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.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Call

We’ve almost all been there at one time or another. You’re rushing to Sunday School and pass a member of the Bishopric or the Ward Secretary in the hall. You offer greetings only to be asked, “Can you meet with the Bishop for a few minutes after church?” (In my case, the first counselor is generally grinning wickedly when he asks).

In my ideal Scouting world the interview with the Bishop (or counselor) would go something like this:

The Bishop sits across from the callee and his or her spouse;

Bishop: “As you well know, we have a couple callings within the Young Men (Primary) that are vacant. Ever since the scouts lit Brother Smith on fire at the last summer camp, we’ve had a difficult time filling the position of Scout Master. Poor man, his hair is only growing in patches. But we are sure that you are up to the challenge and the Lord would like to extend the calling of Scout Master (Cub Master, Committee Member, etc) to you.”

Callee: Clears throat; shifts uncomfortably in his or her chair and has a few dozen pictures flash through his or her mind simultaneously, the most prominent is a self portrait of a burned scalp with an ill-looking comb over.

Bishop: “Of course, in this calling you will have the full support of the Bishopric and the Ward Scout Committee. We are extending callings to several other people so that the Scouting program can be fully staffed. The ward will be happy to get you the training you need to be successful. As you know, a calling in the church shouldn’t cost you financially, so we will, as a ward, help you in any way possible, including paying for your training and your scout registration with the Council. You will need to obtain a uniform, and we will offer you several alternatives to purchasing a new uniform, if you like. You should know though, that this is a calling that will require a good deal of your time. Beyond the training and the time you spend with the boys, you will also probably spend a lot of time preparing for activities. You may even be called on to assist in activities outside your regular troop meetings, such as Day Camp or Summer Camp. In your position you will meet with the Troop (Pack) Committee to plan for activities and you will work closely with Brother Anderson and Sister Jones, and of course, the member of the Bishopric who is over Scouting. Will you pray to know that this calling is what you should be doing at this time?”
OK, maybe it wouldn’t go exactly like that, but I think a few points should certainly be covered in that first meeting:

  • It should be made clear that the Bishopric fully supports the program and will be involved, at the very least, peripherally.

  • It should be made clear that this can be a time intensive calling, but one that most people come to love dearly.

  • It should be clear that the program will be run within the ward as it was meant to be run; no shortcuts, no buffet-style “we like this and not that” and no “we don’t need no stinking training”.

  • It should be extremely clear that the ward (or stake) will provide training opportunities. In fact, it wouldn’t be amiss for the person extending the calling to have a list of upcoming training opportunities to pass along to the callee. This training should not be limited to new leader training, but should include opportunities to attend University of Scouting, Balloo, Woodbadge, National Camping School, Fremont, etc. In fact, the ward itself should be providing some training to leaders; a brief paragraph or two from the scout leader manual during committee meetings would suffice.

  • Of course, in an ideal world, a calling doesn’t cost anything but our time and talents, but in the real world we do need to provide our own uniforms and some of your own personal equipment, but there are less-expensive alternatives. The unit (ward or stake) should also pay for a leader’s registration, which should be submitted as soon after the calling has been accepted as possible. It probably wouldn’t hurt for the person extending the calling to have a blank registration form handy either, just in case the callee accepts immediately.

I would encourage those extending these callings to consider these thoughts and I would certainly encourage those being asked to fulfill a calling in the Scout program to ask if they are going to be supported in the calling. If you don’t think you are willing to commit the time and energy, please don’t accept the calling. Be sure your spouse is also thoroughly engaged in accepting the calling; believe it or not, he or she will be nearly as involved with it as you are.


Editor's Note: You don't have to take our word for it. Charles W. Dahlquist (former Young Men General President) said, "When you call leaders, make it a memorable call. Take time to discuss your expectations and what is required of them. Talk to them about time commitments, training expectations, personal preparation, and the need for one-on-one contact with each boy. Have in your hand a list of young men in the quorum, and take time to discuss the needs of each boy with the new leader. " (source)

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