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LDS BSA Relationship

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I have seen a lot of comments about how people don't like the LDS use of scouting. Frankly, I just don't see a program difference between the LDS way and non-LDS way (other than what I list below). I even saw somebody's post recently that basically claimed only one LDS unit that he knows of is a good unit, and that's only because the non-LDS have basically taken over the unit.


Would somebody care to enlighten me as to what the concern is? And the perceived differences between LDS and non-LDS scouts?


My thoughts:

1) The BSA is not the youth program for the young men, but the Young Men is the program, and it uses scouting heavily.

2) There are no merit badge or rank differences.

3) The programs are not co-ed, even Venturing. Also, women do not go on LDS campouts.

4) The scouts are organized by age group, Age 11, Ages 12-13, Ages 14-15, and Ages 16-18. Sometimes they are put in separate patrols, sometimes they use the Troop/Team/Crew separate units. Then again, sometimes this is all ignored and an untrained LDS leader will put them all in the same Troop and the patrols won't be age-group related.

5) There is an additional step in youth protection in that they are asked/assigned to scouts rather than volunteer on their own. You might have to think about this one to get it.

6) Theoretically a scout will be active in scouts during his entire teen years as opposed to non-LDS units where a scout may leave for a couple years and come back later. This endurance of activity may give the appearance of faster rank advancement. Then again if the scout isn't motivated, or relying on his parents motivation, maybe not.

7) Oh, and LDS units don't travel on the Sabbath.


What are your thoughts?

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My past experience:

My troop would camp on several occasions with the LDS troop. One included a "Sabbath" in which we had a worship service together then traveled home. The LDS troop's SM counseled me on a couple of merit badges. His boy did a two year mission stint, which was one of many motivations for me to do a similar thing after college. Net result, I earned a solid respect for our similarities without needing to make a list of differences.


Since then, I haven't had a close affiliation with an LDS unit. But, I haven't heard anyone from council complain about them. I have a suspicion that there are a lot of LDS units that don't fit your 7-point mould.

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I've had mixed expereince with LDS units.


When I was a pro, just trying to keep up with the current leadership was a challenge with the one LDS unit in my district. It seemed as if they changed leaders every 3-4 months instead of every year or so year. Needless to say they were not active in the district at all, i.e. never attended RTs, camporees or other activities. And when I was able to visit, the meetings were more focused on playing basketball than scout skills. Part of that I blame on the turnover of leadership and lack of training. To be honest they were a troop in name only.


By comparision my council did have one week of summer camp where 50+% of the troops were LDS units. Only challenge was getting swim tests completed before classes on Monday. These troops were just like everyone else. Again these units had established and trained leadership; apparently their bishop's understood the program better and created stability in leaderhip compared to the LDS unit in my district.



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so Eagle92, your cross section of experience with LDS Troops are that some were run well, some were not, some followed the program some did not.


Can you compare that experience with Roman Catholic, Baptist, Methodist or VFW's who sponsored units, how did each of those categories compare to the LDS experience?

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Actually "qwazse", "bacchus" 7 points are very accurate when it comes to the LDS scouting program.


As an LDS scout leader of 27yrs, I would like to add to add some more incite, and will try to stay away from using terms unique to the church.


The LDS church has what is called a Young Mens program which is made up young men ages 12 - 17, which uses the Boy Scout program as their activity program and has since 1913.


The program is further broken down into three groups, 12-13, 14-15, and 16-17 each or these groups are boy lead and boy ran under adult advisors. Each of these groups have their own separate programs. 12-13 is a Scout Troop, 14-15 is a Varsity Team, and 16-17 is a Venture Crew.


Its been my experience that any problems encountered with LDS units is due to leaders not taking the time to learn the program and implement it correctly within the guidelines of the chartered organization (the LDS Church) and the Boy Scouts of America.


Over the years I have heard many scouters, LDS and non LDS, say that the problems are usually due to the way the leaders are selected. However, I don't think it is. Because the leaders of LDS units and Non-LDS units are both selected by leaders of the CO. That is they are selected and asked by someone within the CO under authority of the CO to serve in the position. The person being asked also has the right to turn down the request to serve, and leaders in both kinds of units serve at the pleasure of the CO.


The biggest problems I have seen is leaders not taking the time to get trained in their position, and not running the program the way it was intended by the Boy Scouts Of America. Leaders from the IH down to the ASM who don't think it important to do the program properly. Leaders who try an reinvent the wheel instead of using it properly. And I see these problems in every unit that is having problems LDS and Non-LDS.

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Very good point that "some" units are not well run; this applies to the whole sphere, not just LDS. In our area,there tends to be a bit of contention at times, but it has softened over the years. Most importantly, as I see, is that the LDS here has made it a point to "attend roundtable", have "trained" people whenever possible, and participate as much as practical in the council and district activities.


Problems most common are in record keeping, and the movement from unit to unit, as it confuses tracking advancement, especially when verifying Eagle. Because of the separate unit issue, they tend to be much smaller overall as well. I also see a bit of an issue with the leadership model most common for them; it tends to change too often, and so there is a lot of lost stability that comes with people in place for longer periods. Realistically, troops with leaders of 3 or more years tend to be more stable, as long as they are trained and have "enough" leaders to take the pressure off the SM and CC.


These are just my observations. But over the years, I have seen a number of very strong LDS units. Talking to the leader(s), I have found that they specifically asked "to stay in place", and were allowed to.


Still, most LDS scouters in our area are very dedicated. And many work independently of their stake assignment on our district and council level; though they still are technically under the church's broader dictum related to scouting.

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I've seen a stake in the Nevada Area Council where the President was:


- An Eagle Scout himself.

- Wood Badge trained.

- Involved in Scouting his entire life, both traditional and LDS units.


He "kept book" on his Bishops, the Troop leadership had specific conditions of BSA training they must meet in the first twelve months of tenure, and on and on...


He insisted his leaders give their youth Scouting.


He also had a huge advantage: The Sierra Nevada was literally 5 miles away. Kids could do all kinds of things on even a long overnight backpack.


Locally, we have a Stake President who believes in Scouting. It's amazing how much attention the program is getting. Experienced men are being asked to serve as Commissioners, experienced men are being asked to serve as Scoutmasters, again training is not an option. Heck, he's sending many of his units to the H Roe Bartle Scout Reservation for our 10 day Scout camp, knowing full well on at least one session they'll be there for 2 Sabbaths.


From what I can see, it's the same story: If the Chartered Partner cares, the unit committee and program leadership will have support. If not, they have to come up with the ethic to do all the things we do for the youth on their own.

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John reminded me about the stakes. I f memory serves, one problem was that the LDS unit was in a stake that had the bulk of its units in another council.


I was not asked to say what I've heard, so I will not go there. But you can guess how other LDS units were like from talking to others.


Now comparing LDS units to RC, Bap., VFW etc units. again there is a mixed just like the LDS units, but overall they are more involved than the LDS units I've expereinced.


I think John hit the nail on the head. The most active LDS unit I ever had exepereince with was one you couldn't tell they were an LDS until you saw them leave saturday nite. Their bishop is an Eagle, 3 beader, and was district chairman.

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No one is saying that LDS are not good scouters. Why is there a week at Philmont devoted solely to LDS Scouting, there is a clue? Why does the LDS church have their own scouting publications, outside of National pubs, published by the LDS church used to train adult leaders and youth members? All the political niceness aside it comes down to one thing MONEY.


The LDS Church is the largest single contributor to the BSA and because of this have been given special permission to alter the BSA program to accomodate the preparation of their boys for mission and ministry and I challenge any LDS leader to provide evidence to the contrary.


As a DE I was personally told this by an LDS stake president and two LDS bishops, and I have a copy of one of the LDS scouting publications stating the exact same thing.

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BadenP, while I won't argue that the LDS is BSAs largest contributor, as well as oldest charter organization. I have to disagree that they have altered any BSA program what so ever. Since you feel different would please ex-plane where the program has been changed due to the LDS financial contributions.


They have however used the program as the activity arm for their young mens program to help them become strong young men in our society.


BadenP "I have a copy of one of the LDS scouting publications stating the exact same thing."


Please provide the name and date of the publication.


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As a DE with 4 LDS stakes in my district, I spent a lot of my unit service time trying to better the units in those stakes. Out of around 25 wards, only 3 had functioning scout troops, and only 4 had cub packs with trained leaders actually advancing their boys. In one stake, two of the wards had boys in community troops and packs because the leaders didn't have time to be trained, but the parents wanted their boys in Scouting.


When I would meet with the Stake Young Men's president, he would show me the literature that BadenP is talking about. The blue book and the green book and the materials on LDS-BSA Relations from National. As a dedicated Scouter, it was difficult for him to see "callings" issued and then the program not being worked.


Training is difficult in my council, especially with LDS leaders. I've had LDS leaders tell me "The church does a Little Philmont that's all the training I need." Well, Little Philmont talks Cub Scouting specifically for 45 minutes in my council -- Hardly enough time to do basic training. Now that direct contact leader training will be mandatory, and the YM Presidents are pushing the Duty to God program for adults, we have scout leaders surfacing every week begging for training to avoid the crunch next year to get everyone trained.


The place my district finds the most strife is during Eagle Boards. On several occasions we've asked a boy what his POR was during Life Scout, and he would say "Quorum President." He had no idea what a Senior Patrol Leader was and how to work the program! Boys have come to boards unable to recite the Scout Law or tell us about which points mean the most to them, but they could quote the D&C all day.


What was mentioned above is the most accurate way for LDS troops to function -- have a Stake President who understands the program, is fully trained, and is willing to promote Scouting. It makes a world of difference to have everything roll downhill (in a good way!) for Scouting's sake. We've had 3 stake presidents, 2 primary presidents and 3 YM presidents go through WB in the past year, and it's done wonders for training, camping, advancement, and Round Table attendance.


More than half the units in my district are LDS, so it makes a big mark on advancement, tour permit, and training reports when those units choose to do their own thing because proper guidance from the stake leadership isn't happening.



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Since I have had almost no direct contact with LDS Scout units -- we have exactly 1 in our district -- all I "know" about LDS Scouting is what I have read in this forum. (OGE notice the quotation marks around "know", in other words I really don't know anything about it.) So all I have are questions:


1. Bacchus, rather than us guessing about what you mean by number 5, could you say what you really mean? It's not a matter of "thinking about it", it's a matter of imagining what you might mean, which I'd rather not do.


2. Your number 6 strikes me as odd, but the oddity really applies to non-LDS units, so I am on firmer ground here. You seem to assume it is somewhat common for a boy (non-LDS) to leave Scouting for a "couple years" and then come back. In reality I think this is pretty rare. If a Scout has been out for a "couple years" I think the chances of him coming back are fairly slim. It does happen, but not often.


3. This is something not on your list, and it is something I "know" only from this forum, so if it is not true, I hope the LDS Scouters here will correct me. It is my understanding that EVERY LDS youth is enrolled in Scouting, whether they want to be or not. Is this true? Is there any consequence if, once enrolled, they do not participate? Or in other words, which sounds like a strange question, are you allowed to quit? In my troop we have the annual pre-charter exercise of going through the roster and picking out boys who have disappeared, haven't paid their dues, etc., contacting them, and then if they have quit or seem to have quit, crossing them off the charter. Does this same thing happen in LDS units?


4. Another one not on your list, I have read in this forum that many LDS units are very small, meaning 5 Scouts or slightly more, and in some cases even less. Is this true? And if it is true, why are units not combined?


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J described the conditions of some of the other LDS units in my council that I've been told about.


Now in reference to LDS changing the program due to financial contributions, I was told by several sources that the sole reason why Varsity Scouts were created was for LDS units. And those sources consisted of pros at PDl-1 and an LDS pro I went through PDL-1 with.

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