Mac’s Message #11: Help Your Young Men Feel and Recognize the Spirit

Mac McIntire

Mac McIntire

I have found in my many years in Scouting that some of the most powerful spiritual experiences for young men come not in the priesthood quorum classroom, but while standing on a distant mountain top, hiking on a narrow trail in a thick forest, sitting quietly by a crystal clear lake, or while gathered as a Scouting unit around a warm campfire late at night.

As I mentioned last week, as a Young Men leader you have numerous opportunities to spiritually influence a boy’s life. If you have young men in your quorum or Scout unit from single-parent families or families without a faithful priesthood role model, you may be the only priesthood influence in that young man’s life. Therefore, one of your core objectives should be to provide your boys with numerous “HOFRS” experiences where you “Help Others Feel and Recognize the Spirit.” **

Once a young man becomes a member of your priesthood quorum or Scouting unit there shouldn’t be a single boy under your stewardship who can honestly complain that he has never felt the Holy Ghost in his life. When planned properly, every Scout activity can be a spiritual experience. Taking time to facilitate personal reflection after an event, a hike, a fishing trip, a day of camping, or a merit badge session will help the boys recognize the spiritual connection to everything they do in Scouting.

I hope you will see each of the following situations as a structured time when you can touch a boy spiritually by bearing testimony, sharing your personal spiritual experiences, telling faith-promoting stories, or discussing moral principles:

  • Scouting leader conferences
  • Scouter’s minutes
  • Behind-the-scene, one-on-one guidance
  • Reflections after each activity
  • Campfire stories
  • Courts of honor
  • During life-changing or difficult activities
  • Activities where safety is required
  • Skills and leadership training
  • Answering a boy’s questions


The purpose of Scouting is “to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes.” You can fulfill this purpose, and the Lord’s purposes, more fully when you never miss an opportunity to help others feel and recognize the Spirit.


Take a Moment to Reflect 

  • Are you holding Scouting leader conferences with your boys?
  • Do you provide meaningful Scouter’s minutes where you reinforce the Scout values?
  • Do you create spiritual experiences at your camping, hiking, campfire, merit badge classes, and other Scouting activities? Do you provide quiet, reflective moments in their Scouting experiences so they can do so?
  • Can the boys feel and recognize the Spirit as they interact with you?


Turn Your Reflection Into Action 

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


“But this is not all; they had given themselves to much prayer and fasting; therefore they had the spirit of prophecy, and the spirit of revelation, and when they taught, they taught with power and authority of God.”(Alma 17:3).

 -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 Evanston, Wyoming.

** In the reply section below, please feel free to share your special experiences in Scouting where you have helped your boys feel and recognize the Spirit.

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  1. Randy Sorensen says:

    Thanks Mac. The idea you present are wonderful but I am overwhelmed. How do I do all theses things when I am planning the program , conducting the meetings and organizing these young men’s groups? Am I doing something wrong?

    1. Mac McIntire says:


      Thank you for your heartfelt and honest question. As I have been writing these blog messages I’ve wondered myself if I am overwhelming people with my suggestions. We are only eleven weeks into this and perhaps I am giving too much advice for people to think about. I certainly don’t want people to feel that Scouting is a unattainable, daunting task because of my blog messages and pondering questions. Hopefully everyone realizes these are just some helpful hints that they can either try or ignore. And hopefully they realize they don’t have to do everything I suggest because I will be discussing a lot of different topics.

      I’m sure one of the major reasons why many young men leaders don’t implement the Scouting program as designed is because there are so many components to it. It is easy to get overwhelmed just trying to learn it all, let alone do it all. So I would suggest you just start with the basics — a few things — and build from there. Use the boys to plan three months of activities. Chose your senior patrol leader (SPL) and help him fulfill his role. Find some merit badge counselors who can take the load off of you so you can focus on the boys. Ask the bishop to call assistant Scouting leaders if you don’t have them. Resources, resources, resources is my answer as a Scoutmaster. Find other people to teach, instruct, train, etc. so you can focus on building relationships with the boys. I always reserve the Spirit of the unit/quorum and discipline to me. Everything else I delegate to someone else.

      These are just a few thoughts. I hope others will reply to your question and give you much better advice than me. Come on everyone. Give Randy, and others like him who have the same concerns, the benefit of your wisdom and years of experience.

  2. JD says:

    Randy – I am a big fan of a 2 year Deacons/Troop Plan. I call it 2 years of Tradition. Once you have a framework or foundation to build on, then taking it to the next level is easier to do. If you are reinventing the wheel and starting fresh or find yourself really struggling, know that there is a better way. I always say that if you are not having fun in Scouting, you are doing it wrong.

    Planning the Program: Use your SPL/Deacon’s Quorum President to help with that. Teach him to lead. Weekly Presidency Meetings/PLC (Patrol Leader Councils) help with this.

    Conducting the Meeting: (see previous – Use SPL)

    Organizing these group? Which Organizing are you referring to?

    Having a system (framework/foundation) or 2 Year Plan that has youth input for improvement will help. Wood Badge is a great place to see the model. You never see the Scoutmaster take charge, since a good Senior Patrol Leader (SPL), can learn and lead. This allows the Scoutmaster to observe and take mental notes as well as focus on the Spirit. Creating opportunities for Spiritual Experiences, enhances the program and times in the REAL Purpose of why we do Scouting – which is to draw the boys closer to our Savior and become converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ and live by his teachings.

    1. Mac says:

      JD, I would love to see your two-year plan. Is it in a format that you could email it to me? Just click on my picture to get my email address. Thanks.

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