There is a strong support structure available to you in your Cub Scout, Boy Scout, Varsity and Venturing leadership in the Church if everything is run as it is designed. Hopefully you are using these support roles properly to help you run a quality Scouting program. Perhaps your most important, and often the most underutilized, resource for your unit support is the Scouting committee.
The purpose of the Scouting committee is to relieve the burden of the unit leaders—both boy and adult leaders—by providing the necessary funding, equipment, resources, manpower, transportation, and other needs to ensure a quality Scouting program. The Scouting committee should handle all unit administrative functions so the adult unit leaders can focus on the boys instead of on the logistics of the Scouting program.
If “the spirit and the body are the soul of man” (D&C 88:15), may I submit that the spirit and the body are also the soul of Scouting. The unit leaders should focus on the spirit of Scouting—the boys. The Scouting committee should focus on the body of Scouting—the flesh (programs), bones (resources), and blood (finances) of the Scouting unit. Both are necessary for a thriving Scouting program.
Sadly, too often in the Church the Scouting committee is dysfunctional. It has no clear purpose. Its members have no defined role or responsibilities. In many wards there is little for the committee to do because most of the work is being done by the adult Young Men and Scouting leaders. Sometimes the Scouting program is being run in an unplanned, haphazard, ad hoc manner week-by-week so there is nothing for the committee to support. The committee membership may consist of less-active or new members of the Church who are placed in their role as a means of finding a calling for every member of the Church. Interest in committee meeting attendance quickly wanes when the right people are not in the right place at the right time doing the right things for the ward’s Scouting programs.
The primary reason why Scouting committees fail is because the first step in the committee process is weak or non-existent. In Mac’s Message #21 I explained the importance of having an annual or quarterly plan of your Scouting activities. The annual or quarterly plan is the roadmap for the Scouting committee. The committee uses the plan to determine what resources they must provide to support the unit’s activities. As can be seen in the graphic below, without a calendar of activities the members of the Scouting committee don’t know what support they can provide to the Scouting unit. (please click on the graphic to enlarge it)
The roles of the various members of the Scouting committee become clear when the boy leaders provide a quarterly or annual plan to the committee. For example, each planned activity probably has a financial component. The committee may need to provide manpower for the event, such as merit badge counselors, instructors, certified range officers, two-deep leaders, or other specialists. Transportation may need to be arranged. Camp reservations might need to be made. Equipment and supplies may need to be acquired. There may be merit badge or advancement opportunities embedded in each activity. Courts of honor or other ceremonies or celebrations may follow the activity. And the event may be perfect for recruiting new youth members to the Scouting unit. Each of these logistical needs can be addressed by a designated coordinator on the Scouting committee.
When the activities are known in advance, the bishopric can staff the committee with the people who have the appropriate skills to support the Scouting unit. The Scouting committee chairperson can then run the committee as a committee, where the members have assigned duties and responsibilities linked to the planned activities. The members can be given assignments, fulfill their assignments, and return and report on their progress at the next committee meeting. The committee then provides the needed resources for the activity so the boy leaders can actually plan and conduct the event. Once the activity is over, the boy leaders should provide feedback to the committee so the committee can better support the future activities of the Scouting unit.
A well-run, effective Scouting committee is critical to a quality Scouting program. It allows for clearly-defined separation of responsibilities between those assigned to the adult unit leaders and those assigned to the Scouting committee as outlined in the graphic below. (please click on the graphic to enlarge it)
Once again I urge you to engage the boys in developing an annual plan of your Scouting unit activities. Your plan will give purpose to the Scouting committee. It will make it easier for your committee to hold regular, meaningful meetings that allow them to provide you with the full program support you need. With the program burden removed from your shoulders you can focus on your boys and help them to become the strong men of character the Scouting program is designed to create.
Take a Moment to Reflect
- Do you have an annual or quarterly plan? Are you sticking to your plan?
- Do you have a Scouting committee properly staffed with the right people in the right positions with the right skill sets?
- Do your youth and adult leaders meet with the Scouting committee to seek the resources you need for your planned activities?
- Does your Scouting committee meet regularly to discuss upcoming activities, make assignments, report on assignments, and provide you with the resources and support you need?
- Is your committee chairperson on top of everything regarding your Scouting program?
Turn Your Reflection Into Action
- What will you start doing, stop doing, or do better as a result of your reflection?
“And this shall be your business and mission in all your lives, to preside in council, and set in order all the [Scouting] affairs of this church and kingdom” (D&C 90:16).
-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.