Scouting for Aaronic Priesthood-age Youth
“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” (Handbook 2, 8.13.4).
Aaronic priesthood-age youth register with the BSA in their age-appropriate Scouting units.
- Deacons quorum: deacon-age patrol of the Boy Scout troop (ages 12 and 13)
- There are two patrols in the Boy Scout troop: one for deacons and one for eleven-year-old (EYO) Scouts
- The EYO Scout patrol is supervised by the Primary presidency, not the YM presidency. (See LDS Scouting Handbook, 6.2.) Because the two patrols occasionally join for specific activities, YM leaders need to be aware of the following policies for EYO Scouts:
- The EYO Scout patrol meets separately from the deacon-age patrol for their weekly patrol meetings.
- “They can participate with the ward Boy Scout troop in occasional daytime activities as well as boards of review and courts of honor… [and] overnight camps” (LDS Scouting Handbook, 6.2).
- Each eleven-year-old Scout is limited to three one-night campouts before he turns twelve.
- Teachers quorum: Varsity Scout team (ages 14 and 15)
- Priests quorum: Venturing crew (ages 16 and 17; at the discretion of the bishop, an 18-year-old may remain in the crew until after his high school graduation and subsequent summer activities with the crew. He may need to submit an Adult Application.
Calling the Ward Young Men Presidency
“The bishop calls and sets apart the Young Men president. He may assign his counselors to call and set apart counselors in the Young Men presidency, the Young Men secretary, assistant quorum advisers, and others who serve with the young men” (Handbook 2, 8.3.1).
“The ward Young Men presidency consists of a president and two counselors. They serve as advisers to the Aaronic Priesthood quorums. They work under the direction of the bishopric. They also receive orientation and ongoing support from the stake Young Men presidency” (Handbook 2, 8.3.4).
“The Young Men president and his counselors serve as Aaronic Priesthood quorum advisers. The president is the adviser to the priests quorum, the first counselor is the adviser to the teachers quorum, and the second counselor is the adviser to the deacons quorum” (Handbook 2, 8.3.4).
“Generally, Aaronic Priesthood quorum advisers serve as the adult leaders of the Scouting units in the ward. Both the adviser and the assistant adviser(s) attend meetings of the quorum and the Scouting unit and must be registered with the BSA” (LDS Scouting Handbook, 5.1).
“Where Scouting is authorized by the Church, members of the Young Men presidency are generally called to serve as Scout leaders, but they may be called to serve as assistant Scout leaders (see 8.13.4 )” (Handbook 2, 8.3.4).
“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” (Handbook 2, 8.13.4).
“The bishopric may call assistant quorum advisers to help the Young Men presidency with their responsibilities. Assistant quorum advisers may teach some of the lessons in Sunday quorum meetings. They may also assist with activities, including Mutual. Where Scouting is authorized by the Church, assistant quorum advisers are generally called to serve as assistant Scout leaders, but they may be called to serve as Scout leaders (see 8.13.4)” (Handbook 2, 8.3.6).
The Young Men Presidency: Who’s Who and Who Does What?
Matching the priesthood position with the corresponding Scouting position can be confusing because it may differ in different wards and even between two Scouting units in the same ward. It depends upon the local priesthood leaders’ decision regarding who is called as the unit leader and who is called as the assistant unit leader.
The Young Men president and his counselors serve as Aaronic Priesthood quorum advisers. The quorum advisers or assistant advisers serve as unit Scouting leaders or assistant leaders.
- YM presidency second counselor = deacons quorum adviser = Scoutmaster (or assistant Scoutmaster)
- YM presidency first counselor = teachers quorum adviser = Varsity Scout Coach (or assistant Varsity Scout Coach)
- YM president = priests quorum adviser = Venturing crew Advisor (or associate Advisor).
- Note the less common spelling of Advisor in the BSA Venturing program.
- In other positions in the BSA and in Church positions (except the Venturing Advisor), the more common spelling “adviser” is used.
- Example: “In John’s ward the priests quorum adviser also serves as the Venturing crew Advisor.”
BSA Registration, Training, and Activities
- Registration: “All adult Scout leaders should register before they begin their service and should receive proper training in their responsibilities” (Handbook 2, 13.4). To read quotes from Church leaders about the necessity of registering immediately, click here: Church Policies Concerning BSA Adult Registration.
- Registration: “Each adult leader must complete a BSA Adult Application. All adult Scouting leaders must be properly registered and complete Youth Protection training before beginning their service (see 8.2 and 8.5)” (LDS Scouting Handbook, 2). Note: The BSA Adult Application indicates that Youth Protection training must be completed within 30 days of the date that the application was submitted to the council office. However, the policy for LDS Scouters is that the application is not to be submitted until Youth Protection has been completed and the certificate of completion is attached to the Adult Application.
- Required Before Registering: “Youth Protection training (available online, to be completed before service with youth begins and repeated every two years”) (LDS Scouting Handbook, 2.0). As mentioned above, the YP certificate should be attached to the Adult Application
- Registration, Background Check, and Sustaining: “Background Screening for BSA Adult Leaders. 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 policy: Wait two weeks from the time the application was submitted to the council office (not two weeks after the calling was extended) before sustaining the new leader in sacrament meeting, unless you know that the process for that leader has already been completed. If the leader is currently registered with the BSA, the two-week waiting period is waived.
- Required Position-Specific Training: “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. Trained Scout leaders who understand and live the gospel, understand priesthood governance, and understand the Scouting program are better able to serve young men and boys involved in Scouting activities” (LDS Scouting Handbook, 2.0)
- Required Position-Specific Training: To find out what training is required for most Scouting positions, click on the BSA’s “Trained Leader Requirements: Unit and Other Positions.”
- Use the LDS-BSA Relationships website! Most of the Scouting information needed by Young Men presidency members is found in the “New Leader” tab of the LDS-BSA Relationships website under the leader’s respective Scouting unit (troop/deacons quorum, team/teachers quorum, crew/priests quorum). In these unit tabs you’ll find much of what you need to know regarding registration, Youth Protection, Fast Start training (which is strongly encouraged for all LDS leaders), position-specific training (required), supplemental BSA training (optional or required for specific activities), planning Scouting activities, and many other helpful resources. Share this information with all the leaders under your stewardship (and with those “above” you, as well).
Initial Orientation and Ongoing Support for YM Presidencies
- Orientation of YM presidencies, plus ongoing support and encouragement are offered by the stake YM presidency. “[The stake Young Men presidency members] also meet regularly with [Scouting] unit leaders, create close relationships with them, help them with rechartering, and inform them of BSA district and council activities, training opportunities, policies, and health and safety issues” (LDS Scouting Handbook, 3.3).
- Unit commissioner: “Unit commissioners serve as resources to help Scouting units succeed throughout the stake. Each Cub pack, Scout troop, Varsity team, and Venturing crew should be served by a unit commissioner” (LDS Scouting Handbook, 3.5). Your unit commissioner (your unit’s “home teacher”) should meet regularly with your committee chair and make frequent visits to your unit meetings. He or she can be an invaluable resource. See LDS Scouting Handbook, 3.5 for details.
- “In addition, the BSA provides monthly roundtables to help leaders learn Scouting methods and skills” (LDS Scouting Handbook, 2.1).
- “Instruction from local leaders. Soon after being sustained, every new leader should receive an orientation about the calling. The leaders who give the orientation continue to provide instruction and support through leadership meetings and personal communication” (Handbook 2, 3.9).
- The ward Young Men president “teaches other Young Men leaders their duties, using this handbook as a resource” (Handbook 2, 3.4).
- Additional support and assistance for the Scouting unit and leaders are provided by the respective ward Scouting committees (troop, team, and/or crew committee).
“A Scouting committee can be as large as needed to carry out its responsibilities to the individual Scouting units. Where leadership or the number of young men or boys is limited, one committee could represent all young men of Aaronic Priesthood age and another committee could represent Cub Scouting” (LDS Scouting Handbook, 4.3).
Why have a Scouting committee? How can the committee help the Young Men presidency and the Scouting leaders?
- 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).
NOTE: Many unit Scouting leaders and their assistants think they can accomplish these same tasks by just meeting by themselves and discussing the boys and the calendar. They don’t realize that involving parents and getting support from other ward members enhances the program and helps to lessen the time they spend on their callings. Most committee meetings, of necessity, include the unit leaders and assistant leaders, even though these leaders are not registered as committee members.
Responsibilities of the Members of the Ward Young Men Presidency
See Handbook 2, 8.3.4, for a complete list of the responsibilities of Young Men presidency members.
“The Young Men presidency holds a presidency meeting regularly. The president presides at the meeting and conducts it. The secretary attends, takes notes, and keeps track of assignments . . . [A list of suggested agenda items for the YM presidency meeting is found at Handbook 2, 8.3.4] . . . The counselor in the bishopric who oversees the Young Men organization may occasionally attend the Young Men presidency meeting to receive reports and give counsel. The Young Men presidency may also invite [youth] quorum leaders and assistant advisers to attend as needed” (Handbook 2, 8.9.4).
”Stake Priesthood Leadership Meeting: The stake presidency convenes a stake priesthood leadership meeting in connection with each stake conference (see 18.3.1, item 2). The presidency also convenes one other stake priesthood leadership meeting during the year, for a total of three such meetings annually. Ward Young Men presidencies and secretaries attend these meetings. Deacons and teachers quorum presidencies and priests quorum assistants may be invited occasionally, such as when the meeting includes subjects that will be especially helpful for them in their callings” (Handbook 2, 8.9.5).
The statements quoted below (relating directly to Scouting responsibilities of the ward YM presidency) are found in Handbook 2, 8.3.4):
- “They get to know each young man and become familiar with his talents, interests, and challenges. They look for ways to strengthen young men individually, help them grow in their testimonies, and encourage them to participate in their quorums.”
- “They give special attention to young men who are new members and young men who are less active.” Scouting, with is varied program of activities, is an excellent way for quorum advisers to work with quorum presidencies to help members of the quorum to welcome new Scouts and find ways to involve boys who are less active.
- “In response to some assignments given in priesthood executive committee and ward council meetings, they may work with quorum presidencies to organize service committees.”
- “They may counsel with parents and priesthood leaders about the needs of young men.” Some of these conversations could include purchase of a uniform and personal camping equipment or how best to work with a Scout who has ADHD or other special needs (see Scouts with Disabilities).
- “They attend Aaronic Priesthood quorum presidency meetings and provide guidance as needed.” Part of this meeting is spent discussing and planning upcoming Scouting activities.
- “They help the bishopric teach leadership skills and qualities to quorum presidencies and priests quorum assistants (see 14).”
- “They work with quorum leaders to plan and carry out quorum activities, including Mutual activities.”
- “They help the bishopric and quorum leaders build quorum unity.”
- “They hold Young Men presidency meetings. They also meet regularly with the counselor in the bishopric who oversees the Young Men organization.” See agenda items for the YM presidency meetings in Handbook 2, 9.4. “Ward Young Men Presidency Meeting.”
- “The Young Men president serves as a member of the ward priesthood executive committee and the ward council (see chapter 4)” (Handbook 2, 9.1).
- Bishopric Youth Committee Meeting: “The bishop presides over the bishopric youth committee. This committee is composed of the bishopric, one of the bishop’s priests quorum assistants, the deacons and teachers quorum presidents, the Young Women class presidents, and the Young Men and Young Women presidents. For more information, see 2.9” (Handbook 2, 8.9.2).
“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” (Handbook 2, 8.13.4).
“Quorum advisers and assistant advisers teach leadership skills and qualities as they work with quorum presidencies and the bishopric youth committee, as they help young men plan and carry out activities, and as they help young men give service together. In this effort, advisers and assistant advisers may refer to chapter 3 in this handbook” (Handbook 2, 8.14).
“Q: How should quorum presidencies, assistants to the bishop, and the adult advisers work together? A: Quorum advisers should prepare quorum leaders in quorum presidency meetings for each meeting they conduct (see D&C 107:99). This allows each quorum leader to act in his calling, to be thoroughly prepared, to sit in council with quorum members, and to conduct quorum business while advisers offer guidance and mentoring as needed (see Handbook 2, 8.3.2, 8.9.3, and Fulfilling My Duty to God, pages 91-102)” (LDS.org > Aaronic Priesthood > Frequently Asked Questions).
“The badge of office presented to a Boy Scout who is accepting a position of troop leadership does not automatically make him a good leader” (Introduction to Leadership Skills for Troops, BSA, #511-016WB , 1). The Boy Scouts of America offers several excellent programs designed to help adults (YM presidency members and Scouting leaders) as they teach leadership skills to the young men.
- Introduction to Leadership Skills for Troops (ILST): “The purpose of the ILST course is to teach Scouts with leadership positions about their new roles and how to most effectively reach success in that role. It is intended to help Boy Scouts in leadership positions within their troop understand their responsibilities and to equip them with organizational and leadership skills to fulfill those responsibilities” (online: Boy Scouts of America, Youth Training
- “This course is for every Scout in the troop who holds a leadership position, including all elected positions and any appointed positions at the discretion of the senior patrol leader. In some troops, this might mean that this course is for every Scout! In fact, it’s desired that every member of the troop have some kind of leadership responsibility every year, even if it’s just a minor responsibility” (Introduction to Leadership Skills for Troops, 3).
- Introduction to Leadership Skills for Crews (ILSC): “The purpose of the Introduction to Leadership Skills for Crews course is to teach crew members with leadership positions about their new roles and how to most effectively reach success in that role. It is intended to help Venturers in leadership positions within their crew understand their responsibilities and to equip them with organizational and leadership skills to fulfill those responsibilities” (BSA, Youth Training, ILSC). Like ILST (above) this training is often done during an overnight campout and may include all crew members.
- “Completion of either ILST or ILSC is a prerequisite for Boy Scouts to participate in the more advanced leadership courses National Youth Leadership Training (NYLT) [offered by the council] and the National Advanced Youth Leadership Experience (NAYLE). It is also required to participate in a Kodiak Challenge Trek” (BSA, Youth Training, ILSC).
- There are many other excellent leadership training classes at the Youth Training website, including Physical Wellness, Mentoring, Venturing Goal Setting & Time Management, Hazardous Weather, etc.
“The quorum presidency, with help from their quorum adviser(s), meets to correlate each Scouting activity with other quorum activities. The president presides at and conducts the meeting. . . . Quorum advisers attend this meeting to provide adult support and direction to those who preside over the meeting” (LDS Scouting Handbook, 5.2).
“Each quorum presidency holds a presidency meeting regularly. The bishop regularly attends and presides over the priests quorum presidency meeting, and one of his assistants conducts it. The deacons quorum president and teachers quorum president conduct their presidency meetings, and they preside unless a member of the bishopric attends. Quorum advisers and secretaries also attend these meetings. Secretaries take notes and keep track of assignments” (Handbook 2, 8.9.3).
The agenda may include the following items:
- “1. Plan ways to strengthen quorum members, including new members and less-active members. Also plan ways to fellowship young men of other faiths” (Handbook 2, 9.3).
- “3. Plan to visit quorum members as needed” (Handbook 2, 9.3). This is one of the best ways for the quorum presidency to clearly show the other young men that they are important to the quorum, and if they are not attending, to let them know they are missed. The adviser often accompanies the quorum presidency on these visits.
- “7. Receive leadership training from bishopric members or quorum advisers” (Handbook 2, 9.3).
- There are four other items that are listed on the agenda. Click HERE to see all suggested agenda items for the quorum presidency meeting.
- “Where Scouting is authorized by the Church, quorum presidency meeting may be used to make plans for the quorum’s Scouting unit after the [seven] items above have been discussed. If youth and adult Scouting leaders are not already present, they may be invited into the meeting for this discussion. Young men of other faiths who hold leadership positions in the Scouting unit may be included. The quorum president continues to preside over this part of the meeting. He may invite a youth Scouting leader to conduct it. Quorum advisers ensure that each Scouting activity is consistent with the objectives listed in 1.3” (Handbook 2, 8.9.3).
- Reminder: Two-deep leadership is required for quorum presidency meetings. “Two registered adult leaders or one registered adult leader and a parent of a participant (one of whom must be 21 years of age or older) are required for all Scouting trips, outings, classes, and meetings. In situations that require personal conferences, such as a Scoutmaster’s conference or merit badge counseling, the meeting should be conducted in view of other adults or youth” (LDS Scouting Handbook, 7).
Additional References and Resources for Young Men Presidencies
- Church website (LDS.org): Go to the Church website (LDS.org) to review resources listed above or to find additional information and guidelines that will help you as you work with your young men in Scouting: Responsibilities in the Aaronic Priesthood: Young Men presidency
- LDS Scouting Handbook: Take time to read the entire LDS Scouting Handbook (the May 2015 edition has only nine pages) to make sure you are familiar with additional policies and procedures not mentioned here. These include topics such as the chartered organization representative, safety, boys of other faiths, insurance, campouts, responsibilities of stake leaders and other ward Scouting leaders, unit commissioners (the unit’s “home teacher”), and so on.
- LDS-BSA Relationships Website: Go to the New Leader tab on org under Boy Scouts, Varsity, or Venturing, and click on “What’s Next,” “Additional Resources,” and “Learn More About…”
- Review other parts of Handbook 2 for further guidance for YM presidencies.
- 10 Standards: Standards provide sure direction to strengthen and guide members of the Church.
- 11 Sunday Quorum Meetings: “The purposes of quorum meetings are to conduct quorum business, learn priesthood duties, and study the gospel of Jesus Christ. Quorum leaders and advisers prayerfully plan the meetings to accomplish these purposes.”
- 13 Activities “Quorum leaders and quorum advisers plan activities based on the needs and interests of quorum members. They make a special effort to reach out to all young men, including those who have recently joined the Church and those who are less active. Activities may help young men accomplish their goals in the Duty to God program.”
- 13.4 “Scouting” This is obviously the main section in Handbook 2 dealing with LDS Scouting for Aaronic Priesthood-age youth. It is suggested that YM presidency members read and study this material carefully, as it includes information on funding, liability insurance for leaders, small units, and more.
- There is one major change regarding the procedure for paying registration and charter renewal fees. This is not indicated in the 2010 edition of Handbook 2, 13.4, which still indicates “Registration and chartering expenses are paid from the stake general checking account.”
- Instead, the following guidelines from the 2015 LDS Scouting Handbook are now in effect:
- Adult and youth registration: “All registration fees for youth and adults, including those of other faiths who join Latter-day Saint units, are paid directly from Church headquarters to the BSA National Council” (LDS Scouting Handbook, 2).
- Unit charter renewal: “All fees for rechartering, unit liability insurance, and annual registration, including fees for those of other faiths who join Latter-day Saint units, are paid directly from Church headquarters to the BSA National Council” (LDS Scouting Handbook, 3).
- 13.7 Funding for Activities
- This section includes funding for the annual camp and equipment, “one group fund-raising activity annually,” etc.
- “Church funds may not be used to purchase uniforms for individuals.”
- 14 Teaching Leadership Skills and Qualities (leading the reader to chapter 3)
- 16 Adapting the Young Men Organization to Local Needs
- 17.2 True to the Faith: A Gospel Reference. “Members of the bishopric or quorum advisers ensure that each young man has a copy of the book.”