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Ad Altare Dei

Electronic versions of the AAD Youth and Counselor Manuals can be purchased from the NCCS here

NOTE: The  Ad Altare Dei Youth Manual electronic version (e-AAD) is not intended to replace group meetings and discussions but is an alternative method for scouts to use to record their answers.  


About The Emblem:

The purpose of the Ad Altare Dei (To the Altar of God) program is to help Catholic Scouts of the Roman Rite develop a full Christian way of life in the faith community. The program is organized in chapters based on the seven Sacraments. The seven Sacraments are a primary means toward spiritual growth.



A Boy Scout or Venturer of the Catholic Faith who is an active members of his Troop or his/her Crew (for at least six months) and has completed the sixth grade before starting the program. Before work on the program begins, the approval form must be signed by the applicant, parent, counselor, Unit leader, and pastor. The content is designed for 13 and 14 year olds.

Program Objectives:

The most important aspect of the program is that the Scout grows in his spiritual experience of his relationship to God and the church.


The use of a Catholic Bible is required. The Scout should be a registered member of the Boy Scouts of America, active in his troop or his/her crew for at least six months, and completed sixth grade before beginning the program. The scout regularly attends Mass and is involved in formal religious education program. The scout must complete the requirements in the Ad Altare Dei Scout Manual. The scout must participate in the annual scout emblems retreat in January and successfully complete an Ad Altare Dei Board of Review at the retreat. Participants Manual and Counselor’s Guide may be obtained most economically and quickly from your local BSA Council Service Center (Scout Shop.) Alternatively, books can be obtained directly from BSA Supply. The books cannot be copied.


Program Completion:

After all sections have been completed, the counselor will contact the Diocesan Catholic Committee on Scouting to schedule the Scout to attend the annual Diocesan Religious Emblems Retreat held in January. At the retreat, the scout will go through his Board of Review. The Scout will sit before the Board of Review to determine:

  • Does he have a better understanding of his Christian commitment?

  • Has he learned to understand, support, and apply Christian principles to the problems of our day?

  • Has he thought about his vocation in life: a vocation to the priesthood, religious life, marriage, or single life?

  • How has his relationship with his Church grown?

  • What is his attitude toward Scouting and the ideals of the program?

  • How does his relationship between Scouting and the Church compare?

  • As a result of the program, has the Scout grown in his understanding and living out of his faith? (faith growth)

Award Ceremony:

The emblem will be presented once a year at the Scout Convocation which is held on Scout Sunday at St. Joseph’s in Columbia. Bishop Guglielmone will present each scout with his emblem.


Scout's Role:

  • Attend scheduled meetings. (If a Scout misses 2 or more meetings, the Scout and counselor should meet to determine if the Scout may continue with the current program.)

  • Work through the Ad Altare Dei Scout Manual with your counselor using a Bible where appropriate.

  • Attend the religious emblems retreat at the end of the AAD program.

  • Be prepared to share experiences at the Board of Review.


Parent's Role:

  • Support the Religious Emblems Counselor in his/her role, BSA and DCCS requires two-deep leadership.

  • Support your son as he shares lessons with the family.


Suggested Time Requirements:

The program is designed to be completed in 4-8 months.

Counselor's Role:

  • The Counselor must have attended the Religious Emblems Counselor training class, have completed an application to be a religious emblems counselor, have completed all Diocesan requirements for volunteers with access to children (including VIRTUS) and hold current BSA Youth Protection Training certification.

  • Hold regular meetings lasting 60-90 minutes and should be in groups of 4-8 scouts.

  • Counsel the participants when required and facilitate the general discussion (keep moving and on track.)

  • Guide the Scout through the religious emblems program by:

    • Helping the Scouts experience Christ's deep love for them as individuals.

    • Helping the Scout go beyond the surface answers of childhood.

    • Showing the Scout that your care for him is not dependent on his behavior, but rather because you accept him as Christ accepts each of us.

  • Promote the Spiritual component of Scouting within the parish and unit. (A Scout is Reverent).

  • Encourage greater participation of Catholic Scouts in the religious programs of the Church.

  • Help create an atmosphere with the unit conductive to the development of religious vocations.

  • Provide guidance and assistance to non-Catholic boys in the unit and in the neighboring units, urging them to participate in the religious emblems program of their own church or synagogue.

Counselor Attributes:

  • INTERESTED in youth and ready to be generous with time in helping others. Able to UNDERSTAND the Scout's development process and therefore able to ACCEPT them at their level.

  • OPEN enough to listen to youth to permit them to initiate, decide, try, and even fail, of their own accord. One who is not judgmental, but respectful of their feelings and views.

  • FLEXIBLE and CREATIVE enough to be open to changes, who can adapt and understand rapid and continuous modification of youth ideas, modes, and cultures.

  • LIKABLE and acceptable by the youth. Not a stick in the mud!

  • Has a sensor of HUMOR, enjoys life, and can laugh at themselves and with others, especially youth.

  • KNOWLEDGEABLE, understands, and agrees with all of the teachings of the Catholic Church.

  • COMMUNICATE by relating the teachings of the Catholic Church to youth. Should be able to both speak and listen. Should also have the ability to get others to talk.

  • SPIRITUALLY firm in their faith life and had the ability to share their faith openly and easily with youth. Also be able to demonstrate, through their actions, the importance of their faith life to youth.

  • SENSITIVE to the youth's family situation and his personal life, particularly in regards to the teachings of the Church.

  • OBSERVANT to interpret the signals youth project about their feelings on their faith and other issues.

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