Mac’s Message #3: The Aims and Methods of Scouting and the Aaronic Priesthood

Mac McIntire

Mac McIntire

The German philosopher Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche said, “He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.”

It takes a lot of time, energy, and effort to learn how to run a Scouting program the way it is designed. It takes even more determination to actually run the program the prescribed way. Knowing the why behind the Scout methods and seeing the connection to the priesthood makes it easier to bear the great responsibilities of a Young Men leader.

The Scouting program has three specific objectives, commonly referred to as the “Aims of Scouting.” They are character development, citizenship training, and personal fitness. The aims of Scouting are achieved through eight “Methods of Scouting.” (Some of the comments below are taken directly from

Last week I wrote about the Ideals of Scouting which are spelled out in the Scout Oath, the Scout Law, the Scout motto, and the Scout slogan. These are the values the Lord wishes to instill in every young man, missionary, husband, father, and priesthood holder.

The Patrol Method gives boys experience in group living and participatory citizenship. It places responsibility on young shoulders and teaches boys how to accept it. Being a patrol leader and senior patrol leader prepares young men for future roles as senior companions, district and zone leaders, and possibly branch presidents when they serve a mission.

Through Outdoor Programs and overnight camping Scouts share responsibilities and learn to live with one another—perfect preparation for missions, college dormitory living, and marriage. It is here that the skills and activities practiced at troop meetings come alive with purpose. Outdoor experiences teach boys to do the hard things that will be required of them at every stage of their future lives.

Boy Scouting provides a series of surmountable obstacles and steps in overcoming them through the Advancement method. A Boy Scout plans his advancement and progresses at his own pace as he meets each challenge. The Boy Scout is rewarded for each achievement, which helps him gain self-confidence. The steps in the advancement system help a Boy Scout grow in self-reliance and in the ability to help others.

When conducted properly Scouting provides numerous Leadership Development opportunities. Every Boy Scout has the opportunity to participate in both shared and total leadership situations. Through Scouting a boy learns how to be a better quorum president or counselor. He prepares to become a righteous priesthood leader within the walls of his own home.

As young men fulfill their Duty to God and progress toward their Scout goals, they experience personal growth. The Good Turn concept is a major part of the Personal Growth method of Scouting. Boys grow as they participate in community service projects and do Good Turns for others. Service becomes a lifetime practice when boys learn in their youth to give of themselves freely in the service of others.

One of the most powerful methods of Scouting is Association With Adults. Young men need leaders who are priesthood giants; men who take their calling seriously. Young Men leaders can influence generations to come by setting a righteous, loving example for the boys under their tutelage.

Finally, the purpose of the last method of Scouting is often overlooked by too many Young Men leaders. The Uniform is an important part of Scouting—and an important element in the Church. The uniform makes the Boy Scout troop visible as a force for good and creates a positive youth image in the community. Boy Scouting is an action program, and wearing the uniform is an action that shows each Boy Scout’s commitment to the aims and purposes of Scouting. The uniform gives the Boy Scout identity in a world brotherhood of youth who believe in the same ideals.

As a Scoutmaster I wanted my boys to understand that wearing the Scout uniform prepared them to wear another uniform they would wear for the rest of their lives as a righteous priesthood holder. That other uniform is the one they will wear on their mission. It is the uniform they will wear as a priesthood leader in the Lord’s church. I wanted them to get used to wearing their uniform proudly, for it truly does set them apart as a visible force for good.

It is my hope that you will understand and implement these eight methods in the Scouting program within your ward and stake. I know from experience the power of these methods in turning young boys into strong men of character.

Take a Moment to Reflect

  • Have you implemented the BSA’s eight methods of Scouting into your ward and stake YM programs?
  • Do you understand how the methods of the Scouting achieve not just the mission of the BSA, but also the mission of the Lord?
  • Are you a righteous example to your boys?
  • Do you wear your Scout uniform proudly and properly?


Turn Your Reflection Into Action

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


“Some of the great blessings of these programs (Scouting and Duty to God) are that as the youth of the Church, you will have a clear understanding of who you are, you will be accountable for your actions, you will take responsibility for the conduct of your life, and you will be able to set goals so that you might achieve what you were sent to earth to achieve. Our plea is that you strive to do your very best.” (Elder Robert D. Hales, Ensign, November 2001, 39).


-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 these blog messages are solely those of the author.





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  1. Mike Ball says:


    Thank you so much for doing this blog! You are truly doing an outstanding job. Your posts are inspiring and I share them with as many people as I can.

    (And here’s the but.)
    But, I notice you only refer to “Young Men Leaders” and “Young Men Programs” in your posts. I am a Cub Scout leader, and the Church’s Scouting program starts at age 8, not age 12. :-)

    You’re not the only one who falls into this mistake.

    I’m constantly trying to inspire and help other Cub Scout leaders get excited about Scouting. Everyone from fellow leaders in my Ward, to my Stake Primary Presidency, to people at District Roundtable.

    I feel that Cub Scouts (and 11 YOS) is one of the great ways we prepare our boys to become righteous Deacons and Aaronic Priesthood holders.

    It would help if I can quote people like you, and the quote doesn’t end with “Young Men Program”, but includes “Primary” or something alluding to ALL Scouting, not just 12+ years old boys.

    Thank you so much for your great work!

    1. Mac McIntire says:

      Mike, you are right. My Blog is geared specifically to Young Men leaders and leaders of Boy Scout, Varsity, and Venturing units. I would hope that someone with more experience with Cub Scouts, Webelos, and 11-year-old Scouts would start a similar Blog with messages geared specifically to leaders in those areas. I am purposely staying within the areas of my expertise and experience.

      Believe me, I understand well the wonderful power of starting boys out properly in their Cub Scouting years to get them to be strong Scouts throughout their youth. I hope there is someone who will speak for the younger boys and give sound advice to the good women and men who have stewardship over the 8- through 11-year-old boys.

    2. Mac says:

      I want to let the readers know that soon you will see blog messages about the other areas of Scouting — Cubs, 11-year-old Scouts, Varsity, and Venturing. I believe blog messages on the 11-year-old program will be posted first. Other authors have been identified and will be adding their blog messages in the future. I hope you will read these messages as faithfully as you have read mine.

  2. Randy Sorensen says:

    It seems to me that in LDS Scouting units we do a very good job with the method of Advancement. In fact I have seen some programs based almost entirely on advancement. Does anyone have experiences they can share about successes in the other methods? I would especially like to hear stories about the methods of Personal Growth, Patrol Method and Leadership Development.

    1. Mac McIntire says:


      You always ask wonderful questions. You and I seem to have similar views and concerns about Scouting in the Church. I hope others will respond to your questions and share their experiences.

      My answers will come in future blog messages. I thought it might be helpful if I list here an overview of expected messages to come over the next few months. By knowing what’s coming, you and others might also encourage other Young Men leaders and Scouters to subscribe to this Blog. Right now we may be “preaching to the choir.” We need to get new YM leaders to subscribe, as well as current YM leaders who may be struggling in their Aaronic Priesthood and Scouting callings.

      Here is a preview of what is ahead:

      • Message 4: Magnifying Your Calling as an Aaronic Priesthood Leader
      • Message 5: Overcoming the Traditions of the Past
      • Message 6: View Your Calling as a Long-Term Commitment
      • Message 7: Become a Fully-Trained Scout Leader
      • Message 8: Understand How the Scouting Programs Build Upon Each Other
      • Message 9: Purpose of Scouting and Aaronic Priesthood: Bring Young Men to Christ
      • Message 10: Scouting and Aaronic Priesthood Should Be a Spiritual Training Camp
      • Message 11: Scouting With a Purpose
      • Message 12: Help Your Young Men Feel and Recognize the Spirit
      • Message 13: Who Holds the Keys in the Aaronic Priesthood
      • Message 14: Shadow Leadership
      • Message 15: The Making of a Boy Leader
      • Message 16: Hold Separate Activities for Scouts, Varsity and Venturing

      I hope these Blog messages will answer your questions, and stimulate more thought and pondering.

    2. LeAnn Wood says:

      Unfortunately, LDS Units that focus on Advancement on “Scout” night, are in reality, not doing a great job on Advancement. When programs focus on group merit badges our young men are missing out on a minimum of 21 opportunities to go with a companion to a strangers home and answer questions about a topic that that is important to him at that time. Sounds like a missed opportunity for some Mission Prep to me.

  3. Robert Mortensen says:

    I’m a lowly Bishop’s Counselor in a ward and stake struggling to implement Scouting and the Aaronic Priesthood in the ways discussed here on this website and blog. I’ve been a convert to what I now consider “Scouting the Lord’s Way” for just a couple of years now and I’m seeking to mentor and train adult leaders.

    That night after my COR Training, I went home and read the book “Trails to Testimony” cover to cover. As I lay in bed a rush of inspiration came into my heart and mind. I got up and sat at the kitchen table writing down my thoughts based on my training and life experience as it relates to Young Men and Scouting.

    Here are my notes from that evening – again from the perspective of a bishopric member:

    Who should be called as YM-Scout Leaders?

    The Bishop must be a worthy, dedicated, and a boys man. He is the president of the Aaronic Priesthood in the ward and participates with the Priest’s and all the youth.

    Make a list of the five best men in the ward, the five most dedicated, committed, and willing to sacrifice time, and give all their heart might mind and strength, men who are a boy’s man and men that have sufficient organizational capacity and make those five men your (1) Scoutmaster (2nd Counselor in YM and Deacons Quorum Advisor), (2) Varsity Coach (1st Counselor in YM & Teachers Quorum Advisor), and (3) Venture Crew Leader (YM President – Priest Quorum Advisor) and the other two (4 & 5) as Bishopric Counselors.

    Find three more valiant men, that The Lord is preparing to be that future group of “five best men”, and call them as the assistant advisors, assistant scoutmasters, and assistant Varsity Coaches, and Assistant Venture Crew Leaders.

    Certainly you would want to have worthy and dedicated brethren to serve as EQP, HPGL, and WML, but they don’t have to be a boy’s man.

    The Scout Committee Chair needs to be a brother or sister that is well organized and a motivator of adult men and women.

    Engage parents in the scouting and Aaronic priesthood programs by having them be on the Scout Committee.

    When calling brethren to be Young Men – Scout Leaders, plan to spend a half hour to an hour of time with the brother and his wife. Before extending the call, discuss the following commitments:

    1. GET TRAINED – Have deadlines
    A. Youth Protection – before being sustained and set apart
    B. Fast Start – before first meeting with youth
    C. Leadership Specific – as soon as possible (within the month of being called)
    D. Outdoor Leadership Skills – as soon as possible (within the first six months)
    E. WoodBadge – as soon as possible (within first two years)
    F. Read scout and church handbooks cover to cover. (within the first week)
    G. Get trained on the “Come Follow Me” curriculum and commit to teach and lead with those principles. (before you first meeting with the youth)
    H. Get trained on the “Duty to God” program. (within the first week)
    I. Read the book: “Trails to Testimony: Bringing Young Men to Christ Through Scouting” (within the first week)
    J. Complete additional trainings online so that activities can be done safely (before first outing)
    K. Have a willingness to leave behind all preconceived notions about what the right way of running the program is…a willingness to abandon false traditions…and learn how to do the work in the Lord’s way.

    2. Commitment the adult leader to attend the following recurring meetings/events:
    A. Sunday Quorum Meetings
    B. Troop/Team/Crew Meetings
    C. Aaronic Priesthood Presidency Meetings
    D. YM President has additional meetings:
    i. Bishopric Youth Committee Meeting
    ii. Ward Council
    iii. Priesthood Executive Committee
    E. Round Table – Scout District monthly training
    F. Monthly Campout or outdoor adventure
    G. Scout Camp or High Adventure (week-long – commit to attend for full week)

    Are we afraid to ask brethren and their wives and families to consecrate themselves more fully? Why are we afraid? If the brother was asked to be in the Stake Presidency, would he not willingly commit to similar or even greater amounts of time and effort? Would he not be similarly blessed for his consecrated time and effort serving with the young men?

    Being trained thoroughly and attending to all meetings (except for unbreakable family commitments), brings to a man confidence and a knowledge of his resources.

    1. Randy Sorensen says:

      Robert, This is brilliant. Well put. Never in all of my callings in the church have I had anyone spend that kind of time an effort extending a calling to me. I would think differently about a call issued in this manner. How wonderful it would be if each leader of young men (and women) made those commitments when issued their callings. I believe that this process could change Scouting in the church into what the Lord desires it to be.

      1. Robert Mortensen says:

        Thanks for the kind words Randy. I realized I forgot to include 11-year-old Scout adult leaders within my list. They too should rank right up there with the YM/Scout adult leaders and bishopric members.

  4. Ron Taylor says:

    I love and appreciate these blogs and the discussion that they are generating. I totally agree with the message of the blog. Scouting is intended to help young men, at least in LDS troups, learn to magnify their priesthood throughout their lives. But it takes trained, dedicated leaders at all levels, as well as the boy’s parents, in order for that to happen. And the whole community needs to be supportive of this effort as well.

    1. Mac says:

      Ron, what a great comment. You are absolutely right. It does take a “village to raise a child,” particularly a faithful young man. You just reminded me that I need to write a message about getting parents involved in the Scouting and Duty to God efforts of their son(s).

      Isn’t it wonderful that we can use on this blog the collective intelligence of wonderful Aaronic Priesthood and Scouting leaders to help us figure out the right way to do the Lord’s work. Please feel free to comment on any issue at any time, and also add your “teaching moments” in your replies so others can learn from your experience. I certainly gain wisdom and insight when I read comments such as yours.

  5. LeAnn Wood says:

    Mac, are you going to be anywhere near Baden-Powell University on November 8th for Trapper Trails Council? I am teaching the LDS Scouting Session that day and “Message #3” is exactly the message I am trying to convey! Would love your
    input and expertise if you are planning on attending, if not — I will probably be quoting you.
    Thanks for sharing such amazing messages.

    1. Mac says:

      Hi LeAnn,

      Unfortunately I am going to be out of town on November 8th. I wish you the best in your presentation.


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