Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » Vanguard Scouts: Mormon Boys in Their Mid-Teens: part 4

Vanguard Scouts: Mormon Boys in Their Mid-Teens: part 4

By: Ardis E. Parshall - July 20, 2012

At long last, after sections on boy psychology and adult leadership, here’s the description of the program itself. Next (and concluding) section: sample merit badge outlines.

The Vanguard Program

The Vanguard program is an older-boy program designed to interest the older boys of the Church in those activities that supplement and re-enforce their quorum duties. In the Vanguard program the characteristics of the older boy have been the main consideration. In it will be found a channel of natural expression for boys of the Teacher age. It offers an effective means of bringing together the spiritual element and the fraternal or recreational features so necessary in the all-round development of character. The Vanguard program is a modification of Scouting and will therefore be found associated with Scouting, both in organization and in items of procedure.

It was noted in the beginning paragraphs of this guide that the lad of fifteen years is a changed lad from the boy we knew at twelve years of age when he first entered Scouting. He has changed physically and his interests as well have become fundamentally modified. Scouting has in it the potential qualities for interesting boys of any age, if we will merely learn the language of the age groups we are attempting to reach and then put the program before them in that language. The Vanguard program is an interpretation of Scouting which is designed to reach boys of fifteen to seventeen years of age. It is a program originated within the Latter-day Saints Church and developed to its present state with the full approval of the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America. A detailed statement of the Vanguard program follows.

Name: The Vanguards.

Purpose: To Provide Activities for Teachers’ Quorum.

Watch Word: Be Prepared.

Insignia: The Upturned Arrowhead.

Traditions: 1. Advancement. 2. Fellowship. 3. Service.

I. Name.

The word “Vanguards” is coined from the word vanguard which is a group, the holders of the outposts of civilization, explorers of unconquered regions. They are the foremost adventurers in new fields of conquest. This name was suggested by a picture in which the artist had depicted a group of sturdy explorers standing on the summit of a rugged mountain, gazing for the first time on a beautiful but mysterious valley never before visited by white men. In its original meaning “vanguard” referred only to a group, but in its present adaptation it means a single member of that group and “vanguards” is the term used to indicate more than one individual.

Registered Scouts fifteen years of age and above may be known as Vanguards with the privilege of wearing the insignia and participating in the special program.

II. Insignia:

The arrowhead is typical of the Indian and carries with it the love of conquest and adventure; it is of the out-of-doors and was made and used by a race of people that knew the language of nature because they lived with her. The upturned arrowhead is an emblem of peace and good will, a token of confidence used often by the Indians to express welcome to the early vanguards of civilization. This emblem will be provided in both metal and cloth. The new member shall wear a bronze arrowhead with a green “V” superimposed upon its face. The metal emblem may be worn at any position on civilian clothes, and will be worn on the left breast of the Scout coat or shirt and in a position to the left of any Scout badge of rank worn in that same position. The cloth emblem shall be worn only on the right sleeve of the shirt immediately under the patrol colors or emblem.

III. Watchword: “Be Prepared.”

To the Scout it is a Motto; but to the Vanguard it becomes a constant watchword. He prepares himself to be self-reliant and resourceful in daily life or in an emergency, to offer a service to others, and to fit himself for some useful occupation.

IV. Membership.

Registered Scouts fifteen years of age and above are eligible for membership with the Vanguards. Every new member thus qualified shall be privileged to wear the emblem of the Vanguards after he has made formal application on forms provided and has been initiated with the Vanguard ceremony.

V. Traditions.

Advancement, Fellowship, Service.

The Vanguard has long since passed the age when others must urge him to his duty. He has learned: that the winning of the race is largely determined by the “workout” – hence he is always in training; that one’s strength is often measured by the friendships he has honorably won, consequently he seeks wholesome fellowship; that there is no real gain without giving, therefore he seeks to serve. His duty as a Vanguard becomes tradition: the job ahead is his only taskmaster and the courage and strength necessary to finish the task is the only limit to the effort he will expend in completing it.

Advancement Tradition:

Slogan: “Every Vanguard an Eagle by passing one merit badge every month.”

A Vanguard never reaches his final goal; he seeks new fields to conquer, and his ambition to attain new heights will not admit defeat. He is consistent in his efforts to qualify for real service; he is “Always Ready.”

There shall be two distinctions for Vanguards who show marked ability and great willingness in advancement and service. These may be obtained only in their respective order.

First Distinction – Vanguard Sentinel, is conferred upon a Vanguard who completes the following requirements:

1. Locate and train a candidate for Scout for his Tenderfoot tests, or, train a boy who is of age for the Vanguard rank to a point where he becomes a Vanguard.

2. Submit written statements (a) from his Bishop verifying good service to his Church through quorum activity and Church attendance (boys not of L.D.S. faith shall be urged to meet this requirement by similar service to their own church); (b) A written statement from his parent or guardian giving evidence of proper attitude toward his parents and home through accepting home duties cheerfully, and having completed at least one major project in home and yard beautification; (c) and a written statement from his school teacher or principal showing a record of application to his studies and participation in voluntary school and community service. (Note: The above service shall have been rendered over a period of at least nine months since becoming a Vanguard.)

3. Attain star rank or above.

4. Participate in a Vanguard patrol (*at least four or more Vanguards) – night pack trip, “the watch at the outposts,” to some place designated for such hikes by the ward and stake officers. (Note: On this hike all provisions must be carried on his back and this hike may be taken only after a careful check has been made by the Scoutmaster as to destination, equipment, menus, and some previous training in camping out. No firearms allowed on any hikes.)

Second Distinction – Vanguard Pathfinder, is conferred upon one who has been designated Vanguard Sentinel and has completed the following requirements:

1. Qualify for and instruct at least two Scout patrols at different times in at least one merit badge subject.

2. Submit evidence of continued service, as listed in requirement for sentinels, for at least nine months after becoming designated a Vanguard sentinel.

3. Attain at least life rank.

4. Demonstrate the Vanguard first aid, shelter, pack, bed and chuck.

5. Make a two night pack trip with one other Vanguard on the “Pathfinders’ Quest,” carrying all equipment, provisions, etc., on his back as in the sentinel requirements and under the same rigid rules.

Note 1: No Vanguards will be permitted to take either of these pack trips unless examination shows them to be physically strong and well prepared for such an adventure.

Note 2: Only qualified Vanguards shall be allowed to participate in either of these hikes.

Note 3: These distinctions shall be indicated by a green “V” on a silver arrowhead for the Vanguard Sentinel and a green “V” on a gold arrowhead for the Vanguard Pathfinder.

These distinctions shall be indicated by a gold band on the green arrowheads for the Vanguard Sentinel and two gold bands for the Vanguard Pathfinder.

Fellowship Tradition:

Slogan: “Friendship is Golden.”

“I am a part of all I have met.” – Tennyson.

The Vanguard realizes that to secure and hold good friends he must first prove himself a real friend. He trains himself in the art of sociability, wholesome and vigorous sports, and fine manners so that he may draw high class friends about him who will enrich his life by association in clean fun and personal growth.

The following items will be featured in the Vanguard program for the promotion of good fellowship:

1. Every eligible Scout shall be invested as a “Vanguard” with the Vanguard ceremony.

2. New members shall be instructed before the whole group at the time of the ceremony concerning the traditions and customs of the Vanguards by an older Vanguard.

3. A Patrol house party at least once each quarter with an adult leader as an invited guest.

4. An annual troop banquet at which parents are entertained by both Vanguards and Scouts.

5. A ceremony of honor for all Vanguards receiving the five-year Scout veteran award.

6. A joint social twice each year with the Bee-Hive Girls.

7. Overnight and week and winter hikes and vigorous summer hikes under proper supervision.

8. Field trips, industrial hikes, campfire entertainments at convenient intervals.

9. Active participation in Fathers and Sons Outings.

Service Tradition:

Slogan: “What we give, not what we get.

The Vanguard is no longer a boy, but has grown in stature, and his vision is enlarged; he is now qualified by experience to give invaluable assistance to those who have helped him attain his present position. He is, likewise, not unthankful, but readily makes his contribution of service by:

1. Regular attendance at Sunday services and active participation in quorum duties.

2. Assuming special home duties, by developing at least one project of home improvement each month, and by an attitude of general home helpfulness.

3. By participation in his school’s orchestra, athletic team, chorus, club, class affairs, etc., as his inclinations will best qualify him to participate.

4. By strict observance of the laws of his community, state and nation and participation in individual and patrol good turns.

5. By contributing to the success of the Scout troop through preparation as instructor in at least three merit badge subjects, recruiting and sponsoring a Tenderfoot, accepting and fulfilling appointments as Junior assistant Scoutmaster (or buddies) for special work in the Scout troop.


1. Organization

No small part of the success with the foregoing program will depend upon the sagacity of the Vanguard Leader in the management of the group participating. The characteristics of the boy of fifteen must be studied with great care if the leader expects to develop a technique that will make his work successful. The Vanguard Patrol, for instance, will likely be reduced from the usual seven or eight members to a patrol of from four to six. Unless the patrol idea has been firmly implanted in the boy through association with the regular Scout organization the older boy will want to be in a smaller patrol. He will seek the association of a buddy, or at best of a small group of close friends, and will be happiest in their company. he has become more individualistic and prefers to work more by himself. The patrol plan of organization is the better plan if the group will respond to it; otherwise a buddy system may solve the problem. In any case each fellow must have a position of responsibility. Such positions as pep leader, patrol historian and scribe, property man, advancement leader, good turn or service leader, and others as local conditions may justify should be assigned to various members of the patrol, and projects outlined to keep each one busy. Such responsibility makes each fellow feel that he is an important part of the troop. A troop constitution and by-laws, along with other features that smack of organized social life, will give color to the organization scheme.

2. Boy Initiative

It is essential that the boys should have the privilege of both planning and executing their own programs. This does not mean that the leader is to let his troop run wild; it means, on the contrary, that he is going to do a great deal of planning himself; and then, by tactful suggestion, to lead the group to feel that the plans have originated within the group. he may confidentially, with one of the members, talk over the new idea he desires to propose, and then let the fellow present the idea to the group as his own. Very often the leader must give his idea away to some one else in order to have it adopted whole-0heartedly by the group. A good leader realizes that, by such a policy, he is strengthened rather than weakened. As a careful advisor it is his job to stimulate original thinking within the group, thereby developing independence on the part of the boys. The execution of the plans developed by such a policy should also be left to the boys. If the Vanguard leader busies himself by doing all the work, he has no time left to watch the boys; the discipline breaks, and he becomes follower rather than leader. If a chair needs moving, let a boy do it; if a message is to be carried, let a boy carry it; if the group needs a good talk on honesty, let a boy make the talk; and when some fellow breaks over the traces and creates a disturbance, appeal to the pride of the group and let them handle the problem with your advice. True, the Vanguard leader may be able to conduct a meeting better than his Senior Patrol Leader can conduct it; but we are not conducting meetings for the sake of meetings, rather for the sake of the boys; and boys get the most good from meetings, when they do the work. Boys learn best by doing.

3. Group Consent

In any undertaking by the leader in behalf of the group, the common consent of the group is always necessary. We have previously stated that older boys resent imposed authority, but that they will stand to a man back of a leader who is leader by their consent. By forcing the issue the leader may get his own way, but by so doing he will surely break with the boys and lose them. Remember, boys of this age demand a reason for everything. They are entitled to, and will respond to, any sound reason.

4. Project Method

The interest of a group of boys can seldom be held over a long period of time if the subject matter at hand is isolated from its use or purpose. Tying knots, for instance, is fascinating for a short time, merely from the desire to tie knots; but unless the tying of knots is associated with some of the uses of knots in a practical sense, in a very short time the interest will lag. In the teaching of knots and in other things as well, the wise Leader will use the Project method. Where a trail crosses a stream, a bridge is needed; this need is called to the attention of the boys. Their natural desire will be to build that bridge. awake to his opportunity, the leader suggests a monkey bridge or a swinging bridge. making the bridge would be fascinating. To such a project there are many phases. The site must be surveyed, types of bridges must be studied for their utility and construction, before a start can be made. Plans must be drafted, materials selected, and permission obtained from proper authorities. Then comes the actual work of construction. Not the least part of the work on such a bridge will be the study of rope, the best kind of rope, the best knots to be sued; and every fellow in the troop, driven by the picture of the finished bridge, will learn the necessary knots, and then wear the ends off his fingers to make the project a reality.

The project method of learning rope work has been cited, yet this method may be used for nearly every activity the troop may undertake.

The troop needs a new and complete set of records or desires its week in camp during the year, the troop treasury needs replenishing, new members are needed in the troop, good turns are in order, and a fellowship stunt is desirable for a sick member of the troop. Projects of co-operation between the Vanguard troop and the teacher Quorum may well be added to the list of activities that lend themselves to the project method. The “How Book of Scouting”: is full of valuable suggestions on the project method. The leader who will give this method local application is already on the high road to successful leadership.

5. Merit Badge Projects

“Every Vanguard an Eagle by passing one Merit badge each Month,” is the advancement slogan. The realization of this project will mean life and freshness to any Vanguard troop. This is especially true if the various subjects are presented by the project method.

First of all, it must be borne in mind that the Vanguard Leader is not expected to be an expert in all subjects included in the merit badge field. He is unfair to his boys and to others whoa re willing to help if he attempts to be the sole merit badge instructor for the troop. Vanguards will be thrilled with the idea of preparing themselves as instructors in a merit badge subject of their own choice. Following such an assignment, these boys can be directed to experts in the community who can give them special help in the subject they are to present. In their order these boys can then occupy a certain portion of the troop meeting for lecture and demonstration. To insure against faulty or careless preparation the leader should make a personal check of the intended presentation and should offer also helpful suggestions form his own information on the subject.

The subject matter in the merit badge field, however, is not all that is intended. The contact with a man who is trained in a gainful occupation or a worthwhile hobby is of equal value with the subject matter in this program of vocational guidance. It is, therefore, desirable that the manpower of the community shall be organized for the service of instruction in the troop. Every community has its merit badge faculty waiting for the call to help in this work. There is the town blacksmith, mechanic, doctor, bee keeper, gardener, druggist, stockman, school teacher, lawyer, music instructor, or shoemaker; each will feel flattered when he receives an invitation to prepare a demonstration and lecture for the troop. In order that his presentation may be of greatest value, the full requirements for the particular merit badge he is to prepare should be placed in his hands well in advance. One or two such programs each month will instruct the boys and, at the same time, train a constituency of valuable help within the community. Every troop should develop a community faculty.

In order that the project method of merit badge presentation may be fully understood, several detailed plans are submitted for study. it is understood that each leader’s individuality must appear in his own plans. The following suggestions are included as concrete helps.



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