Friday, October 22, 2010

The Chartered Organization

There's a story making its way around about LDS parents who volunteered for a non-LDS Pack until their religion became known, at which point they were basically kicked out.

It's unfortunate that there is still misunderstanding about the nature of our beliefs and whether or not we are Christian. It's too bad helpful volunteers were turned away. It's also too bad people don't seem to understand that there's nothing wrong with the Christ Covenant Church deciding they didn't want the Stokes volunteering.

The chartered organization has a great deal to say about how the units it sponsors are run, including who it chooses as adult leaders of its programs, but there are many other unique things about how we implement Scouting.. Members of Varsity Teams can be aged 14-17, but in LDS units, they are only 14-15. (If you really want to get into it, the Varsity program was started by members of the LDS church and very few units are chartered by other groups, but that's a different conversation.) Venturing Crews can consist of both boys and girls aged 14-21, but in LDS units, they only take boys aged 16-17. LDS units don't use the Tiger Cubs program, which interestingly enough was the reason the Stokes didn't have their sons join the LDS Pack in their ward; they wanted their youngest son to be a Tiger Cub. Webelos aren't allowed to go camping in LDS units. Boys in an LDS-sponsored 11-year-old patrol can only go camping three nights during the year and are not allowed to have activities with the deacons, except in special, pre-approved occasions.

Need I go on? We do things differently. I know there are LDS units that have had non-LDS parents as volunteers, and I know there are LDS units that have rejected non-LDS parents as volunteers. There is not clear direction on the matter, so it's obviously something left up to local leaders to decide.

The LDS Church has a lot of sway over directions that BSA takes. We are the largest sponsor, both in terms of units and number of boys. It's my understanding that until recently, the Methodists had more boys, but since we had more sponsored units, we could still outvote them. As it is, they're not far behind us in terms of total number of boys, but we have over three times as many units as they do. Doing the math, you find that LDS units have on average the lowest number of boys per unit at 11, a full 2.5 SD below the mean of 27. We break up our units based on wards, which leads to an unnaturally small number of boys in each. Really, each quorum should be a patrol in a stake troop, but I digress.

We just really shouldn't get so worked up about others doing things differently than we expect, when we also do many things differently ourselves. Part of the strength of the BSA is the flexibility they give COs to adjust the program as they see fit. We benefit from it and should allow others to take advantage of that option as well.

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