Hey gang, now and then we get the chance to actually help one another in the online world. A participant in the BCC community has recently been called to serve as Young Men’s president in his ward and he is feeling a little overwhelmed by it all. He requested assistance and advice, and this is our opportunity to pitch in.
He has asked for any insight we can give into the LDS/BSA relationship — how it began, and how to navigate the narrows between church and scout. He has also wondered how to get the best training, and how to succeed as a YM leader.
I’ll go first, and offer what I can contribute from my own experience. I’ve served multiple times as scoutmaster (that’s why my calling and election has been made sure), and also as YM president. My observations reflect only my own experience. I hope others will offer help if they can.
First, as far as training goes, the church offers very little beyond the Aaronic priesthood manual and Duty to God manual. For scout training, you need to go to your local BSA council. The Youth Protection training is a bare minimum, and the Woodbadge training might be appropriate, depending on your specific calling.
You need to have some supportive adults to help. In fact, I would make the existence of a functioning scout committee a condition of accepting the calling. Going it alone is a sure way to guarantee failure, because the task requires more work than one person gan give.
Develop a thick skin. There will probably be people in church who think you are too scouty, and people in scouts who think you are churchy, and they will all line up to tell you that ur doing it rong. I’ve found that the best way to short-circuit the criticism is to extend an invitation to be on the committee. Then you find out quickly whether people are interested in helping or just complaining.
Beware of program-itis. Sure, the BSA has lots to offer, but the fact is that probably a third of the boys in your ward won’t be interested in scouting in the formal sense. You need to be aware of their interests and needs, too.
Do everything you can to help young men serve others. Organize a way to provide the sacrament to residents of rest homes and shut-ins. This is a priceless experience, because the young men will develop friendships with people from whom they can learn.
In the Instructions for Umpires part of The Baseball Almanac, we read: “Keep your eye everlasting on the ball while it is in play”. We can modify that advice for your calling to say: Keep your eye everlastingly on these precious young men. Adulthood is approaching them more quickly than they realize, and you are in a position to help them succeed. Good luck!
Brothers and sisters, the time is now yours for the sharing of your advice and experiences.