Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Four Ts

With an emphasis on Training 

What tools has the Church given Primary and Young Men leaders to mold our sons?  They include Duty to God, Faith in God, For the Strength of Youth, Preach My Gospel and other manuals, and Scouting. Do you know how to use the tools you've been given?

Elder Vaughn J. Featherstone said, "There are four things that are absolutely essential in a great Scout leader. I call them the four T's:
  1. "Testimony — that they have a testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ, His Atonement, and that this Church is God's Church.
  2. "Trained — they need to be trained, not only by the Church, but as well by Boy Scouts of America within the districts and council (the focus of this training module)
  3. "Time — they need to have time to be a leader of boys.
  4. "Tenure — short tenure if they don't enjoy the work and are not willing to put in the time necessary, and long tenure if they love the young men and want to serve them with all their hearts and souls." (spelled Ten-Year)
  5. The Fifth T, Truck, is not essential, but very useful (goes with the 9th method, Git-r-dun)
So, then, Who needs to be trained?
"The Church teaches, 'Wherefore, now let every man learn his duty, and to act in the office in which he is appointed, in all diligence' (D&C 107:99). Carried out, this suggests that members serving in Church assignments—including Scouting—will learn the responsibilities of their calling and then fulfill them to the best of their ability."
There are three common themes that emerge as to why we neglect training:
  1. I was a Scout as a kid, and know all about being a Scout, so I don't need training
  2. I've been set apart and have the spirit to lead me, so I don't need training
  3. The Church is going to dump Scouting in a couple years anyway, so I don't need training
Wrong, wronger, and definitely wrongest. Here are some official, published Church statements on Scouter training:
  1. "Young Men and Primary leaders who are called to Scouting responsibilities should receive training in Scouting principles, policies, and procedures as used by the Church.* Trained Scout leaders who understand and live the gospel, understand priesthood governance, and understand the Scouting program are better able to serve young men and boys involved in Scouting activities. Accordingly, leaders working with boys and young men should complete the following BSA-required training:

    • Youth Protection (available online, to be completed before service with youth begins)
    • Fast Start (available online, to be completed within the first month of service)
    • This Is Scouting (available online, to be completed during the first year of service)
    • Position-Specific Training for Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Varsity, and Venturing (to be completed during the first year of service)
    • Introduction to Outdoor Leadership Skills for Boy Scout, Varsity, and Venturing leaders (to be completed during the first year of service [this is not "how to go camping"])

    "Stake Young Men and Primary presidencies [should] also offer ongoing training and support for ward Young Men, Primary, and Scouting leaders. In addition, the BSA provides monthly Roundtables to help leaders learn Scouting methods and skills; it also offers a variety of optional training courses such as Wood Badge, The Trainer’s EDGE, and others. Stake and ward budget allowance funds may be used for adult Scouting training." (Green Book, p. 1)

  2. "Scouting teaches that “Every boy deserves a trained leader.” All Scouting leaders [Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Varsity, Venturing, Committee Members] are required to complete specific basic training for their position." (Church publication: Scout Leader Training, emphasis added)

  3. "The Young Men General Presidency recently made the following statement:
    'The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints supports the training policy of the Boy Scouts of America and desires all Scouting leaders to receive the necessary required training for their position.’

    'We must find ways to motivate each adult who works with Young Men to become fully trained. If we are going to provide a dynamic Aaronic Priesthood activity program that develops them spiritually, creates strong brotherhood, provides wide opportunity for service to others, develops self-reliance and reaches out to all young men, we must be better prepared in using the tools of Scouting. That preparation only comes through effective quality training followed by proper implementation.'" (YMGP message in LDS-BSA relations newsletter, May 2010, emphasis added)
One very practical reason to get trained is to protect yourself and the boys you supervise, for your own and their safety. Trained leaders who know and follow established procedures (1) know the limits (i.e., prohibited activities or restrictions to allowed activities), (2) will take fewer risks and (3) will have appropriate insurance coverage (BSA) if a mishap does occur (riding in the backs of pick-ups, anyone?).

To conclude, I offer an absurd scenario: Imagine that of the 25,000-30,000 missionaries called annually, we send one young man per stake per year to the MTC. After intensive training, it’s then his job to return to his stake and train all the eligible young men on the mechanics, policies and procedures, the how-to, of Missionary Service, but he can only affect those who are actually interested in learning about that. It's OK if the rest want to wing it; after all, they all went through Primary and six years of Young Men, so they already know everything about being a missionary, right? What do these 19-year-old men need Missionary Training for when they already know the Basic 5 (say prayers, read scriptures, fasting, tithing, word of wisdom)? What does the Missionary Training Center provide that four years of seminary doesn't?

Finally, you ought to be recognized for taking the time and making the effort to be properly trained: there's the Trained ribbon and the On My Honor for Adults that are outward symbols of your dedication, but there's also the much deeper effect you will have on your boys' lives.

Outside of the Church, Scouts get to vote with their feet if a program doesn't deliver. Our boys don't have that option (well, they do, but most LDS parents, for a myriad of reasons won't shell out to put their son in another troop). Because our boys are assigned to their troops, we owe it to each of them to provide the best program possible. That begins with knowing and understanding how to use the tools we have been given, including Scouting.  We must commit to following the Scouting program (as used by the Church) and not just going through the motions.

On a personal note, I went to Wood Badge because my brother went, and he said it was excellent.

He went because his stake president made him go: "It’s part of your calling", he was told. So he went kicking and screaming. He didn’t have time; He was self-employed with three kids under 10 at home; He was 'just' a committee member; He didn’t want to buy green Scout pants or Scout Socks. He had other good reasons, too.

His stake president went to Wood Badge and came away so impressed with the quality of executive-level leadership training (applicable to business, quorum, Church and family leadership, and everything else) that he budgeted for every Scouter in his stake to attend. Cub leaders, bishoprics, YM and Primary presidencies and committee members were all put on notice that WB (and training in general) is part of the calling. This was in Indiana, where WB isn’t necessarily tailored around LDS sensitivities.

*There is very little in the way of “…procedures as used by the Church.” To paraphrase myself, The Church itself doesn't train its adult Scouters; it defers training to an outside organization (BSA) because the Church doesn't govern Scouting, BSA does. The Green Book doesn't replace official Scouting policies, it supplements them with Church-specific ones, and we are responsible for adhering to both.

Bishoprics, when calling someone to a Scouting position, give the individual a list of required training, a description of each, and dates it is offered, along with the statement to the effect of, "this is part of the calling. Talk it over with your spouse and let me know if you are willing to commit to this."

4Ts summary from

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