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.