Scouting as a Quorum Training Ground
Anyway, in response to a discussion on an e-mail list about Scouting, I wrote the following comments about why it might be good to charter all of the different programs, even if there aren't a lot of boys. Although I can't claim to be very effective at accomplishing these goals, I am grateful to be reminded of this vision. (I have edited my comments to make sense out of the original context.)
I hope you don't mind if I talk a little about quorum integrity. The most common interpretation that I have seen about quorum integrity is the assumption that it means quorum identity or separation. But integrity is an aspect of being complete or entire. As opposed to being fractured or incomplete.
The priesthood in the church is organized into quorums. Quorums are led by a quorum president. Because the church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, quorum presidents hold priesthood keys entitling them to receive revelation in regards to how Jesus Christ himself would lead and strengthen that quorum, as well as to fulfill the priesthood obligations of that quorum to strengthen His church. And with this incredible, awesome trust, we take young men starting at the age of 12 years of age, ordain them to the priesthood, and call one of them to become such a quorum president.
These young men will learn and grow in the priesthood and in the gospel, one day to become leaders of Elders quorums, wards, and stakes. More importantly, they will grow and become patriarchs of their families. During the years of their youth, they have the opportunity to gain experience in the priesthood. They might be able to learn how to work together as a quorum to accomplish a great work. They might learn to think about the needs of other individuals in the quorum rather than themselves. They might learn to plan quorum activities around these needs. There is so much for them to learn. How will they know unless we teach them?
They learn by practicing. But even as adult leaders, we often have a hard time knowing what skills they need and how to progress. This, I believe, is one of the great aspects of the Scouting program. Scouting provides a training framework for implementing the work of the quorum. I don't think that separate units for separate quorums is intended as a primarily structural aspect, maintaining distance between the quorums. Instead, I see it as emphasizing the importance of centering Aaronic Priesthood activities around the fundamental priesthood unit--the quorum.
Further, the three different Scouting programs--Boy Scouting, Varsity Scouting, and Venturing--each provide a unique, progressive set of skills and methodologies. I see them as a natural progression, so that by the time a young man is ordained an elder, he understands how quorums should work.
Shouldn't we ask, "How can we leverage the tools of Scouting to strengthen quorum integrity?" I propose that in most cases, we would be better off following the guideline of the handbook and chartering the three organizations, even if we can't implement what we perceive as the full program.