Friday, May 9, 2014

New Programs

There are changes coming for the Cub Scout program.  Venturing is changing too.  It is said that nothing in life is assured except change.  But why the change now and what is the goal?  Under the BSA National Strategic 411 Plan an assessment was made to insure that the all Scouting programs are still dynamic and relevant to today's youth and families.  The findings proved that Scouting aims and methods are still relevant in today's world such as character development, participatory citizenship, personal fitness, outdoor skills and awareness and leadership/life skills.  In fact these are more important than ever before.  The new Cub program is focused on core adventures that help instill our timeless values in a better and improved way.  Last month I was at one of our great state parks in Utah with my neighborhood troop.  Our Scouts all wore their activity shirts which made a great impression on the many visitors who were there which raised the bar on our behavior and demeanor.  I saw other Scouts there with no identifying uniform.  One boy's shirt caught my attention.  The words printed in big bold letters on the front said 'It's not about you - It's all about me!'  I'm not sure if he knew that his shirt was giving the wrong message, a selfish message but certainly it was not the message I would want any Cub Scout or younger sibling to emulate.  True leaders care more about others than themselves. Scouting needs to so inviting, so fun and so inspiring that every youth who joins will be fortified with values to help them make good choices all their lives and become tomorrow's leaders.

 In Wood Badge training there is a session entitled 'Leading Change'.  Scouts deal with change every day as the grow and mature.  Adults watch these changes with great anticipation, hoping for a better tomorrow as we help youth be empowered by Scouting values.  I know of no better Scout Youth training that creates a culture of leadership and change then NYLT Silver Moccasin, On Belay and Kodiak.  For adults it is Wood Badge Leadership training.

 May each of us help create the exciting culture that embraces change so we can draw in more youth and protect them with adventures that last a lifetime.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Great Salt Lake Council

Message of Celebration to our Wonderful Volunteers

Founded in 1910 the Boy Scouts of America is the largest and most enduring, training and development organization for young men in the United States.  History says that youth of that day were perhaps losing their way in following the path of the American charter and values.

This year we are celebrating 100 years of this movement in Utah.  Since the founding of BSA and it’s coming to Utah more than 110 million American boys (as well as girls beginning in 1969 with the Exploring – now Venturing and Learning for Life – programs) have passed through Scouting.    The impact of these tens of millions of Scouts over 100 years on American life and culture is all but immeasurable. 

From the book Four Percent: The story of uncommon youth in a century of American Life Michael Malone points out BSA quickly became an icon.  In recent surveys Boy Scouts of America is still seen overwhelming an important organization for youth develop.  The recognition and retention of current and former members of BSA of our values, the Scout Oath and Law, is off the chart.  This movement is still valued highly by the American public despite recent articles.  A scout in a uniform is a symbol of resourcefulness and skill, knowing and doing their duty to God, Country and helping other people at all times.

With such recognition we have become a target for cartoonist, satirist and social activist.  I reaffirm with all of us that Scouting is a youth character development and leadership training organization.

 Our mission is…

“Our mission – prepare all eligible youth to make ethical and moral choice over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law.”

Our vision is….

“Our vision – provide opportunities, resources and support to all charter partners the will provide the promise of Scouting and a quality Scouting program to every youth within the boundaries of this Council.”

Now we have a great work to do.  This work is just as vital today as it was in 1910 if not more so.  Reaching out and inviting and rescuing our youth is an enormous work.  We need all hands on deck and all hearts committed to this sacred almighty work .   Scouting here in the Great Salt Lake Council has been strengthened by the new membership policy.  It has restated with emphasis on our duty to God value.  We now have a behavior statement.  Consider the choices young people have to make today.  Joining together with parents, faith and community partners Scouting is still the right place for our youth today.  I mention early of the term that many Scouts have “passed through Scouting”.  We have 2.6 million youth passing through right now, 76,000 right here in this Council.  Some are just coming in as Tiger Cubs.  Some are just leaving as seasoned 18 year olds Scouts and Venturers.  The real question for today is not whether Scouting is relevant or forgetting its traditions.  The question is …are the youth who are passing through Scouting having Scouting values passing into them?  Additional isn’t every youth in our neighborhood and community in need of Scouting passing through and into them?

This movement was inspired at the beginning and I believe it still is in God’s hands.  May we have the wisdom, personal integrity and strength to help Him and do our Duty to Him to prepare our youth for the next 100 years.

God bless you for your service to youth and the Boy Scouts of America.

Bryant S. Davis

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

September 2012

A wise old man once told me…to prepare our youth for the important leadership roles of tomorrow don’t do anything for them that they can do for themselves.  Our mission is to instill timeless values found in the Scout Oath and Law.  The magic of Scouting is that all the methods we use help instill values.  Our vision should be to prepare these youth to be responsible participating citizens and LEADERS who are guided by the Scout Oath and Law.  Scouting provides the premiere leadership development program for youth today yet its effectiveness in leadership development is dependent on the adult who is guiding the den, pack, troop, team or crew.

One outdoor adventure this summer brought this message home to me.   Our troop 1916 went on a fly fishing/canoeing trip to Moon Lake in the Uintah National Forest.  We brought with us our fly fishing merit badge counselor.  At this camp all ten of the requirements (skills) were taught and practiced.  Since we had many boys that wanted to participate and limited resources we devised a plan that allowed the first boys who learned the skills to teach other boys with adults on the side lines coaching and guiding where needed.  Each boy tied their flies, practiced tying knots, studied insects that fish eat, practiced some casting techniques and much more.  The ultimate fun part of course was in the canoes with fly rods laying out lines on the water and fish actually taking the flies.  What was best for me was to watch boys teaching boys, practicing leadership skills using the values of doing their best, using good citizenship skills in a patrol setting.  Some examples of values used were helpful (willing to share knowledge and skills), kind (patience in teaching peers), courteous (civility in manners) and obedient (follow through on assignments).  In our reflection of this adventure we adults felt we far too often jump in and did what the boy could or should be doing.  It is a given that when we adults take over a meeting or activity the development of leadership development is denied to those who we are trying to teach.  The reality is that youth especially our Varsity and Ventures will let you do it.  If this happens you risk your activity to compete with entertainment found in today’s world which is pretty tough competition.

To all of our many Cub Den leaders, Scoutmasters, Varsity Coaches and Venture crew advisors I would ask us to consider our vision of where we want our boys to be.  Always be asking what is the vision here.   Is there a better way in the doing of our planning, executing and evaluating our program that will develop leadership skills?  This emphasis can actually change behavior and improve outcomes of any activity.


Comments and thoughts are welcome.  Cheerio and good day!


The Boy Scouts of America will prepare every eligible youth in America to become a responsible, participating citizen and leader who is guided by the Scout Oath and Law

Monday, May 7, 2012

May 7, 2012

         February, 2007 email response.  It is vital that we, as Priesthood and Aaronic Priesthood/Young Men leaders take training seriously. We are part of this great partnership with Boy Scouts of America for very specific reasons: If we fully participate, our young men will be blessed and better prepared for missions and for the blessings of the temple. Part of the participation is training – especially Wood Badge training.

          If we are really intent in touching the lives of our young men, in building, as Elder Ballard has challenged," the greatest generation of missionaries this world has ever seen...," then we will do whatever is necessary to help us to accomplish that — including getting trained.  For most of us, Wood Badge is life-changing because it has to do more with vision and understanding than anything else.

          Just to be candid with you, I struggle with the goals of "1 per ward per year" or "two per stake per year" or "3 1/2 per unit per two - three years..."  And even more ridiculous is the goal that a leader take Wood Badge within 1-2 years after he has taken Basic Training.  Statistics tell us that by that time, 90% of our leaders will be doing something else!

          I suggest that it would be helpful to re-read D&C 128:19-22 and see just how important training was to the Prophet Joseph.  Granted, his training came from beyond the veil.  However, without it, he could not have accomplished what he did.

          Just because this is God's work, why do we think that we do not need to be trained in that program which the Church has espoused for nearly 100 years as the "activity arm of the Aaronic Priesthood?"  And the reason why Scouting training is vital is that, by and large, we do a very poor job in training the leaders we call to Aaronic Priesthood/Young Men callings — and yet expect them to work miracles in the lives of their young men.  One of the great blessings of our partnership with Scouting is the marvelous training that is provided.

          The call is for every leader, including stake presidency members working with youth, high councilors, stake Young Men presidents, Bishoprics, ward Young Men leaders and Scouting leaders to be trained.  By my count that is, at the least, 7-10 per ward and 50-75 per stake.  I know companies that don't even allow a new employee to step into the plant or office until he has received initial training.  They do that because they know that, without training, most individuals will be ineffective in the job they were hired to do.  And yet, we call leaders to strengthen, motivate and prepare young men for missionary service and life in general — without one iota of training.

          In contrast to that, I know one bishop who has 17 Wood Badge trained leaders in his ward.  Imagine the strength of their youth program.  I was in another ward the other day — a new ward with little Scout tradition.  I was there because my grandson, now 11 years old, was getting his Second Class and First Class badges.  As I spoke with a member of the bishopric after the Court of Honor, he indicated that their entire Scouting team — Bishopric, Young Men presidency and Scouting leaders were heading to Wood Badge in October.  I can only imagine what a great blessing that will be to the boys those leaders serve.  INSTEAD OF WORRYING ABOUT 1 FROM A WARD AND TWO FROM A STAKE — WHY DON'T WE JUST COMMIT TO GET EVERY LEADER TRAINED, INCLUDING [YOUTH PROTECTION TRAINING,] FAST START, BASIC TRAINING AND WOOD BADGE IMMEDIATELY AFTER THEY ARE CALLED.  Once a priesthood leader makes that type of an investment in the training of a leader, he will be less likely to release him after 6 months of faithful service — but will leave him in long enough to have a positive effect in the life of a boy.  [By the way, it’s interesting to note that 100% of the members of the two most recent Young Men General Presidencies were and are Wood Badge trained.  And those that weren’t when they were called completed the Wood Badge Course within 6 months after their call.  That alone should send a fairly clear message on the importance of training.]

          There is one other reason why training is important.  In the BSA, we have approximately 17% of the boys registered nationally.  However, [in 2005] 50% of the fatalities arising from activity-related accidents were in LDS sponsored units.  As we have evaluated each of these, there are three reasons for these accidents:  (1) lack of training (most didn't even know what the BSA "Guide to Safe Scouting" was);  (2) lack of tenure; and (3) lack of common sense.

          One final thought and then I'll stop.  With some exceptions, generally the best Duty to God progress is made in those units that also have vibrant Scouting programs.  The lessons on achievement programs learned in Scouting are the same that will make Duty to God effective.  I seldom see a ward or stake that has a vibrant, exciting, building Duty to God program, that does not also have a great Scouting program.  [As one of our great Church leaders said, “I can’t imagine a fully functioning Aaronic Priesthood Quorum without a vibrant Scout program.”]

          Not long ago, I spoke with a ward YM leader who was excited about the Duty to God program they had for their priests.  "One week we have one mission president come and talk to the boys about this subject, and the next week, we have a returned missionary come and talk about that subject, ...etc."  I asked, "Are they all lecture/discussions in the Church building?"  "Yes," was the answer.  "And do they constitute your full activity program for priests, except for the joint activities?"  Again the answer was "Yes."  Then I asked, "And are your priests excited about what you are doing?"  After some reflection, this Young Men president said, "You know, they really aren't.  We are having a very hard time getting them to attend."  Had this leader been to Wood Badge, he would have learned early that when you take "fun" out of youth programs — most of the youth take themselves out as well.  Scouting teaches us how to build character and spiritual depth in our young men, and how to help them become involved in service and making a difference in the lives of others — while they are having fun.  I, personally, am grateful for the effect of my own personal attendance at Wood Badge at Camp Maple Dell 23 years ago.  I may not remember how to make a woggle, but I can still recall my feelings experienced during the training — it was life changing for me.

          Thanks for all you do to strengthen the programs of the Aaronic Priesthood within your area.  I had not intended to be so long-winded, but have strong feelings — as if you couldn't tell.

Best wishes,
Charles Dahlquist

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Reflections from the President

            Recently, there have been a number of articles about the cost of Scouting. As President of the Great Salt Lake Council, many of these inquiries have been addressed to me. For one thing, I am probably the wrong person to talk to about the cost of Scouting. I have five daughters. I not only know the cost of Scouting, but let me tell you about the cost of cheerleading – and cheer costumes -- of dance lessons, and dance costumes, and entries to dance recitals. I am not opposed to those, particularly because I have seen how each of these activities has made a profound effect in the lives, the talents and the self-esteem of the little (and sometimes big) girls who participate.
            As the topic was raised again the other day, I thought of my experience in Scouting – as a boy, and now as an adult leader. As a boy, I had the normal feelings of insecurity, of self-doubt and wondered about my self-worth. However, although our Scout program in Boise was less than optimal, I have thought about the value of being a patrol leader and learning to lead; of earning a merit badge and learning (1) a skill; (2) that I REALLY can do something of value; and (3) that I really am a person of worth; of memorizing the Scout Oath and Law and realizing the worth of moral values and standards in this great country of ours; of saluting the flag as a Cub Scout, and realizing, for the first time, why my dad feels so strongly for those values of freedom and liberty for which he fought in World War II, and which were the watch words of his life. 

          A commodity’s net value is often expressed price, less the cost. So while it is true that it takes money, facilities, skilled and visionary professionals, and devoted and trained volunteers to make the program work in the lives of the youth we serve, I like to focus the Scout Movement in terms of what it GIVES BACK to the community – the local, regional, state, national and world community. So, for starters, let’s list a few:

            Finally, the value of the over 30,000 volunteers that serve in the Great Salt Lake Council. All of us, as Scouting volunteers, are normal, garden variety members of the community , who go to work each day, work hard, try to make a difference in our profession or trade and make enough to live on, to support our families, to give some back to our Church and community; and to save a little each month. We are school teachers and school principals; engineers; construction workers; small business owners; government workers; bankers; landscapers; airline employees; physicians, nurses and others involved in the health care field; real estate developers; insurance salesmen; convenience store and grocery store employees; air traffic controllers; policemen; firemen; lawyers and judges; carpenters; manufacturers and tradesmen; photographers, and the list goes on and on – 30,000 strong. 

           While many make significant amounts in their professions, to be conservative, I have chosen to use the average salary for a teacher in the state of Utah in 2010 – approximately $20 per hour -- to estimate the monetary value of the service rendered. Most Scoutmasters spend AT LEAST 10 hours per week in Scout Troop Meetings, preparation for the meetings, Scoutmaster Conferences, training meetings, preparing for monthly camp outs, informal interviews with and visits to his Scouts, reviewing materials, etc. While some spend more and some spend less – and I have not counted 40 hours for a week-long camp – I think that 10 hours per week is a fairly normal amount of time spent by a volunteer Scout leader. Ten hours times 50 weeks (some Scoutmasters only get one week of vacation, because they spend one week with the Scouts) =500 volunteer hours per year PER VOLUNTEER. That amount times the 30,000 volunteers = 15,000,000 million man hours devoted to providing a quality Scouting experience to the Council’s over 73,000 Scouts, including providing leadership experiences, teaching them moral and ethical values that will help them make responsible decisions over the period of their lives – and providing role models for today’s youth – at a time when they sorely need heroes and examples. Multiply 15,000,000 man-hours by $20.00 per hour and you come up with $300,000,000 in volunteer service being provided to help today’s youth be “Prepared. For Life!”

             Someone recently asked me if Scouting today was as relevant and needed as it was 50 or 100 years ago. I responded with a resounding, “Yes! It is not only more relevant, but never in the history of the world has there been a greater need for the timeless values that Scouting teaches. And never has there been a greater need for the proper ethical, moral and physical education of boys, to help them be prepared to be men who can lead with ethical and moral values.” Tom Brokaw was once quoted as saying: “In this country it’s relatively easy to make a living, but it’s tough to make a difference.” Thanks to all the dedicated professionals and volunteers in the Great Salt Lake Council who strive daily to make a difference in the life of a boy. I’m honored to be associated in this great work with each of you.

             Next time, I might reflect a little about the value of Council Camps in the health and well-being of our youth…or possibly something else. We’ll see. Until then, Good Scouting and Make it a GREAT day!

A Plea To All Scouters

Today I spoke with a LDS Stake President who is as dedicated as any I know in his desire to help young men reach their potential; be prepared to serve full time missions (and stay until the end); become righteous husbands and fathers; and serve faithfully in their communities, churches and families.  Recently, in one of this Stake President’s Wards, a new Bishop, 27 years of age, had asked his Ward Young Men President to handle re-chartering in his ward.  Unfortunately, that brother, for whatever reason, did not fulfill his assignment. 
In an attempt to “get the job done” a devoted District Scouter decided that rather then roll up his sleeves and pitch in to help solve the problem, he would write an email chastising the Bishop for “abrogating his responsibility” in re-chartering all of his boys, and passing it to a brother who didn’t know what he was doing. 
As I heard this story and felt the sincere desire of that Stake President to use Scouting in an appropriate way to strengthen the Aaronic Priesthood, my heart went out to that priesthood leader, who found himself truly irritated that someone would criticize a young Bishop, who was, obviously, overwhelmed already.  I also found myself sympathizing with that Bishop who, I am sure, was carrying a greater load than most know, including being a young husband, father and a very new Bishop in a ward with very little leadership and depth; as well as working to build his career - - and just barely being able to keep up in all of those areas.  When he was called, that Bishop was appropriately told to delegate those things which he did not personally need to do.  As a result he delegated and the brother, his Ward Young Men President, failed.  By the way, I also found my heart going out to that Ward Young Men President who was given the responsibility for re-chartering.  I have a feeling, based upon my conversation with the Stake President that he, too, was new and inexperienced—both in Scouting and in the re-chartering process.  My heart also went out to this good District Officer who is trying to do the very best he can to move the work along in spite of some very archaic tools. 
As I have thought about that experience, I’ve come up with some thoughts that might be helpful as we work with our charter partners to assist them to help their young men “make moral and ethical choices over their lifetimes by applying the principals of the Scout Oath and Law.”  (1) Never forget that people are more important than programs.  (2) Never forget that principles of Scouting, including those articulated in the Scout Law (like “courteous” and “kind” and “helpful”), are important in dealing with our relationships with our charter partners.  (3) Don’t get so caught up in “harping” about Friends of Scouting, re-chartering, training, etc. (the check-off items), that you forget to offer assistance to Priesthood leaders or to our charter partners in each of those areas, as well as in the areas they feel most unprepared, or those where they perceive they need help the most.  Take an opportunity every now and then to ask Priesthood leaders informally, “President (or Bishop), where do you feel the most ‘uncovered’ in your Scouting program and how can I be helpful?”  (4) If a Ward is behind in its Friends of Scouting or re-chartering, offer to take another fellow Scouter and go in and provide some additional manpower to assist and lift the load.  In many of our units, they are so short on manpower that they do not have full Young Men Presidencies or even a full Elders Quorum Presidency.  The least we can do is to help lift the load.  (5) Remember that the handbook is not a “hammer” but a “help” and a guide for local leaders.  We will never lift and assist our charter partners if we are merely harping on them and reminding them what needs to be done in the program.  Our work is to assist and to lift and to help and to serve.
One final thought: most of us did not gain our enthusiasm for Scouting as the result of a “lecture” or “dressing-down,” but, rather, by experiencing the magic and vision of Scouting in the lives of Scouts and their families as well as those they serve.  We fell in love with the program around a camp fire, in a Court of Honor, a Pack Meeting, while doing an Eagle project or at a Scout camp.  Our charter partners are no different.  While many of them are already converted to the Scouting program as part of their organization’s youth activity program, others have not yet had that experience.  Our charge, as Council and District leaders, as Commissioners, as Scout-servants, is to help them have the “AaHa” experience along the Scouting trail.  The best way we can do that is to look for every opportunity to help lift the administrative load on their shoulders and then invite them to participate in the fun and excitement of Scouting.
            As a Council Key 3, we stand ready and fully committed to help and support our devoted Charter partners in every way we can.  May Heaven bless us to do our best as we serve these great leaders of youth.