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telemonster513

LDS Scouting

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Ive recently been called to be the scoutmaster in an LDS troop, and I am having a terrible time turning it into a Boy run organization. I didnt grow in the church, and participated in an incredible scout run troop. There is lots of history behind this troop, and other LDS troops Ive worked with, that may be pertinent:

The boys are REQUIRED to join

The troops are small, and patrols even smaller

The boys are segregated by age, and the different age groups rarely interact

The focus of the scouting program is with 12-13 year old boys, and the bulk of their advancement takes place during this time.

We essentially have two meetings a month, and are discouraged from meeting during the weeks that we have a camp-out.

No activities are permitted on the Sabbath day (Sunday), so all campouts are Friday night and Saturday. Because of this restriction, we rarely go backpacking

 

In my troop, the boys are used to working on merit badges during meetings, and its making me crazy. There are those (Adults) who want to implement a two year merit badge program that would facilitate the boys with all the resources necessary to complete the eagle required merit badges in that timeframe. The goal seems to be getting the boys to their Eagles, but I feel that success is not measured by merit badges or advancement.

 

My goals are simple:

Help to create a boy run troop

Instill leadership skills

Put the outing in scouting

Grow the troop

 

My plan is to use the New Troop Program in the scout master handbook, and start from scratch. The way the scouting program is run in the LDS church is a little different than the traditional troop model, and I am really struggling to make it something the boys will love.

 

I believe very strongly in the patrol model, The Boy Scouts of America, and the church. I would appreciate any suggestions from those who have experience with LDS troops concerning ways to make the patrol method work.

 

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Hello telemonster513,

 

Congratulations and welocome to the forum.

 

I don't know much about the LDS program. However, I don't think the patrol method is any different in a LDS Troop.

THe LDS units in my council attend the same training as the other Troops. They just finish the Sunday portion at at different time. (There is always one LDS on staff).

 

First I would take SM and the Outdoor Skills Training.

 

Some other resources on the Web about the patrol method are:

 

http://www.inquiry.net/patrol/index.htm (more traditional scouting)

 

http://www.greenbar.ws/index.cfm (about William "Green Bar" Hilcourt

 

http://www.whitestag.org/ (alternative Youth ledership training program)

 

 

 

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TM,

Is your calling to the SM position a long term or short term proposition? If you are only going to serve for say 12 months or less, I would take one issue and do my best to change the course of the troop with that one topic, then when the next SM steps up, encourage him to take another. If long term, then perhaps a gradual change of attitude (troop, not your's) is in order. One thing I think is detrimental to the patrol method is the age segregation of LDS troops, and could be the hardest to deal with.

Good Luck.

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TM,

I applaud your vision and iniative. Gern has an excellent point, which I think will be key to your approach. I would also make sure that your vision supports the Chartering Organization. Many LDS sponsored units intentionally operate differently than non-LDS units for specific faith-related reasons. I'd advise that you consult with the troop committee before embarking on significant changes. Good luck!

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Telemonster, you have found yourself in the middle of the problem. First, you were "called" after prayerful consideration by the Bishop. Did you really have the option to refuse the call? Betcha didn't. See if the LDS'ers have SM Fundamentals and the Outdoor Experience Training to get you "Trained", then take the SM Fundamentals course outside "the community" and compare how the programs differ.

 

Second, find out who paid for the boys' registration fees. It may suprise you. Yes, the boys are required to join. But see how many are active and how many are just in the charter.

 

Yes, when a boy in an LDS troop truns 14, his is moved into the congregation-chartered Varsity Team. Just when the boy is in a position to start being a leader, he is moved to another organization. That,in effect, makes the troop a superantinuated Webelos den where the adult are still in charge of the program.

 

Yes, the program as set up by the LDS'ers is part of faith-based youth training.

 

Yes, the program as set up by the LDS'ers is designed to make it very possible for the boys to make Eagle before he turns 14, and the pressure to have it done by 14 is trememdous. That means a 2-year merit badge program to get the Eagle-required merit badges finished before they are 14. Some of the merit badges are designed to be more challenging and more appropriate for 15-, 16-, and 17-year old boys.

 

If you are wanting to make the changes that you have listed above, you need to get in front for the Bishop and stay there. You want to repeatedly bring up what happened to those scouts who were killed and injured out in Utah last summer. Most, if not all, were LDS'ers. Those were tragic examples of the short-comings of the LDS scouting program (No two-deep adult leadership; no buddy system; relatively little camping experience; weak in basic outdoors scout skills; untrained adult leaders; and have you ever seen Wood Badge beads on an LDS scouter???).

 

You are going to be swimming against a very strong current.

 

I am not down on LDS scouting. LDS units make up 30%+ of all BSA units but only 11% of the total membership in BSA. Small units to be sure. My son-in-law is an LDS'er who made Eagle just before he aged out. His parents were frantic. He married our daughter instead of going on his 2-year mision. That is another story. Be very careful in what you say and what you do. It can get "real ugly real fast".

 

Please keep us aprised.

 

G.B.

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One of my concerns with LDS scouting is the quality. Do they have a high percentage of very young Eagles because the scouts are highly motivated and exceptional, or are they being spoon-fed by a program where "showing up" is the only thing the scout has to do to advance? And even attendance is not optional, from what I read.

 

I honestly don't know the answer...but it's a concern. The term "Eagle Scout" should mean the same things regardless of a scout's faith. Is there a difference between an Eagle Scout and an "LDS Eagle"?

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telemonster -- the best of luck to you. I second the advice to take the training and try your best to pursue the patrol method. As to your tenure, I'd say the longer you can stay SM the better it will be.

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GreyingBeaver,

 

I'm not really sure what you are trying to say. I know a lot of very dedicated, trained, and well prepared LDS scouters. I see LDS scouters wearing wood badge beads at most every scouting event I attend. More than half of my wood badge patrol was LDS scouters. There are many LDS scouters serving in the district and council levels in my council. Those positions are NOT assigned by any LDS leadership.

 

SWScouter

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Hi SWScouter. The content of my posting was a quick overview of LDS scouting in my part of the swamp. My UC Basic course was presented at an LDS church by an LDS scouter wearing silver loops. Of the 12 who took the course, only three of us were not LDS'ers. We were the ones in the uniforms that had not been bought a few days before the course. We had knots, flaps, and beads; they didn't. There was a section on the buddy system and 2-deep leadership on outings. That is presented in SM Fundamentals. So why at UC Basic?

 

I spoke to the trainer after the course. The LDS church is very upset about what happened last summer out in Utah. Scouting is their official youth ministry program. The buddy system is not normally used because the troops are small, and 2-deep leadership is not observed for the same reason. The LDS has a long history of "changing its spots(blacks were not allowed to join the LDS church until a few years ago; now they are - go ask an LDS'er.)". The national LDS church leadership is worried about their congregations losing charters if anything like last summer happens again.

 

An Eagle Scout is an Eagle Scout. The LDS'ers know not to mess with requirements, especially for Eagle. Then they would lose their charters and they know it. Should there be a designation as "LDS Eagle Scout"? It would make a good topic, but I ain't goin'there. Not me. You first. And a WB'er is a WB'er. It, like the ranks system are national programs. LDS'er have to venture "outside the community" to go to WB. If you know WB'ers who are LDS'ers, good on them. They have bought into the program and not just doin' as their Bishop told'em to do. The latter is too often the case and the LDS scouting program is the poorer for it.

 

G.B.

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I'm really new here. Just registered. Hoping to find some material for a presentation on diversity to my troop.

 

I have been an LDS SM for just over 3 years now I think. The first two years where very mediocre. I didn't have anyone to encourage me to be trained, etc. etc. I can blame myself too, I just didn't feel the need (I was an ES, I've got it already figured out.....story).

 

We had a conference with some of the LDS leaders from Church Headquarters. Very inspiring meeting and really got me moving. Since then, I have completed all my basic training along with two other adults from our troop. Last fall, the three of us attended Woodbadge and are now working to complete our ticket items. I came back from Woodbadge fired up. I spoke to our Stake General Priesthood Meeting (about 10 congregations worth of male leadership)for 1/2 hour about the scouting program in the church, and specifically about the need for properly trained leadership and tenure. I have also spoken in our ward (congregation) for Scout Sunday just last month. Our Stake Young Men's President, a good friend of mine, has caught the fire also (previously a "city boy", and probably still is). Things are really happening. We have a lot of good support.

 

Needless to say, I'm proud of what we've accomplished in the last year. Besides the three of us new WB'ers, we have 3 or 4 other WB'ers in our ward congregation, and two silver beavers. We attend the same training that all the non-LDS leaders attend. I would say that at our WB training, probably 80% of us there were LDS.

 

We're not perfect, but definitely trying. Do we do things differently? Sure. I saw a post about car camping vs backpacking. Since we usually take off after work on Friday and get back on Saturday afternoon, we do a lot of "car camping", but between work and school it's hard to do much more. We work hard to include hikes, and backpacking trips whenever possible.

 

I really enjoy my work as a SM. I probably won't be a SM by the time my boys are old enough (ages, 6,4, and one due July 4th), but I will definitely be involved one way or another, and be an advocate for scouting.

 

Please don't stereotype all LDS troops, just as non-LDS troops shouldn't be stereotyped either.

 

Ivan

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Welcome Ivan! It sounds like your troop is lucky to have you as SM. If you're looking for a diversity of opinions, you'll certainly find plenty on the forums here!

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