Mac’s Message #17: Invite Every Scouting-age Boy to Join Your Scouting Unit

Mac McIntire

Mac McIntire

My blog message last week about holding separate quorum and Scouting meetings stirred up some good discussion in the reply section. The comments are excellent, and well worth reading. Of course, separate meetings have little or no value if only a few boys attend. So an important part of the separate meeting suggestion is also the need to reach out to the less-active, inactive, and non-member boys within the boundaries of your ward or stake.

The Scouting program is a blessing that should be available to all of the boys within your ward or stake boundaries, whether they are members of the Church or not.

David L. Beck, Young Men general president, said Scouting in the Church “is a bridge that has fueled real growth as thousands of individuals and families have joined the Church or become active again.” (“A Century of Scouting in the Church,” Ensign, October 2013). I wish to add my personal testimony to his statement.

I witnessed the power of a well-run LDS Scouting unit to attract boys who otherwise may not have been interested in the Church or participation in any of its programs.

When I was called as the Scoutmaster of an inner-city ward in Las Vegas, Nevada, I determined to run the Scouting program as it is designed by the Boy Scouts of America. The few active boys in the troop had wonderful experiences in character development, citizenship training, and personal fitness. They learned to live by the Scout Oath and Law. They were formed into a boy-led patrol, wore their Boy Scout uniform proudly, attended regular monthly outdoor activities, and advanced in Scout rank.

Because Scouting was a quality experience, the boys reached out to the less-active and inactive boys in the ward to get them to participate. They also invited their non-member friends to join in Scouting activities. Slowly the troop began to grow. One patrol turned into three. Six members of the troop turned into 24. Twelve of the 24 were not members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Many of these Scouts came from single-parent, minority families who never would have been exposed to the values of Scouting had there not been a quality LDS Boy Scout unit in their neighborhood.

Scouting is a wonderful program that should be available to all boys. If you run your Scouting program properly, it can be an attractive beacon of light to every boy within the boundaries of your stake, ward, district, or branch. Watch this video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kw6UNMQLuaM) to see how one Scoutmaster reached out to the boys within his community. I would highly suggest you engage your boys, particularly your senior patrol leader and patrol leaders, in visiting every boy within your stewardship area. Invite every young man to participate in your Scouting unit. Show them how much fun boys can have when they fellowship together in the Scouting program.

I believe the values of the Aaronic Priesthood and the Boy Scouts of America are divinely linked to develop strong young men of character, capable of filling leadership positions in the Church and in society. I encourage you to reach out to all Scouting-age boys within your little corner of the Lord’s vineyard. Lives will be touched and hearts softened when you do. Through Scouting you can create conditions and provide experiences that bring young men to Christ. I testify “how great will be your joy” when you do. (D&C 18:16).

 

Take a Moment to Reflect

  • Are you running a quality Scouting program in which boys would want to participate?
  • Do you know who all of the boys are within your stake, ward, district, or branch boundaries?
  • Are there less-active, inactive, or non-member boys who are missing out on Scouting because you have not invited them to participate in your Scouting unit?
  • Have you engaged your boys in recruiting other boys into your Scouting unit? Are you actively reaching out to every boy within your stewardship area?

 

Turn Your Reflection into Action

  • What will you start doing, stop doing, or do better as a result of your reflection?

 

“I would to God that every boy of Boy Scout age in America could have the benefits and blessings of the great Boy Scout program. It is truly a noble program; it is a builder of character, not only in the boys, but also in the men who provide the leadership. I have often said that Scouting is essentially a spiritual program, a builder of men.”  (President Ezra Taft Benson, “Scouting Builds Men,” Ensign, February 1975).

 

-Mac McIntire is a dedicated Scouter who has blessed many lives through his service and acute understanding of the Scouting program. He currently lives in Las Vegas, Nevada. The views and opinions expressed in this message are solely those of the author.

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  1. Geoff says:

    Thank you Mac for your post. Your story is encouraging to me as I recently inherited a troop with around 5 participants. Hopefully all the work I am putting in will provide similar results to what you experienced.

  2. Great observations. Nice video. Most of the boys attending my wife’s Cub Scout den right now come from families that are not members or that are less active members of the Church. For nearly three decades our ward’s Cub and Boy Scout programs have had tremendous success reaching out to and involving such boys.

    But those boys tend to thin out as they progress into the Varsity and Venturing programs. Perhaps the key lies in this sentence from the post: “Because Scouting was a quality experience, the boys reached out to the less-active and inactive boys in the ward to get them to participate.” My neighbor joined the Church as an adult largely due to this dynamic in his young life.

    Like most of the wards in my area, my ward has never taken the Varsity and Venturing programs seriously. Adults called to serve these young men often use the excuse that the boys aren’t interested in those programs. So they offer a roll-your-own hybrid that includes a few facets of the official programs. The result is that, not only have the less active and nonmember boys drifted away, previously active boys had drifted away as well.

    That is much less likely to happen when you offer high quality Scouting programs. The boys will feel a greater sense of belonging and will naturally more fully live the ideals promoted by Scouting.

    1. Gary Miller says:

      Most of the time when I hear a leader tell me that the boys are not interested in scouting it because the boys don’t know what scouting really is. They see scouting as sitting in a weekly meeting and working on some type of advancement usually a Merit Badge taught by the leader.

      If we would just properly implement the programs that have been established by our heavenly father through the prophets we would not hear these type of comments nor would we be losing a large precinct of our young men after the age of 15 like we do.

    2. Mac says:

      Running a quality program is key to membership recruitment.

      Last year I had the opportunity to participate in the LDS-BSA Relationships conference for Scout executives and members of BSA council LDS-BSA Relationships committees that takes place just before general conference every six months. This morning I was re-reading my notes from a meeting we had with Larry M. Gibson, First Counselor, Young Men General Presidency this past October. This is what he said regarding the topic discussed in this blog message:

      “Every young man is looking for a brotherhood. We want them to find the brotherhood we want them to find. The best way to invite them to a brotherhood is to invite them to a well-run Scout unit with consistent activities.”

  3. Marla Thomas says:

    As a present district training coordinator/chairman and having been a unit commissioner to LDS units for the past 12 years I encourage use of district resources. Utilizing the district membership committee of the local council and the statistics they have access to in order to identify and help lead young men who are available and would do well in the fellowship of our LDS scouting programs could be helpful. In any LDS sponsored unit, all young men (whether LDS or not) are sponsored by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and no “out of pocket” membership fee is required. These fees are paid directly to BSA National through church funds of the LDS church from Salt Lake church offices. This is considered of a very high priority. The First Presidency is completely supportive of this policy. Each young man is encouraged to tithe to his “own church” or at least “contribute 10% back” to his community in some way. Each is registered and participates in the activities with those of his peers according to age. It is an opportunity to create an atmosphere that would have the spirit of the Lord with our young men and leaders at all times and, perhaps, for young men who would not regularly have that opportunity. It could help the LDS units with small numbers become robust and full of positive fellowship and it would expose our young men to non-member’s and their perspectives of “the Mormons”. This would be good missionary prep for the LDS young men. Contact your BSA council membership chairman. Find out who it is through the scout roundtable meetings held in your area each month. Ask for ideas, leads and show interest in growing your unit. Participate in recruiting and coordinate your unit plans with your area BSA district membership leadership. Ask your young men, their parents and your congregation for leads, also. Grow your units. Make it fun!

    1. Mac says:

      Outstanding advice! Thank you Marla.

  4. City Scout Mom says:

    The leader of an LDS pack in our mostly urban council told me they can barely pay for the pack’s awards and supplies (including receiving camperships for day camp). They have a couple of non-LDS boys in the pack and if they invited several more non-LDS boys to join the pack, and if these boys’ families couldn’t afford a “voluntary contribution” to the unit budget, how could the ward budget cover the additional funds needed? Individual fund raising is not successful for the boys in this area, and with the Church’s limitation on group fundraisers, they can’t figure out how they could pay for additional boys. Any suggestions would be appreciated, because they do want to share the Cub Scouting experience.

    1. Marla Thomas says:

      The scouts at all levels in the ward could sell tickets to a “scout spaghetti dinner” or a “pancake breakfast” or a “Bar-b-que” as their one time per year fundraiser. Sell pre-sale tickets. Have the younger cub scouts and their families help with set-up and clean-up that day and the older scouts and their families help with preparation and serving. All profits to be donated to the ward via the “Other” account on the Tithing/Contribution slip. Other ideas: Car washes, window washing, weeding, edging, lawn mowing, automobile vacuuming, leaf raking, etc. Some of these ideas could be done as a family or individually by older scouts. One goal to accomplish would be the lesson of being SELF-RELIANT.

    2. Lance says:

      As a member of a stake presidency, we have told our bishops if they need more funding because they are growing the youth programs, we will find funds for them from stake. I would encourage them to talk to the stake leaders and bishop.

  5. David Parker says:

    Mac,

    Another fantastic message! One thing we do in our district is our District Executive contacts each of the Stake YM Presidents for the three stakes that make up our district and schedules a time to sit down with them. For that meeting, the DE brings a list of the currently-chartered units for that stake and their Scouts and the YM President brings a list from MLS of the Scouting-aged boys in his stake, which can be done by the Stake Clerk.

    We reconcile those lists and then send notes to the Bishops, Chartered Org Reps and YM Presidents for each ward listing the boys that are not currently registered. We encourage them to register those boys that are participating that somehow missed registration and to reach out to those that are not participating to invite them to become Scouts. Quorum presidencies are also encouraged to drive this effort in the Deacons, Teachers and Priests quorums. This process also helps with the recharter effort later in the year.

    The BSA also has a special LDS membership policy that can be used to register boys using a printout from MLS, as long as parental permission has been obtained and it is signed by a member of the Bishopric. The Utah Parks council has a great write-up on its site that we have copied for our council. The link is here: http://www.utahscouts.org/volunteer-helps/commissioners/mls-for-lds-units/37506

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