by | Dec 13, 2017

Last month I had the opportunity to attend and support an Aaronic Priesthood Leadership training conference on Scouting involving five stakes. Cub Scout, Primary, Aaronic Priesthood and Scout leaders were invited to attend. During my presentation one of the five stake presidents raised his hand to ask a question. He then spontaneously joined me at the pulpit and tearfully shared that his Scouting experiences had changed and blessed his life. I was touched by his genuine feelings and bold declaration.

This example is not isolated. As I visit with people and serve in Scouting and in the Church I often hear touching stories of young men who were lost, less-active, or members of other faiths and yet had their lives changed for the better by good priesthood and Primary leaders who reached out and welcomed them to the gospel through the vehicle of Scouting.

When President Joseph F. Smith approved Scouting as an official program of the Aaronic Priesthood in 1913, he did so at the recommendation of the Young Men Athletic Committee. These brethren shared with President Smith that one benefit they felt Scouting would provide LDS youth was the “association of our boys with their fellows.” I believe this phrase still rings true today.

Our current Young Men General Presidency has asked leaders to focus on three tasks: Be With Them, Connect Them With Heaven, and Let Them Lead. Scouting provides a natural conduit to all of these goals with strong LDS youth, less-active youth, and youth that are members of other faiths. It’s that simple, really.

One of the keys of maintaining a quality Scouting program and reaching these three ideals is through utilizing Scout committees. On a recent Sunday as I left the chapel to go home I passed a classroom with the door partially ajar. Inside the room I observed our ward Scout committee chairman—gathered with at least 12 other Aaronic Priesthood and Primary leaders—engaged in meaningful conversation about boys. I didn’t overhear their entire meeting, but I can imagine that they coordinated plans for upcoming activities and advancements, talked specifically about boys in the troop, and inspired each other to reach out to young men. The Scout committee is a powerful tool for finding and strengthening youth in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Cub Committees can function similarly. Cub Scouting is an ideal opportunity for families in our wards to reach out to families in our neighborhoods and “associate with their fellows,” providing invitations for good people of all faiths to benefit from Scouting under priesthood direction.

There are three keys points to holding a successful but simple committee meeting:

  1. Have an agenda. An agenda helps those conducting the meeting to stay on task and provides all participants with a clear vision of what the meeting is meant to accomplish.
  2. Stick to principles. It’s easy to get caught up in the “Law of Moses” way of living, especially in an involved Scout program. But when we follow the example of the “happy” people in 4th Nephi verse 16, we learn that they had given up the Law of Moses for the simple “commandments which they had received from their Lord…” (verse 12). Remember the direction of our leaders: Be With Them, Connect Them With Heaven, Let Them Lead.
  3. Finally, make the meeting worth their time. Engage in quality discussion, quality planning, and quality decisions. Be consistent so that committee members know when to expect a meeting and what to expect. An amazing synergy is developed when good people gather together to work for the benefit of youth.

Like the stake president who stood and spoke during our recent training I, too, have been changed because of good Scouting and priesthood leaders. I have also seen marvelous changes in the lives of my four Scouting sons because of dedicated leaders who keep it simple, make it fun, and provide a quality program for our boys and young men. And I’m grateful that this effort reaches—as the Young Men leaders of 1913 predicted—to “fellowship the boys of our nation.”

~Mark R. Francis has served as director of LDS-BSA Relationships since 2012