Wednesday, February 9, 2011


Last week I was approached by a member of the Bishopric. They were talking about having some of the young men speak in church about how Scouting has helped them develop a testimony of the gospel. I thought it would be a great idea. Then I was asked if I would speak as well. My topic is why the church sponsors Scouting.

I've struggled a bit as I've thought about what I might say. I considered explaining the history--how in 1913, the Church became Scouting's first chartered organization. I thought about all the statements from church leaders in favor of Scouting (see here for examples). The more I thought the more I felt that these approaches would be completely wrong.

I keep getting the feeling that despite all the support from Church leaders, there are a number of people who still don't see it. They don't understand why we do this. I hope I'm wrong, but I've been thinking that without actually experiencing Scouting, they will never really understand.

And that got me thinking about my experiences. I've remembered a lot more than I thought I had. I've remembered some things better than others. Some things have been more meaningful to me than others. But all of them, I suspect, has had a role in shaping who I am know.

So I wanted to share a few of my Scouting memories.
  • I remember being a cub scout, and having den meetings at our den mother's home.
  • I remember my pinewood derby cars. One of them I even built completely by myself, carving it entirely with my pocket knife. It was pretty ugly and didn't do very well.
  • I remember the Webelos Woods camp. I don't remember much of it, but I have a vague recollection of standing on the mountain, my dad standing next to me with his arm around my shoulder.
  • I remember a backpacking trip with my older brother and one of his friends. My pack was too big for me. It was painful and difficult. I think my parents still have a picture of me at the end of the trail, trying to hide my tears. I'm sure my brother and his friend were kind of annoyed at having me along, but they didn't leave me behind.
  • I remember a winter camp where an older ward member brought dinner up to us. It was mutton stew. To this day I consider mutton stew one of the best foods there is.
  • I remember the Klondike derby. Our sled was so big and so heavy it didn't ride on top of the snow so much as plow through it. I remember nobody wanted to be up front pulling the sled, especially since the snow was quite deep. They all wanted to be pushing from behind where it was easier. We had so many people pushing that they ran over those who were in front pulling. I remember thinking we needed to work together better if we wanted to win. I do not remember whether I was pushing or pulling.
  • I remember my younger brother and I building a shelter for our Wilderness Survival merit badge. We slept in it, too. And it rained. Our shelter didn't provide much shelter.
  • I remember the 50-miler. 10 miles per day for 5 days. I remember being in the small group in front. We took the right trail. Somehow everyone else took the wrong trail and ended up traveling far more than 10 miles that first day.
  • I remember going to the BYU merit badge pow wow with my brothers and our best friends. When our friend's parents drove, we listened to Garth Brooks. They had a great stereo in their truck. I remember the road construction in Provo Canyon. I remember noting the progress of the bulldozer on that one hillside as we went back each week.
  • I remember a trip to High Uintah camp were our leaders were our mothers. Apparently our leaders couldn't take a week off of work. It was important enough to our mothers that they broke nearly every rule in the book to take us to camp.
  • I remember on that same trip, we had to share a campsite with a troop from the city. By the time the camp was over, we were pretty good friends.
  • Also on that camp, my best friend took charge of one of our dinners. It was a dutch oven chicken and potatoes. Easily up there with mutton stew as one of the all-time best foods.
  • I remember a week-long backpacking/camping trip to the Ashley Twin Lakes. I remember talking with one of my leaders, but I don't remember what we talked about. It seems, though, that for that camp at least, he was more than a leader. He was a friend and a brother.
  • I remember going to the Timberline--our district's (our council?) youth leadership camp. I remember seeing a flag retired for the first time. It was one of the most sacred experiences of my life, up to that point. I remember walking slowly and silently back to camp, so grateful for the country in which I am privileged to live.
  • I remember my Eagle Court of Honor. I believe my grandfather was there. He was so proud to have a son and grandsons who earned the rank of Eagle. He never got that far. 
  • I remember being in charge of a combined YM/YW activity. It was a road rally. I put it together and led the whole thing. I made several mistakes, but it was my activity.
  • I remember a trip to Lake Powell for a week of water skiing and jet skis. (I don't know what the Guide to Safe Scouting said about that activity at that time--it says NO now.) I remember being pretty nervous about using the jet ski. My leader knew me well enough that he was able to say exactly what would get me to try it. He told me to find a scripture that would explain why I should. I won't tell you which scripture I found, but the next morning I tried the jet ski. I quite enjoyed it.
I'm not sure what these memories mean, or what the lesson is behind them. I'm not even sure if there is a lesson here. But they are a part of who I am.

I am grateful for the Scouting program. I am grateful for my leaders and parents who supported me. I am grateful that the church sees the good in Scouting and continues to support this great organization.

If any one reading this wants to share any of their memories, please do so in the comments.

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