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Top 10 Reasons the LDS Church Participates in Boy Scouts

Summary: This is a list of the top 10 reasons why the LDS Church participates in Boy Scouts and how those ten reasons also make Scouting a great missionary preparation tool. 

boy scout silhouetteDespite being “deeply troubled” by recent rule changes made by the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) National Executive Board to allow openly gay leaders, the LDS Church issued a statement this week saying the Church “will go forward as a chartering organization of BSA” (see Church to Go Forward with Scouting Program, 26 August 2015). They said they have received assurances from the BSA that Church sponsored Scouting units will continue to be able “to appoint Scout leaders according to their religious and moral values.”

The First Presidency of the Church further stated that:

“As leaders of the Church, we want the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) to succeed in its historic mission to instill leadership skills and high moral standards in youth of all faiths and circumstances, thereby equipping them for greater success in life and valuable service to their country.”

All this news about the Boy Scouts has caused me to once again reflect on how Scouting prepares young men for missionary service. In preparing for this year’s Friends of Scouting fund raising drive in my stake, I came across this article from the Utah National Parks Council of the BSA on Why Scouting Matters to LDS Church Leaders. I found the article quite interesting, particularly the results of the survey of local Church leaders regarding why they feel the LDS Church participates in Boy Scouts.

The questions posed to the survey respondents was: what is the  most important outcome of Scouting? Here are the top ten responses according to the research conducted by Rushford Lee, owner of Research Emotion Design (RED), in the aforementioned article:

10. Learn to serve others

Boy Scouts teaches duty to God and country and the importance or serving in our communities. Scout “service projects” are a core part of the Scouting program, including the boys’ capstone Eagle Project. Mormon missionary service is also all about service. Our common vernacular of “serving” a mission is exactly right, a mission is a two-year act of service to God, the Church, and the people in the area where a missionary goes.

9. Provide young men with good role models

From his research, Lee explained, “Our young men need heroes to look up to. They need role models in their lives, at home and as they grow. Our goal [in the Boy Scouts] is to help them become men such as the great leaders and teachers around them.”

8. Develop a testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ

Gary Stevenson, Presiding Bishop of the LDS Church, said “Duty to God is the heart of Scouting. It is a founding principle as old and deep as the organization itself.” (See BSA Annual Meeting Keynote Speech 2013) Duty to God and the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ is at the heart of the Church’s involvement in Scouting. In the survey, one leader described it this way, “If we take our young men to outdoor activities and forget to have them bear their testimonies around the fire, we’ve missed the purpose of Scouting.”

7. Teach real life skills

Going through the Boy Scouts program teaches young men many practical skills that will help them throughout the rest of their life. The Scouting program is well known for teaching boys how to camp and thrive in the great outdoors, how to build fires and how to find their way in the woods, etc. But most Scouts live in cities or suburban areas and the Boy Scouts teaches practical skills for them as well, such as economics, budgeting, computers, home repairs, plumbing, communications, gardening, first aid, law, and physical fitness. You can see how many of these skills will help in the practical aspects of a mission and mission prep. On top of that, Scouting helps boys to be well rounded and teaches social and cultural skills such as the theatre, social media, painting, poetry, chess, movie making, and many more.

6. Teach strong work ethic

As a young man goes through the Scouting program, he learns the value of hard work and gains a strong work ethic. He learns of the satisfaction that only comes through hard work and perseverance as he earns merit badge, makes rank advancements, and eventually earns his Eagle. One of the survey participants noted that Scouts aids in “learning how to do hard things, gain confidence and preparing for the future.”

5. Prepare to be a husband and father

Because of many of the aforementioned benefits, teaching real life skills and a strong work ethic, Boy Scouts prepares young men to be better husbands and fathers. Additional, the core values of Scouts teaches boys to be morally straight and prepares them to be faithful to their future wives and children. One surveyed Church leader described it this way: “Life is full of difficult experiences. Teaching resilience in the early years is very helpful preparation for missions, marriage, and parenthood.”

4. Prepare to go on a mission

Church leaders who responded to the survey consistently pointed out that Boy Scouts is great mission prep. In fact, fourth highest on their list of desired outcomes for the boys in the Scouting program was that it would help them be better missionaries some day. I think if you look at this list of benefits of Scouting, physical, spiritual, and emotional, it’s easy to see why it is such a great missionary preparation system.

3. Provide opportunity to connect and interact with others

Young men’s ability to be social and connect and interact with others will make them better missionaries and Scouts helps build those skills. To quote another Church leader from the survey: “Many young men don’t have the opportunity to connect with others. They don’t have strong family ties, they may not make friends easily, don’t fit in well at school. Scouting provides an atmosphere where the kids can fit in with their peers. Our leaders try and do a variety of activities that interest all of the boys. Gives leadership a chance to reach the one.”

2. Become spiritually minded

The spiritual aspects of Scouting are at the root of the program and cannot be overlooked. One survey respondent explained the purpose of Boy Scouts this way: “To develop young men through faith in God, hard work, problem solving, achievement, and character-building activities.” Lee further clarified, “this is what Scouting is meant to be; bringing God into Scouting in a large way and making this tie together. It’s time to make the purpose of Scouting clear.” Scouting helps young men be spiritually minded and I have often thought that to be spiritually minded (see Romans 8:6 and 2 Nephi 9:39) is the key to success in the missionary training center and throughout your mission.

1. Provide young men unique experiences

Number one on church leaders list of reasons for participating in the Boy Scouts is that is gives young men unique experiences that they wouldn’t otherwise have. In the survey, a Church leader said:  “There are life learning experiences in an outdoor environment with other boys and men that give the boys a unique experience outside of the home that support what’s going on inside the home.”

In my own personal experience as a Boy Scout in my youth, I participated in service projects, went on hikes and camp outs, learned a wide variety of skills, interacted with many other men and boys, and had countless other experiences that I wouldn’t have otherwise had. The Boys Scouts of America provides young men with wonderful experiences and is an effective missionary preparation tool that I hope all the young men of the Church will take full advantage of.

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Boy Scouts Prepares Young Men for Missions

Boy-Scouts-Prepares-for-Priesthood-Service The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) is one of the largest youth organizations in the United States, with over four million youth members. Since its founding in 1910, more than 110 million Americans have been members of the BSA. The goal of the BSA is to train youth in responsible citizenship, character development, and self-reliance through participation in a wide range of outdoor activities, and educational programs.

This year marks 100 years since the organization of the Boy Scouts of America. Boy Scouts prepares young men for missions which is why the LDS Church has been partnering with the Scouts from nearly the beginning.

History of Scouting in the LDS Church

“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints formally affiliated with the Scouting movement in the United States in May of 1913 as its first institutional sponsor, and today sponsors more Scouts and Scouting units in the United States than any other organization…By providing opportunities for boys and young men to put into practice the gospel lessons they learn in the home and at Church, Scouting programs have supported the priesthood.

The Church continues to follow the programs of the Boy Scouts of America to help its young men 12 to 18 years of age as they magnify their callings in the priesthood. Scouting helps young men develop desirable character traits, citizenship, and physical and mental fitness. The Scouting program teaches young men how to rely on themselves, serve and lead others, prepare for emergencies, conserve natural resources, and become actively involved in community, school, and Church service projects.

The Young Men general presidency emphasizes that Scouting continues to play a strong role in fulfilling the Aaronic Priesthood objectives of preparing young men for full-time missions, temple blessings, and righteous manhood.“ (from an LDS Church statement on the History of Scouting in the Church)

Scouting Helped Prepare Me for My Mission

I enjoyed Scouts from an early age and set a goal for myself to earn my Eagle Scout, the highest rank in Boy Scouts. I was blessed with good parents that not only supported me, but helped guide me through the Scouting program. The perseverance and hard work it took for me to earn the Eagle rank was well worth it and prepared me for the perseverance and hard work needed to be a good missionary for the Lord. I know participating in Scouts and working toward the Eagle rank will help young men in the Church be better prepared when they arrive in the mission field.

The Prophet Desires All Young Men to Earn the Eagle Scout Award

“We desire all young men to strive to earn the Eagle Scout and Duty to God Awards… As youth work on these goals, they will develop skills and attributes that will lead them to the temple and prepare them for a lifetime of service to their families and the Lord” (First Presidency letter on Strengthening Youth, Sept. 28, 2001).

Here are some more statements from Church leaders on how Boy Scouts strengthens young men and prepares them for priesthood and missionary service:

Thomas S. Monson, President of the Church

“In this world where some misguided men and women strive to tear down and destroy great movements such as Scouting, I am pleased to stand firm for an organization that teaches duty to God and country, that embraces the Scout Law. Yes, an organization whose motto is ‘Be prepared’ and whose slogan is ‘Do a good turn daily.’

“The Aaronic Priesthood prepares boys for manhood and the weightier duties of the Melchizedek Priesthood. Scouting helps our boys to walk uprightly the priesthood path to exaltation… To all the Aaronic Priesthood assembled tonight with your fathers and your leaders, the priesthood program of the Church, with its accompanying activities, including Scouting, will help and not hinder you as you journey through life” (President Thomas S. Monson, Ensign, Nov. 1993, 48–50).

“Brethren, if ever there were a time when the principles of Scouting were vitally needed—that time is now. If ever there were a generation who would benefit by keeping physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight—that generation is the present generation” (Ensign, Nov. 1991, 47).

Gordon B. Hinckley, 15th President of the Church

“I love the Scouting movement. The promise of the Scout Oath and the twelve points of the Scout Law point young men along the path of being prepared for the 21st century. They provide a solid and powerful magnetic force toward development of a well-rounded and noteworthy character that counts. If every boy in America knew and observed the Scout Oath, we would do away with most of the jails and prisons in this country. If each of us would live up to those few words, ‘On my honor, I will do my best,’ whether it be in school, whether it be in our social life, whether it be in our business or professional life, if I will do my very best, success and happiness will be mine” (Boy Scout Jamboral, Fillmore, Utah, Sept. 27, 1996).

Ezra Taft Benson, 13th President of the Church

“Young men, take full advantage of the Church programs. Set your goals to attain excellence in the achievement programs of the Church. Earn the Duty to God Award—one of our most significant priesthood awards. Become an Eagle Scout. Do not settle for mediocrity in the great Scouting program of the Church. . . .

“Give me a young man who has kept himself morally clean and has faithfully attended his Church meetings. Give me a young man who has magnified his priesthood and has earned the Duty to God Award and is an Eagle Scout. Give me a young man who is a seminary graduate and has a burning testimony of the Book of Mormon. Give me such a young man, and I will give you a young man who can perform miracles for the Lord in the mission field and throughout his life” (Ensign, May 1986, 44–45).

Elder F. Melvin Hammond, Former Young Men General President

“It is vital that you [thousands of Latter-day Saint Scouts participating in the 2001 National Jamboree] march the path from Tenderfoot to Eagle Scout and continue on to serve a full‑time mission. You have to stretch to prepare to be a full‑time missionary. Scouting will help in the stretching . . .  especially attending a sacrament meeting in the pouring rain like at this National Jamboree” (2001 National Jamboree).

Elder Robert L. Backman, Former Young Men General President

“The bishop’s most positive impact on youth comes in informal settings, activities, Scouting, service projects, athletics—real‑life settings where they get to know him as a man…Scouting provides a tested, proven program for us to use in holding our young men close to the Church. It appeals to boys. Its trail to the Eagle rank helps a young man set worthwhile goals, then realize them. For some reason there is a direct correlation between young men who achieve the Eagle rank and those who serve missions.” (Ensign, Nov. 1982, 39–40).