By Utah National Parks Council
Mar 29, 2015

Leaving Jerusalem, an Ultimate Adventure

Throughout the month of April, The Boy Scout will focus on the fourth pillar: Be prepared by learning to do hard things. A young man will gain confidence, learn leadership skills and prepare for the future as a son of God. The key word is confidence, which a boy gains by doing hard things.

Rondo Fehlberg, Utah National Parks Council President, 2013-2015

Rondo Fehlberg, Utah National Parks Council President, 2013-2015

Rondo Fehlberg, President of the Utah National Parks Council, BSA tells us why Scouts in his neighborhood and Scouting units, call their high adventure experiences: “Leaving Jerusalem.” He does this as he points out the value of high adventure in helping young men learn to do hard things:

It all started a few years ago when I returned to my home ward after serving for a few years as a Young Single Ward Bishop. My bishop asked me if there was something I would like to do in the ward. I said, “Yes there is. Some of my sons have come through Scouting during the time I was serving away from the ward. I have watched their experiences with some concern. While there has been a lot of activity, very little of it seemed to me to be ‘high adventure.’ They have been on a lot of nice boats and four wheelers, rock crawlers, snowmobiles, and stayed in a lot of expensive cabins.” But I knew these kids needed to get away from all of that in order to have true high adventure experiences. They needed to learn to do hard things, not just have fun.

The bishop said, “Well, would you like to do one now?” Well, the summer was just about over but I said yes, and we began to plan.

A couple of months later, over UEA weekend, we had our first high adventure trip. We went to Zion’s National Park and did several of the great hikes there. It was a terrific experience, a hard experience, and the boys – well, I think some of them thought they were going to die. But after it was over, they were exhilarated. We did the Subway, we did the Narrows, Angel’s Landing, and the West Rim Trail. It was a tough experience, but a great one.

When I got home the bishop called me to be the Varsity Team Coach, and he said, “You need to start planning for next summer’s high adventure.”

On route to King's Peak

On route to King’s Peak

We decided to climb King’s Peak. On the second day, in our base camp at Henry’s Basin, we gave each of the boys the name of a person from the Book of Mormon. We gave them each a Book of Mormon and asked them to go off for a couple of hours on their own and find that name, study, and come back and tell us what that name meant in the Book of Mormon context. It was a good experience for them and a great experience for us. After those reports, we then explained to the boys that the men and boys that carried those names were part of the greatest high adventure experience in the history of the world.

NephiWe explained that the Lord organized an amazing high adventure as he took Lehi and his family away from their comfortable life in Jerusalem—the Jerusalem of Jeremiah and the other prophets who had been giving such dire warnings about what was happening there. But the Lord knew what to do. So he took Lehi’s family away and prepared them through a 15-year preparation hike around the Arabian Peninsula. Then He took them on the real high adventure trip—it’s called the Book of Mormon. We taught those boys how the names they’d been given fit into that great story. That became the beginning of the tradition in our ward of “Leaving Jerusalem.”

We’ve called all of our high adventure trips “Leaving Jerusalem” ever since. We’ve gotten better at it over the years. Now we give these young men their identity a little earlier, so they have time to study and get into character. We have them do vignettes in the evenings around the campfire from the time and period of the names that they carry. It’s a remarkable thing. When they’re exhausted and tired, when they’ve done some hard things, the Spirit can teach them—some of them for the first time in their lives. They come home different. It’s an amazing experience for a whole ward.

That Sunday, as they come back home, one of the leaders stands to read off the names, and, with that roll call from all over the chapel, boys and men stand one by one as their names are called. They’ve had a true high adventure experience. They’ve had a high adventure with the Lord.

Rondo Fehlberg, President of the Utah National Parks Council, and former BYU Athletic Director
Author: Rondo Fehlberg | President of the Utah National Parks Council and former BYU Athletic Director

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3 thoughts on “Leaving Jerusalem, an Ultimate Adventure

  1. AvatarJoe

    I love the idea of having a real high adventure program like this in all of the units throughout the council. Unfortunately, it seems like one key element has been left out from this metamorphasis that will ensure the majority of units will not be able to make such a sucessful change: $$$ Money $$$. It is obvious that the author’s unit has access to money and toys that are not available to the average program that gets a meager budget, that is already stretched thin, along with ONE annual fundraiser to accomplish all of their annual activities.

    Most units don’t have the deep pockets of this idyllic unit to fund rock-crawling, stays in lavish cabins, snowmobiling and four wheeling even once; especially not on the seemingly regular basis the exemplerary unit did. Nor do they have funds to cobble together a whirlwind epic hike adventure in a matter of months after the majority of their budget has already been spent on summer camp, youth conference and the awards for the obligatory back-to-school court of honor. The sentiment is well placed and the idea to challenge Scouts to do hard, adventurous actives is well meaning, unfortunatley it doesn’t resonate with more than 75% of the council who need really need examples of high adventure success that work within individual, family and the chartered organizations budgetary constraints.

    1. AvatarRondo Fehlberg

      Your concerns about the financial side of Scouting, especially High Adventure experiences, are well-founded. I have lived in neighborhoods where many of the Scout families have ample resources and I have lived in neighborhoods where resources are scarce. The formula for funding Scouting should be similar in both cases. The boys need to know that Scouting costs money and they will be given the opportunity to help earn the required funds. We have one major fundraiser each year and the bishop is responsible for allocating the earned funds between our units (Scouts, Varsity, Venture, Girls Camp, Youth Conference, etc.). Then each unit is responsible for planning and funding its activities, including High Adventure. This planning is done in the Fall for the following year to allow the boys to begin developing the specific skills required for the High Adventure they have chosen, and to raise their individual share of the funds needed. The leaders work with the boys and their parents to help identify opportunities to earn the money. We regularly remind ward members of our standing invitation for them to reserve any handyman projects or odd jobs they have at their homes for our boys to do. Some of our boys find their own way to earn money but most of our boys mow lawns, shovel snow, tear down and rebuild fences, clean chicken coops, dig up trees, change engine oil, wash cars, etc. for ward members and neighbors. Over the years, ward members have been very supportive of our efforts to have the boys earn their own money for camp. I think it has become one of the more important ways to keep our members involved with us. We encourage parents NOT to give their sons the required funds, even if they would prefer to do so. We explain that earning the money is one of the hard things these boys need to learn and one of the things that will help them value the experience more.
      One comment about that first High Adventure I mentioned at Zion National Park in October. You are right that it came late in the season and most of the ward funds were already committed elsewhere. That problem was compounded by the fact that the summer was almost over and, with it, the opportunity for the boys to earn any money. On that occasion, the bishop gave us a small amount of money since there had been no High Adventure outing that year. I also went privately to a few neighbors and community members and asked for help. When they understood the problem and saw that this was an unusual situation that would not be repeated, they agreed to help. I readily acknowledge that this situation, and the late-season solution, won’t work for every unit. But the principles are sound: 1. Plan in the Fall for the next summer; 2. Let the boys do the planning and lead the preparation; 3. Begin early and continue each month developing the specific skills and conditioning required for the chosen experience; 4. Help the boys figure out how to earn the money they will need for their share of the costs – it is one of the most important things you will do as a leader. 5. Encourage dads, where possible, to accompany their sons and to join with them in earning the money. Where there is no dad in the home, work with home teachers, Priesthood leaders, or extended family to identify an adult who could fill the void.

  2. AvatarSteve

    I love this “Leaving Jerusalem” concept. Do you have any materials you’d be willing to share about how you organized this concept and the BOM prophets, or how you asked them to go about sharing their learnings?


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