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DavidLeeLambert

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Everything posted by DavidLeeLambert

  1. DavidLeeLambert

    Did BSA "Abandon" LDS?

    Noting the Salt Lake Tribune's usual editorial viewpoint, I wonder if the quote is being taken out of context; or if it was a response to a leading question like "out of the two organizations, which one left the other?" Even in the quote, Elder Ballard doesn't specify what the wrong direction was. I was an adult leader at an LDS Encampment (that is, a summer camp week where all troops were LDS, organized into a provisional troop per stake) this summer, and President Owen visited and spoke; earlier that day, he hosted a smaller sort of roundtable with just adult leaders, which I attended. Someone asked about why the church was leaving BSA, and he said it wasn't about "these political things" (without specifying what they were), but just about the needs of the new program: equality between youth in different countries, and equality between boys and girls. Of course that prompts the questions "Isn't Scouting international?" and "Didn't the BSA just admit girls?" But BSA isn't international (other than some literature in Spanish, and some units for expatriate Americans), and when the Church started purchasing its recreation properties and otherwise designing a possible new youth program, well before 2015, it wasn't clear how the BSA would integrate more girls or whether it could successfully do so. "And no man putteth wine in old bottles..." Then he also said LDS families were still free to participate in Family Scouting, just as they might have their children be involved in theater or (some sport, I forget which). When I later read "the new registration fee amounts to $5 a month, which is an enormous value when you consider that many seasonal extracurricular activities often start at $100 for programs that last a few weeks", something sounded familiar. I remember when I was a teenager hearing adult leaders chatting with each other and saying things like, "The Church is moving away from Scouting because they let girls into Venturing and Exploring." But the Church actually stuck with BSA for another 20+ years after that. I've written elsewhere about what I think the reasons for the disassociation were. In short (and with some more comments): The demographics of a typical congregation aren't sufficient to support a Troop with Patrols that follows the Patrol Method. (And with the other changes to per-congregation standard organization announced about the same time and since then, the manual for how to align that troop with it would have had to have been rewritten anyway.) But if an LDS troop is made up of boys (or girls) from several congregations, or only run by congregations that luckily have enough boys, it's just an "optional activity" that some people go to, not tightly tied to the program of the church. Mismatch between badges/recognition/"excellence" and Christian virtues like humility. Lawsuits (and now talk of bankruptcy and mortgaging Philmont) It probably wasn't a factor before the announcement, but it bears mentioning that GSUSA complained loudly about BSA admitting girls after the deed was done. (And I have a daughter who registered with GSUSA shortly after she turned 8, and as a Cub Scout with a pack run by her school's PTA a few months later. So far she's still in both programs; it's interesting to see the similarities and differences, and how each organization's local Council is selling properties.) I don't know which consideration was highest in the mind of each of the Apostles when they discussed and voted on the question of whether to take any of the steps that led to the new program without a BSA component. I do know that I've had less success that I would have liked getting parents to fill out registration-paperwork for their kids, or adults in callings that should have had a Scouting component to complete YPT and fill out an application.
  2. So a few months ago I signed two of my sons up for a "Merit Badge Blitz" run by a nearby troop and advertised by the Council. There was some adult training offered on-location the same day, so I signed up and attended "How to be a Merit Badge Counselor", taught by that troop's Venturing coach. He walked us through all the policies about how the scout (not his parents or leaders) is supposed to ask his Scoutmaster for a blue card and the name of a counselor, how instruction should be individual to each scout and not just a large-group activity, how the scout is responsible for keeping the blue card safe until his Board of Review and not anyone else, how the counselor should fill out the card to indicate a partial rather than a full completion, and how that's OK... And when we got home I insisted that my sons let me take pictures of their blue cards with my cell-phone, in case they got lost, and wrote out a list of just the requirements they were still missing with some notes on how they might complete them. My sons didn't finish either of the badges that day (and I hadn't expected them to), but I think for the "classroom" parts they learned the material better by going through it all in one day that if their troop leaders had tried to cover it piece-by-piece over several troop meetings. They also had a chance to interact with boys from other troops; some turned out to be their schoolmates. And they got to be taught by adults who might have been hard to meet with had we not met them during that event. I wouldn't think that a boy who got his badges only at merit-badge fairs, or only at camp, had been in a quality program; but if the alternative was 21 badges with the same counselor for all 21 of them, I wouldn't think he had been in a quality program either. If the organizers and participants have the right intentions, I think a "fair"/"blitz"/"university" can be a great way to progress a lot of scouts in advancement, have fun, and meet new people.
  3. DavidLeeLambert

    New LDS Guidelines for BSA recruiting beginning 6/1/19

    The LDS church already was "not acting like any other church", by having a policy stating that all congregations had to have a Scouting program. Some of the winding-down requirements that might seem harsh are probably a necessary reaction to that. The Church has decided it can't prudently be yoked to the BSA any more, so it's making sure there's a clean break; no back door where a Bishop or Scoutmaster or former Area Authority Seventy can say "my troop is really the same old LDS troop as such-and-such, even though it's no longer sponsored by Salt Lake", and then actually use funds from Salt Lake to run it, or have so many members from the same ward supporting the same unit that when something bad happens liability comes back to the Church. The May 2019 Joint Statement was sent by e-mail to local leaders (not sure exactly who, but I got it directly, probably from calling as Committee Member), and a Church News article about it quoted the closing paragraph “it continues to support the goals and values reflected in the Scout Oath and Scout Law and expresses its profound desire for Scouting’s continuing and growing success in the years ahead.” To paraphrase @HashTagScouts, members of the Church are welcome to continue to participate with BSA programs just as they can already participate in city soccer, karate, YMCA, 4-H, even GSUSA... but the Church just won't sponsor it. I see the prohibition on leaders "referring" or "recruiting" people, and the rule about the bulletin-board posting, as ways to be fair between existing community packs and troops, not as an attempt to shut Boy Scouts down. As someone with callings into an LDS-sponsored pack and troop, my interpretation is that I can't walk up to a parent and say "Brother or Sister So-and-So, your son would do great in pack X" (not that I've had much success with similar pitches of the LDS pack), but if someone asks me "what can I do?", I can say "go to the Be a Scout website and search for your zipcode" or "look at the bulletin board", and if a parent asks me point-blank "I'm thinking about Troop X; what do you know about them?", I can give an answer based on my actual experience. I know there's one branch in my stake where a non-LDS troop had already been using the LDS meetinghouse as their usual meeting-place, well before last year's announcement. Arrangements like that may have to stop, but then again maybe they can get an exception as long as they're not "recruiting" at those meetings.
  4. DavidLeeLambert

    Webelos II - Adventure Requirements - Clarification

    I'll agree with that as well. Furthermore, the requirement isn't "follow the Patrol Method completely"; it's "practice the Patrol Method, by doing the following:". And of course, Cub Scout requirements are measured against Do Your Best. At the council-organized day-camp I took my son's pack to last year, the Webelos helped choose the provisional-den yells, and only the Webelos in each den made the provisional-den flags. That counted for (c) of the requirement, at least. Later, after we got home, at a regular den meeting, we talked about the Patrol method some more and the boys had an election. They actually chose a boy who hadn't made it to camp. If I had planned better, I would have had a Denner cord ready to give to whoever won the election; but the election was what satisfied the requirement, not what they wore after it; and they earned a belt-loop (and their rank) by completing the Adventure.
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