Less than three-weeks ago the Church announced changes to the Young Women Camp Guide. Highlighted among those changes are “eliminating certification and emphasizing youth leaders.” There appears to be a trend in working with youth leaders in the Church. Train them younger and give them more responsibility to actually lead. Not just talk about it but actually give the youth leaders a “major” role. That takes some courage and discipline on the part of the adults.
“What we hope will be one of the major changes with using the Young Women Camp Guide is the involvement of the youth camp leaders,” Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson, Young Women General President, told the Church News. “We want to see them take a major role in both determining what needs to happen at camp and in leading camp activities.” (emphasis added)
Sister Neill F. Marriott, Second Counselor in the Young Women General Presidency, added, “Because the new guide is principle based, it allows the youth camp leaders space to receive personal revelation for their own camp. They aren’t just told what to do. They are practicing the leadership principle of counseling together and learning to seek direction from the Spirit to meet their needs. These skills will bless the young women, their families, and the Church for years to come.” Ibid. (emphasis added)
The Lord is teaching us the direction of His Church in these latter-days through his living apostles and prophets and auxiliary leaders. Times are going to get tougher for our youth. The scriptures warn us about the challenges we will face in the latter days. Paul saw the apostasy and perilous times of the last days. (2 Timothy 3 & 4) Great calamities shall precede the Second Coming. (Matthew 24; Joseph Smith Translation, Matthew 1) Our youth will need to be stronger than any other generation to lead their families, the Church, and the world through these challenging times. They will not be prepared to do so if they are timid and unprepared. (D&C 38:9) Our calling is to prepare them to lead now!
It is time for our youth, both young men and young women, to step up and lead now. The Church’s Aaronic Priesthood Leader Training website emphasizes three principles “to help all our young men become converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ and live by its teachings, including preparing to fulfill their divine roles. “ Those three principles are as follows:
Recently, the General Young Men Presidency observed that “[a]s we visit quorums all over the Church, we see that the success of actually having the young men lead has proven to be much more difficult and less commonly practiced.” “Do You Want to Make a Difference? Let Youth Lead,” (Church News, 21 June, 2017) How can we make the change to helping our Scouts have a “major” role in the leadership of their troop?
The Young Men General Presidency has answered this question, as well. In Scouting, we call it the EDGE method. (See graphic below) In the mission field it is called the “training model.” Yes, this is the model for all young men leaders in the Church and hence all LDS Scouters. In the mission field, the “lead trainer” is the mission president. In a Scout troop, that could be the Scoutmaster, an Assistant Scoutmaster, instructor, or, even the senior patrol leader or other Scout qualified in the skill being taught.
The model is as follows: the lead trainer “teaches verbally a doctrine or skill he wants the (Scouts) to learn. He then demonstrates the skill in a role-play experience. He will invite the (Scouts) to practice what he demonstrated and then provide evaluation. The (Scouts) will continue to practice the skill until they become proficient at it (see Proverbs 22:6).”
One of the hardest parts of implementing this model is for the “lead trainer” to let the Scouts practice until they become proficient at the skill. Mark Pendleton, a member of the Young Men general board, observed how the transition from adult-led to (Scout)-led can take place. After witnessing a first assistant in a priest quorum leading his quorum in planning and training, Brother Pendleton asked the bishop to explain how this came about.
The bishop explained that “each of the quorums in the ward were holding regular presidency meetings, and similar training was provided weekly for these presidencies. The young men were being well trained in their responsibilities and the sacredness of their callings. What was even more interesting to me was that just six months earlier the adult leaders were taking the lead and planning everything for the young men.”
The Lord is speaking through His servants in many ways about the importance of training our youth to lead. If you have not already done so, now is the time to convert your troop to a Scout-led troop.
-Bill Chapman is an attorney and lives in San Clemente, California, loves to surf, trail run, backpack, camp, hike, and do anything in the outdoors. The views and opinions expressed in this message are solely those of the author.