The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints feels very strongly about the Boy Scout movement. Current church President Thomas S. Monson has said: "In this world where some misguided men and women strive to tear down and destroy great movements such as Scouting, I am pleased to stand firm for an organization that teaches duty to God and country, that embraces the Scout Law. Yes, an organization whose motto is 'Be prepared' and whose slogan is 'Do a good turn daily."
On another occasion President Monson said: "Brethren, if ever there were a time when the principles of Scouting were vitally needed—that time is now. If ever there were a generation who would benefit by keeping physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight—that generation is the present generation."
Because the church sees Scouting as such an important influence in the life of a young man, every local church unit (called a ward) in the United States charters Scouting units. In addition, the church pays the registration cost for any boy or young man within the ward boundaries who wishes to participate in Scouting, whether a member of the church or not. This policy has provided countless young men with opportunities to participate in the Scouting movement. The benefits to those young men, and the world around them, are clear to anyone who has been involved in Scouting. It also results in a few challenges that may (or may not) be seen elsewhere
Scouting, conveniently, has several different programs which correspond roughly to the different age groups of boys and young men in the LDS church. Cub Scouts for primary children up to age 11; Boy Scouts for the 11 year-old's and the Deacons quorum (12-13 year-old's); Varsity Scouts for the Teachers quorum (14-15 year-old's); Venturing for the Priests quorum (16-18 year-old's).
LDS Scouting leaders typically don't volunteer themselves. Like every other job in the church, those who fill these positions are asked, or "called" to accept an assignment. We believe that our church "callings" are inspired by the Lord. This should result in the best scout leaders on the planet. And often it does. But this practice also results in other challenges that may not be seen elsewhere.
I want to be clear that I do not intend to be critical of the church, Scouting, or the way the church administers it's Scouting programs. I honestly believe that, when implemented correctly, Scouting is one of the best things our young men could involve themselves in. Some would say that Scouting isn't working anymore and that the church should do away with it. I couldn't disagree more. After having poured my heart and soul into the Venturing program in my ward, I think I can see why the church has endorsed Scouting for so long. I can also see that it would be a mistake to end that relationship.
If there are problems with our Scouting units; if things don't seem to be working very well, chances are there is a person somewhere who isn't doing things the way they should. Perhaps they haven't received the training they need. Perhaps they are trying to separate Scouting from the Priesthood. Whatever the case, most of the "problems" we run into are not with the program, but with people who aren't using the programs.
Many people have seen lives saved as a result of the Scouting program. But more importantly, many of us have seen Scouting save souls. Let's use the programs as they were intended, and watch what happens.