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.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Food for Thought

"Leadership callings are much like training wheels on a bicycle. The training wheels allow a child to learn how to balance and ride with confidence. A leadership calling puts people in a position to learn how to love, be patient, and persuade through pure knowledge and kindness. They may also learn that any attempt to compel behavior is accompanied by withdrawal of the Spirit and decreased effectiveness." (Read the rest of the article.)

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Potential of LDS Scouting

In a recent Ensign article, David Beck said, "Young Men advisers in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints should be the best implementers of Scouting in the world. Training is an important step toward that end." (If you haven't read the article yet, I highly recommend it.)

I think we really do have the potential for this. We often hear excuses about why LDS programs are seldom quality programs. However, I think the very things we often think of as road blocks could become strengths):

It's a calling. We often complain that Scouting in the Church is full of people who don't want to be there. They don't know anything about the program, and when they finally figure it out, they get released. Right?

Well, guess what. Scouting outside the Church is full of people who are only there because their sons are. Yes, they have a vested interest in the program, but they are often not in any position any longer than our "called" Scouters, because they move up with their sons. Many non-LDS leaders (at least in Cub Scouts) only spend a year in each position, just long enough to figure things out before moving on to the next level.

Our edge comes into play with tenure. For the first year, a leader is learning his/her job and getting things sorted out. If they are allowed to (and want to) continue in that calling, they have the potential to build a really great program. They can put together their own schedule of activities that they know work. Because it's a calling and not just following the boys, the opportunity is there for leaders to develop experience.

As I have said before, sometimes being a calling brings people in that would not be involved in Scouting otherwise, and they end up being great leaders and staying in the program.

We recently sat in a district meeting where the question was asked, "Who here is in Scouting because their boy is?" Most of the people in the room raised their hands. My husband and I just looked at each other. Our boy is in Scouting because we are, instead of the other way around. We are in Scouting because of past callings.

Boys advance on their birthdays instead of at the same time. This goes hand-in-hand with the above. It can be tricky for a den leader to plan around boys who are all coming in at different times of the year. However, with the new delivery method and some experience and planning, the program can be set up so that every boy ends up doing the same things, no matter when he starts with the den. (You can also use the LDS Delivery Method, set up by some very clever people to make the program even better suited for LDS packs.)

The edge, again, comes with tenure. It does take some experience to set this up, but once you have an established program and things are working for you, you have the advantage of the older boys setting an example for the newer boys (see this post). It can be a major advantage, discipline-wise, to have boys trickling in, rather than coming all at once.

Reliance on personal revelation. Of course, there's nothing wrong with relying on personal revelation in your calling. Unless you think it means you don't need training. Or you decide we have a different program, and you rely on what my friend calls "creative inspiration" to do things your own way.

David Beck specifically mentions training as an important step to becoming the "best implementers of Scouting in the world." Remember how the Lord rebuked Oliver Cowdry when he, "took no though, save it was to ask me." He was told instead to study things out. How can we expect to receive inspiration for a program we know nothing about?

I really feel LDS Scouting has great potential, as President Beck statement implies. I hope others can catch that vision as well.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

of God

"...every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God." - Moroni 7:16

Many of you probably saw the mentions in Scouting magazine about the recent Baylor study that compared Eagle Scouts, former Scouts and non-Scouts as adults in various social, physical and spiritual aspects. You can read a more detailed accounting of the results here.

As Byron Johnson put it, "There is no shortage of examples or anecdotal accounts that suggest Scouting produces better citizens, but now there is scientific evidence to confirm the prosocial benefits of Scouting or earning the rank of Eagle Scout..." (source)

Scouting definitely invites men to do good. What about believing in Christ? According to Elder Vaughn J. Featherstone more than 90 percent of LDS Eagles serve full-time missions.* (source)

President Hinkley said, "The promise of the Scout Oath and the twelve points of the Scout Law point young men along the path of being prepared for the 21st century. They provide a solid and powerful magnetic force toward development of a well-rounded and noteworthy character that counts. If every boy [and girl] in America knew and observed the Scout Oath, we would do away with most of the jails and prisons in this country." (source)

And Baden-Powell said, "I have clearly stated that our objective in the Scouting movement is to give such help  as we can in bringing about God's Kingdom on earth." (source)

*It is important to note that the act of receiving an Eagle badge does not automatically make a boy a better person. It is the journey required to get there, and when we push a boy through or "pencil whip" his requirements, we are doing him a disservice. According to the same article sourced just above, only 6% of LDS Scouts earn the Eagle, and only 2% of non-LDS Scouts earn it. Just because a boy does not earn his Eagle does not mean he has not learned or grown as a Scout. President Monson said, "However, we should not put down the young man who does not achieve that high award, but give him credit for the effort he has made."The goal is not a badge; it is to persuade them to do good and help them develop their testimonies of Christ.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Every boy deserves...

After hearing so much about it, we decided to buy Follow Me, Boys (it's only $6 or $7 on Amazon, depending on your timing), and we watched it for the first time the other day. My reaction afterward was, "I hope our boys get a few Scoutmasters like that."

We often use the phrase, "Every boy deserves a trained leader." I think it takes on new meaning when you start thinking specifically about your own son(s).

What kind of people do you want to influence your boy(s)'s life? What kind of leaders do you hope he has? What types of examples and mentors? That is what every boy deserves to have.

That's what I hope every leader considers when deciding what kind of leader to be. What if it was someone else leading your son?

And for those who are not currently called as leaders, you still can have the opportunity to mentor boys as a merit badge counselor. Boy Scouting would not be the same without the opportunity for the boys to interact with many different positive role models.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Response to "Are People Afraid?"

This was sent in by a reader, who wishes to remain anonymous, after the post a few weeks ago called, "Are People Afraid?" It is definitely worth a read for everyone. Please remember to keep all your comments positive.

People are awesome. Here’s to you, my fellow Scout leaders. No matter where you fall on the time- and emotion-investment scale, you are wonderful for accepting your calling and helping the boys you have stewardship over. You are great for what you currently do. You are making my world a better place, and I personally thank you for it.

If you feel like you should do something different in your unit after reading this post, great. If not, okay: that's up to you. You make a difference for your boys, and that is wonderful.

I started three years ago in a very home-spun version of a den. We worked from the handbook and got the boys their ranks. But I’ve learned that there’s more to it than that. I’ve grown and learned about what the program can be, and my pack and den are evolving. 

But we're not perfect.

People are afraid, and it's partly the super-Scouter’s fault.

Three and a half years ago I received my first calling as a den leader, learning from square one and doing the minimum to make it work and help the boys progress. Then we had a super-Scouter pack trainer called, and she overwhelmed me. Once I got to know her, she exasperated me. Once I reluctantly started implementing her ideas, I saw the value in them, and some leaders started putting space between themselves and me. Not because I implemented her ideas, but because I started encouraging them to do the things she recommended. I had, unwittingly, 'joined her camp.'

People are afraid this will happen to them too. They might intentionally stave it off just to avoid the stigma that comes from raising a decisive voice in favor of the training, the way the national program runs, or any other super-Scouter 'agenda item.' I’m not saying the BSA is perfect. But the Church adopted their program, and when we use the program the way it is designed, it makes a difference.

But people are still afraid of us.

People are aloof or apathetic. Some leaders who have ‘been there, done that’ have no desire to change. The way they’ve run it in the past is good enough for them, and that’s what you’ll get. Instead of 'doing their best,' they get the job done. And it works, the job does get done – just not at the level it could be done.

As members of the LDS church, some of us think that we get to change the Scouting program to be what we want it to be. That’s not the plan. The BSA run organization is the foundation of what we do. We don’t change it – we add to it. We add the fact that these boys are a quorum. We add reproving with sharpness (clarity), then showing forth an increase of love. We add the priesthood. We add Christ. Yes, using the BSA program as a foundation, we take it far beyond it’s own power.

But it takes leaders with vision.

People can adapt. In came Sis. Jones. Oh my, this woman has a testimony of Scouting. Not super-knowledge or advice for everyone around her, but a testimony. She is a super-(Cub) Scouter from the opposite end of the spectrum, and her incredible dedication to her "future quorum" overwhelms me - but with humility. This woman has understanding. She has insight. She has vision. She sees power and potential in everyone and everything around her, but she encourages it by example. Our pack has been touched by her membership, from the newest Cub to the bishop. She's moving in a few weeks, and she has her transfer form filled out. Whatever callings she gets in her new location will be accepted and magnified, but she will also be a leader in their Scouting program.

Last Friday we had a pack meeting. The theme we chose was the Olympics. As leaders, we 'did our best' (not always the case with our pack, sorry to say), and it turned out amazing. The meeting culminated with three Arrows of Light and a crossing over. Every leader who was there now has a vision of what these ceremonies can be. Even better, so do the parents and boys. This was the second amazing pack meeting in three months, and it's going to have a positive effect on everything we do for the future priesthood holders we train and serve. Our pack leaders are slowly coming around.

And no one in my pack is afraid of Sis. Jones.

I love Cub Scouting. I love the impact I can have on the boy's lives. If I do the minimum, I still have an impact. But it can be so much more.

We need to ‘do our best’ to follow the BSA program and make it function as it should. To that, we add our love of the boys and our vision for their future as priesthood holders, missionaries, and fathers.

Who’s on the Lord’s Side? Who? I ask it fearlessly, and I pray that we each might do our part. We make a difference.