The Scouting program was adopted by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a part of the activity program for the young men in May of 1913. Prior to this time, the young men participated in The Young Men’s Mutual Improvement Association (YMMIA). The spiritual and cultural aspects of scouting appealed to Church leaders and in 1911, the leaders of the YMMIA, looked into scouting as a possible activity for the young men.
Today the Church sponsors more Scouts and Scouting units than any other organization in the U.S. The program has also been expanded to include boys in the Primary beginning at age eight. The scouting program provides boys and young men with a place to practice gospel lessons and learn desirable character traits, citizenship, as well as physical and mental fitness.
Arch Monson, former National President of the Boy Scouts of America and not a member of the Mormon Church, said the following about the program:
- Since 1913 the Mormon Church has used the Scouting program as an integral part of its ministry to boys and young men. This unique relationship has been possible because of a close alignment of the goals and objectives between Scouting and the Church: namely, character building, citizenship training, personal fitness, and spiritual growth. We must pay a great tribute to those early Church leaders who in their great wisdom saw methods in the Scouting programs which, when properly applied, would bring youth into a closer and more meaningful relationship with their God and their fellowmen.
He went on to describe how Scouting can be so beneficial to young men and boys:
- The methods of Scouting provide a most effective means whereby boys can learn self-reliance, teamwork, duty to God and country, and respect for the beliefs and convictions of others—all by subscribing to the Scout Oath and Law and supporting it. In this way they develop a code of ethics and a sense of values by which they pattern their lives (Arch Monson, “Presentation of Scouting Award,” Ensign, May 1977, 35).
The Church has also formed strong ties with scouting programs outside of the U.S., especially in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain and others in Europe, Asia, South America and Africa. However, the largest number of scouting programs is in the U.S. and Canada. The Church does not however, sponsor Girl Scout programs, because the Church provides the Young Women Program.
President Gordon B. Hinckley has said of the Scouting program,
- I love the Scouting movement. If every boy in America knew and observed the Scout Oath, we would do away with most of the jails and prisons in this country ("Do Your Best, Prophet Urges Scouts," LDS Church News, Nov. 5, 1996).
- This program builds boys, builds their futures, leads them on the right path so they can make something of their lives. Every man or woman who helps a boy along the road of life not only does a great thing for him but does a great thing for society as a whole (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, p.570 - 571).
See also Eagle Scout
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