Mac’s Message #21: The Importance of Being Prepared

Mac McIntire

Mac McIntire

If the Scout motto is Be Prepared, why do so many young men ask their leader, “What are we doing this week for activity night?” Perhaps it’s because the young men have not been taught by example how to model the motto.

Well-planned and executed Scouting and Aaronic Priesthood activities with a purpose help young boys hear the whisperings of the Spirit that will bring them to Christ and lifetime activity in His Church. Unplanned, disorganized, ad hoc activities lead to confusion, disappointment, and disinterest in both Scouting and Church involvement. Boys need something to look forward to. They need a calendar filled with exciting, fun, and meaningful activity nights, combined activities, camping trips, and Scouting outings that will hold their interest more than other worldly pursuits.

The young men are supposed to plan, direct, control, and carry out Scouting and Aaronic Priesthood activities with the help of their shadow adult leaders and the unit Scouting committee. You cannot expect your boys to identify purposeful activities without your help. There are numerous Scout resources available to survey the interests of your boys and channel their thinking toward meaningful, character-building activities. You can easily guide the boys to identify weekly activities, service projects, outdoor experiences, and campouts that will be fun, uplifting, and purposeful.

I encourage you to hold an annual planning meeting with your boys. At a minimum you should develop a quarterly calendar that shows what the boys will be doing each week. Your calendar could also include priesthood quorum assignments and the lesson schedule for each quorum meeting so your boys come spiritually prepared to discuss the principles of the gospel.

You create wonderful opportunities that generate anticipation and excitement within a boy when the boys plan activities in advance. Pre-planning also allows the senior patrol leader to make assignments that teach each young man to be responsible and do his duty. When the boys plan their activities it allows you to meet with a boy before the activity to mentor him on his leadership role and debrief him afterwards to discuss lessons learned. You can teach the boy how to set an agenda, outline and organize an activity, and coordinate the equipment and resources necessary to make the event a success. You can help a boy become an effective priesthood leader by teaching him planning and organizing skills that will help him in the future as a missionary, employee, priesthood leader, and father.

I bear you my solemn witness that planning is key to a quality Scouting program. When the boys know in advance what they will be doing, they invite their friends to participate. They come prepared with the proper attitude, attire, and equipment. They get excited in advance and carry that excitement with them throughout the experience. They bond together as a Scouting unit as each boy carries out his assigned duties. And they learn, by experience, how to be better priesthood holders.

I plead with you to let the boys lead. Let them take charge. Let them plan, organize, delegate, and control their own Scouting experience under your subtle tutelage. Let them communicate with each other, support one another, and achieve wonderful results when they work together as a cohesive Scouting unit. Let them feel the exhilaration of seeing their planning effort come to successful fruition. When you plan in advance you can stand on the sideline and marvel as you watch your boys become true leaders of boys.

Take a Moment to Reflect

  • Are you diligently striving to fulfill your calling by having well-planned, well-thought-out Scouting and Aaronic Priesthood activities and lessons?
  • Are you holding annual and/or quarterly planning meetings with your boys to let them plan, organize, direct, and control their Scouting and priesthood activities?
  • Are you setting the example and teaching your boys the planning and organizing skills they will need to be successful on their missions, in future employment, as priesthood leaders, and within the walls of their own homes?
  • Do you sit back and marvel at how creative and productive your boys can be when you allow them to plan their Scouting experience?


Turn Your Reflection Into Action

  • What will you start doing, stop doing, or do better as a result of your reflection?
“Young men do not usually become inactive in the Church because they are given too many significant things to do. No young man who has really witnessed for himself that the gospel works will walk away from his duties in the kingdom and leave them undone. As our young men learn quorum management, they are not only blessing the Aaronic Priesthood youth in those quorums, but they are preparing themselves as future fathers and future leaders for the Melchizedek Priesthood quorums” (Spencer W. Kimball, Ensign, May 1976, p. 45).


-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. When our troop leader council is properly functioning the boys plan activities and assign themselves duties in carrying out those activities. Boys come because they are excited about the activities and because they have assignments to fulfill. Planning is an integral part of a high quality program.

    But planning needs to function throughout the entire youth program in the ward and stake too, because ward and stake events impact troop planning. The higher the level, the earlier those plans must be made and solidified so that local units can plan around them.

    Our ward held an annual coordinated planning meeting for all youth presidencies at the first of the year so that everyone could be on the same page. The troop, team, and crew then planned their own events within the agreed framework. Yet, in the few weeks since the planning meeting, Scouting plans have already been disrupted by well intended ad hoc activities thrown in by stake and ward leaders. I see boys and leaders discouraged by seeing their plans given so little value. Good planning and communication can mitigate problems of this nature.

    1. David Parker says:


      I agree this can be a problem. As a member of our Stake YM Presidency, we are asked to have our calendar in place by October for the next year. Our Stake Presidency does not want changes to occur once that calendar is in place. If new calendar activities are requested, we have to contact the Bishop of each ward to make sure we’re not conflicting with a ward-level activity. We almost never add new activities because of the impact on the wards. I would recommend talking to your Stake Presidency member over YM/YW and relaying your concerns about scheduling. While Stake Leaders can have good intentions, in the end our job as stake leaders is to SUPPORT the wards and their families. We can’t do that by complicating your planning!

  2. JD says:

    Great Article

  3. Daniel says:

    Great post.

    I agree that planning is paramount. One thing that I have noticed is that our PLCs are much more productive when we have an annual planning meeting. Having a monthly theme really helps them frame their ideas and make decisions, rather than having to think with endless possibilities.

    So right now we have monthly themes and campouts planned annually. Then we flesh out the specific activities at our monthly PLC. One challenge we have is the monthly combined activity. It seems like it really interrupts the flow and at times seems a lot less meaningful.

    I met one bishop at scout camp who had done away with combined activities and would only hold them when they met a real need in the youth group. I have to say it made a whole lot of sense to me. I wish our ward did that.


    1. Mac says:

      Both times I was a scoutmaster we also had monthly themes around which the activities and campouts were planned. The monthly themes were the 12 values of the Scout Law. In planning the activities the boys identified merit badges that would teach the value at the same time they were earning the merit badge. The monthly outdoor activity (hiking, camping, kayaking, bicycling, etc.) would also be tied to that value. This made it much easier for the boys to plan their calendar. It also made it easier for the Scouting committee to support the boys by providing the instructors and resources they needed for their activities.

      I would be happy to send you, or anyone else, the matrix the boys put together if you would like to see it. Just send me an email and request the “Planning Activities Tied to Scout Law Values” matrix. Just click on my name for my email address.

  4. Deb Wolfley says:

    can i get a copy of this check list?

    “Bishopric Checklist for Orienting New Young Men/Scouting Leaders

    1. Mac says:

      I would be happy to send it to you. What is your email address?

      1. Chris says:

        Could you email me both the “Planning Activities Tied to Scout Law Values?” and the “Bishopric Checklist for Orienting New Young Men/Scouting Leaders”

        1. Mac says:

          Please provide me with your email and I will be happy to send the information.

  5. Brian says:

    Mac, Could you email me the “Planning Activities Tied to Scout Law Values?” and the “Bishopric Checklist for Orienting New Young Men/Scouting Leaders”
    We are going to have our first PLC and I have been struggling how to help the boys organize themselves. This would be an answer to my prayers! Thanks for the amazing Blog. Keep up the good work. Brian Ricks (

  6. Mac McIntire says:

    I was just reading through some notes from the 2002 Priesthood Leadership Conference at Philmont. Glen L. Pace, counselor in the general Young Men presidency shared some responses from a survey that asked Aaronic Priesthood boys why they don’t come to Mutual. Here are some of the responses:

    “Leaders do not follow through on commitments for planned activities.”
    “Activities lack meaning and substance.”
    Service opportunities need to be of a longer duration rather than just a single event.”
    “Too many activities are “fun-oriented” and are often boring compared to what is available elsewhere.”
    “Leaders are often unprepared and activities are not well-planned.”
    “Even active parents don’t show much enthusiasm or support for mutual activities.”

    We have a tendency to assume boys want fun. That is not true. They want something that is meaningful that is also fun.

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