By Kevin Hunt
Jun 17, 2017

Look Out Camp Thunder Ridge, Here Come the Warriors

It was the second night of our first week of camp at Camp Thunder Ridge 2017.  And the scene was a campwide flag ceremony. Troop 26 had volunteered to present the ceremony.   I was their assigned camp commissioner but it was at this flag ceremony that they really got my attention.

I knew that they were Troop 26 from Logandale, Nevada – not even a part of the Utah National Parks Council, but here they were at Thunder Ridge.  They were decked out in absolute perfect uniform – all of them.  They ALL had Scout shirts with all badges properly placed, official Scout pants, and “Digital Camouflage” (as they called it) neckerchiefs and hats.  Boy, were they ever impressive.  Anytime I see a full troop in complete uniform I get excited but these guys were amazing and magnificent.

Troop 26 at Camp Thunder Ridge

My wife and I staged a photo session with them after the ceremony.  And in this process, they also showed us one of their “class B” t-shirts each had on under the “A’s”.  On this “B” shirt they had last names of each Scout on the shirt backs.  They also had a warrior figure on the shirt back.  And on a shirt sleeve they had a “Troop Nickname”.  This was intriguing.  I asked, “How do they get their nicknames?”  They smiled and said, “You don’t pick the name – it finds you,” they said.  (That sounded like a Mountain Man Rendezvous tradition.)

Anyway, I wanted to know more.   So, I went to their troop site to visit the next morning.  I interviewed leaders and boys – and took more photos of their “B” uniforms.    And my interviews made me even more impressed!  Wow!

I asked Scoutmaster, Charles Burt to give me an introduction of his troop.  “Our troop is very priesthood-oriented,” he said.  “We are set up to ensure first and foremost that the Scouts are understanding their priesthood duties and their duty to God.  Close unto it, would be our commitment to the Boy Scouts of America organization which complements their goals.”  Wow!  That is truly the goal of the LDS Church for all of its Deacon/Scouts.

“So, you are the Warriors,” I said.  “What is that all about?” Scoutmaster Burt said, “The symbolism of Captain Moroni has significance to the boys.  They chose him as our righteous warrior as someone they can look up to and it would help keep them in the scriptures – namely the Book of Mormon.”  (And Moroni was their warrior figure on their shirts.)

I asked about the uniform.  He mentioned that some Afghanistan soldiers from their area came home with some military clothes about five years ago and wanted to donate them to the troop.   (At this moment, a Scoutmaster in the next campsite over – and from their next town over neighbors (of Overton, Nevada) ran over and joined the conversation saying, “I’ve been hearing that Warrior Yell for at least five years!”)

Anyway, The Troop 26 scoutmaster of the time had been strugglingwith how to get his Scouts into complete uniform.  As an alternative first step, he invited the Scouts to become Warriors and to take the theme of the digital fabric.  The boys had never been willing to wear Scout pants but they decided they were cool and wanted to wear them.  And then they began to wear them all of the time.  They soon found that the new troop look built troop and quorum unity.  They heard many good comments.  But, the big thing was that the uniforms developed a – feeling of love and expression of one another – unified in a manner that was unique to them.  And from there, says Scoutmaster Burt, “We better established the Priesthood element and Duty of God because the unity had been established.  With their quorum unity, they took better to Priesthood and Duty to God.

I then asked, “So, when did you make the transition to the official Scout pants?”

Scoutmaster Burt explained:  “Recognizing that the camo pants were technically against BSA policy, we got the young men together and brought the concern to their attention. The boys decided collectively that they felt it to be more important to be obedient and still unified in a manner.  So they abandoned camo pants and went to the BSA pants as they continued to remember their beginnings of what created unity – by wearing the hats and the neckerchiefs.”

Troop leaders noted that they have been to Utah National Parks Council camps the last five years (rather than those in their own council).  “Why, I asked?”  I liked their answer:  “Utah National Parks are just better organized.  So, we are glad to be here.”   They also said that they love the “Iron Rod” and “Liahona” awards and they alternate using these each summer at camp.  They also said that “we have a strong focus on the church’s “Come follow Me” program so the boys lead what is being taught in the quorum and in all activities – including Scouting activities.”

Bishop Bill Johnson was up with the troop and staged an uplifting and spiritual “fire side” program with the troop.  And I was privileged to meet with the troop to experience this extraordinary event.  As the program began, the troop knelt together on the dusty ground to pray.  “We’re kneelers,” said Bishop Johnson.  Bishop Johnson (he and Scoutmaster Burt recently back from Woodbadge) led us all in the Scout Oath and Law.  Bishop Johnson then talked softly and powerfully to the boys.  He told them that “Scouting and the Priesthood together – prepare young men to be good missionaries, husbands, fathers, temple goers, and community leaders.”  He testified of Scouting and how it was inspired by founder, Baden-Powell.  The fireside was absolutely fabulous.  And at the end, I nearly cried through the humble and wonderful prayer offered by Scout Quinn.  I thought that heaven had opened to us.

With me at the fireside was their “troop friend” staffer, Jason.  (I found it Interesting that Jason’s two uncles were with me on the staff at Camp Thunder Ridge 40 years ago.)  The troop presented some beautifully hand-crafted plaques (of juniper and mesquite) woods – and made by Bishop Johnson – as appreciation to their adult leaders.  I was really pleased that he gave Jason and me plaques also.  (And as a side note, Bishop Johnson and I discovered that we are 5th cousins – both having the pioneers – John and Jane Coats Hunt as our fourth great grandparents!  That fact really brought us together “as brothers and cousins”.)

I had seen the Troop 26 Scouts in action and I had talked with the troop leaders.  But, I wanted to talk to a couple of Scouts to see how all of this “warrior” business was affecting them.  Senior Patrol leader, Kolson, said:  “It stands for our troop pride.  Something to live up to – to look forward to.  Always one step higher.  It helps us get better with communications.  We love our lessons – and being more active – both physically and at church.  We know we are future leaders.  And Captain Moroni:  Its always cool to have someone to look up to – and for us it is Captain Moroni and we try to represent him the best we can.” Wow!  Talk about a Warrior Powerhouse …  I am sure that Captain Moroni himself, parents, troop and church leaders would be truly proud of this great Troop 26 Warrior!

And speaking of the whole Troop 26 Warrior image, Scout Maxwell said, “It gives us a sense of unity and togetherness.  We don’t just show up.  It gives us a purpose to keep our shirts tucked in and to look sharp.  It gives us something to look up to.  You feel like you are not alone – we are friends.  We are warriors and we are together.  Everybody all looks the same – we can see our other guys and it gives us a lot of pride to do it together as friends.”

It has been written of Captain Moroni: “If all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever …”  Looking at these Scouts from Troop 26, I think they are on their way.  Yes, the Warrior Spirit came to Thunder Ridge and we are all better because of their example to us and the great Warrior Spirit that they brought to share.  True Moroni warriors … true Priesthood men – and true Scouts.  It doesn’t get much better than this!

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Best wishes along your Scouting Trails …  

Author:  Kevin Hunt |#thescoutblogger, Scouting Historian, Author, Blogger, Speaker, Scouting Veteran, and Camp Director

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