How do you blend Duty to God with Scouting?
Recognition and Awards
Young men will be more encouraged to prepare for missions and fatherhood if they are recognized for their accomplishments, including earning the Faith in God Award and the Duty to God certificates. Recognition alone, however (once in Primary and then once every two years through the Aaronic Priesthood Duty to God certificates), does not provide the frequent reinforcement young men need. Scouting awards complement and support priesthood recognition. Many of the Faith in God and Duty to God requirements are found in various Scouting requirements, especially in the merit badges required for Eagle Scout. Using Scouting awards as milestones, along with Church recognitions, provides more frequent positive reinforcement, and encourages continued progression. Recording each accomplishment in both Scouting and Duty to God programs provides a means for more frequent recognition.
The Duty to God Certificate
The Duty to God Award is a priesthood award, not a Scouting award. It has a long and prestigious history, and all Aaronic Priesthood boys should strive to earn it. It is a broad-stroke award covering many areas of a boy’s life.
The goals and requirements of the program are outlined in the three Fulfilling Our Duty to God guidebooks for the youth and an overall explanation is found in the Guidebook for Parents and Leaders of Youth. For the young men, there is a guidebook for each of the three Aaronic Priesthood quorums. When a young man accomplishes all the goals in one of the guidebooks, he will receive the appropriate Duty to God certificate. Earning the individual Duty to God certificates as a deacon, a teacher, and a priest will help a boy grow spiritually and prepare him to serve a mission. Certificate requirements are varied—and it will take almost six years to earn all three. When a priest-age boy completes requirements for the third certificate, he has also earned the Duty to God Award. It is important to note that a worthy priest (including a new member of the Church) who has not received all the Duty to God certificates, may still earn the Duty to God Award by meeting certain requirements, as explained on pages 13 and 14 of the Guidebook for Parents and Leaders of Youth.
The Duty to God Award requirements have changed over time. The current requirements are divided into seven categories: priesthood duties and standards; family activities; quorum activities; spiritual development; physical development; educational, personal, and career development; and citizenship and social development. Each quorum has its own requirements appropriate for that age. The requirements include many varied activities, such as reading and understanding certain scriptures; giving talks; participating in service projects; doing some family history work; developing a missionary plan and contributing to a missionary fund; living Church standards; understanding and performing priesthood duties; developing physical skills; and developing social graces. Each quorum award requires participating in a service project and filling in the journal section of the Fulfilling Our Duty to God guidebook for deacons, teachers, or priests. Many Duty to God requirements are similar to, or identical with, the requirements for Scouting awards or advancements.
Duty to God and BSA Award Comparisons
Scouting and the Duty to God Award
The Duty to God certificates for deacons, teachers, and priests match well with the Scouting emphases and recognitions associated with Boy Scouts, Varsity Scouts, and Venturers. The relation of the emphases of Scouting and the Duty to God are shown below.
Boy Scouting and the Deacons Quorum: The Scouting program has three specific objectives, commonly referred to as the Aims of Scouting. They are character development, citizenship training, and personal fitness. Scouting also focuses on teaching service. Merit badges required for the Eagle Scout Award parallel the knowledge and skills for the Duty to God for Deacons certificate.
These objectives relate closely to the Deacon Duty to God goals:
Character Development – Spiritual Development; Educational, Personal, and Career Development
Citizenship Training – Family Activities; Citizenship and Social Development
Personal Fitness – Physical Development
Service – Quorum Activities
Varsity Scouting and the Teachers Quorum: “The heart of Varsity Scouting is the Five Program Fields of Emphasis.” A youth member, called a program manager, is responsible for each of the Five Program Fields of Emphasis and works with an adult program adviser (who is a member of, or recruited by, the team committee) to coordinate each phase of the program. The Varsity letter and Denali Award and the merit badges required for the Eagle Scout Award parallel the knowledge and skills for the Duty to God for Teachers certificate.
The five Varsity fields of emphasis and related Duty to God goals are:
Advancement – Educational, Personal, and Career Development
High Adventure / Sports – Physical Development
Personal Development – Spiritual Development
Service – Family Activities; Quorum Activities
Special Programs and Events – Citizenship and Social Development
Venturing and the Priests Quorum: Venturing has six experience areas. A youth member, called an activity chair, is responsible for each of the six experience areas, and works with an adult consultant (who is recruited by the crew committee) to coordinate each phase of the program. The Venturing Bronze, Gold, Silver, and Quest Awards cover and expand the knowledge and skills for the Duty to God for Priests certificate.
The six Venturing Experience Areas and related Duty to God goals are:
Social – Family Activities; Spiritual Development
Service – Quorum Activities
Fitness – Physical Development
Outdoor – Physical Development
Leadership – Educational, Personal, and Career Development
Citizenship – Citizenship and Social Development
When a boy is baptized and confirmed, he is given the promise of the gift of the Comforter for spiritual development. Later, when he is ordained to the Aaronic Priesthood, he is granted the power and authority of the priesthood. Spiritually, however, the door may be only unlocked. But more is needed than having someone with authority unlock the door. The boy must help open the door to this special opportunity. Scouting added to the Aaronic Priesthood helps a boy open the door. How is this so?
A basic purpose of blending Scouting into the Aaronic Priesthood is to help the priesthood and Scout leader find and create those teaching moments which will provide a major opportunity for spiritual development. Personal honor, the foundation ideal of Scouting, is a special key to spiritual development. Every priesthood and Scout leader must clearly understand that his major Scout leadership function is to help a boy experience the building of personal honor. All else in Scouting is hinged to this effort.
Thane J. Packer, Chairman Brigham Young University Department of Scouting Education