Guidance for Primary Presidency
The implementation and administration of Scouting is done at the ward level through the Aaronic Priesthood and Primary organizations.
“Scout activities take the place of activity days for boys ages 8 through 11. To maintain a gospel focus in Scout activities, leaders use the Faith in Go d for Boys guidebook as one of their resources. As boys fulfill requirements in the guidebook, they also qualify for religious awards in Scouting” (Handbook 2: Administering the Church, 11.5.3).
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).
This web page explains the Scouting responsibilities of ward Primary presidency members, focusing on the responsibilities of the two sisters who have stewardship over Primary boys ages eight through eleven. Included are topics about Cub Scouts and eleven-year-old Scouts, calling Scouting leaders for Primary-age boys, activity days, camping, and so on. Primary presidency members should review the information found in the LDS.org website: Primary > Responsibilities: Ward Primary Presidency. Additional general Scouting leader information is available at Scouting.org; information specifically for LDS leaders is found at “New Leader – Pack” and “New Leader – Eleven-year-old Scouts” on this website.
- The LDS Scouting Handbook, 4.3 (under Scouting Committees), states “When more than one Scouting committee exists in the ward [for example, a pack committee and a troop committee], members of the Primary presidency should be assigned as follows: (1) the member responsible for the 11-year-old boys serves on the Boy Scout troop committee, and (2) the member responsible for boys ages 8 [through] 10 serves on the Cub Scout pack committee.” Scouting committees:
- Meet as needed to discuss Scouting in the ward and receive assignments from the committee chairperson.
- Support and assist Scouting activities by providing needed services.
- See that the Scouting units operate in accordance with Church and BSA policies and standards” (LDS Scouting Handbook, 4.3).
- The Primary presidency supervises Scouting for Primary boys ages 8 through 11: Cub Scouts (Wolf and Bear), ages 8 and 9; Webelos Scouts and Arrow of Light Scouts, age 10; and 11-year-old Boy Scouts (who are in the troop, not the pack).
- As quoted from the LDS Scouting Handbook, section 6.5: “The ward Primary presidency, under the direction of a counselor in the bishopric, has responsibility for boys ages 8 through 11. The Church does not participate in Scouting programs for boys younger than 8 years old. A member of the presidency is responsible to see that Scouting is organized appropriately. The presidency member should:
- Register with BSA, receive BSA training, serve on the appropriate ward Scouting committees, and ensure that Church policies are followed. [Note: To find out what training is required for most Scouting positions, including the pack and troop committee for Primary presidency members, click on the BSA’s “Trained Leader Requirements: Unit and Other Positions.”]
- Coordinate Scouting with the Faith in God program to maintain a gospel focus.
- Encourage attendance at Scout leader training.
- Help leaders understand how Scouting can strengthen the family and accomplish the purposes of Primary.
- Visit Scout meetings and activities to support and evaluate the quality of the boys’ experiences in Scouting. Review each boy’s progress and participation in presidency meetings and in the regular meetings with the bishopric adviser.
- Help plan day camps and ensure that boys have an opportunity to participate in them” (LDS Scouting Handbook, 6.5).
- “The Primary presidency ensures that all boys ages 8 through 11 are registered in the Scout program and that all Scout leaders are registered and receive proper training” (Handbook 2, 5.3). [To find out the proper training for Scout leaders, click on the BSA’s “Trained Leader Requirements: Unit and Other Positions.”]
- The Primary presidency member(s) responsible for Scouting should be registered with the BSA and trained. (See the LDS-BSA Relationships website “New Leader – Pack” or “New Leader – Eleven-year-old Scouts” for details on registration and required training for committee members.)
The Scouting program for Primary-age boys includes two separate and distinct “units” within the ward: the Cub Scout pack and the Boy Scout troop.
- All Scouts must be “registered” with the Boy Scouts of America. “The Primary presidency ensures that all boys ages 8 through 11 are registered in the Scout program” (Handbook 2: 5.3). See tab below (Selecting, Registering, Sustaining, and Training LDS Scouting Leaders).
- Two unique LDS Scouting policies:
- “The Church does not participate in Scouting programs for boys younger than 8 years old” (LDS Scouting Handbook, 6.5).
- “Boys advance on their birthdays” (“Scouting in Primary: Cub Scouting (Ages 8 through 10)” on LDS.org). This means that advancement to the next program in Scouting is done by age, not by Primary class or grade in school (i.e. Wolf den to Bear den to Webelos/Arrow of Light den to troop to team to crew). Details may be found in the LDS Scouting Handbook.
- Cub Scouting in the Boy Scouts of America is a fun, family-centered activity program, designed for boys from first through fifth grades (five years). In the Church, however, boys do not join Scouting until they are eight years old, and they remain in the Cub Scout program until they turn eleven (only three years).
- The Cub Scout pack is for boys ages eight through ten and consists of two or more age-specific dens. A den consists of five to eight boys, led by an adult den leader and an assistant den leader. Many packs select an older Boy Scout to serve as the “den chief” for each den. The den chief acts as a role model to the younger boys and assists the den leaders at den and pack meetings. The dens meet weekly (not twice a month, as the activity days for girls are scheduled). The dens meet together as a combined group at the end of the month in a fun-filled, energetic pack meeting, to which all family members of the Cub Scouts are invited (and strongly encouraged) to attend.
- Eight-year-olds belong to the Wolf den and nine-year-olds belong to the Bear den.
- In very small wards, if there are not enough boys ages eight and nine, the Wolf and Bear dens can meet together. This, however, will require more work and planning on the part of the den leaders, because the requirements for the Wolf and Bear ranks differ. Once there are enough boys to form two dens, the combined dens should split.
- The Webelos den and/or the Arrow of Light den are for ten-year-olds.
- Note: A new Cub Scout program was launched in June 2015. In non-LDS packs there are two separate dens: the Webelos den for fourth graders and the Arrow of Light den for fifth graders.
- As mentioned above, the Webelos program for boys in LDS packs is only for one year. Under the old programs, a Webelos Scout needed to earn his Webelos badge and then complete additional requirements to fulfill his Arrow of Light Award, the highest award in Cub Scouting. However with the new program, the Webelos badge is no longer required in order to receive the Arrow of Light.
- Some Webelos den leaders may choose to do both the Webelos program and the Arrow of Light program, while others may choose to skip the Webelos program and concentrate on the Arrow of Light program.
- For details about how to help LDS leaders decide how they want to implement the new Webelos/Arrow of Light program, see Program Updates – Transition Guidelines and (In the FAQs Table of Contents, click on “LDS-Specific Questions” (updated frequently, so check back often).
- The patrol for eleven-year-old (EYO) Scouts is part of the Boy Scout troop.
- When a boy turns eleven, he moves from the Cub Scout pack’s Webelos den (or the “Arrow of Light den” under the new program) into the patrol for eleven-year-old Scouts in the Boy Scout troop.
- When a boy turns eleven, it is appropriate for a special “bridging ceremony” to occur during the boy’s last pack meeting. The EYO Scout patrol and their adult leaders are present to welcome him into the troop. The Primary presidency member responsible for EYO Scouts and the bishopric counselor with stewardship over the Primary should try to attend this pack meeting.
- The leader of eleven-year-old boys should “work under the direction of a member of the Primary presidency and meet with her regularly to discuss the Scouting program and each boy’s progress” (LDS Scouting Handbook, 6.4).
- Boys in the EYO Scout patrol work closely with their peers and Scout leaders as they complete requirements for advancement in rank. They take on leadership responsibilities in the patrol, begin overnight camping, and prepare themselves spiritually to receive the Aaronic Priesthood. One of the responsibilities of the EYO Scout leader is to encourage and “help each boy achieve the Faith in God Award and advance in Scouting” (LDS Scouting Handbook, 6.4). Before they turn twelve each boy should complete the requirements to earn his Faith in God Certificate (in the Faith in God for Boys guidebook).
- As indicated on the BSA Adult Application, the adult leader of the EYO Scout patrol registers as the “Leader of 11-year-old Scouts (LDS Troop),” with position code “10.” The assistant adult leader for the EYO Scout patrol registers as an “Assistant Scoutmaster” with position code “SA.” (See page 2 of the BSA Adult Application.)
- Youth Leadership: “In consultation with the ward Primary presidency and the [adult] 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).
- “Although they are part of the ward Scout troop, they function in their own patrol and operate under the direction of the ward Primary presidency. They can participate with the ward Boy Scout troop in occasional daytime activities as well as boards of review and courts of honor. Scouting prepares 11-year-old boys to receive the Aaronic Priesthood and transition into the deacons quorum and Young Men program . . . Eleven-year-old Scouts may participate in three one-night camps a year, which meets the camping requirements for advancement to the rank of Second Class [First Class until January 1, 2016, or longer depending on the circumstances—see BSA’s transition guidance for changes in advancement requirements] . . . If desired, these overnight camps may be held with the ward’s Boy Scout troop” (LDS Scouting Handbook, 6.2).
- More details about Scouting for eleven-year-olds are found in other paragraphs of section 6.2 of the LDS Scouting Handbook. In the BSA this patrol is known as the “new Scout patrol,” and information on patrols for new Scouts is found in the Boy Scout Handbook, the Scoutmaster Handbook, and online.
- Detailed information about EYO Scouting is available at ldsbsa.org (“New Leader – Eleven-year-old Scouts”).
- “Where practical, the Primary may hold activity days for boys . . . ages 8 through 11. Leaders and teachers use the Faith in God [for Boys] guidebooks as resources for activity days, supporting the work children and parents do at home to fulfill Faith in God requirements” (Handbook 2, 5.2).
- “Scout activities take the place of activity days for boys ages 8 through 11” (Handbook 2: Administering the Church, 5.3).
- “Activity days are held no more than twice each month” (Handbook 2, 5.2). [Note: This “twice-a-month policy” refers to the worldwide Church Primary program. Because Church units in the United States use the BSA Scouting program as the “activity arm” of the Primary and Aaronic Priesthood, wards and branches should follow the BSA recommended schedules, including holding weekly meetings.]
- “[Activity days] may be held at the meetinghouse or in a home. As leaders determine the frequency and location of activity days, they consider the time constraints of the children’s families, travel distance and costs, children’s safety, and other local circumstances. Leaders ensure that activity days follow the guidelines in 8.1 and in chapter 13 [of Handbook 2]” (Handbook 2, 11.5.2).
- “The children’s Primary teachers conduct activity days unless the bishopric calls separate activity days leaders” (Handbook 2, 5.2).
- “The bishop provides general direction for Scouting in the ward and ensures that it is properly organized and functioning as outlined in this publication and in Handbook 2 (13.4 and 11.5.3)” (LDS Scouting Handbook, 4.1).
- “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). The COR works with other leaders in the ward to help Scouting succeed.
- 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 [the bishop’s counselor] meets regularly with the ward Primary presidency. He reports on Primary matters in bishopric meetings. . . Where Scouting is authorized by the Church, he [the 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) in 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 occasionally 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).
- Selecting Scouting Leaders for Boys in Primary
- “[The Primary president] submits recommendations to the bishopric for ward members to be called to serve as leaders and teachers in the Primary. In making these recommendations, she follows the guidelines in [Handbook 2] 1.1 and 19.1.2” (Handbook 2: 11.2.2). Scouting is a part of the Primary program, so the Primary president should submit to the bishopric the names of persons she has prayerfully considered as being worthy candidates to be called to serve as leaders in the Cub Scout pack and the eleven-year-old Scout patrol.
- “If a ward Primary holds activity days and Scouting activities for children ages 8 through 11, the activities may be planned and conducted by the [Primary] teachers of these children or by other leaders the bishopric calls to fulfill these responsibilities (see Handbook 2: 5.2 and 11.5.3)” (Handbook 2: 11.2.6).
- “The children’s Primary teachers may serve as Scout leaders, or the bishopric may call others to serve as Scout leaders. Leaders ensure that Scouting activities follow the guidelines in [Handbook 2] 8.1 and in [Handbook 2] chapter 13 [Activities]” (Handbook 2: 11.5.3).
- Calling Adult Scouting Leaders (quoted from the LDS Scouting Handbook, 8.5)
“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).
- Registering With the BSA Is Required
- To find out details on how leaders register with the BSA click onto “Become an Official Scout Leader” in “New Leader – Pack” or “New Leader – Eleven-year-old Scouts.”
- “The Primary presidency ensures that . . . all Scout leaders are registered and receive proper training” (Handbook 2: 5.3). To find out how Scouting leaders (including the Primary presidency members themselves) register and what training is required, see tabs for “Pack (Primary)” or “Eleven-year-old Scouts (Primary)” on ldsbsa.org.
- The counselors in the Primary presidency who are responsible for Scouting should register as pack or troop committee members (depending upon what age group they are responsible for). They should complete the required training for their specific committee within 60 days. To find out what training is required for most Scouting positions, click on the BSA’s “Trained Leader Requirements: Unit and Other Positions.”
- To read quotes from Church leaders about the necessity of registering immediately, click here: Church Policies Concerning BSA Adult Registration.
- Process: The prospective leader must first fill out the BSA Adult Application and complete online Youth Protection (YP) training. The application—with the YP certificate attached—must then be signed by the committee chair and either the bishop or the chartered organization representative (COR) before it can be submitted to the local council office. Two weeks after the application has been submitted to the council office, he or she may be sustained in sacrament meeting.
- Sustaining Leaders in Scouting Callings
- “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).
- “Members who are called to most Church positions should receive a sustaining vote before they begin serving” (Handbook 2: 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. According to the LDS-BSA Relationships office, this process normally takes about two weeks from the time the Adult Application (with the Youth Protection training certificate attached) has been submitted to the council (not two weeks after the calling was initially extended to the prospective leader).
- BSA Training Is Required for All Leaders
- “Young Men and Primary leaders who are called to Scouting responsibilities should receive training in Scouting principles, policies, and procedures as used by the Church” (LDS Scouting Handbook, 2.0).
- Required Training for Leaders: see the tab for “New Leader – Pack” and “New Leader – Eleven-year-old Scouts.”
- To find out what training is required for most Scouting positions, click on the BSA’s “Trained Leader Requirements: Unit and Other Positions.” Training requirements are also listed at the BSA Adult Leader Training website and on the back of the BSA Adult Application (the applicant’s copy). On this back page, the bishopric member should clearly mark the line indicating the training required for the appropriate Scouting position.
- In a nutshell, training initially required for LDS leaders includes the following:
- Youth Protection training is required for leaders in LDS units before submitting the Adult Leader Application.
- Fast Start Training for the appropriate position should be taken before beginning to serve in an LDS unit (not required by the BSA but strongly encouraged for all leaders serving in LDS units). For Cub Scout leaders, Fast Start Training has been replaced by the online course Before the First Meeting (i.e. the first four or five modules in their position-specific training course).
- Leader position-specific training should be completed ASAP—within 60 days for online courses for committee members and Cub Scout leaders. More time is allowed for EYO Scout leaders, who must take Scoutmaster and Assistant Scoutmaster Position-Specific Training (all day) and Introduction to Outdoor Leader Skills (overnight).
- BSA Scout Leader Training Awards
- “Recognition awards are available to Cub Scout leaders [and leaders of EYO 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] 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 Primary secretary or a member of the Primary presidency (or the chartered organization representative) would keep a record of when the leaders began and ended their service.
- “No Scout-sponsored overnight camping should be planned for boys under age 11” (LDS Scouting Handbook, 6.1).
- “Eleven-year-old Scouts participate in rank advancement. They are encouraged to complete as many of the First Class rank requirements as possible before turning 12, with the exception of the requirement for six overnight camps” (LDS Scouting Handbook, 6.2).
- “Eleven-year-old Scouts may participate in three one-night camps a year, which meets the camping requirements for advancement to the rank of Second Class [First Class until January 1, 2016, or longer depending on the circumstances—see BSA’s transition guidance for changes in advancement requirements and the Note below] . . . If desired, these overnight camps may be held with the ward’s Boy Scout troop. 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. No other Scout-sponsored overnight camping should be planned for eleven year-old Scouts “(LDS Scouting Handbook, 6.2).
Note: If a Scout has begun working on Tenderfoot, Second Class, or First Class rank advancement on or before January 1, 2016, he can complete rank requirements for any of those ranks using the old requirements (including participating in three, rather than six, campouts). He has until January 1, 2017, to complete any of those ranks. If he does not complete the requirements for any of these ranks before January 1, 2017, he must meet the new rank requirements. If he joins the troop on or after January 1, 2016, he must use the new requirements.
- “Female leaders do not participate in overnight camping with these boys. 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. Fathers are encouraged to participate in overnight camps with their sons and with boys whose fathers cannot attend” (LDS Scouting Handbook, 6.2).
- “For more information about Scouting, including guidelines for planning annual day camps, see the Church’s Scouting Handbook [6.3, 6.4, and 6.5] and the Day Camp Guide for Eleven-Year-Old Scouts” (Handbook 2: 5.3).
- “When camping, no youth is permitted to sleep in the tent of an adult other than his own parent or guardian (LDS Scouting Handbook, 8.7).
- See “Camping and Sabbath Day Observance,” section 8.12 of the LDS Scouting Handbook, for information on Church policies about national and regional jamborees, Monday night events (family home evening), and Scout groups traveling to or from camp on the Sabbath.
- Tour and activity plans must be prepared for members who travel in Church-sponsored Scouting groups, including approval from appropriate priesthood leaders (section 8.14 of the LDS Scouting Handbook).
- A question relating to Scouts with disabilities is found at LDS.org: “Disability Resources FAQ: Doctrines and Policies” (the question probably refers to the weeklong Scout camp, but similar adaptations can be made for Cub Scout day camp or the camp for eleven-year-old Scouts).
“Q: Under what conditions can a young man with a disability attend Scout camp?
“A: Often youth can participate successfully in camp with minor program modifications. Individual needs and safety issues should be taken into account. A ward or stake may temporarily call an adult to be a companion to the youth during the camp” (LDS.org: “Disability Resources FAQ: Doctrines and Policies”
- Scouting in a Ward With Few Boys
The minimum size for a unit is two paid youth members. Their primary registration (where the registration fee is paid) must be with that unit.
- “There must be at least five paid boys in a pack, troop, or team and five paid youth members in a crew or ship. It is possible to register a unit with fewer, if special circumstances exist. The Scout executive may give permission to allow a unit to register with as few as two paid youth members . . . This approval should be in writing and kept in the unit’s historical file [in the council office]” (Registrar Procedures Manual, 2007 printing, # 26-901, Boy Scouts of America, 24). The same wording is found in the 2013 printing, #524-901.
- “Combining activities for small units during the week may be authorized by the stake president, so long as each ward maintains a properly registered unit; each is staffed with adult leaders; and retention, recruitment, and activation efforts are maintained by each ward or quorum” (LDS Scouting Handbook, 8.4).
- “Where there are few young men, a Scout troop [interpreted to also include a pack] may be organized to serve multiple wards and branches or, in some instances, an entire stake or district” (Handbook 2: 13.4). Note: This is not generally needed, however, because only two paid members are required for a Scouting unit to be chartered with the BSA. It is better for wards to have their own units and meet together to have a larger group of boys.