By Community Submission
Apr 10, 2016

What is the LDS Priesthood Leadership Conference on Scouting?

Clint-HarrisSurfing Facebook, I came across these comments by Clint Harris. He was serving as first counselor in a stake presidency when he attended Philmont several years ago. He wrote:  

I went down to the LDS week training for stake presidency members and loved it. I was at the time working to implement into my stake all that I had learned and Scouting in the stake had changed dramatically from very few leaders who had been to Wood Badge to several Wood Badge courses where I was on staff and nine or more members of the stake were participants.

I also was concerned about the youth and their leadership skills so I spent time as staff, scoutmaster and commissioner for timberline courses. Basically I was trying to help the stake and I figured I had better walk the walk if I was going to talk the talk. Everyone in the stake and district knew I had a vision of Scouting and how it can prepare young men to be leaders, missionaries and powerful members of society.

Last fall he reposted thoughts he had “shared it in the early part of 2012:”

I still stand by what I wrote in this message… Let me start at the beginning. In the 1907ish time frame, Joseph F. Smith and the other leaders of the church were concerned about the trend they were seeing among the young men. It seemed these young men were becoming worldly and getting into mischief etc. As prophet, President Smith commissioned a study into the problem and possible solutions.

Boyce in fogIn 1907, through Robert Baden-Powell, Scouting began in England. William Boyce was in England lost in the fog and was helped by a young man who would not take money and said to William he was a Boy Scout doing his good turn for the day. This so impressed Boyce that he contacted Robert Baden-Powell and was the man who was instrumental in bring scouting to the United States in 1910.

In 1911, a prophet of the Lord Jesus Christ sent men to investigate Scouting and determine if it would work in the Church. At first it would not, and the Church tried Scouting-like programs until in 1913 The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints worked out the charter system of Scouting and the Church officially adopted scouting.

I testify that having visited Philmont and listened to the spirit and general authorities this was not an accident, but it seems to me an answer to a prophet’s prayer for Scouting to come into being and the charter organization model to be put in place. President Joseph F. Smith and every prophet since have fully endorsed Scouting as the activity arm of the Aaronic Priesthood. I know these men are God’s mouthpiece here on the earth and that Scouting is to be used as a tool to help our Aaronic Priesthood holders learn to be men of God.

I left Philmont with a renewed determination to see Scouting work—I had already seen the tender fruits of young men having lives changed through Scouting and this experience rekindled my desire to do all I can to facilitate many more young men having these tender, life-changing experiences.

beck at philmont

President Beck instructing at Philmong

President Beck was asked about his experiences with wards and stakes where they really have things working and young men in high percentages are serving missions. President Beck stopped at this point and stated that in every case when they have heard of these amazing units and went and invested why these units are so successful he stated they are units who had learned the Scouting program and Duty to God and were using this as the backdrop for young men to learn to be good Aaronic Priesthood holders. He said there is no secret, just a program that implemented correctly changes lives.

As a Scout Master this was also my experience. Scouting was a wonderful backdrop where miracles happened with young men.

Just a couple of weeks ago I attended the Sector LDS Relations meeting chaired by President Shaw of the Northridge Stake. He had put together an opportunity for a Venturing Crew to teach us about their program and all the things that were happening in their crew. He began by stating something I will never forget, he said Brethren, this (meaning the venturing crew) is the only missionary prep I need. Those are powerful words from a Stake President.

As you can tell, I believe and testify that Scouting is an inspired part of the church. I believe this with all my heart because I have experienced it. I have had experience after experience where I have been grateful and able to give thanks for the scouting program bring about powerful Aaronic Priesthood events in young men’s lives. These young men where changed by these experiences.

This testimony, Brethren, is the starting point. You must have this vision or your unit will not be able to feel and experience this support and understanding from you. If you don’t have this vision I would admonish you to repent and go find the vision. Visit units here, where this vision is alive and well. Staff a timberline course, attend Wood Badge and keep working until you have repented and catch the vision President Smith and all these prophets since have had. Philmont is a great experience and one I will never forget nor will my family forget.

Just this week Clint wrote me this in a note:

I still feel like those who refuse to use Scouting or those who use Scouting in some fractured method fail to provide an environment in which young men can gain confidence in themselves and confidence in their ability to affect others. My experience has been that in all situations where Scouting is not being used the adult leaders are taking the keys away from the boys and are running things themselves. The boys are not planning what happens and working with adults to make sure these things happen, they are not taking ownership of the young men and their participation and success, they are not the ones gaining valuable leadership skills, they are not the ones who guide the priesthood—instead adults take this unto themselves because they don’t have an good alternative to Scouting.

Clint Harris

Author: Clint Harris | Unit Advancement Chair and Course 16/17 Come, Follow Me instructor

Read more about the conference last summer at: LDS Leaders Attend Philmont Scout Ranch

Philmont is a family experience as well as a marvelous training opportunity. Each priesthood leader is encouraged to bring his wife and those children who are still living at home (not grandchildren) to Philmont.—LDS BSA Relationships Office

The LDS Priesthood Leadership Conference on Scouting at Philmont is for Stake presidencies and their designees; invitations are sent from the Church in October 2015 to those who are eligible.

Since the conference is designed to teach stake leadership how to implement the Scouting program within church programs, the stake president may distribute copies of the invitation to his counselors, stake Young Men president, and high councilors over Primary and Scouting.  Only these Church leadership positions may submit an application for Philmont; however, it depends on the applicant’s current Church leadership position whether he is accepted immediately or placed on a waiting list.

The Training Center at Philmont Scout Ranch provides a singular environment for the training of thousands of Scouting volunteer leaders each year, but this Priesthood Leadership Conference convenes under the direction of the Young Men general presidency and the General Scouting Committee of the Church, which makes it most unique.

LDS Philmont faculty-2014

The faculty, selected from the Young Men and Primary General presidencies and Boards, provide training in the program and administration of Scouting as a supporting activity of the Aaronic Priesthood and Primary.

Print 2016 Dates
June 25 – July 1, 2016 OR
July 2 – 8, 2016 The conference begins Saturday with arrival between 2:00 and 4:00 p.m. and concludes Friday morning following an early breakfast.

Mailings:  An invitation from the Young Men general presidency to attend as well as information concerning the 2016 Philmont Leadership Conference was sent to all stake presidents in the United States in October 2015.

Registration:  The LDS Scouting Leadership Conference at Philmont is for Stake and District Presidency members and their families. Click here to register.

Due to high demand for conference, only stake presidency members will be immediately accepted, however Stake and district Young Men presidents and high councilors with Scouting responsibilities may submit an application for the a waiting that opened last February, 2016. As openings occur, waiting list applicants are contacted by the LDS-BSA Relationships office.

Stake Representation:  A stake may be represented by more than one individual. All six positions listed above may attend at the same time. However, an individual may attend only once every three years, giving others an opportunity to attend.

Family Participation:  An attractive feature of the training conference is that it is a family vacation! While the priesthood brethren attend conference sessions, wives and children participate in programs that include tours, crafts, hikes, or just relaxing. Full-day activities with leaders are provided for each group.

Cost:  The fees include food, lodging in a well-equipped tent city, and leadership for groups and nursery care. Additional activity fees may be charged for those participating in the horseback trail ride, handicraft classes, and special tours. Fees for the 2016  Priesthood Leadership Conference are as follows (fees are paid online only through the registration process):

Conference Participant $530
Non-Conference Adult (20+) $375
Mountain Trek (Ages 14-20) $415
Youth (Ages 14-20) $315
Children(Ages 6-13) $200
Children (Ages 3-5) $100
Children (Ages 0-2) $100
NAYLE Participant $395

Make early application  Since both weeks will fill up quickly we encourage you to submit your application early. Once you receive the email confirmation that you have been accepted, please follow the online registration instructions. Your fee is due upon registration in the online system. If at some point you choose to cancel, you will receive a refund minus the $100 cancellation fee. Payments for your family can be made incrementally, but full payment for your family must be completed by May 1, 2016. The one-page registration form must be submitted to the LDS-BSA Relationships office as directed on the form.

For more information contact the LDS-BSA Relationships office at (801) 530-0004 or e-mail

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