Mac’s Message #44: The Role of the BSA Local Council and District

Mac McIntire

Mac McIntire

Your BSA local council and district provide a cornucopia of resources and support for your Scouting efforts. For some LDS Scouters the only involvement they may have with the council office is during rechartering, Friends of Scouting, or when purchasing uniforms or advancement materials from the council trading post. But the council and district provide much more than this to help you create a quality Scouting experience for your boys.

Most councils provide great training opportunities, such as Wood Badge, Powderhorn, Trainer’s EDGE, Akela’s Council, National Youth Leadership Training, Baden Powell University, Commissioner College, and other courses. If you don’t know what any of these are, you need to find out. Almost all of the council training sessions I’ve attended have been a quality learning experience.

Council and district executives are available to assist you in your Scouting calling. Because of their vast experience with a variety of Scouting units, they can offer insight and support on every difficulty or issue you face in your Scouting role. I’ve found the council staff to be very responsive to all of my inquiries and needs. I urge you to get to know the professional Scouting executives in your BSA local council and district. They are there to serve you

Your local district probably sponsors training and events for the adults and youth in your area. Klondikes, Camporees, Ten Commandment hikes, service projects, and other activities are often sponsored by your Scouting district. I have found these activities to be a great way to supplement a unit’s annual calendar in order to offer a well-rounded Scouting program.

Additionally, if you have been reading my blog messages in this series on the support structure for LDS Scouting units, you will have read several official Church policy statements where priesthood leaders are encouraged to participate in BSA local council and district meetings. I wonder how many LDS Scouting leaders are actually attending these meetings. If my experience at council board meetings, district meetings, and roundtables is any indicator, I would say LDS participation is a lot lower than what it should be.

Let me first recap which council and district meetings LDS Scouting leaders are strongly encouraged to attend:

Direct contact unit leaders Monthly roundtables
Ward Young Men presidency and/or assistants Monthly roundtables
Scouting committee chair and members Monthly roundtables
Chartered organization representative (COR) Monthly district committee meetings/annual council meetings
Stake Young Men presidency (UCs) Monthly district committee meetings/monthly commissioners meetings/monthly roundtables
High council representatives (ADCs) Monthly district committee meetings/monthly commissioners meetings
Stake president or counselor LDS-BSA Relationships Committee meetings
Stake presidency member Council executive board meetings

 

I highly encourage LDS Scouting and Aaronic Priesthood leaders to be actively involved in council and district meetings. When organized and run properly, district roundtable meetings can be extremely valuable. Roundtables are designed to provide adult Scouting leaders with information regarding council and district activities. Well-run roundtables typically have breakout sessions for Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Varsity Scouts, and Venturing leaders. There also may be breakout sessions for Scouting committees, unit commissioners, CORs, and other specialty areas. Roundtable meetings allow novice adult leaders to interact and network with seasoned Scouting leaders who have valuable experiences and resources to draw upon. Scouting leaders also have the opportunity to interact with professional Scouting executives at roundtable meetings.

District meetings are typically steered by the district Key 3—the district chairman, district commissioner, and district executive. The district chair and district commissioner are volunteer positions held by dedicated Scouters in the district. The district executive is a professional Scouter who works under the direction of the local council Scout executive and acts as an adviser to the volunteer leaders in the district.

In addition to providing information about council and district activities and events, the monthly district meeting is designed to address Scouting issues, concerns, or problems throughout the district. Successes, best practices, benchmarks, and other valuable lessons learned are also shared at district meetings. Participants at district meetings have the greatest potential to influence what happens at the council, district, and local level regarding Scouting. Those who actively participate in these meetings and become known associates and advocates for Scouting, are more likely to gain the ear of the district and council executives.

It has been my experience that district committee meetings and roundtables are most valuable when attendance and participation is high. If only a few people attend the roundtable meetings lose their effectiveness and participant interest quickly wanes. The more people there are in attendance to instruct and share ideas, the more powerful these meetings become as vital Scouting resources. For this reason, I highly encourage you to attend these meetings, even if there are only a few Scouters in attendance at first. You can become the catalyst to improve the effectiveness of these meetings within your district.

I also encourage you and your Scouting unit to be actively involved in council and district events, such as Scout Expos, camporees, Klondike winter camps, merit badge expos, high adventure activities, and, of course, council summer camps. Usually these are quality events and yet, sadly, they often are not well attended by LDS Scouting units. I’m sure the cost of council and district programs discourages attendance by LDS units. But, if you wish to give your boys a well-rounded, quality Scouting experience, I urge you to calendar some of these events into your quarterly or annual plan.

Finally, there are leadership award opportunities within the district and council that sometimes are missed by LDS Scouting leaders because of their lack of involvement at the council or district level. The District Award of Merit is a council award presented by districts to Scouters who render service of an outstanding nature at the district level. The Silver Beaver Award is the council-level distinguished service award of the Boy Scouts of America. Recipients of this award are registered adult leaders who have made an impact on the lives of youth through service given to the council. The Silver Beaver is an award given to those who implement the Scouting program and perform community service through hard work, self-sacrifice, dedication, and many years of service. I believe there are many worthy LDS Scouting leaders who would otherwise qualify for these awards if only their service included involvement at the district and council levels. I hate seeing great Scouting leaders go unrecognized because no one at the district or council is aware of their accomplishments.

Once again I encourage you to attend the district and council meetings designated for your Scouting leadership role. I urge you to become actively involved and to participate fully in these meetings. If possible, I invite you to volunteer as an instructor at roundtable meetings or at other council training meetings. You might even consider accepting a position to serve as a district committee member or chair or serve in another district leadership position. If you do, I know you be blessed for your effort, for “I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God” (Mosiah 2:17).

 

Take a Moment to Reflect

  • Do you know your council and district executives? Have you developed a working relationship with them?
  • Are you taking advantage of the council and district training opportunities?
  • Are you regularly attending the district or council meetings designated for your Scouting leadership position?
  • Are you actively participating in these meetings, sharing your thoughts, ideas, and insights?
  • Have you volunteered to assist and help out at these meetings?
  • Are you integrating the council and district activities into your unit calendar to provide a well-rounded, quality Scouting experience for your boys?

 

Turn Your Reflection Into Action

  • What will you start doing, stop doing, or do better as a result of your reflection?

 

“Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness; For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward” (D&C 58:27-28).

 

-Mac McIntire is a dedicated Scouter who has blessed many lives through his service and acute understanding of the Scouting program. He currently lives in Las Vegas, Nevada. The views and opinions expressed in this message are solely those of the author.

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  1. David Ripplinger says:

    I have to fully agree with all of this. It has been a great experience for me to get involved in serving at the district level and being a regular participant at round table. I feel like I’m part of a bigger scouting community that, at least out here, is almost all non-LDS. I have learned a lot from my colleagues and I’ve been able to make a difference in areas that I saw as a good fit for me. My involvement has also improved others’ opinion of the church’s willingness to be part of the district-level scouting program instead of being isolated and doing its own thing. It’s definitely worth getting involved.

  2. Michael Gordon says:

    Scouting seems to be approached in two distinct and dissimilar ways by the troops of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

    One follows the usual pattern of appointment, top down governing. While I acknowledge it is essential for proper maintenance of an ecclesiastical organization, it is almost the enemy of preparing young men to make choices especially if neither the leaders nor the boys want to be there.

    “Yes” has no meaning unless “no” also has meaning.

    The other follows the concept of the Boy Led Troop and depends much more on a spirit of choice and volunteering.

    Choices are made, mistakes made and the consequences enjoyed. The scoutmaster and committee ensure a reasonable amount of safety as young men experience the responsibility that comes from making real choices.

    I was appointed to the troop committee and later the district committee. Unlike pretty much everyone I know, I stayed on the district committee and indeed that is my only enrollment. I register myself as a genuine volunteer to provide service to the community and to the rising generation of leaders. I would really, really like a few more people to do likewise.

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