Update 1/01/17 NEW items in red
“… in those stakes and wards where Scouting is used to strengthen the Priesthood, the young men of the Aaronic Priesthood are much stronger and better prepared than they would have been otherwise.” Charles Dahlquist, former Young Men general president (as quoted in “Trails to Testimony” by Brad Harris, p.40)
On this page you will find some thoughts on why Aaronic Priesthood quorums utilize boy scout Troops, Varsity Teams, and Venture Crews to aid in achieving the purposes of the Aaronic Priesthood.
It’s a reality that some who are called to serve in scouting positions may not have a scouting background as a youth or adult. Others may not have had a positive experience in scouting as a youth. Perhaps some of you are wondering why the church even supports scouting. Below are a few thoughts to help tie these two together. Ultimately, everybody who serves in scouting, at one time or another, should develop a testimony of the bond between scouting and young men. This comes through action, prayer, and experiences in the program–remember that faith precedes the miracle!
As the church’s Scouting Handbook states in section 1.1, scouting functions as part of the activity arm for boys and young men, and President Monson said that scouting “has served as an activity arm of the Aaronic Priesthood” for a century. As such, the concepts, characteristics, and principles of righteousness taught on Sunday in quorum meeting should be put into practice during scouting activities. This is most effectively accomplished through effective quorum meetings and properly organized scouting units. Below are the 8 purposes of the Aaronic Priesthod as outlined in section 8.1.3 of Book 2 of the church handbook of instructions:
- Become converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ and live by its teachings.
- Serve faithfully in priesthood callings and fulfill the responsibilities of priesthood offices.
- Give meaningful service.
- Prepare and live worthily to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood and temple ordinances.
- Prepare to serve an honorable full-time mission.
- Obtain as much education as possible.
- Prepare to become a worthy husband and father.
- Give proper respect to women, girls, and children.
Consider the attributes and characteristics that a young man must develop to accomplish the above purposes. How can a young man apply what he learns in church and through study (passive learning) into a part of his daily actions and character? Now, compare those Aaronic Priesthood purposes with those of scouting:
- BSA Mission Statement:
- “The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young people to make ethical choices over their lifetime by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law“.
- Aims of Scouting
- all levels of the Scouting program share three specific objectives: Character development (moral strength & character), Citizenship training (a boys’ relationship to others), and Personal fitness (including the body, the mind, and the emotions)
- Methods of Scouting (how the Aims of Scouting are achieved)
- Association with Adults
- Personal Growth
- Leadership Development
- Outdoor Program
There seems to be overlap between the purposes and overall objectives of the Aaronic Priesthood and Scouting. In fact, it was originally designed that way. Lord Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scouts said, “There is no religious side to the Movement. The whole of it is based on religion, that is, on the realization and service of God.”
We want our young men to come unto Christ (includes developing characteristics of Christ) and become righteous husbands and fathers who are worthy to hold the Melchizedek Priesthood and temple recommends. It takes time and effort to accomplish these lofty objectives. We don’t leave their development to chance. We teach young men principles of righteousness, high morals and ethics, serving others, and community involvement during quorum meetings, and then provide opportunities to put those concepts into practice through real life experiences in a scouting unit. When scouting units (Boy Scout Troops, Varsity Teams, Venture Crews) are properly structured, youth-led, and administered by effective committees they reinforce priesthood principles of righteousness.
One of the responsibilities of young men advisors is to develop personal relationships and trust with young men. When a young mens advisor lives righteously and bears testimony it will have greater impact on a young man if a personal relationship exists. Scouting provides opportunities to develop relationships and trust in ways that aren’t as easily accomplished in other settings.
For additional perspectives on this topic, read the following articles at LDSBSA.org (this is a church-sanctioned group that facilitates the relationship between BSA and the church):
- Gaining a Vision of Scouting and the Aaronic Priesthood
- The Mission of the Boy Scouts of America and the Aaronic Priesthood
- Saving Our Young Men (provides a balanced approach to Scouting and everything else we do for the young men)
- Purpose of Scouting and Aaronic Priesthood is to bring young men to Christ.
- All of “Mac’s Messages”, which generally focus on the ties between the Aaronic Priesthood and Scouting, can be found through this LINK. They can help draw practical ties between the two.
- Charles Dahlquist, former Young Men general president, provided these thoughts in the overall context of how the Aaronic Priesthood and scouting act to strengthen families and young men.