Saturday, April 18, 2015

Preparing for the New Boy Scout Rank Requirements

The BSA is releasing new rank requirements, effective January 2016. These new requirements will be released sometime in Summer/Fall 2015.

We won’t be leaking the new requirements here (a Scout is honest). However, it always pays to “Be Prepared” and after reviewing an advance copy of the new requirements here are a few ideas for Scoutmasters looking for a head start:

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A New Planning Tool for Varsity Teams

It's not much of a secret that Varsity Scouting doesn't get the same attention as Cubs, Boy Scouts, and Venturing. One particular area of deficiency is in relevant documentation. Varsity Scouts need specific materials to help reinforce the Five Program Areas - that's one reason we've developed this free Varsity Planning Worksheet.

You're welcome...

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Rethinking the Varsity Interest Survey

It's common to see young men lose interest in Scouting as they turn 14. But that doesn't have to be the case. Properly using the Varsity program will result in engaged young men that look forward to attending quorum activities.

A key element of the Varsity approach is to use the 'Varsity Interest Survey' (VIS) to determine which activity areas your youth are interested in. My problem is that the official interest survey (available in the Varsity Guidebook, and the LDS Playbook) is badly out of date in terms of many current interests that teen commonly have.

Taking things into my own hands, I have redesigned the VIS to better reflect both youth interests and quorum goals.

>Download the 2014 Varsity Interest Survey

Friday, August 2, 2013

First Class After Eleven: Getting 12-13 yr olds back on track...

When a young man turns twelve and graduates from the Primary into the Young Men's program it makes his Scouting experience much better if he is already a First Class Scout.

The requirements for Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class form a skill foundation that allows a young man to take full advantage of the Scouting adventures that make up his Deacon's Quorum experience.

So what do you do with the young man who graduates from Primary and hasn't achieved the First Class rank? Here are five options:

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Games with a Purpose

Last week I was teaching the second module of Introduction to Leadership Skills for Troops (ILST) to Troop 1186 in Cedar Hills, Utah. We had talked about the importance of communication in leadership, and had played a couple of games to illustrate some of the concepts.  I glanced down at my watch, and I had about 30 minutes left of the meeting. Just enough time to get through the 'Planning' section of the curriculum, or was it..?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Great Scouting Secret

Scouting has a secret! I'll share it with you as long as you don't tell anyone. Are you ready? Here it is...

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Continue thou... in Scouting

"In the last days..." wrote Paul to Timothy, "...perilous times shall come." Paul then cites several characteristics of wicked men in those days, which includes being without natural affection, false accusers, and despisers of those that are good (2 Timothy 3: 1-3).

At this time, the Boy Scouts of America is under attack from those that are without natural affection. The BSA is accused of discrimination, bigotry, and intolerance by a special-interest group that seeks to undermine the divinely appointed organization of the family.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Is your Dutch-Oven Holding You Back?

I like dutch oven dinners. One of my favorites is boneless pork ribs in a bbq sauce. I like cobbler too, apple, cherry, peach – whatever! Sometimes when I think of camping, that’s the sort of thing I have in mind, good food, a camp-chair, and a cot to sleep in. My wife and I like to take our family camping that way. Enjoying the family in the beauty of the outdoors is a choice experience.

When I was a Scoutmaster, some of our unit camping trips were the same sort of thing. We’d roll up to our campsite in a fully packed SUV and unload boys, sleeping bags, three-burner stoves, cots, large canvas tents, and all the other away-from-home luxuries we had brought along.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Home Teaching the Scout Unit

My home teacher pulled me aside the other day and asked how my family was doing. My wife is eight months pregnant, and he was interested in being of service. Even though my wife and I aren’t first-time parents I appreciated the gesture, and mentioned a couple of things he might be able to assist with. What a blessing it is to have a thoughtful home teacher at those times when life gets even crazier than usual.

Scouting can be equally as exciting and daunting as running a family. Navigating the Scout programs’ many rules, methods, and traditions can be daunting for the newly called leader and the veteran alike. Fortunately, there’s a guide on hand – the Unit Commissioner (UC).

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

When Thou Art Converted, Strengthen Thy Brethren

Recently my stake presidency mounted a serious campaign to get all young-men advisors in our stake to attend Wood Badge in 2013. They extended personal and group invitations by email, in Bishopric training meetings, and in hallway chats.

More than fifty answered the call, with many signing up for a single Wood Badge course. Entire Bishoprics registered, as well as members of the stake and ward Primary Presidencies, and a combination of Venturing, Varsity, Boy Scout, and Cub leaders from every ward in the stake.

My own ward has five Assistant Scoutmasters, none of which have attended Wood Badge, but none of them signed up to go in 2013. With sons in the program, this was a concern to me so I asked one of the ASM's what the deal was. His response both intrigued and disturbed me.

Friday, January 18, 2013

What Makes a Great Eagle Project?


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

It's not Scouting without the 'outing'!

It's been said that Scouting is 90% 'outing'. There's a reason why that is especially true for LDS Scout units. There's something magical about the outdoors. There's something inherently spiritual about being in nature. It has a special effect on young men. 

David Pack, head of LDS BSA Relations from 2007-2012, made an eloquent argument for camping in the 2012 Ensign, when he said:
"By the second night around the campfire, you have the most teachable, ready-to-learn, ready-to-listen-to-the-Spirit young men you will ever see. You won’t see them that way in priesthood meeting or at home or at school or on activity night.As a result, there will be an opportunity around that campfire for testimony bearing and teaching that will sink deep into their hearts and that they will remember for a lifetime." ~ David C. Pack, Why I Love 50 Mile Hikes, Ensign, June 2012

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Scouting Teaches Priesthood Keys

Image from:
I have a son that is currently serving as a Deacon's Quorum President. He was called to that position with about six months remaining before he turns fourteen, and in our ward it's typical that he'll serve until he is ordained a Teacher.

So, six months to begin to develop an understanding of Priesthood Keys. Six months to learn that 'presiding' means 'serving'. Six months to develop a personal leadership style and vision. Six months to find effective ways to counsel with his councillors. Six months to learn his duty, and understand what it means to teach others' their duty. Six months to recognize the difference between temporal and spiritual needs. Six months to develop the faith to call upon ministering angels.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Small Patrols Build Strength and Unity

The founder of Scouting, Lord Robert Baden-Powell said "The patrol method is not a way to operate a Boy Scout troop, it is the only way. Unless the patrol method is in operation you don't really have a Boy Scout troop." (Scoutmaster Handbook, p.20)

 It's clear from BP's words that patrols are a key element in Scouting, but in the LDS Church we have another unit of organization to consider - the Quorum. Let's take a closer look at patrols and see how they fit in with the Quorum.

The Scoutmaster Handbook explains quite a bit about patrols. Following are some excerpts (in italics), along with some commentary about how this works from an LDS perspective.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

The REAL Problem with Scouting in the LDS Church

I've been fairly heavily involved in LDS Scouting for about fifteen years now. I've served at the unit, district, council, and national level. I've worked alongside parents, merit badge counselors, BSA employees, camp staff, senior council and national volunteers, and of course youth. At this point, I'm ready to make a full declaration of what is wrong with Scouting in the LDS Church.

Let me first make two key observations.

1. The LDS Church's involvement in Scouting is not accidental. In fact, the opposite it true. The LDS Church supports Scouting as a result of revelation. President Benson clearly stated in 1978 that Scouting is an inspired program for our time. (Scouting and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saint, Appendix A)

2. The Scout program works. Many prophets have testified to Scouting's efficacy, including most recently President Gordon B. Hinckley and Thomas S. Monson. In 1996, President Hinckley stated:
"I love the Scouting movement. The promise of the Scout Oath and the 12 points of the Scout Law direct young men along the path of being prepared for the 21st century. They provide a solid and powerful magnetic force toward development of a well-rounded and noteworthy character that counts. If every boy in America knew and observed the Scout Oath, we would do away with most of the jails and prisons in this country." (Scouting and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saint, Appendix A)

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Embracing New Year's Goals that have No Eternal Consequences (and that's the point)

BSA's Venturing 'Silver Award',
the highest award available
to youth in Scouting
We have lots of long-term goals for our young men - advancing in the Priesthood, making temple covenants, serving an honorable full-time mission, etc. Many of these have eternal consequences. In contrast, Scouting provides the opportunity for young men to explore goal-setting, primarily through the advancement program, with little or no long-term consequences.

The desire to accomplish goals is an internal thing that is very hard to create in another person. However, information, encouragement, competition, and accountability can all help to create desire. This post will describe some ways that adult advisors, parents, and Priesthood leaders can help young men to set and reach goals within Scouting.

It's hard to want something you don't know about, so the first step is providing information to youth (and their parents) about what advancements are available. Next comes the goal setting. This is best done by the young man himself, but like other aspects of Scouting adult advisors, parents, and Priesthood leaders can help. The final step is encouragement and follow-up, which is a team-effort and includes the entire ward family.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Nephi was an Eagle Scout

I was once asked to speak in Sacrament meeting about Scouting. I announced in a dead-pan style that a BYU research team kept Scoutmasters up-to-date with their latest findings, and had recently uncovered evidence that Nephi was an Eagle Scout.

You don't see young men perk up too often in Sacrament meeting, but I think I had their attention. I went on to cite which merit badges Nehpi earned:
  • 1 Ne 1:2-3 -  Scholarship
  • 1 Ne: 2:15 - Camping
  • 1 Ne: 2:17 - Communications

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Wood Badge: A Game Changer or Merely Hype?

Attendees often use phrases like 'inspirational' and even 'life-changing' to describe their Wood Badge experience. But is the week-long leadership training experience all that it's cracked up to be? Can a week of camping really have the impact proclaimed by its champions?

Wood Badge for the 21st Century is the modern iteration of an adult training course that has been evolving since Scouting's first days. Early in the movement, Baden Powell saw the need to provide high quality training to adults, that need hasn't changed.

The instruction is provided by a variety of classroom sessions, discussions, small group exercises, and learning games. Staff and instructors are typically well-prepared, and do a pretty good job of delivering the Nationally-developed content. The quality of the content is excellent, with lessons taken from leading management theorists such as Stephen Covey and Ken Blanchard. In fact some companies, including IBM, Motorola, and Intel, consider Wood Badge to be 'management training', partially subsidizing the cost, or not requiring employees to take vacation in order to attend.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Hey, What are those Orange Shoulder Loops?

The BSA 4-1-1 task force recently confirmed that Varsity Scouting would not be going away. Varsity Scouting is the program for 14-15 year old young men, and is the activity arm of the Teacher's Quorum.

Identified by the distinctive orange shoulder loops, the BSA worked with the LDS Church to develop the program specifically for the 15-16 age group. Varsity Scouting handles the "I'm bored with merit badges" syndrome very effectively, but like all of the Scouting programs, if adult advisors don't understand it, then it won't work.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Teaching Parents the Doctrine of Scouting

I've mentioned before in this blog that in the LDS Church we seem to do a pretty poor job of engaging parents as active supporters of Scouting. A symptom of this problem is the all too common, "Johnny won't be at Scouts tonight because he has baseball [or whatever] practice".

Do some parents really think that baseball will teach their son to magnify his Priesthood while developing his character, citizenship, and fitness? No, I don't think they do. But I also believe that unfortunately they don't expect those same outcomes from Scouting.

I think we have a marketing problem here. We fail to educate parents about how Scouting works, and what its goals are. As a result, all they see is BP's 'game', without seeing deeper into its purpose and methods.