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LDS Scouts in mainstream units

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No non LDS units don't always fill out their paper work totally. But if I have a boy in a pack that his paper work says he has just finished 4th grade I pretty well know he is going into webs. If I have an LDS boy that shows 4 grade he can still be a bear and in a couple of cases has been a wolf.

I agree that lots of LDS leaders don't get the training. So many of them don't even have kids in scouts. It is a job assigned to them by a Bishop.

They do it for maybe 2 years and are gone. I don't think that that builds for a stable program.

Most of the non-LDS units will have leaders that start in Tigers and go all the way through with the boys. They are their kids and there is a personal investment. You want your own child to do the best he can.

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OK this is going to be long... I'm sorry, I'm just trying to get this so it's clear, honest. I dont' think it's that hard, but then that's only my point of view.


Let's start off with an 8 year old LDS boy. After his 8th birthday, he gets to start Cubs. He works with a Den Leader for a year and they get his Wolf (that's the first rank, right?) badge. When he turns 9 he gets to go to a new den, and he starts working on Bear (now if I've got them wrong, don't think LDS give them out wrong, just think that I'm confused and used the wrong ranks, they do the Bobcat -> Webelos progression as they should). At 10? You guessed it, they get to advance to a new Den and Den Leader and this time, they work on Webelos skills.


The Den Leaders usually don't advance, they are what stay behind and keep the units running. This is why some dens don't stay on the monthly themes, see if all of their boys are working on Bobcat, why worry about anything else? These Den Leaders may steal other month's themes as their boys need them. This is why they are doing what they are. (Hope this explains that for you)


Now on their 11th birthday (not when they get Arrow of Light, but since they only get one year of Webelos this is almost the case) they advance to the New Scout Patrol. (We've talked about the Blazer Patrol already in other posts, but that's where this fits in) The differences in this compared to other Troop's NSP are:

1- The NSP ASM may continue for several years (in most of the other units I've seen the NSP ASM, if there even is one rotates among the ASMs);

2 - The NSP may sometimes go on outings with the troop, but more often that not go on patrol outings on a monthly basis;

3 - A scout stays here until his 12th birthday.


No big deal so far right? Now let's tackle the rest of the Scouting units, but first we need to talk a little about LDS church organization. Local leadership (Bishop) decides under advisement from his leader (Stake President) how many units his local congregation (ward) will sponsor. I have seen wards sponsor 1 Pack & 1 Troop. I have also seen wards sponsor 1 Pack, 1 Troop, 1 Team, and 1 Crew (oh and by the way I've seen all the other combinations you can make off of that list).


So our example has now been involved for a year, and really should be well on his way to at least First Class, right? He has had 3 nights camping (they only go over night 3 times during that 11 year old time), has been exposed to patrol outings, the patrol method, youth run, the PLC, older boys (granted if it's a big ward only the 12 & 13 year olds, in a small ward the PLC may be much closer to a traditional troop setting), mostly the whole package. Now is where things get different based on local leadership decisions. I'm going to break at paragraphs the difference between large and small wards, here goes.


In a large ward, he enters one of the patrols of the 12 - 13 year old troop. (There are lots of ways to put scouts in patrols, that's not our topic here, so let's just say he's in one) He stays in the troop for 2 years, he works on advancement (at whatever level he's at), and after his 14th birthday becomes a member of the Team his ward is CO for. Advancement in Varsity is the same as Boy Scouts, so he just continues to work on that. The activity focus changes, but rank advancement continues. Now at 16, he is transfered to his ward's Crew. After five years of Scouting he should be very close to Eagle. If he is, he should finish that then. If he isn't (either because he's not interested, or has already accomplished the task) he has two years to earn any Venture awards he's interested in. Now he might not make Silver, nor Ranger, but so what? (It's not a big deal, we've had discussions in other threads that run along this line.) Here's the last twist, at 18 he ages out of Venturing (or not), usually 18 year old LDS youth are close to being done with High School, and when they head off to college their interests go another way.


Now let's return back to our example, and let's say he's part of a small ward. He has his 12th birthday, and he now is promoted out of the NSP, and is placed in another patrol. These patrols are basically age based. You have a group of 12- 13 year olds, another that are 14-15, and the third that are 16-17. Depending on what the Bishop decides these patrols may stay together, or they may break on birthdays. They all are used to patrol outings, and all spend some time doing them. They also work together on troop outings.


I hope from this that you can now see that advancement is not age based, unit registration is. You won't find many 14 year olds in the troop, if the ward sponsors a Team. I hope too that you can see why if you visit these units it may seem like things are very different. They are and they aren't...


I hope I haven't muddied things any worse, again I'm sorry for the length of this post, it's a bit involved, but I hope you can now understand that the "differences" really aren't that big of a deal...

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LPC thumper wrote>it may seem like things are very different. They are and they aren't... >


You can say that again! But it's still scouting. Thanks for the clarification.



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With BSA a boy starts in Tigers in first grade

When he starts second grade he is a Wolf and earns his Bobcat first, then his Wolf Rank. When he starts 3rd grade he advances to a Bear. Then in 4th grade he becomes a Web I and in 5th grade he is a Web II. When he had completed his Arrow of Light or 5th grade he advances into Boy Scouts.

This schedule has little to do with when his birthday is. In my Cub group I had one boy that was a year ahead of the others and one boy that was hold back in 1st grade. He joined at that time and both are great scouts. And in 99% of cases the den leader stays with the den all the way through to Webs. And if you are like me cross over and stay with them in the troop.

So when I would get a day camp registration form and the only information would be the grade the assumption is that the boy is in the rank level for that grade. So the first day of camp we were always having to move kids. And when you are dealing with close to 200 boys this makes it really hard on the staff. I ended up with one Bear den that started out with 15 boys and because of this problem ended up with 35. Which is to many boys for one den at day camp. Don't get me wrong. I love working with LDS leaders, there are some really great ones. My program director last year was an LDS leader. She was great. But when mixing non-LDS and LDS there are problems simply because of the difference in the programs. There has been talk of setting up a LDS district. I don't know it this is the best idea.

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I too would be VERY opposed to putting all the LDS units into a single district. I think you already know my biases, but I'm very concerned that we all understand and try to get along. As has been mentioned, the only problem you'd really have is trying to get LDS and Jewish scouts to exist in the same unit. Also a camporee/camporall of just LDS and Jewish kids would present some challenges. The only time they'd all be together would be Saturday's campfire.

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I want to mention that I had a couple LDS scouts in my units and I know several LDS units in our area camped the whole weekend as non LDS troops.


I don't know enough about the religion to comment on their diverisity, just that the families had many choices.



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Thought I'd weigh in on this interesting topic.

I am Catholic and Scoutmaster a Troop chartered to a Catholic Organization, the Knights of Columbus. (to give a point of reference).


When I was a Cubmaster we had a bunch (4 or 5) boys that wanted to be Cub Scouts that went to the School my kids went to.

I invited them to our recruit night.

The parents said they could not be Cub Scouts until they were 8. No knowing they were LDS I told them they could join at 7 and that was the BSA program.

They joined and went thru their Tiger Cub year with our Pack. They were awesome participants. Then at the end of the School year they transferred into one of the LDS Packs. Within 6 months they quit Scouts all together siting they were bored stiff.


I went to Scoutmaster trianing with two LDS men. They are fantastic guys, Both were "Called" to be leaders, one had never camped in his life and the other was an Eagle Scout. I ran into one of them at Roundtable last month, he is still jung ho about it, the other I have not seen since training. The jung ho one is the guy that had never camped before. Good guy and dedicated leader.


OK- I have no beef with the LDS units at all...except I feel bad at Camporees or District camping events when they pack up their stuff and drive off on Saturday night. I completely understand why they do it, but the boys in my Troop always wonder why. They get a short explaination and we let it go.


Different is not a bad thing. I can see the frustration of other Scouters and to some extent those leaders in LDS units that I know.


I am thankful that the LDS church allows the program to exist, its good for the boys regardless of the constraints...restraints...whatever.


Happy Camping



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You hit on one of the difficulties LDS units face with leadership. Our leaders are all "called" to the task. The process is that the Bishop (kind of like the local Catholic priest) "calls" a member to fill a position in the Church, as the entire Church (including bishops) are all volunteers. Once the Bishop issues the calling to the member, the member chooses to accept or reject the calling. If the calling is accepted, the member is expected to "magnify" the calling, which generally means learn what is expected and do better than that.


Unfortunately with the Scouting callings, too often the member is not informed about BSA training and so forth. Often the members are in the calling for only a brief period of time. These could all be rectified, but takes the attention of the local leaders.


There has been some guidance from LDS Scout leaders that members in the Scout callings should hold that position for 5-7 years. If that were the norm, as opposed to the exception, LDS units would not have the difficulties they so often bring upon themselves (which only hurts the boys).


So how do we fix it? One step at a time. In our own stake (made up of 10 wards/parishes in Houston), the gung-ho LDS-BSA units keep trying to drag the under-performing LDS-BSA units to the roundtables, training, etc. We go to the individual leaders and offer our help Why? Well, frankly in the Varsity program we need other Varsity units to compete against...so it's in our own interest. I guess we're being selfish.

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My 1 cents worth...


I'm sure the LDS Scouters are all very well intentioned, but as things have been described here, it sounds an awful lot like Bob's comment of "we think we know better and we're going to do it our way". Now, somehow, they've managed to figure out a way to remain within "the program", at least according to the letter of the law. But, Scouting is also about continuity and community, and the older Scouts teaching the younger, etc. Seems like these age-based groups within LDS units specifically disallow that. Several comments also that the LDS Scouters have what seems to be a low percentage of attendance at training. Once again, haven't there been many comments in other threads about the importance of training? Is "drafting" leaders going to get you leaders that are really interested in the Scouting program?


I don't know, folks, but this sounds to me like a different program that manages to stay within what most would consider a "normal" Scout program, but just hanging on by their toes.

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Nothing written in this thread or in the the BSA program supports what you have written Prairie Scouter.


Many units have leadership problems because they recruit leaders by standing in front of a gathering or parents and saying "we need somebody to do this job". The LDS Bishop after carefull consideration says "we need YOU to do this job". A method that is far more in line with the BSA recommended selection process.


If a 13 year old scout teaches a 14 year old scout a new skill, as oppossed to a 12 year old, is that less valuable to either because the teacher was younger instead of older? What if they were the same age? would either benefit less from the teaching.


The BSA teaching process is the youth with knowledge share with the ones who need the knowledge. The age of the instructor is immaterial.


There are probably more leaders outside the LDS who do not follow the BSA program and make it up as they go along, as there are inside. I see no need to single out this one group.


Why is there a concern that LDS leave Saturday night? You don't mention the Jewish scouts who do not arrive until Saturday, or the Catholic Scouts that leave very early Sunday to attend Mass?


Lack of knowledge in some people breads mistrust and misunderstanding. Lack of knowledge in the LDS church seems to do the same to some scouters. I have trained many LDS leaders over the years. Our training team simple explains that some age groups and some group names may be different than those in their specific program structure but the methods, and skills are the same.


Nowhere does the scouting program say that you have to go out Friday night and come back home Sunday from a campout.


I will ask this question again of those who feel the LDS is missing out on the outdoors of scouting. What is the amount of outdoor activity that the BSA asks any troop to do each year?


(This message has been edited by Bob White)

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Thanks for the GREAT post Bobwhite.


In my council folks recognize me as a Scouter (I think I've mentioned enough of my hats in other posts) Folks are happy to see me at events, or training, or whatever. They know I'm gone come Saturday night, it's NO BIG DEAL.


In my stake folks recognize me as a church leader, and are very positive and polite with me.


When our LDS scouts and scouters find me at district/council events we get to share a bond. My question is what's so bad about that? The LDS unit leaders that see me at camporee, pinewood derby, or Eagle CoH all know that I'm very pro-scout, just like my Scout friends know that I may wish them well Saturday night/Sunday, I just feel for me and mine we're headed away to "do our best" to "do our duty to God". I thought this was already put to bed, guess not.

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Certainly not to jump on you, Prarie, but don't misunderstand the import of the Varsity and Venturing programs on the troops. Remember, almost every LDS BSA ward/parish has (i) a troop, (ii) a team and (iii) a crew. To receive awards/recognition in the team and crew, the scouts have to provide service. And, that service is often required to be provided to younger youth. So, my Varsity Scouts to earn the basketball pin have to teach the rules of the game to younger youth. Guess who is their prime target: the troops. So the younger scouts DO receive training from the older scouts. I would argue that where you have all four units working together (pack/troop/team/crew), you have the BEST program possible. The cubs look forward to getting to the troop. The troop wants to move up to the team. The team wants to get to the crew. Why? Each level brings far more intense activites/training and experiences.


>Several comments also that the LDS Scouters have what seems to be a low percentage of attendance at training. Once again, haven't there been many comments in other threads about the importance of training? Is "drafting" leaders going to get you leaders that are really interested in the Scouting program?


I think that's a very legitimate concern. It's always been my view that I would rather have a truly voluntary BSA leader than one "drafted" to lead. However, as others have expressed, prior to the LDS bishop extending a calling to a member to be a BSA leader, the entire bishopric meets in prayer to consider a person who would best serve the youth. That person then does have a choice to refuse the call - and some do.


But if you look at it like this, when we are baptized in the LDS Church and sustain our leaders (the local bishop) we believe we have committed to do whatever is necessary to serve Christ and his kingdom (via the church). If you accept a calling and do not magnify it, you have broken your covenants. That's a little daunting, I would think.


But hey...



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