Tuesday, October 16, 2012

New Troop Program Helps

I just got an email from our District Commissioner:
Dear COR:
The LDSBSA relations committee have taken the program helps and have formatted them into the Duty to God Program. These will be a great help to our scoutmasters as they implement the Duty To God program with their scouting activities. These troop helps are laid out very well, I would encourage you to download them and pass them along to your scout leaders so they can implement them as soon as possible.
For each subject (backpacking, camping, swimming, etc.) there are four weeks worth of agendas for Troop meetings and an agenda for a weekend activity. I converted a couple pages of one of them to a picture so I could post it here (click on the image to see it full size):

I have never used the Troop Program Features books because I was in Venturing, and there aren't any program helps for Venturing. For us the only guidance was: "What a Venturing crew does is limited only by the imagination and involvement of the adult and youth leaders and members of the crew."

It looks to me like leaders will still need to Troop Program Features books so they have all the information--these helps simply organize it in a way that is consistent with LDS meetings and the Duty to God program pattern of Learn-Act-Share.

I am excited to share these with the Scout leaders in my ward and see how this improves their activities.


  1. "Hey, let's take these materials that have been around since 1972, and replace 'patrol' with 'quorum'. That will make all the difference!"

    Why is this necessary? (Don't answer that, I already know: it's because (a) no one will use the BSA materials, so we have to repackage them and have them officially "blessed" in order to do what we're supposed to be doing; and (b) the leaders who understand how to make it all work seamlessly get plucked from their jobs and sent somewhere else.)

    It looks to me like just one more wheel getting re-invented. Well, if this will help adults to get it in gear, I'm for it. Call me a cynic, though, but I bet this gets as much traction as the LDS/BSA newsletter.

  2. I'm going to say this as gently as I can manage: Ick.

    A reflection conducted at the end of every regular patrol meaning is insane. You can't force spiritual experiences or growth by trying to get people to "Share" about experiences they haven't had yet. (At the end of the patrol meeting, you've learned some and worked some and played some. The growth comes when you challenge yourself during the actual outing.) The elimination of the Scoutmaster Minute kind of bugs me too, because it's the one time during the meeting when the SM is supposed to address all the boys, and help them reflect internally.

    Using the Venturing model as a contrast, it would be the same as asking everyone to talk about their spiritual growth at they planned the Ethical Controversy, rather then letting them reflect after they had actually had the discussions.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm all for allowing the L-A-S model to work within the framework of scouting, but you have to use it when it's appropriate, not shoehorn it into every little thing you do. Share after you Act, and Act after you Learn. Consider the majesty of God's creations after you scale the peak, not when your head is hunched over a topo map planning the best route for patrol mates to take.

    The whole "Opening Exercises" plan strikes me as off as well, because Opening Exercises are conducted by the Laurels and the Priests.

  3. Thanks for your thoughts here--some points I hadn't considered. As I said, I never used the Troop Program Features so I'm not sure how much of this is genuinely new and what is simply reinvented. Good to get the perspective of those who have used it. And you're right, Eric, it probably won't really go anywhere, and probably isn't necessary.

    I agree with the "Opening Exercises" part of Allen's comment. The church handbook specifically states those are conducted by the 1st assistant in the Priest's quorum and the Laurel class president, and presided over by a member of the bishopric. It doesn't need to be a part of the Troop (deacons only) plan.

    I kind of like the "Duty to God" part at the front of the meeting. Having a person assigned in advance to share something they are doing is good. I think it could help . But I also wonder if it might not be better to do it as part of opening exercises and include the young women, too. I'm sure there could be arguments for both ways.

    I also really like the reflection at the end of each meeting. This is something I tried (not very successfully) to do as a Venturing advisor. I disagree that you're trying to get people to share about experiences they haven't had yet. It isn't intended to reflect on the planning portions or even the skill instruction. It immediately follows the interpatrol activity. You reflect on that activity. It should be considered a part of the interpatrol activity. Since it is short (2-3 minutes is sufficient) and led by the youth I don't think it comes across as "forcing" spiritual experiences on anyone. It is simply a time for youth to explore and discover meaning for themselves.

    I hadn't considered the missing Scoutmaster's minute (we didn't do that in Venturing). I wonder if the intent was to replace it with the reflection or if it was an oversight. However, I think the reflection has a different purpose and the Scoutmaster should keep his minute.

  4. After looking at these pages side-by-side, I think I understand what they're going for. They are in effect saying, "See, Scouting IS Aaronic Priesthood in action, it's the practical application lab. The activities dovetail nicely with more 'churchy' efforts, and a smart DQ/TQ/PQ adviser will encourage making each meeting meaningful, by respecting and fostering youth leadership, and using what already works." That's not to say that each one will be an epiphany-inducing, (manufactured) spiritual experience, but it will teach boys to recognize the spiritual component, and draw their own conclusions, from their own experiences.

    I think it's an effort to help the more recalcitrant Scouters among us to "get it" and start doing things better. But I maintain that those who don't get the training or read the materials in the first place won't get this message, and will continue with weekly Duty to Spalding, punctuated with the occasional "just show up, we'll be home by 9:30" camping trip.