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, November 18, 2012


"...yea, he hath led us out of the land of Jerusalem, and we have wandered in the wilderness for these many years; and our women have toiled, being big with child; and they have borne children in the wilderness and suffered all things, save it were death; and it would have been better that they had died before they came out of Jerusalem than to have suffered these afflictions." (1 Nephi 17:20)

Those were the words of Laman and Lemuel, as quoted by Nephi. Certainly there was nothing unusual about Laman and Lemuel finding something to complain about, and in this case, well, I think most people would consider those hard things to bear. What I find interesting, however, is that just a few verses earlier, Nephi had been saying:

"...so great were the blessings of the Lord upon us, that while we did live upon raw meat in the wilderness, our women did give plenty of suck for their children, and were strong, yea, even like unto the men; and they began to bear their journeyings without murmurings." (1 Nephi 17:2)

What others saw as trials, Nephi saw as blessings. His attitude made a huge difference in his outlook, as did Laman's.

Our attitudes have a huge impact on our experience as Scouters. I think, though, that it is even more important to realize how ours attitudes affect those around us. Laman's attitude rubbed off on his brother, his in-laws, and on at least one occasion, even his father, the prophet, had difficulty staying positive when surrounded by so much negativity. In the end, though, Nephi's optimism and faith (in his father, as well as in God) helped his father regain a little faith of his own.

I have noticed that the attitude of Scout leaders definitely rubs off on their Scouts. And the leaders' attitudes are usually affected by the attitude of ward leaders. When a committee chair, primary president, bishop,, etc. is less than enthusiastic about Scouting, it ends up showing in the leaders and boys.

Fortunately, the inverse is also true. When I spoke to the den leader from another ward recently, and she was so enthusiastic about how things were going, attitude was something she mentioned several times. Her attitude had improved (which she attributed to training). The new committee chair had a more positive attitude than the old one. The same went for the new Cubmaster and the primary representative. She kept mentioning how this or that person had "such a good attitude". When I visited a den meeting, I saw boys who were so excited to be there, you could practically feel the energy radiating from them. Several boys were lined up and ready to do an opening flag ceremony several minutes before it was time for the meeting to start. I have no doubt that those boys wanted to be there because their leaders wanted to be there

I know that is one reason I like going to district events, like University of Scouting and Roundtable. Being around other Scouters who are enthusiastic recharges my Scouting battery.

I think the real reason dedicated Scouters end up burning out is not so much all of the work. Scouters get burned out when they are faced with constant negativity and/or lack of interest from their fellow leaders and/or ward leaders. If there are any bishops reading this, please take note. I think the best way to keep your best Scouters from getting burned out is to support them. Support them in their efforts to try and run the program correctly, get them good assistants (and encourage those assistants to get trained), take the training yourself, listen when someone has an idea, take Scouting seriously. When those things do not happen, a good leader can feel like he is banging his head against the wall. When you are banging your head, it does not take long to get a headache.

In the end, it is the boys that suffer when you lose good leaders or when leaders lose their enthusiasm, and that is not fair to the boys.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Future Missionary

I have started wearing a "Future Missionary" tag on my "temporary patch" pocket on my uniform to help remind myself and others that one of the main focuses of LDS Scouting is training future missionaries.

I think it would be cool to have "Future Missionary" patches that looked like tags that we could give each boy who enters our program, and they could choose whether or not to wear the patches on their right pockets.

We may not have "Future Missionary" patches, but we do have "Recruiter" patches. There are no national requirements for earning a "Recruiter" patch. It is up to each unit to designate how its boys can earn the patch. I know one pack where we live who will give it to any scout who attends one of their two annual recruiting nights in uniform, because having current scouts there shows prospective scouts how cool and fun Scouting is.

One thing I remember from the first time I attended Den Leader training is that when our instructor started talking about recruiting, my fellow den leader and I rolled our eyes at each other and tuned out the "irrelevant" topic. We did not care about recruiting, because we did not need to recruit.

I think the real reason, though, was that we did not want to recruit. It is hard for someone who is only a half-hearted participant in something to find any interest in recruiting others to be a part of that program.

Now, however, I see the value in making recruiting an integral part of our programs. What better way to train future missionaries than to give them practice being missionaries right now? (Did you notice, by the way, that the Young Men General Presidency message in the last two issues of the LDS-BSA newsletters focused on recruiting?)

In a roundtable a couple months ago, our district executive gave us some tips on recruiting. The first thing to do, of course, is to have a program that boys will want to be a part of. Besides that, he told us, the best tool for recruiting is the boys.

If your boys are enjoying themselves at Scouting activities, they will be a lot more likely to tell their friends how great Scouts is, and to invite their friends to activities.

Our DE told us to not only encourage our scouts to invite their friends, we need to coach them in what to say. Keep in mind that the approach is different, depending on the age of the scout. A Cub Scout can tell his friend about how much fun he has, what kinds of activities his den has been doing and what awards he has earned. Then all he needs to do is ask, "Do you want to come to den meeting with me next week?" Boy Scouts may want to focus on specific activities and leave out the word "scout." Almost certainly they will want to avoid mentioning a uniform. To younger boys, the idea of being in scouts and wearing a uniform sounds exciting - I saw this in boy after boy when we helped with the Scouting booth at a local elementary school open house. As they hit middle school, it becomes much less cool, but "Wanna go camping with me and some buddies?" can still create some interest. Or the scout might want to mention knives, fire starting, robotics, photography, whatever is going on that might interest his friend.

Our pack is going to start awarding the recruiter patch to any boy who brings a friend to a den or pack meeting. I encourage your pack/troop/team/crew to consider whether you might want to make use of the recruiter patch in a similar way to encourage your future missionaries.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Using Your Resources

Several months ago, I happened to talk to a den leader from another ward in our area. She was newly called, and she was discouraged, for a number of reasons. I listened to her, gave her a few resources and let her know about an upcoming district training. Then I dropped by their ward on den meeting night and brought registration forms for the training. The three people that were there all filled them out, and I was able to turn them in the next day.

This last week I had a chance to talk to this same person again. I asked her whether she was still doing Cub Scouts and how it was going. She smiled and told me how much better things were going. Her den had improved, the pack had improved. “I remember you told me I would love it eventually, when I had gotten the hang of it. I didn't believe you, but I do love it now!” She attributed this all to training and to having gotten the Den and Pack Meeting Resource Guide. She is such a big fan of training that she encouraged everyone in her pack that hadn't been earlier to go to the district training in September. They have a 100% trained pack.

In a talk by Charles Dahlquist (2004 General Young Men Open House Address) he spoke of having expensive running shoes and leaving them up on the shelf, never used. We often take for granted the resources available to us in Scouting. Yet, the BSA has a number of resources available, and when we take advantage of them, our jobs are easier and our programs are better.

Our pack recently started making more use of the Den and Pack Meeting Resource Guide when we plan our Pack Meetings. Everyone is supposed to download whichever pack meeting plan we are using that month from the website and look it over. During our monthly planning meeting, we can then say, “We want to use everything except for this and this, and we want to add this in here.” Since we have started this, our pack meetings have really improved. They weren't bad before, but now they feel smoother, better planned and more interesting. They seem to flow better than before.

For those who aren't aware, the Den and Pack Resource Guide is available as both a book and online. It provides a year's worth of den meeting plans for each level of Cub Scouting, as well as a year's worth of pack meeting plans. One option your ward may consider is to purchase one or two copies of the book, then divide out the den meeting plans in between the different den leaders. You can either make copies of the pack portion for everyone, or have everyone download the appropriate plan online for any given month. The pack meeting portion of the Den and Pack Resource Guide was recently expanded online to have four years' worth of pack meeting plans so that you do not have to repeat the same pack meetings every year. Three of the pack meetings plans for each month have themes in addition to the Core Values to make things more fun and interesting, and the way the themes are used really ends up highlighting the core value well. We used the "Down on the Farm" meeting plan this last month, and it was a blast and also really focused well on Responsibility (we also threw in "Ghost Chickens in the Sky," which was a huge hit).

Another example is the book Ceremonies for Dens and Packs. We often get asked by den leaders about flag ceremonies. The rules of flag ceremony etiquette, as well as both opening and closing flag ceremony scripts can be found in the aforementioned book. It also has ideas for award ceremonies, ceremonies to present a bead in your den, and an all-purpose ceremony. We even found a really neat idea we are now using in our pack meetings of a rank advancement ladder. When the boys advance in rank, they get to move their names up the ladder.

I encourage you to look into what resources are available for your level of Scouting and try to make use of them. Of course, the very first resource to take advantage of is training, and in training you will probably learn about other resources. Yes, you could run the race in flip flops, but when you have the $200 running shoes right there, why not take advantage of them?

Friday, November 2, 2012

I'll go where you want me to go, Dear Lord (well, maybe not training; it long... and boring... and on a Saturday)

Over mountain or plain or sea.

I'll say what you want me to say, Dear Lord (but I can't ask people to attend an extra meeting every month)

I'll be what you want me to be (as long as it's not a Cub Scout den leader).