My blog message last week about holding separate quorum and Scouting meetings stirred up some good discussion in the reply section. The comments are excellent, and well worth reading. Of course, separate meetings have little or no value if only a few boys attend. So an important part of the separate meeting suggestion is also the need to reach out to the less-active, inactive, and non-member boys within the boundaries of your ward or stake.
The Scouting program is a blessing that should be available to all of the boys within your ward or stake boundaries, whether they are members of the Church or not.
David L. Beck, Young Men general president, said Scouting in the Church “is a bridge that has fueled real growth as thousands of individuals and families have joined the Church or become active again.” (“A Century of Scouting in the Church,” Ensign, October 2013). I wish to add my personal testimony to his statement.
I witnessed the power of a well-run LDS Scouting unit to attract boys who otherwise may not have been interested in the Church or participation in any of its programs.
When I was called as the Scoutmaster of an inner-city ward in Las Vegas, Nevada, I determined to run the Scouting program as it is designed by the Boy Scouts of America. The few active boys in the troop had wonderful experiences in character development, citizenship training, and personal fitness. They learned to live by the Scout Oath and Law. They were formed into a boy-led patrol, wore their Boy Scout uniform proudly, attended regular monthly outdoor activities, and advanced in Scout rank.
Because Scouting was a quality experience, the boys reached out to the less-active and inactive boys in the ward to get them to participate. They also invited their non-member friends to join in Scouting activities. Slowly the troop began to grow. One patrol turned into three. Six members of the troop turned into 24. Twelve of the 24 were not members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Many of these Scouts came from single-parent, minority families who never would have been exposed to the values of Scouting had there not been a quality LDS Boy Scout unit in their neighborhood.
Scouting is a wonderful program that should be available to all boys. If you run your Scouting program properly, it can be an attractive beacon of light to every boy within the boundaries of your stake, ward, district, or branch. Watch this video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kw6UNMQLuaM) to see how one Scoutmaster reached out to the boys within his community. I would highly suggest you engage your boys, particularly your senior patrol leader and patrol leaders, in visiting every boy within your stewardship area. Invite every young man to participate in your Scouting unit. Show them how much fun boys can have when they fellowship together in the Scouting program.
I believe the values of the Aaronic Priesthood and the Boy Scouts of America are divinely linked to develop strong young men of character, capable of filling leadership positions in the Church and in society. I encourage you to reach out to all Scouting-age boys within your little corner of the Lord’s vineyard. Lives will be touched and hearts softened when you do. Through Scouting you can create conditions and provide experiences that bring young men to Christ. I testify “how great will be your joy” when you do. (D&C 18:16).
Take a Moment to Reflect
- Are you running a quality Scouting program in which boys would want to participate?
- Do you know who all of the boys are within your stake, ward, district, or branch boundaries?
- Are there less-active, inactive, or non-member boys who are missing out on Scouting because you have not invited them to participate in your Scouting unit?
- Have you engaged your boys in recruiting other boys into your Scouting unit? Are you actively reaching out to every boy within your stewardship area?
Turn Your Reflection into Action
- What will you start doing, stop doing, or do better as a result of your reflection?
“I would to God that every boy of Boy Scout age in America could have the benefits and blessings of the great Boy Scout program. It is truly a noble program; it is a builder of character, not only in the boys, but also in the men who provide the leadership. I have often said that Scouting is essentially a spiritual program, a builder of men.” (President Ezra Taft Benson, “Scouting Builds Men,” Ensign, February 1975).
-Mac McIntire is a dedicated Scouter who has blessed many lives through his service and acute understanding of the Scouting program. He currently lives in Las Vegas, Nevada. The views and opinions expressed in this message are solely those of the author.