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 9, 2014

"Wear Your Uniform"

Do you follow the LDS-BSA blog? They have regular posts these days. There was a great one a while back called, "Wear Your Uniform!" with a story of successful recruiting.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Choose Wisely

"I believe Elder Dallin H. Oaks’s inspired message distinguishing between 'good, better, best' provides an effective way to evaluate choices and priorities. Many choices are not inherently evil, but if they absorb all of our time and keep us from the best choices, then they become insidious.

"Even worthwhile endeavors need evaluation in order to determine if they have become distractions from the best goals. I had a memorable discussion with my father when I was a teenager. He did not believe enough young people were focused on or preparing for long-term important goals—like employment and providing for families.

"Meaningful study and preparatory work experience were always at the top of my father’s recommended priorities. He appreciated that extracurricular activities like debate and student government might have a direct connection with some of my important goals. He was less certain about the extensive time I spent participating in football, basketball, baseball, and track. He acknowledged that athletics could build strength, endurance, and teamwork but asserted that perhaps concentrating on one sport for a shorter time would be better. In his view, sports were good but not the best for me. He was concerned that some sports were about building local celebrity or fame at the expense of more important long-term goals."

I love this part of Quentin L. Cook's talk from the most recent Conference, because it sounds so much like what my husband recently told his scouts, when talking to them about planning their activities.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Change of Heart

Over at the LDS-BSA blog, they have a new author who has promised weekly posts. His first installment is a real gem: Gaining a Vision of Scouting and the Aaronic Priesthood.

He talks about a time when he did not understand why the Church uses Scouting. I can relate, as I have not always had the best attitude toward Scouting either (at least, not my involvement in it). Then his bishop told him basically the same thing I have wanted to tell many people, "This comes from the prophet."

I am often caught between having patience for people, like others have had patience with me, and frustration with people who "follow the prophet" except when it comes to Scouting.

I would love it if everyone read this article, though. I suppose, just like any other truth, in the end, it's something we all need to gain a testimony of for ourselves.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

What is Little Philmont?

With a Little Philmont approaching in our area, I have been getting many questions about exactly what it is. Here is what I have been telling people. If anyone has anything to add (or correct) please add a comment.

Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico is the site of several premier scout leader training courses every year. Two weeks out of every summer (two sessions, one week each), the Church holds Priesthood Leadership Training at Philmont Scout Ranch, where the General Young Men Presidency and General Primary Presidency train Stake Presidencies in using Scouting in conjunction with the priesthood. Those Stake Presidencies are then encouraged to take what they learn back to their stakes and hold a "Little Philmont" - a one or two day conference about how Scouting fits with the Church and the priesthood. This is done under the direction of the Young Men General Presidency. In fact, I have heard there is often a member of the Young Men General Presidency, as well as members of the Board at the Little Philmont.

Who should attend a Little Philmont? Everyone! Little Philmont is for anyone with a Scout-related calling, from direct contact leaders to committee members, Cubs through Venturing. It is for Young Men and Primary presidencies on both the stake and ward level. It is for bishoprics and parents of scouts. And, of course, commissioners serving LDS units would find it helpful. It is for anyone who could benefit from a better understanding of how the priesthood and Scouting fit together and why the Lord has asked us to use this program to raise His young men and train them to be missionaries (and beyond).

There is a section on the Church Website about Philmont and Little Philmont, the link to which says, "The purpose of this conference is to help stake leaders better understand how Scouting can support the Aaronic Priesthood." It includes a suggested agenda for Little Philmont, in the middle of a lot of other great Scouting resources.

For those in the Northern Nevada area: Our Little Philmont will be on August 23 at the Winnemucca Stake Center. You can e-mail me for more details (or ask your local leaders). The Stake President who is heading the effort was at Philmont Scout Ranch last week receiving his training. 11 stakes from Northern Nevada are being invited (not sure whether that includes Sierra District as well). I was told that the last Little Philmont in our council was eight years ago, so this is a rare opportunity, worth taking advantage of. I have also heard that there will be a member of the Young Men General Presidency there (hint: he's a Nevada native).

Friday, June 27, 2014

"Scout Training Was The Answer"

We have another Ensign article about Scouting! In the July 2014 Ensign is a fantastic article called, "Scout Training Was The Answer," where Christopher M. Grimes shares his testimony of how getting trained helped him, his ward's program and his scouts.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Another Handbook Update

The Church's Handbook on Scouting (the "Green Book") was updated again in May. You can find the latest version here. The biggest change, or rather addition, that I know is a new section on Unit Commissioners, giving new, more specific guidelines on how stake callings fit in with commissioner work and what the responsibilities are of those who are unit commissioners because of their callings.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

May 2014 Newsletter

LDSBSA.org has a new newsletter posted for May. You can find it on their newsletter page here. Some highlights of the newsletter are a message about Roundtable from the General Primary Presidency and a message about safety.

Sunday, March 30, 2014


Did you know that LDS Scouting units average more fatalities during activities than other Scouting units? Charles Dahlquist gave three reasons for this: "(1) lack of training, (2) lack of experience, and (3) failure to exercise good common sense."

There was a fantastic article posted recently on the Utah National Parks Council blog about safety in LDS Scouting units. One of the things the article linked to was another new website from the Church: http://safety.lds.org. I highly recommend checking both out. With warmer weather upon us, it is time to start heading outdoors with those boys. Let's remember when we do, the importance of following the guidelines in the Guide to Safe Scouting.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Youth Leadership

"When I was a mission president in northern Germany, Sister Dahlquist and I had a few minutes one day and took a short trip to the top of a little mount called, 'Hercules' right in the city Kassel. At the top of Hercules, I saw a shepherd with his staff, sheep dogs and sheep, and I thought I would ask him the age-old question, 'When you move your sheep from one place to another, do you go in front of the sheep or behind?' His answer surprised me: 'It depends,' he said. 'If they are going a route they are familiar with, they go ahead, with the dogs watching out to ensure that none go astray. But if they are going to a place where they have not been before, I go ahead and they follow.' What a wonderful principle of leadership.

"As leaders, we need to know where we are going, or we will go astray. We must be trained and directed; we must catch the vision. It is the same with the young men. When they are charting unknown waters, we must be close to them, often leading the way so they can follow and so they can be prepared to lead the next time. The moment I was called as a Scoutmaster, I felt an unusual sense of urgency, one I had not had before. I remember discussing that with the bishop and also with the boys in leadership. I told them, 'Boys, I have a feeling we do not have long to accomplish all we must in this quorum. For the next couple of weeks, I will be doing some things that, after you have seen how it's done, YOU will be doing, so watch carefully!' Within several weeks, they shouldered their proper share of the load, but only after they had seen it done and caught a vision of how things should be." (Charles Dahlquist, 2004 Young Men General Open House)

I love the story in the Book of Morning when the brother of Jared goes to the Lord and asks for his help lighting the boats that they would spend nearly a year shut up in, crossing the ocean. The Lord does not give him an answer. He tells the brother of Jared to let him know when he has a plan. Later, the brother of Jared comes back and asks the Lord for help lighting up the clear stones he has molten.

Someone pointed out to me recently that the Lord probably could have come up with a better plan. He might have had something great in mind. So they might have had better light on the boat, but what would the brother of Jared have learned from that? What was more important, the light, or doing something fro himself?

As a leader, it can be a lot easier sometimes to take the reigns ourselves. Someone in my "Scouting in the LDS Church" class a couple of weeks ago told a great story about being a Scoutmaster and allowing his scouts to plan and shop for a camp out. He said, "I have never eaten so much bacon in my life. When we were shopping, I kept trying to put bags of salad and things into the cart, but the boys would see them and say, 'Who put this in there?' and throw they out again." They may not have had a nutritionally balanced camp out, but it was definitely THEIR camp out.

What is more important? Perfect activities that flow the way we would like or learning opportunities for growing young men into leaders?

Some more from President Dahlquist: “Now that we have spoken about the priesthood leader and the adult Young Men leaders, let's focus for a minute on the quorum president and the individual Aaronic Priesthood quorum member. In the Doctrine and Covenants, we are instructed that it is the DUTY of the president of a quorum of deacons to PRESIDE over twelve deacons and “to sit in council with them, and to teach them their duty, edifying one another.” Since our call to the Young Men general presidency, I have pondered this direction given by the Lord to the Prophet Joseph in Kirtland in 1835 and have wondered how long it will take us before we take this guidance seriously and begin treating Aaronic Priesthood presidents as priesthood leaders – as leaders of a priesthood that, in the Lord's own words, 'is to hold the keys of the ministering of angels, and to administer in outward ordinances.'

“In many cases, the extent of their leadership experience is to stand, in the case of a deacons quorum, unprepared each Sunday, welcome the quorum members, ask for a volunteer to pray, ask for volunteers to pass the sacrament, turn the lesson over to Brother Johansen, and then ask for another volunteer to pray at the end. Then we wonder why they leave their Aaronic Priesthood experience unchallenged, untrained, and sorely unprepared to meet the challenges that await them."

Both the church and the BSA have tools for training these young men. You can find a page here with training that is meant to be given in a Troop, Team or Crew after every election cycle. I love the powerpoint presentations for creating an annual program plan found here and here, because are broken into two segments: one for the leaders to watch ahead of time and one for the youth to watch to help guide them through the process.

There needs to be a balance between guiding them and standing back to let them take over. The leaders who I have seen struggle most with youth leadership do not seem to understand the principle of first training, then easing the boys into things. One thing that can help is to give the boys specific choices instead of leaving things wide open. For example: Instead of leaving an open, "What do you want to do for activities?" give them a selection of merit badges and say, "Which ones would you most like to work on as a group this year?" Then let them come up with a plan to help make that happen. Ask questions that will lead them in the right directions while still making the final ideas and decisions theirs. Provide opportunities for safe learning experiences (by "safe" I mean making mistakes in a situation that will not lead to epic failure and giving up). Deciding what is most appropriate for your particular group of boys may require a lot of prayer and listening to the Spirit.

It would be great to hear more suggestions and thought on this from more experienced Scouters. What has worked or has not worked for you in helping your boys lead? What are some of your favorite stories about boy-led activities or scouts learning from their mistakes?

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Key 3

As District Commissioner, I am part of the District "Key 3," and I can tell you, it has been an eye opening experience for me in a lot of ways. On the district level, the Key 3 consists of the District Executive, the District Commissioner and the District Chair. The three meet together once or more a month and stay in close contact throughout the month. They work together to set the direction of the district and keep things moving along as they should. I love the two other members of my Key 3. They are really great to work with, and it is pretty exciting to be a part of helping everything come together. I talk to both of them frequently, and we all keep each other updated on important things in our different areas of District Operation.

On a unit level, the Key 3 consists of the Chartered Organization Representative (in LDS units, this is a member of the bishopric), the Unit Leader (Cubmaster, Scoutmaster, Varsity Coach, Venturing Leader), and the Committee Chair. Having seen the Key 3 concept in action, I can see now what a difference it makes whether a unit's Key 3 are working together closely to keep the unit on track.

In all honesty, I have only ever seen this in one unit - the first pack I was ever involved in. I was only an Assistant Den Leader, and I had never heard of a Key 3, but even from that position, I could see how closely the Bishopric member, committee chair and Cubmaster worked together, and how they supported each other. It was obvious they were on the same page and they were coordinating their efforts. The Committee Chair ran the Committee Meetings, but the Bishopric member was always there, and the presence of his priesthood authority was felt, without taking anything away from the authority of the Committee Chair. Since these were actually combined Committee/Leader Meetings (which I know is common), the Cubmaster ran the portion of the meeting pertaining to Pack Meetings. Everyone knew their part, and the coordinated efforts of the Key 3 trickled down to the rest of us and affected how we approached our callings.

The Church's Scouting Handbook states that every Scouting committee should have a member of the bishopric on it. I believe that bishopric member is most effective when he takes an active role, guiding and working closely with the Committee Chair and Unit Leader in everything. I do not know whether there needs to be a once a month meeting (the BSA does recommend once a month Key 3 meetings on a unit level). Even maintaining contact (e-mail, phone, touch base at church) throughout the month would make a huge difference, I think.

I know in the units I have been involved in since that first one, it would have made a huge difference if the Bishopric representative had taken on that role and worked closely with the unit leadership. Most of the problems the units had would never have happened.

This is another part of Scouting that draws a parallel to Church leadership. In every level of the priesthood (all the way up to the top; no I mean the step even above the First Presidency), there are presidencies of three. How well would a ward function if a Bishop did not meet with his counselors regularly and keep in close contact with them?

Sunday, March 2, 2014

I used to be a Bobwhite...

...a good ol' Bobwhite too. Now I'm finished Bobwhiting, I don't know what to do. I'm growing old and feeble, and I can Bobwhite no more, So I'm going to work my ticket if I can!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Updates at LDS.org and LDSBSA.org

The LDS-BSA Relations office has a new newsletter out! You can find it here. The first page (the YM Presidency message) is all about a new Church website focused on youth activities. There is an entire section on Scouting (which is even broken into Boy Scouts, Varsity and Venturing), which you can find here. The rest of the newsletter focuses on the Celebration last October, with the final page covering five tips for recruiting scouts into your ward units.

[Edited to add]: Don't know how I missed this, but I found out this morning that the Handbook (Green Book) was updated again last month. You can find a link to the new Handbook here.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Mining in Society

Some of our readers may remember a few years ago when firebirdluver posted a letter he had written and sent to the Chief Scout Executive. The letter advocated a Mining Merit Badge, and the post was meant as an example of how we should be involved in these kinds of things, outside of the boundaries of our callings and our comfort zones.

You may have heard that this week, at the SME's (the professional association mentioned in that letter) conference in Salt Lake, the new Mining in Society Merit Badge will be launched. Firebirdluver will be there. Having been on the task force that put the merit badge together, he was not about to miss the official unveiling of it.

He, of course, already has his name in to be a counselor for the merit badge in our district. There is a lot of excitement across the district about the merit badge, because mining is one of the two main industries here. A majority of the people who live in our town are involved in mining on some level.

I know there is, and will continue to be, a lot of debate over whether this merit badge is redundant alongside a couple of the others, whether it is politically correct, or whether it is something the scouts really need. It is an opportunity, though, to open the eyes of scouts to an industry that we could not live without.

So keep in mind, the next time you are thinking about whether your ideas are important enough to be listened to, or whether you should be involved in something that you feel is important, that you can make a difference, but only if you put forth the effort to do something.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Calling All LDS Scouters: What would you do?

Yes, my loyal readers, I need your help and suggestions. I have been asked to teach a session of the "Scouting in the LDS Church" class at our upcoming University of Scouting in a couple of weeks.

What I would like is any suggestions about what you think is the most important thing to tell people about LDS Scouting? If you were in the class, what would you want to hear? What would you want to tell others taking the class? Throw out any and all suggestions. They will be much appreciated!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

What is a Commissioner?

This is a question I hear a lot. Even experienced Scouters often do not know what a commissioner is, because they have never seen one, outside of maybe a red vest/jacket at a district or council event. Unfortunately, most districts do not have full commissioning staffs, and the commissioners do not always understand their jobs. I think that is a shame, because I really think commissioners can be a great support to a unit and help the leaders build a quality program.

At the first commissioner staff meeting I attended two years ago, the District Commissioner explained to us that, "Unit Commissioners are home teachers to Scouting units." Since then, I have seen the same analogy used here, and I have learned personally that the analogy really is a good one. On the most basic level, Unit Commissioners are supposed to visit their assigned units once a month. They provide resources and act as a go-between for the unit and the district.

You could even think of the different levels like this:

Unit Commissioner - Home Teacher/Visiting Teacher
Assistant District Commissioner - Home/Visiting Teaching Supervisor
District Commissioner - President
District Executive - Bishop

Just like the Bishop or president cannot visit every family or person under their stewardship every month (as much as they would like to), the DE or DC needs help serving all of the units. They need a team to help keep an eye on everything, build a relationship of trust with units, and let the district know when a unit is in trouble.

Often the commissioner is the only real contact a unit has with the district. That is why it is so unfortunate when that contact fails to happen.

According to the commissioner website, a commissioner is a friend, representative, doctor, teacher and counselor. Honestly, I think it is one of the most fun jobs in Scouting. It is great to have the excuse to attend the activities of other units and just sit back and observe. It can be satisfying to watch unit leaders grow in their positions. It can be a challenge to know when to help and when to sit back and listen.

On this year's Journey to Excellence forms, the gold level for the rechartering requirement includes inviting a commissioner and your charter representative to one of your activities. You can find out whether you have a commissioner assigned to your unit by contacting your district. If you do not have one, let them know that you would like one.

If you love Scouting and do not currently have a calling in it, or you want to be ale to do more, you may want to look into volunteering as a Unit Commissioner. Check to see if the class "The Commissioner Concept" is being offered at your local University of Scouting for a better overview of what the position includes.

And say hi to your friendly, neighborhood commissioner!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Scout Law Scripture Chase

Trustworthy - D&C 82:10
Loyal - 3 Nephi 27:13, Moses 1:39, John 10:2-15
Helpful - Matthew 9:2-7, John 9:6-7, Luke 17:12-14, Matthew 25:40
Friendly - Matthew 9:11, John 15:13-15
Courteous - Matthew 5:37-45
Kind - Matthew 19:13-14, Mark 9:20-27
Obedient - 3 Nephi 11:11, Matthew 3:15
Cheerful - Joshua 1:9, But: John 11:35 when His friends sorrowed, and He commands us Mosiah 18:9
Thrifty - Matthew 6:28
Clean - John 13:4-10
Brave - Luke 22:42, Mark 5:36, 2 Timothy 1:7, D&C 121:7
Reverent - Mark 11:15-17

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 & Moroni 7:45-48

A little something to occupy you on a Sunday afternoon (and happy Scout Sunday).

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Doing Hard Things

I have been really enjoying the Voluntold Scouter's recent series of "Owl Posts." This one about "Reaching Beyond Your Goals" especially struck a chord with me, because I have found myself doing something I did not think I could do. So I thought I would share the story.

I was recently contacted by our DE and informed that the nominating committee had nominated me to be the new District Commissioner. The position becomes official next week, and I have spent the last two months getting ready, trying to recruit some more staff, and learning as much as I can. I have already experienced a lot of frustration, sprinkled with small bits of progress.

Occasionally it crosses my mind that in a room full of District Commissioners, I would probably stand out just a little. In fact, I attended a Commissioners Conference on the other side of our council last year, and I definitely stood out. The other seven participants were gray-haired men who introduced themselves with things like, "I have been involved in Scouting since I was a Cub Scout 60 years ago." When my turn came, I did not have much more to say than, "I have been involved in Scouting off and on for 10 years. I have three boys. The oldest is seven. We have many years of Scouting ahead of us."

I know that in our district, you often have to take what you can get. Sometimes I wonder if that is what I am - what the District Nominating Committee could get - the first sucker to come along.

I have to remind myself that it does not matter if that is why I am in this position. It does not matter how many Charter Reps or Scoutmasters roll their eyes when I try to say something. All that matters at this point is what I do with the position now that I am in it.

For the last several years, I have had a wish that there was something I could do to help as many units as I could in our area improve their programs. That was the main reason behind creating this blog, as well as several resources I have put together. It has hit me that this position (though not something I would have chosen for myself) is exactly the opportunity I have been wanting. I cannot change programs, but I can put together a good commissioning staff and train them and send them out to help the units in our district. Even if it results in just tiny changes here and there, it will be a great thing.

Just like the climber in the story, I know I am not alone. I have been reminded from the beginning that I have the power of prayer. This may not be a church calling, but that does not mean I cannot ask for God's help and allow him to guide me. I also have a supportive husband, a DE who is a great mentor and encouraging friend, a friendly and helpful District Chair, and another friend who I can sound off to when I need.

It has also occurred to me many times in the last two months that Scouting is about doing hard things. That applies to the adults as well as the youth. In addition to making full use of my support system, I keep in mind what I think is the most important thing they taught us at Wood Badge: OMHIWDMB (On My Honor, I Will Do My Best.)