The bishop provides general direction for Scouting in the ward and ensures that it is properly organized and functioning. He is registered with the BSA and serves as the executive officer for Scouting units chartered by the ward.
The bishop’s counselors help the bishop by overseeing the Scouting programs for boys ages 8 through 11 and Aaronic Priesthood quorums.
The bishop assigns a counselor to serve as the ward’s representative to the local Scouting district and council. This counselor registers as the chartered organization representative (COR). He works with other leaders to:
- Charter all Scouting units in the ward annually.
- Register boys ages 8 through 11, young men ages 12 through 13, and their adult leaders. Young men ages 14 through 17 and their leaders should be registered when rank advancements are being pursued or as otherwise determined by local leaders and in consultation with the young man and his parents.
- Attend district committee meetings and the annual council business meeting.
- Complete Scout leader training.
- Encourage adults involved in Scouting to become properly trained.
- Help organize a functioning Scouting committee.
- Conduct the annual Friends of Scouting campaign.
- Help provide recognition for boys, young men, and their leaders.
Aaronic Priesthood Quorum Advisers (Ward Young Men Presidency)
Generally, Aaronic Priesthood quorum advisers serve as the adult leaders of the Scouting units in the ward. Both the adviser and the assistant adviser(s) attend meetings of the quorum and the Scouting unit and must be registered with the BSA. Adult advisers assisting teachers and priests with rank advancement should be registered with the BSA as assistant Scoutmasters. When requested, the Scoutmaster provides support to the assistant Scoutmasters assigned to the 11-year-old patrol and those assisting the teachers and priests.
Ward Primary Presidency
The ward Primary presidency, under the direction of a counselor in the bishopric, has responsibility for Scouting for boys ages 8 through 11. The Church does not participate in Scouting programs for boys younger than 8 years old. A member of the presidency is responsible to see that Scouting is organized appropriately. Additional resources are available at Scouting in Primary.
The presidency member should:
- Register with the BSA, receive BSA training, serve on the appropriate ward Scouting committees, and ensure that Church policies are followed.
- Coordinate Faith in God and Scouting programs.
- Encourage leaders to attend Scout leader training.
- Visit Scout meetings and activities to support the quality of the boys’ experiences.
- Help plan day camps and ensure that boys have an opportunity to participate in them.
Calling Adult Scouting Leaders
Worthy adults, whether members of the Church or not, may be called to serve as Scouting leaders. A current membership record of each member called to serve in Scouting should be in the local unit. The bishopric may call men or women to serve as Scouting leaders for Primary-age Scouts. Women do not serve as leaders for young men of Aaronic Priesthood age but may chair or serve on Scouting committees.
The BSA will complete a criminal background check on all new adult leaders as part of the registration approval process. This includes the screening of Social Security numbers. A Scout leader should not be sustained or set apart until two weeks after the properly signed adult application (524-501A) and a current Youth Protection certification have been submitted to the BSA local council. Priesthood leaders should also cooperate with BSA officials to resolve any issues that may arise.
Two registered adult leaders or one registered adult leader and a parent of a participant (one of whom must be 21 years of age or older) are required for all Scouting trips, outings, classes, and meetings. In situations that require personal conferences, such as a Scoutmaster’s conference or merit badge counseling, the meeting should be conducted in view of other adults or youth. When camping, no youth is permitted to sleep in the tent of an adult other than his own parent or guardian.
Adult leaders must respect the privacy of youth in situations such as changing clothes and taking showers at camp, and they should intrude only when health and safety require doing so. Adults should also protect their own privacy in similar situations.
On May 8, 2018, a joint statement was released by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) stating that, “effective on December 31, 2019, the Church will conclude its relationship as a chartered organization with all Scouting programs around the world.” Together, the Church and the BSA have decided that all LDS unit charters will be automatically renewed with an expiration date of December 31, 2019. Since LDS units will be automatically renewed, it is important that the Updating Rosters process outlined in the resource “Updating BSA Rosters for LDS Units” be followed. This process will ensure that all youth and adults participating in Scouting are properly registered and are eligible for all benefits of the full Scouting program.
All fees for unit liability insurance and annual registration, including the fees for those of other faiths who join Latter-day Saint units, are paid directly from Church headquarters to the BSA National Council.
The Church does not sponsor Scouting for girls or young women. The Primary and Young Women programs of the Church are designed to meet the needs and interests of girls and young women.
Leaders should follow the budget allowance guidelines in Handbook 2 to fund Scouting (see 8.13.7, 11.8.7, 13.2.8, 13.2.9, 13.5, and 13.6.8). Ward budgets should be used to purchase Scouting awards and materials, as determined by local leaders. Commercially produced or packaged goods or services should not be sold to fund these purchases.
Scouting units may participate in Scouting shows, camps, and other BSA activities that involve the sale of tickets by boys or young men, as long as all other budget allowance guidelines are met.
Friends of Scouting
The Church supports the BSA's annual Friends of Scouting drive. Stake presidents and bishops oversee the drive in their units. The objective is to give individuals and families opportunity to contribute financially to Scouting and to account for contributions received. All donations are voluntary and should be solicited in a kind and caring way. Funds raised are for the benefit of local Councils.
Young men and adult leaders registered in a Scouting unit are encouraged to wear the appropriate uniform. No young man or boy should be excluded from Scouting if he is unable to purchase a uniform. Abbreviated or simple uniforms and insignia, which have been approved by the BSA, are appropriate and encouraged.
The bishopric organizes the ward Scouting committee to ensure that Scouting functions properly. Several capable adults (including fathers and mothers of boys and young men) are called to serve as committee members. One of the committee members is called to serve as the chair. Qualified adults, including those who are not members of the Church, may serve on these committees. Each committee should include a member of the bishopric.
Scouting committees should (1) meet as needed to discuss Scouting in the ward, (2) support and assist Scouting activities, and (3) see that the Scouting units operate in accordance with Church and BSA policies and standards.
Planning for Scouting activities should be done in presidency meetings. Sunday quorum meetings should not become Scout planning sessions.
Each Scouting unit should be led by a young man who is nominated by the bishopric and sustained by the quorum members. For Scouting purposes, this constitutes an election. This leader is usually the quorum president or an assistant in the priests quorum but may be another worthy young man, whether a member of the Church or not. Other youth leaders of the Scouting unit are nominated by the quorum presidency, approved by the bishopric, and sustained by quorum members.
All Scouting meetings should open and close with prayer and may include an inspirational message by the adult unit leader (such as a Scoutmaster’s Minute).
Scouting for Young Men Age 14 and Older
Young men age 14 or older who have the desire to continue to participate in Scouting should be registered with the BSA and supported and encouraged by parents and quorum and Young Men leaders.
Camping and Sabbath Day Observance
The Church does not approve of hiking and camping trips on Sunday. Scout groups should not travel to or from camps on Sunday.
Priesthood leaders may give approval for a Church-sponsored Scouting unit to participate in BSA-sponsored national jamborees that occur over the Sabbath. Scout uniforms may be worn during sacrament services at these events.
Sacrament meetings are not to be held—and the sacrament is not to be administered—outside the boundaries of the ward or stake where the priesthood leaders preside. Any exceptions must be approved by a member of the Presidency of the Seventy.
Where units choose to participate in Scouting Month, boys and leaders do not wear their uniforms to regular Sunday meetings or while administering and passing the sacrament.
Young Men and Boys of Other Faiths
Young men and boys of other faiths who agree to abide by Church standards should be welcomed and encouraged to participate in Scouting activities. Expenses for their participation are paid in the same manner as for other youth. Voluntary contributions from their families may be accepted and handled in accordance with Church policy.
Scouting for Boys and Young Men with Disabilities
As possible, programs and activities should be planned to include Scouts with disabilities to the extent their abilities will allow. More information is available at scouting.org and from BSA local council offices. See also Handbook 2, 21.1.26.
Specialty, Multiple-Unit, and Long-Term Camps
Stake or ward Scout camps that involve more than two units and that exceed five consecutive nights for Boy Scouts need to follow BSA national camp standards and be authorized by the local council or they cannot be advertised as “Scout” camps. If long-term camps do not qualify as authorized Scout camps, they will not be covered by BSA liability insurance.
Official Scouting Activities and Unauthorized Activities
An “official Scouting activity” is an activity that is consistent with the established programs, values, charter, bylaws, and rules and regulations of the BSA. The BSA’s Guide to Safe Scouting provides important planning guidelines and a list of unauthorized and restricted activities. Unauthorized activities are not considered official Scouting activities.
Volunteers (registered and unregistered), units, and chartered organizations jeopardize insurance coverage for themselves and their organization if they engage in unauthorized activities. Leaders should not put themselves, others, or the Church at risk. (See the BSA’s Guide to Safe Scouting, section X, “Insurance.”)
Each Scouting unit should be led by a young man who is nominated by the bishopric and sustained by the quorum members. For Scouting purposes, this constitutes an election. This leader is usually the quorum president or an assistant in the priests quorum but may be another worthy young man, whether a member of the Church or not. Other youth leaders of the Scouting units are nominated by the quorum presidency, approved by the bishopric, and sustained by the quorum members.
Safety guidelines can be found on safety.lds.org.