The truth about LDS Scouting

expertlogo1Earlier this month, I shared the news that Utah produced more Eagle Scouts last year than any other state.

Utah has a high concentration of LDS Scouts, so the post generated some conversation about LDS Scouting.

A few commenters shared incorrect information about the LDS church and suggested that earning Eagle is easier in LDS units than other units. (Not true.)

Then I received this email from Terry Stimson, Las Vegas Area Council Commissioner:

Hi Bryan,

I enjoy your daily blog since I subscribed several weeks ago. I noticed in today’s post re: number of Eagle Scouts by state, that there were a lot of references to LDS-sponsored Scouts having “vastly different” or even different standards from national. I’m pretty sure that is false. I’m council commissioner of the Las Vegas Area Council where we have a significant portion of our Scouts coming from LDS-chartered units.

I wonder if a future blog topic could be used to dispel what I see as a myth. Maybe a statement from the BSA-LDS relationships guy, Mark Francis, would be good.

Thanks for your fun and informative blog,

Terry

Thanks, Terry. And great idea!

I got in touch with Mark Francis, director of LDS-BSA relationships. Find the answer below in today’s Ask the Expert.

The history of Scouting in the LDS church

In 1913, 102 years ago this May, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints officially joined the Boy Scouts of America as its first chartered organization.

That historic partnership set the pattern for other organizations to partner with the BSA, and it helped both the fledgling BSA and the church give thousands of boys the chance to life-changing experiences of Scouting.

Scouting in the LDS church today

Scouting in the LDS church continues to thrive today. The LDS church sponsors 38,168 units and 449,077 boys in the program, meaning it’s the BSA’s largest chartered organization.

The majority of LDS Scouting units are in Utah and Idaho, where a large population of church members reside. But there are also plenty of LDS units across the nation.

Francis says there are 151 BSA councils with LDS-BSA Relationships committees that work to support and strengthen the partnership. That’s more than half of all councils.

LDS units follow the same BSA guidelines as all Scouting units

LDS units function under the same national guidelines as other units in Scouting. And, like other chartered organizations, LDS units have some flexibility to implement Scouting in the way that best fits the church’s needs that make their units unique.

Since most church units (wards) maintain their own Scout pack, troop, team and crew, these units average 12 boys instead of the national average of around 25 boys.

“But we still run the full Scouting program,” Francis says. “And we are always happy to welcome new Scouts into our units.”

In other words, the requirements to become an Eagle Scout are the same in LDS units as they are in all other units.

So why is there such a high percentage of Eagle Scouts?

A high percentage of Eagle Scouts

The LDS church produces a ton of great Eagle Scouts. Since 2009, Utah has ranked first in Eagle Scouts, with Idaho and Wyoming following close behind.

Francis wasn’t surprised when he saw the state rankings on my blog.

“Part of that is due to the fact that the Eagle is given such a high emphasis in our Scout troops,” he says.

“In the church we believe that the skills and steps of Scouting, especially emphasized in the Eagle trail, help LDS Young Men prepare to serve full-time missions and go on to be successful citizens and fathers.”

So getting Eagle Scout isn’t easier in the LDS church, but it does receive added emphasis. Why?

Eagle Scouts on a mission

All LDS young men are asked to serve a two-year volunteer mission for the church.

Housing and living costs are paid by the young man and/or his family, and he is assigned by the church to serve in a particular area around the world.

There’s no better preparation for this challenge than Scouting, Francis says.

“Many young men learn a new language in order to serve their mission, and some of the physical challenges — such as riding a bike or walking several miles a day — as well as leadership opportunities, are experiences which we believe Scouting naturally prepares boys for,” he says.

All are welcome

By the way, you don’t have to be a member of the LDS church to be a member of an LDS unit. Church-sponsored units keep their doors open to any individual interested in Scouting, Francis says.

“Many leaders and boys in our Scouting units are not LDS,” he says. “We welcome all to come and participate in the Scouting program, without any faith restriction.”

What they said

Francis shared two quotes from LDS church leaders that I wanted to pass along.

Rosemary Wixom, church primary general president: “When you combine the teachable, yet adventurous spirit of boys and the BSA Scouting program, you create leaders with character.  Let’s join together and help all boys and youth of today reach their full potential through the Scouting program.”

David L. Beck, young men general president: “Scouting is a bridge to join with good people of other faiths and organizations whose values and aspirations are similar to ours, and to work together to bless all youth in our communities.”

More information

For more information on how the LDS Church operates their Scouting program refer to their Scouting Handbook (PDF).

And learn more at the LDS-BSA relationships website.

Other Ask the Expert posts

See them here.

243 Comments

    • Well I do both, lds and non lds. The only thing that I hate is how often leaders are switched, after turning eagle on average they dont give back to the program. Most wards its a merit badge factory and baby sitting program cause there’s no invested interest. The programs are thr same with a lds twist but. The lds church is usually an adult led program. Oh and also I dont know how they rank advance cause I see very little teaching by the edge method cause they are no longer in the troop by age 14. I love lds scouting just dont see some of the things that are mandatory for the eagle rank.

    • My experience with LDS scouting is not what Mark Francis describes in his statement. I am District Commissioner and 2/3 of units in my district are LDS, however I am not. I must deal with unit commissioners that do not want any training are upset when they occasionally attend Commissioner meeting, do not attend Roundtable.
      My problem is not with youth in LDS scouting it’s the adult leadership.
      The LDS scouting is not strong in my area since they seldom want to participate in District activities..
      The calling of adult leaders by the church in most cases has not been the best for LDS scouting..

    • Scouting is the LDS boys’ youth program. Thus, among the LDS there is far more institutionalized support. The requirements are the same, but the Mormon Church provides a lot of support and infrastructure. Thus, while a mountain might be the same technical physical height for everyone…

  1. I sit on our district’s Eagle boards of Review. The Eagle candidates from our LDS units always have great projects, the workbooks are well done, and it’s always a pleasure to have our conversation about becoming an Eagle Scout with them. It’s strange, most of them seem to want to go to BYU for college

    • I also sit on our District Eagle Boards and have know problem with any of their candidates.

      Why would most of them wanting to go to BYU be strange? No different than a Catholic Scout wanting to attend Norte Dame.

      • I guess that the difference is that there are a lot more highly-regarded and nationally-known Catholic universities There are 8 of them who were invited to participate in March Madness. Of the 10 members of the Big East Conference, only Butler is not a Catholic university.

  2. I think this article makes some excellent points. I would like to expand on one of them…

    The support of your charter organization can help your program in ways you’ve never imagined. The LDS Church generally provides outstanding support for their units. With that support comes some outstanding results.

    Based on some observations over the years I have been involved with scouting, LDS units do approach the rank of Eagle a little differently than most troops. In my experience, they approach it with the expectation that there is an Eagle inside each young man waiting to get out. And the journey is about finding the Eagle.

    This nuance makes a big difference. Add in better than average family and church / charter organization support and the results should be anything but surprising.

    NOTE: Please keep in mind, there are great troops and there are some sour apples. This isn’t about the sour apples. This is about the troops that are out there doing it the right way.

  3. Nevermind the fact that the nature of “called leadership” in the church allows for Scouters to perpetually revolve through the program without completing YPT or other basic training and still re-charter. My council’s key three seem to be intimidated by our stake leadership. What a farce. We all know there is a double standard. Positive PR doesn’t detract from the reality of the situation.

    • If there is no YPT, the local Council will not register them. Training is most Council’s is not yet Required. However, in my council Direct Contact Leaders for Cubscouts, which is Primary for LDS, but not 11-year Old in this case is requried for 2016 Re-Charter.

      • According to The Church Scouting Handbook, rev 2014 sec 8.5 “All adult Scouting leaders must be properly registered and must complete Youth Protection training before begining their service”

        As I understand it, the calling is made, the YPT and application submitted and approved before the calling is presented to the congragation.

        I am a District Level ADC, Committee Member for my ward, as well as a Special Needs Troop Scout Master in Salt Lake. When I got back into Scouting, before I could attend my first Committee meeting, the application and YPT had to be done. Now I do YPT1/YPT2 annually so I do not laps.

        • That is related to your Charter Org requirements. Not every CO is like that. Good for them for doing that. Our Council requires YPT at the time of registration.

        • National requires YPT before registration. The church guidelines, as I see it is that the call is givrn, YPT and regerstation competed before they take over the position. Same as I would do for my community troop. I would not let a parent serve brfore paperwork is submitted.

        • David: That is your & Units discretion. Which I support. I would even go one further, all required training for that position be completed before assuming the role.

        • Adam, ideally that would be the case. Hopefully someone moving into the position has some expence and is moving up i.e. Committee member to Chair, ASM to SM.

          The problem.is largly timing. For a SM or ASM, how long do you want them waiting in the wings for training? Our district, amd most of the Council offers Leader Specific 2x a year. Unlike a Committee Chair, who can do most of their training on line, and additional training for the committee by the Unit Commissioner, it is hard to get leadership to rake over when basic training is completed. Hopefully when leadership is changed, there is a trained assistant to help coach the new leader.

          In our unit, starting from scratch, I had to hold the Committee Challenge to get the parents formed into the committee. Lucky for me, our founding Chairman is also the Chair for SN at Council so we had a good basis to start growing from. I will push my ASM to get the training at the first possible time, and Wood Badge as a follow-up.

        • Understand your issues. But, as a former District Training Chair, I can work with the Training Team to figure something out. If that is not working, I can send a note to other Districts to see if there are other classes being held soon. What can happen is if there are enough people, the Training team can put something together. Reach out and ask.

    • There is no reason to go without YPT. My Stake has certified YPT trainers. There is a classroom YPT at least once per year and is available on demand, just have to schedule it.

      Yes, the LDS units do have a reputation for rotating leaders much more often than other units. The solution is one that the Ward needs to address. In my last two Wards, the Committee Chair will register any Scouter as a Committee Member.

      Every problem has a solution, you just need to speak up and contribute an opinion.

      • Anthony Stortz Yes it is true that LDS Scout leaders do have a shorter term as you have stated. For me I have been a LDS Scout leader in several position for 15 straight years and in scouting for 30+ years total. I am currently a Scoutmaster in my Ward. The callings in the LDS Church are a religious calling prayed about and based on the needs of the Church and its doctrinal following through revelations as to the calling itself. We have a saying in the Church whom the Lord calls he qualifies. I would say that most of the time it does not have a negative effect on scouting and replacement leaders are very adapt at filling these positions. In the traditional Scout world one might look at the short term as a Scout Leader in the LDS Church a negative simply not true there are many LDS Units that are as effective as traditional Scout programs maybe more so in the long run. The male youth of the LDS Church have benefited by their role as Priesthood holders and Scout members. The LDS Church is always aware of both needs and creates the atmosphere of building tomorrows leaders. Sincerely, Trenton Spears

    • Not true, it is an expectation of all Young Men leaders in the church to complete YPT. Your council not enforcing the BSA policy is a failure on behalf of the council in addition to the unit not fulfilling their responsibilities.

      The guidelines from the church handbook states “All adult Scouting leaders must be properly registered and complete Youth Protection Training before beginning their service. 8.0: Church Policies. http://www.lds.org/manual/scouting-handbook-united-states-2012/8-0-church-policies?lang=eng

      Feel free to verify, but they are guide with no uncertain terms the responsibly of all “called” is to comply with training requirements and specifically YPT. If a unit is not doing this they are not following the guidelines of the church and BSA.

    • You live in a fanticy world, no scout leader can perform without YPT and Background cheek. So step of your sopbox.

        • Pinkimaster . The BSA has resolved the Y/P problem with annual and new registrations. No Y/P no registration period. As a camp director and a unit camp-out organizer I require all adults to be Y/P certified no exceptions I also require non scout registered adults to take the Y/P course no exceptions. Trenton Spears

      • Apologies Steven. Perhaps you’d care to extrapolate? You see, I served on the National Venturing Committee from 2000-2001 and as an Assistant Council Commissioner for Venturing for several years and frequently encountered LDS leaders who refused to train. Previously, units had been allowed to recharter annually after having allowed several untrained leaders to rotate into and out of their units; as long as the roster showed current YPT adherence at the time of recharter, all was well. But many leaders slid through the cracks. It was not uncommon for LDS leaders in our council to rotate in and out in less than 6 months. This is a huge liability and an issue that I’ve consistently fought with my Key 3 to enforce to no avail. When the money flows from the church, particularly on the council level, exceptions are made. It has taken me almost four years of service in this council to enforce minute JTE standards, many of which are still faltering in the Venturing program.

        I understand the knee-jerk desire to defend your church, but understand that the BSA is bigger than just LDS. If your council refuses to enforce standards for all programs, particularly one as progressive and controversial as the Venturing program, I suggest you look inward and hold the standard for all leaders.

        • Wow! That was a blatant attack. Care to step back and remember the scout motto? kind? courteous? integrity is a good one too but that is for us military personnel. That is not just for the scouts mind you that is for the Leaders as well. Knee jerk? how about full out blast on your part about LDS leadership. Now if you have a problem with them in your area that you are in charge of then that is your experience. However where I am now called to be scout master it is not a question it is a Must/Will do. Do not blame the whole because of the few Daniel. That is not wise because it is only hateful and shows malice not kindness which is a scouting way. You have a chain of command I would assume that you could utilize. so go and utilize it. I am not trying to attack but I would support your argument more if you stopped with the obvious dislike for “LDS Leaders”(or your dislike for LDS People) verses general leaders. Get them canned and use your higher ups. I will support that 100% without banter or argument! crap I’ll help you boot them out! Rules are there to be followed for good reason and if not followed those people should not be there. I agree with that completely. However the obvious disdain you hold for them i do not agree with.

  4. I was serving as a chaplain at the 2005 National Jamboree and discovered that one of the Assistant Scoutmasters from a contingent troop from my home council had become quite ill just before Jamboree and had to drop out. He was an LDS Scouter in a community troop, and an eagle scout.l I knew that he was missing the experience quite a bit. I discovered that the LDS relationship committee was offering a special coin commemorating then 90 years of relationship with scouting. I thought he would like one of those, and made contact with Chaplain headquarters to see if they could stop at relationships to get one. Next thing I knew, the National Chairman of LDS scouting showed up at our subcamp with the coin in hand for me to take home to my friend. That was a great example of Scouting at its best. I also was invited to see the 100th anniversary show from the LDS church and lead prayer at the local celebration,. The LDS connection is to be honored greatly.

  5. PinkiM. Making veiled or even outright disparaging comments without some evidence does not contribute to this conversation. Multiple down votes

    • I’m sorry you feel that way. There so many examples. How about the Scout Master asking me to schedule or set up a border review for Scout and when I asked if he had completed all of the advancement requirements, which I knew he had not, the reply was that he could not hold the Scout back from advancing because he did not have enough support. When I refuse to sit the Board of Review, he wanted to know what was my problem. He went to the young man President and the bishop. I explained that no one has the right to change requirement. I was still the one with the problem. One day when I was not there, he had parents from the other Ward hold a board of review without any expetience. We have a scout that his grandfather started helping him with his eagle project and the date was set, the volunteers were obtained and the Scout was not Life yet. I am a unit commissioner now, and the new CC told me that in an LDS it is impossible to have a boy led troop. A Scoutmaster signs off the Scout book after explaining a requirement without making the boy pass it off. A SM took the new Scouts on the 6+ mile hike, without preparation and without adequate water – the temperature was 84 degrees. The Scoutmaster nearly fainted several times, including when he came back to camp. A committee chair thinks that camping needs to end by 9 a.m. on Saturday. Her son is an Eagle Scout and never camped later than 9 a.m. on Saturdays. I learned that the Scouts that went to summer camp and participated in the first year program had not had the completed requitements signed off in their Scout Book. When I told the CC, she told me that they are not worrying about the past. Really!???! Our district chair is LDS, has organized so many special LDS trainings and he is so frustrated. One LDS Eagle showed up at the camporee in flip flps. Our young man president has decided that boys 14 and over will not be doing scouting at all…. Two scout masters from two different wards, have so many excuses for not being able to go and get trained…. do I really need to say anymore?

    • I want to defend PinkiM’s comments – they are about a specific unit, and in 35 years of Scouting I have seen *some* units that function like that – they do exist. If Church leadership are uninterested in learning/keeping current with BSA guidelines, the problem may persist. On the other hand, the vast majority of the units I have worked with (caveat, I have never lived in the West) do follow BSA guidelines, and most of the leadership I have worked with in the past 10 years or so do seem to want to run a program within the rules. Boy-led troops are still a challenge, from what I see.

      • I agree with NewinGeorgia. Most of my 30 years in scouting has been blissful. I can honestly say that I’ve never met better people than Scouters. But I have also been in a situation where the leadership didn’t want to do Scouting the right way, and it was extremely frustrating. I’m a rule follower, and I know the benefits of a boy-led troop, so I was pretty upset. I think in hindsight I should have changed my support to a community-sponsored troop.

        • Well, because of the lack of training and support for a well run program is that we are in a community troop. Hey, now the YMP has cancelled Scouting for YM 14+.

  6. Daniel: Our Council has reached out to the Stake President and discussed the issue of revolving leadership and training. By doing this, changes are happening. Our LDS units are even coming to summer camp on Saturday to check in, rather than Monday morning since they typically don’t travel on Sunday. We asked for this and they responded. Talk to your Stake President, it does make a difference using open dialog.

    • First, think about what is accomplished at many scout camps by the scouts and their leaders on Sunday. Isn’t there quite a bit of “down time”? Who actually introduced having scout camp start on Sunday? Is this a tradition that evolved many years ago? Wouldn’t it be nice for camp staff to be able to have Sunday off for their own purposes? Is this something that can be changed? What about a scout camp schedule which is adjusted to allow for all scout camp staff, scout attendees and their leaders to arrive on Monday? Bump everything a day. Why not?
      The solution to arrive at camp on Saturday rather that Sunday is not following the intent of the Scout Handbook of Instructions for units in the USA for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The intent is for the scouts, leaders and camp staff to be able to be at home to worship and, also, attend church with family and friends in addition to fulfilling Sunday duties in their own home congregations.
      If scouts and their leaders arrived at camp beginning on Monday, rather than Sunday, any scout camp staff member would be able to spend time during the summer with family or friends on Sunday and attend church with a closely associated congregation. (Remember, they have a new camp start up every week; so, they would not be able to spend time with family on Sunday or attend church with a congregation all of the summer weeks that they worked on staff. We need to be considerate of camp staff as decisions are made.)
      In fact, there may be more applications submitted to join camp staff if Sunday was made available as a day off.
      It is a good lesson for young men to learn to arise early Monday morning and travel to scout camp because it helps to prepare them for adult working life. Many adult men grapple with this same situation in their professional careers. This is a good time to be an example and teach youth how faithful adult men schedule travel for work while they arrange to be able to worship with their families in their homes and at church meetings on Sunday (of course there are occasional exceptions which are minimized and out of ones control). But, it is a good example that whenever one has control that the choice is made to do just that!
      Monday is the start of the work week for most professions and the example to the young men that they can have control of their own schedules is important. It is a good lesson to learn early. I know that as adults my own brothers were union men as pipe fitters and my uncles and cousins were electrical linemen. They traveled a lot; but, their Sunday times were not usually work days(unless they were on overtime jobs or rotating shifts). Their travel for work usually did not take them away from the ability to attend church or be home with family on Sunday. Scout camp staff can adjust the schedules of their camps if they wish to.
      Yes, a stake president can make exceptions to the rules and many times one will respond to a request in the affirmative to allow the scouts to be away from the home ward for just one Sunday. This decision will fall directly on each stake president’s shoulders through prayerful consideration. Do we really want to present a stake president with that dilemma and add to his already heavy load?
      Just to avoid travel on the Sabbath is not the intent of the policy. The intent of the policy is to keep the youth and adults with their family, friends and church congregation to worship on the Sabbath. The actual intent of the policy is that the scouts and their leaders attend their home church and fulfill their responsibilities.
      Please . . . listen to the intent and create a situation to help it happen.

      • Marla Thomas Thank you for your excellent comment to help clear the LDS position in the BSA . Traveling on Sundays should be avoided for LDS troops if at all possible. Our Stake in Bakersfield has very few exceptions and then it was always approved by our Stake President. One exception was when our Priest aged boys 16 to 18 Climb Mt Whitney in California they leave on Friday because of the 5 day 50 mile hike to start the hike on Monday concluding on the following Friday. They need the two days Saturday and Sunday to get acclimatized to the 11,000 to 14,000 ft altitude to avoid altitude sickness that has become a health issue in the past. The teacher aged boys 14 to 15 go up on Mondays to attend other camp activities till they become acclimatized for a overnight 15 mile hike to Mt Langley 14,000 ft . This happens every three years so honoring the Sabbath Sunday is very important to the LDS Church and it is never taken lightly. Sincerely Trenton Spears, Scoutmaster.

      • Having everybody arrive on Monday will result in the loss of an instructional day (the camp our troop attends already extended the length of the Aquatics classes from 1hr to 1.5hrs because they had trouble completing them in five days). Arriving over the weekend allows for checking into the camp site, correcting any deficiencies, records check, swim test, camp tours, etc. to happen outside of the instructional time and then the opening camp-wide campfire on Sunday night sets the tone for the week and introduces the staff. Compressing camp into 5 nights could be done but the Scouts would earn fewer badges. Staff at the camp our troop attends get two evenings off during each week but no entire days. If they’re from the council which owns the camp, they are probably between one and two hours from home. Departure for camp on Monday morning will make every Scout’s parent late for work on Monday unless the troop has a place to camp near home on Sunday night or the troop leaves very early.

        I can appreciate the obligations that LDS Scouts and Scouters have with regard to family and congregation. As a Catholic, I would always attend my church, with my family, on Saturday evening and have it count for my Sunday obligation. Most Protestants don’t have that option but they also don’t have the obligation. Jewish and SDA units are not going to travel on Saturday (they must be leaving camp on Friday afternoon to get home before sundown).

        Each council needs to have an open, non-judgmental discussion among charts orgs. about what Duty to God means and whether the current camp schedule is in line with that.

      • Marla, what about Scouts and Scouters for whom Saturday is a Sabbath day? Don’t you think they would appreciate having that day off? I think you can see where I’m going with this…if you change the schedule to accommodate one group, you may cause problems for another. Our schedules for most activities already make it difficult for those who observe on Saturdays. There are already Monday-start camp weeks for those who require them and most camps will make accommodations during other weeks.

  7. Just a couple of comments. I did not read the handbook, but the last sentence states, “For more information on how the LDS Church operates their Scouting program refer to their Scouting Handbook (PDF).” THEIR Scouting Handbook. That does imply it is a different program somehow.

    In sitting on Eagle Boards of Review, I had the opportunity to speak to a SM from an LDS unit. He told me that the BSA is the youth group for LDS churches and basically all boys must be in Scouting. This is why there is such a large number of LDS units/Boy Scouts/Eagles.

    Lastly, while heading up a Council fundraiser for our District, I contacted the local LDS units in our District to see if they would participate in the fundraiser. I was told that most LDS units do not participate in Council fundraisers because they don’t coincide with the fundraising principles of the church.

    So, based on the knowledge I have received, LDS units are treated somewhat differently than non-LDS units.

    • If you were to read that Handbook, you would see that it is not a different program. In fact, most of said Handbook instructs LDS Leaders to use BSA training (both required and supplemental) and materials, follow BSA guidelines, and work with and support local districts and councils. There are also specific rules, most of which have been mentioned and fit well within the prerogative of any chartered organization (i.e. no church-sponsored scouting program for boys under 8, no unit-sponsored overnight Cub camping). The program itself is NOT different.

    • First of all, because the LDS church uses the scouting program as an integral part of their youth program they have what is referred to as the “green book” or more generically the “scouting handbook” which simply contains guidelines for church leaders on how to implement the scouting program within the church. I would think that other chartered organizations who are closer than an arms length to scouting (considering that many chartered organizations simply provide a meeting place for scout troops) would have similar guidelines to help local leaders. Otherwise, they use the same handbooks that everyone else uses.

      Secondly, it is true that all boys in the LDS church are are in scouting. For this reason they often have boys who would rather do something else and who either don’t participate or are there for the ride. However, because participation is encouraged to a larger population of boys it is natural that a higher number of boys advance through the program. Because encouragement is provided not only during weekday activities but also on weekends as part of the culture of the young men’s program in the church is it also natural that a higher ratio of Eagles is a result. I would think that any time boys are encouraged by more than one source that they would be more inclined to participate in any activity.

      Thirdly, and I’m guessing on this one, I believe that at least part of the reason why the LDS church limits fundraisers is because of the closeness between the church and scouting. If many fundraisers are done it may appear to be a church fundraiser rather than a troop fundraiser. Keep in mind that they do allow fundraisers within church-chartered troops, it’s just limited which means that the guidelines in the “green book” must be followed. While I have never heard that this would limit boys from participating in council fundraisers, the culture is such that most probably just would stick to their limited fundraisers. On the flip side, the LDS church is typically heavily involved in the Friends of Scouting campaigns. In my area I know that LDS troops have a much higher goal each year than non-LDS troops. There are varying thoughts on the reason for this, but I won’t elaborate on them here.

    • As Evenspor mentioned, there are supplemental handbooks or guides. The thing about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is, we have a handbook for everything, literally. Every Church unit (Branch, Ward, Stake, Mission) is run identically. I can leave Houston, and go to Berlin, Germany and every program would be identical.

      That being said, the Handbook you speak of is how Scouting links into the Church’s principles and organization. For example, I am First Counselor to the Young Men’s Presidency in our Ward. So, in addition to my overall responsibilities to the Young Men’s program, I am also Adviser to the Teacher’s Quorum. These are our Young Men who are 14-15 years old. Which also makes me the Varsity Team Coach.

      If you are interested in actually reading the manuals you can go to http://www.lds.org and click on the Resources menu, then click on Magazines and Manuals. Here is a link to a search of BSA from the site: https://www.lds.org/search?lang=eng&query=bsa

      • Out of curiosity, does your Team actually use the Team program and earn Varsity pins or is it just a Troop by another name? I am a District Commissioner and I have yet to find one of our LDS Teams or Crews that actually follows the BSA program that goes with that unit type.

        • I will say that the BSA Team my son is in here in the states really is run with the Varsity program complete with the letters, pins and so on. Our stake has all the scout units meeting as a single unit so there are enough scouts to really run the program the way it is designed.

          Moving to the U.S. from Australia I was to say the least dubious about LDS scouting from what I had heard of it. Fortunately in our case it turned out better than I expected. I still find the idea of no girls in scouting to be, how best to put it, unusual, my son misses that part of Scouts Australia he said that he still prefers the Australian scouting program which is to be expected I guess.

        • I’m glad to hear that your unit actually does the Varsity program! Perhaps part of the problem in my district is that we are a rural area with small wards and so the LDS Teams and Crews tend to be quite small. We also tend to have a lot of turnover (all levels of LDS leadership, including my unit commissioners) which makes it hard to train leaders and sustain a program.

          I can definitely understand your son preferring co-ed Scouting. My son is in a venturing crew in the neighboring town because there aren’t any in our district which are co-ed. 😉

        • All it takes to run a Varsity Team is a leadership that can and will read and follow directions. It starts at the unit level. If the leadership looks for “tradition” to run its program then they will probably not have a good example nor a functioning Varsity Team. If the leadership looks to the manuals for instruction and prayerfully follow then there will be a good Varsity Team experience for everyone involved. It is extremely simple instruction. I have seen it work. I have been instrumental as a committee chairman to have it work which dates back many years . . . as far back as 1995-1996 in California and again in 2005-2007 in Texas. It will last only as long at the local leaders make it happen!

    • It doesn’t take long to read the LDS Scouting handbook. Perhaps you should read it before commenting. It doesn’t replace any BSA material, especially not the Scout Handbook used by the boys. It is a guide for leaders that explains how the LDS church handles Scouting (no camping or travelling on Sundays, how fundraising is conducted, how leaders are selected, etc.).

      https://www.lds.org/bc/content/shared/english/young-men/35814_scout-handbook_eng.pdf?lang=eng

    • In my experience, all units (LDS, etc) are free to opt out of Council/District fundraisers. I know of a UMC-sponsored unit that almost never participates in District fundraisers because they are able to function independently.

      Check your attitude. It doesn’t sound good to me.

      • Our units are chartered by a Catholic church. We participate in Scouting for Food but deliver the food to the non-sectarian pantry operated by our church’s social concerns committee rather than the one selected by council or district. We are supporting our chartering organization and all of the food collected from our community is distributed in our community, to anybody who asks, regardless of church affiliation (or none). Council and district have no problem with this.

  8. What is interesting to note in regards to the LDS myth is that it was actually brought up by a senior volunteer Scouter in another Council during the Northeast Region Area 6 Leadership Workshop this past weekend. I had mentioned that 1/3 of my District was made up of LDS sponsored units and I was questioned about LDS and the Eagle requirements. He asked how did I justify the different standards for the same rank? I told him that everyone used the same book, but because of the Church driven requirement to go on missions, the young men had even more incentive to pay attention, stay in Scouting and earn Eagle. I even shared the story that LDS Scouters had told me of how some missions require that the young men considered for some locations were selected based on their having Eagle. It was pointed out to me by fully Trained LDS leaders that it was not the rank that was being looked for by the Church, but the leadership qualities normally associated with the Eagle rank, plus the ability to accepted everyone for who they are and their being able to seek solutions to problems that the Eagle rank symbolizes.

  9. Is there any data on what percentage of young men registered in LDS units earn Eagle? Is it the same 4% or so non LDS units have?

    • It’s definitely higher. The BSA program is basically adopted as the Church’s Young Men’s program. So Scouts and Leaders are together at least twice per week; once on Sunday and then again on Wednesday.

      In our Unit, most Scouts reach life by the time they are 14 and Eagle by 16. The push is to actually have them Eagle by 14.

      • I am also curious if the Eagle rate is any higher in other church sponsored troops in general. As was mentioned in other posts, the better charter org and parent support means a better program, and therefore more enthusiasm and effort from the scouts to advance.

        • I am an Asst Scoutmaster for a “traditional” troop. At an average we have thirty plus Scouts and twenty adults. We make our Scouts work hard for advancement an an Eagle project is a serious undertaken get. Nearby LDS Troops have merit badge fairs where Scouts “earn” three or four merit badges in one day. Their Eagle projects include raking leaves at their church or other projects of dubious value. Our boys have camp outs monthly, more often in the summer. It takes four or five years, with dozens of camp outs and hikes to make Eagle. Our local LDS produces Eagles after a year of Scouting with zero actual camping involved. The LDS takeover of Scouting has seriously reduced the value of the Eagle rank. Perhaps they could form their own organization and leave real Scouting for real Scouts.

        • If the Eagle projects consist of raking leaves or other such “unworthy” tasks, who at the Council level is signing off on it? Who at the Council is approving the Eagle ranks if the program is so inferior? For that matter, who is signing off on the Eagle rank at National? Surely someone above the unit level has to see the paperwork and approve it for these sullied Eagle ranks to be awarded.

          I’ve seen sham units from both LDS and “traditional” charter orgs. I’ve seen great units from both LDS and “traditional” charter orgs.

          I have seen LDS units die. It isn’t impossible. Just like I have seen traditional units die, and for much the same reason: lack of adult support and training.

        • ASM Bill – There is nothing wrong with merit badge fairs. The badges that can legitimately be earned 3-4 in a day are somewhat limited, though. We have Scouts who attend these events (some sponsored by LDS units, some not). The more advanced badges are all day classes and some have prerequisites or result in “partials.”

  10. This article discusses the Boy Scout side … but aren’t there differences in the Cub program (specifically with respect to Webelos and camping?) I believe that the LDS had a separate Cub Scout handbook?

    Also, in our experience, we’ve had to show some flexibility because the LDS Scouts cannot be at events on Sunday. We’ve had Cubs who left pack outings on Saturday night, and our Council tried moving NYLT to run Monday-Saturday (from Sunday-Friday) so that LDS Scouts could attend (as far as I’m aware, none did.)

    Lastly, in our Council the LDS church operates its own summer camp for Cubs and Boy Scouts. With a few individual exceptions, none of their Scouts attend the Council camps.

    That said, I don’t think there’s “tension” between the LDS and other units or our Council. Everyone works together well. It’s just that this article seems to gloss over some of the differences (based on my personal experience).

    • There is not a separate Cub Scout handbook. LDS units don’t have Tigers, Webelos is a one year program, and there is no Cub camping, but they still use the same books, and many boys still earn Arrow of Light.

      Speaking as a commissioner for both LDS and traditional units, some LDS units have really good prorgams and some don’t. Some traditional units have really good programs, and some really struggle. It’s unfortunate that the LDS units in your council don’t participate more in council events. They may not understand the importance of that aspect of Scouting.

      • “LDS units don’t have Tigers, Webelos is a one year program, and there is no Cub camping,”

        So LDS Scouting is a different program. This proves it.

        T

        • The LDS units use the same book as the other units. There are some differences but we use the same program as the other troops. Boys do not join until they are 8 so the rank of Tiger is not needed, the boys rank up at birthday rather than grade, our Webelos must complete their book in 1 year vs 2 years, and we don’t do overnight camping. Less than five differences do not constitute a different program.

      • As a student of Scouting history, the way LDS implements Cubbing is the way it was done nationwide when I was a Cub in the 50’s; a three year program, no camping, no Tigers, and a short Webelos program to transition to Boy Scouts..

        I would actually like Scouting as a whole to get back to it. Camping was reserved for Boy Scouts to make Cub Scouts eager to become Boy Scouts to do something different, instead of having a 50% non transition rate from kids thinking its a rehash.

        The optional Tiger Cubs program was designed to grab kids before organized sports but then leads to a long boredom in Cubbing. LDS doesn’t worry about that as they can get every boy into Cubs at Wolf.

        While I’m not involved in LDS Scouting, I kept my son out of Tigers deliberately and he earned his religious badge, AOL, and Eagle.

        • Hi Gary – I don’t think kids and families drop out of cub scouts because they have gone camping. My oldest son’s pack never went camping and just as many kids dropped out as my younger son’s pack that did go camping. Kids drop out because pack meetings are the same every year. Or the den leaders don’t quite get it together and deliver good den meetings. Hopefully the new program materials for cubs can help some of this. But I think the biggest thing that increases retention is having the right cubmaster and exciting pack meetings. This is the exception rather than the rule – because we’re volunteers doing our best with the people we have.

        • My son did Tigers and went all of the way through to Eagle. This was when BALOO was just starting and he went through Cubs without doing any camping until he was a Webelo (summer camp only). We had a 50% non-transition in his den because the boys were bored with Cubs and (my assumption here) assumed that Boy Scouts would be more of the same. Of the 50% who did transition, my son was the only Eagle and might have been the only one to stay in until 18. Part of the problem there was that we had a couple of “down” recruiting years and very large class aged out together in the midst of it, leaving those five boys as the whole troop. It was two years before we began to build the troop up again.

        • Gary Wilson –

          Regardless of whether or not the LDS method (or 1950s way, as you put it) of delivering the Cub Scout program is the “right” way or the “wrong” way, why does LDS run the program one way and the rest of the BSA run it another?

          If the old way is the better way, then why don’t we all run it that way? And if the newer way is the best way, then why don’t we all run it that way? Why be different? What’s the reason for two different Cub Scout programs?

          Can a non-LDS pack run the program the LDS-way (with no camping, no Tigers, and aging the boys up on their birthdays)? And can an LDS pack opt to run the program the standard way (with campouts, Tiger dens, and transitioning dens with the school year)?

        • I think a lot of folks forget what Scouting really is – a program for boys (at least at the younger ages) to develop good character, citizenship and fitness designed for organizations to use for their youth programs. So often, the chartered organization concept is completely forgotten.
          There is no “BSA” way or “LDS” way, there is only Scouting that a CO implements. Camping for cub scouts isn’t a requirement of the program, it’s just a program feature a unit may choose to use. 2 year Webelos is really an option. Ageing up by birthday rather than grade is just a way a CO may choose to deliver the program.
          There’s a lot of ways to deliver Scouting – the methods are pretty broad to get us to the aims.

    • I can understand the “tension” that you speak of. It stems from LDS Units tending to stick together in activities. Depending on how active a Stake is, you may only see interaction between LDS and Non-LDS Units at camps.

      Stakes, which is roughly the equivalent of a Catholic Diocese, typically have 10-15 Units each. With each unit averaging 20 Scouts you can see that is a large sector of Scouting. Stakes will usually sponsor Merit Badge Weekends and Clinics, campouts, and events. The problem is that non-LDS units often think these events are ‘LDS Only’ which cannot be farther from the truth. Fact of the matter is that LDS Units and Stakes need to do a better job of interacting with other Units in the area, but it is a two way street.

    • Great questions. The Cubs use the same handbooks and requirements as everyone else – there are no separate cub handbooks. In LDS units Cubs do not camp as a pack. Families do sometimes go to summer encampment where councils have family camping. With the new program there is an exception for the cub camping requirement for them to do full day outdoor Activites where they are completing all the requirements including setting up their tents with the exception that they won’t sleep in them at the pack activity.

      Also starting June 1st with the new program there is another exception. LDS scouts do cub scouts by age and start at 8, so 8 is wolf, 9 is bear and 10 is webelos. So they only have 12 months to do Webelos and Arrow of light they will be allowed to work on both at the same time. So for example be used boys are joining the dens at all different times there will be a 12 month plan that is just repeated and they will alternate webelos and arrow of light requirements. This is actually much harder than have 18+ months to accomplish it.

      LDS members try not to do anything on Sunday besides going to church and spend time with family. It’s a difference in their religious beliefs that should be respected. Districts and councils that acknowledge and accommodate it will have greater participation in those events. It takes time to change perception and some LDS have felt unwanted because of things like needing to leave on Saturday night. I’ve even seen them picked on by leaders of other troops for doing that.

      In some areas the church may be running camps but that is unusual if there are already day camps available for Cubs. The LDS church wants it’s cub members to come to the district day and twilight camps.

      I have seen where every so many years the church may have an LDS week summer camp. It is nice for them to have that option. But in my council for example there hasn’t been one of those in a long time. Probably 10 years. So the LDS troops go to council camps. They can either get permission to go on Saturday or they need arrive early Monday morning. This often depends on the membership of their Ward (church location) because it is the boys who pass the sacrament on Sunday which is one reason why they are needed there.

      I would suggest discussing the separate camps with your LDS BSA committee at the council and talk about a way to have those camps together. That’s a win win for everyone. Or in the least you may find out why they are having separate camps in your council.

      And it’s worth mentioning that there are exceptions. For example I have seen numerous LDS members attend Wood Badge on the split weekend schedule Fri-Sun. This includes those in the Stake Presidency of the church. In fact our council runs a week long every couple years mon-sat and thinks it will fill with LDS people and that is not the case. They work and have jobs like everyone else so getting a week off is hard. We have more attend the split weekends. And there have been many LDS staffers as well.

      • In NCAC, we also have a large number of Jewish and SDA Scouts and Scouters for whom Saturday events are an issue. Efforts are made to provide “Sabbath friendly” events to include them.

        • The main problem I see is lds boys are not taught the same values as non lds units. When u hear something bad in the news it is usually about a lds unit. The guy who pushed the bolder down for example in Utah. I have heard stories and seen for myself the lds boys destroying a campsite. Leaving trash everywhere at summer camp or a council run camporee. Boys catching and tormenting animals even lighting them on fire. Yet because they are from the church this is ok. We are all to be taught leave no trace yet I do not see them do this. The come into camp, destroy everything and leave early on sat so someone else can clean up their mess. When I have spoken to the leaders about it they either blow me off or make excuses about the boys having add or adhd. Most of the lds leaders don’t want to be there and I was told most are running the church as bishops so they have to be at church. So they leave early. I have been to events where they have left early and the boys from their units have won awards but no one is there to receive them. Making it harder for the people putting on the events and having to have over 20 places just to get a 1st place winner. Week long lds encampments happen all over but I will never go to a camp after an lds camp again. It was the worst experience ever. Not only was the food horrible it was lds stake food staples. The camp was trashed and the boys went to the bathroom everywhere but the restroom. The stake didn’t want to do what the council had planned and did their own thing. They even brought their own guns and went off the property to shoot non BSA approved guns and cannons. The lds use the BSA guidelines but if it is an activity they want to do they call it a church activity to bypass the guidelines until someone gets injured then it’s the bsa’a fault.

        • Matt your comments are really not the norm in LDS Scouting your statement was Quote;

          I have heard stories and seen for myself the lds boys destroying a campsite. Leaving trash everywhere at summer camp or a council run camporee. Boys catching and tormenting animals even lighting them on fire. Yet because they are from the church this is ok. We are all to be taught leave no trace yet I do not see them do this. The come into camp, destroy everything and leave early on sat so someone else can clean up their mess. When I have spoken to the leaders about it they either blow me off or make excuses about the boys having add or adhd. Most of the lds leaders don’t want to be there and I was told most are running the church as bishops so they have to be at church. So they leave early. I have been to events where they have left early and the boys from their units have won awards but no one is there to receive them. Making it harder for the people putting on the events and having to have over 20 places just to get a 1st place winner. Week long lds encampments happen all over but I will never go to a camp after an lds camp again. It was the worst experience ever. Not only was the food horrible it was lds stake food staples. The camp was trashed and the boys went to the bathroom everywhere but the restroom. The stake didn’t want to do what the council had planned and did their own thing. They even brought their own guns and went off the property to shoot non BSA approved guns and cannons. The lds use the BSA guidelines but if it is an activity they want to do they call it a church activity to bypass the guidelines until someone gets injured then it’s the bsa’a fault. Close quote.

          In Kern County California this hardly ever happens and even one bad incident is a failure of leadership. I teach leave no trace and go a step further and teach my Scouts to remove trash that our unit did not create. As far as LDS Units leaving campouts early this a result of the LDS Scouts that serve Sacrament and other Sunday priesthood duties.It is certainly not a reason of not wanting to be at the camp-out. Our Council awards the LDS Units and make the effort to see that the unit’s receive’s their awards at a later date like Roundtable meetings. Our Council understands the Churches reasons for early departures and does not feel any additional hardship as you have stated. As a LDS Scoutmaster I love attending camp and always look forward to the next one our Council Camporall Camp-out is this April 10-12 weekend and I am preparing to leave for camp this afternoon.There are thousands of LDS programs all over this nation that meet the standards of the BSA program and your insinuating that the LDS Church ok’s the bad behavior of its scouting youth is simply irresponsible. Matt you refuse to research the overall LDS Church Scouting program. Matt I hope you will get over your negativity towards the LDS Church Scout program and find peace in forgiveness. Sincerely, Trenton Spears

  11. Not to detract from LDS Scouting, but mathematically you are missing a piece of your equation. From the statistics I have seen, there is a slightly higher percentage of LDS scouts that earn Eagle (like 6% compared to 4%). The much higher number of Eagle scouts in Utah and other heavily LDS areas would also be related to the higher market share (more scouts per capita than other states). Your other article looked at Eagle scouts compared to population, not to number of scouts. Let’s not make it sound like a majority of LDS scouts earn Eagle. It’s a major accomplishment either way.

    Both great articles, though!

  12. I am some times at odds with the BSA and the association with the LDS church. I have been part of scouting for several years in the past. This past year is the first time I haven’t been in scouting in a long time.

    One of my pet peeves is Friends of scouting. The LDS church finances a large portion of most councils with our donations. At the same time, we are not able to enjoy council activities or camps. They are expensive and not within most ward’s budgets.

    So, why am I asked to donate when we do not have affordable access to the activities. Essentially we are only paying the salaries of the local staff and camp that we rarely use.

    I think it would cheaper to make our own scout camp with the funds we raise with friends of scouting instead of giving it to a council that basically gives us nothing in return.

    The BSA is bowing to plubic pressure and it is not long before they cave again to appease the liberals.

    • Sam, I find it odd that your Ward does not have the funds to attend activities or that your Council has priced them out of reach. I’m also wondering what part of the country you are in. If your Unit is struggling you should take it up with the Stake. They should be able to free up funds. Also, perhaps its a matter of Ward budget; check with your Bishop about increasing the Young Men’s budget. It’s too late for this year, but could be put on the radar for next year.

        • Get out there and fundraise like everyone else. We have fundraisers all year so we can afford to take the boys camping, help with uniforms and get them to summer camp. As a non lds unit we don’t get anything given to us we have to work for it.

        • Matt, additionally, LDS Scout do not pay monthly dues. It is very difficult to run a program.

        • Pinkimscouter. I am glad you brought this up. It was already stared above somewhere that lds scouts can participate in the trails end popcorn fundraiser and can still do anothr r once a year fundraiser. This was said at the lds leaders training at philology. If u only go $50 for ur whole pack then I am sure they haven’t paid anything to send leaders to philomoth.

          My cub group doesn’t pay dues or registration for the year either, it all comes from popcorn money. We had ten boys make $13000 in profit. I even had two special needs scouts sell $400 each.

          I had 4 scouts make the scholarship program which by the way can be used to pay for an lds scouts adulthood mission costs. All the scout has to do is sell 2500 and the 6% of all sales goes to the scholarship.

          I have heard the woes of the lds funding of cub scouts issues many time and still get refusal to participate. I had one scout make 8k in profit himself. What could your group do with 8k?

    • Your ward is paying the cost of the camp? Our Scouts (parents) are expected to pay their own way unless they can’t afford it, then the unit will assist them.

  13. It is a pleasure working with LDS youth and adults in our District and Council. We have a 100% YPT requirement, and the LDS leaders in our District are certainly YPT trained. In our Council, the local stake (I am not sure of the exact structure) promotes Wood Badge; a very high percentage of the people in my Wood Badge course were LDS leaders.

    In my District, I know of some great LDS units with trained leaders, and some not-so-great units with Leaders just filling a slot. The same can be said of our non-LDS units.

    Our District is about half LDS. Unfortunately, not too many LDS units participate in our District Camporees. We have been trying to address and repair that situation. Those that do participate always leave on Saturday afternoon and miss part of the program. I believe that is a doctrine requirement of the church.

    • For the camporees encourage the LDS units to stay until after the campfire and make them feel that its not a problem to do that. Some may not unewest and how much of the program is being missed leaving in the afternoon. Maybe an opportunity to pack up after dinner would help. Don’t give up. I work with LDS troops in my district and I have identified different obstacles with different troops. One meets on Thursdays when our district meetings are so is always out of the information loop. One doesn’t have any equipment and has had SM turnover and just not been able to pull things together to get tee stablished. Others may just feel like it’s a bother to the district and other troops for them to leave Saturday so just avoid it so they aren’t called “problem makers”. I hope you are able to solve this and get them there. While the district wants all troops to attend those LDS boys also really need the camporee experience and opportunity to scout with other boys. Good luck.

  14. Is it correct that if you are a youth in an LDS church that it is a requirement to be in their scout troop? I had always heard that and wondered if that affected their Eagle numbers.

    • Boy Scouts is the program in the LDS for their boys 8-17. So basically it is the expectation that all boys that age are registered with their units. They can however decide for themselves where they do scouting. For Cubs they have to pick either the Church unit or a different unit. However in Boy Scouts they can Dual enroll which allows them to be in 2 different units at the same time. Most won’t do that because of the time requirements to be in 2 troops but some who really love scouting or whose parents want extra opportunities for their scouts will do that. (That’s not just an LDS option by the way) Dual enrollment is most often used for a boy to be in a troop and crew at the same time though.

    • Not exactly, you are not required, but registration is automatic. The BSA is the Young Men’s program for the Church. You may certainly transfer to a non-LDS Unit. However, in LDS Units, there are no fees, the Church pays for everything, including uniforms if there is a need. All merit badges, campouts, high adventures, park entrance fees, everything is covered. Our unit has one fundraising event per year to raise funds for summer camp. The rest is paid for by the Church and some other funds that come in from Church members who have employers who do service matching; for example we have several Exxon employees who volunteer time so Exxon send our Unit an annual check.

      What it comes down to is that Scouts and Leaders interact two days out of every week, once on Sunday and again on Wednesday (the typical meeting night). Each Unit, typically, has merit badge counselors for all of the required badges. This, theoretically, allows a Scout to complete most required merit badges outside of camp. I have seen Scouts complete all requirements before they even hit life, just by attending 3 summer camps and completing the rest of the requirements at home.

      So it’s really about contact time. Scouts actually meet twice per week and usually get together every other weekend.

    • Speaking for our Cubs and Troops, it is NOT required that they join the local church sponsored unit. We also are very active in our district and counsel. As a matter of fact, I’m currently serving as District Committee Membership Chair and another leader serves as Risk Management Chair. We love the scouting program and deeply appreciate the wonderful leaders and fellowship of other scouters in our area. Thank you for trying to dispel myths about our church sponsored unit!!

      • Not all units cover all costs. It all depends on the budget. Uniform costs in my area are the parents’ responsibility. OUR Silver Beaver colony made a uniform bank to support families without funds to outfit their youth. Many units find other councils that have cheaper camps. Several MCDONALD’S units went to Utah and Idaho to camp as was budget friendly even including transportation costs.

    • Is it a requirement for LDS youth to be in their scout troop? Looks like answers here have varied, so here are some statements from LDS leaders about that. I’ll let you decide what they mean:

      “Scouting is not an optional program. It is part of the official program for boys in the Church. We desire every Mormon boy to have the benefit and blessing of Scouting.”
      David O. McKay, past President of the Church, quoted by Elder Ezra Taft Benson in March 1974

      “Scouting is an integral part of the Church program for young men and complements Aaronic Priesthood quorum work. Where programs for Scout troops are available, please understand it is not an optional program.”
      Elder Ezra Taft Benson in an address to the Young Men General Presidency and Board, Sept 1979

      “Where Scouting is authorized, young men ages 12 through 15 should be registered. Young men ages 16 and 17 should be registered when they are pursuing rank advancements or when stake presidents and bishops choose to sponsor Venturing Crews . . . for young men of this age. Scout leaders should also be registered.”
      Brethren, in line with this policy, please be certain that your young men are registered with your local Scout organization—active and less active. When I was with President Monson recently, he indicated that “It is the policy of the Church to register our young men with the Boys Scouts of America. “But it is the charge of the local leaders to claim the blessings of registration by going out and reactivating the less active—and building a program that will attract them.”
      Charles W. Dahlquist II
      past General Young Men President, May 12, 2007

      To me that means yes, LDS units should register all of their boys, whether they are active in the unit or not. That doesn’t mean they all do. But the charge is laid to the local leaders to get trained and build a program that will attract those less active boys so that, if nothing else, they can benefit from the principles scouting teaches. I have known many boys who participated but were not interested in advancement, and that was their choice. But as the official activity arm of the LDS Young Men’s program, by default any youth coming to LDS activity night should be doing scout activities most of the time.

      I don’t know what unit Anthony is in, but it sounds like he has a nice set-up. I have never been part of one that provided so much, and that certainly is not the normal policy of LDS units. Officially the LDS Church pays the charter fee for their units and registration for all of the boys registered with those units, regardless of what faith they profess. These costs are covered by church operating funds directly from Salt Lake City, not local unit budgets. There are no dues asked of members, though if a non-LDS family wants to contribute to pay for their child’s registration they may. Whether or not a local unit decides to use their budget to cover uniforms, books, Boys Life subscriptions or other expenses is up to them. I have never been with an LDS unit that provided uniforms for all the boys, though if a family was having a hard time I have known many wards that would help them out, but that is a case by case basis.

      The general rule of thumb, as I have known it, is that it shouldn’t be prohibitive for a boy or his family for a scout to participate in the basic program. Meaning, troop/patrol campouts, food for those campouts, travel expenses for the same, awards and recognitions should be covered from the ward budget. Scouts are often encouraged to work to earn the funds to purchase their own uniform–that way it means more to them and there is less propensity to leave it lying around–though families have usually sprung for that expense. High adventure, summer camp and things beyond the basic program are added expense, and if a scout wants to do those he is encouraged to work on his own to earn and save the needed $. The units don’t cover that, though as Anthony demonstrated, there are always exceptions. Some units I have known have at least subsidized summer camp, though most of the LDS units I have worked with have asked scouts to work to earn as much of the cost as they could, then held a unit fundraiser to cover the difference.

      One reason for this is that wards cover different demographics, and the Church does not want scouts in affluent areas to have more opportunity than scouts in poorer areas, therefore, ward funds are to be used to provide a basic program that all may participate in that will provide enough opportunity for any scout to learn, apply and advance. Frequent high adventure outings are curtailed–not prohibited–while cost-effective local options are strongly encouraged. That way, once again, more well-to do wards won’t be sending their scouts to Philmont every year while a poorer ward never or seldom gets to go.

      This gets into the issue of fundraising in LDS units. Fund-raising activities are not usually approved because, as already stated, expenses for activities are paid with stake or ward budget funds. The guiding fiscal principle for the LDS faith is that an individual first works to support himself, second he goes to his family if there is still a need, third and as a last option, the Church can help. This same principle is expected for scouts when there is opportunity above and beyond the basic program, like a National Jamboree, High Adventure Base, OA Conclave, etc–after all, a scout is Thrifty. Too many units look to the troop and chartering organization as the default provider, which is the third option on the list, instead of encouraging the scouts to be responsible for their own wants, take some initiative and show some industry. And this should not be unique to LDS units; the BSA Unit Money Earning Application has as its first guideline

      “There should be a real need for raising money based on your unit’s program. Units should not engage in money-earning projects merely because someone has offered an attractive plan. Remember that individual youth members are expected to earn their own way. The need should be beyond normal budget items covered by dues.”

      LDS units often (perhaps even generally) do not participate in council fundraisers (other than FOS, which is different) as a unit due to Church fiscal guidelines that stipulate that one group fund-raising activity may be undertaken each year. Such an activity may be held to raise funds only 1) to help pay the cost of one annual camp or similar activity, or 2) to help purchase equipment that the unit needs for annual camps.

      If a fund-raising activity is held, it should provide a meaningful value or service. It should be a positive experience that builds unity. It should not should not advertise or solicit beyond ward boundaries, or sell products or services door to door. It should not be an activity that is taxable; completes with paid labor, either by employees or by contract; provides entertainment for which the church pays performers for their services, when admission is charged, and when the intent of the activity is to raise funds; sell commercial goods or services; participate in games of chance, such as raffles, lotteries, and bingo. Those are pretty much in lock step with the BSA fund-raising guidelines, so they shouldn’t come as any surprise to any scouter, nor be viewed as overly restrictive on the part of the Church.

      There is always a question out there as to whether or not popcorn constitutes a “commercial good.” Some (most) LDS leaders have decided it does, and I have been told that is the official position of the Church, but I have met a few local leaders who believe they have been instructed differently and allow it. Either way, there is nothing that prohibits a scout from participating on his own in a council fundraiser, even if his pack/troop/team/crew does not participate as a unit. Many units I have known actively encouraged their scouts to go out and earn funds this way, especially with popcorn sales, and their families pooled together to work it.

      • I was told directly by the Young Mens’ General President that the Popcorn sales are allowed and do not count against the one fundraiser per year limit.

        • James, will the Young Men’s General President put out a letter of support and encouragement for the LDS units to participate in popcorn sales? Many Wards seem to think that they are not allowed to participate as either a unit or boys individually. It would be great to include them in the popcorn fundraiser.

        • I don’t know if a letter will be released stating that specifically. Perhaps it will be added later as an update to the LDS Scouting Handbook if enough people ask the question. I was told this at the LDS leader training at Philmont for Stake level leadership, with the intention that we would carry back all of what we learned to our stakes. If it helps in the meantime, you can tell them what I was told, and also ask if they have sent any stake leaders to the Philmont training recently. I went in 2011.

      • All LDS youth are NOT automatically registered in Scouting.

        It is up to the local Wards. In over 35-years of Scouting in 12 different Councils, there are LDS young men who simply are not interested in Scouting or are inactive in church. The Scout’s parents or guardian must still sign the registration form. If they do not (and there are many), then the Scout is not registered.

        I have heard where Wards and Stakes have registered these Scouts anyway. if they do, then they risk potential legal action against themselves for those who do not wish to do Scouting. A perfect example would be LDS members who did not agree with the previous BSA membership policy, and those who may not agree with the new membership policies.

        Just because you are a member of the LDS church does not mean you lose your free agency.

  15. Although I’m from Pennsylvania, specifically the Reading area, there is an LDS church here and I’ve worked with a few of their scouts as a MB counselor. They are always polite, prepared and on target. Could it be that the core values of the LDS scout families are very similar to those in scouting? I think yes is the answer. I’m not surprised at all. I chair our Council’s STEM committee and we had our first STEM University this year. Although the numbers were few, they were clearly standouts, and coming from the father of two scouts who are known to be exceptional performers, I think that says a lot.

  16. I have been told by a local LDS leader (his daughter just joined our Venture Crew) that the local bishop(?) can make an exception for scouts to attend campouts through Sunday. I have found out more about LDS scouting in the last 3 months than the last 20 years. We (GSLAC) do have special LDS boys and LDS girls weeks at summer camp but we also have a Catholic week as well.

    • Sundays are only ‘discouraged’, but yes, they do require our Bishop to approve…it take two Bishops actually. Our home Bishop has to approve the trip and then the Bishop or Stake President of the area we will be in; who has to approve the taking of Sacrament outside of a normal Church service. This usually happens for summer camps. We will leave on a Saturday, then have a Sacrament service the following day that is organized by the senior Scout, usually the older youth leader.

      • Actually, it’s more than discouraged. “The Church does not approve of hiking and
        camping trips on Sunday. Scout groups should not travel to or from camps on Sunday. Plans for outings should ensure that Aaronic Priesthood brethren and other members can fulfill their regular Church assignments.”
        The only exception is a longer term camp (more than 1 week), such as a Jamboree.
        That has been the policy for many years, although the wording has gotten stronger recently. For a long time, the wording was that activities on Sunday were not approved, and a lot of local areas took that as a “shoudn’t” rather than a “don’t.” My own stake used to even create their own summer camps over Sunday. The current wording leaves little to prevaricate with.
        THe whole point is the importance of the young men fulfilling their priesthood responsibilities – which they can’t do if they are not there. That’s also why the practice of having adults periodically do the sacrament duties has been strongly discouraged.
        Now, that doesn’t mean a Bishop or Stake President won’t approve it, it just means they are going outside the Church policies when they do.

  17. I’m fortunate to work with many Scouters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints locally and at national events.

    I notice that sometimes my brother Scouters from the Church fall into the habit that often affects those in a large majority – they forget that people of other faiths are involved in the program.

    For example, in leading a community prayer, one might use a prayer that excludes other faiths. And in one council where the large majority of Scouters are members of the Church, the council newsletter often has religiously-themed articles and messages.

    All of us in Scouting should do whatever we can to foster inclusiveness in the program.

    • I can see where you are coming from on this. I’m curious if the messages are scripture based or quotes from Church leaders though. In the Units that I’ve been involved in we will typically add an inspirational message from a Church leader, but rarely a scripture reference.

      It sounds like a ‘comfort of the majority’ issue. As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints I can assure you that if you ask for a member not to use scripture references or to be more inclusive, we certainly will. In fact, our 11th Article of Faith requires us to respect all other religions, which is why we don’t like to get into ‘bashing’ debates:

      “We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.” – Article of Faith, 11

      I don’t agree with the concept of ‘comfort of the majority’. If you have been made to feel uncomfortable, please say something. The person in charge of the newsletter, if LDS, will not be offended.

  18. My thought on this subject. The LDS church teaches everyone to be Prepared, they practice it everyday. Also I think that LDS parents are more Intuned with their kids than most. I have seen it. Great article. Jeff

  19. I think the fact that the LDS has an LDS handbook breeds some of the thought expressed about running their own deal and “getting away” with not following the rules everyone else does. Hogwash.

    But..there are no handbooks for other sponsors. No Catholic handbook, Methodist handbook, VFW etc so I would be curious from Mark Francis or others why they feel a need for the handbook.

    • Matt, I post a comment previously, but thought it might be helpful to repost…hopefully the moderator won’t smack me around 🙂

      “As Evenspor mentioned, there are supplemental handbooks or guides. The thing about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is, we have a handbook for everything, literally. Every Church unit (Branch, Ward, Stake, Mission) is run identically. I can leave Houston, and go to Berlin, Germany and every program would be identical.

      That being said, the Handbook you speak of is how Scouting links into the Church’s principles and organization. For example, I am First Counselor to the Young Men’s Presidency in our Ward. So, in addition to my overall responsibilities to the Young Men’s program, I am also Adviser to the Teacher’s Quorum. These are our Young Men who are 14-15 years old. Which also makes me the Varsity Team Coach.

      If you are interested in actually reading the manuals you can go to http://www.lds.org and click on the Resources menu, then click on Magazines and Manuals. Here is a link to a search of BSA from the site: https://www.lds.org/search?lang=eng&query=bsa

      What it comes down to is that Scouting is more than just a sponsored activity in the LDS Church, it IS the Young Men’s program. Feel free to read the manuals, you’ll see that it just provides guidelines on how to implement the program. Things like Webelos not going on overnights unless its with a parent.

    • I have been a Scouter with a United Methodist Church-chartered troop in my neighborhood for the last 14+ years. The UMC is the second-largest BSA chartered organization behind the LDS church. The following link has details on chartered organizations in the BSA.

      http://www.scouting.org/About/FactSheets/operating_orgs.aspx

      Matt, the UMC also has a “handbook” for congregations chartering BSA units titled Guidelines for Leading Your Congregation 2013-2016 – Scouting and Civic Youth-Serving Ministry. In it the UMC’s policies are explained and tied to the church’s mission and beliefs in the same way as the LDS church’s policies are codified in the Scouting Handbook for Church Units in the United States. Below I’ve provided links to information on the guidelines and the Scouting ministry of the UMC.

      http://www.ministrymatters.com/product/9781426736704

      http://www.gcumm.org/ministries/scouting/

      I bet there are other organizations, both faith- and community-based, that have something similar. The charter concept was developed with this type of relationship in mind.
      “Based upon the recommendation of the local council, the national organization grants charters to local organizations to use the Scouting program. The chartered organization uses Scouting
      Under its own leadership.
      To serve families and youth for which the organization is concerned (either within the organization, outside the organization, or both).
      To help the group or organization accomplish its objectives.”
      This is from the syllabus for Training the Chartered Organization Representative found at the following link.

      http://www.scouting.org/scoutsource/Media/Relationships/TrainingtheCOR/03.aspx

    • I don’t have a copy but I’m certain that the Catholic Committee on Scouting web site has guidelines for Catholic-chartered units. No changes to the program, simply recommendations on providing the Scouting program in a way that is consistent with Catholic teaching. In the Archdiocese of Washington, DC, Scouting falls under the Office of Youth Ministry but we don’t do anything differently and we don’t universally register all young men.

  20. As I read these various comments about Eagle Scouts, let us be clear the requirements are the same for every Eagle Scout. For the record I am LDS and earned my Eagle at the age of 14 as did my brother. I have 4 boys 2 of which are already Eagles Scouts, one is a life scout and the 4th is a Star Scout. For the past 10 years I have been the scoutmaster of Troop 260. That is extraordinarily rare in the LDS community. In most LDS units the scoutmaster is in the position for a year or less. Guidlelines now ask that the scoutmaster be in placer for longer periods of time. The scoutmaster is not a volunteer position as it is in other units. In the LDS church the scoutmaster is invited/assigned to be the scoutmaster by the local bishop. He serves there until the bishop finds a need for his services someplace else in the organization. Then he invites/assigns another. Each of these individuals have to go through the same scout training as every other scouter as they are asked to be involved in scouts.

    There are indeed differences in the how an LDS troop operates than a non-LDS troop. Non-LDS Troops recruit members and volunteers. As a result with Non-LDS troops there is a total buy-in by both scouts and adults in the scouting method. Non-LDs Troops are often much larger. Some LDS troops are as large as a patrol. An LDS troop the scouts, for lack of a better word, are conscripted. The LDS church has adopted the BSA as the activity arm of their program for their young men. The goals, principles and guidelines for both organizations are almost identical. LDS units almost never actively recruit outside the church. That is not to say that non LDS scouts are excluded. They just don’t recruit. They don’t go to schools and don’t have recruiting events like most other troops. So if you are an LDS young man between the ages 8 and 18 you are registered in Boy Scouts. This has its problems. Generally speaking not all of the boys have a total buy in to some of the scouting methods like wearing a full uniform they wear blue jeans instead of scout pants/shorts, they don’t get all psyched up with patrol and troop spirit complete with yells.
    In the LDS environment boys enter scouts at age 11 and are limited to 3 overnight campouts and not permitted to attend summer camp. These are not BSA guidelines but LDS church Guidelines. The 11 year olds meet separately from the scouts, which are ages 12-13. In the LDS environment boys ages 14-16 are automatically enrolled in Varsity Scouts and at age 16 in Venture Scouts. This means younger boys have to take significant leadership roles. This set up means that we have SPLs that are 13 years old. There are distinct advantages of having older boys in the troop. Their natural maturity and leadership is a big help to the younger age scouts. But DO NOT for a second believe that a 13 year old is incapable of leading a troop. Are they perfect leaders? No? Are they the most experienced? No. Can they be effective leaders? ABSOLUTELY!

    LDS troops like all other troops are required to follow BSA guidelines for scouting (we wear the same World Scout Organization patch). We complete the same requirements for each rank and merit badge. One of the marked differences that I see in LDS troops and Non-LDS troops are expectations. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints places great value on a young man achieving the rank of Eagle. That comes from the very top leadership of the LDS Church. There is an expectation that every boy can achieve the rank of Eagle and we should strive to keep him focused in that direction. Good things happen in our communities for decades to come when boys become Eagle Scouts. We constantly reinforce the value of that achievement. The core values of our Church are Duty to God, service to all including family, duty to country and keeping our environment clean. When I go to scout camp and visit with other scoutmasters they are satisfied if their boys earn one or two merit badges. That is fine. However, my boys are driven. They easily come home with 8. I don’t push them to go to class – They make sure they are there on time. I make them aware of free time merit badges and where to go. They still have tons of free time to play and be a boy in nature. They still have plenty of opportunities to work on service projects at the camp and do their homework for class. We do all of the available outposts offered. The first 5 years we did every polar bear swim. The current group is not so keen on cold water. They certainly are not deprived of any scouting experience. When the boys leave my troop at age 14 they are all life scouts. I remain in continual contact with them about their advancement towards eagle. I ask them if they finished those last 3 merit badges and what are they going to do for their project. I believe there is merit in being older to better appreciate the experience of being an Eagle Scout, the project and eagle board of review process. Every one of my boys that achieves the rank of Eagle Scout from my troop has earned it. They have fulfilled all of the requirements both the letter and the spirit of the requirement. If you are an active boy scout in my troop, you will be an eagle scout. I don’t do the work for them. I make sure they have the opportunities and experiences needed to be successful and lots and lots of encouragement and reassurance that they can do it.

    Right now 4 of the boys in my troop have IEPs. Two of them are autistic, both will one day be Eagle Scouts. One of these autistic boys is my son. He will be an Eagle Scout and he will have earned it. It took 3 years for him to earn the swimming merit badge. It took two years to get him on a horse. He goes on every camp out. Yes, there is another difference. In the LDS Church, as has been previously pointed out, we cannot camp on Saturday nights. The boys have responsibilities to fulfill on Sundays. They are a vital part of our worship services. Attending church and participating in worship service is part of our duty to God. We endeavor to keep the Sabbath day holy.

    Yes there are differences in how the LDS church and the rest of the scout execute the scouting program. But rest assured that regardless of organization, each scout that obtains the rank of Eagle Scout has demonstrated that he has fulfilled the same requirements as everyone else and has earned the right to be awarded the rank. I honor every Eagle Scout.

    • Thanks, Steve. You point out some of the many differences and that’s helpful. The eleven year old scout program seems to be vastly different than how new scouts are treated in other troops, and the lack of having older boys mentor and teach younger boys seems to be a barrier because of the divisions in age. That would leave me to believe this would hamper “boy-run”, and that in many LDS units things are dictated more often by adults and contraints of completing requirements at set age ranges (goals of becoming first class before being 12 year olds, becoming Eagle before turning 15, for example. I would suspect that adults are often deciding where to go camping, when to go camping, who is cooking, who is in what patrol, etc. etc. in order to fit the constraints of a separate 11 year old program and a 12-13 scout program, a 14-15 year old varsity program, and a 16+ venturing program.

      • Dave, I agree. I our 11 year old scouts meet on a different night. We encourage our older scouts to come and mentor the 11 year olds on their night. It is a requirement to to become a life scout to teach skills to younger scouts. So do have interaction from our older scouts with our 11 year old scouts. The older scouts also have opportunity to focus on what they need as well in their troop/patrol meetings.

        I will speak from my scouting experience only. As a scout, my brother was SPL and he signed off many of trail to first class requirements under the supervision of the scoutmaster. My scoutmaster taught me about boy lead leadership. As a scout we planned a chose each of our scouting activities. Our scoutmaster and Assistant Scoutmaster certainly gave us guidance but it was our program.

        I do that for my troop as well. They are the ones that plan the program. What skills, activities, camps we are going to go on. I make it very clear to the boys that this is their program. They are in charge. I am and adviser only. This is how I was taught and this is how I have run my troop for the past 10 years.

        When it comes to camps the adults have input as to when because we do the driving and we need to make sure that our family schedules permit it. As to where, and what will be on the menu and who does the cooking and clean up is ALL up to the boys. We adults have zero input. We try to encourage them scouts to expand what their menu is. The adults always eat very well so that the scouts can see that they could have done more, But they do all of the planning, acquisition and cooking of their meals.

        We also coordinate with the 11 year patrol to keep them informed of our activities and camp outs so that they can be included. However, LDS guidelines limit 11 year olds to 3 camps the first year.

        • Thanks, Steve. I was thinking about eleven year old scouts – and how the constraints must affect them as far as choosing when to camp, etc. I’m not sure how you can really meet the first class cooking requirements in the first year with only 3 campouts. You really don’t get much experience cooking when you are asked to cook for your patrol for 3 meals. And if you only go on 3 campouts – how can you cook for your patrol when there are so few campouts? are you cooking for two other boys? I’m guessing that requirements must often get bent and twisted at this point in order to fit advancement into the constraints, such as having 3 boys serve as cook at the same time for a patrol of five boys – or some equivalent twist.

          I’m not criticizing – just looking to understand.

        • In our units, we have simply requested from our local leadership for them to not be concerned if we include the 11 year olds in our campouts more than three times a year. We have never had anyone express any concern about this. We do, however, ask that their parents participate in the campout as well, although we do not limit participation if a parent isn’t able to make it. This was out looking at the requirements vs the guidelines and determining that we needed more time on outings with the 11 year olds. I didn’t expect any problems with it, and sure enough there was no problem.

        • Dave, I appreciate your desire to understand. Please don’t confuse what is required to full the requirement with the end product and skill set. The requirement says that they are to plan and cook a certain amount of meals. they can fulfill the requirement. Are they expert cooks. Not by a long shot. Will that be the end of the cooking opportunities. Again, not by a long shot.

          We scouters should be cautious about requiring more than what the Scout handbook requires. We are not authorized to expand or diminish the scout requirements, rank advancement, merit badges or Eagle Projects. Yes we want to challenge the boys to become skilled. but the requirement states:

          Tenderfoot:
          Present yourself to your leader, properly dressed, before going on an overnight camping trip. Show the camping gear you will use. Show the right way to pack and carry it.
          Spend at least one night on a patrol or troop campout. Sleep in a tent you have helped pitch.
          On the campout, assist in preparing and cooking one of your patrol’s meals. Tell why it is important for each patrol member to share in meal preparation and cleanup, and explain the importance of eating together.

          First Class:
          a. Help plan a patrol menu for one campout that includes at least one breakfast, one lunch, and one dinner, and that requires cooking at least two of the meals. Tell how the menu includes the foods from the MyPlate food guide or the current USDA nutrition model and meets nutritional needs.
          b. Using the menu planned in requirement 4a, make a list showing the cost and food amounts needed to feed three or more boys and secure the ingredients.
          c. Tell which pans, utensils, and other gear will be needed to cook and serve these meals.
          d. Explain the procedures to follow in the safe handling and storage of fresh meats, dairy products, eggs, vegetables, and other perishable food products. Tell how to properly dispose of camp garbage, cans, plastic containers, and other rubbish.
          e. On one campout, serve as your patrol’s cook. Supervise your assistant(s) in using a stove or building a cooking fire. Prepare the breakfast, lunch, and dinner planned in requirement 4a. Lead your patrol in saying grace at the meals and supervise cleanup.

          It does not say that have to be the cook on every camp. Nor does it state the other scouts cannot assist. To the contrary, they begin their leadership training by supervising. They do not have to cook for the entire troop.

          I know your concern is how can 11year old accomplish this with only 3 nights of camping. Somehow we get it done. Keep in mind that the 11 year old is not static. boys are coming and going as new scouts bridge in and 12 year olds move out. We also have smaller patrols and units because we don’t actively recruit.

          I hope this helps.

        • The new requirements for 2016 go a long way to clarify the expectations for camping by BSA-

          “Since joining, participate in 10 separate troop/patrol activities, six of which
          include overnight camping. These 10 activities do not include troop or patrol
          meetings. On at least five of the six campouts, spend the night in a tent that you pitch or other structure that you help erect (such as a lean-to, snow cave, or tepee).”

          Instead of just 10 activities, it specifically states they must camp 6 times- pretty much rules out any 11 year olds making First Class based on a 3 campout limit-

        • Tom our 11 years old’s meet on the same night as mutual, Wednesday night. Very accommodating for the scouting needs of the LDS Church. Trenton

        • I must have missed something. It seems to me that your response has nothing to do with the passage you quoted.

        • You quoted a specific passage in a specific comment and what you wrote had absolutely nothing to do with the cited passage.

        • Bill I have no comment that would please you stop making comments with no merit. Trenton

      • Dave B // Sorry there are no vast differences if they were the LDS would start their own program. The LDS Church finds the BSA program very compatible with the Scouting needs of the Church and its youth program it has been a part of the 105 year old BSA program since the founding. Regarding 11 yr. old Scouts I am the 11 yr. Stake representative for the 11 Yr. old Scout Leaders and the 11 yr. old scout program.Our program is slightly different that the older Scouts the difference is that our 11 yr.old’s only have three over- nighters per year because they are still part of the Church Primary program till they turn 12. I am Camp director for the two 11 yr. old camps each year and we present the Trail to First Class at both camps one in March and one in October. This allows an opportunity to advance our younger scouts to First Class more efficiently. We also invite older Scouts to attend the camp to mentor the 11 yr.olds in advancing and 12 yr. olds that need the advancements are invited also. All the advancing is performed to the BSA Handbook Standards and is taught by trained leaders. Fathers are invited to attend with their sons so that we promote a good Father/son relationship they must also have Youth protection training to attend. Most 11 year olds are not muture enough to decide where to camp so that is decided by the Adult Leaders. The 11 yr. olds do plan the meals and regulations to fulfill the Trail To First Class Requirements. I have been director for 10 years and enjoy the 11 yr. old program. I still have time to fulfill my Scoutmaster duties in my Ward except at 78 years I do find it a challenge. Trenton Spears

        • Trenton-

          The new BSA requirements were released in May of this year— As of 1 Jan 2016, the new requirements for First Class specifically spell out 6 campouts required, and you have to pitch a tent at 5 of them (way up from the one time spelled out in the old requirements)– so there is no way your 11 year old program can meet both the church restriction of 3 campouts and still make First Class in that year-

          I am a scoutmaster myself, we have 70 scouts in the troop and average 26 campouts a year- even with those opportunities I have very few scouts make First Class in the first year- but our focus is not on rank (we don’t do advancement activities during meetings, they are run by the boys and involve scout skills, but no sign offs are ever done at a meeting) – boys advance when they choose, and for some it’s not as important as others-

          Too much of this current blog has been about making Eagle- just tells me that too many folks are just not ‘getting it’ – rank is only one part of scouting, and it’s a poor measure of how well you are doing it– (why do you think it is such a small part of JTE?)

          Keep getting the boys out camping- after all, it’s not Scouting without the Outing-

        • Tom Bougan as you say these are new requirements and the LDS Church has at this point not addressed the new problems the 11 year old’s deserve every opportunity to make First class before they turn 12. The Church will make adjustments to the 11 year old program. The 11 yr old handbook at one time stated that the 11 yr.old’s could only have 1 over-nighter and the rest a Day-Camp that was changed a few years back to three over-nighters and I am confident that the Church will make more changes, Sincerely Trenton Spears Bakersfield Stake 11 yr.old Coordinator.

    • Steve, a few things:

      1) LDS Scoutmasters are called, but that doesn’t mean an interested party can’t go to the Bishop and ‘volunteer’ to be called. My father did. The Bishop considered his offer, prayed about it, and my dad served as Scoutmaster for the next decade or so. Even if he turns you down, any interested can still volunteer to serve as an Assistant Scoutmaster, on the scout committee or as a unit commissioner. There is plenty of room for invested volunteers in as LDS unit without having to be called.

      2) LDS units whose leaders only serve a year or two are not paying attention to their leaders. Vaugn J. Featherstone, General Young Mens President back in the 80s, famously gave his four ‘T’s that every LDS scouter needs: time, training, testimony and tenure, spelled t-e-n-y-e-a-r. It has been Church policy for a long time that youth leaders, especially in scouting, should he left in place long enough to get trained, run an effective program, and make a difference in the lives of the youth they are called to serve. Unfortunately, as you have observed, it continues to be a problem at the unit level in many areas, but the reasons for that lie with local leaders who sometimes don’t really understand the program and aren’t aware of what has been said concerning it.

      3) While it is true that many LDS units do not recruit, that is not in sync with LDS policy. I was out at the LDS Priesthood Leadership Conference on Scouting at Philmont this last summer, and among the many things that were taught, one thing was made very clear, and that is that the Church absolutely wants its units to recruit. If a ward doesn’t have an active recruitment plan in place, then they have either not been paying attention, or have not understood what they have been told. As President Monson has said, “Scouting is for all the boys. All the boys. All the boys.” (emphasis on ‘all.’)

      • Brenden,
        1) True. You do not have to be called to serve with the scouts. You can volunteer. The only other scoutmaster of an LDS unit for more than 10 years that I am acquainted with was not a member of the LDS faith. He volunteered.

        2) Again True.

        3) True yet again. What befuddles most LDS leaders is the the financing part. Yes we should do a better job at recruiting but since the ward pays for everything, it becomes a headache for some bishops when it comes to the financing of the unit.

        Please accept these are just my opinions and observations and that I am generalizing from that point of view.

    • Steve Sullivan great article that really clarifies the LDS Church’s participation in the Boy Scout of America our local LDS Stake is run the same way in California. It is the desire that all LDS Scouting is run the same way all over America and the LDS Church works very hard to make it happen. Trenton Spears

  21. I am a Protestant Scouter, being baptized in a “black Baptist church” and exposed to a wide variety of faiths through a church youth group and Scouting. I am a part of a United Methodist church community through my finance’ and her family.

    I was a member of a LDS Troop as a youth member at Fort Knox, Kentucky and was treated like every other youth member in that Troop. At that time (the early 70s), I was not allowed to serve in a couple of leadership positions because of my race but I really wasn’t interested in serving as Quartermaster or as a Patrol Leader at that time…I was trying to enjoy Scouting and to work toward First Class.

    I found the LDS adult leaders to be really the *best Scouters* (with due respect to other faith’s Scouters whom are great..). As a result, I have taken from that experience and mentorship and applied them as my own young large family was growing up. Thursday nights are a good example. In the LDS faith, families are encouraged to “unplug themselves” from outwardly things one night of the week and concentrate on building and growing as a family unit. I saw how that was accomplished through my personal interaction with the Murdock family. While the two oldest were in high school with me and were very active with activities (football, cheerleading, golf, track and field) as well as other community activities outside of Boy/Girl Scouting (Red Cross volunteering, etc.), on Wednesday nights, everything came to a halt — no meetings, practices, or even personal phone calls — and the family enjoyed dinner and just hanging out at the house together afterward. As a frequent visitor to their home, I was encouraged and did participate in their evening activities.

    When I got re-married and after we accepted the six children to “build upon” the three from a previous marriage, I proposed that we spend Thursday nights as a family. No computer (it was a new thing back then and everyone wanted time to use it), little TV (we all did watch the first hour of the NBC “must see TV” block but after that the TV was turned off) and nobody could “retreat” to their bedroom unless truly ill or it was 10pm. At first, like all things new, my young family could not understand why we were all “forced” to have “some sort of fun”. Now, my adult children, some with children of their own, are doing similar things with their families because they saw the merits of “keeping the group together” and “communicating and receiving feedback from the group” (those Wood Badge – trained Scouters here understand where those references came from).

    To directly answer Matt’s question — “But…there are no handbooks for other sponsors. No Catholic handbook, Methodist handbook, VFW etc. so I would be curious from Mark Francis or others why they feel a need for the handbook.” I won’t speak for Mark Francis, but I can share with you and others here Matt that we’re having a similar discussion over on LinkedIn’s BSA Adult Volunteer forum (which is where you and I hang out *smiling*). Over there, someone’s asking for “Troop Handbook” examples and topics…and my thinking is that a lot of those “handbooks” came from how the LDS handles many Scouting-related topics NOT found or discussed in the official BSA manuals. I see nothing wrong with that — it not only “narrows down” what a unit will or will not tolerate, but also outlines the answers why (even if it’s from a Biblical perspective) and provides adult expectations for their service to the Church and to Scouting.

    Thanks to Mark Francis for his frank and open comments above. I hope that this does help to dispel the myth that the LDS Church does things one way and everyone else do things another.

  22. The testimonials from Mormons on this blog are to be expected. But the shortcuts taken by the Mormon Troops in handing out merit badges and rank advancements is well know and acknowledged by the Mormon Scout leaders I have spoken with. The Eagle projects typically consist of simple tasks of temporary value only for the Mormon church, like raking leaves on the church grounds. Using Scouting to earn your initial “priesthood” instead of to learn outdoor skills and to help all has cheapened the Eagle rank for all Scouts.

    • Sounds like those leaders need some motivation. If you know that shortcuts are being taken then if you are a Scouter it is your duty to take it up with your Council. They will then take it up with the District and Unit Leaders.

      As a separate note, Scouting is not used to earn the Priesthood. Priesthood Ordination is completely separate from Scouting. The only link is when it comes to positions of office in Scouting which are clearly delineated in the LDS Scouting Handbook.

      https://www.lds.org/bc/content/shared/english/young-men/35814_scout-handbook_eng.pdf?lang=eng

      Shortcuts should never be taken. If they are then the Leader responsible for allowing them will be dealt with in some form or fashion by their Ward Bishop and Stake President.

      • As an LDS Scouter in the second largest (population) council, no one gave me a break on either one of my Wood Badge tickets (’93 and ’14), nor a break on my Doctorate Project for Commissioner ‘s College. Why would I lower the standards fir an Eagle?

        I the Scout Master for a new troop for young men with autism. I will hold these young men to as high a standard.and any other youth when it comes to requirements. This being said, we will use what tools we have to, under the Scouting With Disabilities program, to help them. There are steps we can take to work with their disAbilities.

        If I am doing that for (currently all LDS) Special Needs, why would we do it for young men who go to church with me?

    • William can you please document what you are alleging?

      As for eagle projects they all require a district/council approval. I am new to our district advancement committee and would never approve of a leaf raking project at church unless of course it met requirement #5 that allowed the eagle candidate to demonstrate planning, develop and demonstrate leadership. Nothing in requirement #5 requires that the project be “long lasting”. The project is a vehicle for a scout to develop and demonstrate planning and leadership skills. When I council eagle candidates about their projects I ask them if they think that they can effectively demonstrate leadership say with 10 man hours of service. They quickly conclude that that is probably not possible. Although there is no set number of man hours for a project, the purpose of a project is to demonstrate leadership skills. they have to be able to defend that to the Eagle Board of Review.

      So I would be interested know about these “short cuts” that you are referring to. Because they are not in harmony with either BSA or LDS guidelines.

      Something tells me that your allegations are probably more urban legend and fokelore than reality.

  23. I am the scoutmaster of an LDS troop in Upstate NY in a small community. We currently have 91 registered scouts of which 12 are members, and the rest nonmember. We are the largest troop in our council and run a 99% retention rate. We also have a very high # of Eagle Scouts. After 20 years of scout leadership background, I can tell you it’s all about the programming. If you run a quality program, they will come. Having run non LDS units as well, I can tell you my standards in the Lds unit are actually higher.

    • Matt, How do you do scheduling of scouts with respect to the once a month joint meeting with the young men and young women? Do the LDS boys just bow out of Scouts that night, or do you have them meet on different nights (thinking as a parent with boys and girls, and the logistics of separate meeting schedules)

      • Last week was spring break, we did not hold a patrol meeting. Tonight is combined young men and young women, we will not meet specifically as a patrol, but the combined activity is our patrol activity. The next two Tuesday’s in April we’ll have regular patrol meetings. We do not “make up” the missed patrol meeting (because, as you may have experienced, when you schedule a boy – or girl, you schedule a family). We miss one patrol meeting per month in favor of combining with the young women. I think the lack of this one patrol meeting per month puts more emphasis on families helping their boys progress. We still do a monthly camp out and a week long camp at a BSA property, conduct the ILST and have regular courts of honor, etc. Having said this, this is EXACTLY what Venturing aged boys want and need to do, to combine with the young women! So the combined meeting sets a nice, predictable pattern.

        • Steve Faber in our Bakersfield LDS Stake our Ward Scouts meet 2 times per month as Scouts and the other Wednesday night meetings the Young Men meet as a group in other activity’s one is a combined meeting with the young women for a mutual activity. As for missionaries serving a mission the LDS Church provides a way for all who desires to serve a mission the means to do so. Thanks Trenton Spears

  24. I believe that too many of the commenters are forgetting the true litmus test of any Scouting program/unit/sponsoring organization.

    The question that needs to be asked are the young men being nurtured/produced by these systems able to meet the standards of the Aims of Scouting and live a life built around the principles of the Scout Law and Oath. Then the answer is that there are many paths to the solution, but who is to say one is better than the other and only the small minded who care, if the result is the same and that is yes they are!!!!!

    • I’d like to add…is the Scout having Fun? We need to look at the core of Scouting which is outdoor activity. If the Scout is not having fun outdoors, then they are not receiving the full benefit of Scouting.

  25. People try to generalize the LDS program… there are good LDS units and there are bad LDS units, just as their are good and bad Scouting units outside the LDS church. So yes, there are some LDS troops that are more adult-run, or more advancement-driven, or don’t have a strong outdoor program, or have a rotating-door of under-trained leaders, etc… but there are non-LDS units that have these same problems too, and there are plenty of LDS units that do the Scouting program right (with good boy-led troops, strong outdoor programs, and well-trained leaders). To generalize based on the program of one or two LDS units (or the LDS units in a specific area) is missing the bigger picture of what the LDS program is (or is striving to be).

    But the LDS program does have it’s own handbook and BSA-relations committees, and the church runs the program somewhat differently (i,e.: no Tiger program; Cub Scouting levels based on a Scout’s birthdays rather than his grade; no camping for Cubs at all; segregating 11-year olds from the core Boy Scout troop and limiting their participation in the troop; increased utilization of the Varsity Scout program; etc.). While the core of the program and the aims of the program are the same, these differences breeds some perception that the Scouting program offered by an LDS unit as being different from other units (because, well, it is different). Not to say these differences are “better” or “worse” but they do many the program different.

    There are Catholic troops, Jewish troops, Islamic troops and other religiously-based units that tailor their programs based on their religious customs, beliefs and needs (from dietary adjustments to scheduling adjustments to better observe the Sabbath, certain prayer calls, or high holidays)… but no single group seems to have adjusted or amended the program as much (and as universally) as the LDS church has…and some changes just seem arbitrary, unnecessary or unexplained to outside Scouters (ie. why does LDS do it this way and the rest of the BSA do it that way?).

    • I agree. I think a lot of the misconceptions comes from the lack of explanation.

      For an LDS unit, some changes to the program and the way they offer the program make perfect sense… Not camping or holding outings on Sundays in order to uphold the Sabbath Day Observance makes sense. Not having coffee, tea and caffeinated drinks at events makes sense. Emphasizing the religious emblems or Duty to God programs makes sense. Providing prayers and blessings on the meals that more align with LDS-customs and practices make sense. Supporting the faith community and programs of the church through the troop makes sense.

      Whether LDS, Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, or Islamic… charter organizations can use the BSA program to support these types of needs and offer a program that fits the customs and beliefs of the Scouts and families in the unit.

      But some changes that the LDS-BSA program makes seem more like the church is simply doing things their own way simply because they can or because they want to be different or just because it’s “easier” for them to do it that way.

      Not running the Tiger Cub program; transitioning a Scout from Wolf to Bear based on the kid’s birthday rather than keeping the den together and transiting together with the school-year; separating 11-year-olds from the rest of the troop; etc. These all seem like unexplained (or poorly explained) changes to the BSA programs with any rationals for the differences being based more on administrative-constants than actual religious-constants.

      • See my previous comment here. LDS actually runs it’s Cub program the way BSA did it nationally in the 50’s and 60’s. In my view that is a good thing. They don’t have the 50% dropout rate we now see from Cubbing.

        • Hi Gary- I dropped out of cubs in the 1960’s. It was boring. BORING. It was a huge waste of time and energy, and I quit. Fortunately, my older brother was in boy scouting and having fun, so I joined that. I can’t imagine anything worse for the future of the BSA than running a cub program the way it was run when I was child.

        • Then why doesn’t the rest of the BSA runs the program that way? Why is LDS one way and the rest of BSA another? Why are LDS units different?

        • Kyp,
          There is no “BSA way” to run program. There are the methods we use to meet the aims, and outside of that, it’s pretty open. The differences you are thinking of aren’t critical elements of the program. Community BSA units not affiliated with the LDS Church could make the same changes.
          Scouting is very much like a franchise system. The local Chartered Organization uses Scouting to fulfill it’s goals with respect to youth development. How they do it, provided they don’t change the critical program elements (such as advancement requirements) is designed to be flexible. As one poster put it earlier – “there are many paths.”

    • Kwp I disagree with your statement that they are bad BSA units. I believe all BSA units are good they just need encouragement and support from the parents to the leaders to the Council. As for outdoor participation for the LDS Scouts for a week try hiking a 50 mile hike to Mount Whitney 14,258 ft. in California for four days we do it every three years as a scout unit for our 16 to 18 year old young men our 14 to 15 year old’s hike Mount Langley at 14,115 ft in a one day summit from base camp at 11,000 ft.. Trenton Spears

  26. I have seen scouting in 3 states. It is the same program everywhere. It’s how you as a volunteer implement the program. Do you go to training? Do you go all in or just 1/2 way? It all depends on what you put in is what you get out of it. Just remember:it’s all about the youth. Not about you!

  27. While there are always exceptions to things, the reality of the LDS program is that it is simply a program that is run by guidelines from within its church, and that follows the BSA program with some tweaks here and there to accommodate their specific needs. Yes, there are likely weak or poorly run units that bend rules, both BSA and LDS, but that is the case with non LDS units too.

    What distresses me in this type of discussion is that no matter how clearly the “facts” are presented, there are some who simply refuse to accept them and continue to pander their own personal skewed perceptions and sometimes vendettas against the LDS program, and in reality, likely the LDS church itself. That is truly a corruption of the Scout Oath and Law, as I see it, as well as most religious standards.

    Unfortunately, this same thing happens within the program and the public today more often than most will admit. The strident factionalization of our society is, from my perspective, becoming a real threat to us as a country. And this applies too to this subject, along with a few other public issues.

    None of us are perfect, by any means. But, as Scouters or Scouts, we theoretically live a bit of a higher standard. Political or religious disrespect does not reflect well on our membership, or our personal lives.

    Just one of my observations and a major concern at times, as I have seen and heard some truly ugly or embarrassing public (at least to me) actions or comments from Scouts and Scouters, both at Scouting functions and community participations.

    • In my town we have an LDS troop and one sponsored by another organization. I frequently have heard from the other troop that the LDS troop doesn’t like playing with other troops. So I have taken it upon myself to actually invite them to various troop activities over the last couple years. Every time they have declined without any comment to suggest that an invite would be welcomed in the future. So I’m thinking that it may be more that they don’t want to do anything with the LDS troop than the other way around.

      • I have occasionally run into the same issue. There is a skewed perception that if a non-LDS unit mingles with an LDS unit, that the LDS youth will try to convert the non-LDS. This cannot be further from the truth. When Scouts get together it is for Scouting activities.

        So I have embarked on a path that focuses on lifting this perception and getting more involved with our District and Council. I have encouraged all of our Leaders, not just the Committee Chairman, to attend the monthly Roundtables. Any activity our unit has, I’m openly inviting all other units at the Roundtable.

        We are also attending more District activities as a Unit, trying to get past the stigma that LDS units only play with other LDS units. We’ve even begun forming and training an Honor Guard so that we can participate in more civic activities.

        • ” We’ve even begun forming and training an Honor Guard so that we can participate in more civic activities.”

          Interesting; I have a flag for a district wide Scout Drum and Bugle from the late 50’s to early 60’s. I have been told by one its past members that while it was a district wide group, it was organized and coordinated by the local LDS group (there was only one then). So, even way back, at least some areas appear to have had interactions within the program.

  28. I would expect that there would be more Eagles in LDS Troops since the LDS utilizes the BSA program as part of their youth training. There is a greater commitment by the church, the parents, the leaders, and the boys. They may have a slight difference that they expect more out of the scouts than an average troop. So I don’t think there are any “shotcuts” but rather “longcuts”.

    I have been involved in several BSA Troops and Royal Ranger Outposts over the years. The units that have more support from the charter organization are naturally going to produce more Eagle Scouts or Gold Medal of Achievement (GMA) boys. It is natural to say, that the better the soil, the better the crop will be.

    LDS may not do fundraising since the cost of operating a troop are built into the annual budget of the church and all their needs are met to begin with. Wouldn’t all the troops like to have this available to them? Fundraising may not even be allowed since the leaders should not have to worry where funding is going to come from. The church leadership may want them to concentrate on ministering to the boys instead of fundraising.

    I just think that there is a greater commitment in the LDS troops than none LDS troops. Some of the units I had been in, the chartering organization allowed the troop to be present just so the church leadership would look good higher up on the church organizational chart. Other than that, the troop was mistreated. Not a good representation of Christ in my mind. The church is reminded how to treat people outside of their walls since the Children of Israel were mistreated as well.

    I know of a Royal Ranger outpost that has about 60 youth involved in it. It had awesome leaders, supportive parents and the boys were tops. The church hired a youth pastor that failed at bringing in the youth into Sunday School and Youth Group. He started to bring up lies about the adult leaders and convinced the board to get rid of the Outpost. They succeeded but most of the church members left along with their tithe, gifts and the church ended up folding 2 years later. The Outpost leaders went to another AG church that wanted an Outpost and they are growing the outpost and the other church. The pastor was eventually told to leave the district and is screwing up churches in Florida now. It pays for a church to do its due diligence when selecting a pastor.

    I wish that some LDS leaders could provide some proof to my thoughts on this. I do not attend a LDS church or Troop, but I bet I nailed it.

    • The fact that many LDS units do not do fundraising and that most outings (including summer camp) are built into the annual budget of the church, I think, is a disservice to the boys and the program.

      While it’s nice to have financial support and to not have to “worry” about having enough funds to do things, I think fundraising builds great life skills – budgeting, marketing, salesmanship, work ethic, etc. and provides Scouts a sense of accomplishment and ownership in their unit.

      Our troop puts on a spaghetti dinner every year – yes, we do it to raise funds, but more importantly we do it to raise community awareness; instill a sense of work ethic and Scouting pride in the boys; practice marketing, salesmanship, service, outreach and leadership; etc. Same with the annual popcorn sale, we don’t participate simply because it puts cash in our unit’s bank account (there are more efficient ways to do that), we do it because it helps boys develop skills to (as our motto says) be prepared for life.

      Opting out of these opportunities because the church funds everything, I think, is missing out on a key part of the personal management lessons and skills that Scouting has to offer.

      • The rules for fundraising in LDS units are not always understood and/or followed.

        The ward budget is supposed to cover basic activities (monthly campouts and weekly meetings). Chartering and registration fees used to be paid by the Stakes, but in a recent change is now paid by Salt Lake directly. Ward budgets are also supposed to cover training costs and transportation to any activities other than the normal weekly activities at the meetinghouse. The reality is that many budgets fall well short of being able to support an active program, or at the very least require the leaders to be wise and frugal with the budget.

        In addition to the BSA popcorn sales, units are permitted one fundraiser a year *only if needed* in order to cover large costs such as unit equipment or one annual long term encampment (usually summer camp, but could also be a winter camps based on unit preference). Some wards have a tradition of doing annual fundraisers regardless of need, and have amassed a large surplus of funds. This is not supposed to happen, as others have pointed out. If the fundraising is needed for a special event, then ok, but if they are just raising money for the sake of raising money, they need to review the Handbook of Instructions which has very specific rules in it because of this practice (for Scouting and all other programs as well).

        Scouts can still learn personal management and budgeting if the unit leaders teach and guide them properly. Sadly, some leaders don’t, which Salt Lake is trying to correct by training ward and stake leaders about the need for stability and training in the adult leadership.

  29. I have been learning more and more about the LDS scouting group mostly due to my role in the fundraising department. It seems there may be an uneven standard across the nation with how stakes operate.

    First let’s look at the quote in the article from Beck. To me this wasn’t an inclusion statement but a justification for exclusion statement….the suggestive meaning of “good people” and “values…similar to ours”…leaves a lot of room for the bishop of the stake to reject any involvement in council activities from fundraising to campouts. Then the commentator’s post above about liberals shows some views of exclusion that is following the core value of Beck’s quote. Seemed like a warning shot across the bow that if you are a liberal you Bette not think of being a scout and try to influence the scouting program or our 151 councils will not be happy.

    Has anyone read the Girl Scouts statement on those liberal issues that got the Boy Scouts in hot water? Pretty much same policy but worded much nicer. Point is…its about scouting not about liberalism or religion or anything else…keep it to scouting.

    Then the wonderful statement about how the LDS church pays for 100% of scouting maybe be true for only a select few lucky stakes with large budget surplus. The stakes close to me have been having their scouting budget cut every year for the last few years. So much so they can’t even cover costs of day camp. Its sad and frustrating to me a fund raiser to see this because my pack made $13000 by 10 scouts. What more could the LDS stake do in a scouting program with that chunk of change? On top of that one particular fund raiser give a college scholarship program that can be used to pay for the LDS two year mission. My son will have a projected scholarship of $18000 when he foes to college. How far will $18000 go on a 2 year mission?

    In a church I was a part of, we had to give 10x our regular tithe for special contributions…it was a tough number. We would do internal church fundraising to try to earn that money…it was robbing peter to pay paul. It never works. So why does the stakes put the burden on the family and the scout and then limit the ability and avenues to raise the funds?

    • A tid bit about LDS Church structure: A Bishop is head of a Ward and only controls the budget for his Ward. The Ward is the Unit sponsor. A Stake is lead by a President. A Stake contains 10-15 Wards. The Stake President controls the budget for the Stake. There are two separate budgets: Ward and Stake. Both of which support Scouting in some form or fashion. And, yes, some Stakes allocate funds differently, but funds are distributed equally based on membership and budgetary needs. Basically what one Ward has access to, all Wards have access to. Finally, Scouting funds are completely separate from Mission Funds, but I understand your example.

      Now some Wards do have supplemental income. For example, I have been in Wards that have hosted a Scout Garage Sale where thousands of dollars have been earned. Some Wards also get corporate donations. The corporate donations come from companies like Exxon and AT&T through volunteer sharing programs. Grocery stores like Kroger will allow you to link your rewards card to an organization and send an annual check. Restaurants will often let you sign up for Scout Days, usually on weekday nights where 5%-10% of the bill will be donated back to the Troop.

      The limit that your average Stake places on fund raising is to have one major fund raising event per year.

      If a particular Stake is having a funding issue then they need to look for supplemental methods. They probably also have to do an audit. Don’t under estimate the power of fund raising. Each Ward consists of roughly 100 families. If each of those families donated just $5.00 per month to the Scout fund, that would be $6k. With a minimum of 10 Wards per Stake that’s $60k. If an LDS unit is struggling, then they just need to become more diligent or creative.

  30. Why did you need to start putting down Liberals? I don’t put down right-wingers I know in the Scouting program. We are all in this for the same reason, to give the best program we can to our Scouts.

    • I was referencing a comment that was near the beginning of the comment section that seems to be missing now. It was a negative comment about liberals. I have no political stance against anyone. My comment was to point out how some comments can look good when first read but then really show how they justify exclusions. …I.e.gay scouts or gay leaders or other religious groups that may counter their own. Since the liberal comment above was removed my comment may not make sense now. I personally will take any volunteer to be a leader in my group if they have leadership skills. If a parent has a problem with it then they can step up and fill the spot. My concluding point was that it is about scouting and not about political, religious or lifestyle issues, keep those views out of scouting. Thats what the girl scout letter talked about. That its about the scouting. No one in my group knows my values or morals except that of the Scout Values. That I love to hike, camp, fish, and teach respect for all to include nature and stand up for what’s right and protect all persons rights and safety.

  31. Not to be nasty, but there is truth to the LDS program not being equal and the Utah council here doesn’t hold the scouts to the same standards. I’m LDS, so it’s not bias with what I’m saying. I remember my dad taking scouts to weeklong a number of years ago at a Great Salt Lake Council camp. The counselors there sent home scout with 7-14 merit badges EACH! In 5 days! The merit badges here are given away. It’s just true. It’s happened with my own scout. If he shows up to something, they give it to him, whether he can perform the skills or knows the information or not. They don’t even necessarily cover all of the requirements either. Many good LDS scouters in Utah complain about the problems and know they exist. In our LDS unit, we have subpar leaders who tell the parents, “Just send your kid to weeklong and two or three pow wows, and you’re done with Eagle!” I’ve heard it myself, and I know others who have the same problems in their LDS units. That’s the attitude around where I live in Utah. Sorry if people don’t like it.

    • I have never heard of that or seen that, but I’m in Texas. What you are describing needs to be reported and stopped immediately. As a Scout Mom you should be demanding better for your sons.

      There are good units and there are bad units…you are definitely in a bad unit.

      • Hi Anthony-
        What “Scouter Mom” has written doesn’t describe a “bad unit”, it describes a bad council. And she has just reported it to people. She has made everyone in the BSA aware about what goes on in Great Salt Lake Council summer camps. There will be many who will now jump in to defend the council and say it is not true, but I have no reason to doubt her. I see plenty of merit badges given away within my own council – but not at that same pace that she is reporting for hers. Summer camps give away merit badges, and they teach units to emulate their lax standards and the skipping of requirements. People can deny it all day long, but it has been happening for at least the past two decades. This goes back to the prior thread of why there are so many Eagles these days, when the total number of youth in scouts has dropped in half.

      • Scouted mom I can affirm your story. As the C.O.R. and Assistant Scoutmaster for my son’s troop. Myself and another Assistant spoke with an LDS scout master at Camp Raymond last Summer. He said his boy were ruined to go home from camp with 8-10 Merritt Badges. I asked if he thought it important for the boys to know the skill and not just get the badge. His reply was, “oh you must lead a traditional unit”! He got up and walked out. Yes I am from a traditional unit but what does that ha e to do with it. The boys should demonstrate competency of skill for the badge they are seeking period.

      • Anthony, if they really are just handing out merit badges at camp, please contact the council or myself. You can find me at the Round Tables for Dist. 9. I know DE’s that would love to know this so they can get a handle on it.

        It is a bad thing when people except a calling and don’t want to folow-up.

        Dave ADC for Commissioner Training

      • I have tried to do what you’ve suggested, but the culture is just too difficult to overturn, and it’s not popular to want to follow the rules with parents who just want the award and don’t care about scouts actually earning them. I can’t tell you how many Eagle projects I’ve witnessed where mom has done the majority of the work. The best I can do anymore is to expect better from my own scout. We hold our son to a different standard in that I go over ALL merit badges with him personally to make sure he knows his stuff before he’s allowed to earn it and wear it as far as I’m concerned. Yes, there are badges he’s been given that are sitting in a drawer because he hasn’t finished them according to what’s really required (adding nothing and removing nothing), and we’re still working on them before he has legitimately earned them. Just to give you a flavor of the standards here, I kid you not, they count “video game camp-outs” where I live. What’s a video camp-out, you ask? Basically, it’s a glorified sleepover party. The boys all hang out and play video games at someone’s home until midnight or later and then eventually they retire to a tent pitched in the leader’s backyard. They are done by 9 the next morning. Any camp where they leave home is ended by 8 or 9 AM the next morning, and they almost always stop to get breakfast on the way home (and that’s after they ate at home before leaving the night before.) Truth. My unit isn’t the only one doing this either. The good scouters I know are aware of it. There just aren’t enough of us to turn the tide. It starts young, too, in Cub Scouts where similar problems exist.

        • If the program is not working, then address it to the Charter Orginazational Rep. If you are LDS, take it to the Bishop , then to the Stake Young Men’s Presidency (they are the Unit Commissioners). If nothing changes, bote with your feet and find a community unit where the needs are met. Nothing says your son HAS to attend his ward troop.

        • Scouter Mom you are in the wrong program if the things you say are true. I would not walk I would run to a Quality Troop unit your sons future in scouting is to important to neglect your sons needs in scouting and for you to allow your son to remain in that as you say a bad unit makes you as bad as the people running the program. I have no sympathy for you because you stood by and let it happen. Trenton Spears

        • Scouter Mom isn’t describing a bad unit. She’s described a poor experience in with her council – so switching uniforms isn’t going to solve anything.

        • Dave B You need to read the comments closer her statements were more than a bad encounter with a Troop. I have seen some parents change troops with great success that is what I was referring to. Thanks Trenton

    • Scouter Mom –
      I have been involved in scouting in the Great Salt Lake council for about 30 years. 10 of those years I was Scoutmaster of an LDS sponsored troop. I’ve been involved both as youth and adult in local units as well as district, and council, and both LDS and non-LDS programs. I have also had some experience as a parent of scouts in both LDS and non-LDS units.
      In my experience, I will admit that I have seen evidence of some of the problems you mention, but I have to disagree with your suggestion that the problem is as bad or as wide-spread as you suggest.
      I have been to several council camps. I have attended the merit-badge classes. For the most part, merit badge requirements are all discussed in those classes. The boys are not passed-off until they demonstrate that they can indeed do what is required. The instructors of those classes (most are too young to be officially called merit badge counselors) track each boy and their completion of each task/requirement. Merit badge completion is reported only for those who actually did it. Partials are given for those who did parts of it but didn’t complete everything.
      I have seen a few camp merit badge instructors who believe they have the authority to tweak the requirements to make them possible to complete in limited time or limited location facilities (ie. you are supposed to do xx for a full week, but I’ll accept 5 days, etc.). It is not council policy that these boys have that authority. I don’t know why some boys think they have that authority. Their camp director (a council employee) may have failed to train them properly, or may be unaware that the boy is doing it. If such things are ‘authorized’ by the camp director, then the council needs to be made aware of it and the camp director needs to look for a new job.
      A boy who puts effort into earning badges can legitimately earn 7 merit badges, possibly even more, in a week at camp. 14 would be exceptional. I’ve seen lots of boys come home from camp with no completed merit badges. Boys who put in the effort usually get 5-7.
      I once took my son to a district merit badge event on a Saturday (not my district). The event was designed so that boys would do prerequisites before the event and would be able to pass-off badges in the one-day event. In general, the event was poorly planned and the instructors were unqualified and/or untrained. In one class, my son was the only one who had done the prerequisite work. An unqualified instructor stumbled through a brief discussion of the requirements, and then he signed off the badge for every boy who bothered to show up. In another class, my son was the only boy who showed up. The instructor may have been qualified, but refused to discuss anything on the subject that didn’t relate to his narrow view of the topic (He was teaching American Heritage, but would only discuss black heritage.). A third instructor knew his material, and covered what he could in class, but failed to discuss or provide ways to complete the other requirements, and didn’t make himself available for the boys to pass-off if they found a way to do the other requirements on their own. The last instructor knew his stuff, but the subject matter was simply not conducive to the environment where they expected him to instruct. (You simply can’t earn woodworking in an hour in a classroom at a church.) He offered his resources for boys to meet him individually and do it. That day was a complete waste of time. As far as I know, that district is still running that Saturday event every year, but you can be sure that I won’t go back nor send any of my boys.
      I know of other districts that run merit badge events that are much better. I teach merit badge classes frequently. No boy has ever gotten a signed blue-card from me unless he has completed all the requirements.
      If your LDS unit has ‘subpar leaders’, then you should be making sure that your Bishop and/or Charter Organization Representative (usually 2nd councilor in the Bishopric) knows about it. The Bishop and COR can make sure that those ‘subpar leaders’ either get trained and ‘come up to par’, or are replaced with leaders who are willing to run the program correctly (assuming that they can find such a willing leader who also meets the leadership requirements in the LDS handbook). If your LDS unit is unable or unwilling to provide a good program with qualified leaders, there is nothing requiring you to remain affiliated with that troop/team/crew. You are free to seek a scouting unit that will provide the program you and your son want. The council office should be able to refer you to a non-LDS unit in your area, or you may be able to find another LDS unit in your area that has a better program running.

    • Scouter Mom it is hard to believe your statement that merit badges are given away with no real effort to earn that merit badge or even rank advancements to Eagle Scout. I question your motives and I find your comments a form of bashing the LDS Scout program. I have been in Scouting for 30+ years and have never heard of such irresponsible behavior by LDS Scout leaders and I believe that you have really not done your homework. At the National Jamboree of which I have attend for many years the Utah Scout units including the Great Lake Council make up the largest percentage of all LDS Units at the National Jamboree. I have been to our Council Camp at Huntington Lake in California for over ten years and we have a week reserved for LDS Units and I see all these Scouts working hard to earn their Merit Badges from mostly non LDS Counselors. I have seen some Scouts earn 10 or more Merit badges in the 6 days of Scout camp and I can verify that none were given away free of an active participation in the programs. If one of my scouts would be given a Merit Badge without earning it they would not be allowed to receive it and I would tear up that Merit Badge Blue Card. I am a Merit badge Counselor for over 12 different Merit Badge’s and have never signed a Blue Card that a Scout did not earn. Scouter Mom did you tear up your sons merit badge card that he did not earn? You should have if your are a responsible parent. I hope that if there is a smidgen of truth to your statement it will be corrected.There is no Honor for such irresponsibility. Trenton Spears, Scoutmaster.

      • Mr. Spears – You have repeatedly questioned my motives and second guessed me in your responses. I have stated that I am LDS, I have no interest in simply bashing the LDS church or its units, and I feel it’s inappropriate to question my integrity. I am not making up the things that I have posted here, and I have made numerous efforts to try to change my local unit, district, and council as you have criticized me over. Without knowing anything but a few paragraphs that I have written, I find your criticisms quite unfair and offensive. And yes, as I stated, my son does not wear a single merit badge he has not legitimately earned (so please stop questioning my parenting.) If you’ll read other posts, you’ll find that other people have witnessed similar problems that I have, so it does happen. (Please refer specifically to the one about a district merit badge pow wow and the scouter’s son’s experience with his classes.) You’re kidding yourself if you don’t think there are problems with many LDS units, some districts, and even at some council camps. Although some of us would never condone it (and it sounds like we share that in common), there are certainly some who find no problem cutting corners. I wish more was being done by the councils to stop this type of behavior.

        • Folks–things are getting out of hand here. The issue of less than perfect merit badge pursuits is as old as the hills, and it is certainly not an LDS issue. It is, in fact, an issue throughout Scouting as is cutting corners an issue in our American culture as a whole. I have witnessed merit badges awarded to scouts after an hour or two worth of effort, and I have seen merit badges awarded after every “T” is crossed and every “i” dotted, I have also seen businessmen and women cutting corners in their workplaces with the same fingers crossed behind their backs attitudes. But after 30+ years of scouting, I have to say that such behavior in the Boy Scouts of America is minimal in comparison. I am working on lesson plans for teaching merit badges at summer camp right now, and I am struggling on how to fit all the requirements into the time available at camp. But I can assure you that every requirement will be met before I sign off on anything. That’s just the way it’s supposed to work.

        • ScouterMom From what you have explained you have a lot of experience in scouting with your Father being a Scoutmaster. ScoutMom here is one of your statements Quote” The counselors there sent home scouts with 7-14 merit badges EACH! In 5 days! The merit badges here are given away. It’s just true. It’s happened with my own scout. If he shows up to something, they give it to him, whether he can perform the skills or knows the information or not. They don’t even necessarily cover all of the requirements either. Unquote” Your response to me was that your son never wore a Merit badge that he did not earn. ScoutMom which is it did he receive merit badges that were just given away without learning the skills or did he earn them. Your statements seem to be conflicting. ScoutMom I would definitely take the issue to the National Council if things were as bad as you say. Any Parent or Scout Leader owes it to report bad Scouting advancements either in the Troop, Camp or Council levels to responsible people and not back away till all issues are resolved. I have been blessed and never experienced the problems you have encountered and I hope that Scouting in your area improves to make your experience in scouting the best it can be. I do apologize if I offended you. I tend to be defensive and because I have not experienced the problems you seem to have been faced with I take it for granted that the LDS Scouting is generally run the same in Utah as it is in Kern County, California. I will never stand by and let any Scout experience the problems you have stated that your son has been through. Sincerely, Trenton Spears, Scoutmaster

        • Hi Trenton: Scoutmom said her son was given merit badges. She didn’t say that he accepted them. She said he only wears MB on his sash that he’s earned. There are no contradictions.

          I have had scouts in my troop at Chief Seattle summer camps who have come up to me afterwards and said they didn’t earn the MB, and will refuse the MB that the camp has given them. The scouts WANT to earn the MB. They WANT to learn. As others have said, this isn’t an LDS only problem. Low standards at summer camp and merit badge fairs are a national problem that needs to be addressed by the National Council. So far, they have failed. Their silence implies that BSA headquarters sanctions giving away MB’s at summer camp and MB fairs without meeting all the requirements. If they didn’t sanction this practice, they can easily put an end to it.

        • DaveB Thanks for responding to the problem that ScoutMom had with the local Greater Salt Lake Council. Every scout should refuse to accept a merit badge or rank advancement they did not earn and any Scout Leader or Parent worth their salt should make sure that the scout earns it. Is the Scouting program perfect a resounding no from me? Is it the best youth program in America a resounding yes from me. One of the supposed problems I have observed on this blog is the lack of BSA trained leaders. Our local Council in Kern County California addressed this problem 15 years ago and as a result has made great progress in training local leaders. Like I explained to Scout Mom giving away free merit badge and rank advancements is a parent problem to manage because it concerns their own youth and the parent needs to address the problem to help resolve and create changes even if they have to go to the National BSA level. Scout professionals, executives and non related leaders will move on regardless of the consequences they may have helped create. What kind of leadership are we teaching our youth if we have a element of cheating and cutting corners to advance the scout regardless of their participation. Woe to that parent,leader and Council if they advance a scout directly or indirectly with give away unearned merit badges or rank advancements. If a parent notifies the local council that they are removing their scout from the program if changes are not made that Council will look in to the problems of the Council and respond accordingly. The greatest fear that the BSA faces is a program that loses scouts and stagnant growth. I hope all the comments on this blog will have a effect on the leaders, parents and all Councils and a return to the values that scouting never left. Sincerely, Trenton Spears

  32. I am grateful that Bryan reached out to LDS-BSA relationships director Mark Francis. Mark was my Order of the Arrow chapter chief many years ago. He is among the finest people you could ever meet. He recently surprised me by slipping into our O.A. chapter meeting and singing the O.A. song with our boys during a visit to our area.

    Having been involved in LDS Scouting for many years, I am well experienced with both the pros and the cons of the way the Scouting program is run in LDS Church sponsored units. Many issues come down to the run of the mill challenges that exist in any organization staffed by volunteers.

    However, I think that many misconceptions and complaints about LDS Scouting come down to simple cultural differences, which are not only allowed but are celebrated by the BSA. A great deal can be gained when we seek to understand with open hearts and open minds those that differ from us culturally. Let’s remember that in the Scouting family the common goals and ideals we share outweigh any differences.

    • Well said, Scott. I’ve associated with Mark at LDS Scouting Leadership Conference at Philmont in 2012 and appreciate his insight on Scouting in the LDS Church.

      I think one of the “cultural differences” you mention is that some LDS parents place an extraordinarily “high emphasis” (as Mark indicates) on their boys attaining the rank of Eagle (and advancement in general) that they sometimes miss the heart of scouting (Duty to God). The current general Young Men President of the LDS Church, David L. Beck (who is or has served on the National Executive Board of the BSA), commented at Philmont in 2012 about this “high emphasis” challenge when he said that LDS leaders need to help “purge the church of the attitude that Eagle needs to be done by 14.” I interpret that to mean adults need to “Focus on what they (the young men) are becoming.” (https://www.lds.org/young-men/duty-to-god/chapter/to-quorum-advisers-and-parents?lang=eng), instead of focusing so much on the means by which they become.

      Perhaps sometimes we all struggle helping our young men differentiate between the means and the end. Although attaining the rank of Eagle is encouraged in the LDS church culture, it’s not the end goal. I think BSA rank advancement are simply one of the many good ways to help young men become who God wants them to become.

      I also think that those of us who have been involved in scouting for many years recognize that parents of all faiths, even ourselves, might, at one time or another, get temporarily caught up in the perceived scouting “advancement race” (a “run-of-the-mill” challenge in my opinion).

      I think it’s up to all of us (especially LDS scouters who understand and recognize the challenges to properly carrying out scouting in the LDS church) to take a principled approach to these challenges by acting with love and basing our response to these challenges on the BSA mission statement, coupled with the Aims and Methods of Scouting.

  33. Just as in so many other areas of society, Scouters are prone to see, hear or read something about another religion, person, group, or skin color and incorrectly assume that this must be the same for all of “them.”

    Many units inside and outside of LDS are not run exactly the same way, do or do not support FOS, don’t go camping every weekend, are too lenient on requirements or add extra requirements. The same can be said about camps and councils running differently. What is the cause of this? It is people acting differently. Maybe we should do away with all the people – oh never mind.

    As I read these and other comments to Brian’s posts I have to wonder if there are days when he must cringe about what kind of remarks his messages generate. We are all in this “for the boys (and girls)” – right? But I often wonder if some Scouters out there really remember this, or they are more concerned about fashioning Scouting into what they think is the only way — their way.

  34. My two bits:

    1) Scouting is about boys being molded and shaped into leaders and men of high character

    2) The standard is the same for all scouts

    3) When the standard is not met, then we doing our young men a great disservice. We have an obligation to uphold the standard.

    4) When standards are not met it is a unit/council problem not to be generalized to other units. It is up to adults to make appropriate corrections to ensure that the standards are being adhered to.

    5) We are adults and we need to check our egos at the door. We should not be trying to find fault with each other like there is a reward for it. That is not kind and not in harmony with the scout law.

    6) We should not expect every other unit to operate exactly as ours does. For Example, some urban units may have more difficulty having as many outdoor activities as rural units. Again the focus is on the boys growing and developing into leaders and men of good character. We should not be caught up and embroiled with the pettiness of my scout is better than your scout.

    7) Scouting is good for all boys and our nation would be a better place if we had more boy scouts.

    8) We are human and sometimes we make mistakes. Let’s learn how to forgive, move on and make things better.

    9) We are not authorized to change the requirements for any merit badge, rank or eagle project. We are not authorized to reduce/alter the requirements other than to accommodate physical or mental disabilities. We certainly are not authorized to increase the requirements for any scout.

    10) We should be pleased to be to be associated with any member of the BSA

  35. My second grade Girl Scouts wanted to go camping every month for 2 nighters “just like the Boy Scouts”. We camped at Girl Scout camp, religious camps, Y camps, state parks. We shot arrows on the archery ranges. They got a little older. Next we zipped off the “Leap of Faith” (platform at top of mountain over a deep cravasse). A scout is indeed reverent! Next, the girls slept in self-built quinzees. THEN they were old enough (age 14) to become Venturers!

    Why then are the LDS scouts unable to camp more than 3 weekend campouts at age 11?

    • 11 year old scouts are allowed the 3 overnight campouts in order to meet the requirements for T-2-1. I honestly don’t know why more campouts are not permitted, so I won’t venture a guess (I have some ideas, but nothing solid), but those are the rules we have been given, so that is what we do in whatever unit I’m attached to.

  36. I come to this from a different viewpoint. For a number of years I was an LDS leader and the LDS Chaplain for Scouts Australia. In addition I have been in the BSA, Scout Canada and Scouts Australia as well as having taken part in scouting in South Africa and Sweden. I have seen scouting at it’s best and at it’s worst.

    The issues describe here can happen anywhere in almost any scouting program. LDS scouting is found, for the most part, only in the United States and in some places in Canada. Many national scouting programs particularly those where LDS scouting was once found such as New Zealand and Australia would welcome the opportunity to have the LDS Church be involved again. I know that from direct personal contacts with those national scouting bodies.

    So before you complain too much about the LDS scouting program take a moment to appreciate what having that support means to the BSA. Many young people, even LDS youth in most nations do not get to enjoy the benefits that come from having such a stalwart supporter of scouting. LDS scouts in these nations, both boys and girls work hard but have very little in the way of the support their North American counterpart receive. I would that it were supported as well.

  37. The LDS absolutely run a different program. 11 year old scouts only camp 3 nights their first year, are overseen by the same adults that oversee cub scouts, and rarely meet with 12+ year olds. 12+ campouts are only one night and most wards have the kids back home in time for lunch. Once a boy is 14, they stop meeting with 12 and 13 year olds. 16 & 17 don;t meet with anyone younger either. Patrol leaders aren’t elected and non-lds boys rarely get chosen for leadership as most wards havethe religious leaders pull double duty as the patrol leaders. LDS advance based on age rather than school year constantly changing the group dynamics. One troop/patrol meeting a month is replaced with a religious combined activity. Often religious outings like trek or cultural events supercede and replace scouting activities. Troops are geographically based and age divided which makes troops much smaller. Their are additional fundraising requirements which largely prevent bigger events from happenening. Since every kid in the ward is part of the unit whether that actively chose scouts or not, it can be tough to get buy in for more outdoor adventurous outings. LDS adults tend to be stretched thin because of the boundary issues and adults having other religious obligations/callings. So it can be tough to get good, lasting leadership.

    All those “modifications” to the program combined have a drastic impacts on the program. It takes away the mentorship aspect of older boys helping younger boys and completely re-defines what boy led means compared to a community troop. While the requirements for Eagle are the same for LDS and traditional troops, an LDS boy who got first class with only three nights of camping can’t be expected to have the same level of competence as a traditional troop kid who has a week of summer camp plus 11 two night outings to re-enforce the skills. So while the article may be technically true, from a practical standpoint it is very misleading.

    • I would like to toss my 2 cents in for what is is worth. I am a 2x Wood Badger, ADC working at District Level, Unit Commissioner for our community unit, and Scout Master for a new Scout Troop for Autisic Youth. I am also LDS in Salt Lake and Retired Navy

      I started as a Cub in a community unit in the 60’s, before we moved home to Utah. I am the product of the LDS Scout Program, stopping at Life.

      I came to Scouting BECAUSE I had great leaders as a boy. When I started as a Leader, I was in Okinawa, and served as Asst Cub Master (Community), Asst Scout Masterr (LDS) and Cub Round Table Commissioner, at the same time.

      When I returned stateside. i worked with a great leader as Asst. Scout Master for 3 1/3 in a community unit.

      Fast forward 14 years, and I returned to Scouting. In the past few years I have gone to Philmont, completed my Doctorate at both Commissioner College and the University of Scouting, taught at both courses and returned to Wood Badge for the new course (first course was in ’93).

      This being said, I feel qualified to voice my oppion. Both inside and outside the LDS church there are both good and bad units. It is not the orginization that make them so, but the desire of the leadership.

      You can ask a parent or church member to hold a scouting position. If they don’t fully buy into the program, the youth suffer. End of story. It is not the number of nights you camp in an outing, or how many times a cub or 11 camp, its the experence. If you only camp in a back yard, or car camp, that’s what they learn. My first camp-out as a youth was at 12, and was a hike in. I was ill prepared, and felt it. I learned, thus my troop will do things differently.

      So, instead of saying your boy does not get the outings he deserves, step up and make the unit better, or find a unit that is doing what you want, don’t complain unless you are willing to step up.

      I have gotten boys from units that are no sure what to do with a Special Needs boy. They are no different than any other scout… They want to have fun and te experences. Okay, they have challengea that need to be worked around. There is a great plan to do just so.

      When I learned to scuba dive, I was told “Fail to plan, Plan to fail”. Go out and make a difference foe your units.

      Dave
      (bib) White Owl

    • adspace // Sometimes people get things wrong. Your Comment about LDS 11 yr.old Scouts are run by Cub Scout leaders is completely wrong.The 11 yr. old’s have a Leader that is registered as a Assistant Scoutmaster not a Cub Scout leader. I am a one night one day Camp director for the 11 yr. old Scouts two times a year and many 12 and older Scouts attend to mentor the 11 yr. old Scouts and also earn their rank advancement that are needed. I run my program according to the Standards of the BSA and the Standards of the LDS Church . My comment is based on following the guidelines of both the BSA Scout Handbooks and the LDS Church pamphlet guide lines. Some 11 yr. old Scouts do attend some week long Council Camps as long as they are accompanied by their Father. This is the case in our LDS Stake so the success is not based on age but based upon the will of the Scout to advance as to their ambitions to move up. Are they leaders that do not follow the rules certainly so.Is this only a LDS problem? Certainly not. Time to move on and quit the blame game and support one another in the greatest youth program in the World.

  38. Wow. This conversation is so full of hate and jealousy that you would think many of the participants had never heard words like “Helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, …..cheerful.” Seems to me that if LDS troops are more successful in creating Eagle Scouts, which is the ultimate goal of Scouting, a more productive approach would be to ask “what are they doing that we aren’t?” Then emulating those ideas. Instead we have silly, baseless allegations about using different requirements. (The silliest of all is to suggest that the omission of Tiger Scout “proves” it.) Come on people. We’re all Scouters here. We’re all (supposedly) helping boys become men. We’re not contributing to that goal by expressing petty jealousy and acting like children fighting over a toy. Yes, some troops function better than others. Some Scouters function better than others. Hopefully, the Scouts all benefit from the effort.

    • Hi John. You stated that “creating Eagle Scouts … is the ultimate goal of Scouting”. Actually it is not the goal of scouting. Scouting is about instilling in boys self-reliance, moral character and citizenship. All of which can be done without “creating” a single Eagle scout. The problem many of us observe is that the race to “create” Eagle Scouts leads to behavior and actions that are often contrary to the ultimate goals of scouting. This is not an LDS issue – but a national problem where BSA summer camps and MB counselors will cut corners so that everybody goes home with their prize with the least amount of effort.

      • The goal of Scouting, as I understand, is to teach the skills learned through First Class, as well as the values of the Law, Oath and Motto.

        If Eagle were the hosl, then we have failed 96% of our youth.

  39. Membership Committees should also look at learning about LDS as they are also the fastest growing Christian religion. Understanding the BSA-LDS is important as well as understanding how LDS Scouting programs works. http://publicreligion.org/2012/05/study-shows-that-mormons-are-the-fastest-growing-religious-group-in-the-u-s/#.VRJiA_nF-nZ

    As a Deaf Scouter, another plus for LDS involvement is starting the Bilingual ASL/English Wood Badge course. Their 4th annual course is two weekends in May 2015.
    You-Tube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ty71q8Oa-E
    Registration link for Course #3: http://www.doubleknot.com/OpenRosters/View_Homepage.aspx?orgkey=1744
    Bryan’s article from last year: http://blog.scoutingmagazine.org/2014/04/04/utahs-wood-badge-course-for-both-deaf-and-hearing-scouters-leaves-nobody-out/

    There was new lingo attending this course but the people are fantastic! Having experienced Wood Badge within my own council, it was nice not having to struggle each day getting the course material. Listening to several talk about their units, yes LDS has their own set of unique problems on many levels that is really the same that is face in regular units elsewhere. What people need to remember is to be solution based even if it means creating something outside the box that works for your specific unit as one solution does NOT fit all. I have a traditional unit that meets after school. I threw out the book on traditional units as it was not working and instead researched what MY unit needs and how go about it in the name of ScOUTING.

  40. This a boils down to how a charter organization, on a national level, can guide its members in synchronizing their youth programs with scouting.

    One might ask why something like this doesn’t happen in other American religious COs. There are two reasons. First, most religious sects do not have a nationally mandated development track for its parishioners. I.e., a two year mission is not expected of young adults. Second most religious sects do not have membership standards for their youth groups. (E.g., there’s nothing in the average evangelical youth group requiring a kid to actually be a Protestant or Christian or even a theist.) Moreover, by age 11, the youth program for most religious groups is co-ed. There is no sense that religious development, a largely intellectual exercise for many, needs to be sex-specific.

    Thus, most religious institutions have a vision where their youth movement does one thing and scouting does another. So, they support both … By encouraging each to operate independently within their respective spheres.

  41. I have had many ‘good’ experiences with LDS units. There only one items that has always ‘bothered’ me is that at camporees they leave before the campfire and miss out on both the awards, OA call-out and Scouts Own on Sunday morning.
    On a separate note; I volunteer at Operation Gratitude weekends and have met quite a few youth (Brothers and Sisters) that were on there mission, here in California, as part of there service. It was great talking to them, who spend a time away from home.

  42. I have heard more than once that LDS units were allowed to use their own books and have their own program because LDS “bailed out” BSA back in the 1980s or 1990s. Does anyone commenting on this topic know what BSA was “bailed out” of, it it even happened? The people who told me this (more than one person) seemed to imply that the LDS church had BSA right were they wanted it. Sounds a little farfetched to me but then again given the past couple of years anything could happen.

    • I heard part of that story back in the “90’s… The bail-out. The church does not use their own books, even in the 90’s when I was an Asst. Scoutmaster. Interesting how the story has floated about the church having their own scout books.

  43. LDS Units do have a slightly different approach to Scouting the difference is our approach to our particular religion but all LDS use the BSA requirements to meet and to fulfill the standards to advance the scout. Our LDS Units consists of Scouts, Varsity and Crew we even have 11 yr.old Scouts and all rules and regulations are the same as what the BSA requires for advancing and becoming an Eagle Scout. LDS boys are led like any other unit in scouting with always a diligent search for strong leaders. I am familiar with with many Scout Units in my council and see little difference in the way these units function compared to the LDS units as far as advancing the scout. Our LDS Stake sponsors four quarterly Merit Badge Pow-Wows each year that teach all Scout units in our District even non-LDS. I take my Scout training seriously and I am involved with most Council activities like Woodbadge training staff, Camporalls, Boy Scout Camps, Roundtable Staff there are many LDS Leaders that do the same thing. Please do not label the LDS Scouting as something much different or easier as some bloggers have commented than National BSA standards. We have been around since 1910 and have a great relationship with ours and your BSA. We are after the same goals and traditions to make the youth of this nation strong leaders. Trenton Spears

  44. Matt, I guess you are not familiar with the fundraising restrictions in the LDS units. Only one per year. That is why my son is in a community troop.

    • Miles traveled by missionaries on bicycles could vary widely based on where in the world they serve. Some may say that 10-30 km per day is not a physical challenge, but some who are not physically fit might. I think this is why the BSA aim of personal fitness for boys is so important to leaders of the LDS church. Those who are not personally fit are less likely to serve as missionaries.

      • Steve Faber you are misled about the LDS youth that are physically challenged are less likely to serve a mission for the Church. Nothing could be further from the truth if a young man or a young women desires to serve a mission it will happen if at all possible. This missionary service is a spiritual experience for the members of the Church and many plan for their missions at primary age. I have seen many missionaries that have limited physical limitations and yet serve their missions with honor. Although Scout assisted physical ability is a great asset to serve a mission for the Church it is not fundamentally the reason to serve a mission. The Mission of the Church is to teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all the people world wide where they are invited. Our young Sisters in the Church receive little personal fitness training other than their obedience to the doctrine of the Church like the Word Of Wisdom and keeping their bodies healthy as the young men of the Church do. I believe that Scouting has little bearing on serving a Mission for the Church. I do believe and support the BSA core beliefs that fit very well with the missionary efforts of the LDS Church. Sincerely, Trenton Spears Scoutmaster

  45. Re: Popcorn Sales

    Our LDS pack has done popcorn sales for the last 3-4 years, and it has been very successful. I love that the boys are helping earn their way to day camp, and that they are learning skills in salesmanship, goal-setting, and communication. It has been a fantastic leadership and learning opportunity, especially as they have done store-front sales together.

    We had seen a letter on our council’s website saying that popcorn sales were an approved fundraiser for LDS packs, so we chose to participate.

    Recently, however, it seems that position has changed: (Can’t say I personally agree with their interpretation of “commercial produt,” but this seems to be the current statement…)

    See the LDS-BSA website, under FAQ: http://www.ldsbsa.org/leader-resources/faqs/

    The Scouting Handbook for Church Units in the United States (May 2014) contains the following statement in section 8.13 “Commercially produced or packaged goods or services should not be sold.” Popcorn is considered to be a commercial product and thus the sale of popcorn is not approved as an LDS Scouting unit fundraiser. However, the Church does encourage a young man to pay his own way to camp. Individual young men can sign up to sell popcorn under their BSA local council and sell in their behalf. This option (selling by individual Scouts) is only available to those Scouts whose councils offer this program.

    • Carolyn thanks for sharing your success with the popcorn here. I have heard the commercially produced product statement before. The thing with trails end is that it is not available for retail sales. It is only produced for boy scouts to sale. It is not available in any store unlike other products like See’s candies or jelly belly beans. What is the difference of a few church moms baking a bunch of goodies and having the boys sell them verses trails end making popcorn do the boys to sale? So with trails end not being a commercial product there is no worries about the church endorsing a secular product. It is sad that the opportunity you describe is being taken away from the boys and losing those necessary skills to be even more successful leaders. I hope the LDS leadership is follow in this thread closely and listening to the needs of the congregation and the scouts.

  46. In addition, the latest capability to sell popcorn on line also takes away any concerns about boys having to go door to door! The boy just gives friends and relatives his id # and they order, pay and have the popcorn drop shipped to their address, with no shipping fee. With the extended families that are prevalent in the LDS community this would be a great money raising activity for the Scout to get the money he needs for camp. The experience of selling and managing their sales is a valuable lesson in money management that should be available to all scouts.

  47. jacob, that was our reasoning on the “commercial product” too. The only place people can get Trail’s End popcorn is through the Scouts. It would be a different story if we were selling Krispy Kreme doughnuts or Papa John’s pizza, because then you are selling their brand for them.

    I am guessing that it might have become an issue if some local popcorn retailer somewhere felt threatened by the competition, or if customers felt pushed into buying a product they don’t support, just because it is the ‘Scouts.’ I wish I understood the reasons.

    I have really loved that it gives the boys a chance to “earn” their way to camp, and it frees up church budget money to use on running a quality program. There are other ways to fund-raise, obviously, but last year our pack made enough selling popcorn to pay for 100% of our boys to attend day camp. No spaghetti dinner is going to do that.

    I will say (on the flip side) that I wish Trail’s End was less expensive. People around here (DC area) are almost always shocked at the high sticker price. Many want to support the Scouts, but when they find out how expensive the products are, they shy away a little. I bought an off-brand package of the dark & white chocolatey drizzle popcorn for less than a third of the price. We push the line of “well, 70% goes back to Scouting,” but really we shouldn’t have to use that as much as we do, especially when BSA’s own fundraising policies say: “All commercial products must sell on their own merits, not the benefit received by the Boy Scouts. The principle of value received is critical in choosing what to sell.”

    • Anothr great point Carolyn. The cost. Yes it is pricey to say the least. My son has found the work around on this and he teaches thisin his popcorn training class. Part is to learn to sell the scouting program and the scouts community service and not to sell the popcorn as a stand alone. The product is the scouting. My son donates 2/3rd of his profit to others like disabled scouts or other charities. But it doesn’t matter what your fundraiser is the object is to sell the scouts not the spaghetti dinner or pancake breakfast. The value of the sale is the value of the scout. Sell a cheap product for a cheap program. Sell a profitable product for a well funded fun program. Part of fun is to have funds. .

      • That’s why we don’t start off by asking people “Would you like to buy popcorn?”

        Instead, we ask something like, “Would you like to support Scouting?” and we talk about how the money helps us go to Day Camp…

        It is a great experience for the boys, though, to see how many people value Scouting. Many people stop and talk about how their kids were in Scouts, or how they were Scouts when they were young. It is a great recruiting tool too, — some will say, “Hey, I’ve been thinking about putting my son in Scouts…”

        Our LDS pack is actually almost half non-LDS boys, so the fundraiser was a way for those non-LDS families to contribute financially to the program without having to charge them dues.

  48. Re: General LDS Unit Success

    My biggest comment regarding LDS scouting is that you actually can’t lump all LDS Scouting together when talking about the quality of the programs. The LDS church provides guidelines for how wards and stakes are to run their Scouting program through the ‘green book’ (Scouting Handbook), but it is up to those wards and stakes to receive training, select good leaders, implement and follow through with the program.

    When units (LDS or traditional) reach the point where they are running the program the way it was intended to be run, it is a great program that effectively teaches essential leadership skills and the trademark character traits that have become synonymous with Scouting.

    The reality, though, is that each unit’s success in running the program is variable. Within LDS units, it is NOT the general leadership of the church that charters the units — it is the individual wards — which means that the success of the local units depends a great deal on the vision of the local church leadership. If the local bishops and stake presidents choose to become trained and put the correct emphasis on Scouting, then those units and boys can thrive.

    In a traditional unit, the life of the unit DEPENDS on running a good program, but because LDS wards are geographically determined, the units will never die, whether they have good leadership or not.

    So if you have had a bad experience with LDS Scouters, please do not assume that all LDS Scout Units are that way. And the good news is that even that particular unit could change for the better when their ward or stake leadership changes in a few years…

    • ASM Bill your statement of LDS Scouts becoming an Eagle scout in a year is pure bunk and without merit. In 12 months the time frame is impossible. The Scout is subject to all kinds of advancements that have a waiting period and the Eagle Scout’s project alone takes two to 4 months requiring approval from the local council and the national before it is started. Raking leaves is not a Eagle Scout project and you know it. No credible Scoutmaster,Council or National would approve it. Your comments are pure bashing of the LDS Church scouting program. The LDS Church’s contribution’s to Scouting have made the program the best youth organization in America since 1913. The goal of the LDS Church is to provide the means to advance the scout to the rank of First Class before they are 12 years old only 50% make this rank advancement in a year. Read Carolyn Hurt’s above comments on LDS Scouting it explains it and is the standard that LDS Units run their Scouting programs everyday. Are they units that abuse the program? Certainly so. The abuses are not exclusivly LDS so lets stop the singling out LDS Units and make scouting the best it can be, Bill if you don’t welcome LDS Scouting and support their leaving the program then it is your problem. Trenton Spears

  49. As a den leader in a non-mormon pack with plenty of experience dealing with mormon scouting, Utah mormons do all sorts of things backwards and different to fit their ideas instead of BSA’s.

    They “call” unqualified and uninterested adults to leadership positions by their bishop instructing them that God has spoken to them or “inspired” them to choose the individual. These persons may actually be chosen for duty as a form of church punishment, as an attempt to get them more involved in the church, to get them experience with children because they are also socially coerced to marry young and fill the world with more children than they can afford, or because the bishop thinks they will be a good fit.

    If the mormon refuses they will be coerced, socially shunned as disobeying the word of God, or even disciplined within the church.

    The leadership rarely perform to standards and also rarely complete mandatory training such as safe scouting. 2 deep leadership is often ignored for convenience, especially if a woman is the second adult because the mormons teach mormon “priesthood” rutuals to the mormon scouts of appropriate age and women are not permitted to learn these secret masonic code words and handshakes. Non-mormon scouts are sent off with the women to do something else.

    Often scouting is treated as Baby Sitters of America with little parental involvement and the children are allowed to run wild and free. Non-mormon scouts are shunned, ridiculed, and bullied by the mormon scouts and often segregated by mormon leadership. This is done to the point of non-mormons leaving scouting, often entirely.

    When it comes to advancement, all boys of age in the congregation are counted to inflate the roster with 100% pass rates for Journey to Excellence accounting whether the boys are actually involved in scouts or not. This is publicly talked about at Round Table with specific mention to “community” (non-mormon) packs that they in turn are not allowed to cook the books as the mormons do. Amazing they are so comfortable in their majority status that they openly flaunt their inappropriate behavior and chide/bully others to obey the rules, isn’t it? I assure you it is the truth.

    Mormon scouting cannot possibly be completely bad in all locations at all levels, however, the mormon system as a whole does not set up scouting to be as effective as it could be and certainly is not in alignment with national BSA standards.

    • nonmormonscouter Shame on your mormon bashing comments I have been a scout leader in the Mormon Church for 20 years and 10 years membership in traditional scout programs before my membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter -Day Saints. You will find faults in all BSA programs and its not always a perfect organization by any means. I know many dedicated LDS Leaders that give many hours of service to their local Councils. I work with many non LDS charters and many of them experience the same problems it is not just a Mormon problem. Time for support not bashing don’t you think? Trenton Spears

  50. Everyone says “take it up with the council” when it comes to award and jte graduating ethical concerns, but when the council and district are also mormon and they all openly joke at round table about doing things their own way while also flatly telling non mormons they must abide by bsa standards, what is one to do?

    Comments about merit badge mills/fairs are also spot on. Mormons “earn” those things like sweatshops several times per year with very little learning or retention evident.

    • Mark Sevald: This is not done at our Council or Roundtables in Kern County California. The way we do business is that you could not tell Mormons from any other charters. The Staff and leaders are on the same page and we use the Scout Law and the Scout Oath to form the basis for our council . I am not sure that the problems that Matt Sevald says he is experiencing has any merit. If it does Matt is missing the opportunity to be an example and speak to these un-scoutlike comments from anyone that is a member of the BSA. Many people on this blog have explained the position of the LDS in Scouting and have done a great job on there comments yet these sad stories keep popping up and it leaves me to wonder if this blog has become an opportunity to vent sour grapes, misstatements or worse bashing the Mormon Scout program. Sincerely, Trenton Spears Scoutmaster.

  51. Question about 11-year olds camping.. Our LDS troop (that we just moved into) has invited our 11-year olds to scout camp “as long as the father attends” I’m trying to figure out where the “as long as the father attends” comes from. Its not in the Handbook of instructions. It’s not in the green LDS Scouting book. The way I understand camping as an 11-year old scout in an LDS troop is ..

    1. 3, ONE-night camps a year (regardless if the father attends).
    2. No week long scout camp.. although I can’t find where in any LDS publication where this statement is made other than the fact that it’s not a one night camp.

    Any help with this is appreciated.

    • The Church Handbook of Instructions and the green LDS Scouting Book are quite clear on the matter. 11 year olds are only allowed 3 overnight campouts. Putting them back to back (to back) is not an acceptable “interpretation” of the rules. Wards and stakes are encouraged to set up a summer day camp for the 11 year old scouts if one is not available through the local council. Some units will send their 11 year olds to the council summer camp during the day and take them home at night in order to comply with this rule.

      The “if your dad goes with you” exception is not correct. It is an old idea that was struck down long ago but continues to survive based on tradition and leaders not bothering to read the manuals (or if they do read the manuals, they willfully ignore them based on some false justification). Tradition dies hard in many wards and stakes, especially when you have someone who has been *the* Scouter for a long while and their word is taken over that of BSA of Salt Lake.

      The LDS-BSA Relations group is a good source for getting answers. http://www.ldsbsa.org/ (also on facebook). Your stake should be sending Stake presidency members and/or High Council members to LDS specific training at Philmont so that they can be trained directly by the General Authorities. If anyone has gone recently, you can ask them for the latest updates; when I went, we were taught information that was fresh from the First Presidency and hadn’t yet made it into the new manuals.

      • I have to say that this whole 11 year old camping thing is a mystery to me. I fail to understand what was the rational behind this limitation, it’s history and so on. Now surly if a family chooses to send their 11 year old to scout camp, independent of the ward’s troop there is nothing wrong with that, is there?

        I am also confused by the fact that LDS scouts in Canada as well as the LDS units in other countries, where the green book does not apply seem to be able to camp as much as they like at 11 years old with no issues at all. How are they different from their U.S. counterparts?

        • That would be a good question to ask the General Authorities when attending the Philmont course. I have my personal ideas as to why, but absent any official support for those thoughts I’ll keep them to myself so I don’t accidentally start any other false rumors or traditions.

          The simple fact of the matter is that those are the rules we are given to follow for LDS units, and it is up to us to be obedient.

          If a family chooses to send their 11 year old to camp with a non-LDS troop, that is their choice. It isn’t a sin or anything that will get you into trouble. 11 year olds (and younger for that matter) are free to camp all they want with their families, but not with the ward sponsored units.

          Not immediately on topic, but close enough to be of interest (this article was linked on the official LDS-BSA Relations facebook page).

          http://blog.utahscouts.org/for-parents/lds-cub-scouts-can-go-camping/

  52. As a Canadian Scouter who know the Church Scouting Handbook (LDS Church and Scouts Canada) 11 Year old scouts “may participate in a one night camp three times each year.”

    • A book which is over 20 years old and no longer can be obtained from Church distribution either in print or on line I would point out.

    • Eric Rivera The LDS Church does make changes in the Church handbook. I have been associated for over 12 years in the 11 yr. old program first as an assistant Scoutmaster over the 11 yr. program formally called Blazer Scouts and then presently as the young men’s representative for the 11 yr. old and cub scout in the primary program in my LDS Stake calling. The Church Handbook a few years back the criteria was 1 over- nighter and the rest Day Camps we did 1 Day Camp in our stake. 7 years ago the LDS Church in Salt Lake City requested that we give the opportunity to advance our 11 yr. old’s to First Class before they turned 12 yrs. old. The LDS Church Handbook was changed to three over-nighters to help accommodate their First Class request. The local Stake Presidency was given some discretion to create an atmosphere to advance our 11 year Scouts and some Stakes allow 5 night 6 day camping at various Scout Camps as long as the Fathers of the 11 year old scout attended camp for the week.This has worked very well for our Stake and I see no problem and do not understand some peoples problem with advancing our 11 yr. old Scouts. I hope this clears up some misunderstanding of the LDS Scouting program. Trenton Spears

      • I understand believe me. Each Stake is different and each Stake Presidency does things differently also. I would be really interested in learning a little more how the 11 year old program runs over there. I have been involved in Scouting for many years now and here in eastern Canada we just don’t have the number you have in Utah. I just got called in the Stake YM Presidency and want to really get scouting (including the 11 year old scouts) going. Thanks

        • Erick Rivera congratulations to your new calling I believe that the young men’s calling is the best calling in the church. I wish to address the bloggers on the subject of the LDS Scouting program. The local Stake Presidency has a few options available but very few options with very few changes. They are very respectful of the National Scout Handbook and the LDS Church Scouting handbook both handbooks supply all the necessary knowledge that creat’s leadership qualities.The Young men’s leaders are instructed to follow the direction of the First Presidency and the local Stake Presidency instructions. There are some bloggers that think and have insinuated that the LDS Scouting program is run like a helter- skelter anything goes mandate nothing could be further from the truth. Is the program perfect a resounding no is it the best program for America’s youth a resounding yes. I would like to add that Stake Presidents are not as flexible as some might think and not so fast to the words that each Stake is run differently. I would like to add that the women primary scout leaders in the church are a great asset to the Churches youth program, They run Cub Pack and Den functions and also Cub Scout Day-Camps.One of the qualities of the LDS Church is that it is a worldwide Church that is led by a Worldwide First Presidency in all the goals of unity in the Church. Trenton Spears

  53. G. Kearney. I do not know who you are or where you live or why you would want to violate the 1st Scout Law. But then I am an optimist and believe that maybe your comment on the LDS Handbook was made from ignorance. Just last week I received the new May 2015 edition of the Scouting Handbook for Church Units in the United States. In fact you can find it and other information on LDS Scouting at the ldsbsa.org website. Now maybe the 20 year old version is no longer available on the web and that was the basis of your comment, but rest assured that the current one is there for reading and downloading and everyone has access to this document. Happy Scouting!

    • That’s fine that we have new version of the Scouting Handbook for Church Units in the United States but please read that title again, “for Church Units in the United States” we are talking here about units in Canada which is not the United States the last time I checked.

      The old church handbooks for Scout Canada, which can not be downloaded or ordered through church distribution has not been updated in 20 years. Many LDS Scouters in Canada have never even seen one. Further as far as I am aware, and I have been involved in international scouting for quite some time now, no such handbook exists for LDS sponsored scouting units in other parts of the world, and yes there are such units.

      I hate to be the one to point this out to you but scouting and even LDS Church scouting exists outside the BSA and the United States, it a big world out there perhaps you should consider seeing some of it.

  54. The handbook referenced above (to be found at http://www.ldsbsa.org under ‘Leader Resources’ and then ‘Handbooks’) can also be accessed through the http://www.lds.org web site. There is no requirement for a “member sign-in” to access it. The only issue is that the web site is always being updated and sometimes you might have to adapt to the way in which you would find the information. There are multiple ways to find the handbook.
    As of today, go to http://www.lds.org — click “Serve and Teach” on the ribbon bar under the main picture — then go to the “CALLINGS column” and click “Aaronic Priesthood” — then on the left menu click “Scouting” — then look in the middle of the page and scroll to the third heading titled “Scouting Handbook” which will take you to the ‘Scouting Handbook for Church Units in the United States Revised May 2015’.
    This is hot off the presses! This is printed each year just after the BSA Annual Business Meeting — reflecting the agreement between the BSA and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (Contracts, contracts, contracts!) If you want a hard copy all you have to do is print it. It is 11 pages long if you included the printing of the cover page (and wasted a lot of ink). Does anyone know the particular changes from the last printing? Were there any changes?
    This is not a very long read; but, it is an intense read for those sorting out ‘tradition’ from actual instruction, policies and guidelines. A little prayerful meditation will take a person a long way in understanding these policies and guidelines.
    It is, merely, the guidelines and policies that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Chartered Organizations (wards) use as guidelines and policies to administer the BSA program in their sponsored units (Cub Scout Packs– 8 to 10 year old boys, Boy Scout Troops– 11 to 13 year old boys/young men, Varsity Teams– 14 & 15 year old young men & Venturing Crews– 16 & 17 year old young men).

  55. Interesting that the response comes from the Scout executive in Vegas. That’s exactly the council where a friend feels his registration was purposely delayed. While my friend is unmarried and has no children, he is an Eagle Scout and a Vigil Honor member. Moreover, he doesn’t have a criminal record, so what was the problem? This happened a few years ago, but he believes he was discriminated against because he is not an LDS church member — either that or he was suspected of being a gay child molester. (Obviously this happened before gay adults were allowed to join Scouting, and the term is a paradox because most child molesters are not gay. Nonetheless, he’s neither gay nor a sex offender.) While all of this is unsubstantiated, there’s a United Methodist Church in Bethesda, Maryland, that discriminates against childless volunteers, which is official troop policy. Ask the Scoutmaster; he’s blunt about telling people about it, so it’s not a secret. It’s an effectively convenient policy because, after all, who’s going to have a child and wait 11 years just so they can join a Scout troop? What gets me, too, is that the United Methodist Church condones this insanity.

    • Are you saying that the entire UMC condones the policy of no childless leaders or just the local charter organization? Your statement is wide open to interpretation.

    • This must be a local UMC policy. The troop I was involved in had no such restriction.

      In my old troop, when I was a scout, called 18-25 year old adults “hit-or-miss leaders” They were highly valued since if they were over 21 could transport scouts. You may or may not get their attendance at meetings or events since they are in college, military, or just starting their careers or families. Some had lots of time to help out and some did not.

      The older scout leaders and the troop invested 10 plus years into a boy and wanted a return on their investment. My troop actually expected them to stay with the troop as ASM’s or Committee members. If they could help out a little, it was appreciated. It also was good to keep in contact with the scouter until he had a son that would join cub scouts.

      I stayed involved in the troop until I was 25 years old. I was dating a gal and I knew that there is a time and season for everything. So I left the BSA for 10 years after I got married. I announced to the troop I was leaving in 6 months after I was engaged. They understood. My son came of age and we got back involved in a troop.

      But I do remember when I was between 18-25 years old, I was questioned by some other troop leaders why I was still involved in scouting. Like there was some sort of suspicion or motive involved. I was taught not to answer a fool with is folly and my reply was, “Why are you involved in scouting?” The DE got involved and told off the other leaders.

      Some people stay in scouting because they just love it and want to see boys develop into outstanding men. Is not scouting a “Band of Brothers?” No offence implied to the female scouters though.

      I would rather have 10 hit or miss leaders that give it their all for scouting than 1 half hearted adult with a son involved in scouting. If this UMC church does not want these young leaders, I am sure some other troop will gladly take them. It is their loss. Their choice to approve or not approve leaders no matter how stupid the reasoning.

  56. I am an LDS Scoutmaster for more than 12 years. Her are a few of the things I do…

    Trained leaders are manditory.
    Youth – run units are manditory (who are also trained).
    Monthly camp outs year round.
    Youth run planning sessions by the youth leadership.
    Adult Leaders are to attend roundtable.
    Rank requirements are strictly followed.
    Boys who make Eagle want to – I don’t hold any hands, but provide opportunities if they use them.
    Parent involvement is required – from committee members to driving for camping to MB counselor.

    It takes time to get to this point. A lot of conversations with parents and boys. A lot of time spent at roundtable talking with other leaders – both LDS and non-LDS. And a lot of understanding from a supportive wife.

    Please don’t blanket statement that LDS units are all not run properly. Some of us grew up in well run units, and know how to organize a unit that follows the BSA guidelines.

  57. Why is so much emphasis put on Mormonism in scouting? Was it founded by a Mormon? Do you have to be Mormon to join or supportive of Mormonism? If a Baptist or Lutheran or a Jew was acting in such a manner, what would the reaction of the masses be? WHO CARES WTF YOUR RELIGION IS? Scouting is supposed to be diverse, accepting and tolerant of others. As long as you can honestly say that you fulfill your duty to your God as you recognize God, I don’t care if you worship a stick….I’m sick of having some religions pushed over others simply because they might be a majority or have a greater concentration in certain areas. Can’t we just say we are all scouts? Not LDS scouts or Catholic scouts or Methodist scouts….

  58. I am also an LDS Scoutmaster for 3 years now. It’s unfair to paint all troops with the same brush. It boils down to having a good adult leader that has the stones to tell the other adults in the program they are to be trained or they are released, period. No YPT, no go. That’s it, the end. I’ve lost good people as assistants for this very reason and I don’t feel bad about it. As for the requirements, the boys are expected to complete them as written. No more, no less. If a leader is letting things slide, they are not a leader at all. That problem is not isolated to LDS troops, I’ve seen it in many. Bottom line: all troops DESERVE good, trained leadership.

  59. Thanks for this informative piece. I enjoy your blog greatly here from the home of the founder, WD Boyce Council. Please keep on blogging, it helps our leadership at all levels of training and experience.

  60. I can’t even believe that this article is defending this topic again when every real scouter knows that the church is a paper-eagle factory. I am an LDS mom of an Eagle Scout, 12 years as a scout leader, and have seen the difference both in and outside of the church, in California and now in Utah. LDS bishops signing blue cards, not MB counsellors. Handing out badges like candy to boys who did not complete the requirements. Of course the paperwork approval process through district and council is more official but even that can be signature shopped. We purposely made sure my son did not cheat his way through eagle, even having him join a non-LDS unit whenever he could. Huge difference! My husband once complained to a DE when a merit badge counselor at a pow-wow did not require proof that the boys finished the prerequisites before signing it off. 4% would really look like 1% when you factor out the joke of LDS Eagles. Granted there are a few of us scout leaders trying to run the program right, but we often face a brick wall of stake and ward leaders who just don’t get it or don’t care. However, I have also seen the occasional exceptional LDS unit. Having ended up in too many mediocre non-scouting wards, we quit fighting the church and chartered our own community Cub Scout pack, and now a venturing crew for those boys who really want to do scouts the right way. These are both the first in the region that we live in in Utah.

  61. I find this very interesting as I have a friend who happens to belong to an LDS unit. She was asked to volunteer with her Cub Pack even though she has no sons. She happily agreed and went through all the required training for her position before taking Wood Badge. I met her and another LDS Scouter at Wood Badge. She explained to me how the Church asks for volunteer Leaders and they require all their Leaders to take Wood Badge as part of their training. I found this to be an excellent way to promote continuing education and informed Leadership in our Scouts. We, as Leaders, need to lead by example and they set a high standard for their Leaders as well as their Scouts. I had the pleasure of attending a Pack meeting and witnessed the Troop meeting as well. They both followed the proper program guidelines. If anything the Scouts seemed more engaged. I found with having Leaders that did not have sons in the Pack or Troop there was less favoritism. Before meeting these two Leaders, I knew almost nothing about the LDS Church nor the LDS Scouting program. They seem to have engaged Leaders and Scouts who exemplify the Scout Oath and Law. If only I could get more parents and Leaders who felt the same way. I am the only Leader in my Troop to go through Wood Badge. My mission is to get more of my parents and Leaders trained so they can have the knowledge and skills to perform their responsibilities within my Troop effectively. As for Eagle Scouts…As Committee Chair in my Troop, I have seen 7 Scouts in the span of 2 years obtain Eagle in my Troop. If the LDS units have the majority of BSA membership, it would be normal for them to have the highest percentage obtaining Eagle. It does not mean they are skating by and being given the Eagle Rank without earning it.

  62. There is no such thing as LDS Scouting! There is Scouting and the Chartering Organization, in this case the Mormon church, enhances the program for the units they sponsor. WOSM does not recognize “LDS Scouts” because it doesnt exist. Does National refer to “LDS Scouting”? I hope not. It is not okay for those Scouts sponsored by Mormon churches to feel seperate from the world-wide movement for peace that is Catholic, Jewish, Ba’hai, secular, etc. Scouting.

  63. I am wanting to know how the lads venturing unit here in Jefferson City mo can tell females they can not join. Seems like discrimination.

  64. I lived in UT for 2 yrs, and I wasnt impressed with those that got Eagle, In my region the units have never attended a Scout Camp their entire Scout life. Why does that bother me, at Camp you learn so much more, I state often, Eagles from Utah are Paper Eagles.

  65. I just wanted to comment that I am a Varsity Coach in the Far East Council and I serve on the district Committee. I have seen good units and struggling units. There is no distinction between LDS and Non-LDS but it comes down to adult training, leadership and making sure the program is run the way it should be. Some cry, “boy led” and don’t do anything to coach/mentor and guide the youth to making good decisions or providing them with correct choices. Others want to run scouting their own way and ignore 100 years of experience. In this case, pride and hubris are much to blame, they feel that they can do anything they want and ignore specific guidance. Again, I have seen this with both types of units.

    The point is, if we as leaders fail to instill values and principles of scouting in our youth it does not matter if they are a tenderfoot or an eagle – we have failed them and the program.
    Adults who lack training are in fact uneducated in the proper way the unit should be run but the biggest problem I have seen is the woodbadge trained adult who wants to run the program there way because they know best.

  66. The main problem with the LDS Church and scouting is the all too common “ad hoc” and “a la carte” approach to the program. The Church either needs to fully endorse the program for its young men, like it has in the past, or replace it entirely with something similar.

    The reason why so many LDS units don’t work is because they don’t implement the program in its entirety, period and end of story. Too often, ward or backyard campouts are seen as replacements for actual camping. BSA camps in some wards are NEVER attended. Likewise, leaders are rarely, if ever, trained. In some wards, many months will go by without a single campout. The program is leader-led and not youth-led. Merit badge “boot camps” are treated more like school to create a bunch of fake “paper eagles. Uniforms are never worn. There is no expectation and, thus, no accountability from the youth. The “varsity” program is nothing more than an excuse for teachers and priests to ditch scouting for their increasingly important sports/social activities. Venturing is non-existent. Most “scout leaders” in the ward couldn’t even tell you what the Summit Award is, let alone the Trust award or the Quest Award or the Ranger Award. Bishops and their counselors are unsupportive. Leaders never follow the BSA plans for meetings, and so it ends up being a game of church basketball on one end, or an entirely dangerous hunting activity on the other — and no, the BSA does not have a “hunting” or “skydiving” merit badge.

    I fully understand that it is not like this in some Wards and stakes, but I would daresay that the majority of Ward and Stakes the do it RIGHT by implementing the ENTIRE PROGRAM are rare.

    Seriously, the LDS Church needs to recognize that the YMs program as it currently exists is a FAILURE and a JOKE without scouting. The Duty to God Program is nice, but is a mere religious emblem. Either the LDS Church needs to mandate its local leaders to fully implement scouting, or it needs to ditch scouting and create a new program that it can get behind universally. Until then, it will be an entire hit or miss depending on your stake and ward. Some wards will do it right and create future leaders, others will be paper Eagle mills. It is really sad, but until the YM General Presidency starts enforcing the implementation at the local level with the Stake Presidents and the Bishops, there is really no other alternative than to either (a) volunteer for you Ward scouting unit and hope they listen to change or (b) put your kid in a non-LDS community troop.

    Here are the keys to a successful scouting program in your ward:

    1. Campouts should be a MONTHLY event. And, no, camping out in a scout leader’s backyard does not count.

    2. At least 2-4 campouts each year should be for the ENTIRE TROOP — this includes priests and teachers. In most LDS units, there is a HUGE lost opportunity to have the older scouts befriend and mentor the younger scouts. Older scouts don’t need to be entertained by adult leaders, they need to be given responsibility to befriend, lead, and train younger scouts. The biggest lost opportunity? Sending the priests, deacons, and teachers to different camps each year. The young women (who are smart) don’t do this with the Young women camp. Have all groups attend an official BSA camp in the summer that also offers high adventure for the older boys — but make them ALL attend the same camp. Also, there should be an open invite for ALL teachers and priests to attend ALL scout camps with the deacons if they want to — but at least 2-4 camps each year should be PLANNED for the entire troop attending including the Varsity and Venturing scouts.

    3. Have at least one activity a month with the entire troop. Uniforms are MANDATORY at all campouts and at these meetings. (Trust me, uniforms are plenty “cool” to the younger kids if the high school kids are wearing their full uniforms to the meeting. If the high school kids are not wearing their uniforms, then how are they enough of leaders to call themselves “eagles” or future missionaries?)

    4. Let the youth lead the program and decide what they want to do!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This includes dividing the troop into troop leaders and patrol leaders and quartermasters, etc.. My scoutmaster used to write on his hand — “Ask your patrol leader.” The main reason why scouting is not “cool” in so many LDS units is because it is too much like “school” with the “adults” telling the kids what to do. Merit badges become much more meaningful when it is the priests and older teachers teaching the younger teachers and priests. ABOVE ALL, SCOUTS DO NOT NEED TO BE ENTERTAINED!!! The younger scouts need to be trained by the older scouts and the older scouts need the opportunity for mentorship.

    5. Mandate that the parents get involved. If the kids come from broken homes, it is understandable that the Dad might not be there. If Dad is inactive or struggling, there might also be reason for uninvolved parents. But there is NO excuse for the other kids’ parents. Every active father in the Church with a son in scouts needs to sign up for at least two campouts at a year MINIMUM or their kid is out. This is not a babysitting program. It is simply not fair to the kids who WANT to be there and WANT to be leaders to have to babysit scouts and parents of scouts who couldn’t care less.

    6. The Stake President and the Bishop need to support the scout leaders in all of the above. This is a youth-led and youth-accountability program. It is not a babysitting program for kids who don’t want to be there and attend. You can’t expect youth leaders to handle problem kids and problem parents. And, no, adult leaders handling problem kids and problem parents without any means of enforcement create complacency in the program.

    7. The venturing program should be run more at the STAKE level. In the best stakes I have seen, the venturing program co-ed for the activities (but not the campouts). Both YM and YW should be encouraged to attain the Venturing Awards with their respective priest and laurel groups — this includes the summit award, the ranger award, the QUEST award, and the TRUST award.

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