentor their boy and help the fatherless.

    I really love this idea of helping the fatherless and learning from other men. What are your thoughts about the places in the world that don’t have scouting? Can DTG provide this if done right?

  32. The reason I ask is that as much as I see the benefits of scouting, and I agree so much with you about the need for young men to learn how to be men from men, if scouting is the only good way to do this, what of our young men in other places where there isn’t a scouting program? Just interested in your thoughts on that.

  33. JA- I see no inconsistency between my statement and Pres. Monson’s. I’m not trying to tear down scouting, just wouldn’t loose my testimony if it weren’t part of the YMs program. As for priesthood duties, check out the D&C, there are a multitude. Although they may not all happen with regularity, which is why more emphasis needs to be placed on the priesthood, not scouting.

  34. Michelle- I have no church experience outside of the Suburban South Eastern US, the MTC was further from home than my mission was, so I am really not a good person to ask, however from my experience Duty to God was a gimme award. If you showed up to seminary, church, scouts, and FHE you got it. I know they recently revamped it and I will go through and look at the new requirements however from what I have heard they have just added optional requirements, making the program more flexible. From what I can tell there is no opportunity for the boys to take charge in Duty to God and be leaders. In scouting you have various leadership positions and activities that the boys plan and implement. Yours is a very good question and it deserves some thought. I will try to get back to you soon.

  35. jendoop- “just wouldn’t loose my testimony if it weren’t part of the YMs program.” Definitely agree with you here. My testimony is still in place even after this experience. However, if the church in North America were to leave BSA, unless they reproduced it in full, we would lose a lot. Scouting provides opportunity for lots of service both organized and fellowshipping. The Priesthood duties mentioned in the D&C were written for men. Deacons, in those days, were grown men.

    OF THE PRIESTHOOD- Church Handbook

    Duties of a Deacon
    1. Pass the sacrament.
    2. Watch over the Church.
    3. Warn, expound, exhort, and teach, and invite all to
    come unto Christ.
    4. Assist the bishop with temporal things.
    5. Fellowship quorum members and other young men.

    “A teacher has all the responsibilities of a deacon.
    There are many ways a teacher can fulfill his responsibilities. For
    example, he can set a proper example, be a good home teacher, greet
    the members at church, prepare the sacrament, help at home, and be a peacemaker. ”

    Duties of a Priest
    1. Teach the gospel.
    2. Baptize.
    3. Administer the sacrament.
    4. Visit the members.
    5. Ordain others to the Aaronic Priesthood.
    6. Assist in missionary work.

    Scouting (done properly) teaches these young priesthood holders the leadership skills necessary and strengthens their testimonies in order to carry out those duties mentioned in the D&C and the handbook. Boys are wired to learn by doing and by example. There is no other way.

  36. It is a mockery to say that Scouting is so closely tied to the Priesthood of God. Yes it is useful, yes it can make boys into men and yes it can plan them for future success. But so does other programmes. The priesthood of God is eternal and sacred, the scouting programme is neither. It has it’s place in the American culture of the church, but as previously stated are the YM in England going to be less effective missionaries, husbands and fathers because the programme doesn’t really exist here as it does in Utah? I don’t think so. What prepared me for my mission was being in a school of 1300 kids and being the only LDS kid, my seminary classes, my YM leaders and my parents and my own attitude!! Not some scouting programme.

  37. Deaco- “Scouting helps our boys to walk uprightly the priesthood path to exaltation,” President Thomas S. Monson. What other program, can do what scouting ( when done correctly) does? A lot of the programs in the church are neither sacred nor eternal, but the program hopefully helps us toward qualities that are sacred and eternal.

    Neither Tex nor I know what to do about areas outside of the US. I lived in Utah about 25 years ago and Tex has never lived there. Tex was one of only a handful of LDS kids in his HS. He did not have LDS friend in HS. Seminary is certainly an important part of raising a good boy, and I appreciate fully how difficult scouting can be. My experience tells me difficulties in scouting are the fault of the people, not the program. Perhaps the advice found in the Church handbook could be useful as a guideline:

    “Where there are few young men, a Scout troop may be organized to serve multiple wards and branches or, in some instances, an entire stake or district.” See here for Church handbook.

  38. I am familiar with the handbbok on scouting. What is on paper is all very well, but culturally it just doesn’t fit outside of the USA in a great deal of cases and considering most members live outside of the US this needs to be looked at.

    As for President Monson’s statement I agree with it, scouting is a great programme. My argument is that it is NOT part of the priesthood and shouldn’t be heralded as such. Programmes are only existant to support the doctrines of the kingdom, when we are converted to the programmes and not the doctrines then we will have problems. Programmes will change, modify and scrapped entirely, the Priesthood and doctrines of God won’t be.

    President Monson’s statement is saying that scouting can leade to uprightness. I have been involved in a number of sports, martial arts and my family involved in music groups all of which has led to uprightness, inspiring accounts that lead to exaltation.

  39. I grew up in the Church, and still think that the Scouting program could have a lot of benefits if it were run correctly. More than 50% of the adult Scout leaders I had growing up have served jail/prison sentences. One in particular is still required to wear an ankle monitor that calls the police if he strays more than 75 feet from his phone. His front yard has signs posted warning that persons under the age of 18 must not get too close to the property.

    I worked at the council Scout camp one summer. One of the camp directors later ended up as a case study in a college accounting class – how to detect and prevent financial fraud. I saw first-hand the manipulation, the quest for higher sales, and even council leaders wandering through the camp gathering up any unattended uniform parts so boys would have to replace clothing when they got home. I’ve done my time running a chainsaw and cutting firewood for the Scoutmaster.

    My brothers have seen worse – open hostility towards the developmentally disabled boy in the troop at the hands of a Wood Badge Scoutmaster. Another Scoutmaster and former Bishop kicked a chair out from under my brother for no purpose but to humiliate him in front of his peers. For every Eagle Scout who goes on to achieve great things, there lies behind him a wake of abuse and manipulation inflicted on the ones who didn’t belong.

  40. Scouting in the church can be a great thing for our young men if the progream is run correctly.
    While the Church Leadership in Salt Lake is very supportive and pro scouting, there is a disconnect with the local leadership. For some that disconnect is huge, for the lucky it is so small it is harly noticeable.
    For a large part of the church, this disconnect is the reason why they have poor to dismal scouting programs or no program at all. And sadly there is no accountability for a ward/stake when they have a poor scouting program.
    You would think that with our President of the Church, Thomas Monson, being the longest tenured member of the National Board of the BSA, and the General Young Mens Presidency conducting training at Little Philmonts across the country (for the past 8+ years), also the BSA holding special LDS training sessions at the National Training Center at Philmont, that things would be different.
    Take all of that and the fact the church is the first Chartered Organization Partner with the BSA (since 1913!). One has to wonder why we are not the shining example for the rest of the BSA in how scouting should be done.
    It also gets very confusing and frustrating (for the youth and the parents)to have two boys living across the street from another, but because they are in different wards or stakes, they will have very different scouting experiences. One very good, one very bad.

    This all goes back to the huge “Disconnect” between SLC and the local leaders (Stake/ward).
    Something has to be done. There needs to be some way of holding the local leaders accountable for their YM programs, espicially scouting. Sadly there are too many local leaders that place little or no importance on scouting. Playing jungle ball every Wednesday night is a example of this.

    So, until this “Disconnect” is fixed and the leadership held accoutable, our young men will coutinue to suffer. How many will be lost? How many already has been lost? When will Salt Lake wake up and realizze that all is not well in zion.

  41. When will Salt Lake wake up and realizze that all is not well in zion.

    “Salt Lake” simply cannot fix all the problems that exist at the local level. They know full well that all is not well, but it’s our responsibility at the local level to do our part. It’s really that simple, imo.

  42. @ Michelle

    That’s a little to simplistic, I local leaders actually took the time to handle problems before they arose than there wouldn’t be any problems in the first place.

    I should not have been emotionally, spiritually and psychologically abused by my home-teacher( I have the written communication to prove the nasty things he claimed he had the right to say to me because he was once a bishop)and when my local leadership was informed, they chose to look the other way. No One stepped in and to this day no one has even acknowledged (even though I have it in black and white) that what he did and said to me took place. The one smart thing I did was to have my RS President who is also my good friend to sit in on the meeting that took place with my Bishop. She witnessed the callous attitude he had with regard to the crap I was put thru by this man and another older woman in the ward who was verbally abusive to me. All leadership witnessed this behavior and not one did a dam thing about it. Not once

    What I’m trying to say is that this ,”issue” is not just pervasive in the Scouting program its in all areas of the church where someone can be vulnerable and no one feels its’ their responsibility to do anything and or if they don’t acknowledge what took place then it their mind it just didn’t happen.

  43. Well said Ron.

    Agreed Dblock. And sorry for your experience. You are not alone, but that is sad consolation to a victim wondering why a church which espouses so many fine ideals stands back to let a few slide when it suits…namely a leader or prominent ward member with behavior unbecoming a Saint. To stay on topic, the Scout Law, if applied and embraced with equal vigor to our church life, might help the upcoming generation to learn how to act with more honor and speak up when the need is there rather than being merely excellent followers.

  44. dblock,

    I am sorry for all you have been through. I really am.

    I still hold to what I said, though. I find little productive benefit of complaining about Salt Lake. I can definitely acknowledge that problems happen at the local level. But I am not comfortable with that turning into generalizations about the Church itself. There are also many great examples of responsive leaders in many situations.

    It’s hard when things don’t work well, though. Again, I’m sorry for what you have been through.

  45. @Michelle; “Salt Lake” simply cannot fix all the problems that exist at the local level. They know full well that all is not well, but it’s our responsibility at the local level to do our part. It’s really that simple, imo.”

    Tell me Michelle, what can one do when both your Bishop, Stake Young Mens President, and Stake President do not think that there is any problem. That either Scripture Study or Basketball is the main activity for the YM on Wednesday night. And when there is an actual activity, following the G2SS is not even considered. On top of that many in the local leadership still believe that the church is dropping scouting for the Duty to God Award (despite SLC saying otherwise).
    I know a man that when he brought his concerns to his Stake President, he was told “that was the way it will be”, and he answers to “the twelve”. “If they don’t like it, they can find a new man for the job.”

    So Michell, IYO, what should “we” do, if it’s really that simple?

    One more thing to make it more interesting.
    Lets say you have a Son who is 16 1/2 years old and a Star Scout. You have 1 1/2 years to make your “simple” plan work until your Son ages out of Scouting. But there are 12 other YM who could really benifit from a strong scouting program.

    How can you explain a local leader(s) like I mentioned above, when our Prophet tells us that Scouting is a great program. He supports it, and we should too.

    If it’s so simple, PLEASE tell me what to do! If you have a secret, please share it with the rest of the church!

  46. Ron, please understand where I was coming from in my response. Your comment was general; I responded with a general thought. Your specific situation is hard, to be sure. But railing here on “Salt Lake” to me doesn’t do any good (except maybe let you vent).

    I can understand your frustration — that is, where to go when you feel like your local leaders are not listening. I think in each situation, what to do may be different. I hope you can figure out what is best in yours.

    Sorry that in my comment it felt like I was minimizing your situation. I stand corrected; sometimes local situations are not simple. I hope you can understand where I was coming from. I grow weary of people using the internet to complain about the Church and I probably jumped in too quickly.

    Best to you.

  47. Ron, FWIW, I had a few thoughts that I thought I’d throw out here. I’m a brainstormer, so take it for what it’s worth.

    I am assuming you’ve done the obvious which is to pray to know what to do. As I said before, I don’t think it does much good to complain against “Salt Lake.” Figure out what YOU can do about this situation — and obviously God knows best because He knows all that is going on there. He can help you get past the frustration and get inspiration about if there is anything you can do at this time.

    But beyond that obvious first step is perhaps another idea (which may also be obvious — forgive me…I don’t want to sound condescending at all and maybe you have already done this). Have you volunteered to get involved — either via your local BSA council or at church? If there are interested boys, is there a way to get them involved directly with BSA even if your church leaders aren’t in that mode right now? (Maybe future ones will be, though.)

    The other thought that I had is that this might be something you could bring up at the training meetings they have with general auxiliary leaders every year in SLC (I think they are in the summer). This seems like the kind of situation they might be able to address in a Q&A or one-on-one setting in that context.

    Just a few thoughts, like I said, FWIW.

  48. @ Michelle

    I would tell the prophet that while the program may work for some, it doesn’t work for all, especially when they do things that contra indicative to the scouting program in general , like tell JA son that he can’t go camping unless he has his father present knowing full well his father was deceased. That’s just being mean-spirited.

    And I would like to point out that there was someone who stated that being a part of “The Lord of the Flies,” wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. I can not disagree with you more on that statement. That’s why there are problems with bullying in the first place. I guess it would be fine with you if you weren’t on the receiving end of the crap

  49. deaco- I do not know what the answer is. I do know that Heber C Kimball was a fantastic missionary and he was not a scout. You are right, scouting is not the end all, but for our family, it was a wonderful blessing. My sons have great memories of their dad in scouting.

    Michael- Seriously, today, in order to be a scout leader you have a background check. It is possible to find creeps in any organization. Scouting at least has a check system to weed them out, and two-deep leadership to prevent. It is not the fault of Scouting when bad things happen, but rather the free agency of the individuals involved.

    Ron – I agree with what you have said. I am sorry about the lack of scouting in your area. It would take intense “home-scouting” on your part, at this time, to get him thru. 🙁 That is frustrating indeed. I do not know what SLC can do about it. The church has just gotten too big to deal with local issues. Our leaders preach and teach the program, it is up to the local leaders and members to conform.

    My in-laws were anti-scouting. None of their six sons were eagle scouts and they did not support their local program. They were convinced LDS scouting was ending, and that was 40 years ago. What is funny to me, is that most of their active grandsons are Eagle scouts. I think part of Mike’s drive to see that his boys were Eagle Scouts, as he was not supported in scouting. I have heard for 15 years, now in our local area, from leadership, that scouting is ending. My response has been, we will do the program until that time. I think this an incident where people want to hear what they hear. We had a HP Group Leader (another issue, not scouting) who got up in Priesthood to “clarify” what a member of the 12 had said in conference. He said the Apostle did not “really” mean what he said.

    Dblock- I am sorry for your sore trial. The best thing to do in your situation is hold to the rod tighter. Find that basic core of a testimony and know your Heavenly Father loves you. Members often fall short to the mark. Do let them become a stumbling block in your path. You have made a covenant with G-d, and not with them. You have just as much a right to be there as they do. The Scoutmaster who said what he said, I don’t believe he was mean-spirited, as much as clueless.

  50. I have been an LDS scoutmaster and troop Committee Chairman. My wife is wood badge trained and has been both a Cub Pack and Scout Troop Committee Chairperson at top notch non-LDS scouting organizations with 80-120 boys and over 30 active adult leaders. We live in Georgia where scouting is taken very seriously by many in the community. My 17 year old son has participated in both LDS and non-LDS scouting. We investigated 6 excellent non-LDS scout troops before selecting the best fit for us.

    I would like to add one more perspective: Size matters.

    Years ago I asked my Bishop what he thought was critical mass for a good scout or YM/YW program. He responded, “one.” This attitude that we can just “buck up” when our numbers are too few is wrong. With larger troops comes larger numbers of capable parents and this in turn allows for specialization. Twenty men can lead 100 scouts so much more easily and with greater safety, flexibility, creativity than 2 men can lead 10 scouts. If you think that a boy will get lost among that many others, then you have not experienced the patrol method of boy leadership functioning properly. Boy leadership is when a 15-16 year old (Senior Patrol Leader) organizes several 13-14 year olds (Patrol leaders) to each lead a handful of 11-12 year olds in some complex activity like camping, hiking, service, etc. It is hard but it can work.

    I personally do not like to do paperwork and what I call “parlor scouting.” But some of it is a necessary part of preparation and some people love doing it and are good at it. I am blessed with excellent health and fitness. I love to be tired, cold, slightly lost, and hungry. (It isn’t really fun until it hurts). I love to tell stories around a camp fire and play pranks. I was a lousy LDS scoutmaster, but I am the crown jewel of our outdoor committee in a larger troop where my weaknesses are hidden by the strengths of others.

    One of the fundamental problems is why are many LDS troops too small to function properly without heroic efforts by leaders and no real chance for boy leadership? The solution to this problem is in Salt Lake.

    Part of the process of the Priesthood Correlation movement was the definition of an ideal ward. Size was one of the most important considerations and after that time most wards are intentionally made a specific size (about 300-500 people). When this determination was made, the average Mormon woman had about 6 kids and over 95% of them were married. Many congregations had 50 to100 youth and some even more (250 in the ward where I grew up). More fathers didn’t automatically result in excellent scouting. But at least it was feasible, not all that hard in fact.

    Today in all of the wards in our stake and most of the others I am familiar with, the number of active youth is 1 dozen maximum. Few parents and heavy reliance on younger people, single people etc. is the rule. It is hard to give up weekends camping with someone else’s kids, especially if your wife or girlfriend can’t come along. At the same time the wards are getting too large for the Bishopric to manage all of the other problems.

    Read and delete: Another point I would rather not make but it needs to be made known. Most people in non-LDS scouting are polite and will not tell something like this to your face. But most of the non-LDS scout leaders I know are well aware of the crappy troops we (don’t) support and the excessively high rate of young fake eagles with comparatively poor scouting skills along with a generally arrogant attitude that we are better than they are because we are the only true church. Poor LDS scouting is now tarnishing the general reputation of the church far more than any of us would ever imagine. No one looks up to us as examples of excellent scouting in Georgia. This is extreme- but (while wearing a shirt with another church’s name on it) I heard an old scoutmaster grumble that he’d like to see the Mormons kicked out of scouting, except they pay so much money it would raise the cost for the rest of them too much.

    The Presbyterian Church associated with the troop I currently belong to only has 6 boys out of about 80 who are actual members of the church. The rest of us are there as non-member guests. A couple of decades ago this troop did not exist. Are there any wards out there that are willing to do whatever it was that this church did in the last 20 years to now have 80-100 boys beat a path to them every week to do scouting at the highest level of excellence?

  51. Most people in non-LDS scouting are polite and will not tell something like this to your face.

    Actually, in 20 years of scouting experience in councils outside of Utah, my experience has been the opposite. People are NOT polite and they WILL tell you to your face that they think LDS troops are inferior, and they wish we would go away.

    I reject the claim that eagle scouts from LDS troops are inferior. The scouts appear before a council-sponsored board of review and the council is the entity which certifies the young man’s standing as an eagle scout, not the church. These whiny, anti-LDS scouting nuts need to quit their thumb-sucking and take responsibility for their behavior which is nothing more than good old-fashioned religious bigotry.

  52. Mike brings up excellent points worth consideration. Especially regarding troop size and scout led patrols, whereby the boys learn important leadership skills, mentoring, and how to interact properly with one another. The Scouts will emulate the men they interact with. If it’s “get out of this camping trip anyway we can, repeatedly and often” he will learn it’s OK to shuff off your responsiblities. If it is a “Show up, open the book, and the merit badge will be yours without doing any of the work” type environment, the Scouts won’t come away with much knowledge preparatory for life or a mission. The Church reputation won’t be very stellar either. On the other hand, if a ward troop employs a “learn by doing, repeated hands on practice, enforces and encourages the work assigned to the badge”, then the badge is truly earned and valued.

    It’s up to the leaders, not the Council to make sure the boys know how to do everything they are supposed to do. Testing at Boards of Review should encompass knowledge previously learned to ensure a Scout still knows how to tie a bow line or basic first aid, for example. I think it’s up to Salt Lake to take a good hard look at the Scouting, and consider if it is just a program with various activities that fill an hour of the week or if it is preparatory to something far greater; and if so, to ask and answer the greater question: are we going about it in the best possible way?

    The image we present to others through Scouting should be top notch. At the end of the day, whether you like Scouting or not, whether you think it’s unfair that YW is not similarly funded (I agree), whether Scouting is offered where you live, and whether you think Scouting is or isn’t a core part of the Priesthood program, I think we can all agree that we care about how we are perceived as a people, and as a Church, as a result of our Scouting ethics and efforts.

  53. Mike- Excellent points! You are right about size. Bigger is easier and the boys have more opportunities to learn leadership. I have thought a troop should consist of the wards who meet in one building as a troop. The scouting leaders should be people who have a testimony of scouting, and for the troop committee chair and the scoutmaster are not given another calling. All the boys, who choose to participate, their fathers are called/expected to be assistant scoutmasters.

    CiCI- Excellent! Very well put!

  54. Thank you JA and Cici.

    One of our problems is that we are the only ward that meets in our building. Our entire stake might have a dozen deacons. And we would have to sit in traffic for hours to get together. Half the boys in our stake can not afford to buy the gear and ward/troop gear gets tore up. The LDS church needs to “know when to hold ‘em” and “know when to fold them.” “Know when to walk away and know when to run.” In my ward I believe that we need “to fold ‘em” and “walk away” into nearby good troops. Alternatively we need to build a troop to which dozens of our non-LDS neighbors would gladly bring their boys. I don’t know how to do that but I suspect there are people in the LDS church who do. Under any circumstances I think we would benefit from some experience with the best troops in our area.

    Mark: I just can’t let your saucy remarks go unanswered, although the scouting influence in me says that I am about to violate more than one of the points of the Scout Law. Here it goes.

    You prove my point. If your scouting is so lousy that non-LDS scouters are actually getting in your face about it, then it must be worse than I imagined. Can’t you see your misguided loyalty as arrogance dripping from your remarks?

    As far as LDS eagles being as good as non-LDS eagles, I can’t think of a good way to prove the folly of this statement since scouting is complex and not competitive. To perhaps illustrate my perspective, assume scouting is basketball. Consider a random Deacons quorum with 8-10 scouts and select from them the 6 best basketball players to form a Deacon’s team. Then consider a three stake area with around 100 Priests and select the two best basketball players from each stake to form a Priest’s team. The deacons have practiced twice a month for 1-2 years with amateur coaches while the Priests have practiced every week for 5-6 years with professional coaches. Who is most likely to win a basketball game between these Deacons and Priests?

    Not a fair comparison you say? Typical LDS eagles are 13-14 years old and over 50% of LDS scouts achieve this award. (Probably closer to 80% in some wards). Typical non-LDS eagles are 17 years old and only 5 to 10% achieve this award. Typical LDS scout masters have no training when the Bishop calls them into his office and many do not last out the year. Typical non-LDS scoutmasters have years of experience and our troop trains a new scoutmaster for at least a year before he even starts. Every advantage of size, strength, maturity, leadership, intelligence, experience, etc, that a 17 year old might have over a 14 year old on a basketball court is magnified and enhanced by scouting.

    My brother has 3 sons of scouting age and lives in a predominantly LDS suburb of Salt Lake. He has invited my son and me to camp with them. They have perhaps a dozen deacons and a handful of dedicated adult leaders. They camp every month and the scenery there is spectacular. They had an exceptionally inspiring and reverent devotional. The best steak I have eaten in 20 years was given to me by them. They work on rank together and most boys who show up and put forth some effort make it to eagle by age 14 with a few stragglers at 15. They claim they don’t cheat. The older boys go on more elaborate trips but do not plan or lead them. I freely admit this is pretty darn good.

    But it is not good enough to draw non-LDS youth in. A more critical look reveals several problems characteristic of LDS troops. Boy leadership was limited to strict obedience to what the adults told the boys to do. (Perhaps this is the model for LDS leadership at every level, do what you are told). The boys made no decisions beyond calling on someone to pray. No boys of ages 15-18 who are the best leaders were present. One of the adults works for a grocery store and does the food. He buys it and cooks it for everyone and does an incredible job. The scouts only cook once or twice to pass off a requirement.

    We went on a hike but no one brought a map and we got lost. My son had the only compass and as the helpful guest scout from Georgia he found and led the way back to camp. We could have benefitted from a good topo map. The physical conditioning of the adults was marginal and only one of them could make it past the second day at Philmont. They were too tired to figure out where we needed to go. One tent with 4 scouts refused to get up in the morning, a perfect boy-leadership opportunity. My brother picked the sleepy kids up, carried them down to a stream and shook them out of their sleeping bags into the icy water. Problem solved by an adult in 2 minutes to the delight of everyone. (In a boy led troop the 15 year old SPL would have had other boys dump the sleepy heads in the stream).

    A few years ago 6 LDS eagles from my stake decided to hike the 80 miles of the Appalachian Trail in Georgia without any other adults immediately following graduation from high school. It was an epic disaster. Their gear including expensive sleeping bags (they didn’t even need at that time of year) got so soaked they couldn’t even carry all of it. They got horrible blisters from their new boots, took them off and ended up with twisted ankles. They couldn’t get a fire started in the hot steamy rainy weather. “Mini-bears” (raccoons, squirrels, opossums, etc) ripped up their packs they left laying around the first night and ruined most of their food. They thought the water at the shelters was treated (it isn’t) and they got dysentery. They used leaves for toilet paper and the best leaves turned out to be poison ivy. They brought a gun along for protection and shot a large dog in the dark because they thought it was a bear. The owner was not amused and chased them down and beat the shooter up and kept the gun. After that their moral plummeted and they quarreled and blamed each other for everything. During the third night when they had been lost for 2 days and were ready to die, they found an obscure paved road. A passing motorist stopped and called an ambulance to come and get them. They lost all of their gear, their friendship with each other and any interest they might have had in the outdoors.

    I admit my experience is limited to 2 troops with a handful of visits to other troops. I am pleased when I hear reports of good LDS scouting. My desire is to be helpful in making LDS scouting better. Name-calling and mocking the very people who actually might know how to accomplish this is discourteous and unkind. It might also cut off the best avenue for some LDS parents in areas where the LDS church is obscure and weak.

  55. I don’t disagree that the scout program is not beneficial- but the religious comparison is … wrong. Well, its wrong if you are in a worldwide church (as the church says it is) and it is wrong to assume that every branch or chapel supports the scout program (which in Australia, for example- it does not because the Scout Association of Australia allows homosexuals and women to be scouts and scout leaders, and this is not accepted in the church model- so the church divorced itself from Scouting in Australia in the mid-80’s. Germand couts became Hitler Youth, which the International Journal of Mormon Studies has addressed in better detail than I can offer here).

    In addition, if you were to read Kimball’s “Sprots in Zion’- which is basically a study in masculinity, you would find that the scout program was put in plkace in order to teach nationalism (as a result of the distrust of the US gov’t as a result of the being driven out) and to generate empathy and spiritual masculinity in likening the scout program to the outdoorsmanship necessary for the pioneer survival.

    In short, I don’t disagree with the program, but I do disagree that it is a part of the global church, and I think it is a tool for (“character”) masculenity, rather than an organization of spiritual growth.

  56. spunky,

    I agree that we can’t hold scouting up as the spiritual standard or core because that doesn’t hold for the whole church, but I do think that where it is available, it can be a pretty important part of the whole picture.

    In our recent YM parents’ meeting, one of the leaders got up and did an illustration that showed how scouting, Duty to God, and Sunday meetings work together like three legs of a tripod. Each has its role in the progress and growth of these boys.

    I really love the leadership element of a strong scout program. I wish we could see more of it. I think part of the challenge is that a lot of youth are busy with other things and lose interest. Some of that comes down to parents and what they emphasize with their kids. If these programs aren’t important to parents, it won’t be important to the young men. At least that is what we have been told by our youth leaders here.

  57. The owner was not amused and chased them down and beat the shooter up and kept the gun

    That is so sad. Worst recent scouting incidents I am acquainted with was where scouts got lost and were eventually found again. Well known incident in a Utah mine, and a less known incident in a local ward.

    Seventy or so years ago there was a much worse incident related to a flash flood, but I would definitely rather not relate that one. Not just sad, but a first class tragedy.

  58. Consider the case of international LDS scouts. It is rare to find church based scouting outside of the United States and Canada so an LDS youth wishing to take part in scouting must do so with in the wider community. Another interesting feature of international scouting is that in many nations scouting is co-educational this mean that not only will LDS boys find themselves working with girls in their patrols but that LDS girls may also be scouts as well.

    Working out how all this fits into the current Duty to God and Young Womanhood awards is sometime difficult I have started to address the issues at

  59. Sorry for finding this blog so late.
    But what most of the people commenting (who are focused on the International aspect of the church and how Scouting relates to it) fail to understand is that the Church became the first major Chartered Partner with BSA way back in 1913. A time when the huge majority of church membership was in the USA.

    From what I understand, there were similar partnerships with other countries scout organizations for some time until their standards for membership, leadership, and church influence changed for the worse (“Spunky”, gives a great example of Scouts Australia).
    So you have BSA keeping the same standards, while a majority of other international scouting groups changed to a more liberal model. One that did not agree with church standards and which did not allow church influence. So the church pulled out of those groups.

    Now I am aware of the church trying to start new church/scout based scouting programs in areas of the world where there is no scouting. Mainly the South Pacific. It remains to be seen if it will be successful.

    Also what people do not understand is the tradition of it all.
    Next year (2013)will be the 100th Anniversary of Scouting (BSA) in the Church.
    Every Prophet since Joseph F. Smith (in 1913) to Thomas S. Monsen (today)has strongly supported/supports the Scouting program.
    It has been said time and time again that “Scouting is an Inspired program” and that it is the “Activity Arm of the Aaronic Priesthood” (in the US & Canada). For some who are outside of that influence (overseas)it may seem strange, but once you study the history of it all, it will be easier to understand.
    For those in the USA who still doubt what the Scouting program is and disagree why the Church supports it so strongly, I suggest you prayerfully consider it, and ask yourself why you have a problem following and sustaining our Prophet, and to help you better understand and support the program.

    I know Scouting has its problems in areas across the US, but when it is done correctly, it is a wonderfull influence for good in our young mens futures.
    I was blessed with very scouting experiences as a youth, which I tried to return to my own Sons as well as those young men in our ward. I hope and pray that others out there will do their best to do the same in their Branches/Wards/Stakes.

  60. I think a bit of clarification is in order here on the situation in Australia. There are still a handful of LDS scout groups here. Scouting died here mostly out of disinterest not because of either girls in scouts, Scouts Australia still permits single gender groups. Or homosexual scouts or leaders the simple matter is that Scouts Australia has never in it +100 year history ever asked that question of anyone youth or adult. Furthermore Scouts Australia always permitted and continues to permit sponsored groups to select their own leaders. Do scout group really go around asking about a young persons sexual orientation in the US? Such questions to youth here would cause parents to throw a fit and rightly so.

    The process of becoming a uniformed scout leader here is exastinve. Much more so than in the U.S. I am told. I had to undergo both a state and federal police and security and background checks. Provide references, driver licence and passport attend training both in classroom and in the field.

    So LDS Scouting here which had existed nearly as long as it had in the US died whe the church made the program optional. Scouting is a high maintanence program and it simply lost the support of most stake and ward leaders save a very few. People love to try and pin the loss of Church scouting here on the two Gs ( girls and gays) as I call them but the truth is that had nothing to do with it. It died due to the lack of interest of members and church leaders.

  61. Thank you Ron for your comment. I agree that when scouting is done correctly it does bless the young men. Greg presents the (unfortunately) other side of the coin, scouting programs also in the states die due to a lack of interests from members and church leaders.

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