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 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.


Bishop said...

There is a dramatic difference between the new Duty to God program announced last year and the Duty to God program in place for the 8 years before. Most of this article focuses on comments about how the previous DTG program fits with Scouting.

There is no question that Scouting has always been focused on a young man learning to do his duty to God. The real concern is how the programs mesh.

Perhaps a more relevant question to address would be, "Where Does the New "Duty to God" Program Fit In With Scouting?"

The previous DTG program was very similar to Scouting in many ways. The new DTG program is very different from Scouting in most ways.

Joseph Wilding
bishop, avid scouter, and dedicated to DTG

SeƱor Dangriga said...

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.

I saw your blog featured in yesterday’s Deseret News in SLC,and have read through all your posts. I was recently "voluntold" as the 11-year-old scout patrol leader. I’ve come to the realization that this group is the red-headed stepchild of the whole program: “You’re in scouts, BUT you’re not a deacon; you’re in primary BUT you’re not a cub scout.” (Don't even try to schedule the cultural hall for anything, there's a standing reservation for youth pick-up basketball games.)

One of my instructions when called was to "fix the program" and I've been bending over backwards trying to figure out what that means ever since. I’ve found that my idea of ‘fix’ is different from my bishop’s, so I have additional “right way vs. our way” constraints to those in the Green Book, but I’m slowly finding my way to work within them. You’ve put into words exactly what I’m dealing with, as a newbie scouter faced with plenty of confusion, ignorance, indifference and half-efforts. I forwarded the DesNews link to all scout leaders in my ward in the hopes that they actually read some of your blog.

Having lived outside the “Zion Curtain” and recently returning here, I am all too conscious of the “Mormon way vs. the “BSA way” of doing things, and I feel that you’ve hit that nail squarely on the head many times over. Please keep doing just that.

Eric larson

Evenspor said...

Thanks for pointing that out, Bishop. They did say in that broadcast that they would be working to correct the overlaps between Duty to God and Scouting. It sounds like they did just that with the new program. The most important point, I think, is that Duty to God is not replacing Scouting. Church leaders have stated clearly that the intention is for us to make full use of both programs. I hope you will continue to offer your comments and insights.

Senor Dangriga – Thanks for the comment. Good luck on your efforts to improve your program.

firebirdluver said...

Bishop - I like the way you phrase the "relevant" question. I think since the new DTG program is farther removed from the Scouting program, it enhances both programs. The goal of each program is the same, but it gives us as leaders more options to use with each individual boy.

Dangriga - I wish you the best of luck "fixing" your program. My best recommendation to you is to get training (Wood Badge, National Camping School, University of Scouting, Philmont, Round table, etc). The more you have, the better off you'll be. (Although it can also raise your frustration level, because the more you know, the more you realize how wrong your program has been. That's particularly irritating when no one else really wants to change how the program is run. Encourage the other leaders tog et training also).

flash said...

Most if not all of the DTG stuff should be done at home, the boy with his parents. The program perfectly meshes with Scouting. Learn both programs and run them. Freedome of choice comes through knowledge of alternatives.
The reason why there are few specific guidlines in the implimentation of the DTG program and specifically on meshing it with Scouting is it would be impossible to provide a plan that would be pertinient to every single situation in every ward or branch in the Church. One must learn the two programs and be open to the promptings of the spirit to receive guidance for program impimentation in one's own particular situation.

The 11-year-old program is anything but the red-headed step child of LDS scouting.
The 11 year-old-program has more people with stewardship over it than any other program in the Church. The Primary Presidency has stewardship, the Young Men's presidency has stewardship, the respective counselors in the Bishopric over those two auxilliaries have stewardship as well as the Bishop, the Scoutmaster, Assistant Scoutmaster, the Troop Committee all have a role to play in the success of the 11-year-old scout patrol.
There is absolutely no reason for that program not to be successful in preparing the boys to fully integrate into the troop.
Ignorance and indifference is pretty pervasive in LDS scouting. Ignorance is not so bad because it can be fixed IF the people who are ignorant will allow themselves to be educated in the program. Indifference is another story. Many of these people suffer from what Thane Packer called a "pre-emptive mind-set". This will often lead to disagreements with the scout leaders who are trying to do their job, magnify their calling and run the program and the priesthood leaders who are not full committeed to the program. This will usually result in the scout leader being released so as to preserve the spirit of brotherhood. Meanwhile the program suffers, boys are lost and years later, everyone sitting in a correlation meeting somewhere will scratch their collective heads and wonder..."What happened to Johnnie? Why didn't he go on a mission? Why did he marry a non-member? When was the last time anyone has seen him at church?" And no one will know.

Rattler0812 said...

"Ignorance and indifference is pretty pervasive in LDS scouting. Ignorance is not so bad because it can be fixed IF the people who are ignorant will allow themselves to be educated in the program. Indifference is another story. Many of these people suffer from what Thane Packer called a "pre-emptive mind-set"."

Well said. I have a large number of leaders that I work with now that are in both categories. Some more in the indifference than ignorance. The worst part is when their ignorance or arrogance tells them that their calling to scouting was sufficient and that additional training is not needed. I wish they could see it from the outside and how they are damaging the full potential of using the Duty to God and Scouting program in parallel.

I have used both with my Troop while trying to get my Varsity Teams (I am a Varsity Huddle Commissioner for my district) to do the same. The common response: "Well that makes no sense." THAT'S BECAUSE YOU DON'T EVEN KNOW WHAT YOUR ROLE AS COACH IS! Oh, so frustrating. But, the progress the boys make when you teach after an activity is amazing. Even sometimes when you bring the activity back with you into the quorum meeting for those that were not able to attend to also share. Numerous teaching moments found as the boys floated in the lake after swamping their canoe from horsing around too much. Or washing off the poison ivy as best as they could because the decided to take a short cut to the lake. When a leader understands the program and how to provide Spiritual instruction from the activities, the boys are enriched, edified and strengthened.