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.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Supplemental Training

Church leaders have made many statements over the years regarding the importance of Scout leaders receiving training as soon as possible for their positions. Charles Dahlquist likened not getting training to having a pair of expensive running shoes, then deciding to run a marathon in flip-flops: "To even think that someone would compete in such an event or in an Olympic event in flip-flops is unthinkable. Yet sometimes I think that in the Aaronic Priesthood it is as if we have purchased a $200 pair of running shoes that we then place on a shelf and then try running the marathon in flip-flops. Wouldn't it make more sense to use the wonderful, tried, and tested program in the way it was intended? I challenge each of us in these next six months to get with the program. Get those $200 running shoes down from the shelf, get trained, and then apply the program in the right way." (source)

The first training you need to get is Youth Protection. The Church has said that every Scout leader should be registered with the BSA before working with the youth. It is now mandatory for Scout leaders to take Youth Protection before registering. It is an easy online training that will give you the basic guidelines of the BSA that help protect the youth as well as limiting liability for leaders and chartering organizations. To take the training, you need to create an account on MyScouting.org, then go to the E-learning section. After you take the training, you need to print out the certificate and attach it (or a copy of it) to your registration. Your ward leaders should be able to provide you with a registration form, and they will probably be the ones to submit the form to the council for you.

All Cub Scout basic leader training is now available online. This is nice, because it give everyone an opportunity to receive training for their positions right away. I encourage all Cub Scout leaders to take full advantage of this.

However, there is something you miss out on by not receiving the training in person. President Dahlquist said, "For me, my Woodbadge experience was life changing and has affected each calling I have had since. With few exceptions, where leaders are well trained and Scouting is strong, so is the Aaronic Priesthood and Duty to God. Your training will also give you an ideal opportunity to rub shoulders with members of other faiths who are devoted youth leaders." (source) There are intangible benefits to attending District training and "rubbing shoulders" with other Scouters.

That is why I recommend, after taking the online training, taking advantage of available supplemental trainings. They may seem unnecessary in the beginning, but I think in the end you will find yourself glad you took the time to attend.

My personal favorite supplemental training opportunity is University of Scouting. You should have one in your area at least once a year. It probably seems like a lot to ask to take an entire Saturday just to attend classes about Scouting, but I have never talked to anyone who was sorry they went. University of Scouting is a great way to charge your enthusiasm for the program, meet lots of Scouters and glean a lot of tips to improve your program that you would have missed otherwise.

Some areas also hold an annual Pow Wow. This is University of Scouting geared specifically toward Cub Scout leaders. Some Councils aim the classes at University of Scouting specifically toward Boy Scout stuff because the Pow Wow covers Cub Scout topics. You should be able to find out what is available in your area on your Council's website and when classes are held.

Another great opportunity are monthly roundtables. These are evening time meetings each District holds which give you an opportunity to learn from other Scout leaders. Leaders share tips with each other, things they have learned, what has worked for them, and ideas for upcoming themes. This can be an especially good opportunity if you are feeling discouraged or burned out to receive some support and help.

Wood Badge is part of the required training for Boy Scout leaders and optional for Cub Scout leaders. At Wood Badge, leaders learn about the patrol method through firsthand participation. It is such a powerful leadership training tool that many businesses take advantage of it and use it as leadership training for their employees.

Wood Badge is a six day training that takes place either over the course of a week or two consecutive three-day weekends. Often the weekend training is on Friday-Sunday, but if you live in or near Utah, the Councils there (Great Salt Lake, Utah National Parks and Trapper Trails) hold their weekend Wood Badges on Thursday-Saturday.

As a mother of small children, I know that leaving family for that many days can be a challenge, often impossible. The Trapper Trails Council (and possibly others I don't know about) offer a solution with a special Family Wood Badge. This is a little bit more expensive option, of course, but you can think of it as combining Wood Badge with a family vacation, turning it into yet another way to strengthen your family and share the Scout experience with each other. There are activities available for different age groups, and youth have the opportunity to take NYLT, an invaluable leadership opportunity for them. You can find out more about Trapper Trails Wood Badge opportunities here.

There are even more training opportunities available, but these are a good place to start. One of these best things our family has done is get involved in Scouting on the District level. It is a growing opportunity, which is something we all need. Like President Dahlquist, you may even find it to be life changing.

Sunday, January 23, 2011


Going to training is like going to church. There are three kinds of people; 1) those that simply don’t want to go and don’t make excuses; 2) those that don’t want to go because they think they don’t need to; 3) those that go and are edified by the experience. There’s not much you can do with the first group. In the second group, there are those that say they don’t need to go to church because they’re already well in tune with the Spirit and have no need of lectures from the pulpit to help them be closer to God. There are also those that say they already know enough and they are doing what they need to do to attain fulfillment in the hereafter. All the people in that second category need to go to church to help the rest of us poor souls who aren’t firmly on the path to Celestial Glory.

In Scouting you find the same groups; there are those that just don’t want to go to training; those that don’t think they need to go to training because they’ve “been in Scouts since I was 8-years-old” or that figure “the program is running smoothly enough, so why bother with training?” And there are those that go to training, become better leaders and guide young men to Celestial Glory. Again, there’s not much you can do with the first group. As to the second group, if those people are so good at what they are doing, they have a duty to share their secrets to success with other leaders. And the third group is stuck carrying the water.

The truth is, in most cases, things are not going as smoothly as they think and in all likelihood a person’s experience in scouts as a scout is entirely different from what is expected as an adult leader. And further, times have changed; things that were acceptable when I was a scout are now frowned upon and I’m positive there has got to be more paperwork involved than there ever was when I was a kid.

Training offers opportunities to reinvigorate yourself, to share success stories (and failures - it’s always easier to learn from someone else’s mistakes), and to enjoy the company of other adults. Do yourself a favor and don’t miss out on training!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Is Scouting a personal financial burden?

As a leader, scouting can be expensive. You should set a good example for the boys, which means purchasing a uniform. You can skimp and buy just a shirt, with a few patches, but that could still set you back $50 (adult shirts start at $29.99 on Scoutstuff.org). If you opt to go in for a belt, pants, socks, hat and the whole ball of wax you could be into it well over $120. The first time I was called to be an Assistant Scout Master I decided to ramp things up a bit for myself and went in for the shirt, belt, and pants. The pants snagged on something the first time I wore them and I shredded my nifty $60 pants. I swore off Scout pants then and there. (I’ve since found that olive-colored Levi’s are far superior in longevity and they go well enough with the uniform).

Then there’s camping equipment, if you’re in with the older boys, or crafts, games and snacks for younger scouts. When I was a scout my family was not in the money. Our camping equipment was generally sub-standard. I still enjoyed camping, but there were a few times when not having the right equipment made our excursions miserable. (Imagine 13-year-old me wearing cotton gloves and tennis shoes the morning after a sleepless winter night in a summer-weight sleeping bag; I couldn’t move my fingers; the tears were freezing on my cheeks; I couldn’t fix my breakfast. I was not a happy camper. Fortunately, I had an advisor that eventually realized I was going into the early (or middle) stages of hypothermia). As a result, I hate winter camping. After having nearly frozen to death on several Klondikes and snow cave events, I swore off winter camping and avoided it studiously for years. I want nothing less than insulated 2x4 walls between me and a cold winter night. So when I was called to scouting as an adult, I started collecting (as I could afford it) equipment suited for winter camping. It’s not cheap, but I’ve learned that sleeping on the cold ground isn’t so bad if you have a good 2” sleeping mat ($80) and a winter-weight sleeping bag ($50 on clearance, good to -20°F). The only thing keeping you up at night is the Scouts complaining that their tent ($20, end of season clearance) is blowing away.

The second time I was called to be an Assistant Scout Master I was in a rather well-to-do ward. I was excited about the prospects and asked where the scout closet was so I could inventory equipment. I was told, somewhat sheepishly, that the “scout cupboard” was in one of the church house classrooms. When I finally tracked down someone with a key, I found about 135 merit badge books (133 of which were outdated), two or three seriously dented pans, a ball of twine and a bunch of junk. I asked where the camping equipment was. They told me most of the kids supplied their own tents and sleeping bags. I asked about cooking gear and my jaw dropped when they told me the boys “usually bring pans from their mother’s kitchens.” At that point, I’d been involved with scouting for well over 20 years. I knew how those pans in the cupboard got dented. I knew how my mother would react if I said I was going to take her pans on a camp out. We eventually got organized enough to actually go on a campout in the high Sierra’s. (By “high” I mean nearly a mile and a half elevation). Someone had rounded up a gas camp stove to cook breakfast on; no campfires permitted in that area. That’s when I learned that not all camp stoves are created equally. It took an hour and a half to cook a half dozen eggs. When I got home from that trip, I logged onto eBay and found a high altitude cook stove ($100 plus shipping, used).

By now you’re probably wondering where I’m going with this. Yes, Scouting can be expensive. But as a calling in the church, it shouldn’t have to be. In my opinion, a calling to scouting shouldn’t cost you anything more than the bare minimum. You shouldn’t need to buy much more than your uniform shirt; everything else should be provided. All training costs (and you really do need to go to training) should be covered by the troop or pack. As President Monson stated in this April 1990 talk, “many costs heretofore borne by individual Church members now being covered through their tithes” and “The budget allowance program was created to reduce financial burdens on members” and “Members should not pay fees or be assessed to participate in Church programs.” In short, to fully participate in the Scouting programs, you should be registered and trained and the costs should be borne by your local Church unit. It is my contention that the boys we are responsible for deserve well-training leadership. That being said, however, if you happen to be financially well-off enough to cover some of your own expenses, funds may be used for activities or equipment that would also benefit the boys.

The last time I went to training, a faithful brother, who has been unemployed for some time now, told me that he has been saving for over a year so that he can afford to attend Wood Badge. It is my personal belief that he will likely get a lot more out of Wood Badge for his efforts in getting there. However, it concerns me that his unit leadership is so uninvolved in the Scout programs that they are unaware of his desire to get the training he is supposed to have. If they are aware, why have they done nothing to resolve the situation?

I find nothing in the new Administering the Church handbook that contradicts what President Monson stated in 1990. I encourage you to take full advantage of the opportunities in the Scouting program without letting it become a personal financial burden to you. Speak with your leaders if you find that you’re spending an inordinate amount of money on your activities. There are options other than doing without or going into debt.

Sunday, January 16, 2011


In recent years, fundraising has not been encouraged by Church leaders. However, they do understand the need for youth programs to sometimes raise money to pay for expensive annual camps. They have left it up to each ward to decide whether each youth group in the ward needs to hold a fundraiser or if expenses can be covered by the ward budget or the families of the youth. This decision is ultimately up to the bishop.

Church policy allows one fundraiser a year per group for the purpose of paying for one camp or needed equipment. The fundraiser must fit within the following guidelines (from the most recent version of the Church Handbook):

If a fund-raising activity is held, it should provide a meaningful value or service. It should be a positive experience that builds unity.

Contributions to fund-raising activities are voluntary. Priesthood leaders should take special care to ensure that members do not feel obligated to contribute.

Stakes and wards that sponsor fund-raising activities should not advertise or solicit beyond their boundaries. Nor should they sell products or services door to door.

Examples of fund-raising activities that are not approved include:

1. Activities that would be taxable.
2. Activities completed with paid labor, either by employees or by contract.
3. Entertainment for which the stake or ward pays performers for their services, when admission is charged, and when the intent of the activity is to raise funds.
4. The sale of commercial goods or services, including food storage items.
5. Games of chance, such as raffles, lotteries, and bingo.

Any exceptions to these instructions must be approved by a member of the Presidency of the Seventy or the Area Presidency.

The Friends of Scouting fund drive in the United States will continue as a separate, voluntary solicitation.

In the past, popcorn sales has been an approved method of fundraising for Scouts, but a statement has not been made by Church leaders as to whether that is still the case with the newest fundraising guidelines.

Here is an article where several people contributed ideas of fundraisers that had been successful in their wards. Some of the ideas in the article specifically mention ways to overcome awkwardness in ward dinners with suggested donations as well as inherent problems in service and cake auctions. This article gives some ideas for services that could be offered for auction. Here is the story of a ward that used an auction for its Cub Scout Pack and did it in such a way that the ward as a whole was strengthened by it.

It is my opinion that when the ward is the main audience for the fund-raiser that it is best when the fundraiser somehow brings the ward together like in the story. Another example is a pack I participated in where a pancake breakfast was held in conjunction with the pinewood derby on a Saturday morning. This not only raised money for the Cub Scouts, it encouraged support for the program by turning the derby into a ward activity to be shared by everyone. There were extra races held after the boys' cars were raced that anyone who wanted to could enter a car. This gave siblings, those who had never had the opportunity to be Cub Scouts, as well as dads who might otherwise be tempted to more than "help" with their sons' cars an opportunity to build and race their own cars. These "leader and family races" were very informal and fun for everyone. I have heard of some packs having similar races and charging a small admission fee for entering a car in the extra races as part of the fundraiser. Pancake breakfasts are low cost and easy to do, and the suggested donation price does not need to be very high. In addition, if you look on the back of the large Krusteaz bags, you will find information about how to receive some money back from the company if you use the product as part of a fundraiser (remember to save a copy of your receipt).

Not selling products door-to-door does not mean that the ward has to be the main source of funds. Look for opportunities for meaningful ways to help the community as whole. Car washes are a classic way for youth to raise money. You may find that there is a need in your community that is not being met that is also a way for your Scouts to earn money. For example, our community has a Fourth of July celebration that is relatively new. There are activities in the park in the morning before the parade, including a breakfast. The event has only been going on for a few years, so there isn't a particular group established to run the breakfast every year. Last year the committee had to look for a group willing to do it. This would be a great opportunity for a troop to provide a service that benefits the community and raises funds for their camp at the same time.

Remember that any fundraising activity needs to be approved by your bishop. He is the one who is appointed to receive revelation in this area. Follow the Spirit, and good luck finding ways to fund your program.

The final post in this series tomorrow will cover some additional thoughts on expenses associated with Scouting.

Saturday, January 15, 2011


Recently we received a question from a reader regarding budgets and fundraising. We know this is a big concern in many Scouting programs. There are many sides that need to be considered, and so we need to break the discussion up into more than one post. This post will cover budgets and fundraising will be covered in another post.

To lay the foundation for our discussion, we need to start with exactly what the Church guidelines are regarding how we fund our programs. There are many expenses in Scouting. In traditional (non-LDS) troops and packs, these expenses are often covered by pack/troop dues and door-to-door sales of products. Church policy does not allow charging of any dues to either members or non-members to participate in Scouting. Door-to-door sales and the sale of products are also not allowed. Instead, most of the money needed to fund Church programs is provided for in Stake and Ward budgets.

The newest edition of the Church Handbook (see section 8.13) explains the policies thus:

o The Church pays all or part of the fees for registering young men and adult leaders in Scouting. The Church also pays for unit chartering. Registration and chartering expenses are paid from the stake general checking account. The Church provides these funds in addition to the budget allowance.

o Funding for Aaronic Priesthood activities, including Scouting activities where they are authorized by the Church, should come from the ward budget.

o If the ward budget does not have sufficient funds to pay for an annual extended Scout camp or similar activity for young men, leaders may ask participants to pay for part or all of it. If funds from participants are not sufficient, the bishop may authorize one group fund-raising activity annually that complies with the guidelines in 13.6.8.

o If possible, equipment and supplies that the ward needs for annual youth camps are purchased with ward budget funds. If these funds are not sufficient, the bishop may authorize one group fund-raising activity annually that complies with the guidelines in 13.6.8.

o Church funds may not be used to purchase uniforms for individuals.

Sometimes there isn't enough in the ward budget to cover everything. In the case of insufficient budget, the boys can be asked to help pay for one annual camp. One fundraiser a year may also be used to help pay for an annual camp and needed equipment. That's it. Exactly how this is handled is going to be different from ward to ward and is ultimately up to the Bishop.

A caution is also given in the handbook: "In no case should the expenses or travel for an annual camp or similar activity be excessive. Nor should the lack of personal funds prohibit a member from participating."

Care should be taken when asking boys and their families to help cover camp costs. This is something that should be done under the direction of the Spirit and the priesthood.

Leaders should carefully evaluate the expenses of activities. Is there any way you can pare down what you have planned to save your ward money? Is it all absolutely necessary? While there are many inherent expenses in Scouting, we should be careful not to confuse an expensive program for a quality program.

In a 1990 talk, President Monson addressed this issue:

It is the desire that restraint be used in programming youth activities and that consistency between Young Women and Young Men programs be achieved.

The primary responsibility for building testimonies and providing faith-building experiences in our members, including our youth, resides in the home. The Church should continue to support the determination of the family to do this. Priesthood leaders will wish to increase their efforts to build strong, gospel-centered homes. Families vary in size and composition. All are to receive our devoted attention. The building of testimonies is not related to financial costs. It is not necessary to buy the activity of our youth. Our youth activities depart from the pattern of the world.

To measure the goodness of life by its delights and pleasures is to apply a false standard. The abundant life does not consist of a glut of luxury. It does not make itself content with commercially produced pleasure, mistaking it for joy and happiness.

To find real happiness, we must seek for it in a focus outside ourselves. No one has learned the meaning of living until he has surrendered his ego to the service of his fellowmen. Service to others is akin to duty, the fulfillment of which brings true joy.

In some respects, many of our youth activities in recent years have supplanted the home and family. There has been a tendency to trend in our thinking to the position that an activity must be exotic to be successful. Faraway places with strange sounding names beckon as a Pied Piper for our youth to follow. Featured in our Church publications at times are glowing accounts of excursions to Hawaii, the Sacred Grove, historical sites, and other tempting locations. The word spreads, the cost escalates, and yearning increases, while objectives dim and time commitments of leaders and youth border on the burdensome. Errantly, we have used the term “super-activity” to encourage the exotic rather than the practical.

Many units are now planning major youth conferences on a two-year or three-year basis rather than each year. Some have discovered that through careful scheduling, there are sites and facilities very close to home available for productive youth activities. One stake reported holding its youth conference at the stake center, utilizing the parking lot and grounds for some of the functions and the recreational hall and chapel for others. The report: “One of the finest youth conferences we have ever held!”

When we turn our attention to outdoor encampments, let us remember that the same moon, the same stars shine forth from the heavens from hilltops close to home as the ones which shine over the Himalayas. The campfire glow, the sharing experience, lessons from leaders, and that inner feeling of closeness to God do not depend on distance. They are available to all.

In every location there are places of historical significance which can provide a focal point for a successful activity. You can identify such treasures. Even the local cemetery is a backdrop for effective teaching.

Boyd K. Packer also shared some thoughts along the same lines:

Most of the deciding must be left to you, the members of the Church, acting in harmony with the principles announced in the guidelines. The change will require some considerable adjustment in our thinking. It will not be possible to do all of the things we have been doing in the same way we have been doing them. It will bring an inevitable reduction in programs. That was intended. There will need to be some “pick and choose.” Nothing essential will be lost; rather, essential things will be rediscovered, be found!


Some of you have asked why this change should come just when the forces of temptation are surrounding our youth as never before. You ask, “Do we not need more impressive activities and more meetings, rather than fewer?”

Sometimes more can be less, and sometimes less is more. Even with all we expend and all we do, we are not doing as well as we should and have little evidence that the expensive activities really secure our youth.

There is a lesson, a profound lesson, in the Book of Mormon. In Jacob’s parable of the olive tree, the lord of the vineyard wept because he had worked so hard but the trees brought forth wild fruit. “What could I have done more?” he asked. “Have I slackened my hand, that I have not nourished it, and digged about it and pruned it and stretched forth mine hand almost all day long? What could I have done more for my vineyard?”

How many bishops with disappointing results have felt to say those very words in their souls? “What could I have done more for my ward? Why wild fruit after all our work?”

It was the servant—it always is the servant—who said, “Is it not the loftiness of thy vineyard—have not the branches thereof overcome the roots which are good? And because the branches have overcome the roots thereof, behold they grew faster than the strength of the roots, taking strength unto themselves.”

“Nevertheless,” the lord of the vineyard said, “I know that the roots are good.” Then he brought cuttings from the trees he had planted in poor ground, for he found them to be strong; and grafted them in that “the root and the top may be equal in strength.”


This change in budgeting will have the effect of returning much of the responsibility for teaching and counseling and activity to the family where it belongs. While there will still be many activities, they will be scaled down in cost of both time and money. There will be fewer intrusions into family schedules and in the family purses.

I strongly encourage you to prayerfully read both talks in full, especially if you are struggling with budget issues in your program. I think the counsel is as relevant today as it was twenty years ago.

In planning our youth programs, we need to make sure that we are covering the essentials and providing ways for the boys to fulfill the requirements of the program. We also need to carefully evaluate every expense using the Spirit to decide whether it is necessary and whether it helps meet our ultimate goal of bringing young men to Christ and helping them fulfill their duty to God. You may find that "the way we have always done things" is not necessarily the best or only way.

Church leaders have agreed that sometimes fundraising is necessary. In tomorrow's post we will cover fundraising guidelines and suggestions.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Where Does "Duty to God" Fit In With Scouting?

As one commenter recently brought up, there can be a lot of confusion about Duty to God and its overlaps with the Scouting program (in countries where Scouting is used in the Church). People may have questions about when to work on Duty to God requirements, whether Duty to God will eventually replace Scouting, or whether one program should take priority over the other.

In an LDS-BSA Newsletter last year, the Young Men General Presidency addressed these questions:

"The duty of all Aaronic Priesthood holders is to 'invite all to come unto Christ.' The objective of Scouting as given by Lord Baden-Powell is to '...bring about God's Kingdom on earth.'


"The new Duty to God positions the activities provided through Cub Scouts, Boys Scouts, Varsity Scouts and Venturers as even more relevant in the development of these Priesthood Men of God.


"As the Young Men General Presidency, we fully support the four programs of Scouting and strongly encourage you to see them effectively utilized in your ward. These are tools that supplement Duty to God in developing strong, well-rounded, self-reliant priesthood men of God who love the Lord with all their heart and are going about, engaged in His work."

This is made even more clear when combined with the special Priesthood/Scouting training broadcast in 2007. The talk by Dallin H. Oaks was actually a conversation between Elder Oaks, Elder Holland, a Seventy, a Stake President and a Bishop. (Note: I found the segment easier to follow watching the video rather than just reading the transcript, because of the format.)

The main idea was that Young Men leaders should be using Duty to God to focus on Young Men's spiritual growth and Scouting (again, in countries where Scouting is used in the Church) for other areas of personal growth:

Elder Snow: Well, I personally believe that if they'll thoughtfully consider the requirements of Duty to God, what's set forth in the pamphlets, it'll become pretty self-evident what's most important - the spiritual development of our young men. A lot of the other physical activities and physical requirements - citizenship requirements - that will be sorted out by our Scouting program.


Elder Oaks: ...focus on the spiritual strength and priority of the Fulfilling [Your] Duty to God program and the uniquely successful activities program of the Scouts.

When used well, Scouting, Duty to God and Aaronic Priesthood instruction should all fit together seamlessly. The separate programs should all overlap and fit together to help build the young men into what God wants them to become:

David L. Frischknecht: I guess that's a little bit why it's difficult for me when I hear comments like, "Well, on Wednesdays we do Scouts, and on Sunday we have our quorum instruction," and, "When are we supposed to do the Duty to God Award?" Well, everything is purposing to help Aaronic Priesthood holders fulfill their duty. And this weaves into all of the - it must weave into their individual lives - in their quorum lives, including their quorum activities.

We have a good example of how to combine all of these things together in the boat story told by Bradley D. Harris in Trails to Testimony (you can read the story here). He explains that quorum activities - Scout activities - should become a laboratory for what is learned on Sunday.

David Pack has also emphasized how Scouting activities can be combined with and enhance the spiritual instruction that should be taking place: "I love 50 milers and what it does for a boy....Tuesday night at the campfire program, you will never see a more teachable group of boys, never better. Someone needs to be there to teach them. Sunday lessons will never be the same. Each boy has accomplished the hardest thing in his life up to that point, which makes him able to do more."

Elder Oaks finished off the segment with these words:

"Thank you. Brethren, we thank you for your time and attention. You have a sacred trust to teach and help young men learn and fulfill their duty to God; this includes the meaning of covenants and the significance of the promised blessings. We hope you have caught the spirit of what we have tried to teach in this discussion. We've spoken of Fulfilling Our Duty to God as a priesthood program that involves important priesthood duties now and leads to the three M's - Melchizedek Priesthood, mission and marriage in the temple.

"We've stressed that a young man's fulfilling his duty to God is about becoming what God wants him to become. That requires us to concentrate on young men fulfilling requirements listed under 'Priesthood Duties and Standards,' 'Family Activities,' 'Quorum Activities,' and 'Spiritual Development.' The other requirements, which overlap Scouting, are of lesser importance for the purpose of this priesthood program.

"Finally, priesthood leaders and parents need to administer this Fulfilling Our Duty to God program as an opportunity to bless the lives of our young men. As you follow this counsel, the Spirit will inspire you, and you will see this program in a new light.

"I invoke the Lord's blessing upon you in your vital responsibility to help young men fulfill their duty to God and thus put their feet on the pathway to the temple.

"This is the work of the Lord; I testify of it and invoke His blessings upon you."

I would strongly encourage you to watch the entire segment and either read or watch the rest of the broadcast too, if you can find the time. It will strengthen your understanding and testimony of both Scouting and the Duty to God program.

I think for Primary leaders, the same ideas can be applied to Faith in God for Boys and Cub Scouting. They can work together and become one seamless program, if leaders will listen to the Spirit.

Monday, January 3, 2011


Foreword by firebirdluver

I recall my excitement when I was first called to be a Cub Master. I was thrilled for the opportunity to be a part of the Cub Scouting program again for the first time in many years; a certain change from the Boy Socuting I had been involved with! Early on I met with the ward Primary Presidency representative and the topic of uniforms came up. She told me as far as she was concerned, the proper uniform for baptized boys is a white shirt and tie. I was stunned. I really didn't have a reply for that at the time. On later reflection, I had to agree that in certain situations, that may be the appropriate attire. However, not when participating in Scouting activities. The uniform is more than just a shirt with patches on it; it is a unifying symbol of what the wearer stands for and what group he belongs to. A person in uniform tends to stand taller and be more cautious in his words and deeds. Like the traditional white hat, wearing the Cub Scout uniform should be a constant reminder that the wearer is one of the good guys and must uphold the high standards he has committed to. Proper wearing of the uniform is a very important part of the program.

Uniforms are expensive.

They are also an important part of Scouting. The Church Handbook on Scouting states, "No boy or young man should be excluded from Scouting if he is unable to purchase a uniform... The wearing of Scouting uniforms by adult leaders is optional, but it is encouraged where feasible." Uniforms are not required, but they are strongly encouraged.

Uniforms are one of the Methods of Scouting. There are many reasons for the boys to wear them. Uniforms will give the boys more of a sense of belonging to a group. They will be more likely to identify themselves as part of the pack or troop and feel like they belong. Uniforms also affect their behavior. A group of boys in uniform will behave differently than a group of boys in street clothes. (Note: They will still be boys. Uniforms help, but they are not magic.) Uniforms also give the boys a place to display their badges. They are very proud of their achievements and like to show them off. The chance to display achievements also serves as motivation to earn achievements.

The boys should be helped to understand that when they are wearing their uniforms, they are representing more than just themselves. They are representing their den, pack, church and the Boys Scouts of America. You can relate this to when they were baptized and took upon themselves the name of Christ. Their actions everyday should reflect Christ, and their actions when they are wearing Scout uniforms should reflect the Scouting ideals.

It is especially important for boys to get in the habit of wearing uniforms as Cub Scouts. This may be the first uniform they have ever worn. It is good for them to have the experience of wearing a uniform, both because of the pride it will give them and so that they will be ready for other uniforms they may wear in the future.

One of our biggest aims as Cub Scout and Boy Scout leaders in the Church should be preparing the boys to serve missions. On a mission (with rare exception) they will be expected to wear a uniform. The uniform they will wear on their mission is different than the Scout uniforms they have worn in practice, but it will serve some of the same purposes. It will identify them, and they will be expected to act in a way that represents Christ and the Church.

Making sure everyone in your pack or troop is outfitted in a uniform can be looked at as an opportunity for some ward teamwork. Some boys' families may be able to afford uniforms, but likely some will have trouble with it. When a family is financially unable to send a boy on a mission, often other members of the ward donate funds to help out. The same can be done for boys who need uniforms. Ask around the ward to see whether anyone has an old uniform they can donate. A uniform library can be started where uniforms are recycled. Boys can borrow uniforms from the library for as long as they need, then give them back when they are done. Choose someone to run the library whom you can rely on to keep track of the uniforms. Encourage anyone who outgrows a uniform (and doesn't have little brothers who might need it later) to donate it. Enlist the help of ward members in rounding up uniforms from other sources. For example, there are no DI's where we live, but many people from our ward visit Utah on a regular basis. We ask people to check a DI or two if they can while they are there. DI's and other thrift stores don't always have Scout uniforms (they tend to get snatched up quickly), but with enough people checking, your uniform library will grow.

It is just as important for leaders to be in uniform for all meetings, if possible. This sets a good example for the boys, and it is an outward sign that you care about the boys and about Scouting. Again, the boys will act differently towards a leader in uniform. It will give you an aire of authority.

Wards can also have a uniform library for leader uniforms. Since leadership positions in the Church often cycle frequently, there will be people who were involved in Scouts for a short time, purchased a uniform and don't need it anymore. Ask around. Check ebay for deals. Sometimes "Class-B" type shirts are available for a low price at the scout shop or online. These can be used as leader uniforms in a pinch. In one ward we belonged to the Cub Scout Committee Chair purchased several tan polo shirts on clearance at the local Scout Shop. She understood that Cub Scout leaders are often reluctant to purchase uniforms, especially if they don't have a boy in the program or don't expect to be in the calling for very long. She made the shirts available to borrow for those that didn't have real uniforms to wear.

As of the writing of this article, there are Ladies' Uniform Blouses available in the clearance section of the online Scout store for only $5. This is a good opportunity, while it lasts, to start a leader uniform library. You might also want to talk to other leaders in your ward about who is interested in purchasing a uniform and put in a group order to save on shipping.

Making it a ward effort to supply uniforms for everyone who needs them can help strengthen and unify your ward. Just as "The pack is the strength of the wolf, and the wolf is the strength of the pack," (Law of the Jungle, Rudyard Kipling), if the ward as a whole will strengthen the Scout program, the Scout program will in turn strengthen the ward.