By Jim Bethel
Oct 19, 2014

Nephi was an Eagle Scout

NephiWhile reading the Book of Mormon a few years ago, I was once again impressed with the young man we know as Nephi. All Latter Day Saints are familiar with his heroics. That got me to thinking that the Church should create some kind of award for young men that emulate Nephi, something in addition to the “On My Honor” award. I started listing the things he did, his trials and his successes. Then like a bolt of lightning it hit me. We don’t need another award, we already have one—Nephi was an Eagle Scout! That’s right! Nephi was arguably the very first Eagle Scout in America and every time we award a young man his Eagle rank we are recognizing him as a present day Nephi.

Please join me as member of his board of review and see if you agree that Nephi was an Eagle Scout. We can prove this by reviewing the scriptures and comparing them to the requirements needed to become an Eagle Scout. Now, understand that specific requirements have changed a little over the years, but the overall qualifications to become an Eagle have remained pretty much constant. There are only four requirements

1st Requirement:

Demonstrate that you live by the principles of the Scout Oath and Law and list names of those that you know personally and would be willing to provide a recommendation on your behalf.

The principles in the Scout Oath & Law can be summarized into one word – RIGHTEOUSNESS
Is there a better example of faithfulness and righteousness mentioned to in the Scriptures?
What does the very first sentence in the Book of Mormon say?

I Nephi 1: 1
“I Nephi being born of goodly parents therefore I was taught somewhat of all the learning of my father….….having been highly favored of the Lord….……having had a great knowledge of goodness and the mysteries of God.”

Nephi was a faithful son. He listened and understood and practiced what his parents taught him. He was an example to all who knew him. This is just another way of saying that Nephi demonstrated that he lived the oath of:

“On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God…. and to obey the Scout Law and to help other people at all times…”

A few chapters later in I Nephi 3:7 we read about Nephi’s willingness to “go and do.

Think about this for a minute. Nephi did righteous things on his own free will. He was happy to go and do whatever was asked of him. He was a great example of being:

“Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent”

What about personal references?   I think Zoram, Ishmael, and his brother Sam would all be glad to give their recommendation.

Can we all agree that Nephi completed the first requirement?

2nd Requirement:

Serve in a leadership position for six months

When we read I Nephi 2:22 we find a story about how Nephi was chosen by God to be a leader “Thy shall be made a ruler and teacher over thy brethren”

This calling was not for just a few months. It was to be for his lifetime.

Also, in the next chapter I Nephi 3:29 we discover his brothers had temporally forgotten about his leadership calling. An angel of the lord intervenes on Nephi’s behalf when his older brothers are beating him up. The angel says “know ye not that the Lord has chosen him to be a ruler over you!”

Nephi was a natural leader and a leader chosen by God.

We can safely say that Nephi fulfilled the leadership requirement!

3rd Requirement:

Do a significant service project.

Nephi did many things that could be considered service. However, for a major project let us consider the building of boats so that his family could cross the Ocean!

How many hours do you think this took? Gathering resources, making tools. This wasn’t done over the weekend. It took months

How much organization and planning did this take to do the building?

How much organization and planning did this take to prepare for the trip?

How many people were involved?

How many problems had to be resolved?

Think of the strength of will and dedication this took.

Think of the leadership this took.

This was probably one of the most significant eagle project ever under taken and it took thousands of man-hours to complete.

He definitely fulfilled the requirement of completing significant service project!


Last Requirement

Earn a total of 22 Merit Badges

What merit badges do you think Nephi earned? Let us consider the following activities that Nephi was involved with and give him the benefit for accomplishing the requirements needed for the various badges associated with those activities. Everything is documented in the Book of Mormon:

  1. Wilderness survival: I Nephi 2:4     “departed into the wilderness” and survived!
  2. Camping: I Nephi 2:15    “dwelt in a tent”.
  3. Hiking :           How many trips did he take going back and forth to Jerusalem to get the brass plates and the entire journey to the Promised Land.
  4. Cooking: He had to cook outdoor during the entire trip.
  5. Orienteering:             I Nephi 16:10  what did the scriptures say about a compass? Maybe he did not have a store bought compass, but the one he had, the Liahona, took special effort, faith, and knowledge to use it.
  6. American Heritage: I Nephi 13:12              Nephi saw Columbus in a vision. Also, He and his family are the very beginning of our American Heritage.
  7. Archery: I Nephi 16: 14, 23       We read how he was told to take his bow and hunt for food. He was surly a decent archer. We also read how he made a bow and arrows when his original bow broke.
  8. Personal Fitness: I Nephi 4: 31               Nephi describes himself as “large in stature” We know that he seized Laban and tackled Zoram. Nephi was personally fit.
  9. Gardening: I Nephi 8:1                  He was commanded to gather seeds of every kind. He needed to know what to gather and how to grow them.
  10. Woodworking: I Nephi 18: 1 – 2         He built a ship.
  11. Metal Work: Nephi make metal tools and metal plates.
  12. Engineering: Nephi built a ship and the workmanship was exceeding fine. This took all kinds of special skills.
  13. Journalism: I Nephi 1:1      Nephi made of record of his days.

14–15.  Oceanography & Weather:  I Nephi 18: 13    He understood that storms would be the means of powering their ships across the Ocean to the Promised Land.
16 – 17 –18.   Citizenship in the Community, Nation & World:  We know that Nephi and his family were prominent leaders in their Community, that they founded a New Nation on the American continent and were World travelers.
19.  Pioneering: I Nephi 18:12  Pioneering requires the knowledge of various knots and lashing. We understand that Nephi struggled with these requirements a bit, thanks to his brothers. But he did prevail.
20 –21.   Communications & Public Speaking:    How many times did Nephi have to give public speeches and convince his brother to repent? How many times was he given communications from god on what to do and how to do it? He definitely earned these badges.
22 –23.    Genealogy & Law:   The whole purpose of returning to Jerusalem was to get the brass plate that held their laws and the genealogy of their family on them. They needed the plates to study and pass that information on to the next generation.
24.  Indian Lore: Nephi’s brothers were the original Indians. Everything they did became lore.
25.  Personal Management: Nephi conducted himself in a manner that was beyond reproach. He prepared himself to receive revelation and to be able to handle any crisis.
26.  Nature: Having lived for so long in the wilderness on both the old world and new world, Nephi had to have and understanding of Nature and all of its beauty.
27.  Family Life: If anyone ever deserved the Family Life merit badge it was Nephi. Remember all of the struggling he had with his brothers yet he still loved them and forgave them. Remember his faithfulness to his father and mother doing things just because he was asked. Remember the respect he had for his father’s priesthood.

There are probably many more merit badges we could make a case for. However, if we consider just the ones that were reviewed here, he has fulfilled the merit badge requirement and earned at least a bronze palm.

So! Let’s take a vote. All those in favor of approving this unofficial Eagle Scout application of Nephi Lehi’s son raise your hand.

Any opposed?

Then we are in agreement to grant Nephi the rank of Eagle Scout.

Yes! Nephi was an Eagle Scout!

Why do we compare Nephi to an Eagle Scout? Why not?

We know that Nephi was a young man with great faith in the Lord.

We know that:
The things his parents taught him
The things that he learned
The experiences he had
The trials he overcame
The things he accomplished
All prepared him to become one of the greatest leaders ever.
He is a great example to all young men.


The values that Scouting teaches in the Scout Oath, Scout Law, Scout Motto and Scout Slogan
The Aims of Scouting – Citizenship, Personal Fitness, and Character Development
The lessons that are learned on Scouting activities, camp out, Hikes, meeting etc. help build the self- esteem and self- reliance to go and do hard things!
The things that are experienced and accomplished while advancing through the Scouting program, prepares young men for their station in life.
Prepare them to assume their positions of leadership in the home, church, community, nation and the world.

Scouting teaches young men to “GO and DO

Scouting principles are eternal principles. Scouting helps young men understand and apply their priesthood to their lives.

The values of Scouting were just as important to Lehi and Sarah in raising their family as they are to US today as were are raising our families.

The program of today is packaged in a much more attractive way. However, we still require the boys to:   Leave their homes > travel into the wilderness > and endure many hardships.

May the Lord bless us in our efforts to raise our modern day Nephi’s

Jim Bethel2
Author: Jim Bethel | District Director, Utah National Parks Council

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12 thoughts on “Nephi was an Eagle Scout

  1. AvatarMaloree Anderson

    This is a great! Yes, I also believe that Nephi was an Eagle Scout but, what I love is the fact that the young men today can relate and feel just like a Book of Mormon Hero! Growing up in the LDS church, you learn much about Nephi and everything that he sacrificed and did to build the kingdom of God. You have a special appreciation for him. Then, when you see that he was an Eagle Scout, you realize that you can be just like him! The young men can be modern day heroes. What a fantastic motivation for the boys, young men, and even adults to become an Eagle Scout.

  2. AvatarBrian Habel

    Wow! What a great read. I like the summary about “The program of today is packaged in a much more attractive way. However, we still require the boys to: Leave their homes > travel into the wilderness > and endure many hardships.” I think we all know that experiencing things outside the regular drill inside family life helps the young men meet similar ‘tail spinning’ feelings when tossed out into some desert on their missions as all those who’ve gone can attest to. You get through. I read an article in the BYU magazine department of recreation that expressed how these types of experiences are had inside all these kinds of recreation inside and out of the family where obstacles are encountered and how we model both running into them and working together [with another leader as an example], how these things supports their idea about how the world can work if we pull together instead of digressing at those times. We expect the challenges and are able to meet them applies to real life, not just a program. This is why I like these articles that tie it to real life and relate the scriptures to real life things.

  3. AvatarKendell Bundy

    The largest chartered partner in the UNPC is the LDS Church Units. This article is a perfect example how scouting can use the AIMS and METHODS to help unit leaders and their boys see the power of scouting as it relates to their own beliefs. Lets not loose sight of the fact that other chartered organizations like the Catholic Church, Methodist Church and others can have similarly heroic examples of Eagle Scouts in their history. Having Eagle Scout heroes is a good thing. Boys and their leaders can use these examples to draw the strength necessary to make a difference in our nation and the world. Scouting truly is a godly inspired organization which helps boys spiritually, mentally, morally and physically regardless of their religious denomination. Excellent comments Jim. Thank you!

  4. AvatarLeah Overson

    Well put together – I enjoyed reading about the adventures of Nephi – it never gets old : -)
    Some of my family members are part of a tour group that will visit Egypt, Jordan and Israel next month. One thing they are excited about is a dig where an area known by a name that means “Lehi” has unearthed a tile floor with a ship pictured in it : -) It’s about 17 miles outside of Jerusalem. They (I’m not sure who “They” are) understand that Lehi was a great prophet who disappeared suddenly. What a great time to be alive!

  5. AvatarRyan Moody

    Jim – very well written article. What a great comparison to a great prophet! I didn’t realize how true this was until you pointed it out- but Nephi is certainly an Eagle Scout in my book.


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