Craig Bond (CraigB1051@AOL.COM)
Mon, 1 May 1995 14:08:57 -0400
Claudia Carroll asks: "LDS Scouts do Scouting differently. Could
you please enlighten me and perhaps a few others as to how it is
different? I have an EXTREEMELY active troop near me at a LDS
church and my son may end up there."
Claudia, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (The
Mormons, or LDS Church) has adopted the BSA program as its youth
program and uses it intensively. Their churches (called "wards" or
"branches", depending on size) are expected/required to have a
pack, troop and post.
I am *not* an expert on the LDS Church nor its adaptations of the
BSA program nationwide and offer these observations based on the
limited experience I do have.
The Mormons have made some adaptations in the "standard" program
that primarily effect boys in the 10-11 age group because they do
not use the two-year Webelos program. Also, due to religious
beliefs, the troops do not campout on Saturday or Sunday nights --
this can cause some difficulties for non-member boys who want to
camp a full weekend of a camporee, or be at Summer camp for the
opening Sunday night ceremony, for example. These are the only
overt program changes of which I am aware.
Other differences that I've observed have to to with a collective
implementation of the program that might be otherwise observed only
in individual unit-to-unit implementation.
For example, there is a strong emphasis on advancement for these
youth and a higher percentage of LDS youth reach Eagle rank than
non-LDS (at a recent charter presentation I made at a Sunday
worship service, I asked all Eagles present to stand and more than
half of the adult men present stood). I'm not certain if this
success rate is because of the strong influence of the church in
the life of the youth, the strong influence of the church in the
family life, or the design of the program. Mormon units have
tended to work with each other in program planning more than they
have with district program, at least in our area. In fact, until
two years ago, the LDS units in our area had their own Scouting
District that covered all of the New Orleans Area Council and part
of the Istrouma and Pine Burr councils! So it is fairly natural
for them to continue their program planning, at least to some
extent. Add to that the fact that non-Mormon units do not tend to
use inter-unit advancement activities and you can see why there
would be this disparity in Eagle "production".
There is also a strong emphasis in the LDS units on the religious
emblem program. Virtually all youth earn this emblem and the adult
emblem is the only adult religious emblem that I'm aware of that is
earned by virtue of completing a specific program of activities; in
all other cases, the rule of thumb is that "the award seeks the
person, the person does not seek the award."
Mormons are also somewhat different in how they recruit leaders:
the pastor (called a "Bishop" in a ward) tells an adult that s/he
has a "calling" to be a cubmaster or scoutmaster -- and the adult
is expected to accept that assignment (other leaders are similarly
"called"). Unfortunately, this can lead to marginally-effective
leaders, due to marginal motivation and even resentment toward
training. The church in our area is aware of this and is working
to overcome some of these difficulties.
I have not specifically asked, because it has never come up as an
issue, but I believe that there is a restriction against non-Mormon
unit leaders, and this may extend to assistants and committee
members, although I would hope not. BSA permits any of our
chartered organizations to set such limitations, but most do not.
Let me *hasten* to say that, these observations are based on my
persepctive and limited experience and that I am responding to the
query about *differences*, not similarities, of which there are
I have two LDS churches in my district, a ward and a branch. The
ward has no non-Mormon youth in its pack and troop (and
insufficient boys to start a post; their posts are not coed). The
branch (would be called a "mission" in many denominations) has just
started a troop (last Wednesday -- talk about new) and it has some
non-member youth in it.
The Branch President (pastor) is a Wood Badge-trained former SM
who is highly-motivated and wants his people to be enthusiastic
about the program. He has given permission to his new SM and SA to
attend our weekend Scoutmastership Fundamentals, which includes the
otherwise-forbidden Saturday night campout and Sunday program. We
held a Fast-Start training the night we signed up the boys and
adults and have planned for Merit Badge Counseling and Youth
Protection Guidelines following Sunday worship in two weeks.
Before my son joined any troop, I would go with him to visit at
least one meeting, preferably a couple and would also ask some
Among these would be about troop activities, policies, program
calendar, leadership requirements/restrictions, expected adult
It wasn't part of Claudia's direct question but a helpful
outgrowth from it if the collected Scouts-L group would make
suggestions for questions to ask.
Istrouma Area Council
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City