When Varsity Scout Alex Christensen of Team 916 sponsored by Payson Sixteenth LDS Ward, received the Eagle Scout award in November 2013, it was a tremendous accomplishment by a worthy and diligent young man. But Alex’s Eagle Scout accomplishment was symbolic of a remarkable Scouting family legacy that prominently utilizes the valuable aspects of Scouting.
Alex is the youngest of eight sons of Russell and Joyce Christensen and continues a family tradition as now all eight sons and father are Eagle Scouts.
But the story begins with Russell was he when was a boy, at the tender and impressionable age of nine, when his father passed away, leaving behind ten children.
Russell remembers, “I was fortunate to have a super Scouting program in the LDS ward where I grew up. It was Troop 93 with Scout leaders Leo Chambers and Rick Bryan. We went to two weeks of summer camp every year and won first place at all of the district camporees. Almost every Scout [in our troop] obtained his Eagle and almost all of us served LDS missions.”
Reflecting, Russell states, “That Scouting involvement in my youth has made all of the difference in my life and has resulted in my serving a mission, getting married to my wife, Joyce, in the temple, graduating from BYU in engineering and trying to raise a righteous family.
“I had many relatives, school teachers and church leaders who influenced me, a young boy without a father and limited material resources, for good. But fundamental to all of life’s blessings and marvelous experiences were exemplary scout leaders who cared about me, demonstrated tremendous patience and provided opportunity to grow, learn and accomplish more than I ever dreamed of. My hope was to continue providing Scouting’s benefits and opportunities to many other young men, especially my own.”
The legacy of scouting continues to live on and be an influence for good in the Christensen Family. All nine of the Christensen Clan’s kids, including the Mother and only daughter, have been significantly involved in scouting. In addition to achieving the Eagle Scout rank, all eight boys obtained the Arrow of Light Award as Cub Scouts, all have attended a National Scout Jamboree and the National Youth Leadership Training course (NYLT/Timberline).
The oldest son, Russell D., was recipient of the distinguished Explorer Gold award and was featured in Explorer Magazine. He organized a city clean-up for his Eagle project and has served as Assistant Scoutmaster and attended Wood Badge. He served his LDS mission in Cincinnati, Ohio
Phillip received the Explorer Leadership Award and organized a landscaping project at Payson High School to earn his eagle. He has served as an Assistant Scoutmaster. Cubmaster and Den Leader. Phillip served his mission in Independence Missouri.
Michael served on Timberline staff for five years, received the Order of the Arrow Vigil Honor, was an OA Chapter and Lodge Officer, and has attended Wood Badge. Michael organized and led a Christmas gift and clothing drive to serve the Head Start participants. He served in the Indianapolis Indiana Mission.
Ronald received the OA Vigil Honor and was OA Chapter Chief as well. He served on Council Camp Staff for 5 years. For his Eagle Scout project he organized the effort to make Humanitarian School Kits. He served his mission in Tokyo, Japan.
Robert was awarded the Varsity Scout letter and Denali award, as well as the Venturing Bronze award. He also served on Council Camp Staff for 4 years. He organized and led a program honoring local service men and women after the 9/11 tragedy. He served in the Indianapolis, Indiana mission.
Thomas followed suite and received the Varsity Scout letter and Denali award as well. He also received the Venturing Bronze and Gold, awards. For his Eagle project, he collected and put together Humanitarian hygiene kits. He served his mission in Rio de Janero, Brazil.
Daniel received the Varsity Scout Letter and Denali ward, as well as the Venturing Bronze, Gold, and Silver Awards. Daniel put together school bags as a Humanitarian Project and served in the Birmingham, Alabama mission.
Alex was awarded the Varsity Scout Letter and first attended the Philmont Training Center at three months old with his family. He organized and led an effort to honor mothers in his community. He plans on serving an LDS mission after high school.
Daughter, Lisa, was involved in Girl Scouts and earned the Silver Award in addition to other camp and outdoor activities. She has been a participant in her brothers’ Scout projects and programs. Lisa has a nine-year-old son who is enthusiastically involved in Cub Scouts.
Joyce, the mother and wife of this Scouting family, has been an essential supporter and motivator of her sons’ Scouting achievements. As the saying goes, the mother also earns the Eagle award along with her sons, Joyce has done it an astonishing eight times. Joyce has served on Akela’s Council and has held many positions in Cub Scouting. Both, Russell and Joyce are recipients of the Silver Beaver and District Award of Merit.
Russell first attended The National Scout Jamboree as a youth in 1969 and has attended four other National Scout Jamborees as a Jamboree troop leader. His Eagle project was cleaning up a lake and forest area in Payson Canyon. He served his mission in Rochester, New York. Both Russell and Joyce have held many scout positions and continue to stay active in the scouting program.
These listed Scouting achievements of the Christensen Family only scratch the surface of a deep commitment to the Scouting program and to the youth in their neighborhood. The legacy of Scouting is apparent, not only within in the family, but in the entire community. 45 years later, Russell’s youngest son, Alex, had the opportunity be on NYLT–Timberline staff with the same Rick Bryan who served as a Scoutmaster to his dad as a scout.
The whole family encompasses the true spirit and legacy of Scouting. Russell summed it up best when he reflected, “My hope is that I can likewise influence young men in Scouting to be worthy husbands, fathers, and citizens.”
Author: Allison Jarrett, District Executive, Utah National Parks Council