There is a persistent and enduring myth in the Church that Scouting and the Aaronic Priesthood are two separate programs.
Just this past week, in a Scouting committee meeting in my own ward, a recently-called, first-time Scoutmaster lamented, “I know Scouting is supposed to be separate from the priesthood, but I think the boys can learn a lot about the priesthood through Scouting.” This perceptive novice knew intuitively that Scouting in the LDS Church is all about the priesthood. Several times I’ve heard Larry M. Gibson, former second counselor in the Young Men general presidency, say to non-member BSA Scouting executives, “If Scouting doesn’t help an LDS boy become a better priesthood holder, we don’t need it!”
With the resolve of Church leaders to continue our partnership with the BSA, I must assume the reverse corollary of Brother Gibson’s statement must also be true: Scouting must help a boy become a better priesthood holder, since we still need it.
Throughout my blog messages I’ve repeatedly stated that the intent of LDS Scouting is to accomplish the eight purposes of the Aaronic Priesthood. I continually pray that every Young Men leader will gain a personal testimony of how Scouting is a means to these priesthood ends. I yearn for purpose-driven Aaronic Priesthood leaders—both youth and adult—who use every precious opportunity in the six-year Young Men program to instill the qualities and characteristics the Lord desires in His young men (see Mac’s Message #75).
I’d like to share just a few of the Scouting and priesthood quorum methods that help fulfil the eight purposes of the Aaronic Priesthood. For brevity sake, I list here only some of the eight purposes. Perhaps you can identify the bullet items for the other priesthood purposes I’ve omitted.
Become converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ and live its teachings
- Leadership positions in priesthood quorums and Scouting units that “let every man learn his duty” (D&C 107:99)
- Challenging camping and hiking experiences that test and try a boy, causing him to call upon God
- Interacting with nature where the hand of God is revealed
- Duty to God opportunities regarding personal prayer and personal scripture study
- Prayer and devotionals at meetings, activities, campouts, etc.
- Spiritual Scoutmaster Minute and “teaching moments” at every meeting, activity, and campout
- Spiritual experiences through campouts, service projects, patriotic events, etc.
- Spiritual discussions under the stars around a campfire
- Learning reverence and respect for the temple, chapel, and sacred things
- Moments of reflection after Scouting activities and quiet moments alone outdoors
- Opportunities to share one’s testimony and invite others to come unto Christ
Serve faithfully in priesthood callings and fulfill responsibilities of priesthood offices
- Influence of true “shadow leadership,” mentoring, and servant leadership from adult leaders
- Rubbing shoulders with adults who honor their priesthood
- Leading and conducting priesthood quorum, presidency meetings, and patrol/team/crew meetings and activities
- Serving in various Scouting leader positions
- Home teaching, fast offerings, sacrament, involvement in reactivating members, etc.
- Teaching others knots, camping skills, merit badges, etc.
- Duty to God progress and achieving merit badge and rank advancement
- Mental, physical, emotional, and social challenges of Scouting
- Eagle projects and other service projects that require leadership skills
Prepare to serve an honorable full-time mission
- See Mac’s Message #53, #54, #55, #56, and #57
- Leadership opportunities in priesthood and Scouting
- Leading, speaking, and teaching opportunities in priesthood and Scouting
- Confidence building through challenging Scouting activities, merit badge acquisition, and rank advancement
- Working together in patrols, teams, and crews and learning to work with others during Scouting activities, C.O.P.E courses, etc.
- Learning to get along with others at activities and campouts
- Being away from home for extended time at Scout summer camps
- Learn to work hard through service, campouts, hikes, and merit badge and rank advancement
- Reaching out to others to invite them to attend Scouting and priesthood activities
- Mission preparation classes and missionary experiences
Obtain as much education as possible
- Apply self to earn merit badges and rank advancement
- Learn to study scriptures, Scouting manuals, merit badge books, etc.
- Learn life-skills through a variety of merit badges
- Career-oriented merit badges and Scouting activities
- Progressively more challenging experiences in Varsity Scouts and Venturing
I bear my fervent witness that Scouting in the Church is all about the priesthood. It is not a separate program. When implemented as designed, Scouting is a powerful means to achieve an even more powerful and important end of turning young men into faithful priesthood holders. As adult Young Men leaders, we have only six years to establish in a boy’s life the firm priesthood foundation necessary to sustain him through the challenging life experiences of a mission, college, marriage, fatherhood, and Melchizedek priesthood service. I pray we will not waste these precious moments in meaningless activities. I pray we will be faithful in our priesthood as we diligently serve these young men with full purpose of heart.
Take a Moment to Reflect
- Do you have a firm understanding of how Scouting is a means to achieve the eight purposes of the Aaronic Priesthood?
- Are you conducting your Scouting and Aaronic Priesthood efforts as one program?
- Do you plan and implement each of your quorum and Scouting activities to achieve a clear priesthood purpose?
- Are you properly preparing your young men to be faithful missionaries, husbands, fathers, and Melchizedek priesthood holders?
- How can you help others gain a personal vision of the true purpose of LDS Scouting?
Turn Your Reflection Into Action
- What will you start doing, stop doing, or do better as a result of your reflection?
“Scouting can help young men and boys enhance close relationships with their families and the Church while developing strong and desirable traits of character, citizenship, and physical and mental fitness. Under priesthood leadership, Scouting should complement the efforts of Aaronic Priesthood quorums and Primary classes in building testimonies in young men and boys. Scouting under Church sponsorship should become an extension of the home, Primary classes, and Aaronic Priesthood quorums. Scouting functions as part of the Church’s activity program for boys and young men. Scouting activities should be planned to fulfill gospel-centered purposes” (Scouting Handbook for Church Units in the United States, 1.1) p.1
-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.