Mac’s Message #46: Involving Ward Members in Scouting

Mac McIntire

Mac McIntire

When I started writing these blog messages forty-seven weeks ago I intended them to be brief, one-page messages of inspiration and instruction. But as I review the past few months of my posts on the support systems of LDS Scouting, I see I’ve become quite verbose. I’m afraid I might be overwhelming you with too much information—or, worse yet, boring you completely. I promise to repent and be briefer in this and future blog messages.

Today I wish to stress the value of involving ward members as an additional support resource for your Scouting programs and activities.

When I became a Scoutmaster for the first time I knew I had no Scouting experience or skills. I didn’t know how to do any outdoor crafts. I’d never been backpacking or hiking in my life. I was not a hunter or fisherman. I was a city boy who grew up with limited woodsman experiences. I also was the youngest child in the family with no practice nurturing others. I knew I would need people who could fill the gaps of my knowledge and experience. Since I knew the Lord had called me as the Scoutmaster (see Mac’s Message #1), I felt confident in asking—demanding, really—the bishop call five assistant Scoutmasters whom I knew had the skills I needed. Together we formed a formidable team of leaders for the boys in our unit. 

Since one cannot teach what he does not know, I also realized I would need a vast pool of instructors to teach the boys the abundance of Scouting skills available. This particularly was true in teaching knot tying. To this day I can only tie one of the seven basic Scouting knots, even though it was one of my Wood Badge tickets. It wasn’t until just a few years ago someone pointed out that the way I tie my shoes is weird.

When first called as a Scouting leader I did not possess the equipment, resources, or “toys” most real men typically have in their garage or man-cave. I knew I would have to draw upon the resources of the ward members to supplement the meager assets I brought to the Scouting table. Not knowing there was a resource survey for packs, troops, teams, and crews from the BSA, I created my own survey and asked ward members to identify how they could help our boys to “fly like Eagles.” I listed all of the merit badges then being offered and had them circle the ones for which they would be willing to serve as merit badge counselors. I also asked them to circle a list of other resources we might need that they would be willing to let the Scouts use—such as kayaks, canoes, motorboats, trailers, tents, sleeping bags, etc. I invited the brethren to identify if they would be willing to help with two-deep leadership at campouts, hikes, and other Scouting activities. And, of course, I asked people to sign up to provide transportation to Scouting events.

We handed out the survey to every adult member in the ward—active and inactive. We also gave it out to both parents in part-member families. I was shocked at how many people wanted to help with our Scouting program. I was even more surprised at who wanted to help. Inactive and non-members were eager to be involved. Some elderly sisters volunteered who I never would have thought could help with Scouting. Many sisters were excited to teach cooking, art, journalism, music, public speaking, sculpting, and other skills. One elderly sister was an avid golfer. Who better to teach the golf merit badge? We ended up with at least one person to teach every merit badge. In most cases we had multiple resources for everything we might need to provide a quality Scouting program.

I urge you to draw upon all of the resources you have available to you as a Scouting and Aaronic Priesthood leader. The Lord is mindful of your needs. He has provided you with a vast support structure so you don’t have to carry the weight of your calling alone. Be bold as you call upon others to help. I know there are many who are willing to assist you—they are just waiting to be asked.

Take a Moment to Reflect

  • Do you have the assistant Scouting leaders and advisers you need in your Scouting and Aaronic Priesthood programs? Have you prayed for the Lord to reveal who can assist you in your efforts?
  • Have you surveyed your ward members—active and inactive—to identify what resources are available to you for your Scouting programs?
  • Have you identified possible counselors for each merit badge?
  • Are there brethren within your ward who would be willing to serve as mentors to boys who have no father to support them in Scouting?
  • Are there members of your ward—particularly those who you might not typically call upon—whose lives would be enriched by helping young men to become strong men of character?

 

Turn Your Reflection Into Action

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

 

“And I will ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs . . . and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit [Scouting leaders] in their afflictions” (Mosiah 24:14).

 

-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. Janice Edwards says:

    Mac, as a Scout Shop Employee and a non-LDS Scouter I have found your blogs extremely useful in the guidance of many new leaders. They, like you were unsure of where to go and have been inspired and educated by this resource. Congratulations on being a resource to so many who are charged with the formation of our young men.

    1. Mac McIntire says:

      It’s great to learn my blog messages have value to LDS and non-LDS Scouters alike. Thanks for sharing this resource with others.

  2. Bill Chapman says:

    Mac, great messages always. I have tried some of the things you suggest but only halfheartedly compared to the way you suggest. I totally agree that this can be a great missionary and activation activity for the Aaronic priesthood, as well. Can’t wait to get started on this.

    We are all obviously awaiting a decision by the Church regarding the BSA policy. In the interim, we LDS scouters are on pins and needles. Last night, I was having a discussion with some LDS scouters and one of them said that the church has a vibrant young men activity program outside the United States which can simply be made the new activity program in place of Scouting in the US.

    As far as the participation on your blog, I have a suggestion that I think would involve a lot of people in the discussion. I realize you are not an official spokesperson for the church on Scouting but your blog is the closest thing we have to that. Currently, obvious see the hot topic in LDS Scouting is the recent policy change by the BSA regarding adult membership in the church’s 2 responses.

    The only thing I have ever heard about the LDS young men activity program outside the US is that there isn’t one. Any chance you could provide us with some perspective on what other countries are doing in the church outside the USA just in case we are moving in that direction? Or do we just need to continue with our BSA programs until the announcement? Thanks for any help you can give.

    1. Bill Chapman says:

      Sorry, as you can see, one of the paragraphs above got duplicated. I apologize for that but I do not see a way to edit my prior post.

    2. Mac McIntire says:

      It seems to me that if there were an “official” Young Men program for boys outside the US is would be found in Handbook 2, 8.13.1. It appears the program for young men outside the US is to hold Mutual “activities.” The only instruction for those activities are these:

      “Mutual activities should provide youth with a variety of opportunities to serve others and to develop spiritually, socially, physically, and intellectually.”

      “Each year, the First Presidency announces a theme for Mutual. Leaders emphasize this theme in Mutual opening exercises and in other youth activities.”

      “Some examples of appropriate activities are service projects, music, dance, drama, cultural events, sports or athletic events, career exploration, and outdoor activities.”

  3. JD says:

    Bill – Outside of the US, they use a lot of the same programs we have here – “Helping Hands” (service organization), EFY (travelling youth conference type program), and Quorum Activities. There is the Duty to God as well. I reached out to a former Bishop and current Stake YW Leader in Brasil and asked what they are doing.

    Outside of the US, I’d love to see a Worldwide Scouting Organization of the LDS Church. It would be cool to do a foreign mission (as a couple) working with Young Men – doing Scouting.

  4. JD says:

    Bill – Also – the Come Follow Me – Sunday School Program is an important part as well. The Come Follow Me Program was mentioned often at the recent LDS Aaronic Priesthood Training at Philmont.

  5. JD says:

    Bill – Also, the “Come, Follow Me” (Sunday School) Program. It was mentioned quite a bit during the recent sessions of Aaronic Priesthhod Training (Scouting) at Philmont.

  6. JD says:

    Correction. It is “For Strength of Youth – FSY” (not EFY) that they do in Brazil (mistranslated the message I got).

    Aaronic Priesthood Encampment is the closest thing they have outside of the US that is like Scouting. I was pointed to:

    https://www.lds.org/youth/activities/category/stake-and-multistake-activities?lang=eng

  7. Brian Arnold says:

    Thank you Mac for your continued messages for all of us trying to magnify our callings. I think you touched the mail point that a willingness on prayerful knees leads to great action. The Lord know what he is doing, we just have to trust Him and listen to His whisperings.

  8. Bryce Hall says:

    This article is so true to my experience as a 10-year LDS Scoutmaster. Two huge factors that made a difference 1) the Ward Members participated in a monthly troop committee where together we were able to run a great activity program for their sons. 2) The boys were excited about the program and invited their friends. Our troop at its biggest was 1/3 non-members and many of their parents regularly participated. A great idea for a future article for Mac is how a strong scouting program can become the most powerful missionary tool in the ward.

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