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  • The LDS Scouting program and BSA program

    Having heard lots of miss information on how "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints" uses the Boy Scout of America program. I thought it would be nice to have an area where it could all me cleared up or at least discussed.

    If this becomes a bashing of the LDS Church then the discussion at least on my part will end.

    My back ground. I have been a registered LDS scout leader since 1982. I have served in the CS, BS, VS, and VC programs. I been to both BS Woodbadge and CS Woodbadge. I have also worked with non-LDS units at the CC position. I been on district CS staff, Training staff, Camporee staff, and am currently the district advancement chairman. I have also done extensive training and self study on both the LDS Scouting Programs and the BSA programs.

    I'll start this by breaking down our friend BadenP post from the other tread with my reply.

    BadenP, "I was as DE for five years and over 25% of my units were LDS so I became VERY familiar with the way LDS do the boy scout program."

    Your provous posts show me that while you may have worked with LDS units you don't have even a little understanding on how LDS Units use the program.

    "You are naive to think that LDS Boy Scouts do not use the program to prepare their boys for missionary activity at 18."

    I would be naive of me to think that. Beacuse everything we do from the time a child is born is to teach them about Christ and his gospel. This includes using the young men (YM) program of the church to help YM prepare to serve a mission, marry, raise a family, and become leaders in their church and communities.

    The YM program is two fold the gospel teaching side is called the Aaronic Priesthood program and the activity side is call the Boy Scouts of America program. Together they make up the YM program for the church.

    BadenP, "It promotes the churches agenda and doctrine over the scouting skills."

    Not so the church uses the program together to help a YM grow into an outstanding citizen for his community. Scouting Skills are just as much a part of the YM program as Gospel teachings.

    BadenP, "The LDS do publish their own scouting handbooks, which they primarily use, as well as use the BSA's...."

    Your right the chuch do publish a small book call "Scouting Handbook" the current book is only 6 pages long and is mostly guidelines for church leaders to understand how to set up a scouting program in the church. It covers the selection of leaders, committee members, church specific instructions, and how the BSA program works within the Primary (2-11 children's program much like a Sunday school in other religions) and the YM program.


    When it comes to the BSA programs the primary material is the BSA literature.

    BadenP,"I have had high ranking LDS church officials tell me what they view as the overall goal they see the BSA program in preparing their boys."

    I won't disagree that the overall goal is to prepare the YM to be good Youth, Missionaries, Husbands, Fathers, Community members, and just all around good people. With the exception of maybe missionaries that no different than any-other organization tht charters a scouting program.

    BadenP,"their BSA program is not the same as the average boy scout troop"

    I disagree a properly ran LDS scouting program is exactly the same as the average properly ran BSA program.

    BadenP, "which the BSA has made an allowance for"

    No different than any other CO.

    BadenP, "and most non LDS boys would have a difficult time fitting into an LDS troop."

    Not so I have had many non LDS YM in my LDS scouting programs and they fit in just fine.

    BadenP, "So rant all you want but I will take my experiences and what I was told by LDS officials over your opinion."

    I'm not ranting. I just think what you have experienced and what you have been told may not have been what is really suppose to be happening in a properly ran LDS BSA program.

    Pay close attention to the words "suppose to" and "properly ran".


  • #2
    Personally, I don't care if LDS DID change a few things if it worked for them. Wouldn't bother me if any other religion or group did so....as long as they didn't demand everybody else do it too.

    Yeah, "supposed to" and "really do" are key words. And without meaning criticism or bashing in any shape, way or form....I garantee that not every single LDS unit is run EXACTLY the same way or correctly. But that is true for unit that are not LDS also. I have no doubt at all that all the units in my own coucil have differences, Some may be so minute that it's not worth noticing, other may be bigger, noteworthy, but still do not adversely affect the program. Some may be real issues that need addressing.

    Kinda like the cold weater camping vs area. In Mexico, 55 degrees may be considered too cold for camping while in Fargo - the scouts wear t shirts, shorts, and flip flops in -10 degree weather. ( not really, but you get my point! )

    Basically, my point of view is this: If it works for you our yours.........what's the problem?

    Comment


    • #3
      Gary,
      A few observations about the LDS scouting program differences I've experinenced in my 50% LDS district.

      Age banding. Patrols are age specific, probably to coincide with the Church's YM program. Patrols do not span 11 to 17 year olds, but 11/12, 13/14, 15/16 etc. All non-LDS do not do that. Many would consider it counter to the goals of the patrol method.

      The requirement of priesthood to hold the SPL position in a unit. How can a non-LDS member become a SPL in an LDS unit? This is directly against every non-LDS unit I've been associated with where every member of the unit is eligible to become SPL, independent of his stature in the CO. They are elected by their peers.

      The need for LDS units (at least in my council) to reserve our BSA scout camp for LDS exclusive summer camp use. No other CO demands that. When we are at summer camp, no LDS units are there.

      I'm not saying these are negative things, but they are significant alterations to the standard BSA literature. Can you explain why that is? (This message has been edited by a staff member.)

      Comment


      • #4
        I'm a former DE with 70% LDS units, and currently, I'm a Baptist serving as committee chair for 4 LDS units.

        "Age banding. Patrols are age specific, probably to coincide with the Church's YM program. Patrols do not span 11 to 17 year olds, but 11/12, 13/14, 15/16 etc. All non-LDS do not do that. Many would consider it counter to the goals of the patrol method."

        Patrols and programs are supposed to be run in a textbook fashion like this:

        11 year olds (Their own troop)
        12-13 Boy Scouts
        14-16 Varsity Scouts
        16-18 Venturing

        Many wards don't have enough boys to run their program this way, so with the blessing of a Bishop and/or Stake YM President, the setup can be different to fit the needs of the ward (Charter Org). Currently, we're running our 11 year olds as 3 patrols, the 12-13 year olds as a patrol, the 14-18 as a patrol. If we have enough boys in every age group, we'll run it as 3 separate programs, but we don't right now. We still register the program as all 3 for the sake of the paperwork, but we run it as all 3 programs for the "older boys."


        "The requirement of priesthood to hold the SPL position in a unit. How can a non-LDS member become a SPL in an LDS unit? This is directly against every non-LDS unit I've been associated with where every member of the unit is eligible to become SPL, independent of his stature in the CO. They are elected by their piers."

        The SPL isn't required to be a member of priesthood. Yes, the COR appoints the SPL with guidance from the Scoutmaster, but currently in my LDS units the patrol leaders are chosen by the boys after the list is approved by the Bishop, and the SPLs are nominated for by the boys then interviewed by the Young Men's Presidency and Bishop. Right now, our SPL is a non-member.


        "The need for LDS units (at least in my council) to reserve our BSA scout camp for LDS exclusive summer camp use. No other CO demands that. When we are at summer camp, no LDS units are there."

        This isn't a program difference. This is a request of the COR because it's important to have the boys in Church on Sundays. Some units, once in a blue moon, can get permission from their Bishop to attend camp on Sundays, but they must also meet their religious obligations when doing so. We do not attend LDS week camps every year. This next year we're going to an out of council camp with no LDS weeks, and we're missing the Sunday night camp report night and leaving early Monday morning.


        "I'm not saying these are negative things, but they are significant alterations to the standard BSA literature. Can you explain why that is?"

        The only specific alteration you've mentioned is the appointment of the SPL. What else are you referring to.

        There is no difference in LDS scouting program and "Non LDS" units. The CORs have different rules, but it doesn't affect program.

        Comment


        • #5
          "Basically, my point of view is this: If it works for you our yours.........what's the problem?"

          I think this train of thought isn't shared by many because of the fact that the LDS differences are organized and printed. So instead of not knowing or not caring, it's "look at these differences, its because of X,Y,Z"

          I've worked with LDS scouts and scouters both at camp and as a Scout Shop employee. Guess what? Some are great, some are good, and some are questionable. The only unique issue to LDS I've seen is leaders who feel they shouldn't be doing Boy Scout things. I guess this is from how the church selects leaders, maybe someone can expound on this better than I can.

          Last night, we had a Commissioner's meeting. One of the topics was units that will lapse at the end of the year. One district reported he has 3 units he is going to have to possibly report for not having the proper leadership on the charter applicaiton, which means they'll not be granted one. Another Commissioner reported she's going to lose a unit over an ongoing youth protection issue currently under investigation. Are any of these LDS units? Don't know, but it doesn't matter. There are enough issues like this that need addressing that I don't focus on creating new ones.

          "Age banding. Patrols are age specific, probably to coincide with the Church's YM program. ... All non-LDS do not do that. Many would consider it counter to the goals of the patrol method."

          A lot of units that aren't LDS do this. There were troops that couldn't understand why we at the store always asked to make sure they needed 15 Troop Guide patches because they had every boy above the age of 14 in the "leadership patrol" and had to give them a position they required for that patrol. Everyone else was in the patrol they entered the troop in, so everyone was in the same grade. It's not the end of the world, but not what the book says to do either. The SM of that troop came in one day and we discussed it with him, and he understood why it puzzled us. He didn't change, but he listend to our advice. I'm betting his troop still has patrols broken down by age.

          Comment


          • #6
            All this LDS talk got me to looking around LDS and Scouting sites, I found this and was frankly amazed as its counter to what I continualy hear about Homosexuality and the LDS/BSA relationship:

            http://www.ldsscouting.org/All_Programs/Mormon_Scouting_Myths/mormon_scouting_myths.html

            "Soon the courts will force Scouting to use homosexual leaders, and then the Church will have to pull out of Scouting

            This statement displays a misunderstanding of how organizations relate to Scouting in this country and how persons become scouting leaders. BSA creates the programs, but does not run them. Other organizations, such as churches, apply to BSA and receive charters to use the programs. Chartered organizations such as our wards select the leaders themselves. BSA gives some oversight regarding leaders selected to make sure that felons, child abusers, and others who might put youth at risk, are NOT allowed to work with youth as Scouting leaders. But beyond that it is unimaginable that BSA would tell our Bishops specific persons that we would have to use as we operate our scouting programs. It is even more unimaginable, even if BSA were to allow it, that any Bishop would deliberately call a homosexual person to a position of youth leadership."


            So, this statement implies that the LDS would not pull out of scouting if BSA allowed Homosexual leaders as it states "...even if BSA were to allow it, that any Bishop would deliberately call a homosexual person..."

            "If the BSA were to allow it, that any Bishop would deliberatley call"

            How could any Bishop call if they wanted no part of the BSA?

            This is totally against anything I have ever heard, read, etc(This message has been edited by OldGreyEagle)

            Comment


            • #7
              So is the priesthood no longer a prerequisite for being an SPL in an LDS unit? If not, when did that change?

              Comment


              • #8
                All this LDS talk got me to looking around LDS and Scouting sites, I found this and was frankly amazed as its counter to what I continualy hear about Homosexuality and the LDS/BSA relationship

                OGE, I'm not sure I understand what the question is. The statement from the ldsscouting site just says that, even if the BSA were to change their policy about this (either voluntarily or under court order), the IH of LDS units would be under no obligation to ask (ie. "call") openly homosexual people to server in unit leadership positions. I imagine the leadership of the LDS Church wouldn't be very happy if that change occured, but it doesn't automatically mean they would drop Scouting.

                One thing to keep in mind is that unlike most other COs, the LDS Church doesn't just see Scouting as a nice, optional bit of community involvement. They see it as a core part of their youth program. For all the LDS/non-LDS squabbles there are in Scouting, at the foundation the leadership of that church realized shortly after the BSA was formed that the ideals and methods of Scouting were valuable enough to officially adopt them for it's Young Men's program. If they ever decided to end their relationship with BSA, they would need to replace it with something else. Certainly they are a big enough organization to create their own program, but they haven't felt the need to do that yet. Mormons do have a large investment in the relationship, they won't abandon it lightly.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Gary,
                  If this sound like bashing, I'm sorry as that is not my intent. Hopefully you know this from our other conversations, both public and private.

                  I think the biggest problem is the lack of communication on both the LDS units' and districts' parts. For what ever reason the LDS units i am most familiar with really have nothing to do with the rest of the district, and this appears to be common in my neck of the woods. I'll give you two examples, we had a CS family campout 2 weeks ago, which folks could attend just for the day, and the LDS pack didn't show up. And this past weekend was the district camporee, and the LDS troop didn't show up.

                  I know that folks have tried and tried to get them involved, only to get frustrated at run around given as we are told that another person is in charge now, or never receiving return calls. So we've given up on trying to contact them.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Sorry, but I feel like I just came in from another dimension.

                    For as long as I can remember, I have been told that if the BSA was to accept Homosexaul leaders, or more properly put, if the BSA allowed Chartering Organizatoins to allow Homosexual Leaders than the LDS would pull out of scouting.

                    Have I got this wrong? I thought that the LDS told the BSA that if it ever accepted gay leaders, then the LDS would drop scouting. Am I wrong on this?

                    The loss of the LDS scouts always seems to be touted as the main reason the BSA won't consider allowing Chartering Organizations to allow gay leaders.

                    Are you saying this is not so? Have we/I been wrong in our impressions?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Are you saying this is not so? Have we/I been wrong in our impressions?

                      I honestly don't know. The site you linked to doesn't appear to be an official LDS church site, but it does seem to be run by members of good standing. At one point, the guy writing the FAQ explicitly states "Let me make it clear that these will be my opinions. I do not speak for the LDS church".

                      The site does seem to indicate that a lot of myths and rumors make their way through the ranks of Mormon families about what's going on in their church, both as it relates to Scouting and other things as well. Not surprising, I'd expect as much from any large organization that was an important part of someone's life (hmmm, are there ever any myths or rumors among Scouters about what BSA National is up to next?).

                      ldsscouting.org seems like it's full of pretty good advice and steers readers towards a traditional BSA program. I have no idea how well it matches with what the typical practice is in an LDS ward (not being a member myself), but after skimming over the faq, I find myself hoping a lot of LDS adult leaders find that site.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Back on topic, please. Spin off the homosexuality issue to the other threads.

                        The LDS BSA packet published by David Pack the national employee in charge of relations states that the quorum president are *usually" the leaders of each program, but that is not always the case. When I called to clarify this, I was told that troops with non-members definitely could have a boy leader provided the boy had a conference with the Bishop.

                        Our Bishop tends to go over the Standards to reinforce conduct with the protential SPLs, too.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I think a significant part of the disconnect may be the additional level of jargon. Why are "boys" or "Scouts" called "YMs," for example? (No, seriously, that's a real question. I'm curious.) Ditto "wards" and "stakes." It can be confusing terminology to someone who doesn't live in an area with a substantial LDS population.

                          jhankins wrote:

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I am sorry, but I feel this is very much on topic. I am not talking about whether or not homosexuality is right or wrong, or whether or not the BSA should allow gay leaders.

                            I thought this discussion was on the LDS Scouting program and the BSA and to talk about the BSA and LDS and not include the Gay policy is ignoring a huge factor. But, I have had my say and will not mention it again in this thread. I was surprised to learn that at one LDS scouting "leader" did not think the BSA allowing Gay leaders was a deal breaker, that's all

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Even though Bart denied it in the site OGE references it states specifically "there are LDS scouting handbooks(plural) that the church uses to administer their program." The little green one Bart states is nothing more than a generic framework of setting up a unit but I remember being shown a much thicker red one and another blue covered one that showed the LDS philosophy in adapting scouting as tool to "prepare young men for the priesthood." in great detail as the SOLE focus of the scouting program and I notice these books are not available to the general public.

                              Okay I agree that if changing the focus of the scouting program to attaining the Aaronic Priesthood in the LDS Church, and the BSA allows it more power to you. However don't pretend that your LDS boy scout units are just the same as other scout units because they are not. I have been told by LDS scouts and scouters of some of the rituals that go on in their scouting meetings that really have no place in any scouting program.

                              Bottom line, the LDS scouting movement is allowed extreme latitude, IMO, by the BSA and thats fine by me and yes, they use the BSA handbook for rank advancement and go camping, but to deny that their focus is on scouting skills is incorrect by what I have witnessed as a DE and from what I have been told by LDS scouters even today. I really wish the LDS Scouting program well, but to state that it is the same as non LDS units is just not true.

                              Comment

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