Re: "Policy changes" by LDS Units (Long)
Rodger Morris (rlm@SUNED1.NSWSES.NAVY.MIL)
Thu, 15 Sep 1994 15:15:52 PDT
Disclaimer: I am not a member of the LDS church. Neither am I firing any
flames at anybody.
In re the somewhat different organizational and operational practices of LDS
Scout Troops vice "regular" Troops, I have the following to offer from my
service as a Scouter that goes back to 1971, supplemented by a bit of
reading of Boy Scouting history:
In 1910, when the BSA started as a private, non-profit corporation
headquartered in New York City, the minimum age to be a Boy Scout was 12
years of age. This dovetailed neatly with the LDS scheme of youth
development, in that crossover from the LDS Primary Department to the Young
Men's Mutual Improvement Association (YMMIA) and that the minimum age to
become a Boy Scout coincided.
A few decades later, the BSA dropped the minimum age to join the Boy Scout
program to 11 years of age. This posed a bit of a problem for the LDS, as it
caused a problem in synchronizing the YMMIA program with the BSA program and
vice versa. By the time I became a Scouter in 1971, the LDS had adopted a
separate organization called the "Guide Patrol", now known as "Blazers" or
the "Blazer B Program". I am told that there is also a "Blazer A Program"
that precedes Blazer B and lasts about 6 months, but I know nothing more
The Guide Patrol was registered in the Troop administratively, but was
organizationally assigned to the Primary Division and was assigned a woman
to lead the patrol. The BSA met the LDS church more than halfway on this
operational compromise and registered one woman in each LDS ward Troop as an
Assistant Scoutmaster. At that time in the LDS church, it was more or less
mandatory for a woman to lead units in the Primary Division programs for
boys, with the men taking over when the boys reached age 12 and entered the
This caused a certain amount of heartburn in non-LDS units, because we were
in essence being discriminated against in that we couldn't register women as
Assistant Scoutmasters and the LDS Troops could.
Now, twenty some-odd years later, it seems to be accepted practice in my
community for men to lead the Blazers, and of course, women may be
registered in all Scouter positions, although the LDS in my local community
appear not to register women as Scoutmasters and Assistant Scoutmasters. It
_is_ common practice in my area for the LDS to register women as members of
the Troop committee.
The primary weakness I have observed in LDS Scouting is that of what I'll
call "The Annual J.O. Shuffle". In the U.S. Navy, junior officers are often
rotated into new positions about once a year, as a means of on-the-job
training. It produces better trained senior officers in the long run, but
sacrifices unit efficiency in order to achieve this goal.
So it appears to be with the LDS. Example: The ward bishop walks over and
taps "Tom Trueheart" on the shoulder, and says:
"Brother Trueheart, you are called to be a Scoutmaster."
Tom Trueheart thereupon usually says something like, "Yea, verily!" and ,
"Yes sir, yes sir, three bags full, sir!!", and goes out to do his best for
his son, his Church, and his Troop (probably in that order).
Now, Scouting is a complex program. Tom Trueheart was probably a Scout
himself, so he has a vague remembrance of "the way things 'spozed to be."
He's generally a pretty conscientious individual who wishes to do his best,
so he seeks out training and starts to come up to speed as a Scoutmaster. In
a year or so, about the time he has learned the program, is becoming
comfortable in running it, and is starting to get some good results, guess
Right in one. Another J.O. Shuffle takes place, and the process starts anew.
This is exacerbated by the fact that the Varsity unit in Tom Trueheart's
ward is probably a holding tank for 14 and 15 year old boys where little
Scouting actually takes place. So it appears to be, in my community, at
least. Thus, Tom Trueheart is faced with the reality that, if his Scouts are
going to become Eagle Scouts, it's going to have to happen _BEFORE_ they
turn 14 and cross over to Varsity Scouting. Thus, one sees a plethora of 13
year old LDS Eagles in our local area, vice the nationwide median age of 16
1/2 upon becoming Eagle Scout.
I make no claim that this state of affairs is a nationwide phenomenon. Also,
I am not flaming the LDS Scouters who turn out these 13 year old Eagles.
They are doing their level best to work within a system that is in many ways
If one steps back from the timing and the mechanics of running the Scouting
program in the LDS church and looks at the results of LDS Scouting in light
of the three aims of Scouting (development of character, citizenship and
personal fitness), it appears obvious that the aims of Scouting are being
served, in spite of the shortcomings inherent in the LDS Scouting schema.
Yours in Scouting,
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City