My fellow Scouts, Scouters, and American Patriots … men and women of our great United States of America. It is a grand time as we anticipate yet another 4th of July. A national holiday … a day of picnics, parades, fireworks and more! We celebrate this day, but why not July 3rd or July 5th? We talk of “The Fourth of July”. But why is it so important? And why do we celebrate the 4th of July? I fear that we may have lost the meaning of our celebrations and that we are actually celebrating “Independence Day” – the birth of the United States of America.
From about the year 1610, colonists came from Great Britain and settled in the new country of America. Many came for religious freedom. From those beginnings England maintained tight control on the new colonies – which eventually grew to be 13 colonies. English kings ruled over the colonies with great tyranny. Religious freedom was suppressed. High tariffs were imposed on export trade from the colonies. Heavy taxes were levied without colonial representation in the English Parliament.
In September 1774, a group of colonial delegates (including George Washington of Virginia, John and Samuel Adams of Massachusetts, Patrick Henry of Virginia and John Jay of New York) met in Philadelphia in September 1774 to give voice to their grievances against the British crown. This First Continental Congress did not go so far as to demand independence from Britain, but it denounced taxation without representation, as well as the maintenance of the British army in the colonies without their consent, and issued a declaration of the rights due every citizen, including life, liberty, property, assembly and trial by jury. The Continental Congress voted to meet again in May 1775 but on April 19, local militiamen clashed with British soldiers in Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts, marking the first shots fired in the Revolutionary War.
The Second Continental Congress quickly appointed five men to draft a document declaring Colonial independence. These men included John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Roger Sherman, and Robert Livingston. Jefferson, recognized for his ability with words, wrote the first draft; then it was edited by the others, and then edited again by the whole Congress. Fifty-six members of Congress ultimately signed the Declaration.
I hope that we have all heard the beginning words of the Declaration and that they ring true with all of us. The Declaration begins:
“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, … [and we declare that] We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
The Second Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. During the Revolution, the Declaration was considered a statement of consensus collectively issued by the “unanimous” thirteen states. Committing an act of treason against the British Crown, the signers put down their names with courage and conviction: the document ends “we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”
And thus it was that on July 4th our United States of America was born. The Revolutionary War would last seven more years and the Constitution of the free states would be ratified beginning in 1789. But, the Declaration of Independence was the beginning. The forming of our America had been predicted by former prophets through the ages and with the forming of the US Constitution, the foundation, as stated by Jesus Christ himself, was formed to allow for the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in 1830.
And so, now, because of that special 4th of July in 1776, we now celebrate each year, the birth of the United States of America as an independent nation. And we joyfully celebrate Independence Day as the National Day of the United States with fireworks, parades, barbecues, carnivals, fairs, picnics, concerts, baseball games, family reunions and even political speeches and ceremonies. Our independence truly is worth celebrating! . Let us celebrate the joyful day of our Independence – the 4th of July, 1776 – even the birth of the United States of America.
Let us continue on our patriotic Scouting trails …!
Fully a year ago, I published an article designed to help LDS families as they anticipate the end of 2019 when The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints cuts official partner ties with The Boy Scouts of America. But, when I posted that article, the dreaded separation seemed eons away. And because of that, most of us took no action. But, that day is approaching faster each day (now being just six months away!) And as that day is soon coming, I have noted that many families (leaders and wards) have just kind of given up on making Scouting happen. I have found this situation rather distressing. (But, I admit too, that I have even been somewhat churned up about it.)
Those feelings aside, however … it is a situation which still needs to be addressed by most LDS Scouts and their families. What to do? Is there any hope? Is Scouting to be gone from our lives? Is it “yes” or a “no” for us?
With those questions, I feel it appropriate to reprint that article once again. There is much in it that can be helpful to all of us. Of course, anyone can go back and (hopefully) find the previous article – to peruse and study it, but who is going to do that? Unless something is right in front of our faces, we often don’t pay attention to it. So, with that in mind, here goes (Worth a re-read and continuing consideration):
OPTIONS FOR THE LDS SCOUT WITH THE COMING LDS BSA SEPARATION
Written by Kevin V. Hunt, Scouting blogger, author, Camp Director, former professional Scouter, LDS Scouter and life-long LDS/BSA Advocate
Scouting families everywhere were shocked, stunned, and mostly surprised as the LDS Church announced on May 8, 2018 that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will be pulling away from chartering units with the Boy Scouts of America (effective January 1, 2020). It was a major shock since the two organizations have been hand in glove for over one hundred years. In fact, the LDS Church was the first religious organization to become a chartered partner with the Boy Scouts. That was back in 1913 – just three years after the organization of the Boy Scouts of America. And for these many years, it has been a beautiful partnership. The Boy Scouts has had the program, training and camping resources and the Church has had the boys, leadership, financing, the partner organization and places for troops to meet. Prophets and Apostles and other church leaders have been strong supporters of the program through those many years.
And the traditions … Generations of men and boys have joined in spirit around the campfire together. Songs have been song, spooky and inspirational stories shared and good times galore. Scouts and leaders have learned basic Scouting and outdoor skills together. Hikes and camps have challenged boys and leaders as wonderful high adventure activities have been shared. Most families can boast of the Eagle tradition in their family – extending from current Scouts up through Dad, Grandpa and even great grandpa. Sons and brothers and fathers have taken pride in their common Scouting association, brotherhood and traditions. And countless men and women have served in various Scouting roles in support of the Scouts. Callings to serve have been accepted and faithfully filled. Scouting has been the backbone of the Church youth program. Priesthood and Scouting have been inseparably connected.
The Church announcement affected me deeply and profoundly. I became a Cub Scout at age eight in an LDS Cub Scout pack and have been fully involved and committed to the BSA LDS relationship ever since. And now some fifty-five years later, the Scouting LDS partnership has become me – literally. Everything I am and have been has built upon that partnership. And so committed was I, that I even compiled or wrote the book, “History of Scouting in the LDS Church” and was on a team of commissioned historians who wrote the book, “Century of Honor” (for the LDS/BSA Centennial in 2013) … And oh, the good times. The memories … So, I admit that now this has caused me much self-reflection and contemplation. It has been a hard thing to come to grips with. What do I do now?
Well, now that the initial shock wave is over, what are the options for the LDS Scout with the coming LDS BSA separation? What are we to do now? Those are good questions … and hard ones too. So, let’s consider some of those options.
PUT YOUR HEAD IN THE SAND, BEAT YOUR CHEST AND SAY, “WO IS ME!”
This is certainly an option but is probably not the best option. But, you could write off Scouting in the Church completely. (And many have done that already!) And you could write off Johnny working on or ever receiving his Eagle Scout award – since it is now or will all soon be over. You could say, “That’s it! I’m DONE (or we’re done).” You could say, “Our boy is too far from Eagle so there is no use continuing in the program.” You could even be disgruntled over the Church changes. But, there are some other options that might be better.
STAY “FULLY ENGAGED”
In all of the Church communications, church leaders, Scouts and parents have been encouraged to remain “fully engaged” in the Scouting program.
On that fateful day on May 8, 2018, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day-saints issued a joint statement with The Boy Scouts of America. At the end of that communication, the partners stated, “Until that date, to allow for an orderly transition, the intention of the Church is to remain a fully engaged partner (italics added) in Scouting for boys and young men ages 8-13 and encourages all youth, families, and leaders to continue their active participation and financial support.”
And then the final note of the message: “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.”
A letter from the Church’s Priesthood and Family Department to all general and local church authorities – and dated the same day, said it is “the intention of the Church is to remain a fully engaged partner”. FAQ’s (Frequently Asked Questions) accompanied the statement. One question read: “During this transition period, will things stay the same with Scouting?” And the answer was: “During this time, the Church will continue to register all boys ages 8-13, those 14 and older working on rank advancement, and adult leaders associated with those youth. All adult leaders should continue to receive Youth Protection and other required training for their position.” And Question #8: “What do I do until the new initiative is available beginning January 1, 2010?” And this answer was, “Children, youth, and parents should continue to fully participate and enjoy the growth and development associated with … the existing programs worldwide … [and question 10] Continued heartfelt service will provide significant opportunities to contribute to their growth and development.”
On June 26th, 2018, the Church sent out an additional message entitled, “My Calling: Principles and Guidelines for Scouting through 2019”. In this statement, the original statement was referenced. In this message, The General Primary and Young Men Presidencies said, “We encourage you to continue to plan and implement meaningful experiences as regular camping, earning merit badges and leadership opportunities play an important part in supporting the purposes of the Aaronic Priesthood.” And they added: “Thank you for your leadership at this important time. We appreciate you and all that you do to strengthen the boys and young men you serve.” And basic principles and guidelines were attached.
“Activities should ‘fulfill gospel-centered purposes’. They should help boys and young men build relationships, give service, have fun, learn practical skills, build confidence, and prepare for their divine roles. They are more likely to learn these lessons from experiences rather than classroom settings.
Balance: Activities should provide a balance of opportunities to develop spiritually, socially, physically, and intellectually.
Planning: Activities for young men should be planned in advance and executed by Aaronic Priesthood quorum and troop leaders, with support from adult advisers. Activities for boys should be planned and executed by Primary and Cub leaders.”
“Continue to register young men and boys ages 8-13 and adult leaders with the Boy Scouts of America.
“Consult with parents of boys and young men to determine how to best support their goals in Scouting.
“Use Scouting resources – such as merit badges, boards of review, and courts of honor – to accomplish the purposes of Church activities as described above.”
SO, WHAT DOES “FULLY ENGAGED” MEAN?
In writing this article, and just for kicks, I Googled that very phrase. I found some interesting things:
First, from “A Fully Engaged Life” by a Meerabelle Dey (whom I do not know). She said, “One of the biggest challenges we face is to stay fully engaged in life. That means living life with gusto! When we are fully engaged … we do it with care. Then we organize … and we give it our best effort. Being fully engaged means doing everything with enthusiasm. Interestingly,” she said, “the word enthusiasm is derived from the Greek word enthousiasmos, which comes from enthous – meaning ‘posessed by a God, inspired’. So, when we live life with enthusiasm, we are possessed or inspired by God in all that we do. … [and] … anything we do for God should be done heartily – with energy and enthusiasm!”
Vocabulary.com states that “Engaged means fully occupied or having your full attention.” And “If you’re busy or involved with something you’re engaged in it,” it is “having one’s attention or mind or energy engaged.”
Still another article was “7 Ways to Get your Team members More Engaged – and Why it’s so Important”. This is written from a corporate point of view, but by inserting “Scouts” or “Scouting”, it can provide profound inspiration as we try to be fully engaged. The article, by a Tim Clark, says, “Look at the [Scouting] team roster for your project. How many [Scouting] team members are fully engaged with their work? How many are just going through the motions? And how many are actively disengaged?” The article then lists seven ways to engagement:
Define realistic goals in every day terms
Find ways to connect with [Scouts] individually
Show you care about your team members’ work and lives
Focus on and develop [Scout] Skills
Help [Scouts and families] verbalize and internalize what the [BSA/LDS] mission and purpose means to them
Extend and intensify the engagement level of new team members
Enhance [Scouts] well-being.
That is all well and good, you say … but looking forward, what do we do?
First, staying fully engaged will help you continue to touch lives and impact minds and hearts. You will see great joy and satisfaction through your service to your young men. And being and staying current on your training will help you in future responsibilities with the youth. No effort is wasted.
On the other hand, if you give up – and put your own head in the sand, your boys will feel that same thing. They will think, “This is not worth it. Scouting is going away …” They will also think, “What’s the use?”
STAGE A FAMILY COUNCIL TO ANALYZE AND MAKE PLANS AND DECISIONS FOR THE FUTURE
At a family council meeting, talk of how Scouting has impacted the family members. Share stories of adventure, of inspiration, of tradition. Talk of the many good times and the great moments shared through the Scouting program through the years. Have Grandpa and Dad share their memories along their own Scouting trails. Have older brothers share with the younger. Ask yourselves, “Do we want to give this up?”
Look realistically at where each of your sons are in their Scouting progression. How far does the current Scout (or Scouts) have to go to progress along the Eagle trail? What will be required to obtain the Eagle badge. How much time it will take. Look at younger brothers down the line. Ask, “Do we also want them to become Scouts and experience the joy of adventure that has been felt by the generations before?”
So, how long does it take to become an Eagle Scout? … Well, that is a good question. Maybe you have not defined it as such before, but here are the minimums:
From Scout to Tenderfoot … There is a one-month minimum time span. This is the physical fitness requirement to practice physical fitness skills and feats (and to improve on them from the initial recording). And this same requirement is true for advancement from Tenderfoot to Second Class and again from Second Class to First Class. To become a Star Scout, a Scout needs to serve in a troop position and actively participate for four months since becoming a First Class Scout. The period from Star to Life is an additional six months for leadership and participation. And finally, it takes another six months to progress from Life to Eagle Scout. So, that equates to a minimum total of 19 months from Scout to Eagle Scout. But, that is going for it a hundred miles an hour – and being really fully engaged in the program. For most normal boys, the time period is much longer.
That means that if a Scout turns age 11 today, the earliest possible date to become an Eagle – if all possible deadlines are met, it would take him 19 months to become an Eagle Scout – so that would put him age 12 and seven months when the rank could be achieved. So, does your Scout have that long before the December 31, 2019 date when Scouting is no longer an official church program?
Look at these time periods and see where this places your Scout(s).
A challenge for most families would be to PUSH the Scout into an accelerated advancement program – with a lot of summer camp opportunities, merit badge classes, and more. And though this might get the job done, will doing thus put additional and undue pressure on the Scout? Will he speed through the program without really internalizing everything? Will he be running through advancement purely to meet the demands of mother or others? Families seriously need to ponder this whole scenario.
And what if becoming an Eagle Scout will realistically extend well beyond the time available? What then?
TIME FOR A MAJOR FAMILY DECISION …
Now, given the facts, it is time to make a family decision. Ask …
Does our Johnny like Scouting?
Do we want to continue with a family association with Scouting? Or is it time to relish and cherish the memories of the “good ol’ days” and move forward onto a different path? (Like a decision to participate in Little League, choir, band, Etc.?)
Do we want Johnny to become and Eagle Scout … and why?
Does Johnny want to become an Eagle Scout? And will he take responsibility to achieve it?
What will it take to help Johnny become an Eagle Scout? (And remember that it should be him that is to earn his Eagle Scout rank – and not mom, dad or even his Scout leaders.) To become an Eagle Scout is a decision best made by the Scout himself (and then supported by everyone else).
Do we stop now … or do we press forward toward the goal?
Do we still believe in the time-tested values, aims and methods of the Boy Scouts of America – or have they gone too far out in left field? (And only you and your family can decide that!)
And what can we do now to be prepared (with 20/20 vision … See an article by that name by Mark Francis – current Director of BSA/LDS Relations (in Salt Lake City) for continuing progress and association in the programs of the Boy Scouts of America?
It’s going to be tough – a very hard thing – but ultimately the Scout and the family have to make the decision – and then stick with it. And if that decision truly is to cease family connection with Scouting, then, I guess it probably over … or soon will be. Then it is just a matter of biding time … of treading water. (Though I never really enjoyed this, personally …) And we all know that choices of any kind will have their long-term consequences … So, are we – or you – willing to face those consequences – that could be rather major?
But, and if the decision is to move forward and stay involved, again there are some choices and opportunities.
MOVING FORWARD AS A PART OF AN ESTABLISHED UNIT
One option is to continue association with the Church (probably one of the best choices) and to embrace whole-heartedly whatever “the new initiative” is – realizing that it comes through the guidance and inspiration of leaders who clearly have the higher vision. Such a program likely will not change much from its current plan to have one activity night per week. You can probably count on that. And whatever the program, there will likely still be opportunities for high adventure and outdoor activities. (Even as good as The Book of Mormon and missionary preparation is, it is probably realized that neither of these can fully meet the needs of all Mormon youth on their own.)
And together with the above programs, the family can elect to join with another “community – or traditional – troop” that is already organized and functioning – on an additional night of the week (and of course, weekends). But, as we have come to know and realize (some folks more so than others) membership in such a troop will come with the expectation of adult participation. You will not have the luxury of sending Johnny off to another troop to participate on his own. It will obviously have to become a full family participation. And is that good to send the Scout and the family off to the Catholic Church, the Methodist Church? Will association with these organizations (though they are good) impact the continued family participation in their own religious practices and beliefs. Will the new organization have chartered partner beliefs and shared values as previously known and held in the LDS scenario? Will LDS Scouts be introduced to youth practices, values and behaviors not previously known in LDS units?. Again, that is a topic for family discussion. It still could be a good decision …
TAKING PERSONAL AND FAMILY INITIATIVE TO BE THE CATALYST FOR STARTING A NEW UNIT
One of the greatest strengths of the Boy Scouts of America is its continuing commitment to chartered partners and giving them the option and opportunity to determine their own ways to use the program to meet their needs, while providing their own leadership for their own youth. So, a chartered partner would decide if girls would be a part of the program, and other options now a part of the BSA. If this is important to you and to your family, it is likely in your best interests to help create your own new unit.
So, what does it take to start your own new unit … a new Scout troop (or Cub Scout pack or Venturing Crew)?
First, you will need to have a chartered organization. Traditionally, clubs, organizations and community groups have become chartered partners. You could go out (with the help of the local Scout council, district executives, etc.) to recruit possible partners for your organization. Such a group might help provide a facility to meet in, operational expenses, people and other resources to help you get going – and stay operating on a long-term basis. (And note that if you take proactive action in advance of the December 31, 2019 cut-off date, you might even persuade the council to let your group retain your favorite troop or pack number.) And if you can’t find a location (even your own chapel) in which to meet, you could actually meet in someone’s back yard or a community recreation facility. The possibilities are limitless!
But, most folks probably don’t realize that even a group of “concerned citizens, friends or neighbors” can form a Scout troop. So, this means that you could gather your friends of “Troop 155” (that was my troop number) – or whatever troop or neighborhood group you are a part of. (For instance: Scouting Friends in the Pioneer Park Area … or whatever.)
After you settle on a sponsor or Scouting partner group, you need the following (as a minimum for adult support and participation):
Institutional Head (could be anyone)
Chartered Organization Representative
A Committee Chairman
Two members of your committee
A Unit Leader (Scoutmaster) and an Assistant Leader (Assistant Scoutmaster)
And then you need parents, AND OF COURSE, BOYS!
You have an organizational meeting to create roles for each person (every parent should have a role of some kind – no matter what other family involvements)
Then comes the task of recruiting! But to recruit others, you must first have a program – a planned calendar – to offer them. Boys will join your program with the sizzle of action and fun (not just going to meetings and for other boring things).
Develop a leadership team of youth and adults. And then get trained for the various roles.
And then a very important task is to stage a program planning conference to plan an action-packed program for six months to a year.
Again, if you take this option, you need to commit to being and continue to be a major catalyst for action. If you wait for someone else to do it, you may have a long wait. If someone is going to take action and do it, you are probably the guy or the people to do it. It will take a major amount of work and personal commitment but together you can accomplish it. But, you can not do it alone … it will take a team – like the ward and leaders you have come to know through the Church association. Decide upon your desired role and then go out and recruit other friends and families to help in the other roles. It will be a challenge but if you believe that Scouting is truly worth it, it really will be worth it. You can continue and go forward in the greatest of your own family Scouting traditions. If the Boy Scouts was important to you in the past, you can continue to make it important for your current sons and even future generations. And together, you can all continue to enjoy those special campfire moments, the hikes, the adventures and all that you have come to know and love in your Scouting association.
Scouting can continue to be a major tradition – a major influence in the lives of your son(s) and in your family if you choose to want it. So, yes, the choice is yours. What are you going to do with it? Are you going to drop it all or are you going to decide to go forward in the best of the Scouting tradition that you have come to know and love? Apathy or fully engaged?
It is a time to decide! The choice is yours!
Best wishes on your Scouting trails … wherever they take you!
Vision 2020—a Philmont Training Course to assist in retention of Latter-day Saint families, leaders and youth desiring to continue their Scouting Adventure after December 31, 2019—was held in June at the Philmont Training Center near Cimarron, New Mexico. Over 40 participants and 130 family members attended the conference, which was sponsored during the religious week at Philmont.
“Our focus with Vision 2020 was to provide inspiration, training and information to those involved in helping retain youth, leaders and families who wish to continue in Scouting,” commented Mark Francis, Director of Latter-day Saint Scouting Relationships for the BSA. “It was exciting to watch these participants and the zeal they have for going back to their local councils and starting and supporting new units. We also focused on helping others in their local councils and districts learn how to start new units, recruit new charter partners, find locations to meet, retain youth and families currently in Latter-day Saint chartered units and recruit other Latter-day Saint families, youth and leaders.”
Participants attended from across the nation, including representatives from Anchorage, Alaska and Puerto Rico, and the course involved unit, district, and council leaders.
The week opened with a session on Latter-day Saint Scouting history and the 106-year partnership. “As Scouting for Church members moves from an institutional partnership to an individual choice, it’s valuable to understand the past and those who went before us,” taught Nettie Francis. “The past will never change, and as Latter-day Saints we enjoy a rich Scouting heritage. Let’s never forget that legacy.”
“Even though the Church partnership is ending, there will always be relationships between Latter-day Saints and the Scouting community,” shared Mark Francis. “We encourage BSA councils to continue to have Latter-day Saint Scouting committees and provide specific support and information as we move forward in 2020 and beyond.”
Charles Dahlquist, former BSA National Commissioner and former Young Men General President, directed the week.
“It’s important that we not let down our expectations for those still desiring to continue their Scouting Adventure—now, during the transition period, as well as after December 31, 2019,” shared Brother Dahlquist. “While many youth are working to earn their Eagle before 2020, Scouting is about the experience and the growth. We want these awards to mean something to them. There are many Star and Life Scouts in the nation. While they didn’t make it to Eagle, they still had their lives changed through Scouting.”
“As leaders of today’s Rising Generation, it is our obligation, opportunity and blessing to continue to provide a marvelous, fun and adventure-packed, character-building experience for ALL youth—those who are working to complete their Eagle before the end of the year and those who just want a fun, adventuresome program. That is the guidance all leaders have received from the Brethren, and we need to be aware of the need to continue to feed and strengthen the youth during this critical transition time. If we do not, we will be responsible for those youth who not only left the program, but who became inactive during our period of ‘waiting for further direction.’”
“We need to stay fully engaged during this transition period; and, in addition, BSA is committed to providing sufficient community units for those currently in Latter-day Saint units who desire to continue their Scouting experience after the end of 2019. ”
Families who attended enjoyed the PTC programs and other signature Philmont events during the week, including a Family Home Evening and Family Banner parade on Monday night and a Children’s Parade in conjunction with Western Night. They attended the seasonal Philmont Branch on Sunday and also had the opportunity to attend interreligious services with other faiths during the week.
“There were so many non-members at the Latter-day Saint religious service, and I had flashbacks to my mission,” shared Rachel Armstrong, attending with her family from St. George, Utah. “It’s important to be as inclusive as possible. I love learning about the other cultures and religious perspectives in Scouting because we’re all trying to do the same thing. It’s encouraging that families of many faiths can participate in Scouting and still accomplish their own religious traditions and customs.”
The course was held along with nine other trainings at Philmont and provided an inspiring opportunity for participants and families to mingle with religious people from many faiths. The United Methodist Church, the National Catholic Committee on Scouting and the National Jewish Committee on Scouting also held training courses during the week.
“In the past, Latter-day Saints attended Philmont during their own week of conferences. One of the powerful aspects of Vision 2020 was the interaction of Scouting leaders and families with the other participants,” said Mark Francis. “There is a synergy in gathering Scouting ideas from many religious, civic, and educational chartered organizations.”
Representatives from three religious groups spoke to the Vision 2020 participants during their course.
“Most Scouting units include youth and leaders from many religions,” explained Bruce Chudacoff, Chairman of the National Jewish Committee on Scouting. “What do we expect from these varied youth including Latter-day Saints who might join a Jewish troop? We would expect them to follow the Scout Oath and Law and be a Scout.”
A tremendous energy was felt among participants as they learned together and shared best practices for retaining youth after December 31, 2019. Classes included training on starting and governing Scouting units, recruiting families, involving parents, fundraising, and other traditional tools. Additionally, challenges and opportunities specific to Latter-day Saint Scouters were discussed.
“Those who act now in recruiting and starting new units will have the greatest influence in the lives of their local youth,” commented one participant.
Matt McIff, Scoutmaster from St. George, Utah shared, “This is an adventure first program, and it will be an adventure first program after 2019. When you put the emphasis on adventure and not on advancement, that’s when the youth will come and stay. In our troop, we focus first on adventure (and learning) and THEN on advancement.”
One morning of the course was dedicated entirely to the spiritual aspect of Scouting. Participants traveled to a beautiful outdoor location and heard from Charles Dahlquist, Mark Francis, and Chip Turner—former Religious Relationships Committee Chair. They also viewed a talk given by Elder S. Dilworth Young in General Conference in April 1975 entitled “Scouters: Lead them to a Mission.”
“Scouting isn’t about knot-tying,” shared Charles Dahlquist. “Baden-Powell knew that. And while skills are certainly critical in building youth, it’s the opportunities to bear testimony. The testimonies you bear in Scouting are through who you are and how you respond. This forthcoming change is an opportunity to strengthen youth like never before. We need leaders who are firmly grounded in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
At the conclusion of the week the feelings of the participants were positive and energetic.
“I need all of my children to marry Eagle Scouts, so I hope we can stay strong and vigilant,” said Becky Nakagawa, from Colorado.
Her husband Robert, shared, “I want to be the catalyst back home. I want to take this message back and revolutionize Scouting. I know that the Duty to God aspect of Scouting is vital. I’m here because of the spiritual side of Scouting. Scouting brought me into the Church. We have a big job ahead of us, to share that vision with others.”
Andrew Monks from Oklahoma commented, “Everything good in my life I can trace back to my marriage, my mission, and being in Scouting. And I can trace my marriage and mission back to being an Eagle Scout. Sometimes it’s discouraging to hear the naysayers of Scouting, but it’s been great this week to see how many good Latter-day Saint Scouters there are in the Church.”
“I’ve seen the value of Scouting for many years,” said Art Slaughter from Texas. “I’m grateful to know there is still room for Scouting. Let’s go back and make it happen.”
“I wasn’t entirely sure what the future of Scouting would be after this year,” admitted James Hammer from Utah. “But this week gave me hope that it will still be a strong option for our children.”
His wife, Mamie, added, “Being here at Philmont has given me a clear vision of Scouting moving forward. My blurry vision of the future is gone, and I have been reminded of the goodness and power of Scouting in blessing the lives of our young people. I’m excited for my boys to continue their adventure in 2020.”
Mike Ball from Utah shared, “I’m so grateful that I came. I was feeling discouraged and distraught and wondered how to help Scouting moving forward. I’m rejuvenated and excited now.”
His wife, Robin, added, “I started this course as a naysayer, but I’ve seen a change in myself throughout the week. I’m now excited to go forth with an enthusiasm for Scouting and to help my boys and those in our area.”
“I’ve been to lots of trainings and learned the basics of Scouting so I came to Philmont feeling like it was going to be another Wood Badge,” shared Ellen Townsend from Utah. “But I didn’t realize that I would also gain the courage and the confidence that I can actually go home and make a difference as we transition to community units.”
“Just like the youth in the Philmont backcountry, we’ve been on a journey, on a trek for a long time,” shared Jim Huff from Texas. “But this chapter is coming to an end, and now we have the opportunity to rededicate ourselves to Scouting.”
“It’s important that we always remember the foundation of this organization,” concluded Mark Francis. “The strength of the BSA is doing our Duty to God. I believe that what we’re doing is in line with the Lord’s will. The world needs good organizations because young people connect in different ways. Scouting plays a critical role in the development of a young person and in the maturity of an adult.”
“My hat is off to all of you,” he continued. “I thank you for making the sacrifice of your time and money to come and be with us this week, and learn how we can provide a Scouting opportunity for all youth. Let’s go out and find lots of people to share this vision with.”
At the close of the course Charles Dahlquist shared, “Thanks to all of you for being here. It is an exciting time to be a Latter-day Saint!”
After relating a story about the impact a small bee can have on a cornfield, Brother Dahlquist counseled, “If one little bee can pollinate a field, imagine what our efforts can do! As we anticipate the introduction of this new worldwide Church initiative for children and youth, we fully support the Brethren and especially our beloved Prophet in this movement. Scouting teaches that a Scout should do his duty to God—and that means being active in his denomination’s youth program—whether that be Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim or Latter-day Saint. And in the face of that new program, I feel certain that each of us and thousands of parents and Scouts will recognize that the Church initiative is not a program in competition with Scouting. There will be room for both for those who wish to continue their Scouting Adventure.”
Brother Dahlquist concluded with a three-part challenge. “It is our responsibility and blessing to ensure that current Scouts (and their families) understand their opportunity to continue their Scouting experience, that those youth AND THEIR SISTERS are invited to continue Scouting after 2019, and that there are sufficient units for those youth.”
“Our leaders have reassured us over the decades that Baden-Powell was inspired as he began the Scouting Movement—a fact that we know to be true,” he said. “That movement continues today to bless the lives of our youth across the world, including many Latter-day Saints who desire to continue Scouting after the end of the year. Never in the history of this country have we needed Scouting more than we need it now – to help our youth learn vital life skills, develop character values, learn to do hard things and, in a word, to be prepared – for Life! The work of strengthening the youth of the rising generation is ours – and my closing message is that we’re not alone.”
Paraphrasing the patriot Patrick Henry he shared, “There is a just God who presides over the destiny of nations who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us.” As we move forward to ensure appropriate communication to Scouting families and the founding of new Scouting units, may the God of Heaven bless our efforts and may He bless the Rising Generation, their families and their noble and dedicated leaders.”
Newly Published: Scouting in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
By Kevin V. Hunt
For many years, I have had repeated requests for a purchase opportunity of the book “Scouting in The LDS Church”. I am pleased to announce that this book is now available in a newly updated and reprinted version as the Collector’s Gold – Final Edition. I invite you to make a purchase:
World Scouting began in the year 1907 under the God-inspired leadership and tutelage of its founder, Lord Robert Baden-Powell in England. This book again reiterates that glorious founding and the beginning of the world-wide Scouting program. God be thanked for Lord Baden-Powell. He was a man of God and he implemented eternal principles in the development of the grand program of Scouting.
Most Scouters of the United States are also generally familiar with the story of how the Scouting program came to the United States. As the story goes, William D. Boyce, a Chicago newspaper publisher was in England. He became confused (or was it lost) in a dense fog for which London is so well known. Then, out of the fog came a young man who performed a much-needed good turn. He led the man to his destination.
Following the good turn, Boyce was grateful for the services of the young man and offered to pay him for his help. He was very surprised when the boy refused Boyce’s gratuity. The “Unknown Scout” (as he has forever since been known) told Mr. Boyce that he was a Scout and as such, was expected to do a “Good Turn” each day. Boyce was much impressed and inquired further about this “Scout” business. The Scout took him to meet Lord Baden-Powell.
Mr. Boyce was very much impressed with Baden-Powell and excited about the program that Baden-Powell had begun. Then, armed with inspiration and materials of the Scouting program, Boyce returned home. He gathered youth and outdoor scholars of the day (Ernest Thompson Seton, Daniel Beard and many others) and together they developed what would become The Boy Scouts of America. The organization was established on February 8, 1910 and formally incorporated by the US Congress in 1916.
At the beginning, Scouting flourished everywhere around the country as men and boys became excited about the program and affiliated with the National Organization in New York City. In 1913, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints became the first organization to officially adopt the program of The Boy Scouts of America as its own program for its boys. Early Church leaders and Prophets latched onto the program with full force and stamina as well as ardent support. Church leaders everywhere soon had opportunity to use the full program – combined with the Aaronic Priesthood – to meet the needs, energy and excitement of boys throughout the Church.
And then for nearly 107 years, the Church has been in a grand partnership with The Boy Scouts of America. And that association has been truly grand and marvelous. And in those years, generations of Scouts and dedicated leaders have experienced the grandeur of Scouting by the Lord’s design. Amazing are the lessons learned, the training received, and the effect of the program. Nostalgic has been the camping, the mountaineering, the campfire programs, and the brotherhood of the program.
In 2013, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints celebrated – again in the grandest of style – the century-long association – the partnership – with The Boy Scouts of America. A book, “A Century of Honor” was written to commemorate the partnership. (And I was privileged to be a member of a team of historians who helped create that book.) A marvelous and exciting extravaganza was held for all Scouts of the Church radiating from The Conference Center in Salt Lake City. What an amazing and wonderful celebration. The Church really did it up in great style. Every Scout and leader gloated in and rejoiced in their personal ties to Scouting and the Church/BSA association.
And for several more years, Church Scouting leaders continued to do as they had always done … doing their best to deliver the best program possible for the young men of the Church.
Then, in May 2018, it all came crashing down – or so it seemed. On May 11th came the shocking announcement that effective January 1, 2020, the Church would cease formal association with The Boy Scouts of America (and all other world-wide Scouting organizations). Was it the “3-G’s” – (girls, gays and godless) that had wreaked havoc and total loss of BSA resources in litigation over recent years? Was it the huge amount of money needed to sustain the association? Perhaps so, but none of that matters. Though it came as a real shock, a Prophet of God had spoken, and it became all of us to follow his lead and direction.
With the news of formal association coming to a close, also came the promise of a world-wide program applicable to youth everywhere in the growing world Church. And while the methods of Scouting may not be so clearly defined, the principles and opportunities for new adventures will always be there available for us to use and enjoy.
So, what now? Well, first off … The Scouting/LDS association ends on December 31, 2019. But is that the end? Will Scouting forever be wiped from the memory of the millions of LDS Scouts and leaders who have participated? Will we no longer have opportunity to associate in the Boy Scouting program? Does that mean that no more LDS Scouts will ever be able to achieve the coveted rank of Eagle Scout? Will we ever stop living the ideals of the Scout Oath and Law?
All of that depends, I guess, upon our own individual decisions and how we want to go forward as individuals, families, groups and communities. We can each have a say in the future and how we envision it going forward. With the passage of time, history will be kind to The Boy Scouts of America and our memories of what it has been and meant to each individual Scout and leader who has participated in it through Church Scouting.
On one occasion, the Prophet Brigham Young said of his prophet predecessor, Joseph Smith, his work and mission: “I feel like shouting Hallelujah, all the time, when I think that I ever knew Joseph Smith, the Prophet whom the Lord raised up and ordained, and to whom he gave keys and power to build up the Kingdom of God on earth and sustain it.” (DBY, 456). I think that this statement will sum up what each of us might say as we look back in future years as we recall our blessed association and our own roles and experiences through The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and The Boy Scouts of America. That will and ever will be a part of each of us.
Scouting and the Church will no longer be officially affiliated, but we can remain “friends” and we can go forward. Each of us who so chooses, can retain personal and family Scouting affiliation. And yes, our sons (and even now daughters) can still become Eagle Scouts!
Scouting and Scouting in the Church will pass into history – as all good things do. But we should all forever remember the lessons learned, the activities shared, the brotherhood and the grandeur of the Scouting traditions within each of us.
Although he lived some 2500 years ago, none of us tire of reading of the experiences of Nephi as he left Jerusalem, as he sojourned in the wilderness, as he obtained the brass plates from Laban, as he communed with God and received revelation and inspiration from his mountain tops or how he remained faithful and obedient throughout his life. And the LDS pioneer experience never gets old. No matter how often we hear of the travels, the sacrifices and the testimony of our pioneer ancestors, we are uplifted, inspired, grateful and excited about the treasured legacy that they left to us. We relish in our connections to them and have pride in their accomplishments. Whether it is US, World, Church or personal history, it is that … a treasured history to be studied and remembered.
So it should be with our memories of our Scouting associations and experiences. Even though we will no longer have official church affiliation with Scouting, the legacy is there. How can we ever forget the training received, the recitation and daily living of the Scout Oath and Law? How can we dismiss the Scouting traditions so ingrained in us through family generations? How can we forget those special times around the campfire, the brotherhood shared with our brothers – fellow Scouts and leaders – our Scouting brothers? Scouting will and should live on in each of us. That is why this book is written … it need not be the final chapter.
All former Scouts, leaders, parents, teachers, trainers, and everyone who has been a part of Scouting should commit to keeping the Scouting legacy alive. We should each commit anew each day to remember and live the Scouting ideals in our own lives. And we need to record and share our Scouting experiences with our progeny. Who knows but what our Scouting experiences will some day be quoted as are our ancestor stories or even the stories and experiences of Nephi and other great men who have lived before? What will be our Scouting legacy that we leave behind? As noted already, the Scouting principles that we have learned are eternal. Though the delivery methods and programs may change, the principles will live on.
It is in this spirit that you are given opportunity to read and study again of the Scouting legacy within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It truly is a grand legacy and there is much that is good and great as we celebrate the past associations and then together begin new chapters in the days ahead.
Best wishes along your current Scouting trails and as you walk the path of Scouting memories. May Scouting live on in each of us and the lives of our families!
A few years ago, I was conducting a Scout board of review. As was my practice at the end of such boards, I asked a question of the Scout being reviewed. I invited him to question us, “Do you have any questions for us?” I asked. He just looked at me for a few seconds and then his answer surprised me. He said, “How OLD are you?” I don’t know how old he thought I was but from the look on his face, he must have thought that I camped with Baden-Powell on Brownsea Island. Sometimes it feels as if that was the case.
While I admit that I am not old enough to have camped with Baden-Powell, I have definitely been around the block a bit in Scouting. With my veteran status, I can look back and say that I have held almost every Scouting position. And that equates to a lot of Scouting. And with that, along my Scouting Trail, I have gained a lot of experience. Sometimes knowledge and wisdom come best with experience.
Along with my own personal Scouting service, I have also had opportunity to view a whole lot of Scouting boys, units and leaders as they have played the game of Scouting. I have seen some bad units that didn’t quite have the vision of Scouting and were thus quite under-whelming. I have seen mediocre units that just kind of skipped from one program or event to another. And I have also been honored to see some Scouting packs, troops, teams and crews (and even districts) that have really known how to do it up right. So, with that opportunity I’ve had to view Scouting and how it is best accomplished, I have come up with my own top ten things – keys – that seem to be a common denominator for success in the program. (And experience also tells me that these same principles or keys can be applied to make any youth program (church, school, etc. successful). For years, I have taught these principles, but now have compiled them into my new book. I hope that you will check them out, purchase the new book, and give these keys a try. I think that they will work well for you and the youth under your charge. So, get the keys and go for it – unlock a world of limitless exciting programs, activities, and joy as you implement the vision of Scouting!
And now, I would like to share with you those “10 Keys to Successful Scouting and Youth Leadership.” In the book, I expound a bit (or maybe a lot) on each of the keys to success, but Here is a summary of those keys:
“THE KEY OF TRAINING” — Become trained so that you can function properly and effectively. A trained leader generally is a good leader.
“THE KEY OF TEAMWORK” — Realize that you can’t do it alone. Develop a capable team of parents and others to support and assist you.
“THE KEY OF RESOURCES” – There is a lot of support and help out there for you. Use the many resources that are available to you.
“THE KEY OF CALENDARING” — An effective program is best planned at least a year in advance. With your youth leaders and adult team, plan a fun-filled calendar of Scouting activities for the next twelve months.
“THE KEY OF YOUTH MOTIVATION” — Inspire and train your boy leaders to rise to their full leadership potential. Give them opportunities for growth through service in your unit.
“THE KEY OF SCOUTING IDEALS” — Constantly teach the ideals of Scouting. Make the Scout Oath, the Law, Motto, and Slogan come to life with real meaning in the lives of your boys.
“THE PATROL METHOD, THE KEY OF SCOUTING” — Utilize the patrol method in all phases of the program — the den and pack, the patrol and troop, the squad and team. Be the inspiration and motivation for patrol spirit.
“THE KEY OF EXAMPLE” — Always wear your complete uniform and encourage your boys to do the same. Speak and act as you want your boys to become.
“THE KEY OF FRIENDSHIP” — Show a genuine love and concern for your young men. Take time to be a friend and hero to them.
“THE KEY OF JOY IN SERVICE” — Put your whole heart into the job. Enjoy each scouting moment as it comes and too soon passes.
Well, there you have them: Ten keys, which when used, can open limitless doors to effective programs, eternal friendships and pride in the strength of true Christ-like service through Scouting or other youth groups. I know that these leadership principles will wok for you. I have seen them in action and have seen some truly great Scouting leaders and groups who have applied the keys in their programs. Any success that I have enjoyed has been through my own application of these keys – seeing the full vision and potential of the great Scouting program.
Give the keys a try … With them, I know that you will have much success and joy along your Scouting trails!
A year or so ago, I announced the opening of my new Scouting Trails Memorabilia Museum and extended to all Scouts, Scouter, families and units an open invitation to come see the Museum. With my recent family move, I am pleased to say that the Museum is now bigger and better and is open in the new location in Maricopa, Arizona.
Check out the original blog: The Scouting Trails Memorabilia Museum
And yes, the Museum is NOW OPEN for your viewing pleasure. E-mail Kevin today at firstname.lastname@example.org to make an appointment for yourself, your family or your Scouting unit. (And you could come ahead and preview it – and then bring the group later!) Just come and enjoy it.
Come and relive Scouting memories – including your own experiences along your own Scouting Trail … Kevin
Recently I wrote a blog, 50 Years as an Eagle Scout , celebrating 50 years since I became an Eagle Scout. Fifty years … how is that possible? No way I could be that old. In that blog, I announced the forthcoming publication of a new book, “Gnubie to Eagle Scout”. That was just a “teaser” but now comes the real thing! My new “Scouting Trails” book has just published and is now available for you on Amazon.
But that is not the only Scouting Trails book available for you there. I’d like to share information and links with you so that you can check them out. And maybe you’ll be interested enough to even purchase one or more or all of the books. That would please me very much! And I hope that you might be pleased with the books, as well.
Let me say first, however, that most of the information in my books comes from those fifty years of involvement with the Boy Scouts of America. And those years are documented in personal daily journals that span most of those fifty plus years (and that is another blog: 45 Years of Daily Journaling). I am happy to share my first-hand experiences with you. Yes, I have truly been there, done that, and got the T-shirt (so many, in fact, that they take up a sizeable space in my new Scouting Trails Museum (located in my own home). “Scouting Trails” is my “brand” for everything that I write about Scouting. (And I do also write about other things too … Stay tuned for more on that!)
Note that with each book, there are two versions. One is the standard paperback version in a 6” x 9” format. Each book kind of looks like other books in my Scouting Trails series (and again, this is my “Brand”). And the other is the Kindle on-line version – for readers on the go. Now you can purchase the books and read them at your convenience on your cell-phone or other electronic device. So, take your pick. Choose the version that fits you best. Or do both – for even greater versatility. If you get both versions, you get a big discount on the Kindle version. And sometimes you can have a free read of the Kindle version free – with or without a paperback purchase! Such a deal!
So, let’s get on with the books. Bring them on! Here goes:
First, let me tell you about“Gnubie to Eagle Scout”:
This is a book geared most specifically for youth – but you parents and Scout leaders might enjoy it as much as your Scouts. And feel free to share it with them around the campfire or in family read-along sessions together at home. This book digs back in the memory and details (in living color) my own wonderful Scouting experience as a youth (with some adult wisdom gained later, added occasionally).
As I open the book, I tell of my experience as a “Gnubie”. For years, I pronounced the word as “Gun-ubie” *(that is how naïve I was). Yes, I was a really green gnubie. I could not wait to get involved in Scouting. The days could not come soon enough for me! But, come, they did. As a gnubie (new-bie), I had some grand experiences in good old Troop 155, in Mesa, Arizona. I was a gnubie … but didn’t know that I was one. That is, until I went to Camp Geronimo for my first Scout summer camp experience. The sign that greeted us at the “lake” (a big name for a little pond) was ominous. It read (with skull and crossed bones): “Beware! This Lake Eats Gnubies”. My fellow Troop 155’ers pointed it out to me and laughed hysterically. They did not let on right away that “Gnubie” meant me. (And let me say that to be politically correct today, they meant no harm in their use of the term … after all, they were once one, too! So, there was nothing wrong with being a Gnubie. So, after I learned that I was one, I relished in that new status. It was great!)
Then, as the book progresses, I recall my steps along the Eagle Scout trail – from Gnubie to Tenderfoot, 2nd and 1st Class, Star, Life and on up to Eagle Scout. I share many of my Gnubie memories (which, by the way, get better with the passing of time!). And I also share some insights and challenges for great Scouting times after you receive the coveted Eagle Scout award.
Major and pleasant features of “Gnubie” are the great illustrations created by my wife, Lou, especially for the book. Check them out! Thanks, Lou! There are a few other photos and artwork, as well.
Take a walk down memory lane and as you do so, get your journal (a book, an App) or something that works for you to write down some of your own memories as they come to you. I would recommend my own way to record such memories as they randomly pop into my mind. Carry some 3×5” cards (white or colored – my favorite). When you are at a stop light or have a quiet moment sometime in your day, and a memory pops into your mind, write a few words about the memory … just enough to help jar your memory even more when you have time to more fully detail that memory. And if you do this on a regular basis, you will soon have a decent collection of your own Scouting (or general life memories). This same procedure will also help you write a detailed personal or family history. Give it a try. You will be glad that you did … and so will forthcoming generations behind you. (I presented this Gnubie book to one of my own grandsons just this morning. I hope that it will help motivate Bryson as he moves along his own Scouting trail.)
That brings up the next book: “What Every Scout Parent Should Know: A Parent’s Guide to be the Best Scout Parents Ever”
When a boy (or girl) becomes a Cub Scout, it is a family thing. But, too often, parents think that all they need to do is get their son to the meetings. They have misconceptions about the uniform and other things. They could be better and more supportive. This book is a guide to help parents become the best Scouting parents ever.
Let me say that my own mother was my greatest Scouting supporter. She was everywhere that she needed to be in order to help me and my four brothers all become Eagle Scouts. (She wears her miniature pins in flight formation!) I can not say enough about her greatness as my Scouting parent. Thanks, Mom! I write a frank view to Scout moms – with guidance and help based upon that my mother gave to me.
In the book, I also write frankly to the dads. MyDad kind of went along – when he had to – but he could have been a bit more “into it”. Learn from him and really go for it!
“Scout Camp Preparations – A Leader’s Guide: How to Prepare Now for the Best Ever Scout Camp Next Year”
This book is a handy guide to help Scoutmasters and other Scouting leaders to make all necessary preparations for a successful Scout summer camp experience. It is a step-by-step guide for those camp preparations. The book is written from the view of a very experienced camp director who has had long experience in preparing the camp experience for the arriving troops. Check it out – and do just that: Make it the best Scout camp ever – this summer and next!
“Our Scouting Heritage – General Version: A Commemoration Program to Inspire Your Scouts”
Just in time to celebrate the February anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America …
This is a dramatic reading commemorative program designed to help all Scouts, leaders and families appreciate the great legacy and heritage of the Scouting program. The program can be used during Scout week, or at any time with a BBQ or dinner, at a court of honor, blue and gold banquet, a campfire program or other activities.
“Our Scouting Heritage – LDS Edition: A Commemorative Program to Inspire Your Scouts”
This book is a twin brother (almost) to the book noted above … but it adds some additional historical tidbits from the words of LDS Prophets and other leaders in support of the Scouting program. Things are changing with the Boy Scouts of America and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints but like reading scripture, those changes can never wipe out our memories nor our LDS Scouting heritage of the past.
And finally, here is a great read for every teenager (and adult) everywhere. This is:
“Dean!: A Youth Leader Triumphs Even Through Cancer”
My brother, Dean, died as the Westwood High School Junior Class President but touched the hearts of everyone through his caring and dynamic leadership. Dean was both Sophomore and Junior Class President and was known by everyone at his Westwood High School. A great leader, he triumphed even through cancer. Though facing death, Dean teaches us to have faith in God’s plan for each of us, to love life, to be a friend, to face life (and death) with guts, to be a man of character, to believe in ourselves, to share and to serve, to “go for it” and to “hang in there”. The lessons of Dean! This book tells of his triumph through his cancer and ultimate death. The book contains his journal kept just before his death.
And having said all of the above, there is a single link where (now or in a few days) you can see all current “Scouting Trails” books currently being sold on Amazon. Here is that master author link:
Well, there you have them! Several “Scouting Trails” books for you to enjoy. There is something for everyone. Get them for yourself, your Scout children, family and friends. And there are several more like these “in the pipeline” so look for more titles to come in the future. On my Author page on Amazon, you can click “Follow” to get updates on Scouting Trails and other books by yours truly.
Trying to help you enjoy your Scouting Trails journey … Best wishes and enjoy those trails!
[Eagle artwork with feature Photo courtesy of artist, Ron Bergen]
It was a great sight as a convocation of eight Eagles (all from one family) took flight in Arizona’s famed Superstition Mountains. The occasion was an Eagle Scout court of honor held at a home at the base of the mountains made famous by the Lost Dutchman who according to a century-old legend, buried gold that is yet to be found. And though the court of honor was inside, just being there under those majestic mountains made the occasion all the more grand.
I am kind of a history buff. So, I get into the study and preservation of old stuff. And that is probably why I joined the modern “Mormon Battalion”. This historical society exists to commemorate and to keep alive, the memory of the Original Mormon Battalion that made the longest military infantry march in known history in 1846 and 1947. Five hundred or so men (and a few ladies) marched 2,000 or so miles from today’s Council Bluffs, Iowa – through Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, to San Diego, then northern California and on to the Rocky Mountains and Salt Lake City, Utah.
The Arizona Chapter of the modern Mormon Battalion has a mission of taking Scouts, youth and leaders across the dusty trails that the former Battalion members helped to build (basically following the Gila River across Arizona). With special authorization from the BLM (Bureau of Land Management), Battalion members help local Scout troops and other youth groups traverse those trails, provide service on the trail, and to participate in a campfire program where is told the history of the original Mormon Battalion.
I have personally been on that trail a few times and have loved the presentations by the Battalion members. I wish I could say that it is a beautiful place, but I can’t. In fact, it is one of the ugliest places I have ever been. Unlike much more beautiful Arizona elsewhere, It is pretty stark and there is a whole lot of nothing out there. But, having been a part of that scene, it underscores to me, the sacrifice that those men made for our country as they spent the nights there over Christmas (today known as “Christmas Camp“) . Wearing bare threads, and hardly any shoes, and subsisting on little food, these hearty pioneers were fed and taken care of by the native Pima-Maricopa Indians. And I note that at this time, most of the men had no idea where their families were (somewhere along the Mormon trail heading from Iowa and Nebraska toward Zion – or Salt Lake City) – nor when or if they would ever see them again. Faith moved them forward!
Then months or years later, after their initial hike on the Battalion Trail, as young men become Eagle Scouts, a member of the modern Battalion is invited to the Scout’s Eagle Scout court of honor. And at the court of honor, he presents to the new Eagle a beautiful and impressive steer head neckerchief slide that symbolizes the pioneer spirit of the original pioneer battalion.
And that is where and how I get involved with the new Eagle Scouts. I have been a member of the slide presentation team for almost 30 years and have presented an estimated 150-200 of these slides. At the presentations, I honor the memory of the original Mormon Battalion (with a bit of a mini-history lesson) – and the new Eagle Scout. This is always a great honor for me to make these presentations. And that is also the how and why I found myself at the base of the Superstition Mountains on a recent November Sunday evening.
I had been invited to be a part of the simple Eagle Scout ceremony by the Ellingson family. Typically, an Ellingson Eagle court has been held at their home – located only a few blocks from my Mesa, Arizona home. Having been given no other directions, I headed there to make my presentation. But, upon arrival, I found the Ellingson family home rented out and otherwise occupied as the parents, Tyler, the new Eagle Scout and his younger brother are in Hawaii on a special 2-year church assignment. (A real rough deal … but someone has to do it!) I next went to their church building – again close to my home. Nada! There was no trace of the large Ellingson clan (consisting now of mom, dad, 13 children – nine sons and four daughters – and an ever growing posterity of grandchildren). Okay, I was now really stumped. I called the Ellingson mom – and was surprised that she actually answered the phone so near to the big activity starting time..
“Didn’t I tell you?” she asked. She told me that the court was to be held at the base of the Superstition Mountains – located about 25 miles to the east. (I guess she somehow forgot that detail.) Now I was really “stuck” since it was already starting time. (But, I guessed the clan could visit and entertain each other as they waited for me.)
Eagle Scout son, Tyler – now an adopted Hawaiian – and family – returned to Arizona for the wedding of an older brother and the Eagle court was planned as one of the reunion gatherings of that week. Ellingsons had come from far and near to be a part of the events of the week. And Tyler had very simple requests for his recognition night. He wanted his mom to serve some of her famous salsa and chips to the crowd – and he wanted me to come to make the presentation of the Battalion slide. So, of course they had to wait for me.
So, I headed out east on the Freeway – and then tried to find my way – on the very dark night – up to the mountain home of an Ellingson daughter and family. And I soon wished that I had brought my boy Scout compass. I explored much of the southern edge of the Superstition Mountains in my search for the gathering. Finally, after another call to the Ellingson family, several members of the family came out with flashlights to help me get found and safely guided to the Eagle’s Aerie of the night.
The trip into the Ellingson Eagle convocation brought back a flood of fond memories of a similar occasion as I got lost on my very first overnight excursion as a brand new gnube Boy Scout … more on that later!
Upon my arrival, I looked around the room. I recognized nearly everyone. I noted that even with the passage of time, and though the boys I once knew were now rather tall and impressive men, many of them still tried to squeeze into their old Scout uniforms for this grand occasion.
And it was a truly grand occasion for in this simple ceremony, the family would recognize and celebrate the EIGHTH SON in the family to become an Eagle Scout. Wow! Talk about a fabulous family accomplishment. This was truly amazing. Eight Eagle Scout sons! Likely only a very few families could boast of such an accomplishment! It truly was something to shout about – but here only the family (but a rather large family) was gathered to quietly celebrate the momentous occasion. And they rejoiced together. Soon the Eagle court began. The Ellingson dad and patriarch, Mark, called his family to order. There was a simple flag ceremony there in the living room and then a prayer. Father, Mark, opened the court of honor and talked of how the Scouting program has impacted and strengthened his family through the years. He invited others to share their memories of their involvement with the Scouting program. Many positive stories were shared.
Then was noted the great significance of this current moment as THE EIGHTH son of the family was to receive the coveted Eagle Scout award. [And a side note: The ninth Ellingson son is presently an “eaglet” almost ready to take Eagle flight himself. He is presently working to complete his Eagle Scout project and will soon also become an Eagle like his many brothers before him. Everyone was humbly proud and excited to be sharing this family milestone.
All Eagle Scouts were invited to stand. Though an Eagle’s nest was not officially established, everyone noted who would have been in it. Father, Mark, then had his son, Tyler, the new Eagle, stand. Then he and the mom, Marlene, proudly pinned the Eagle badge upon their son.
It was then my turn to present the Mormon Battalion steer head neckerchief slide that I had been invited to present. Mark introduced me and noted (as I knew already) that I had been present for each and every one of the previous Eagle presentations to older brothers – first to the twins and now down through six more brothers. Wow! I am sure that this was a record for me – to have presented the award to eight sons in one family. I was proud and happy to be a part of all of this. It was a special honor for me.
As I stood there by the fireplace, I thanked everyone for the opportunity of being a part of the ongoing Ellingson tradition and noted how exciting it is to witness eight Ellingson Eagle Scouts now in flight together.
Before making the presentation, I noted the challenge of finding my way to the place – there at the base of the famed Superstition Mountains. I shared with them the story of my first Superstition outing – my first overnight camping experience. And before it came my turn to talk, I had found an old picture on my cell phone and began to pass it around.
And yes, I actually admitted that I had once been lost (just once). (Most men have a hard time admitting that they are lost.) But, it is a fact … Mr. Kimball Nelson, the Scoutmaster of our Troop 155 – “The Best Alive” – (and also then my 7th grade science teacher) led us on a night hike to the Superstitions. We were seeking the Superstition Hieroglyphic Canyon. Anyway, for whatever reason (but maybe pre-planned by Mr. Nelson), we wandered around in the star-lit but dark night – not knowing where we were.
But then, in the distance, we saw a light – a shining beacon to us. We made our way toward the light and found ourselves at the then famous Apacheland Movie Ranch – located at the base of the mountain – and as I told the group – “probably right close to where we presently found ourselves for this court of honor”. Anyway, we looked around and saw a light in a small trailer house. We needed help so we knocked on the trailer door.
After a few moments, a cowboy opened the door – likely surprised that someone would be knocking on his door at that late hour of the night. We were in Scout uniform, but we told him that we were Scouts and that we were lost. I am sure that he chuckled at this whole scenario. But, he soon saw that we were serious. He introduced himself as Ron Mix – who a star of the “Death Valley Days” television series then being filmed at the Ranch. He gave us directions to get us back on track toward our destination and then presented each of us an autographed 8×10” photo of himself. Wow! That was great stuff for us gnube Scouts. What a memory …
But, back to the presentation at hand: I briefly recounted the history of the original Mormon Battalion and Brigham Young’s three promises to them: (1- That they would perform a great service to the country and to their church … they helped build the first Southern route road that became the pioneer, “Butterfield Stage” road and the route of the Pony Express … and in lieu of fancy military uniforms, they received the uniform allowance and with their regular military pay … gave the funds to Brigham to outfit the first Mormon pioneer company; 2- That they would never have to fight against another human being (and that was true … their only battle was “the Battle of the Bulls” here in Arizona), and 3- That they would never be forgotten … still evidenced by our very being together recognizing them at this court of honor some 170 years later). I then presented the beautiful steer head neckerchief slide to Eagle Tyler.
So, there it was … a great opportunity to bask in this great Ellingson tradition and to witness again, the convocation of their Eagle flight – this time at the base of the Superstition Mountains. Congratulations, Ellingson family! You look great in eagle flight!
And with that, the program ended. Then it was time to enjoy those chips and salsa.
We are in a season of Thanksgiving and our thanks can include gratitude for Scouting and the great opportunity that is ours to work, serve, to touch the lives of our youth – and to be touched ourselves through this great program. Let us rejoice in the blessings and opportunities that are ours.
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I would like to share with you a message which I wrote last year for the special season – and which appeared in The Boy Scout (published by the Utah National Parks Council). So, in the spirit of gratitude:
By Kevin Hunt
Nov 23, 2017
Thanksgiving, Gratitude, and Scouting: A Poem
As I think about Thanksgiving, gratitude, and Scouting, they all seem to go together. So, I wrote a poem about it all and would like to share it with you.
I’m So Grateful I’m in Scouting
I’m so grateful I’m in Scouting,
growing, serving, so much to give.
Scouting brotherhood and outings,
Oh, what a life it’s been to live.
We earn our wolf badge, then the bear,
Then Webelos, Arrow of Light.
We get to go to day camp where,
We all have fun with all our might.
We started with the Cub Scouts,
and we all love the Blue and Gold.
Such fun in dens, and packs as Scouts,
When done with fam’lies young and old.
New Scout Patrol is next you see,
We start as Scouts then Tenderfeets.
Then Second, First Class Scouts we will be,
Star, Life, then Eagle Scout so sweet.
To be an Eagle Scout is best,
And that’s the goal that we all seek.
We climb the trail and pass each test,
along our way to Eagle’s peak.
As Scouts, we get to camp and hike,
The Scouts and leaders all are there.
We tromp thru snow, or ride our bike,
We hike the hills, camp everywhere.
We have grand times at camporees;
our weeks at summer camp are best.
If we’re lucky, to jamborees,
So much to do, no time to rest.
What can beat the smell of bacon,
as we’re camping on the trail.
And together we are making
the grub that we all love so well.
I’m so grateful I’m in Scouting,
growing, serving, so much to give.
Scouting brotherhood and outings,
Oh what a life it’s been to live.
At this special season, let’s all be grateful for our grand association with the Scouting Program. It is a lot to be thankful for!
Best wishes along your Scouting Trails … Kevin thescoutblogger
Scouting Historian, Author, Blogger, Speaker, Scouting Veteran, and Camp Director
In a previous blog, previous blog on the bolo tie carving tradition. I talked of my treasured collection of Scout bolo ties and how it was rescued from the Brian Head and Thunder Ridge Fire summer before last. I introduced Scout bolo tie carver extraordinaire, Bill Burch. [Much has been written of Bill Burch but here is one article that was published by the Deseret News: Bill Burch’s Bolo Ties. We can all be grateful that before his passing on September 25, 2012, Bill passed on his bolo tie legacy as he trained countless protégés in the art of bolo tie carving. I have met a few of these guys but who knows how many Bill wanna-bees are out there. But, I am glad that they are there – and that they continue to carve as Bill did. I’d like to introduce some of the carvers whom I have known and whose bolos I have in my collection. And this underscores again, why my bolo tie collection is important to me and why I was so grateful that they were saved from the fire..
In 2013, I was a part of a group of LDS and Scouting historians who collaborated together to write and create the “Century of Honor” book to commemorate the full-century affiliation of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Boy Scouts of America. As the Century of Honor book project came to a close, Mark Francis, Director of LDS/BSA Relations (and headquartered in Salt Lake City across from Temple Square of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) was (with his wife, Nettie) the lead in the book production. He invited me to come to Salt Lake City to join him with the other historians with whom I had worked on the project – to celebrate our accomplishment. This visit coincided with a semi-annual conference which Mark and helpers stage each year to help Scouters from all over the country better understand the LDS/BSA relationship.
At this Salt Lake City gathering, I again met Gary Dollar as he was a service missionary for the event. I had found one of his bolo ties on-line – and this was an LDS Century of Honor Jamboree Scout (#11,144 – which I found for the bargain price of $25.) As I had opportunity to visit with Gary, he promised to make and send me a cowboy. (I have a personal love for anything with the western cowboy theme.) I wrote him a reminder note on one of my characteristic 3×5” colored cards from my pocket. He put it into the chest pocket of his suit. My guess is that the card is still in that pocket.
I went on-line to see what carved bolo ties might be found there. I bought three different bolos carved by Guy Nelson. I have not met him but he carves some good faces. From Guy, I have his fireman (#4040), a stove pipe man (#4583) and what I call a “country gentleman” (#4757). (I note that Guy puts his initials but not his name on his bolos – so one has to be a bit more of an investigator to determine who the artist is.) But, having carved 4,757 bolos, he has surely been around the block just a bit.
In 2014 I attended a National BSA camp school prior to being the camp director at the Jack Nicol Cub Scout Camp in Colorado. On the course staff was a Fred Jepsen. I got acquainted with him after I learned that he was a carver. It was fascinating to talk with him about his bolo tie production process. First, he showed me his giant home-made vinyl apron – with giant open pockets – into which he carves – while sitting in his living room with his wife – as they watch movies together. He also showed me how (like Bill) he makes the Aspen rounds and cuts the blocks from the rounds. Then he soaks the blocks in an alcohol solution to “cure” for a while before carving them. Fred gave me a cowboy (#9917). And a really cool thing … he also gave me one for each of my three Scouter sons. They even had the right hair colors – black for K.C., blondish/yellow for Rusty and Red for Keith (we got the wrong names on Keith and Rusty). It was fun for me to later present these to my three sons. Thanks, Fred.
A few years ago, I went to our council’s Scout-O-Rama show – held that year in west Phoenix. At one of the booths I saw a friend, Jason Reed. I have known Jason for years as we have served together on the district Scout leader training staff. I checked out the booth where he was working and then saw a rack with bolo ties. I asked who the carver was. I was surprised when I learned that it was him. I didn’t even know that he was a carver – but I guess he was just kind of getting his carving start.
When Jason saw my interest, he offered to give me one of his bolos – and he let me pick any one that I wanted. I was pretty pleased to get his train conductor – and even more pleased when I noted its #10 on the back. Wow! Jason lives only two or three blocks from me in Mesa – and as noted, we have been friends. So, now knowing that he was a carver, Jason has become my first-line go-to guy. All it takes is an e-mail message and he soon has it made for me. I love this. It is like having my own custom carver there for my every beckon call.
At some point when he was feeling generous, Jason presented me with a Santa Claus (Bolo #264). Ho! Ho! Ho! I then began to use Jason to create custom bolos for various occasions. When I was to be the Camp Director of the Colorado Cub Scout camp, I had him carve a pirate (#594) to go along with our Pirate camp theme. Our family planned to have family photos and the women selected blue and yellow as the theme color. So, I e-mailed Jason and asked if he had any bolos in blue and yellow. He did not and together we talked of what I might need in those colors. I belong to the modern Mormon Battalion commemorative group so I decided to have him make me a Battalion soldier (in blue and yellow) to go with my Battalion soldier uniform. And a couple of weeks later, I got his return e-mail message saying that it was ready for pick-up (with #623 on the bolo back.) This bolo looks real sharp with my Battalion uniform! Another e-mail the next year got me a knight (#652) for yet another Cub Scout camp theme. (And just $25 each … such a deal!)
I mentioned Mark Francis. Mark and I had talked of my desire to begin blogging and to publish books. He suggested Justin Jepsen as a great resource to talk with. So, I made contact with him. He had a familiar name so I asked him my standard question: “Who is your dad?” When he answered, “Fred”, I said, “Oh … Fred the bolo tie carver?” He said “yes” and then he told me that he also is a bolo carver. Well, I had to have one of his bolos and he agreed to carve me a custom cowboy – in brown and red. This came to me as his #1936.
Knowing of my love for carved bolo ties, my daughter, Jackie, found a wonderful and unique Christmas gift for me – at a garage sale of all places. This was kind of a different bolo from the rest of the collection – but it fit all of the parameters. It was a bolo tie. It was hand carved (out of gnarly mesquite or juniper wood) and it was a face. It had the face of an old bearded mountain man. There is no number on the back of this one. It simply says, “By MAC”. So, that has me curious. Who is Mac?
I recently received communication from some other guy who has a “Mac” bolo tie – and he has had it for years. He was just as curious as I was about who this “Mac” might be. Anyone have a clue?
My most recent bolo has been a fun one. A couple of years ago I had opportunity to attend a giant Mountain Man Rendezvous for the Varsity Scouts of our Mesa, Arizona Scouting district. I was there on staff – as a part of an elite group of 18 of the best Dutch oven chefs around. (I think I gained 10 pounds up there as each of these chefs took turns cooking their best stuff for the group.)
Anyway, carver, Boyd Thacker (also from Mesa) was at the Rendezvous following in the footsteps of the legend – Bill Burch. So, he spent his time carving and giving bolos (often in trade) to Mountain Man Scouts. But, he ate with our Dutch oven chef group – a smart man! Our head chef commissioned Boyd to carve a “Swedish Chef” bolo tie for each of the 18 chefs of our group. I got his bolo #1317.
It has been real fun to wear the Swedish Chef – because this guy has great character recognition. Many folks know and recognize him from “The Muppets”. So, most folks when they see this bolo, smile big and then complement me on it. They’ll say, “I LOVE your Swedish Chef!” And then I smile too!
Well, there you have it! The rest of the story … and all the details of my prized bolo tie collection! You can probably see why the collection could probably not be replaced and why I love it as I do. Scouting, history and traditions … they all seem to go together. Keep getting and wearing those bolo ties … and help maintain the tradition!
[Side note: If you are a carver or an owner of a Scout bolo tie that you are ready to pass on, I would love to take it off your hands! As often as I wear these bolo ties, any new ones would be most welcome!]
Best wishes along your Scouting Trails … Kevinthescoutblogger