Sharon Eubank, director of Humanitarian Services, and LDS Charities and Stephen W. Owen, Young Men General President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, welcomed the Scouts and accepted the donations at the Church Office Building on Temple Square. The donations were to be split evenly across the General Missionary Fund, Humanitarian Aid Fund and the Perpetual Education Fund.
“I can’t tell you enough how much I thank you for this money and the work you put into it, ” Eubank said. “I thank you for your example of courage, the work that you did, your charitable hearts and what you do for other people.”
Eubank explained to the boys that each $1,000 donation could go towards aid such as glasses, wheel chairs, and thousands of measles shots, bettering and saving the lives of people across the world.
“We surveyed all of our Scouts and asked them what they wanted to do,” Scoutmaster Lenard Brunsdale said. “We found they wanted to hike, bike, and climb some mountains. So, we put it together as a trek instead of a week-long summer camp.”
The Scouts were also challenged by their stake president to do more family history and temple work. Combining that goal with the trek, they started connecting all of these aspects in a central plan. Merit badge requirements were included, gospel stories were planned, a 50-miler was prepared and they determined to make the whole thing a way to do service by asking families to pledge $.10 – $1 for every mile each Scout trekked.
Their plan was to complete the trek in nine stages beginning in Oct 2014, completing any stage whenever they could get the chance. They ended the last leg Wednesday when they hiked into Temple Square with smiling faces and money for the needy.
In addressing the Scouts and their accomplishment, President Owen likened their story to John Rowe Moyle, a pioneer stonecutter who would walk 22 miles everyday to work on the building of the Salt Lake Temple. Moyle later lost his leg in an accident, but as soon as he could, he again began to walk the miles to temple square and was the mason who carved the inscription “Holiness to the Lord” on the east side of the temple.
“I couldn’t help but think of the miles you traveled by foot,” President Owen said. “[Moyle] did a wonderful thing by walking, by serving the Lord. What you have done is the same thing.”
Besides a hike between temples, the trek was an analogous holy land pilgrimage. The land between the Salt Lake and Utah Valleys is a close match to Judea, including the placement of high mountain peaks, a “dead sea” and it’s very own “Jordan River.” At each stop on the trail, leaders related to the Scouts a story from the Bible that occurred in the Judean location that mirrored the area on the Wasatch front.
Tyler Jones (Sheffield) was one of 24 young men who participated in the trek with Scout leaders Lenard Brunsdale and Michael Bartholomew. A memorable stop for Tyler was Mt. Nebo, where he climbed his very first peak.
“Mt. Nebo looks over Utah Lake and it represents Mt. Hermon looking over the Sea of Galilee,” he said. “It’s where we think Jesus went to be transfigured with the apostles.”
See more stories the Scouts shared in the video below.
Along the trail the Scouts visited 11 temples from the Brigham City Temple to the newly dedicated Payson Temple. At each temple the Scouts performed baptisms for the dead completing about 101 family names over the course of the trek.
The Scouts also participated in interfaith activities by adding the Kadijah Islamic Center and Radha Krishna Temple as stops on their trek. Scout Ryan Bartholomew enjoyed learning about the five pillars of Islam at the Islamic Center, especially the concept of a pilgrimage which was, they realized, what their trek was all about.
For Scoutmaster Lenard Brusdale, the trip was everything he’d hoped to bring the young men together as a troop, quorum and together as a team.
“We know that everyone has fears, but everybody helps everybody over come those fears, ” Brunsdale said. “It’s so helpful to have someone help you overcome those fears instead of having to tackle each one by yourself, and I think that they have been a good example of that.”
“I think they are all glad they completed the thing that they did and so that gives them a great sense of accomplishment and just knowing that they can do it and that people are supporting them and helping them to do hard things, ” Bartholomew said.
For more information about Troop 974’s temple trek see their blog about the trip at hecvym.blogspot.com.
Melany Gardner | Editor, The Boy Scout, Utah National Parks Council, BSA