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The LDS Scouting program and BSA program

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Yah, BadenP, yeh pulled an informal document that apparently was put together by one stake in Utah, eh?


That's like pulling an information packet put together by one BSA district somewhere and claiming that it represents official BSA policy or practice, or pulling one VFW post's troop bylaws and claimin' it represents all VFW scouting.


But I didn't see anything wrong with the document while skimming it. It seems to have a whole bunch of clear, concise guidance that is perfectly reasonable. "Encourage scout leader training (Fast Start, Basic, WoodBadge)". "Insist on two-deep leadership." "Encourage adult leaders to set the goal to have the majority of first year scouts advance to First Class in a year."


Honestly, it's a bit more concise and easier to read than plowing through G2SS or the SMHB. A nice quick start for a new leader.


Got some nice CO policies in there as well. "The bishopric should ensure that the Committee Chair is trained in scouting and has the time, ability, and commitment to fulfill his role." Wish all Chartered Orgs. insisted on that!


Yah, this document says that scout leaders should be Priesthood holders, so no non-LDS leaders, eh? That's their right, and that may well be a local decision.


This all seems pretty normal to me.


If yeh go to the National Catholic Committee on Scouting web site, yeh find OGE's crowd encourages things like Catholics-only vocation camporees on a national basis and writes a whole job description for CORs. That seems a lot more bold than one stake publishing a little scouting guide. They even have an order of adult "Knights" supportin' scouting, a Catholics-only youth leadership training at Philmont, a separate non-BSA scouter training and their own Quality Unit award instead of da BSA's. And their vocation training group seems to be chartering special Venturing crews at high schools. NAUMS for da Methodists passes out their own bible at Philmont, runs Methodist-scout-only mission trips and the like. National Jewish Committee on Scouting publishes a whole mess of their own program helps too, eh?


I don't see where the LDS documents from one stake are all that much different from what everybody else is doin'.




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One of the most impressive things that the LDS church has done with scouting is to apply a consistent application of the BSA program to all of their wards. No other religious CO has been able to do that.


So this "informal document that apparently was put together by one stake in Utah" that pretty much aligns with my observations in LDS units in Colorado and others in Arizona, is probably a pretty good view into the alterations of the BSA program to meet LDS goals.



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BadenP, here is my reply I promised you.


First of all as, Beavah, alluded to these materials are from a single stake in Utah. Who have tried to put together a hand book for leaders in their stake to help them build good scouting programs and to help those leaders see how the Aaronic Priesthood program and the BSA scouting programs go hand in hand in insuring a good overall balanced YM's program. This is not an official church publication, although I find it very well written in helping leaders in building and maintaining a well ran scouting program.


My only wish is that every scout leader in the church would read through the material as there is no way they would have bad or mediocre programs if the used these guides.


The reason it very little about the scout ranks is because the guides are written on how to set up and have a good program and not on advancement.


I can only imagine what would be possible if a leader was to use this material as part of the leadership training programs.


We would not even be having this discussion as well as other discussions on scouting and the LDS units if every LDS unit in the country read and put the material found on that site in to practice. District events, training programs, round tables excreta would be so full that most places would be looking for bigger rooms to meet in. District camporees would have so many participants that events would be ran well into the evening hours.


But I digress all this would be in a perfect world were leaders (all Leaders LDS and non-LDS) really did strive to do their best and help the youth leadership to build good programs. Where committees really worked hard to ensure SM had the resources to do their job. Where tour permits and transportation just showed up at the scout shed on the morning of the campout ready to transport scouts. Instead of the SM having to make the arrangements.


But no instead we are satisfied with mediocre ran programs where we do the bare minimum in order to be able to say we did something. Not realizing that the only people who suffer are the youth themselves who we so proudly profess to be serving.


Well enough for now I have to get to work and go crawl under some horses so I can make some money.

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One of the most impressive things that the LDS church has done with scouting is to apply a consistent application of the BSA program to all of their wards. No other religious CO has been able to do that.


Yah, I don't know how consistent it really is, eh? As Gary_Miller describes, LDS units run the gamut in terms of quality and approach same as other units. Certainly I don't think Salt Lake has been all that great at developing a consistent application of the documents BadenP mentioned, or as he says the training numbers would be way up across da intermountain west. :p


But I get where you're comin' from, in that they are pretty universal on the age-based thing and camping requirements with respect to Sundays and whatnot.




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Beavah,"Certainly I don't think Salt Lake has been all that great at developing a consistent application of the documents BadenP mentioned, or as he says the training numbers would be way up across da intermountain west."


Church HQ in Salt Lake is not the problem, although the leadership at HQ recognizes there is a problem and in the last 6 years have held many training sessions tiring to get things working correctly.


However, every ward is its own CO and every CO has its own volunteers and every volunteer has their free agency to do job correctly or not. LDS units are no diffrent than other units if the volunteer does not learn the job and then put what they learn into action the unit won't function properly and there will be a poor program. And the boys will suffer.

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I've been wondering about the amount of heat behind all discussions BSA/LDS related, and I suspect that part of it is just the natural temptation we all have to tell each other "Oh, you fool! You're not doing it right!"


I'm as guilty of that as anyone.


But I think there's another factor, kinda subtle, but there. For non-LDS units, the relationship between the Scouters and the CO can generally be described as the Scouters approaching the CO and saying "Hey, Mr. (Legion Hall/Rotary Club/local church/etc) Representative, we have this great program set up by the BSA, and we'd sure appreciate your help delivering it to the boys in this area. All we really need is some meeting space and a signature once in a while and we promise the boys won't break anything and will reflect well on your organization."


But in LDS units, it's the CO approaching the BSA and saying essentially "Hey, we have an important program for our boys, and we'd like you to help us deliver it by letting us use your methods and program as a part of ours."


It's maybe a subtle distinction, but I think it colors our reactions. The ideal is that a unit represents a partnership between BSA and the CO, but the reality is usually that one is using the other. I don't mean that in a bad way, but someone is always the driving force in the relationship.


For non-LDS units, the driving force is usually the Scouters, but for LDS units it's definitely the CO. I think non-LDS Scouters are used to thinking of the CO as the junior partner. The implications of that are demonstrated by the response to a recent thread where a CO (a church but not LDS) prohibited Scouts from attending firearms training. The gist of the response here was "Well, it's within their rights to do that, but gee, it's a bad decision and if you can't get the IH to reconsider, you might want to look for a new CO." But with an LDS unit, nobody would seriously expect and LDS SM to look for a new CO if the Bishop wouldn't change the Sunday campout policy.


It's a matter of who's running the unit, and for LDS unis, it's not the Scouters, or at least not in the way that non-LDS Scouters are used to.

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Jm, I think You said that pretty well.


I might add that in non-LDS Co's , some of those Co's want a program that, if for no other reson, it looks good PR wise, so they open the doors to the first group of folks who want to start/run/ work a BSA unit.


Not all mind you, but plenty , I'm sure. We get a dry warm building to meet in, they can say they are doing something for the youth.


Maybe we even see each other more than the annual Scout Sunday, no? :)

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GernBlansten, "Gary, I really don't mean to be a pest, but could you shed some light on why the LDS church restricts first year scouts to only three nights camping? There has to be some rationale to it."


I really don't know the rationale behind this. I can only guess that it has to do with the churches position of the younger boys not being away from the home at night.


From the handbook: "Eleven-Year-old Scouts preferably meet in the daytime, but if evening meetings are necessary, arrangements should be made to ensure that these boys are not away from their homes late at night and that they are carefully supervised until they arrive home."


The three camp rule is so the boy can full fill the camping requirement for T, 2nd, and 1st class.


Under the old BSA program they was only allowed two camps in order to meet the requirements for the camping skill award.

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Thanks Gary. That is enlightening. I assume from your reference to the handbook, its the LDS handbook on scouting.


Almost seems like a compromise though. BSA requires camping to achieve 1st Class and that conflicts with the LDS philosophy of keeping 11 year olds at home with their families. So the 3 night limit allows a minimum camping to meet the BSA requirements (many would say its not enough).


Does the three night limit exclude summer camp or are 11 year olds not allowed to attend?

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Yes the official handbook from LDS HQ.


From the handbook:


"Eleven-year-old scouts may participate in a one-night camp three times each year. No other Scout-sponsored overnight camping should be planned for eleven-year-old Scouts. Each boy participating in an overnight outing should have learned and practiced the required skill before the camping experience."


No long term summer camp. The stake usually puts on a day camp. They usually attend camporees during the day or it could be one of their allowed camps. And the other troop/patrol activities required would be day outing doing camping or other things as a patrol.


When I was the eleven-year-old scout leader I never had any problem getting boy to first class as long as they attended all the campouts. Those that did not complete the camping requirements quickly did once they turned 12 and joined the main troop program.


Though this may seem odd to some. But it really does works out well if there is a good plan put together.


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About 3/4 of a century before Baden-Powell published Scouting for Boys, the LDS church was preaching boy-led "patrols". Sure, the vernacular (the names for things) is different between the BSA and the LDS church, but both still generally emphasize boy-led groups acting within a specified framework.

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