By Melany Gardner
Aug 21, 2016

How does Scouting help young men prepare to be missionaries?

Why does Scouting matter? How does Scouting help a young man to prepare to be a missionary? We asked these questions and more to our Scouting leaders and members of the community. Watch the video below to hear them tell us their experiences on how Scouting prepares successful missionaries.

Cindy Gagon, a Scouting volunteer and mother of five Eagle Scouts starts out the video with how Scouting has prepared her sons to serve missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“It’s prepared them spiritualy, physically and emotionally,” she said. “Spiritually, It has helped them because they have gained a testimony through Scouting. Physically, it’s helped them because they’ve had to learn to cook on their own.”

Gagon goes on to explain that one of her sons served his mission in Africa, and he literally cooked on a Camp Chef his whole mission and had an opportunity to practically apply those skills he learned first in Scouting.

“Emotionally, it prepared them because they were used to being away from home on campouts and they were used to being around other people and learning to get along with others,” she said. “That was big for them.”

Reflecting on the time he has spent volunteering in Scouting, Robert Louder, a member of a stake presidency in the Utah National Parks Council, remembered it took him some time to find the relation between Scouting and the priesthood, but with some more experience and training, he found that they go hand in hand, united together.

“Scouting supports the priesthood in every aspect,” he said. “Building faith, building testimony, strengthening commitments, understanding the gospel, being able to fulfill the promises and covenants that we’ve made…they are united together and provide a strong foundation for young men.”

Louder also mentions how Scouting is a generational activity where moms, dads, kids, and grandparents can all be involved in the tradition of Scouting that creates a lasting bond.

Brad Harris, author of Trials to Testimony said, “At the MTC, what separates missionaries from those that are ready and those are not is a hard work ethic.”

He then tells a story of a missionary at the MTC who grew up on a farm. He asked the missionary about his family and if he missed them. The missionary said no. “Do you miss the cows?” he asked. “Yes,” the missionary replied. Harris explained that this missionary was used to getting up at five o’clock in the morning; he was sleeping in at the MTC. Many other young men, Harris said, were struggling and didn’t have their own work ethic.

Harris interviewed 17 return mission presidents and asked them the number one thing they want to see in a missionary and they said work ethic. “That’s what separates a successful missionary from those that aren’t successful as much.”

Chad Lewis, former NFL football player, said he was lucky that his father could be his Scoutmaster, meaning every month he was going on a campout with his dad. “I got to know him in a different way than just in my house, ” he said. “I got to be his friend, and got to see his gifts working with me, working with other young men.”

Scouting challenged Lewis to do hard things that helped prepare him for the future hard things in his life. “Scouting helped prepare me because I’ve been doing hard things my whole life—hiking mountains, going on campouts—It’s not always easy to problem-solve when you’re out in the wilderness and your tent pole breaks. You’ve got to figure it out; and sitting there crying doesn’t help.”

“Scouting put me in environments—challenging environments, fun environments—and all those things started, step by step, helping me get ready to go out on my own into the world and be a missionary.”

This is the third installment in a series of six videos produced with special thanks to Eagle Scout Harrison Webber and Web-5 Productionsfor the Utah National Parks Council, BSA. Each video will focus on one of the Six Pillars of Being Prepared: Testimony, Service, Mission Preparation, Confidence, Life Skills and Integrity.

Melany Gardner2


Author: Melany Gardner | “The Boy Scout” Editor and Marketing Specialist, Utah National Parks Council

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5 thoughts on “How does Scouting help young men prepare to be missionaries?

  1. AvatarJake

    I’m amazed at how many young men leaders, bishops, and stake presidents fail to make the connection between scouting and missionary preparation. Many view scouting as a “deacon” activity program, one that can be dropped when a boy turns 14. There’s so much more to the program, and, if ran correctly, scouting is the most effective tool available to leaders and parents looking to prepare these young men for missionary service.

    The obvious comparisons are made between scout camp and getting used to being away from mom and dad, but it goes so much more beyond that. Scouting teaches young men self sacrifice through service, both to their community and to their peers. It teaches them to effectively use their priesthood to lead their quorums and to serve each other. Even extra curricular scouting programs like the Order of the Arrow introduce scouts to learning through ceremony (shouldn’t be a strange concept to LDS folks) as well as further service and leadership opportunities.

    The Varsity program is designed to pull these young men together and promote teamwork and leadership skills, something many new missionaries struggle with when they’re first asked to be District Leaders or Zone Leaders. The Venturing program really emphasizes personal growth and service, which can be ideal for preparing 16-18 year olds to go into the mission field.

    Maybe instead of trying to come up with new missionary prep classes or Aaronic Priesthood encampments for the young men, leaders should be looking to better utilize the scouting program to achieve those goals. There’s a reason the First Presidency sticks with scouting time and again.

  2. Avatarjc

    Lord Baden Powell was agnostic. In fact, if you read his Bio, he started BSA *because* he didn’t like the church-centered youth organizations of his day in the US. I don’t support Scouting any longer because the LDS and Baptist church’s have co-opted BSA for their own agendas. As an example, at least once per summer I will get a flyer from a boy on my door asking for help with their Eagle project that only benefits their LDS Ward. Since when is community defined by the local LDS Ward? While Scouting may benefit future LDS missionaries, that is not its purpose. I’m disappointed in this article and its pandering to one particular faith. Perhaps if the article had ended with more inclusion, I would have liked it more.


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