• 08 Feb 2020 : Vanguard Scouting Program Launch Date - A new organization of LDS Scouters launches group to continue working with Scouting organizations around the world to build bridges of faith. This date coincides with the 110th Anniversary of the charter of the Boy Scouts of America.

Program Overview

Officially called Vanguard International Scouting Association, On January 1, 2020, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Church) discontinued its role as a chartered organization with all Scouting programs around the world including the Boy Scouts of America. The Church has for over 100 years been a great supporter of Scouting in many countries and many have benefited greatly because of this. President George Albert Smith once said, “I feel grateful to the Lord that Sir Robert Baden-Powell was impressed—may I say, inspired—to give Scouting to the world” (Improvement Era, Sept. 1948, 558).

Recognizing that the Church has concluded its formal relationships with Scouting, many have felt a strong prompting to organize an International Scouting Association for members and friends of the Church. This association will provide a way to connect with those who recognize what Scouting has done and will continue to do around the world.

Realizing that many Latter-day Saints desire to continue their Scouting experience, the Church has encouraged them to join community Scouting units. Therefore, as with other denominations participating in Scouting, Latter-day Saints continuing their Scouting involvement desire an independent organization to support their efforts in Scouting, domestically and internationally. Hence the creation of Vanguard International Scouting Association.

History of Vanguard

Why the name Vanguard? Vanguard is defined as an adventurer in a new territory or an unconquered place. We are truly embarking on an adventure as Latter-day Saint Scouters begin a new era of Scouting. The Vanguard name has historical significance within the Church. In the early years of Scouting in the Church, Church leaders emphasized affiliation with national Scouting organizations all over the world. The Vanguard program was initiated for Church units outside of the United States where no national Scouting program was available. Membership was open to all youth ages twelve to fourteen, including those who were not Church members. Curriculum included activities, advancement, achievement, and spiritual growth.

Program Obectives

The purposes of Vanguard International Scouting Association are to:

  1. Represent Scouting by members and friends of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), other National Scouting Organizations (NSOs) and to the World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM).
  2. Encourage membership in and affiliation with Scouting organizations by members and friends of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints worldwide.
  3. Develop a Religious Emblems Award to help Latter-day Saint Scouts and Scouting leaders learn and apply their Duty to God.
  4. Perform those other functions that will encourage active involvement in the Scouting programs of the BSA, and other NSOs worldwide by members and friends of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Program Activities

In order to fulfil the purposes set for the above, Vanguard International Scouting Association will be involved in the following activities:

  1. Serve as a liaison between Scouts and Scouters who are members and friends of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and BSA, other NSOs and WOSM.
  2. Represent Latter-day Saint Scouters on the BSA National Relationship Committee and other BSA committees and encourage active participation on BSA committees at all levels: National, Regional, Area, Council and District.
  3. Provide and coordinate, in connection with local Church leaders, Latter-day Saint chaplain services at Philmont Scout Ranch, National and World Jamborees and other Scouting encampments.
  4. Represent Latter-day Saint Scouts, Scouters and Scouting families at BSA National Jamborees, World Scout Jamborees and other Scouting events by providing Latter-day Saint Scouting exhibits, sponsoring Latter-day Saint Scouting events, etc.
  5. Provide a forum for connecting Latter-day Saint Scouters across the world to help them be more effective in using Scouting to further the youth objectives of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
  6. Provide communications to Latter-day Saints involved in Scouting and others domestically and across the world concerning the benefits of Scouting in helping their youth reach their potential, develop life skills and develop character traits, and prepare them…for Life.
  7. Continue to build bridges of “friendship, fellowship and faith” with our Scouting friends from all different backgrounds and denominations across the world.
  8. Develop and promote a Religious Emblems Award to help Latter-day Saint Scouts, Scouting leaders and families learn and apply their Duty to God. Provide written materials to describe the requirements for Scouts and leaders to earn the award and provide helps and materials to assist them in earning the award.
  9. Sponsor annual Conferences for Latter-day Saint Scouters at Philmont Scout Ranch.
  10. Develop materials to support the efforts of Latter-day Saint Scouters worldwide.
  11. Work with the BSA for needed major maintenance of the Latter-day Saint chapel at Philmont Scout Ranch.
  12. Work with BSA to develop marketing and recruitment materials to help grow Scouting, both domestically and internationally, among those of the Latter-day Saint faith.
  13. Encourage occasional Scouting encampments for Latter-day Saint Scouts, normally on a Scouting regional or area basis.
  14. Perform those other functions that will encourage active involvement in the Scouting programs of the BSA, other NSOs worldwide by members and friends of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
  15. Provide ideas to show how the work in various national Scouting programs can be used in the new Church Children and Youth Development program. The intent is to give a guide to the complimentary nature of the two programs and to show that youth efforts in one can also serve the youth in the other.

Vision Statement

The vision of Vanguard International Scouting Association is to provide effective representation of Latter-day Saint Scouts and Scouters and their values worldwide and actively encourage Latter-day Saints to become involved in Scouting.

Mission Statement

The mission of Vanguard International Scouting Association is to represent Latter-day Saint Scouts and Scouters worldwide, through effective association with WOSM, BSA and other National Scouting Organizations; to ensure that Scouting continues to be consistent with Latter-day Saint beliefs and values and continues to meet the needs of Latter-day Saints in preparing their youth for full time missionary service, and a lifetime of service to their families, Church, professions and communities; and to prepare them for Life.

LDS Values Statement

The values of Vanguard International Scouting Association are to strive to live, model and teach the Scout Oath and Law in all our efforts, associations and dealings with families, Scouts, Scouters, WOSM, BSA, NSOs, Vanguard donors and the community on behalf of Latter-day Saint Scouts and Scouters.

Vanguard Awards

Scouting Religious Knot

Scouting Religious Knot for Youth

Scouting Religious Knot for Adults

The scouting religious knot is awarded for a scout to complete the "Religious Emblems Program of their Faith".

Other Religious Scouting Programs

This "religious emblems" do not need to be given out by a Church and in fact many are not so.

  • Baptist church - They have both a large conference association but many thousands of "Independent Baptist" churches.
  • Catholic Church - represented by the National Catholic Committee on Scouting -
  • Orthodox Christian - (Eastern Orthodox Committee) - portantly to be the “rod” for the scouts and scouters to hold onto.

Theses and other association from other faith groups provide resources to Councils/Districts, local camps, high adventure camps, and Jamborees. The Vanguard Scouting model follows these example - an independent organization that maintains very close ties with the main faith, creating a "rod" that other scouts can hold onto.

To find scouting in your country see the list at World Organization of the Scout Movement

LDS Church Still Supports Scouting

"A Scoutmaster's Prayer - Jan 2017 Ensign Magazine

"While the Church will no longer be a chartered partner of BSA or sponsor Scouting units after

December 31, 2019, it continues to support the goals and values reflected in the Scout Oath and Scout Law and expresses its profound desire for Scouting’s continuing and growing success in

the years ahead." (Official Statement 8 May 2018)[1]

“The Church honors Scouting organizations for their continued goal to develop character and instill values in youth. The lives of hundreds of thousands of young men, along with their families and communities, have been blessed by Scouting organizations worldwide.”[2]

"At the 2018 National Annual Meeting of the Boy Scouts of America, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles made the following statements, “This isn’t a divorce. It’s growth. We’re not in any way disavowing any of those virtues of Scouting. It is just the charter part that we are separating from…We are friends now and we will be friends forever. In 18 months when our charters are finished, we hope that many LDS youth who wish to do so will still choose to be in Scouting.”[3]

And here is a statement from President Monson - reprinted by him in 2013 Ensign Magazine at a time when the church knew they needed to revise for a new youth program:

"“In this world where some misguided men and women strive to tear down and destroy great movements such as Scouting, I am pleased to stand firm for an organization that teaches duty to God and country, that embraces the Scout Law. Yes, an organization whose motto is ‘Be prepared’ and whose slogan is ‘Do a good turn daily.’ The Aaronic Priesthood prepares boys for manhood and the weightier duties of the Melchizedek Priesthood. Scouting helps our boys to walk uprightly the priesthood path to exaltation.” (President Thomas S. Monson, “The Upward Reach,” Ensign, Nov. 1993, 48. Reprinted Ensign Oct 2013)[4]

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles serves as the Church’s representative as a National Executive Board Member of the Boy Scouts of America. “I wish to commend the BSA leaders who have been so supportive of the Church’s decision to cease participating in the Varsity and Venturing programs,” he said. “They have been understanding, kind and very professional. We are grateful for their interest in us, in our youth, and in our worldwide need.” The Church “continues to work toward developing a program for young men and young women globally,” according to the statement. The Church will remain with the Cub Scout and Boy Scout programs because they “meet the development program needs of boys from ages 8 through 13.”[5]

Recent Church News Articles

Here are some very recent statements/messages from the LDS Church that highlights the ongoing need for LDS families to carefully consider successful youth programs such as scouting:

Learn More

  • New Scout Family Welcome Kit - How scouting works and how to get started.
  • The Soft Skills Gap - Despite record high U.S. graduation rates, major employers are finding the new generation in the important soft skills of leadership, hard-work, critical thinking and interpersonal communications. Only one program bridges that gap: Scouting. (Special report from the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation.)


See Also

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