The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints places a strong emphasis for young men to prepare to serve a full-time mission for the church. Stake Presidents and LDS Ward Bishops utilize a number of tools to assist their youth in this preparation.
Scouting provides a number of methods and activities that can be used in this preparation. One seldom-considered option is attendance at the Boy Scouts of America’s 2017 National Jamboree, held at the Summit Bechtel Reserve in Beckley, West Virginia.
The Utah National Parks Council recently invited LDS Stakes to consider sponsoring a National Jamboree troop and attend this event with their youth and key priesthood leaders. In addition to participating in the 2017 National Jamboree in West Virginia, troops coming from the Utah National Parks Council also tour east coast national historical sites and visit key LDS historical sites.
So how would participating in this national event help prepare LDS youth for missions?
On LDS.org, five key principles are identified by the church as key in mission preparation.
- Gospel Knowledge and Testimony
- Personal Worthiness
- Work and Self-Reliance
- Physical and Emotional Health
- Financial Preparation
Let’s review how participation in the 2017 National Jamboree may assist in each of these areas.
Gospel Knowledge and Testimony
- Stake and Ward priesthood leaders will spend high quality and quantity of time, 16 days, with their youth, having the opportunity to share, hear and strengthen testimonies.
- Youth will visit and learn personally about a dozen early church sites, such as the Hill Cumorah, the Susquehanna River, and the Sacred Grove. Imagine spending quality time with youth priesthood holders in the Sacred Grove!
- Opportunities for youth to share their beliefs and testimony with others from across the nation.
- Each Jamboree troop is boy-led, with mentoring and guidance provided by the adult leaders. This gives key youth, especially those nearing missionary age, the opportunity to practice servant-leadership to their peers and younger youth. Doing so helps them to better understand the importance of being an example and to be led by the Spirit.
- Youth get to see the personal worthiness examples of their priesthood leaders, up close, for 16 days.
Work and Self-Reliance
- Youth are responsible for ensuring they are eating nutritious meals and obtaining proper rest.
- Youth need to plan and perform clothing laundry, personal gear packing and maintenance, and getting to each destination on time.
- Youth spend more than two weeks away from home, in a companionship (buddy system), learning to get along with others and how to serve others.
- Youth learn to be separated from their families and loved ones.
- Youth learn that they can be disconnected from the electronic world.
- The Jamboree includes many physical challenges through fun activities that the boys will love.
- Each youth, as part of the troop, will raise money to attend the jamboree—much of which may be done through troop-organized fund raising.
- This financial preparation will be done over a period of multiple years, teaching the youth to be consistent and diligent in their savings.
Stakes can participate and leverage this event in mission preparation for their youth on three main levels:
- Help sponsor a complete Scout troop or Venturing crew and supporting adult leaders. A troop consists of 36 youth and 4 adults. Young men aged 12-17 at the time of the jamboree are invited to attend.
- Organize with adjoining stakes to sponsor a Scout troop or Venturing crew with adult leaders
- Help the council recruit council-based troops through publicity, sponsoring a stake rally meeting and other methods to help get the word out to interested young men.
Participation in the National Jamboree has been life changing for many and has helped youth in their preparation for serving a full-time LDS mission. Check out this video for some wonderful examples and testimonies.
This is a list of sites that we are planning to visit, but may be subject to change depending on final arrangements:
- Kirtland Temple
- Whitney Store
- John Johnson Farm
- Morley Farm
- Hill Cumorah
- Sacred Grove
- Peter Whitmer Farm
- Joseph Smith Home
- Grandin Press
- Susquehanna River
- Aaronic Priesthood Site
- Liberty Bell
- Independence Hall
- Ford’s Theater
- Washington Monument
- White House
- Jefferson Memorial
- Lincoln Memorial
- World War II Memorial
- Korean Memorial
- Einstein Statue
- Washington DC Temple
- Palmyra Temple
- Little Round Top
- Civil War Battle Fields