Mac’s Message #1: Gaining a Vision of Scouting and the Aaronic Priesthood

Mac McIntire

Mac McIntire

I have a secret. I love Scouting. But I haven’t always felt that way. To be honest I used to think Scouting was silly. I couldn’t fathom why The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (“the Church”) supported Boy Scouting.

Twice I had been a ward Young Men president and never understood why the boys were required to do Scout activities for Mutual. Sadly, I did not support the Scouting program and did all I could to channel our Young Men efforts to what I felt were more appropriate Aaronic Priesthood activities.

I often wondered why the Young Men program couldn’t be more like the program for the Young Women. Each week in Mutual the young women stand up and recite the YW theme. Their lessons and activities are designed around the YW values. I was surprised that the young men didn’t have a theme and values. I felt the Church should drop the Scouting program and develop a YM curriculum similar to that of the young women.

Then one day, in a priesthood executive committee meeting, when our bishopric was struggling to find someone to be the Scoutmaster for our ward, I shared my disdain for Scouting. Our wise bishop reminded me that the current prophet, and many other prophets, strongly supported the Scouting program.

“Brother McIntire,” he said, “Maybe the prophet knows something you don’t know about Scouting. Maybe you should pray about it and find out why Scouting is the Lord’s program for the young men.”

That night I did just that. In my prayer I told the Lord I didn’t understand Scouting and I wondered why the Young Men program didn’t have a theme and values like the young women. What unfolded was one of the most spiritual experiences of my life.

I heard a voice ask, “Would you like to hear the Young Men Theme?” When I responded “yes,” I heard, “‘On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; To help other people at all times; To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.’”

The voice then asked if I wanted to hear the Young Men values. When I said “yes”, the voice said, “A Scout is Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent.”

For over an hour I was instructed by the Spirit showing me why the Scouting program is the activity arm of the Aaronic Priesthood. I learned that Baden-Powell was inspired of God to establish the Scouting program. I came to know Scouting was a divinely-established means to help the young men in the Church to become strong men of character.

Proverbs 29:18 says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Where there is no vision or understanding of the value of Scouting in the Young Men program the boys perish spiritually. Scouting is the best way I know to instill the values of the gospel in young men. It is the best means for taking the lessons learned on Sunday and applying them in the lives of the boys.

Few things are more important in your Aaronic Priesthood responsibilities than that of gaining a personal testimony—or vision—of the Aaronic Priesthood and Scouting programs. I encourage you to pray for a testimony of Scouting. Pray to know what the prophets know. Pray to know what I now know.

Take a Moment to Reflect:

  • Do you have a testimony of the Scouting program? Can you see what the prophets see in your vision of Scouting?
  • Do you know why Scouting is “the activity arm of the Aaronic Priesthood”?
  • Have you resolved to run the Young Men program the way the Lord has designed it, including the Scouting elements of the Aaronic Priesthood?
  • Can you feel the Lord’s Spirit when you are involved in Scouting activities?


Turn Your Reflection Into Action

  • What will you start doing, stop doing, or do better as a result of your reflection?


“Brethren, if ever there were a time when the principles of Scouting were vitally needed—that time is now. If ever there were a generation who would benefit by keeping physically strong, mentally awake, and, morally straight—that generation is the present generation.” (Thomas S. Monson, “‘Called to Serve’,” Ensign, November 1991, 46).


-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.

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  1. Daniel says:

    Great post. I must admit that I also started with a very skeptical view of the scouting program. Like you I felt that we could benefit from a home grown program similar to YW or expanding on Duty to God. My change of heart came from my participation in Woodbadge training. That training really broadened my perspective of the program and how it could bless our Young men.

    It was there that I saw how the patrol method enables quorums to operate and lead their program. It was at Woodbadge that I saw scaffolding provided by leaders to enable patrols to make decisions, set goals and accomplish meaningful work. In short it gave me vision.

  2. Bruno Castagno says:

    I see you are trying to help the leaders to see the value of scouting program in the Aronic Pristhood, I just no understand why so many people who don’t care much about scouting are calling do do the job, at the expense of boys who only once in a life time can be Boy Scouts.
    I have seeing many great boys who got adrift, because of lack of adults “leaders” understanding the principles , methods and aims of scouting.
    Just prayers not saving life’s, but wen you ingage with pure intend heart and soul and also have the capacity to interpret and pass and live the values, miracles will staring to happen.
    We must rememember scouting is a voluntary program, for kids and also adults, but beside it the adult must really like it and it, be trained and able to deliver a good program.. It take time….and you will find the best scoutmasters were the ones who lived as a boy in a strong scout troop were they experienced it…. I truly belive in that.

  3. Les Doyle says:

    Great article and truly enjoyed reading it! Only been a LDS for 3, going on 4 years and 40 years in Scouting as a Scout and Scouter. When my ward Bishop asked me to be Troop Committee Chairman for the ward, I first thought, no way
    I wanted to do that and only because I was not aware fully
    in how LDS operated their units, after spending 25 years of regular Scouting units. I sure do not have any regrets
    in working with our Young Men and working with our Young Men towards Eagle Scout Rank.

  4. Great Article. Many could learn from your wisdom. As a child I LOVED Scouting, and as I have grown up I have learned what a blessing Scouting can be to a new generation of Young men.

  5. Marni says:

    Beautiful, amen! Thanks for sharing!

  6. Thank you for this post. Scouting played a huge role in my young life, thanks in large part to LDS leaders that became trained and that worked hard to properly implement the program.

    I have been serving in various adult BSA leadership positions ever since returning from my mission many years ago. One of my greatest frustrations has been the lax (and even antagonistic) ways that many LDS units approach Scouting. These anti-Scouting sentiments come from a source other than the Lord.

    Many well meaning young men leaders are so busy doing their own program that they forfeit the tremendous blessings the Lord offers through Scouting. I learned long ago that when you insist on following your own program, you are on your own and you carry most of the burdens yourself. When you follow the Lord’s program, he provides countless blessings and bears most of the load as he works with you. Why would anyone want to give that up?

    1. Mac McIntire says:

      Absolutely. Amen to everything you said.

  7. Scott Smith says:

    Thank you Br. Mac, for sharing your testimony here. Your blog entry hit home for me today because I personally have talked with more than a few folks with your beginning viewpoint about Scouting. It made me ponder if possibly some folks don’t accept the Oath and Law as a YM theme and values because they are not originated within the church or possibly do not sound ‘LDS’ enough.
    That thought caused me to pen the following thoughts:
    ‘Aaronic Priesthood Theme’
    “We are sons of God and, as such, we have a sacred honor and duty to our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. We also have a sacred honor and duty to this country that we love. We strive to live by priesthood values. We understand that priesthood means service, so we strive to serve our Heavenly Father and all of His children. We understand that our bodies are a temple so we strive to keep those bodies physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.
    ‘Aaronic Priesthood Values’
    “A priesthood holder is Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent.
    Please let no one misunderstand that I am purposing a change here. I love and have a great testimony of the Scout Oath and Law. My prayer here is only to help folks come to a deeper understanding of what the Scout Oath and Law mean to me, as an LDS Scouter. Thank you for your inspiring blog.

    1. Mac McIntire says:

      I like it.

  8. Randy Sorensen says:

    Thanks Mac. I do wish that your conversion to Scouting was a more common experience. In my experience it rarely happens. Especially rare is the Stake President conversion. I think that level of conversion is key to unlocking the potential of Scouting in a Stake. How can we encourage our Stake leaders to fully embrace the Scouting program? It does not seem proper for me to counsel my Stake President as your good bishop did you. What do you think?

    1. Daniel says:

      I find it interesting that you see the key actor as the stake president. Can you give a little detail on why you think that is the case? From my perspective the Bishop is the president of the Aaronic priesthood, he calls the YM presidency, even the scout committee resides within the ward. Honestly I am surprised that Philmont focuses on stake leaders when the YM program is the focus of the ward.

      1. Randy Sorensen says:

        Daniel, Thank you for your interest. I would agree with you fully that the Ward is the hub of activity in the Aaronic Priesthood and Scouting. I too would love to see the church sponsor some program at Philmont directed towards the Ward Scouting leadership. My comment about the Stake President’s role in Scouting conversion, I think, can be explained by one question. Who trains the bishoprics? Of course you know that is the Stake President and his counselors. The Stake President sets the tone for the Aaronic Priesthood and Scouting in his stake by the way he trains bishops.

    2. Mac McIntire says:

      Perhaps you could tell your stake president and his counselors about this blog and specifically mention message #1. In fact, you ought to also tell your bishopric and young men leaders about the blog and invite them to subscribe. There are more good messages coming.

    3. Marla Thomas says:

      Personally, as an LDS woman who has been a unit commissioner for many years since 2002 for various LDS units at all 4 levels because a bishop initially asked me to, I feel that ALL (IH) Institutional Heads should be required to complete both Youth Protection Training and Fast Start for the levels being sponsored by their organization. Also, I believe all Stake Presidents and their stake counselors should complete the above courses because of their stewardship and that they call and approve leaders and counselors who will be delivering guidance and training. They need to be aware of the parameters.

      1. Les Doyle says:

        In our ward; even our institutional Head (IH) and both of the Bishops councilors take the Youth Protection Training and have taken numerous other training levels in Scouting, such as Fast Start and This is Scouting.

  9. Mac says:

    “Youth need hope, not despair; visions, not clouds; models, not critics; inspired leaders to help them to be honest with themselves. Young people ask for a fair chance to succeed. Let us help provide wholesome challenges and opportunities, and they will complete the job of becoming well-adjusted, useful citizens” (Ezra Taft Benson, “Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson,”, p. 564).

  10. Mac says:

    “A hundred years from now it will not matter why my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove. But the world may be different because I was important in the life of a boy.” — Forest Witcraft, former managing editor of Scouting Magazine

    1. Mac McIntire says:

      On February 16, 1832, Joseph Smith and Sydney Rigdon were in John Johnson’s home. On that day they read John 5:29, and Joseph and Sydney had an incredible vision (D&C 76).

      Philo Dibble was with them when the revelation came. A man once said to Brother Dibble, “You were there when Doctrine and Covenants Section 76 came — did you see the vision?” Brother Dibble replied, “I saw the glory and felt the power, but I did not see the vision.”

      I hope the Lord will bless you to see the vision of Scouting and its value in bringing young men to Christ. But, if you don’t see the vision, I hope you will at least see the glory and feel the power of such a wonderful program. I testify that Scouting is an inspired program to bring to pass the purposes of the Lord in strengthening the young men of the Church.

  11. Michael Brown says:

    Scouting helped me in so many ways to become who I am today. My leaders ran a great program. Scouting was fun, adventure, skill development, and the ideals in the Scout Oath and Law. At my first Scoutmaster Training 24 years ago, I remember learning that as leaders, Scouting was primarily about having the boys love Scouting enough that they would adopt the ideals of the law and the oath into their lives. Scouting had two main tools to do that: the outdoor program and advancement. Some boys would respond to one and some to the other, and that was fine, as long as they loved Scouting. A boy could love advancement but not rigorous outdoor activity. Another might be just the opposite, but both were fine. Either way, the young man grew and stayed close to Scouting and its ideals. I feel that too often “advancement” and merit badges are given special value, while outdoor skills are considered frivolity. Often Scouts come to see Scouting as extra homework, leave as soon as possible, forget its ideals, and do not come back to give as leaders.

  12. Stacy says:

    While scouting has served an important role for the last 100 years, I very much look forward to the new program our Church leaders are designed and implementing soon. The Scouting program, though inspired at the time, is not lead by a prophet. It’s lead by humans with human agendas. Thanks to the close association between the Boy Scouts and the Church, I feel Latter-days Saints had a greater influences on the world and young men in general, than if the church had made it’s own program a 100 years ago. But now the time has come for the two to go their own ways, and it’s very exciting! One thing I can’t wait to hear is the new YM’s Theme, as I am sure there will be one. And just like adult women can still earn their Personal Progress medallions, I hope some adult men will also go back and earn the YM equivalent, once it is revealed. Whether or not they earned their Eagle, it’ll be a great opportunity to strengthen their testimonies while working through the program with their sons, grandsons, and young men in their wards.

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