By Joyce Olesen
Oct 06, 2017

Inspiring Words for Scouts from Elder Robert D. Hales

Elder Robert D. Hales passed away Oct. 1, 2017, leaving us with so many inspiring words. Many of them are for Scouts, while many are applicable to all young men and women.

Elder Hales was a brilliant, educated man.  He honored his country by flying fighter jets for the Air Force. He always told his men to “return with honor.” I always thought that had to do with missionaries, I now know that is actually an Air Force motto that he applied for all of us as we serve in any function away from home.  

Furthering his education, Elder Hales earned a Master’s degree from Harvard, going on to run some of the largest U.S. Corporations. He always had Church responsibilities and in 1953 married his lovely wife and they had two sons. Family and Church always remained his priority. 

He tried to instill in the Scouts at the 2010 Jamboree the importance of learning. He counseled that “education is a key component of preparation.” 

“Scouting is the beginning of your learning. Never end your learning. Add to it. Always be a lifelong learner” and “a quality education will help a young man serve and elevate others.”

Elder Hales often spoke regarding the Boy Scout Motto; Be Prepared. During communion at the Jamboree he said, “Seated here today are the future leaders – not only for our Church, but many will lead our nation. Many of you will be in the military and many will serve communities. Scouting offers remarkable opportunities to prepare.”  

“You do not know when you will use the knowledge you are gaining with each merit badge.” 

“Being prepared means maintaining a state of readiness so when you are faced with a trying time of emergency, you will know exactly what to do and how to do it.”

He also spoke about religious freedom and preserving agency and how we should each “live your life to be an example of what you believe in word and deed.”

During his 2001 General Conference talk, he promised that “your Duty to God award will provide you with a living testimony that will sustain you throughout your life.” 

“Scouting is part of the Aaronic Priesthood activity program. The Duty to God Award is a priesthood award, having requirements that will help you develop spiritually and fulfill your priesthood duties.”

“Some of the great blessings of these programs that have been developed are that as the youth of the Church, you will have a clear understanding of who you are, you will be accountable for your actions, you will take responsibility for the conduct of your life, and you will be able to set goals so that you might achieve what you were sent to earth to achieve. Our plea is that you strive to do your very best.”

Also in his Jamboree talk to Scouts, Elder Hales counseled Scouts to “decide how they will react … to potential moral decisions.” This in itself is of utmost importance in this new age, when temptation is so prevalent. He said, “Be careful who you follow.” 

I, personally, found several more quotes which I thought should be included because I liked them.

In his 2015 General Conference talk, he cautioned, “Never deliberately fly into a thunderstorm… If you want more than you now have reach up, not across.” 

I believe Elder Hales thought highly of the Scouts and although he was not particularly demonstrative, he truly wanted all the youth in the Church to succeed. Please remember him with love.


Author: Joyce Olesen | is a grandmother, mother, and daughter of Scouters. She love kids, camping, country music and sport cars. Her Dad was a Scout leader in Chicago in the early 1920’s and having only daughters did not bolster his Scouting hopes. As his “Scout” she was tying regulation knots by the time she was 7.

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