Meanwhile, a group of Scouting executives and professionals from across America gathered near the front of the conference center, many listening to General Conference for the first time ever.
For the professional Scouters and others in attendance, peace replaced the chaos outside.
These Scout Executives came to conference as part of a two day LDS-BSA Relations Seminar. Their goal? To learn more about the needs of their Scouts (and units) in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. But, conference was only a small part of the itinerary.
Those in attendance visited many Church sites including the MTC, BYU, and Welfare Square on Friday.
But, Saturday was dedicated to conference. The professional Scouters, both Mormon and not, watched the Saturday’s morning and priesthood sessions. They also heard presentations by Brother Stephen W. Owen and Brother M. Joseph Brough of the General Young Men’s Presidency, in a private room in the Lion House between sessions.
Here’re some of the lessons learned by those attending the seminar:
What Scout Executives Learned about LDS members in Scouting
Many Scout Executives have a large percentage of LDS members in their councils. They said they frequently meet with stake presidents and bishops to plan and cater to their needs.
- LDS Terminology
The seminar not only helped these professionals learn new words, but it also helped them build a context for words they already knew. A few Scout Executives talked about how content they were now that they are better able to understand the Church’s lingo and communicate more effectively.
- Church History
The Church history sites impacted many of the executives. Many didn’t know much about the Church’s history and commitment to welfare. One Scout executive had this to say.
“In regards to the MTC, Welfare Square, and sessions is that the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have a real passion for their faith. They have a passion for helping the community, the under-served, and the needy,” said Kevin Fox, Camping Director for the Denver Area Council.
- Why Scouting is important for missionary service
Almost all of the Scout Executives said that the MTC was their favorite part of the weekend. It was a profound experience for them to walk into a room filled with Elders and see a majority of them raise their hand after being asked how many were Eagle Scouts.
What LDS Scout Executives Learned About Scouting
LDS Scout professionals and stake leaders in attendance said they learned a lot as well. They were reminded about why we use the Scouting program in the Church.
- The purpose of Scouting is to help youth come closer to Christ
One stake leader’s wife said she was reminded that Scouting goes hand-in-hand with the priesthood. It’s not just an activity program, so boys can have a great time hanging out. It’s a means to teach essential Christ-like attributes.
- Statistically, Scouting helps boys go on and stay on missions
Brad Harris, BYU campus director of the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance, showed a slide about reasons people are influenced to go on and stay on missions. Ahead of seminary, Duty to God, and all other youth programs in the Church, Scouting was listed. This just went to show LDS members in attendance how positive experiences like privation and camping prepare boys for the toughness of missionary work. One council professional said four out of five boys in his language class at the MTC raised their hands stating that they were Eagle Scouts.
- Leaders MUST fulfill their callings
One speaker at the seminar told a story about how after accomplishing some things in his life he desired to call his Scoutmaster and say thank you. He did so, leaving his Scoutmaster in tears. Because of a good leader, he grew. Some leaders don’t plan. They don’t get it. But, if a leader steps up to his calling, he can help a boy change course.
This weekend was a powerful experience for both LDS and non-LDS Scouters alike. Testimonies were strengthened and memorable experiences were had. Even with the heavy conference traffic and busy schedule, the Scout Executives who attended the seminar this weekend were edified and uplifted.
Author: Michelle Carpenter | Marketing Associate, Utah National Parks Council