Lord Baden-Powell stated, “Scout camps give enjoyment and satisfaction to the leader, while to the boy they bring delight, experience, resourcefulness, self-reliance, thought for others, and that excellent discipline of camp tradition, and of being expected to do the right thing for himself.” The attributes that Baden-Powell listed could just as well be described as essential attributes for being a successful missionary.
Scout Camps Develop Vital Missionary and Aaronic Priesthood Attributes
Scouting, camping, and their wide-array of adventure experiences is more than lighting camp fires and setting up tents. Scouting complements and helps the Aaronic Priesthood in the development of key Young Men’s attributes: Honor, Service and Duty to God. Scouts strive to be “physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.” Participation in well organized and effective Scout camps, as either a Scout or as Scout camp staff member, quite possibly could be one of the most significant things that a young man could do to prepare for a mission.
Camps help by providing life changing experiences that allow boys to be challenged, stretched; they learn new technical skills, develop teamwork, and experience a level of adventure and excitement from an activity that can leave a permanent, positive imprint on their hearts. When a young man goes out on a mission, he too will encounter many life changing experiences. Building upon a foundation of life-changing experiences prior to entering the mission field will help missionaries be better prepared.
Other outcomes that boys can take away from camp include a reverence for God and His creations, confidence in themselves, a desire to achieve, and, a constant quest to help and lift those around them. Camping can help them experience a passion and zest for life so that they will always feel that there is an exciting new adventure around the corner as they journey throughout their lives.
The Rising Generation
I had the opportunity to talk to a couple of recently returned missionaries about how Scout camp helped them prepare for their missions. Ethan Lowe and Michael Cruse, shared their experiences with me.
Ethan served in the Philippines during the powerful typhoons that devastated the country in 2013 and 2014. Ethan stated that the self-reliance, confidence, and basic camp skills that he learned at camps allowed him to be a strong presence in helping other missionaries in his zone, and people in the community to get out of harm’s way, weather the storm, pick up the pieces and put their lives back together. He said that he wouldn’t have been able to do what he had done without his Scouting experiences. His efforts were heroic!
Michael Cruse, served in Russia. And not just Russia, but Siberia! For Michael, serving in this primitive and isolated area was akin to rolling back the clock to the 1800s and pioneering the initial missionary work of the Church with Dan Jones, the first missionary in England, or with Samuel Smith, the prophet Joseph Smith’s brother, who walked thousands of miles through wild and rugged frontiers of the mid-west and New England. Michael, like Dan and Samuel before him, needed courage, conviction, testimony, a desire to serve others, and a confidence that he could help lead and build the Church. By fulfilling Senior Patrol Leader and other leadership roles on Scout campouts Michael was able to roll up his sleeves to help out in both spiritual and temporal ways the Russian members, who months before, literally knew nothing about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Michael and Ethan are two members of the current rising generation that have continued to rise up and soar like Eagles… spiritually! Like the tension of the wind on a kite tethered by a string, the challenges, self-sufficiency, confidence building, technical skills, and leadership that they experienced in the outdoors and week-long camp outs helped make them into the men that they are today. Can we say that of all our young men? Scouting and camping are leavening in the bread, they are the key ingredients in the recipe that combines Aaronic Priesthood and Scouting values and experiences, to create exceptional young men who rise up! For those who do not follow this recipe, what process do they subscribe to that will achieve the same outcomes?
A Proclamation On Scouting
Consider the testimonies of Church and Scout leaders regarding the spiritual value that Scouting and camping provides to young men. A value, a scarce resource, that may be hard to find in any other venue!
Our objective in the Scouting movement is to give such help as we can in bringing about God’s Kingdom on earth by including among youth the spirit and the daily practice in their lives of unselfish goodwill and cooperation. – Lord Baden-Powell
Scouting brings out the best in each of us. Help others to hike the trails, to keep steadfast in the paths of truth, honor, duty… that all can soar together on eagle’s wings. – President Thomas S. Monson
When I was twelve two things of great significance occurred in my life: I became a Boy Scout and I became a deacon in the Aaronic Priesthood. Scouting is an excellent and wonderful program. – President Gordon B. Hinckley
Scouting is Aaronic Priesthood! – F. Melvin Hammond, General YM President, emeritus
Scout Camp Vision
Scouting and Scout camps are here to help parents and leaders develop critical skills, spiritual and emotional attributes in their young men that will prepare them for life—missions, college, careers, temple marriage, eternal families, and community, church, and business leadership. The Six Pillars of Being Prepared, which are: testimony, service, mission preparation, confidence, life skills, and integrity are important outcomes that bishops and stake presidents in the region believe that the Utah National Park Council’s play a very critical role in helping them achieve. Camping the Boy Scout way, on mountain tops, at lakes, in forest and desert; and by utilizing proven Scouting principles such as the Patrol Method, EDGE training, Leave No Trace, and the vision of Lord Baden-Powell are the perfect place to practice, model, and develop these pillars and to prepare each young man to serve a successful mission.
The rising generation are the hope of our future. It is vital that they can find joy and hope in living. Camp experiences should educate, empower, and inspire our youth to overcome fear, believe in their dreams, and realize their potential. We want to transform them into young people of integrity and courage that can bring a mighty change into their lives and the world around them.
Author: Steve Sutherland | Camping Director, Utah National Parks Council, BSA. 801.361.2508