Thursday, August 18, 2011

The First Two Syllables are “Commit”

“The bishopric organizes ward Scouting committees to ensure that Scouting functions properly as a supporting activity for Aaronic Priesthood quorums. The bishopric calls several capable adults (including fathers and mothers of boys and young men) to serve as committee members…Qualified adults, whether members of the Church or not, may serve on these committees.”1

As stated above, moms and dads of enrolled boys should be part of the committee (and I’ll go out on a limb here and say they ought to volunteer rather than wait to be called), but who else serves on it? Well, the Primary Presidency, for one (see page three of the LDS Scouting Handbook, below). The challenge here is to overcome the tendency to fall into a, "if I wasn’t called, it’s Someone Else’s Job" mentality. A committee consists of at least three members, one of whom serves as Chair2. According to the 2008 Advancement Guide, at least three troop committee members are required in order to convene a board of review3. And here’s an important point about Scoutmasters and the Committee: Scoutmasters are not committee members, and therefore they do not sit on Boards of Review (neither do parents sit on their own son’s board4). I’ll talk more in depth about the BOR at a later date.

So, what does the committee do? “The troop committee…supports the troop's adult and youth leaders in delivering a quality program to the troop's Scouts.5” “Scouting committees should (1) meet as needed to discuss Scouting in the ward and receive assignments from the committee chair, (2) support and assist Scouting activities by providing needed services, and (3) see that the Scout units operate in accordance with Church and BSA policies and standards.6” In short, the troop, or the pack, committee takes care of the administrivia so that the Scoutmaster can focus on working with the boys without getting bogged down in minutiae.

Examples of committee member functions include advancement, funds, logistics, transportation, etc. For more examples of Committee responsibilities, follow the link. My opinion is that if someone has a son in any aspect of Scouts, they are automatically a committee member, and should register as such. Yes, there is a marginal cost involved with registration, but if something (like pinewood derby) is to happen, the committee needs to make it happen. Think of it as sustaining the Scout- or Cubmaster.

I know that this idea represents a sea-change from "how we've always done it", but "how we've always done it" is not the Scout way. It is often said in General Conferences, and in scripture, that culture and incorrect traditions supplanted or in other ways prevented people from living up to their covenants. Just because we have a tradition of being wrong doesn't mean we need to persist in that tradition. I have been saying for a while now that we need to decide that this is worth doing the right way; if by some other way, it is not Scouts, merely the form of Scoutliness. It's a matter of education and a willingness to do follow established policies. I noticed that the new 2011 Scouting Handbook frequently refers back to BSA policies. I wonder if that’s significant…

In other words, there are a lot of sacred cows, and it's time to grill up some brisket.

Pack Committee
Troop Committee
The LDS Scout Committee
Startup Guides with job descriptions
The BSA Troop Committee Guidebook #34505B is available at your local Scout Shop

1. 2011 Scouting Handbook, p2 (, emphasis added
2. 2008 Advancement Guide, p29 (BSA)
4. 2008 Advancement Guide, p29 (BSA)
5. USSSP Troop Committee Training Module
6. 2011 Scouting Handbook, p3 (, emphasis added

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Last night we had our first Scout Commmittee meeting since I was called into the YMP and been the Varsity Coach. I thought it was going to go poorly but it is clear that they are trying. I was impressed. Very impressed.