Scout Sunday

February 8, 2009 | 98 comments
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Scout Sunday is today.

President Monson:

Of the two paintings I most admire, one is of a Scoutmaster sitting by the dying embers of the bonfire and observing his boys—fast asleep in their small tents. The sky is filled with stars, the tousled heads of the boys illumined by the fire’s glow. The Scoutmaster’s countenance reflects his love, his faith, his devotion. The scene recalls the thought, “The greatest gift a man can give a boy is his willingness to share a part of his life with him.”

The other painting is of a small lad, clad in the oversized Scout uniform of his older brother. He is looking at himself in a mirror which adorns the wall, his tiny arm raised in the Scout salute.

Here are those images.

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98 Responses to Scout Sunday

  1. queuno on February 8, 2009 at 4:06 pm

    Do we celebrate this anymore? I was under the impression, due to repeated exclamations by what I label “Irving Scouters” (those that are more loyal to Irving and not SLC) that SLC mandated that Scout uniforms not be worn and that no formal recognition need be given.

  2. Kevin Barney on February 8, 2009 at 4:25 pm

    My sacrament meeting was filled with scout uniforms last week, so if that’s the new direction my ward didn’t get the memo.

  3. Jonovitch on February 8, 2009 at 4:27 pm

    queno, you are correct. The Church’s Scouting handbook says that wards should not commemorate Scout Sunday and that boys should not (be expected to) wear their uniforms. Mostly so they’ll be appropriately dressed to prepare/bless/pass the sacrament, I think.

    I like to tease our stake YM president (and stake president) both who are ardent Scouters but don’t allow Sunday camping for our week-long summer camp (which is many hours away). I simply sing the line from the favorite Primary song: “Sundays they camped and read and prayed.”

    Jon

  4. queuno on February 8, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    Kevin – If I recall correctly the gnashing of teeth from my Silver Beaver father (who is an Irving Scouter), this has been the policy for well over a decade.

  5. Ardis E. Parshall on February 8, 2009 at 5:03 pm

    Who or what is “Irving” in connection with the scouts, queuno?

  6. queuno on February 8, 2009 at 5:22 pm

    The BSA National Headquarters are located in Irving, Texas, about 5-10 minutes west of the DFW Airport.

    When faced with a decision for which the traditional BSA norms may differ from SLC’s direction or goals, the “Irving scouter” sides with the traditional BSA direction, and the “SLC scouter” sides with SLC. (These are my characterizations.)

    Examples of frequent contention include, but are not limited to, Scout Sunday, camping on Sundays, limiting the number of days 11-year-olds can camp, budgeting/fund raising, tenure for leaders, etc., etc., etc.

    My parents each spent significant time in the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts (both are Silver Beaver recipients). Yet, when my mother came to visit us in North Texas, she was amazed that I lived a stones-throw away from (in her view) the “famous” Walnut Hill Lane in Irving, TX. (BTW, if anyone ever is in the DFW area and is a scouting fan, make sure you hit the Scouting Museum, located next door to the BSA National Headquarters.)

  7. queuno on February 8, 2009 at 5:22 pm

    er, Irving is east of the airport.

  8. queuno on February 8, 2009 at 5:25 pm

    (My parents are “Irving scouters”. In my one stint in a scouting-related calling, and as the parent of a Cub Scout, I am a resolute “SLC scouter”. This is a frequent point of irritation to my father.)

  9. Ardis E. Parshall on February 8, 2009 at 5:36 pm

    Oh, duh, thanks. Although my brothers were scouts, I’ve never been aware of these kinds of conflicts.

  10. DCL on February 8, 2009 at 6:16 pm

    My ward in suburban California was filled with scout uniforms in recognition of Scout Sunday today. Apparently, this made the scouts unable to bless and pass the sacrament so the adult priesthood filled in.

  11. KLC on February 8, 2009 at 6:43 pm

    Scout Sunday is a dead tradition in my S. Cal ward and stake. Not a mention or a uniform in sight.

  12. Alison Moore Smith on February 8, 2009 at 7:03 pm

    I have spent the majority of my life trying to abolish scouting. But I realize it’s a hopeless cause when our prophet’s favorite artwork is scouting related. After four daughters, last summer my oldest son turned eight and I’ve been forced to try to acclimate to the whole scouting thing. I smile and nod a lot, but it’s not easy.

    My first experience with feeling “left out” in the church was when I was four and at my sister’s baptism. I told my mom that I wanted Dad to baptize me and Mom to confirm me so it would be fair. She tried to explain why that wouldn’t work.

    A few months later I became enamored with my big brother’s scout uniform–the neckerchief, the badges…so much cool stuff. I read Boy’s Life more than my brothers. Then I found out I would never be a scout.

    Frankly, I think scouting is pretty cool and so does my son. But the continued disparity between the boys’ and girls’ programs makes the hair on my neck stand up.

    When I served in Young Women, I had no way to explain why the boys camped on Sunday, but the girls couldn’t; why the boys got so much more funding; why the boys camped out every month, but we couldn’t get ONE sleepover approved for the girls; why the boys did all sorts of super activities (like certifying our entire YM program in SCUBA), but we couldn’t get anything remotely similar for the YW; why generally (in my modest and anecdotal research) the Cub Scouts get about 10-15 times (and up) what the Activity Days for the girls is allocated. In some cases AD got $0 with CS getting over $1000.

    All this to say that I’d rather just completely ignore “Scout Sunday” and stick with the 7th day being to dedicate ourselves to God.

  13. Garry Piiparinen on February 8, 2009 at 7:26 pm

    I was disappointed our bishop would not let any young man who wore a scout uniform today pass the sacrament. How can a shirt of honor be deemed inappropriate?

  14. Left Field on February 8, 2009 at 8:08 pm

    When I was a scout back in the early ’70s, nobody gave a second thought to administering the sacrament in scout uniform. We had our own sacrament meeting at scout camp and did the sacrament in uniform there, too. However, sometime much later, but still long, long ago, they decided that it was forbidden, and decreed that others not in uniform should do the sacrament on scout Sunday. It’s been many years, perhaps a couple of decades since I’ve seen scout Sunday observed, so the uniform thing hasn’t been an issue in any of the wards I’ve been in.

    When I was a missionary in New Jersey thirty years ago, I briefly lived a stone’s throw from what was then the national scout headquarters in North Brunswick.

  15. Mark B. on February 8, 2009 at 8:32 pm

    Everybody knows that as soon as BSA left New Brunswick, New Jersey, that the whole organization was doomed to ultimate annihilation.

    I don’t think there was a hint of a boy scout at any LDS meeting in Brooklyn today.

  16. Jerry on February 8, 2009 at 8:41 pm

    These are interesting comments. Every ward I have ever been in has encouraged the boys to wear their uniforms and I do not remember any comments that they were not allowed to pass the sacrament.

    Alison – Your bishop must not like or trust the young women. I see the YW going to girl’s camp and they have a lot of the same activities the boys do. In 30 years of scouting I have never seen an LDS troop camp on Sunday. I have seen many troops denied trip permits to Philmont and other scout camps because of the Sunday rule. I am pretty sure that is direct from SLC.

    My current bishop has put more restrictions on the young women. They used to go white water rafting and tubing in local rivers. Now they do nothing so local leaders do have a lot to do with what is allowed. Of course the young men have also been restricted.

  17. busracer on February 8, 2009 at 9:30 pm

    fwiw, current church handbook does not say wards should not observe scout sunday. What it does say, however, is that boys (or adults) in uniform should not administer the sacrament. The Church’s green Scouting handbook states: “February has traditionally been designated Scouting Month in the United States. Leaders of Church-sponsored Scouting units may plan and carry out approved activities to recognize this tradition. However, in keeping with the purposes of sacrament meeting, wards should not combine observances of Scouting Month and Scouting Sunday with sacrament meeting. Boys do not wear their Scout uniforms while administering and passing the sacrament.”

    As noted in these comments, some interpret this as a ban on any recognition of Scout Sunday. Others read it as simply saying that Scouts shouldn’t take over sacrament meeting on Scout Sunday. I’ve heard of wards who invite a speaker or two to talk about scouting on Scout Sunday, and I’ve also heard of wards who have the melchizidek priesthood pass the sacrament while the youth wear their scout uniforms.

  18. busracer on February 8, 2009 at 9:31 pm

    It may also be worth noting that the green scout handbook also prohibits Sunday hiking and camping trips.

  19. Alison Moore Smith on February 8, 2009 at 10:13 pm

    How can a shirt of honor be deemed inappropriate?

    It’s not a WHITE “shirt of honor.” :)

    Your bishop must not like or trust the young women.

    Which bishop? It’s been similar in every ward I’ve lived in, across state lines. And, FWIW, I don’t think they disliked the young women. They just seemed to have an entirely different set of standards for them. My newest ward (moved in August) may be an exception. I hope so.

    As for the money, that’s something I’ve asked others for input on, so it’s not just representative of my own wards. Hopefully it’s not universal but I have yet to have anyone tell me their Activity Days get nearly the same funding as Cubs. I’d love to hear it, though.

    I see the YW going to girl’s camp and they have a lot of the same activities the boys do.

    In every ward I’ve been in, YW have had the annual YW camp. But only one ward, ONE time, has any other overnight event been approved. Yet the boys have camping trips every single month. (Presumably because kids ENJOY this kind of thing?) The only time I got an explanation was that it was to “prevent abuse.” Really. Shall we compare abuse by YW leaders historically with Scout leaders? Ack.

    Add to that the fact that a number of friends of mine have lived in wards where the leaders “strongly advised” the members not to allow their kids to have slumber parties, sleepovers, etc. I can see the wisdom in that counsel, but to throw it out amidst all the scout camping trips is inconsistent. Girls can’t have them as church functions and they can’t have them privately either.

    In 30 years of scouting I have never seen an LDS troop camp on Sunday.

    The scout troop in our Florida ward had one camp that crossed over Sunday and more than one camp that cleared out Sunday morning and the kids drove home on Sunday.

    I think the Sunday rule is appropriate for LDS kids and am glad to hear the handbook is clear on that.

  20. Amy on February 8, 2009 at 11:26 pm

    Here in Florida I passed the Methodist church on my way to church this morning, and saw the cutest line of boys in scout uniforms file in the front door. I was surprised that none of our boys were dressed up. Now I know why.

    I have to agree w/ Alison Moore Smith on the YW shaft…we’ve experienced it in our area as well. I am not sure why that happens or if it is widespread, but it’s very frustrating. I do think it often depends on the bishop’s attitude toward the YW program, though.

  21. JES on February 8, 2009 at 11:41 pm

    As Primary president in our ward, I can give one reason the cub scouts have a bigger budget than Activity Days. It’s b/c of the awards. We have to budget for every patch, belt loop, denner rope, etc that the boys could earn. That adds up quickly. Plus, we have 3 dens who do separate activities vs. 1 activity day group. So, if you give each group $5/activity to work with, Activity Days ends up with $10/month (b/c they only meet twice a month) and cub scouts (who meet every week) ends up with $20/month/den or $60/month. Of course, that still doesn’t adequately explain such unfairness as why the boys meet every week but the girls only meet twice a month.

  22. Kat on February 9, 2009 at 2:49 am

    Re: 21 – In my sister’s ward in NH, the Primary presidency cut Cub Scouts to every other week, just like Activity Days. The parents loved it and the leaders loved it – I don’t know about the boys, though. The motivation wasn’t fairness, though, it was to ease the transportation burden on the parents, because their ward is so spread out.

  23. Rob Perkins on February 9, 2009 at 11:53 am

    I’m of two minds about scouting. One is the fact that the merit badge program and the advancement requirements have the potential to teach all kinds of important things in contexts which the schools and church can’t really provide. As a way to get boys to sample different things, it’s really quite excellent.

    Then, there’s the way scouting was actually done when I was a boy. There was so much mismanagement, apathy, and jungle politics among the boys that my Dad finally volunteered to be the Scoutmaster, just so there would be someone interested in scouting while his sons were in it. I quit completely shortly after getting Eagle.

    Like others here, though, our troop followed the Sunday Rule as much as we could, and made every effort to make sure the boys and girls organizations were equally funded and given the same opportunities for activities.

  24. Jonovitch on February 9, 2009 at 11:57 am

    I recently was released as Scoutmaster (it was quite a shock to me). I told the new guy what the YM budget for the year is, and let him know that every other ward leader — especially the RS and YW presidents — knows exactly how much money the YM get, and that he should be very wise and frugal in what he spends.

    As for Sunday camping, I seem to recall Pres. Monson AND the General YM Pres. Dahlquist in recent General Conference talks mention a sacrament meeting at Philmont with thousands of LDS Scouts, and what a wonderful meeting that was. I agree that Sunday camping should not be a regular occurance, but I think a week-long summer camping trip, where the location is often many hours away, ought to be a perfectly acceptable exception.

    In my troop as a boy, some of my most memorable sacrament meetings came from that outdoor chapel in the woods, built by our ward’s troop many years before, overlooking the lake, passing the bread and water on wooden trays, in full ceremonial Scout uniform. In that stake, I believe they still do it that way. My current stake’s president is an ardent Scouter, but he won’t allow it — I’ve asked…a couple times. :)

    All this said, it is completely preposterous and quite frankly downright stupid to want to “abolish Scouting” as Alison stated in her first comment (12). What the young men in this country, even in the Church, need more of are exactly what the three Aims of Scouting strive for: character development, citizenship training, and personal fitness. The methods of Scouting include camping, advancement, the uniform, association with adults, patrols, leadership, etc., but they are simply the means to the end: to help a boy develop into a man.

    Our country desperately needs more Scouting, and our Church is not exempt from that need. Yes, it might cost a lot, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better investment for a young man at that time of his life. Yes, there might be some conflicting rules and traditions between the LDS and the BSA (some of which are kind of silly, especially from the Church’s side, if you ask me), but each organization is glad to have the other and do the best they can with what they have.

    If anything, we need to support Scouting, widen its reach, increase its enrollment, and do what we can to invite every boy we know to be a part of it.

    If only every boy in the USA (or even in the Church) were actively involved in Scouting, our troubled youth would be a lot less troubled and a lot more trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, clean, reverent, etc. What a great place it would be if every boy and young man remembered to help other people at all times, to keep himself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.

    Jon

  25. Jeremy on February 9, 2009 at 2:08 pm

    I haven’t seen or heard of a Scout Sunday for at least a decade, during which time I’ve lived in the Northeast, the Midwest, and Utah County.

    The deacons in our ward sometimes wear their uniforms on Tuesday nights, but the older boys never, ever, ever do. And they are such snarky young men, as a lot, that implementing uniform policies would keep at least half of them home, and make the other ones even more snarky and detached.

    But they’re also, as a lot, very good young men, and the majority of them, I believe, will serve honorable missions and lead the church well in the future.

    I would support any young man who is interested in scouting, but I would also support any young man who isn’t. That’s why I’m a much bigger fan of the Duty to God program than I am of Scouts. I firmly believe that, if implemented correctly, it has the potential to meet every single one of the aims that Jonovitch mentions. And it can do so at a fraction of the cost, without the burdensome organizational interface, and in a manner much more parallel to the program for young women.

    I think the YM program and scouting would both perform better if they were separate entities.

  26. Jonathan Green on February 9, 2009 at 3:59 pm

    Easy there, Jonovitch.

  27. Stephen Hardy on February 9, 2009 at 4:14 pm

    Oh man, don’t get me going on this issue of scouting and YW programs. Oops too late.

    I agree with essentially everything that Alison Moore Smith has said, except for the Sunday camping. I have worked with a number of LDS troops, including my own youth troop (I’m an Eagle) and I have never experienced a single Sunday campout. Here in Massachusetts, this means that when we go to Jamborees and such, that we leave Saturday evening, and miss all of the final events. We have been in “first place” in a number of activities and contests, and then we let it all go (and forego the prizes, ribbons, buttons, etc) because we can’t finish the competition on Sunday. Not a really big deal in my opinion; just an observation.

    However, no one can say that there is parity between the effort/cost/hassle/work/tears/sweat that goes into the development of YM from the age of 8 to 18 as compared to YW in the same age group. Not even close, not ever, nowhere. Even those wards where an effort is made to even out the programs, it still falls short. It simply does. Even when the YW are allowed to camp, they must have the “Priesthood” present; I find this policy humiliating and hurtful towards women of all ages, suggesting that they can’t fend for themselves.

    Is the solution to abolish scouting? Or is it to establish and commit to an equal program for the YW? Until I hear about the YW canoeing for six days (Monday to Saturday) AND doing 10 other camping experiences during the year… until I see that our 8 year-old girls are smiling as their peers and parents applaud them for doing the likes of checking a book out of the library (the cub awards are not very ambitious) … until the young women camp overnight in subzero weather, and then push a sled through the snow… until we have “mini-Philmonts” (an all day Saturday event where scout leaders are trained) for YW leaders with the goal of teaching our YW to become “real women” … until then, we will continue to participate in a systemic church-wide-program that clearly values YM over YW. You may feel that some YW don’t want to do all these things. Well get ready: Some YM don’t want to do them either.

    This is my “Achilles Heel” as a mormon. The profound disparity between our approaches to our youth will hopefully someday be bridged. For now, we make baby steps from time to time, and that appears to be enough to keep me quiet (at times.)

  28. Hunter on February 9, 2009 at 4:38 pm

    I attended both a Methodist and LDS service yesterday. And I was pleased to see scouts in uniform at both churches. As I understand it, the United Methodist Church has quite a good history of supporting the Boy Scouts, too.

    And yes, because of the young men in uniform, a few of us MPers had to be nabbed to help pass the sacrament. My wife didn’t like being left alone with the kids, but it wasn’t too bad. And I kind of liked the chance of passing it again – it’s been a long time.

  29. Yet Another John on February 9, 2009 at 4:40 pm

    Some of my thoughts have already been expressed, and much better than I could do, esp. Jon in #24. But, for what it’s worth…

    1- Currently, scouting is the activity arm of the Aaronic Priesthood. It hasn’t always been so, and may change in the future, but it is now and it is with the express consent of the leadership of the Church. Go and read through the remarks on Scouting on the Church website.

    2- The enhanced Duty to God program is light-years ahead of the old program, and “if implemented correctly” (see Jeremy”s #25) would prepare young men for missions, citizenship, and leadership as well as the BSA. The problem is implementing it correctly. According to Elder Dahlquist (in the Fall 2005 Young Men Open House) “with a rare exception, where Scouting is strong, so is the Duty to God program.” The key is dedicated leaders and family support, whether it’s in Scouts or Duty to God.

    3- The fact is, it’s not about the Eagle, or even about the Duty to God award. It’s about the priesthood and about using what helps us best in teaching young men. Currently that means Scouting (here in the United States and Canada) and the Duty to God award.

    4- Some have a problem with the uniforms, but uniforms help mold them into a group and give them an identity. When we see a young man in uniform, we expect him to behave in a way consistent with the Scout Oath and Law. We expect deacons wearing a white shirt and tie to act a certain way when passing the sacrament. Young men affiliated with gangs have a “uniform” and often act accordingly. Wearing white in the temple leads to certain expectations and attitudes conducive with attending the house of the Lord.

    It’s probably obvious, but I love and support Scouting. Especially on the district and troop level. We’re so far down the food chain in the council I don’t think they know we even exist (expect for Friends of Scouting time!)

  30. Martin Willey on February 9, 2009 at 5:42 pm

    It is rare that an observation of Mormon culture catches me flat-footed. I got my Eagle award in the 70s (in SLC, maybe that is the problem), and have no recollection of “Scout Sunday.” I would think it was totally odd if the YM showed up in Scout uniforms for Sacrament Meeting. And, it would bug me, not because they should be in white shirts (non-white shirts do NOT bug me), but because I think the BSA gets enough face time and other support at Church. I have fond memories of my scouting days, but do not understand our obsession with this one of myriad worthy causes.

  31. Alison Moore Smith on February 9, 2009 at 6:36 pm

    Jonovitch: All this said, it is completely preposterous and quite frankly downright stupid to want to “abolish Scouting” as Alison stated in her first comment (12).

    Until I stop having young girls and YW who wonder why they get the short end of the stick, I’m going to keep being just as “downright stupid” as I am now.

    ..but they are simply the means to the end: to help a boy develop into a man.

    I suppose that girls might also need help to become women? With all the discussion in the past few years about retention for the women and about how to transition YW into RS without losing them, maybe someone might want to look at how many of the YW feel about such issues.

    Yes, it might cost a lot, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better investment for a young man at that time of his life.

    I suppose that’s my point, Jonovitch. The church funds aren’t all about investing in boys. I’m not suggesting that you drop Boy Scouts and move to, say, Boys Club or YMCA. I’m pointing out that when boys get (as in the example above) 600% of the funding the girls get, maybe we need to invest in the girls as well.

  32. jjohnsen on February 9, 2009 at 9:36 pm

    I don’t remember ever wearing my scout uniform to church or celebrating scout month.

  33. Carborendum on February 9, 2009 at 9:52 pm

    I remember Scout Sunday. It seems to have disappeared at some time during my mission and college years. By the time I got out of college, I completely forgot about Scout Sunday until I read this article.

    Those that talk about the girls getting the short end of the stick don’t know how the funds are distributed.

    The Primary President has complete discretion on how the primary funds are to be divided between activity days, cub scouts, general primary, etc. Some presidents are stronger on scouting, others on activity days, it depends. This varies widely from ward to ward.

    YM & YW get the exact same distribution of funds per ward. This is a constant.

    The 11-yr-old scouts rarely get any funds from the Church. They are in the no-man’s-land where YM think they are part of primary. Primary thinks they are part of YM. I have heard of some wards where SOMEONE takes the responsibility for them. But in all the years I have worked in YM & scouts this was a very rare occurrence. Thus, this little branch tends to be funded out of parents pockets–or in one ward, mine (when I was the 11-yr-old leader).

    The only benefit that cub & boy scouts get is that they have the fund-raisers. But the Church has limited this to one or two per year. It was the Church’s desire to eliminate this entirely (reasoning — partly so the YM & YW would be on even footing). But in an effort to fit in more in the BSA (where they have fundraisers hand over fist) the Church leaders agreed to allow a minimal number of fundraisers.

    Additionally, the Church has also OK’d YW fundraisers. But this is left up to the discretion of each bishop. Some bishops think this is fine. Others think this is a bad idea.

    I honestly don’t know what the issues are. But some very reasonable bishops thought it was a bad idea. So I guess they had their reasons.

    I don’t know where you got the impression that the boys got 600% the fundraising that the YW do. I’d like to see a reference on that. In my experience it is fairly well balanced. But some bishops have decided to disallow the YW fundraising. On that, I have to plead ignorance. Because I honestly don’t know why.

    Another fact about the fundraising is that the funds are often lost. Because the Church has very rigid accounting practices (partially for tax exempt status purposes) the funds from scouting is not allowed to be deposited into a Church account. Thus, the scout leaders at the time are required to create a non-profit organization account at a local bank. And because of the Church’s notorious practice of switching people in and out of callings, the transfer of signatures does not happen as it should. Thus a lot of money gets lost.

    But the Young Women’s funds ARE allowed to be deposited into a Church fund. I don’t know why this is. Regardless, the YW funds do NOT get lost.

  34. Jonovitch on February 9, 2009 at 10:19 pm

    Alison, I didn’t mean to call you stupid, simply the notion that abolishing Scouting is a good solution. I agree with you that extreme disparities between YM and YW are not okay.

    In our ward, the YM have about twice as much in their budget than the YW, I think. (If your ward is really, truly, actually giving the boys 600 percent more to the YM than to the YW, then, yes, you probably have a major imbalance.) I was always very careful to pinch pennies where we could, and the YW could use any of the “troop” equipment at the drop of a hat (I would sometimes refer to it as the “ward” equipment) — at the very least, the girls took as good care of it as the boys.

    Unfortunately, camping costs money. It doesn’t have to be extravagant (our trips never were — that’s for sure), but even at our Council-subsidized campgrounds, it ain’t cheap. And let’s be honest, one overnighter a month is about the only time where our boys are allowed to go run around in the woods and be boys. The rest of the time all they hear is “sit down, be quiet, sit up, face forward, stop fidgeting, sit straight, keep your hands to yourself,” etc., etc., etc.

    In general, girls and YW leaders don’t tend to like camping as much as boys and YM leaders. (Please note that I used the words “in general” before you light your blow-torches.) When my older sisters went to girls camp, everyone else just wanted to sit in the tents and talk about boys and paint their nails. My sisters hated that. What’s more, I really don’t see any of our current YW leaders (or any other women in our ward) who would even want to go camping every month. They actually had to call my wife to be the girls’ camp advisor.

    So camping is where a big chunk of the money goes. Food, campsite fees, gas, etc. It all adds up, even if we’re being cheap — which we always were. And YM/leaders generally like to camp, whereas YW/leaders generally don’t as much. And camping is part of the BSA program, which is part of the YM program. And the YM program is required to be funded by the ward budget. I’m not saying it’s a perfect model, but it’s what we have.

    In the end, the youth are the future of the Church, and every ward and stake leader knows it — this is why so much money and energy is put into the YM and YW and combined YM/YW budgets, and this is why the best people are (supposedly) called to these positions. The youth are and always will be the top priority. So while the Church funds may not be “all about investing in boys,” they are, to a large extent, intended to support and develop the youth, which is why so much money is spent on Scouts and girls’ camp and subsidizing BYU tuition.

    If your ward’s distribution of its sacred funds are really that much out of whack, then you probably ought to consult with your bishopric. FWIW, our ward’s budget is certainly weighted toward YM, but on the whole it seems to be in line with each program’s needs, and not overblown chauvinistic traditions.

    Jon

  35. Jonovitch on February 9, 2009 at 10:33 pm

    P.S. Alison, and others, I think we are all more or less agreeing quite vigorously on the topics of funding, priorities, uniforms on Scout Sunday (why not, really?), and Sunday camping (if it’s good enough for Pres. Monson at Philmont than it’s good enough for me at our summer camp, many hours north).

    Sorry, I had to get that last one in again. :)

    Jon

  36. NOYDMB on February 9, 2009 at 11:12 pm

    Why do we assume the disparity in spending is wrong?
    What if it’s simply an affirmative action?
    I’m sure there’s some blogger out there with some true statistics, but my own experience, is that both higher numbers and percentages of young women are retained than young men. In order to make up for that disparity, unfair spending may be justified.
    If not, all you liberals that support affirmative action programs that cost more are hypocrites. Most feminist liberals are apt to point out how much more “naturally spiritual” women are then men, maybe young men do need more resources to keep them interested.
    Furthermore, there is a difference between men and women. Some doctors are finally beginning to recognize this fact. How is requiring the priesthood at a campout different then having Safe walks at BYU. I could just imagine telling a frightened ward member who called me late at night at BYU, “Can you come walk me home,” “You’re an adult now. Having a male walk you home denigrates you.” If we reach a day when any majority of Mormons thinks having men protect women is outdated, well, I guess we’ll just let evolution take care of their offspring…

  37. Jeremy on February 9, 2009 at 11:31 pm

    NOYDMB,

    Your anecdotal evidence could just as easily point to an opposite conclusion. If, in your own experience, higher percentages of young women are retained, AND more money is spent on boys, maybe that means we are spending too much on things that don’t serve to keep boys in the Church.

    It has been my experience that the boys we’ve had the hardest time keeping in the Church are often the ones for whom Scouting holds the least appeal. When we tie “living the gospel” to all sorts of things that are peripheral to the gospel (scout uniforms, advancement, camping, etc. etc.), many boys don’t discern a way to stay connected with the gospel when their interest in scouting wanes.

    I was very lucky as a young man. I became involved in lots of activities that my parents and church leaders saw as worthwhile, even as my involvement in those activities left me very little time for participation in scouts. Fortunately, no one ever tried to tell me that I was a bad Mormon because I was a lousy scout. I’m not sure where I’d be today if they had.

    I still do not see ANYTHING crucial to the gospel and the future of the Church that scouting provides that the new Duty to God program does not provide more directly, more efficiently, and more spiritually.

  38. John C. on February 9, 2009 at 11:33 pm

    NOYDMB,
    Why do you have to be so angry all the time. It’s very off-putting.

  39. DavidB on February 9, 2009 at 11:36 pm

    For what it’s worth, in many years of church leadership (outside of the Wasatch front) I have never seen a big disparity in funding between the YM and the YW. In fact, I would say that the YW usually have larger budgets at the stake level and at the ward level. The one difference is with the summer camp, perhaps because the YW run their own summer camps, and they are able to do them much more economically. Much of that difference derives from the church’s investment in properties for YW camps, and possibly because they are geared more toward spiritual and social development than camping/outdoor skills.

    At the same time, there is nothing that prevents YW from doing High Adventure activities if the YW and their leaders are so motivated. Several years ago our ward YW in New York did a 30-mile backpacking trip on the Appalachian Trail carrying all their gear/food/etc. and cooking in small teams. The boys didn’t do much that year so the YW really liked the bragging rights that gave them over the “wimpy” young men.

    Two years later the YW followed that up with a multi-day canoe trip in the Adirondacks which crossed multiple lakes and several portages. The women leaders ran the show and the 2-3 men were there primarily for “protection” and support as well as for limited heavy lifting (no funding for pack animals).

  40. Jeremy on February 10, 2009 at 1:20 am

    DavidB’s comment raises another question for me: if the young women really are free to do as much camping and high adventure stuff as the young men, why do the young men need the Scouting program in order to do that stuff?

  41. Ryan on February 10, 2009 at 1:52 am

    Jeremy,

    They don’t need it — they want it. The scouting program is awesome and so the church is keeping it. Nuff said.

  42. Stephen Hardy on February 10, 2009 at 7:46 am

    Just a few notes on funding:

    It is true that funding for 11 year-old scouts is tiny. They are allowed one campout per year.

    I understand that primary presidents have great discretion in terms of how they spread out their funding. However, I doubt that you will find many, or any, wards where the achievement day girls get more than the cub boys. This is because of the many awards and doodads that cubs get as they advance. I have been in wards where a particularly energetic primary leader works hard to bring parity to the programs, including banquets (the cubs have the blue/gold ball, for example) and award ceremonies. But that was one particular person’s energy and vision, and after 2 years of her effort, she was released. Whoever took her place was someone else who didn’t share that vision. So, except in highly unusual situations, the cubs get more recognition, are honored more, and praised more publicly and frequently.

    As far as ward budgets go, keep in mind that there are TWO budgets for the YM. Our ward has given the YW and the YM the EXACT same budget for years. However, the scout fundraisier (we have one per year which raises about $3,000) is entirely separate from the ward budget, and doesn’t even show up on it. Our entire ward budget is about $5,000 so the $3,000 is enormous. It is split up amongst about 35 young men, so it gives them each about $100. Scout camp is about $250, so it doesn’t go that far.

  43. NOYDMB on February 10, 2009 at 8:27 am

    John C., It’s also very off-putting to read about peoples life ambition to destroy scouting.

    Jeremy, I do not think that your comments as stated are in a logic that I follow. You’ve assumed (I believe, correct me if I’m misunderstanding you) that the scouting program is causing the inactivity of young men. Of course, if it were, then removing spending would be justified. I just don’t beleive that’s true. While I fully admit that the evidence I proffered was only anecdotal, and await some statisticians reply, my argument was: If we are going to accept a philosphy that we must force professions in society to reflect trends by placing unfair amounts of spending on minorities, then the same philosphy should be extended to producing equity in numbers in active men in the church. It may not cost equal to keep men in the church, but it also isn’t cost effective to force every school teacher to learn Spanish because first or second generation latino’s refuse to learn English. If it is OK to spend more money, or lower entrance expectations for minorities and women, or spend extra money through programs to attract women and minorities into science (say, physics, math, chemistry or engineering), then the same philosphy says it is ok to either lower the standard for men in the church, or spend extra money on programs that attract men to the church.

    I don’t know about you, but I would consider having different standards for men and women in the church abhorent. And if we’re going to stand on our high-horses, and condemn the church for spending more on ym than yw, by golly let’s also get on the high horses for spending more recruiting minorities and women into the sciences! I remember BYU holding a special recruitment just more minorities, giving them lab tours, when a military grad student asked, “So when are they going to do a lab tour for underpriviledged Americans” instead of just “minorities.”

    It all comes down to consistency. Do we want to be consistent, or hypocritical. I guess you know where my vote is.

  44. Mark Brown on February 10, 2009 at 8:28 am

    Stephen,

    Has your ward given any thought to making the fundraiser open to participation by young women, too? We did that, and both the young women and young men enjoyed collaborating on a project which would help cover the costs of their summer activities.

    You are right, that $3,000 off-budget amount looks big next to the ward budget, but there is at least one more off budget amount that is probably about the same size. If you have 35 young men, you also probably have 25 cub scouts. The sustaining membership enrollment in our area comes to $65/boy, so you are now looking at another $3,500 or more. Then there are the awards, which are even more expensive for the boy scouts than they are for the cub scouts. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that your ward spends over 8 grand per annum on scouting. That’s in addition to the cost of campouts, supplies, and so on.

    When we attempt to evaluate whether we are getting our money’s worth, we first need to have an accurate accounting of the amount of money which is involved.

  45. NOYDMB on February 10, 2009 at 8:33 am

    Jeremy, #40. While it is true that any leader could get their act together and make amazing activities for their youth without any external organizations, surely you’d admit that it’s much easier to do with an organization that already has those goals, and system in existence. If that point weren’t true, everybody could do it on their own. As they don’t, it’s fairly obvious to me, that it is difficult to do. It just seems like its more likely to happen, and to happen well when assisted by the Scouts.

    I agree that ym’s programs should try to maximize the activity of all the yw in the group, even if that’s outside the norms. However, I feel it would be wrong to force all programs for men and women to be the same, either in funding, or in actions. If the majority of the yw want to go white-water rafting, and they counsel with their leaders, sure they should be allowed to go, but it shouldn’t be a, well the young men do it, so the young women should also.

  46. John Mansfield on February 10, 2009 at 8:51 am

    My wife grew up in a stake like the one DavidB mentions. In my wife’s stake, the young women do winter campouts with tents in the snow and annual 3-day treks up Wheeler Peak (13,000 feet). We were talking with my in-laws about it, and they recounted how those things started with specific young women who undertook organizing them as Personal Progress objectives. There may be bishops and stake presidents who hold things back, but what the young women do or don’t do is largely in their hands. Seeking parity by knocking down a functioning YM program instead of improving a YW program where it could use improving is a poor idea.

  47. Mark Brown on February 10, 2009 at 9:02 am

    It really shouldn’t surprise us that scouting costs more than a home-grown YW program. We are, after all, supporting an external organization. The BSA does provide benefits back to out ward troops, but the financial cost ought to be recognized.

    There is another way to look at the disparity between YM and YW aside from funding in the budget and the cost of activities. Think back to the last time a young man in your troop received the Eagle scout award. There was a special court of honor with lots of awards, speeches, and hoopla, and dozens of people showed up, maybe including grandparents from another state. It is common to serve refreshments and have displays from the young man’s scouting career set up in the cultural hall. Eagle scout is a big deal.

    Contrast that with the last time a Laurel earned her Young Woman Medallion. That is usually handled as part of the ward business right before the sacrament, and she gets a certificate and handshake from the bishop.

    Young women notice these things.

  48. Mark Brown on February 10, 2009 at 9:08 am

    And any talk of parity probably also ought to include the realization that 99% of wards outside of the U.S. and Canada don’t do scouting, at all. It is mostly a North American phenomenon which our brothers and sisters in other places have never heard about.

  49. Adam Greenwood on February 10, 2009 at 10:40 am

    Consider that ark steadied!

  50. Mark Brown on February 10, 2009 at 10:46 am

    Agreed completely, Adam. NOYDMB was completely out of line when he criticized BYU’s recruiting practices and accused that institution of hypocrisy.

  51. Adam Greenwood on February 10, 2009 at 10:51 am

    It was not BYU that he accused of hypocrisy. Nice try.

  52. James on February 10, 2009 at 10:56 am

    This and that;
    Scout Sunday – why does a commemoration need to be during sacrament meeting when an annual fireside would be a perfectly appropriate venue for youth and leaders to be decked out and hear a talk or two about the values taught in the Scout Law?

    Sunday Camping – normally the young men have a duty to be of service in sacrament meeting on Sunday. That is a higher duty than the needs of camping. That being said, Bishops and Stake Presidents do have the authority to allow occasional exceptions. On the other hand, my experience with week-long scout camp was that Saturday was just check-in day, Sunday was a down day for worship by the troops and everything fun and educational happened between Monday and Friday.

    Why have scouting? There are two really good reasons. The lesser reason is not having to re-invent an activity program for young men. The BSA bears the cost of much curriculum development, creation of suitable facilities, and even operational documents. The second reason, which I consider more important, is that involvement with BSA programs pushes members of the church to become more involved with the greater community than they would without that external pull.

  53. Mark Brown on February 10, 2009 at 11:22 am

    You’re a funny man, Adam.

  54. Jeremy on February 10, 2009 at 11:38 am

    NOYDMB,

    I’m really not sure where you’re going with the affirmative action stuff, but I’m not going to follow you into a debate on that tangent.

    What I was saying is that you were making two observations or claims that don’t necessarily lead to where you say they do: that we spend more on YM, and that that spending is justified because they need it more because their inactivity rates are higher. If their activity rates are higher, and we’ve been spending all this extra money for years to try to address that, it doesn’t appear that we’ve spent that money in an effective way.

    As to your #45: nope, I don’t surely agree that it’s easier to do those things with the help of the BSA. I’ve worked in YM for several years now, in a couple different wards. I’m currently the 1st counselor in our ward’s YM presidency as well as Varsity Coach. I dove into this calling with a good attitude, ready to learn the ropes and implement the program. I found that, especially in the Varsity program, it’s very difficult to pursue the program as outlined in the scout curriculum while also addressing the needs of the boys and helping them do Duty to God.

    Let me just point out two problems that I’ve perceived. First, one of the great things about the Duty to God program is that it is completely and thoroughly and transparently built up around the purposes of the Aaronic Priesthood. It’s very easy for boys to discern the connections between this or that activity and its larger purpose, and it accommodates various interests and activities (including lots of overlap with scouts). In Scouts, it’s much harder to make those connections in many cases (if you want to make the case to my snarky but faithful 15 year olds for the eternal significance of the neckerchief, be my guest). Second, the Varsity program, as it is outlined in the manuals, indicates that Varsity scouts should select a major interest or pursuit or activity (biking, hiking, bowling, etc.) to work on for an extended period — perhaps three months. Good luck finding something that the math nerd and the headbanger both want to do for that long of a time, and connecting it in a convincing way to the purposes of the Aaronic Priesthood. (Not to mention how to fund such things.)

    Now, before you go thinking what a lousy leader I am, I’ll have you know that I’ve spent several hours over the last several days preparing for mutual tonight, during which we’ll be working on a required merit badge for Eagle. We’ve been making pretty good progress in our ward lately on both Scout advancement and Duty to God. I’m following the program. I’m doing my best, and I love the boys I work with. And my experience has led me to the conclusion that Scouting does not meet the needs of many of the young men in the church in a way that I feel is commensurate with the expense. I feel I could craft a much better program, more suited to the various needs of the boys in my ward, and more consistently and convincingly aligned with the Purposes of the Aaronic Priesthood, if my curricular obligations were solely toward to the Duty to God program and not to Scouts.

    (Also, I want to claw my eyes out every time I have to complete a tour permit. And I want to claw someone else’s eyes out every time I’m asked to collect for Friends of Scouting.)

  55. Larry on February 10, 2009 at 12:03 pm

    I’m with Mark Brown in feeling that one of the largest problems is recognition.

    While budgets may be equal on paper, the amount of time and attention given to boys, and required by parents of boys on their (and scouting’s) behalf, typically is much greater than that of YW. Ceremonies, pageantry, recognition are all heavily weighted to YM and open to the entire ward. YW events and recognition ceremonies are generally attended by the girls and their parents, or, as previously stated, get a handshake from the bishop. Not much effort is made to invite the ward and not much fuss is made beyond those immediately involved in the program. This is not the fault of YW leaders.

    I’m not for abolishing scouting. It fills a role and fills it well for some boys. But definitely not all boys. And as Jeremy implied, as far as retention goes, scouting is usually preaching to the choir. Jeremy did not say that scouting causes boys to go inactive. What it does do is put all (or most) of the activity eggs in a basket that is not for everyone. YM not inclined toward scouting are left out of weeknight activities, weekend camp outs, courts of honor, etc. Of course it’s true they’re leaving themselves out, but there isn’t a robust alternative. I come from a family of four boys and one girl. Out of the four boys, one got his eagle. The best YW program I was in was in Colorado, which included all boys on camp outs, not just scouts. We were encouraged and supported in our interests and not shoehorned into a program. It taught all boys survival skills and made merit badge checklists available to those who wanted them, but did not require uniforms to go camping or merit badges for pitching tents. We went skiing instead of winter camping (more boys liked skiing than winter camping). The emphasis of the resources was on the boys’ needs and interest and not solely on the BSA.

    As a father of two girls, I hope things change. I am not looking for equality in the kinds of activities. The argument that most YW or leaders don’t want to go camping or hiking or they just want to talk about boys misses the point. Even if they don’t want to go camping, they should get the resources, attention and recognition that all youth deserve from leaders and parents.

    Fortunately, disparity is not everywhere. I live in a ward in Chicago that only recently revived a scouting program because there was interest (We have a small YM program). We did not force one at a time when there was no interest. The YW have been allowed to have fundraisers and have far out-raised the YM historically. We’ve sent many girls to camp without any having to pay, and used money they raised to buy camp supplies and pay the way of girls who would never have been able to go otherwise.

    The disparity is not just about money, it’s about attention and recognition.

    Wow that was LONG! Sorry!

  56. Larry on February 10, 2009 at 12:08 pm

    Oops. The best *YM* program I was in was in Colorado. I’m sure the YW program was good, but I wasn’t in it.

  57. NOYDMB on February 10, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    Jeremy, I wasn’t trying to say that you as an individual, are a lousy leader. Far be it from me in that respect on scouting.

    My general point is that in general, reinventing the wheel is a bad thing. There are many parts to scouting that do teach correct principles on their own. Team Building, friendships, personal responsibility (although I know that word isn’t in vogue with my libs), are infused throughout scouting. I don’t think scouting is the greatest thing since sliced bread, but I just don’t see the church being able to come up with as high of a quality program on it’s own. Not with the people I know in the church. Even if they are trying their best, many years of experience means something.

  58. NOYDMB on February 10, 2009 at 12:12 pm

    Jeremy, if you could teach your ym that sometimes we were uniforms (and clothing) to fit in, and because we’re told to, maybe sometime when they turn 19 that will help them out. Heck, it may even help them wear white shirts when they pass the sacrament. Obedience is also a principle the church teaches. The uniform can also be about typology, the type that we’re all part of something greater than our own individuality. Scouting as scouts, members in church clothes, more in the temple. Just ideas.

  59. Jeremy on February 10, 2009 at 12:17 pm

    NOYDMB,

    Your snarky caricatures of liberals or liberal ideas aren’t accurate or helpful, and I don’t know why you keep inserting them into this conversation.

    Also, you say:

    I just don’t see the church being able to come up with as high of a quality program on it’s own.

    And I’m saying: they already have. Duty to God has all the best (and most gospel-pertinent) parts of scouting in it — team building, check; friendships, check; personal responsibility, check–without much of the stuff that turns off many boys and incurs expenses. And as others have mentioned, it serves, sans Scouting, as the program for young men in the Church all around the world outside of North America.

  60. Adam Greenwood on February 10, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    I love scouting, and unlike some in this thread, I’m not going to tell President Monson that he’s wrong about scouting, but I do wish Young Women medallions and Duty to God awards were given out with a little more ceremony.

  61. Adam Greenwood on February 10, 2009 at 12:20 pm

    Lets cool it, y’all. Scouting is a church program, but constructive, non-bitter critique is not out of place (and *only* constructive, non-bitter critique is not out of place). Thank you.

  62. Steve Evans on February 10, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    Adam, I guess that’s kind of the question — *is* Scouting a “church program”? As it is run according to rules set by a non-LDS authority, Scouting straddles what is for many an uncomfortable boundary.

  63. Jeremy on February 10, 2009 at 12:25 pm

    The neckerchiefers in my ward have no problem wearing white shirts to pass the sacrament, because the greater gospel purpose is clear to them in that case.

  64. Adam Greenwood on February 10, 2009 at 12:25 pm

    Steve Evans,
    I recently went to a scouting fireside for LDS scouters where President Dahlquist was the speaker. He had an unequivocal answer to your question.

  65. bbell on February 10, 2009 at 12:32 pm

    Jeremy,

    I was recently in a trainging meeting that was just SP’s and Stake YM’s Pres. The question was asked. Can or will we ever replace Scouting with Duty to God. Both the AA and the guy from SLC who was on the YM Committee stated emphatically no.

    Budget. My exp.

    YM’s does normally get more funds at the ward level. YW’s gets more funds at the stake level. RS funds dwarf PH funds by so much 50-1 100-1 that in fact the real disparity that I have seen in both stake and ward budgets favors the Female side of the ledger. (If you are keeping track and I think its a bad idea to sit around keeping track)

    Activities:

    Very few YW and esp their leaders want to go camping/HA. This is why there are so few camping/HA trips for the females that want them. There is always 1-2 YW that have an interest in this but they normally are not in sufficient numbers to convince the rest of the girls/leaders to go along with these types of activities. Once in our stake we had group of Laurels and Mia Maids who wanted a serious HA. So the ward and Stake provided one. It was pretty awesome actually. rafting, Fly-fishing, M biking etc

  66. Jeremy on February 10, 2009 at 12:34 pm

    Adam, I hope you don’t see my comments as bitter. I’ve spent a lot of time in YM and in Scouts, and have arrived at my opinions through much thought and prayer. I’m perfectly willing to work within the programs as they are presently given to us — but I’m trying to be honest in expressing my thoughts and relating my experiences.

    In addition to the thoughts expressed in Steve’s comment in #62, I also perhaps feel a little freer to express my frustrations with Scouting because what I’m arguing for is an organizational structure within the YM program that already exists, correlated, and stamped-with-approval, everywhere in the Church besides the U.S. and Canada. I’m saying that in the U.S., there are two programs for Young Men that are hard to implement adequately in tandem, and I think one would serve us just fine.

    I suspect your “Cool it” might also be directed towards the sheer frequency of my comments on this thread, so I’ll try to let my back-and-forth with NOYDMB settle down for a while and let others chime in for a bit.

  67. Adam Greenwood on February 10, 2009 at 12:38 pm

    Very adult, Jeremy. Thank you.

  68. Mark Brown on February 10, 2009 at 12:47 pm

    Adam,

    The questions arise, not out an attempt to criticize, but to figure out what we are supposed to do. The church has different guidelines than the BSA, and it is inevitable that decisions have to be made that will disappoint either SLC or Irvine. queuno’s comments # 1 and # 6 lay out the dilemma very well.

    The church handbook does not equivocate about some things: separate budgets just for scouts are a serious violation, Sunday camping, the costs of youth activities, white shirts for the sacrament, etc. On each of those questions, people who are faithful latter-day saints in every respect are more than willing to blow off the Brethren in order to support the BSA.

    Jeremy/NOYDMB,

    There is free software available online which helps track a young man’s progress through scouting and through the Duty to God, and it even notes requirements which overlap, where one activity will satify requirements in both programs. I would say that maybe half of the requirements in DtG are duplicates of BSA. In places where they don’t overlap, it is where the BSA emphasizes outdoor adventure and the DtG emphasizes getting a job, preparing for a career, learning a new language as missionary preparation, etc.

    [Ed. -- sounds useful. Do you have a link?]

  69. Steve Evans on February 10, 2009 at 12:58 pm

    Adam, hard to argue with Pres. Dahlquist on that point, then, but if it is indeed a Church program it is an odd duck, and the only Church program to my knowledge where we turn the reins over to outside parties. Perhaps that just speaks well of the BSA. Even official Church approval of the program, however, doesn’t tend to resolve all issues as I’m sure you can see. In my mind the question is: why do we need the BSA? Why can’t we do this better than the BSA on our own?

  70. Adam Greenwood on February 10, 2009 at 1:06 pm

    I just removed a couple of comments that weren’t cooled.

    Steve Evans,
    if those are serious questions you have, there are a number of church resources that could help answer them. I would start with the Monson talk I link in the post and go from there.

  71. Steve Evans on February 10, 2009 at 1:10 pm

    Adam, sure those are serious questions, but I don’t know that Pres. Monson’s talk really addressed them in the sort of practical administrative way I am getting at. No need to derail your thread for it; I enjoyed my Scouting experience, and by and large think it was a great thing. I just wish we had a little more gumption and a little more independence as LDS, because I have little doubt that we could do things better.

  72. Mark Brown on February 10, 2009 at 1:13 pm

    [Ed. -- sounds useful. Do you have a link?]

    But of course!

    http://dtgtracker.com/dtgtracker/default.aspx

  73. Adam Greenwood on February 10, 2009 at 1:22 pm

    Thank you, sir.

  74. Jeremy on February 10, 2009 at 1:45 pm

    [Un-shun.]

    I’m going to pipe back in, responding to Adam’s request for links, to also mention this web site, which has a number of on-paper resources for matching up Duty to God requirements with Scouting requirements:

    http://dutytogod.com/.

    I use some of these forms for my own paper records to make note, usually during an activity, of the boys that are participating. I usually then pass this information on to the Young Men’s Secretary in our ward, who has chosen to use Troopmaster to track advancement for all the YM in our ward. It has LDS-specific enhancements for tracking Duty to God and Scouting in parallel.

    These are all very useful for administering these programs.

    (That said, the existence of and apparent demand for such products speaks, I think, to the kind of administrative and organizational frustrations I’m talking about here.)

    [Re-shun.]

  75. Sara R on February 10, 2009 at 2:05 pm

    My complaint about the Scouting program is how much money it costs. It costs more than it needs to because the Scout bureaucracy is bloated. Here’s an article from last year about Friends of Scouting and Utah professional scout salaries.

  76. Jonovitch on February 10, 2009 at 6:59 pm

    To partly answer Steve’s question (68), the Church doesn’t hold a candle to the kind of training resources the BSA offers/requires. At least in my district/council, the training opportunities are abundant and low-cost, if not free.

    The Church just doesn’t do training very well. There is no equivalent to the kind of youth protection training, problem-solving/conflict resolution training, social development training, organizational training, first aid/CPR training, etc., that the BSA (or at least my council) offers.

    Unfortunately, the percentage of officially “Trained” leaders in the LDS troops is roughly half that of non-LDS troops, and you better believe the district/council knows it. Part of this is due to the high turnover rate, which in LDS troops is really bad — for the boys individually, and for the program in general.

    I was lucky in that my Scoutmaster (lauded by others in the district/council) was left alone by a couple bishoprics for about 12 years. I was just getting going after 2.5 years when I was suddenly yanked out of that position.

    The Church doesn’t do transitions well at all, especially with Scouting — at least the BSA (or at lease my council) has the resources and programs to help a new Scoutmaster get on his feet and start running.

    So this is one area where, no, the Church probably couldn’t get very far without Scouting. I know that the training I received from the Scouting district is invaluable, and has improved my ability to work with the YM significantly. (Or at least until I was released.)

    In addition, without ready access to all our councils campsites, overnight fees would be through the roof. Have you seen what it costs to camp at a state park? Yikes! Not to mention all the facilities maintained and activities available at each site.

    So there are two things that the Church needs the BSA for, or at least benefits greatly from by maintaining a mutual relationship.

    Jon

  77. Mark Brown on February 10, 2009 at 7:24 pm

    Jonovitch,

    You are right, people at the district and council know that LDS scout leaders usually don’t see themselves as lifers. I’ve attended wood badge training and more roundtables than I can count in 4 different councils, and the LDS scouters are usually treated like red-headed stepchildren. I have to sit and listen to somebody in a buffalo hat lecture me about how LDS troops just aren’t doing it right, when our troops consistently produce Eagle scouts at a rate of 10 times the average non-LDS troop. The proof is in the outcome, and with the results that church troops get, I don’t feel that we need to listen to their contempt or disdain. With all our shortcomings when it comes to length of tenure of leaders, training, etc., we are getting it right a lot more often and a lot more consistently than the large majority of other troops. Therefore, I feel that the value of scouter training is consistently oversold.

    In addition, I would like to see us get a little respect for pulling more than our share of the weight when it comes to funding the council. Other troops register only the boys who participate, but LDS troops register everybody on the ward roster, including inactive boys and boys who never participate. It is my understanding that about 1/3 of units nationwide are LDS, but that our financial contribution is much greater than 1/3.

  78. Vaughn Johnson on February 10, 2009 at 10:27 pm

    In an effort to provide some clarification regarding the relationship between the Church and Boy Scouts of America, I link to the following document which addresses some of the comments previously made regarding LDS policies with Scouting. The LDS Scouting Handbook is also very clear regarding the “celebration” of Scout Sunday – the wearing of uniforms, Sacramental duties by Aaronic Priesthood, etc.

    http://ldsbsa.org/pdf/resources/Scouting%20and%20the%20church.pdf

    Also I link to an online Duty to God tracking resource. I have no personal relationship with the site, but it would appear to offer something helpful for LDS Duty to God tracking online.

    https://www.etrailtoeagle.com/Default.aspx

  79. Amy on February 10, 2009 at 10:44 pm

    Man, this thread has got me thinking about the YW program and how to make it better. Is there a thread somewhere about that? And if not, can we start one??

  80. Hans on February 11, 2009 at 8:27 am

    In December 2008 Boy Scouts of America’s LDS Relationships, based in Salt Lake City, published a new resource for LDS Scouters titled “Scouting and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints”. It is available online at

    http://ldsbsa.org/pdf/resources/Scouting%20and%20the%20church.pdf

    Its worth a look as the latest word on Scouting and the Church and may answer some of the questions that many have expressed.

  81. Jonovitch on February 11, 2009 at 12:51 pm

    Mark Brown (76), our district has asked me questions about the LDS troops, but they’ve never said we’re not doing it right. My fellow non-LDS Scouters have always wanted to find out how they can help. I don’t know that your negative experiences are widespread — they certainly aren’t the experiences I’ve had with our district/council.

    Additionally, registering every boy on your roster is a waste of money, in my opinion. Some of those boys likely don’t even know/recognize/admit they’re members of the Church, let alone its Boy Scout troop. We only register boys who have attended at least one Sunday/Wednesday/weekend campout in the past year. It’s a wide-enough net.

    Lastly, part of the bad rap LDS troops get is precisely because they churn out so many barely-14-year-old Eagles. “Eagle factories,” they are sometimes called — sometimes with good reason. While I understand that BSA summer camps tend to stampede groups of boys through elective merit badges and even some required ones, I am wary of young boys in LDS troops who are force-fed such complex and abstract topics as Citizenship in the World and Personal Management simply so they can get as close to Eagle as possible while still in the deacons’ quorum. I’ve done Merit Badge Marathons (on these two badges), and I’ve seen how the older boys can struggle with some concepts and assignments — the younger boys really can’t even start to grasp them.

    I really don’t think the solitary statistic of “Eagles produced in LDS troops” is significant of anything other than a well-oiled machine. Besides, advancement is a Method, not an Aim, as any good Scouter would tell you. If it becomes the main focus, it does so to the detriment of the Aims, and of the development of the boy. Still, too many wards get caught up in having 100 percent of their (active) young men earn the Eagle rank, as if that on its own somehow proves something. It proves nothing, except perhaps that the adults behind the extraordinary advancement rates are a bit too zealous.

    It saddens me to me hear of LDS troops being denigrated because we do things a little differently. At the same time, we can’t be so smug to think we don’t have room for improvement. We could learn plenty from our non-LDS counterparts.

    Jon

  82. Mark Brown on February 11, 2009 at 6:26 pm

    Jonovitch,

    Thanks, I appreciate your reply. Unfortunately, I’m going to disagree with you on the biggest parts of it.

    I have also heard LDS troops referred to derisively as Eagle factories. Again, I think we don’t need to listen to denigration like that from our local councils and districts. The fact of the matter is that, as you have pointed out, the districts themselves sponsor merit badge seminars where boys can earn four merit badges on four consecutive Saturday mornings. A 14 year old boy in any troop, LDS or not) who attends two council sponsored Summer camps and a merit badge seminar or two is going to have 20 – 25 merit badges. The fact of the matter is that our LDS young men appear before Eagle boards of review that are certified by the district, not the church. If they think we are doing it wrong, they ought to put a stop to it right there instead of granting the Eagle award and then complaining about it later. And the LDSBSA document other commenters have linked to states clearly that much of the reason for our superior performance in achieving the eagle rank has to do with our retention in the troop of older boys. We have lots of YM who achieve eagle at 17 and 1/2 years of age. So the complaint about 14 year old immature eagle scouts is mostly a canard. We have them, yes, but not in disportionate numbers.

    Your statement that you do not register all boys even though the handbook says you should doesn’t surprise me, but it does confound me, and it underscores my low-level frustration with our implementation of the BSA program. Adam very correctly doesn’t want to tolerate any griping about the church or any ark-steadying, but it has been my experience in the 25 years I have been an adult leader in the Aaronic priesthood of the church that by far the biggest single source of murmuring about the Brethren in SLC is the committed LDS adult scout leader. In no other area do faithful members feel so free to disregard written instruction and set aside advice from the church as we do with scouts, and I really wish I understood why. The feeling seems to be that the brethren are well-intentioned wise men who are usually right, but when it comes to scouting, they just don’t get it, bless their hearts, and so we just go our own way.

  83. Mark Brown on February 11, 2009 at 6:31 pm

    Or to put it more simply, using queuno’s metaphor: In the majority of cases, when a decision has to be made, leaders display their loyalty to Irvine rather than to SLC.

  84. Julie M. Smith on February 11, 2009 at 6:40 pm

    “In no other area do faithful members feel so free to disregard written instruction and set aside advice from the church as we do with scouts, and I really wish I understood why.”

    I think I understand why: there is another organization pushing them in another direction. If the SS curriculum and program came from SS International Org. and was used by the church but with some modifications, our teachers would sometimes think that the non-modified version was better. And how could SS International be so wrong if the Church had chosen to invest in its program?

  85. Jonovitch on February 12, 2009 at 12:29 pm

    Mark (81), after I posted my comment last night, I read through the new LDS/BSA pdf and saw the line that all active and inactive boys should be registered. That was the first time I had heard of it, and apparently no one else in our ward (including our bishopric) was aware of it, since we’ve talked about who to register for the past two years of rechartering.

    Personally, I think it’s a good philosophy to register everyone and then try to recruit the inactive boys through Scouting. But realistically, in my experience, after inviting many of our inactive boys to many of our camping trips and other activities the past two years, they just don’t show up. For the one or two that do, they get registered. For the others, I still think it’s a big waste of money and a bit too presumptuous.

    Nonetheless, my loyalties are in order, and I’ll pass on this new information to our bishopric and YM presidency. Evil speaking of the Lord’s anointed (or otherwise grumbling about other people) is not on my list of priorities. I will argue in the open about rules I don’t agree with, but I will never ever denigrate another person. That’s just mean. And ineffective.

    Jon

  86. Jonovitch on February 12, 2009 at 12:34 pm

    What I meant to say is, I don’t break the rules, even if I don’t agree with them. I will try to change the ones I disagree with, sometimes vigorously, but until I’ve been told to proceed otherwise, I stick with what’s approved. Those know-betters who think they’re above the rules are deceiving themselves and, what’s worse, teaching their boys a sad lesson in hypocrisy.

    Jon

  87. Adam Greenwood on February 12, 2009 at 12:52 pm

    Bless your hearts.

  88. Vaughn Johnson on February 12, 2009 at 1:34 pm

    Registering every boy is about more than filling our rosters and sending money to National BSA. It offers liability protection because young men registered with BSA are covered under BSA insurance if a proper tour permit is completed (but that is an entirely different issue). The Church (and adult leaders involved) are potentially at financial risk by failing to enroll every young man properly. Any adult leader who fails to do this is putting himself and his financial resources at risk.

    The money for registration comes from the Stake, but is reimbursed by headquarters. Thus it is at no apparent cost to the local LDS ward / branch / stake.

  89. John Mansfield on February 12, 2009 at 3:01 pm

    Inactive boys registered for scouting can’t be too inactive if the parents are signing registration forms to have the boys in LDS troops. It sounds like a good minor channel to keep connection open between the church and inactive families.

  90. bbell on February 12, 2009 at 3:16 pm

    John,

    That is a good point you raise their. I am in a stake position regarding ym and I am not sure how we actually register inactive boys. I am not sure if parents even need to sign any type of registration form. Now I am wondering how this should be handled. Because there are lots of inactive boys registered and I am sure that many of them and their parents are not aware of their scout registration.

    If somebody knows let me know.

  91. Jeremy on February 12, 2009 at 5:46 pm

    Maybe I’m wrong on this, but I seem to recall that they only have to sign the registration form the first time.

  92. John Taber on February 12, 2009 at 6:27 pm

    “The feeling seems to be that the brethren are well-intentioned wise men who are usually right, but when it comes to scouting, they just don’t get it, bless their hearts, and so we just go our own way.”

    I wouldn’t put it quite like that. I would say that scouting is _grossly_ overemphasized. The blank check the Church writes BSA only perpetuates several of the problems inherent in the relationship. And I don’t know how that relationship is so critical if it can only benefit 45% of members (and shrinking – to me it’s like saying American members are better for not using the metric system.) If I thought my not finishing Eagle was so important in the eternal scheme of things, I don’t think I’d be that active in the Church now. Something about the Varsity coach (who didn’t think I was really worthy to finish Eagle) sabotaging my project.

    The majority of the names on the Eagle plaque in my parents’ ward did not serve missions. (Why should they have? The big push for them in Young Men was Eagle Scout, along with basketball and softball and maybe early-morning seminary.) Those who did would have anyway. And that ward doesn’t have a missionary plaque, though others in the stake do. (I’m not the only one who’d be on that plaque, who isn’t on the Eagle plaque.)

  93. Adam Greenwood on February 12, 2009 at 6:34 pm

    American members are better for not using the metric system.

  94. autosmartwer on February 12, 2009 at 7:30 pm

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  95. Mark Brown on February 12, 2009 at 7:41 pm

    autosmartwer: well said.

  96. Jeremy on February 12, 2009 at 9:28 pm

    There is a place for Hugo Ball poetry in the Bloggernacle, but I don’t think this thread is it, autosmartwer.

  97. ji20874 on February 15, 2009 at 1:17 pm

    Adam, thanks for your original posting. I hope your readers will appreciate that there is not any Church ban on Scout Sunday — indeed, the handbooks specifically allow for it. There are two relevant teachings which some persons take individually or together to paint a picture that Scout Sunday is prohibited, but they err in this.

    The first teaching: We generally don’t do a Scout Sunday like the annual Primary presentation, where the entire focus of the meeting is Scouting. This is a good teaching — but this isn’t a ban on Scouts and Scouters wearing uniforms in LDS sacrament meetings on Scout Sunday. Indeed, they are specifically invited to do so.

    The second teaching: Aaronic-priesthood holders wearing uniforms are honorably excused from administering the ordinance on a ward’s Scout Sunday. This is also a good teaching, intended to avoid drawing any attention away from the ordinance itself. It isn’t because the uniform is unclean or unworthy, it is just to keep the worship focus properly aimed. May young men administer the sacrament in their uniforms on other occasions? Yes. When LDS scouts are away from home over a Sunday, they certainly may administer the sacrament in uniform. Witness: the sacrament meetings at Philmont Scout Ranch and the sacrament meetings at national jamborees — the Brethren generally approve the first, and the President of the Church presides at the second. A key point: young men wearing uniforms are HONORABLY excused from administering the sacrament in the home ward’s Scout Sunday.

  98. Online on February 20, 2009 at 3:00 am

    ??????? ?????? ??????? – ???? ? ?????? ???????? :(

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