Mac’s Message #19: The Structure of the BSA Program Will Save You

Mac McIntire

Mac McIntire

As a management development consultant I’m known for using pithy statements to anchor key leadership concepts in the minds of the executives I teach. One of my most often quoted statements is “If your team is struggling, structure will save you.” In the workplace a manager can tell when his or her work team is struggling. Likewise, you should be able to tell when your Young Men program is struggling. You see, hear, and feel when your program is not going well.

If your Aaronic Priesthood or Scouting program is struggling, I would like to suggest that the prescribed Church and BSA structure will save you.

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Every problem or challenge you face as an Aaronic Priesthood or Scouting leader has been confronted by many men before you. Inspired men have developed structured programs, processes, policies, procedures, and systems to ensure your boys have quality priesthood and Scouting experiences. Instructional handbooks have been written by Church curriculum developers so you can provide inspirational and uplifting lessons each week in your priesthood quorum. Boy Scout, Varsity, and Venturing leader manuals are available to teach you how to deploy the necessary structure to inculcate within your boys the aims and values of Scouting. The three-volume Troop Program Resources guide provides step-by-step outlines to implement and teach every element and Scout skill to your young men. The Internet literally has thousands of resources available to “save” you in your calling.

I testify that boys respond well to structure. It is the structure of reciting the Scout Oath and Law each week at the beginning of your meetings, knowing in advance the planned activity for the week, never canceling an event, and following a prescribed agenda in your quorum meetings that saves the boys. Young men need the assurance of consistency during the confusing formative years of their life. They need constancy while everything about them in their pre-teen and teen years is in transition. The gospel of Jesus Christ and the values of Scouting offer your boys a safe, comfortable, and peaceful spirit. Aaronic Priesthood and Scouting experiences should be a noticeably sharp contrast to the confusion and ever-changing norms of the world.

I encourage you to develop a structured routine in your priesthood quorum, weeknight meetings, outdoor activities, and campouts. Once the boys get used to the routine, they will respond well when they know they always bring their scriptures to Church on Sunday, they always wear their Scout uniform to Mutual, there is campout every month, there will be a “reflection” after each activity, and they always have evening and morning group prayer together when camping. These are just a few of the unique structures I’ve used to save the boys under my stewardship. I testify boys respond well to structure. I have seen it work over and over again.

Take a Moment to Reflect

  • Do you teach out of the Come, Follow Me lessons during your quorum instruction and do the boys read out of their scriptures regularly during your lessons?
  • Do you own and use the Boy Scout, Varsity, or Venturing leader handbook to guide your efforts?
  • Do you have a structured routine to your Mutual nights?
  • Do you go on regularly-scheduled service projects, campouts, and outdoor outings?
  • Do your boys have confidence they will have quality Scouting and priesthood experiences?


Turn Your Reflection Into Action

  • What will you start doing, stop doing, or do better as a result of your reflection?
“It is wisdom in me; therefore, a commandment I give unto you, that ye shall organize yourselves and appoint every man his stewardship; that every man may give an account unto me of the stewardship which is appointed unto him.” (D&C 104: 11—12).

-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. The comments in this blog reflect his opinions and are not to be construed as official statements by the Church or by the LDS-BSA Relationships office.

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  1. Bruno Castagno says:

    Mac, your inspired words should across all ears and harts of all who are doing scouting in church, have so much preciously information, and the cure for almost Everthing a leader can face in his or her calling , working with the youth.
    Your blog is my weekly reminder for who I’m work, and a compass that’s help to sharp the saw.
    Certenly I will use it now , most than ever , and over and over again in my newst calling as assistant of scoutmaster. Thank you!

    1. Mac McIntire says:

      Thank you for your very kind words. I greatly appreciate it.

  2. Marla Thomas says:

    As an LDS adult and long time scouter I whole heartily agree with you about the CONSISTENCY ADVICE. Also, on any day, a youth and the parents of the youth who have not been participating regularly in meetings need to “know and feel” that consistency, also . . . because there just might be the day that they decide to attend or have their family attend a meeting and begin coming back into full fellowship. How exciting that can be for both them and us! But, it usually is not easy for them during the transition back to full activity. Leaders need to constantly be aware of those “invisible ones” who just might show up at any time!
    POSSIBLE QUESTIONS TO ASK WHEN PLANNING: Is the group meeting in a consistent manner and at the same place & time on a regular schedule? Are permission slips being utilized for activities off of the regular site (so parents are aware of each of their youth’s locations at all times)? Is the group being “inclusive” when planning activities? Are changes in times and meeting places posted in an obvious place and are they in enough advance notice? Does your unit have an agreed upon and well understood “advance notice” time (such as at least a 12 hour or 24 hour advance notice policy)? Is a reply/acknowlegement requested? Is a follow-up done with those who do not reply or acknowledge? Is a newsletter being utilized? If by email are those who do not utilize email receiving a “hard copy”? Etc.
    Off-site meetings can be great if planning calendars are utilized and any changes are kept to a minimum and notification is sent out well in advance to everyone reasonably possible to notify. Remember that leaders above you (whether they will be attending or not) may need notification and to approve the change. Please include you bishopric member(s) and other auxiliary leaders so they will know of any changes. (Sometimes people call them asking details about activities.)
    Always do a quick journal/note or reflection noting who was included and attended and who needs better notification and attention. Make plans for change and improvement through this quick assessment that should be done immediately after each activity or event while memories are still fresh. Jot a few notes down and file for future reference to take place in future youth &/or adult planning meetings. Future planning meetings may have different youth &/or adult leaders so assessment notes can come in handy for them. YIS.

    1. David Parker says:


      I really appreciated your comments! I feel like sometimes leaders forget the 1 and focus on the 99. I was in a Priests quorum meeting one time with our Stake President during a ward conference and at the end, the SP was asked if he had anything for the quorum. He immediately said, “Who’s not here?” and then gently encouraged the 1st Assistant to make assignments to the boys in attendance to contact those that were not there. I’ve tried to follow that example in the quorums that I visit as a Stake YM’s leader and I feel like it helps the boys to learn how to be good Priesthood leaders.

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