The Bishop’s Role in the Ward Scouting Program
The Scouting Handbook for Church Units in the United States, updated in May 2015, (hereafter referred to as the “(LDS Scouting Handbook”) “outlines guidelines and policies relating to Scouting programs in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Bishoprics and Young Men, Primary, and Scouting leaders should be familiar with this information as they administer Scouting programs in the ward” (LDS Scouting Handbook, 1.0).
“The bishop provides general direction for Scouting in the ward and ensures that it is properly organized and functioning as outlined in this publication [LDS Scouting Handbook] and in Handbook 2 (8.13.4 and 11.5.3). He is registered with the BSA and serves as the executive officer for Scouting units chartered by the ward” (LDS Scouting Handbook, 4.1).
This website explains the responsibilities of a bishop in his capacity as the institution head of the ward (“sponsoring organization” or “chartered organization” in Scouting lingo). This “Bishopric” tab contains information that is specific to the callings of a bishop or branch president and his counselors.
The bishop is the “institution head” (aka the “executive officer,” but most commonly referred to as the “IH”) of the sponsoring organization (aka “chartered organization”). When there is a change in the institution head (i.e. when a new bishop is called) the name of the new bishop must be reported to the BSA local council as soon as possible.
- A newly called bishop should ask an experienced Scouter in his ward to contact the local district executive (“DE,” a professional Scouter) to inform him or her that the ward has a new IH.
- The DE will make sure the proper paperwork is completed immediately so the name of the new bishop can be listed on the council’s records and the ward’s unit rosters ASAP.
- There is no membership fee attached to the IH position, nor does the BSA require him to fill out an Adult Application (i.e. register with the BSA). . . . BUT, read on . . .
Why Should a Bishop “Register With the BSA” if Registration as an Institution Head Is Not Required by the BSA?
One reason why an institution head isn’t required to register (i.e. fill out an Adult Application) might be because the executive officers (institution heads) of many fraternal organizations (men’s clubs, for example) that sponsor Scouting units have rare or no contact with the boys in the packs or troops chartered by their organization. However, LDS bishops have very close contact with the youth in their wards. Therefore it is vitally important that the bishop register as a member of a unit (generally as a member of the Venturing crew committee because the bishop is president of the priests quorum) and take the appropriate Youth Protection training (for Venturing leaders) and Crew Committee Challenge. It is strongly recommended that he also take the standard Youth Protection training, because he will be working with all the youth in the ward, not just the priests.
To read quotes from Church leaders about the necessity of registering immediately, click here: Church Policies Concerning BSA Adult Registration.
“All adult Scouting leaders must be properly registered and must complete Youth Protection training before beginning their service” (LDS Scouting Handbook, 8.5).
How Bishopric Members Register With the BSA
Bishopric members should register as members of the committees of the Scouting units for which they have stewardship. “Each committee should include a member of the bishopric” (LDS Scouting Handbook, 4.3). If a bishopric member serves in more than one Scouting position in the ward, he must fill out a separate Adult Application for each position (these additional registrations are known as “multiple registrations”). There is no additional fee for a multiple registration.
- The bishop is the institution head, or IH. The BSA does not require registration of the IH, but because he is the president of the priests quorum, it is highly recommended that the bishop register as a member of the Venturing crew committee.
- “The bishop assigns a counselor to serve as the ward’s representative to the local Scouting district and council. This counselor registers as the chartered organization representative (COR)” (LDS Scouting Handbook,2). If the counselor also registers as a member of one of the ward’s unit committees, his “primary” registration should be as the COR.
- Every Scouting committee must have three members: one committee chair and two committee members.
- If the unit committee does not have three members, the COR may “multiple” register as a unit committee member or the unit committee chair (no fee is charged for multiple registrations). The COR is the only person who can multiple register in two positions in the same unit (as the CC, member of the committee, or the parent coordinator).
- For more information about the COR, see below: The Bishop’s Counselor Over Scouting: The Chartered Organization Representative (the COR).
- The bishopric members responsible for the teachers and deacons quorums should register as committee members for the Varsity team or the Boy Scout troop, respectively.
- The bishopric member responsible for overseeing the Primary generally registers as a pack committee member. He may wish to multiple register as a member of the troop committee (because he also has stewardship over the eleven-year-old Scout patrol).
As registered committee members, the bishopric members should complete the position-specific training for the committee(s) on which they serve. Currently the training for some committee members is available online (see below: What BSA Training Is Required for Bishopric Members?).
Complete the following two items and return the Adult Application and the Youth Protection certificate to the committee chair of the unit in which you are registering.
- Fill out theAdult Application at Scouting.org or obtain one from your committee chairman or unit commissioner.
- Complete Youth Protection trainingat MyScouting.org.
Note: You do not have to be a registered BSA member or have a member ID to take Youth Protection training. Youth Protection training is required for all leaders in LDS units prior to submitting their Adult Application.
- To take Youth Protection (YP) training go to org and create an account.
- From the MyScouting.org portal, click on E-Learning and take Youth Protection training. There are two versions of YP training: standard YP (about 30 minutes) and Venturing YP (slightly longer). Bishopric members should take standard YP, unless they are registering with the Venturing crew. However, because bishopric members work withall the youth in the ward they are encouraged to take both YP courses.
- Upon completion of Youth Protection training, print the training certificate and give it, along with your completed Adult Application, to the appropriate committee chair (to be submitted immediately to the BSA local council office).
- When your Adult Application has been approved by the BSA, you will receive a BSA membership card, which includes your member ID number. After you receive your membership card, log back into MyScouting.org, click on My Profile, and update the system by inputting your member ID number. This will link your Youth Protection training records (and any other training records in MyScouting.org) to your BSA membership.
What BSA Training Is Required for Bishopric Members?
A leaders first training, as discussed above.
This will give you an overview of the Scouting program for the boys under your stewardship. Most Fast Start training takes less than 20 minutes. It is not required by the BSA, but every LDS Scouting leader is strongly encouraged to take the Fast Start training for their current position.
Fast Start training is available for the following positions:
- Pack Committee Fast Start (bishopric member over Primary)
- Fast Start: Boy Scouting (bishopric members over eleven-year-old Scouts and deacons quorum)
- Varsity Leader Fast Start (bishopric member over teachers quorum)
- Fast Start: Venturing (bishop, as the president of the priests quorum)
- Chartered Organization Representative [COR] Fast Start (bishopric member assigned as the COR)
To take Fast Start training for your position go to MyScouting.org > E-Learning > the appropriate age group program > Fast Start.
This is an introductory course that reviews the whole Scouting program and it is highly recommended that all bishopric members take this 50-minute course. It is helpful for an understanding of Scouting, and is required for the counselor who is serving as the chartered organization representative (COR). To take This Is Scouting go to MyScouting.org > E-Learning > General
Leader position-specific training is required for all Scouting positions in all units. These leader-specific training courses will help leaders learn about their Scouting duties and responsibilities. To be considered trained and eligible to wear the “Trained” strip, a Scouting leader must take the leader position-specific training for the position in which he or she is registered.
Bishopric members should take the required committee member position-specific training in order to know how best they can serve and work with the leaders and youth under their stewardship. To find out what training is required for most Scouting positions, click on the BSA’s “Trained Leader Requirements: Unit and Other Positions.”
Listed below are the currently required leader position-specific training courses for bishopric members:
- Leader Position-Specific Training for Pack Committee (bishopric member over Primary): currently on line at www.My.Scouting.org. Also offered as a live course called “Pack Committee Challenge” (2 to 2 ½ hours).
- “Troop Committee Challenge” (bishopric members over eleven-year-old Scouts and deacons quorum): currently on line at www.My.Scouting.org. It is also available as a live classroom course.
- Online Pack Committee training and Troop Committee Challenge should be completed within 60 days of being called.
- You don’t have to complete the online courses at one sitting: You can finish a module or section and log off. When you log on again, you can start from that same point.
- “Team Committee Challenge” (bishopric member over teachers quorum): a live classroom course (about 90 minutes)
- “Crew Committee Challenge” (bishop, as the president of the priests quorum): a live classroom course (about 2 ½ hours)
- “Training the Chartered Organization Representative” (bishopric member assigned as the COR): a live course (about 2 ½ hours). An online version is set to be launched in 2017.
Most of these live training courses are presented by the local district. Because all leader-specific training is the same throughout the BSA, leaders may also take these courses in a neighboring district, perhaps at a more convenient time. Most training courses offered by the districts in the council are listed on the council’s online calendar. Most require pre-registration. The new leader should contact the council training chair for dates and locations.
- Bishopric members should set the example by completing their own required training as soon as possible.
- Your ward goal should be to have 100% of the leaders in each of your Scouting units trained.
- Once you have completed the required training for your position, you could take some additional training so you become familiar with BSA policies and procedures. Many worthwhile courses are available at MyScouting.org, such as Weather Hazards, Safe Swim Defense, and Safety Afloat.
- If you want to go the extra mile as a bishopric member, you might consider taking the training for some other Scouting leader positions, possibly joining one of your new leaders in attending Introduction to Outdoor Leader Skills.
- Wood Badge training is an excellent course focusing on leadership skills, and is presented by the local council in a weeklong session or two three-day (“Sunday friendly”) sessions, which include overnight camping. This training course is encouraged for ALL Scouting leaders who have completed their required basic training. See the 2007 article by Charles W. Dahlquist, a former Young Men general president: “The Importance of Wood Badge Training” (Wood Badge website).
The Bishopric’s Responsibilities for the Young Men
There is guidance for bishops and bishopric members regarding their responsibilities concerning Scouting and the Aaronic Priesthood in Handbook 2: Administering the Church, in the LDS Scouting Handbook, and on the Church’s website (www.LDS.org).
From Handbook 2 (section 8.13.4):
“Where Scouting is authorized by the Church, quorums may participate in Scouting activities during Mutual. Scouting should help young men put into practice the gospel principles they learn on Sunday.
“Each member of the bishopric oversees the Scouting program for the Aaronic Priesthood quorum he oversees. Members of the ward Young Men presidency generally serve as Scout leaders. Or the bishopric may call assistant quorum advisers as Scout leaders, with members of the Young Men presidency called to serve as assistant Scout leaders.
“In each quorum, the bishop usually appoints the quorum president or one of his assistants in the priests quorum to serve as the youth leader of the Scouting program. However, he may appoint other young men as youth Scout leaders. [Also see LDS Scouting Handbook, 5.2: “This leader is usually the quorum president or an assistant in the priests quorum, but another worthy young man may serve, whether a member of the Church or not.”]
“Where Scouting is authorized by the Church, young men ages 12 to 15 should be registered. Young men ages 16 and 17 should be registered if they are pursuing rank advancements or if the stake president or bishop chooses to sponsor Scouting programs for young men of this age.
“All adult Scout leaders should register before they begin their service and should receive proper training in their responsibilities. In the United States, registered adult leaders receive liability protection from the Boy Scouts of America. . .
“The bishopric organizes a ward Scout committee to ensure that Scouting functions properly as a supporting activity for Aaronic Priesthood quorums.
“Where there are few young men, a Scout troop may be organized to serve multiple wards and branches or, in some instances, an entire stake or district” (Handbook 2: Administering the Church , 8.13.4).
The Bishopric’s Responsibilities for the Primary
There is guidance given to bishops and bishopric members regarding their responsibilities concerning Scouting and the Primary in Handbook 2: Administering the Church, in the LDS Scouting Handbook, and on the Church’s website (www.LDS.org).
Some of these responsibilities include:
- Bishopric members with stewardship over Primary should review the information found on the LDS.org website: Primary > Ward Primary Presidency Roles and Responsibilities > Bishopric.
- “The bishop assigns one of his counselors to oversee the ward Primary . . . He meets regularly with the ward Primary presidency. He reports on Primary matters in bishopric meetings . . . Where Scouting is authorized by the Church, he [the bishop’s counselor] oversees Scouting for boys ages 8 through 11” (Handbook 2: 2.1).
- The bishopric member responsible for overseeing the Primary generally registers as a pack committee member. He may wish to multiple register as a member of the troop committee (because he also has stewardship over the eleven-year-old Scout patrol). He should take BSA training for pack and/or troop committee members, depending upon the committee(s) on which he is registered.
- The bishopric adviser to the Primary should try to attend pack meetings as often as possible, especially for the following events: the blue and gold banquet, the pack meeting at which the unit commissioner annually presents the unit charter, and any pack meeting during which a graduating Webelos Scout is moving to the patrol for EYO Scouts (in a special bridging ceremony). He might also want to periodically attend a patrol meeting of the EYO Scouts.
- “The eleven-year-old Scout leader plans the camps in consultation with the ward Primary presidency, the bishopric adviser to the Primary, and the ward Scouting committee . . . If the leader of the eleven-year-old Scouts is a woman, the bishopric adviser to the Primary or another qualified male adult should be invited to supervise overnight camps” (LDS Scouting Handbook, 6.2).
The Bishop’s Counselor Over Scouting: The Chartered Organization Representative (the COR)
Bishops generally don’t have time to perform all that is required for organizing and overseeing the entire Scouting program in the ward. “The bishop’s counselors help the bishop by overseeing the Scouting programs for boys ages 8 through 11 and Aaronic Priesthood quorums. The bishop assigns a counselor to serve as the ward’s representative to the local Scouting district and council. This counselor registers as the chartered organization representative (COR)” (LDS Scouting Handbook, 4.2). The COR works with other leaders to help Scouting succeed in the ward. (See the list of the COR’s responsibilities in the LDS Scouting Handbook, 4.2.)
A basic question: How do we say “COR”?
Answer: Depending on your district, council, or region, you might hear “COR” pronounced in different ways: Some people pronounce it “see-oh-are” while others use one syllable: “core.” No matter how you say it, the job of the COR is very important and the responsibilities are similar in an LDS unit and a non-LDS unit.
There is only one chartered organization representative (COR) for each ward (i.e. for each sponsoring organization) and he is registered as the COR for every unit in the ward (pack, troop, team, and crew).
- The COR is responsible for assuring the success of the Scouting units in the chartered organization (i.e. the ward or branch).
- For a list of the duties of an LDS COR, see the LDS Scouting Handbook, 4.2.
- When first assigned by the bishop to serve as the ward’s COR, after filling out an Adult Application and taking Youth Protection training, this bishopric member should take the ten-minute online COR Fast Start training (at my.scouting.org). This is not required by the BSA, but all leaders in LDS Scouting units are strongly encouraged to take their appropriate Fast Start training.
- The required position-specific training for the COR is a 2 ½ hour course (“Training the Chartered Organization Representative”) presented by the district or council in a classroom setting. The BSA plans to offer this course on line at my.scouting.org some time in the future, but currently it is only offered live.
- Optional, but strongly encouraged: The 50-minute online course titled “This Is Scouting” (found at my.scouting.org) gives an overview of Scouting for boys of different ages. This course used to be required for all CORs, and although no longer required by the BSA, it is strongly encouraged for LDS CORs because they have stewardship over all Scouting units in their wards.
- Optional: The COR would find it helpful to take the committee member position-specific training required for the committee(s) on which he serves.
- For the BSA’s itemized list indicating the responsibilities of the chartered organization representative click here.
- For a more thorough discussion of the COR’s responsibilities, download the BSA handbook titled The Chartered Organization Representative (33118).
The Bishopric’s Responsibility to Select Adult Scouting Leaders
The following Church policies (from the LDS Scouting Handbook, section 8.5) will help guide the bishopric as they select adult Scouting leaders.
“Worthy adults, whether members of the Church or not, may be called to serve as Scouting leaders. A current membership record of each member called to serve in Scouting should be in the local unit. All adult Scouting leaders must be properly registered and must complete Youth Protection training before beginning their service.
“Members of the Church who serve in Scouting assignments should be sustained and set apart (see also 8.8). Others who request it may receive a blessing from a member of the bishopric to help them in their assignment.
“The bishopric may call men or women to serve as Scouting leaders for Primary-age Scouts. Women do not serve as leaders for young men of Aaronic Priesthood age, but they may chair or serve on Scouting committees.
“When possible, leaders should be allowed to serve in Aaronic Priesthood and Scouting callings long enough to become fully trained, establish strong activity programs, and effectively touch the lives of boys and young men” (LDS Scouting Handbook, 8.5).
“Church standards should be upheld at all Scout-sponsored activities. All Scouts and their leaders who are registered in Latter-day Saint Scouting units are expected to live the standards of the Church as outlined in For the Strength of Youth (LDS Scouting Handbook, 8.1).
- NOTE: Before extending a calling to a new Scouting leader, the bishopric member would find value in watching the on-line 10- or 15-minute Fast Start training video for that position so he is familiar with what the job entails. If he is unable to watch the video, he should at least review the responsibilities for that position in the appropriate leader’s handbook so he is reminded of the duties and time commitment he is asking the new leader to accept.
- When you extend callings to new Scouting leaders, you need to tell them what is required as a Scouting leader, including the time required for the calling, multiple meetings (unit, committee, and roundtable), the possible out-of-pocket expenses (uniform, books), and use of family vacation time to attend campouts, summer camp, and training.
- Most importantly, you must tell the new leader about the requirement to register with the BSA, give him or her the most up-to-date Adult Application, and explain that Youth Protection training is required before the application is submitted to the council.
- The YP certificate must be attached to the Adult Application and both must be submitted to the council office ASAP, so the background check can be done right away.
- It takes about two weeks for the background check to be processed, at which time the leader may be sustained and may begin service.
- Once the leader has been issued a member ID number (indicating the background check has been completed), he or she can refer to Registration Helps above to read why and how leaders update their profiles (i.e. consolidate their Scouting training records).
- Invite the new leader to go on line and browse ldsbsa.org to read success stories about other LDS units, to learn from inspiring blogs written by experienced Scouters, and to watch motivating videos.
- You need to clearly explain to the new leader the BSA training that is required for his or her specific position, and how and where the training can be taken.
- Most Cub Scout leader training is available online, but most training for the leaders who work with the older boys must be taken at a district or council training event.
- Many positions for leaders in troops, teams, and crews require an overnight campout as part of their basic training.
- To find out what training is required for most Scouting positions:
- Go to BSA’s websites: “Adult Leader Training” or “Trained Leader Requirements: Unit and Other Positions.”
- The back of the last page of the Adult Application indicates the most up-to-date training requirements for most (not all) Scouting leadership positions. When explaining to the new leader the training that he or she must complete, show him or her this page. Clearly mark the appropriate position and training requirements before returning the page to the applicant.
“The bishopric organizes ward Scouting committees to ensure that Scouting functions properly as a supporting activity for Aaronic Priesthood young men and for boys ages 8 through 11. The bishopric calls several capable adults (including fathers and mothers of boys and young men) to serve as committee members. One of the committee members is called to serve as the chairperson. Qualified adults, including those who are not members of the Church, may serve on these committees. Each committee should include a member of the bishopric” (LDS Scouting Handbook, 4.3).
“The BSA will complete a criminal background check on all new adult leaders as part of the registration approval process. This includes the screening of Social Security numbers. A Scout leader should not be sustained or set apart until priesthood leaders ensure that the BSA has completed this process. Priesthood leaders should also cooperate with BSA officials to resolve any issues that may arise” (LDS Scouting Handbook, 8.8).
The LDS-BSA Relationships office indicates that the criminal background check is normally completed in two weeks from the time the council receives the Adult Application (not two weeks after the call was extended).
A criminal background check is not required for a newly called leader who is currently registered in another Scouting position. He or she must submit a “multiple” or “transfer” registration to the council office. However, because the leader is currently registered, there is no two-week waiting period necessary before sustaining the person in the new calling.
“Members who are called to most Church positions should receive a sustaining vote before they begin serving” (Handbook 2: 19.3). When called to serve as a Scouting leader, the leader may not be sustained until the BSA’s criminal background check has been completed.
- BSA Scout Leader Training Awards
- “Recognition awards are available to Cub Scout leaders [and leaders of older Scouts] who complete training, tenure, and performance requirements. These awards are presented by the local council. All of the awards require the completion of Fast Start training, Basic Leader training for the position, Youth Protection training, and participation in roundtables or a pow wow [for Cub Scout leaders and other training for older Scout leaders] or University of Scouting” (Awards for Adult Leaders and Awards Central, www.Scouting.org).
- The On My Honor Adult Recognition for LDS Scouters
- “This recognition may be given to adult Scout leaders. Requirements for earning the award and suggestions for presenting it are outlined on the application card” (LDS Scouting Handbook, 7.0).
- Requirements for the award are also found on LDS.org within the Aaronic Priesthood tab. “The On My Honor Adult Recognition may be given to adult Scout leaders, including Cub Scout leaders” (On My Honor Adult Recognition on LDS.org).
- Tenure for earning this award is a minimum of three years of service in the Aaronic Priesthood or Primary, or both. It would be helpful if the Young Men or Primary secretary or a member of either presidency (or the chartered organization representative) would keep a record of when the leaders began and ended their service.
The Bishopric’s Responsibilities for Youth Leadership
“Scouting is part of the responsibilities of deacons and teachers quorum presidencies and the assistants to the bishop in the priests quorum . . .
“Each Scouting unit should be led by a young man who is nominated by the bishopric and sustained by the quorum members . . . Other youth leaders of the Scouting units are nominated by the quorum presidency, approved by the bishopric, and sustained by the quorum members” (LDS Scouting Handbook, 5.2).
“In consultation with the ward Primary presidency and the leader of the eleven-year-old Scouts, the bishopric appoints one of the boys to serve as the patrol leader [of the eleven-year-old Scout patrol]” (LDS Scouting Handbook, 6.2).
The Annual Charter Renewal Process (AKA “Rechartering”)
“Rechartering is the annual process by which each Scouting unit renews its charter as an official part of the BSA” (LDS Scouting Handbook, 8.3). There is a separate charter for each of the Scout units in the ward (pack, troop, team, and crew). The bishop (as the institution head, also known as the “IH” or “executive officer”) must sign each charter renewal application. The chartered organization representative should assist the committee chairs in advance of and during the charter renewal process. He should help assure that all adult leaders and youth members are registered (or will be registered on their birthday) in the appropriate age-group units at least a month or two prior to the start of the charter renewal process.
Friends of Scouting
“The Church supports the BSA’s annual Friends of Scouting drive. These funds provide financial support for the BSA local council. Stake presidents and bishops oversee the drive in their units” (LDS Scouting Handbook, 8.15).