Friday, February 10, 2012


Someone close to me sent me this email.  Just an FYI, the ward is so small they only run a Troop.  Son X is the son of Sister X or Mom X.

I had a long conversation with the bishop last night after our troop meeting.  Things are a little worse than I thought.  Sister X and her son Son X were released last night.  This is what I have been waiting for for 4 months. But after speaking with the bishop, I went home upset and frustrated.  Let me explain.

For the last few years, Sister X has been 11-Year-Old Scout Leader, but at some point I think there weren't any 11 year olds, and she was asked to help with the older boys.  I'm pretty sure this is what the bishop wanted her to do.  However, she started running troop meetings, and never went back to working with the new 11 year olds.  When my wife was called as Primary President, Sister X basically said to her, "Yes, I'm the 11-year-old Scout Leader, but I don't work with the 11 year olds."

She has also been the Troop Committee Chair.  There hasn't been a functioning committee, but we are all on the books.  I would call her "executive scoutmaster" if I had to describe the job she had.  I do not take anything away from her accomplishment with the boys, but it is not the authorized program of the church or BSA.

Her son, Son X, has been the Scoutmaster. He is inactive, but was nominally given the calling of Teachers Quorum assistant adviser.  Apparently the bishopric and parents are very happy with what he has done.  I have a feeling he and Sister X made rank advancements and merit badges too easy to obtain, but that is in the past and I am not going to say anything or concern ourselves with that.  We just move forward from here.

Son X started dating a girl last summer, and in October they moved in together. She came to troop meetings (with her dog) and Son X made a comment in front of the boys that they had moved in.  He got really distracted and missed several troop meetings.  They got married a few weeks ago.  Because of the holidays and the wedding, the X Family did not attend troop meetings in December or January.

About the same time (October to December) our YM president went MIA. The bishop released him and called me mid-December. In all of this mess, enter me and my new presidency.  Here's my problem:

From my perspective, I and my presidency are taking Scouting seriously and running a good program (and one that is in sync with the church & BSA handbooks and training). We don’t know everything, but we are doing our best.  From the bishop's perspective, I took over too soon from the X Family, and he is very happy with the job they have done. The bishop is the one that set up the following system with the previous YM and Scouting Leaders:

YM President = Spiritual & Church Program

Sister X and Son X = Scouting Program

Which of course is not how it is meant to work... at all.  There is nothing in any handbook or training that at all suggests that the YM Presidency is divorced from Scouting, and yet the bishop called a YM President (and gave him no presidency for about a year) and asked someone else to run Scouting.

When I was called I jumped in to my new calling and followed what I read in the Church & Scouting handbooks.  I've relied on the advice from the Stake YM presidency, from you, and from a man in our ward who has done Scouting for 30 years.  When the bishop called me, I specifically asked if the X Family would be released, and the answer was yes.  So I have been waiting for them to be released, and have not been able to assign my very capable 2nd Counselor as Scoutmaster.

I've run our troop meetings, organized a troop notebook with training materials, initiated the recharter process, arranged for Scoutmaster Conferences and boards of review, and planned a high adventure activity.

According to the bishop last night, I did not give him enough time to speak to the X Family and allow for a "smooth transition." His timetable is different from mine.

Anyway, the X Family were finally released last night, and that is a good thing. The Scouts can have a normal, healthy, and authorized program with 4 worthy men (my presidency) who are their Spiritual leaders and Scouting leaders.  I just wish the bishop could be as thrilled with that as I am.  There is a lot of work to do, but the bishop and I are not seeing eye-to-eye.


My reply:

OK BIL.  I can see EXACTLY why you are so frustrated.  I see a few fundamental issues here with the way your Bishop is running the Scouting program.  In the end though, he is the one accountable for all the issues or the success of the program.

First things first, the 11 Year Old Scout leader is actually an Assistant Scoutmaster.  And as you know the Church doesn’t have female Scoutmasters or female Assistant Scoutmasters (though in the BSA they do happen).  This clear violation of the Church’s policy goes to show that your Bishop doesn’t have a clue how the Scouting program works even though he is in charge of it.  I know that isn’t helpful but it is pretty clear from looking at it.  In fact, as you know you don’t even hold any keys.  YMP don’t get to pick their counselors but get to give feedback on whom the Bishopric has chosen. So the accountability issue is all his.  If you succeed, it is because of you.  If you fail, it is because of him.  Taking over for the X Family “too early” seems to me that your Bishop doesn’t understand the importance of having a fully functioning program at all times.

You are rebuilding a program.  I inherited a dodgeball program from Brother M (I was called un-fun for years and that really upset me) and half the boys in our unit don’t even know how to use matches and that should have been taught by our Scoutmaster, Brother B.  I am not pointing fingers.  It is what it is.  You give the boys the benefit of the doubt if you don’t think they have accomplished requirements to earn rank and merit badges.  “The tie goes to the boy.”  Don’t give up.  Vent as much as you need especially to me.  I see some very close similarities in our programs.

Second, the Young Men’s Presidency and the Scouting leaders in most cases are supposed to be the same people.  I know the green LDS handbook says that on page 3.

Aaronic Priesthood Quorum Advisers - (Ward Young Men Presidency)
Generally, Aaronic Priesthood quorum advisers serve as the adult leaders to the Scouting units in the ward. Both the adviser and the assistant adviser(s) attend all meetings of the quorum and the Scouting unit and must be registered with the Boy Scouts of America.

Third, if your Bishop didn’t want you to take over from the X Family he shouldn’t have called you.  Does he expect you to shirk your responsibility?  Even if my Bishop told me to, I wouldn’t have listened to him.  It is easier to ask for forgiveness than permission.  At the end of the day, your conscious should be clean.  You are doing everything you can!

You and SIL are in a loose-loose situation in my opinion.  You can either fight like heck to break “the traditions of your fathers” that were established by the X Family or you can give in.  Don’t give in!  The first 2 years of my calling were an absolute headache.  I wanted to quit.  I wanted to be released.  I wanted to stop going on Wednesday.  And why was Sister X running Troop meetings?  If she at least sort of understood the Scouting program, she would have realized that the boys are supposed to lead the meetings, teach the skills and close the meetings.  Everything is supposed to be done by the boys (it is mission preparation!). 

I might suggest again you calling your Stake Young Men’s President and explaining the issue(s) again and asking for his advice again.  He is in charge of your training on the Church side.  If you need help on the Scouting side, go to your District for help.  Please call him.  If nothing else, maybe he can put a bug in the Stake Presidency’s ear about helping to train your Bishop in how Scouting should work.  In fact our Bishopric just received 2 hours of training on a Sunday from the Stake Presidency on how Scouting is supposed to work.  Most Bishops have no clue how to run a Scouting program.  Think of what a great Bishop you will be!!

Can you send me your mailing address?  I am going to order you a book called “Trails to Testimony” by Brad Harris.  Please read this as soon as you get it.  It breaks down Scouting in one column of the page and on the other side of the page breaks down how it relates to the Church on the other.  Brad Harris was the Barney’s old Bishop and mine when I moved to Little Elm.  He teaches Scouting at BYU.

If the Bishop’s time table was different than yours he clearly should have left things the way they were and not called you.

Remember in the end your success in the Church and in the Scouting program will be judged on giving the program back to the boys.  What I mean is that you need to train them to:

·        Run their own Scout meetings including learning how to take a skill they know and teach it to each other.
·        Run their own campouts.
·        Let them pick their own activities.
·        Run their own Presidency Meeting(s).

Boy lead is your goal.  It will never be perfect.  They are teenage boys.  But you sure as heck can try.  Lay their program(s) at their feet and enable, advocate and mentor these boys.  A boy lead program leads to better Scouts, better missionaries, better HTers, better husband and better endowed members.  In the end, who cares what the Bishop thinks about you because I know you are doing things as close to the handbooks are you can and you are trying your heart out.  If you didn’t care, you wouldn’t have called and emailed me!  If you didn’t care, you wouldn’t have agreed to serve as YMP.  I wish you were back in LE because I would have gobbled you up into our program!  We need more men like you who are dedicated to not doing the status quo and magnifying their calling.  Pray that your Bishop’s heart will be softened. 

Again, call as much as you need.  Don’t feel like you are burdening me.

"Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never - -in nothing, great or small, large or petty -- never give in, except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy." – Winston Churchill

Would you have any other advice for BIL?


Fishgutts said...

Apparently I was incorrect about 11 year old Scout leaders not being women. They can be women.

From page 4 of the Scouting Handbook:

"The bishopric adviser to the Primary or another qualifed male adult should be invited to supervise the overnight camping experience when the leader of the eleven-year-old Scouts is a woman. Women leaders do not participate in overnight camping with these boys. Fathers are invited and encouraged to participate in the overnight camping experiences with their sons and with boys whose fathers cannot attend."

Not the first time I have been wrong.

Eric the Half-bee said...

Fish, I think you nailed it. The only thing I would add is training.

Training, training, training.

For YMPs, parents, PrimPres, Scoutmasters, Committee members, and yes, bishoprics. Boys aren't the only cats we herd.

Fishgutts said...

I agree. I wish though there were a way to take this Bishop's agency away for a few weeks and make him get some training on Scouting. With no Scout Committee BIL is up a creek without a paddle and is soon to burn out specially as he seems to be the nuts and bolts of this "pulled from the ashes" Scouting program. Especially if it is true that the Bishop seems to be regretting calling BIL. I have been to BIL's ward a few times and it is so small it might as well be a branch. So there are not a ton of resources but the man he describes as having been a Scouter for 30 years is who I would lean on for some help!