Stan’s Eleven-year-old (EYO) Scouting Blog #1: Setting the Stage

Stan Stolpe

Delivering Scouting for eleven-year-old (EYO) boys can be an enriching experience, both for you as the EYO Scout leader as well as for the youth you serve. The EYO program occurs at a critical juncture in the life of a young man—at that marvelous in-between time as he leaves the Primary and receives the priesthood. If you are an EYO Scout leader, you have a wonderful opportunity to teach Scouting’s mission and vision as well as skills and leadership.

One of the many reasons The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints endorses Scouting is found in the mission and vision statements of the Boy Scouts of America.

The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law.

And

The Boy Scouts of America will prepare every eligible youth in America to become a responsible, participating citizen and leader who is guided by the Scout Oath and Law.

Lord Baden-Powell was wise to understand we do not accomplish this through preaching to boys, but through a method that uses exploring the great outdoors and its associated skill sets to create scenarios where boys learn through organized and channeled fun and adventure.

As the founder of Scouting, Lord Baden-Powell is often attributed as saying that Scouting is a game with a purpose. “Green Bar Bill” Hillcourt (an early Scout leader) put it this way:

Here, then, is Scouting in a nutshell: A game for boys under the leadership of boys with the wise guidance and counsel of a grown-up who has still the enthusiasm of youth in him. A purposeful game, but a game just the same, a game that develops character by practice, that trains for citizenship—through experience in the out-of-doors.” (BSA’s Handbook for Scoutmasters, third edition, 1936 – 1947).

So, as an EYO Scout leader you will want to focus on three key things: teaching and living values (Scout Oath, Scout Law, Scout motto, and Scout slogan); training First Class Scout skills; and developing leadership.

I recall telling my assistant EYO Scout leaders, “I hope we have problems at this Scout outing.” When the other leaders first heard me say this I would get a strange, inquisitive look from them. I would explain that each and every problem was an opportunity to review with the boys the values of Scouting. Too often, boys hear from adults what not to do. We have the opportunity to remind the boys of the moral center that boys already have inside them. This has been developed through the teachings of their parents, their Primary teachers, and other Church leaders by reminding them what to do: be helpful, be courteous, be kind, do your best, etc.

When I see behavior that ought not to be going on, I will call the offending youth or youths up and ask them questions such as, “Are you doing your best?” The response is often downcast looks. A simple reminder of their moral center allows them to make the decision to follow that moral upbringing. The look on their faces will tell it all. Leaving them to decide is the power of the Scouting program: the presentation to the boy of a simple, moral choice.

What we do as EYO Scout leaders is to train young men to trust the values they have learned and guide them to learn to make the right decisions on their own—often through a simple question—not by telling them what not to do or by our outrage at their actions. The opportunity to grow happens when we are able to remind the boys of the principles in the Scout Oath, Law, motto, and slogan. It would not happen if they did not make mistakes.

Our beloved prophet, President Gordon B. Hinckley, recognized the power of reminding youth what to do versus scolding them when he said:

Be Grateful
Be Smart
Be Involved
Be Clean
Be True
Be Positive
Be Humble
Be Still
Be Prayerful1

So, as an EYO Scout leader, not only do we have the tools of the 12 points of the Scout Law, but also President Hinckley’s 9 Ways To Be, to guide our wonderful youth in learning to make moral and ethical decisions.

1 Gordon B. Hinckley, Way to Be! Quotes. Goodreads, Inc. (online). 

—Stan Stolpe has served in multiple Scouting positions at the unit, district, council, regional, and national levels in several different councils and overseas. His current positions include district roundtable commissioner, district Cub Scout training chairman, and assistant Scoutmaster for a new Scout troop. He resides in Alexandria, Virginia, serving in the Mount Vernon Virginia Stake. The views and opinions expressed in these blog messages are solely those of the author.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

  1. Geoff says:

    Welcome Stan. I look forward to hearing your insights. I have found this blog to be an invaluable resource and I am glad to see that will continue.

    On a side note, I was in the Alexandria 1st ward from 2006-2009. Great area.

  2. Stanley Stolpe says:

    Thank you Geoff. We’ll address the impact of the New Cub Scout program on EYO Scouting next blog.
    Looks like we were in the same Stake when the stake divided. We now have 13 Wards in out stake and still growing.

  3. David Vetter says:

    Hi, Stan. Great post. I’m from Southern Virginia, so it is nice to hear your perspective as it relates to common church experiences where members are definitely in the minority.

    I hope to hear your perspective in the future regarding 11-year old Scouts and summer Scout Camp. As a result of my informal polling, many stakes find it acceptable to have 11-year old Scouts attend Scout Camp if their father accompanies them. What are your thoughts?

    1. Stanley Stolpe says:

      David, this is a great question, thank you for asking. The Scouting Handbook for Church Units in the United States says, “Eleven-year-old Scouts may participate in three one-night camps a year, which meets the camping requirements for advancement to First Class rank” (page 4).
      I recognize that this requirement is challenging unless we keep several things in mind. First: “The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law.” When we deviate from the policies and procedures of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, our example is not teaching our youth to make ethical and moral choices.
      You see, in my mind, a Scout is Loyal. He is loyal to the unit he belongs to. He is true to his faith. If it is challenging, then that is good. This policy requires the adults and youth to face the moral dilemma and make a decision.
      Second, the objective of the first year in Scouting is to make First Class Scout. Three nights of camping are sufficient to make First Class.
      Third, the outdoor program is just one of the methods of Scouting, not the end itself.
      Hope this helps.

      1. David Vetter says:

        Stan, thanks for your reply. I, too, appreciate the mission of the Boy Scouts. I recognize how the Scouting program supports the purposes of the Aaronic Priesthood. I believe the purpose of the church policy limiting eleven-year-old Scouts to three nights of camping links the core Scouting experience for LDS young men with their Aaronic Priesthood experience. The desire is that young men make an experiential connection between Scouting and their Deacons Quorum in the Aaronic Priesthood.

        With respect to age-defined limits, one must recognize the unintended consequences of an artificial policy seam. A phrase I hear occasionally is “the line must be drawn somewhere.” In Scouting, however, the line is fuzzy on purpose. A boy joins Boy Scouts at age eleven. Is that a hard and fast boundary? No. Actually, he can become a Boy Scout having completed all requirements for his Arrow of LIght at age ten and a half. This rewards the boy who is motivated, and helps preserve his enthusiasm for the Boy Scout program.

        Boy Scouts in the church seeks to support the purposes of the Aaronic priesthood. There is a reason for delaying the core Scout experience until the boy turns 12. That said, under the premise of team building and group cohesion and recognizing the limits of policy with respect to those caught in the seams, I believe there are appropriate times when a Bishop should support fathers and sons attending Scout camp together prior to the son turning 12. An 11 year-old boy that turns 12 soon after his Troop attends Scout camp is not served by the Quorum. If the Scout camp experience is positive and exciting, anytime the group conversation brings it up, the boy caught in the policy seam will be left out. He will essentially be one year behind in his understanding of the Patrol method and how his Scouting skills support the Quorum in carrying out its responsibilities. If the purposes of Scouting are to strengthen families and integrate young men into the church as they learn their Priesthood responsibilities, it behooves us to recognize the limits of policy in raising children and be ready to address with sound judgment those caught in the seams.

        1. Kent Hansen says:

          David,

          Why would he be behind a whole year in the patrol method if the troop is regularly functioning with a boy-led, patrol-method driven leadership? The new deacon, like every new deacon can easily learn how to integrate Scouting and the Aaronic Priesthood. The lessons are ongoing, not just at scout camp. The quorum with Scouting and AP duties should be seamless, like Elder Holland stated.

          That said, tens of thousands of 11 year old boys attend scout camps across the nation. What’s stopping an 11 year old LDS boy from attending with another troop? That is what my son did and had a great time. It also ignited a fire in him for Scouting that has galvanized his core with the Scout Oath and Law. He loves Scouting, Duty to God, AP, and serving others.

          No boy is ever caught in the seams when caring adults are engaged, properly trained, implementing the aims and methods of Scouting, and diligently looking for ways to help the boys learn their duties and guide them.

          The 11 year old New Scout Patrol is critical, the key to a vibrant Young Men’s Program. If ignored or done poorly, it will cascade for years with amplified problems into the PH quorums. Done right, and coupled with a first class 12 – 13 experience, it will build such a wonderful foundation of character and confidence for the boys.

          For more great ideas and 11 year old program resources, visit http://www.UtahScouts.org/eyo.

        2. Stan Stolpe says:

          David, thank you and others for a lively and frank discussion. Actually it is a hard and fast boundary and here is why. Organizations are allowed by BSA to establish unique policies for their units when they charter that support the mission, vision, and core objectives of that organization. It is not unlike the Boy Scouts of Canada in that they charter differently from the World Scouting Organization than the Boy Scouts of America. So, too, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints holds different policies associated with its charters than the standard polices of the BSA. We need to keep that in mind. We are authorized by the National Council to operate differently.
          You are correct to assume that a boy who is 10.5 years old and has completed his Arrow of Light can join a troop, but only in units that hold standard charters.
          In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints units, boys transition on their birthdays by policy. So there should not be anyone caught in the seams. The 1 year Webelos program is an aggressive program to get a Cub Scout to the Arrow of Light in 1 year. Plus, the Webelos program is full of other activity badges that more than adequately fill the final year of Cub Scouting once a boy has completed the core activity badges to achieve the Arrow of Light.
          In our area, the Primaries from three stakes get together hold an annual EYO Scout camporee conducted over 2 days focused on First Class Scout skills. Two days and a night of camping is more than sufficient and meets the objective of the preparing boys for a richer experience when they join the deacons quorum and attend a longer camp.
          We must be careful when we compare how LDS units are chartered by policy to do and how other organizations are chartered under the umbrella of the BSA. Our program is rich and more than sufficient when executed skillfully to give our youth a full experience that meets the objectives of the Primary.

          1. Bob Torkelson says:

            Stan,
            Thanks for the explanation of the 3 nights camping rule for EYOS. This discussion comes up frequently in the EYOS class I teach in my Council Roundtable meetings and in the District Roundtable I have done in the past.
            It has always spurred spirited discussion as it has here. And the question about taking an EYOS scout to summer camp if the boys father takes them shows up the most.
            The explanation of the Chartering procedures has helped me the most and has given me the ability to explain the policy in a way that makes sense.
            Thanks again!

          2. Stan Stolpe says:

            Bob,

            You are more than welcome.

            Stan

  4. Alan Culwell says:

    Stan, thanks for the excellent input on this and other issues. The last sentence in the handbook paragraph that limits us to 3 nights of camping says “No other Scout-sponsored overnight camping should be planned for eleven-year-old Scouts.” That has always seemed clear to me, but I know plenty of others who have ignored it or somehow interpreted it to their liking.

    1. Stanley Stolpe says:

      We each have our own free agency to make moral choices as members of the Church. It is not easy to align our desires to the polices of the Church often because WE want so much. I see that there is wisdom in a PRIMARY program limiting the nights of camping until they are older boys. It is not about readiness, because the boys are eager. It is more about introducing the priesthood with its blessings, privileges, and joys. Thank you for your comment. If the priesthood is special, then WE as adults need to make it that way. Sometimes it is uncomfortable to do so, but that is our problem that we can let go of.

  5. Stanley Stolpe says:

    As I thought more about this I realized we need to understand what program we are executing. Are we as leaders meeting the aims and objectives of the Primary program or the Scout program? I believe we need to remember we meet the aims and objectives of the Primary program using the Scout program. If we were sponsored by another organization, we could focus more on the objectives of Scouting and we would have boys camping as 1st graders.

  6. David Vetter says:

    Case Study:

    Four eleven-year old Scouts spend a year together +/- a few months working on the early rank requirements. They have been friends for at least three years when some of them moved into the ward. All turn 12 prior to or during the summer (the youngest on July 7th). The YM organization, being very organized, plans Scout Camp week the previous Fall for 22-26 June. Due to the organization seams as referenced in my post above, the YM leadership fails to account for this fourth boy’s age when they make their Scout camp plans, leaving the boy caught in the seams, and by Church policy, left out of Scout camp. His three friends will attend. His father offered to attend with his two sons. What should be the response? Ready, discuss.

    1. Stanley Stolpe says:

      The guiding principal is that summer camp is an Aaronic priesthood quorum activity where the boys are doing Scouting, not a Scouting activity where boys hold the Aaronic priesthood. We need to keep our thinking straight. If the bishop is willing to ordain the young man prior to his 12th birthday, then he would be able to attend. But I’m fairly sure the bishop will want to follow Church guidance and wait to ordain him when he is 12 years old.
      We want to be careful not to fall into the trap of equivocation in that every boy’s experience needs to be exactly the same. It is okay to have diversity of experiences that boys can share.
      This situation further shows the importance of a troop annual plan where the EYO Scout leader attends to represent those rising EYO Scouts and their needs. In the end, this is a problem for the YMs organization not the Primary. If the quorum decides that this boy needs a special outing to “catch up,” then the Aaronic Priesthood boys, assisted by their advisers, should plan an outing, say over 2 nights (during summer) just for him. This has an added benefit of displaying how he is individually important to the quorum. The Primary’s role is to ensure that he has an overnight activity that includes a full day of working on First Class Scout requirements. In our stake, we team with two other stakes to have an EYO Camporee.
      Depending on the family situation, the boy born on 7 July could consider attending summer camp as a provisional Scout or go with another troop later in the year, but definitely should not attend with the quorum.

  7. Lisa Lovegood says:

    What do you do with a lone 11year-old scout and a related female leader?

    1. Stanley Stolpe says:

      The simple answer is that you run the program. Scout policy is to have 2 deep leadership. I understand that in some wards and branches, there is not enough leadership or committed leaders. You do not HAVE to do overnight camping. Going out and having a campfire program until 9:30 or so works well. Spend a day in the woods, make camp, practice scout skills, have an evening meal over the fire. Stay until the stars shine brightly. Talk around the fire. Listen to the boy share his heart. Conclude with a spiritual moment. Go home. Take the Primary president or a counselor with you if available. Bottom line, make it work. Small size can be powerful. I recall the times where there was only a single Scout. He got the best experience because is was geared just for him.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 

LDS-BSA Relationships