Welcome to the LDS Scouter Blog. We hope to provide you with valuable information, share useful resources and maybe even improve some attitudes and Ward Scouting programs. The recommended way to use this blog is to start with the post, "Why I started this blog." Then browse through the post titles in the archive (found in the sidebar) for topics of interest.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Change of Heart

Over at the LDS-BSA blog, they have a new author who has promised weekly posts. His first installment is a real gem: Gaining a Vision of Scouting and the Aaronic Priesthood.

He talks about a time when he did not understand why the Church uses Scouting. I can relate, as I have not always had the best attitude toward Scouting either (at least, not my involvement in it). Then his bishop told him basically the same thing I have wanted to tell many people, "This comes from the prophet."

I am often caught between having patience for people, like others have had patience with me, and frustration with people who "follow the prophet" except when it comes to Scouting.

I would love it if everyone read this article, though. I suppose, just like any other truth, in the end, it's something we all need to gain a testimony of for ourselves.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

What is Little Philmont?

With a Little Philmont approaching in our area, I have been getting many questions about exactly what it is. Here is what I have been telling people. If anyone has anything to add (or correct) please add a comment.

Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico is the site of several premier scout leader training courses every year. Two weeks out of every summer (two sessions, one week each), the Church holds Priesthood Leadership Training at Philmont Scout Ranch, where the General Young Men Presidency and General Primary Presidency train Stake Presidencies in using Scouting in conjunction with the priesthood. Those Stake Presidencies are then encouraged to take what they learn back to their stakes and hold a "Little Philmont" - a one or two day conference about how Scouting fits with the Church and the priesthood. This is done under the direction of the Young Men General Presidency. In fact, I have heard there is often a member of the Young Men General Presidency, as well as members of the Board at the Little Philmont.

Who should attend a Little Philmont? Everyone! Little Philmont is for anyone with a Scout-related calling, from direct contact leaders to committee members, Cubs through Venturing. It is for Young Men and Primary presidencies on both the stake and ward level. It is for bishoprics and parents of scouts. And, of course, commissioners serving LDS units would find it helpful. It is for anyone who could benefit from a better understanding of how the priesthood and Scouting fit together and why the Lord has asked us to use this program to raise His young men and train them to be missionaries (and beyond).

There is a section on the Church Website about Philmont and Little Philmont, the link to which says, "The purpose of this conference is to help stake leaders better understand how Scouting can support the Aaronic Priesthood." It includes a suggested agenda for Little Philmont, in the middle of a lot of other great Scouting resources.

For those in the Northern Nevada area: Our Little Philmont will be on August 23 at the Winnemucca Stake Center. You can e-mail me for more details (or ask your local leaders). The Stake President who is heading the effort was at Philmont Scout Ranch last week receiving his training. 11 stakes from Northern Nevada are being invited (not sure whether that includes Sierra District as well). I was told that the last Little Philmont in our council was eight years ago, so this is a rare opportunity, worth taking advantage of. I have also heard that there will be a member of the Young Men General Presidency there (hint: he's a Nevada native).

Friday, June 27, 2014

"Scout Training Was The Answer"

We have another Ensign article about Scouting! In the July 2014 Ensign is a fantastic article called, "Scout Training Was The Answer," where Christopher M. Grimes shares his testimony of how getting trained helped him, his ward's program and his scouts.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Another Handbook Update

The Church's Handbook on Scouting (the "Green Book") was updated again in May. You can find the latest version here. The biggest change, or rather addition, that I know is a new section on Unit Commissioners, giving new, more specific guidelines on how stake callings fit in with commissioner work and what the responsibilities are of those who are unit commissioners because of their callings.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

May 2014 Newsletter

LDSBSA.org has a new newsletter posted for May. You can find it on their newsletter page here. Some highlights of the newsletter are a message about Roundtable from the General Primary Presidency and a message about safety.

Sunday, March 30, 2014


Did you know that LDS Scouting units average more fatalities during activities than other Scouting units? Charles Dahlquist gave three reasons for this: "(1) lack of training, (2) lack of experience, and (3) failure to exercise good common sense."

There was a fantastic article posted recently on the Utah National Parks Council blog about safety in LDS Scouting units. One of the things the article linked to was another new website from the Church: http://safety.lds.org. I highly recommend checking both out. With warmer weather upon us, it is time to start heading outdoors with those boys. Let's remember when we do, the importance of following the guidelines in the Guide to Safe Scouting.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Youth Leadership

"When I was a mission president in northern Germany, Sister Dahlquist and I had a few minutes one day and took a short trip to the top of a little mount called, 'Hercules' right in the city Kassel. At the top of Hercules, I saw a shepherd with his staff, sheep dogs and sheep, and I thought I would ask him the age-old question, 'When you move your sheep from one place to another, do you go in front of the sheep or behind?' His answer surprised me: 'It depends,' he said. 'If they are going a route they are familiar with, they go ahead, with the dogs watching out to ensure that none go astray. But if they are going to a place where they have not been before, I go ahead and they follow.' What a wonderful principle of leadership.

"As leaders, we need to know where we are going, or we will go astray. We must be trained and directed; we must catch the vision. It is the same with the young men. When they are charting unknown waters, we must be close to them, often leading the way so they can follow and so they can be prepared to lead the next time. The moment I was called as a Scoutmaster, I felt an unusual sense of urgency, one I had not had before. I remember discussing that with the bishop and also with the boys in leadership. I told them, 'Boys, I have a feeling we do not have long to accomplish all we must in this quorum. For the next couple of weeks, I will be doing some things that, after you have seen how it's done, YOU will be doing, so watch carefully!' Within several weeks, they shouldered their proper share of the load, but only after they had seen it done and caught a vision of how things should be." (Charles Dahlquist, 2004 Young Men General Open House)

I love the story in the Book of Morning when the brother of Jared goes to the Lord and asks for his help lighting the boats that they would spend nearly a year shut up in, crossing the ocean. The Lord does not give him an answer. He tells the brother of Jared to let him know when he has a plan. Later, the brother of Jared comes back and asks the Lord for help lighting up the clear stones he has molten.

Someone pointed out to me recently that the Lord probably could have come up with a better plan. He might have had something great in mind. So they might have had better light on the boat, but what would the brother of Jared have learned from that? What was more important, the light, or doing something fro himself?

As a leader, it can be a lot easier sometimes to take the reigns ourselves. Someone in my "Scouting in the LDS Church" class a couple of weeks ago told a great story about being a Scoutmaster and allowing his scouts to plan and shop for a camp out. He said, "I have never eaten so much bacon in my life. When we were shopping, I kept trying to put bags of salad and things into the cart, but the boys would see them and say, 'Who put this in there?' and throw they out again." They may not have had a nutritionally balanced camp out, but it was definitely THEIR camp out.

What is more important? Perfect activities that flow the way we would like or learning opportunities for growing young men into leaders?

Some more from President Dahlquist: “Now that we have spoken about the priesthood leader and the adult Young Men leaders, let's focus for a minute on the quorum president and the individual Aaronic Priesthood quorum member. In the Doctrine and Covenants, we are instructed that it is the DUTY of the president of a quorum of deacons to PRESIDE over twelve deacons and “to sit in council with them, and to teach them their duty, edifying one another.” Since our call to the Young Men general presidency, I have pondered this direction given by the Lord to the Prophet Joseph in Kirtland in 1835 and have wondered how long it will take us before we take this guidance seriously and begin treating Aaronic Priesthood presidents as priesthood leaders – as leaders of a priesthood that, in the Lord's own words, 'is to hold the keys of the ministering of angels, and to administer in outward ordinances.'

“In many cases, the extent of their leadership experience is to stand, in the case of a deacons quorum, unprepared each Sunday, welcome the quorum members, ask for a volunteer to pray, ask for volunteers to pass the sacrament, turn the lesson over to Brother Johansen, and then ask for another volunteer to pray at the end. Then we wonder why they leave their Aaronic Priesthood experience unchallenged, untrained, and sorely unprepared to meet the challenges that await them."

Both the church and the BSA have tools for training these young men. You can find a page here with training that is meant to be given in a Troop, Team or Crew after every election cycle. I love the powerpoint presentations for creating an annual program plan found here and here, because are broken into two segments: one for the leaders to watch ahead of time and one for the youth to watch to help guide them through the process.

There needs to be a balance between guiding them and standing back to let them take over. The leaders who I have seen struggle most with youth leadership do not seem to understand the principle of first training, then easing the boys into things. One thing that can help is to give the boys specific choices instead of leaving things wide open. For example: Instead of leaving an open, "What do you want to do for activities?" give them a selection of merit badges and say, "Which ones would you most like to work on as a group this year?" Then let them come up with a plan to help make that happen. Ask questions that will lead them in the right directions while still making the final ideas and decisions theirs. Provide opportunities for safe learning experiences (by "safe" I mean making mistakes in a situation that will not lead to epic failure and giving up). Deciding what is most appropriate for your particular group of boys may require a lot of prayer and listening to the Spirit.

It would be great to hear more suggestions and thought on this from more experienced Scouters. What has worked or has not worked for you in helping your boys lead? What are some of your favorite stories about boy-led activities or scouts learning from their mistakes?