By Community Submission
Mar 23, 2017

How Varsity Scouting Prepares Missionaries

Donald W Atkinson

 President Don Atkinson, former mission president and then SLC mission presidency counselor, delivered an inspiring one hour interactive presentation to Varsity Scout Leaders  in the San Diego Imperial Council.

Though a few years old, since this month’s pillar is missionary prep, we’d like to reflect back on his words.   

He used the Scout Oath as a basis for his message: “On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country… to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.”

Pres. Atkinson talked about “3-D” missionaries. According to him, young men need to achieve these Scout traits to successfully enter the mission field and fill all missionary requirements:

  1. Physically Strong
  2. Mentally Stable
  3. Emotionally Mature

He helped Scout leaders understand that providing boys with physical fitness activities through the Varsity Scout program will prepare them for many arduous days throughout their missions. These activities include rank advancement, outdoor hiking and high adventure.

The leaders learned that through Scout outings and week-long high adventure camps, boys learn to live outside their immediate families. Therefore, they gain the independence needed for two year separation from family and friends. He emphasized the need for 14+ year old boys to learn mental discipline to set goals to earn merit badges, and advance in rank.

Additionally, he stated it will help them follow their goals through to completion. He referred to “Preach My Gospel” and related Scouting merit badge achievement to goal setting in the book.

Most of all, he stressed the need for adult Scout leaders to be there for quiet conversations with boys on outings and at weekly Scout meetings. In these situations, boys share questions about God, life, family and friends. He helped the other leaders see that we need to help the boys learn to receive answers from God in prayer.

His conclusion is that through Scouting, young men can and should have spiritual experiences. 

Author:  Lon Atkinson | Huddle Commissioner, San Diego-Imperial Council

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