Have you ever wondered how to keep a Varsity (or Boy Scouting or Venturing) program running smoothly for long periods of time—years, maybe decades? When I say “running smoothly,” I, of course,mean a program that consistently builds character and leadership within the young men, preparing them for a life of meaningful service. If your experience is like mine, you may have witnessed several programs that go through spurts of success, mingled with periods of ineffectiveness. Those periods of success are likely spurred by a dynamic adult leader, but alas, that person either moves out of the ward or is called to another position within the Church. Now what? How do we ensure sustainability and continuity within the Boy Scouting, Varsity, and Venturing programs, even in the face of this inevitable change? Within the Church we strive to maintain long-tenured adult Scouting–leaders—this is the ideal, yet in many situations it is difficult to put into practice. Even with change there are ways to ensure continuity for our young men in the form of a highly effective program.
The key is training. Not just training of the Varsity Coach (or Scoutmaster or Venturing Advisor), but of all those individuals who work with the Aaronic Priesthood quorums. There are nine to twelve adult men who should be completely trained, including Wood Badge training, within each ward: three bishopric members, three YM presidency members, and three to six YM advisers. The committee chair(s), male or female, should also be trained. With this kind of trained depth within a ward’s leadership, the ability to sustain long-term success in our Scouting units will be strengthened.
The Lord thinks “generationally.” His eyes are not just upon the current generation, but upon those future generations as well. His timing and timetables transcend our finite comprehension, but we can and should use His approach as an example. Within our assignments as Scouting leaders for Aaronic Priesthood-age youth, are we focusing only on young men ages twelve to eighteen? Or are we doing things with an eye toward the upcoming youth: Sunbeams, Valiants, and CTRs? I promise that as we open our vision, the way we do things will change. Our purpose and actions deepen, and our ability to impact lives for good increases, now and in the future.
Let me give you an example of a training experience that can provide this type of “vision.” It is the Philmont course “Leading Varsity Scouting in LDS Teams.” Last summer I attended this course. It was a special week for my family. This week-long course, taught by many Varsity Scouting “pioneers,” provided the opportunity for me to learn and grow, not only as a Scouter, but also as a husband and father. This course, along with Wood Badge, widened my vision of how Scouting prepares our young leaders and supports priesthood quorums. I learned with greater clarity how I could be a more effective mentor. It inspired me to be a builder of boys, not just the ones currently in the team, but also the ones who would arrive in the coming years. And this is not all. It was FUN! My family frequently asks when we are going back—it was a special time for them, and a wonderful family memory.
I would encourage each of us, within our sphere of influence, to bolster the vision of our Young Men leaders, by ensuring not just training depth, but also breadth in the form of many trained leaders. By so doing, we ensure an effective program now and a greater measure of continuity in the future.
To register for the LDS Varsity conference, visit the Philmont Scout Ranch Conferences 2016 website and go to Week 9 and click on “Leading Varsity Scouting in LDS Teams.”
Contact Steve Baugh at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Contributed by: Chris Klemann, Longhorn (Texas) Council