I have a secret. I love Scouting. But I haven’t always felt that way. To be honest I used to think Scouting was silly. I couldn’t fathom why The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (“the Church”) supported Boy Scouting.
Twice I had been a ward Young Men president and never understood why the boys were required to do Scout activities for Mutual. Sadly, I did not support the Scouting program and did all I could to channel our Young Men efforts to what I felt were more appropriate Aaronic Priesthood activities.
I often wondered why the Young Men program couldn’t be more like the program for the Young Women. Each week in Mutual the young women stand up and recite the YW theme. Their lessons and activities are designed around the YW values. I was surprised that the young men didn’t have a theme and values. I felt the Church should drop the Scouting program and develop a YM curriculum similar to that of the young women.
Then one day, in a priesthood executive committee meeting, when our bishopric was struggling to find someone to be the Scoutmaster for our ward, I shared my disdain for Scouting. Our wise bishop reminded me that the current prophet, and many other prophets, strongly supported the Scouting program.
“Brother McIntire,” he said, “Maybe the prophet knows something you don’t know about Scouting. Maybe you should pray about it and find out why Scouting is the Lord’s program for the young men.”
That night I did just that. In my prayer I told the Lord I didn’t understand Scouting and I wondered why the Young Men program didn’t have a theme and values like the young women. What unfolded was one of the most spiritual experiences of my life.
I heard a voice ask, “Would you like to hear the Young Men Theme?” When I responded “yes,” I heard, “‘On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; To help other people at all times; To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.’”
The voice then asked if I wanted to hear the Young Men values. When I said “yes”, the voice said, “A Scout is Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent.”
For over an hour I was instructed by the Spirit showing me why the Scouting program is the activity arm of the Aaronic Priesthood. I learned that Baden-Powell was inspired of God to establish the Scouting program. I came to know Scouting was a divinely-established means to help the young men in the Church to become strong men of character.
Proverbs 29:18 says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Where there is no vision or understanding of the value of Scouting in the Young Men program the boys perish spiritually. Scouting is the best way I know to instill the values of the gospel in young men. It is the best means for taking the lessons learned on Sunday and applying them in the lives of the boys.
Few things are more important in your Aaronic Priesthood responsibilities than that of gaining a personal testimony—or vision—of the Aaronic Priesthood and Scouting programs. I encourage you to pray for a testimony of Scouting. Pray to know what the prophets know. Pray to know what I now know.
Take a Moment to Reflect:
- Do you have a testimony of the Scouting program? Can you see what the prophets see in your vision of Scouting?
- Do you know why Scouting is “the activity arm of the Aaronic Priesthood”?
- Have you resolved to run the Young Men program the way the Lord has designed it, including the Scouting elements of the Aaronic Priesthood?
- Can you feel the Lord’s Spirit when you are involved in Scouting activities?
Turn Your Reflection Into Action
- What will you start doing, stop doing, or do better as a result of your reflection?
“Brethren, if ever there were a time when the principles of Scouting were vitally needed—that time is now. If ever there were a generation who would benefit by keeping physically strong, mentally awake, and, morally straight—that generation is the present generation.” (Thomas S. Monson, “‘Called to Serve’,” Ensign, November 1991, 46).
-Mac McIntire is a dedicated Scouter who has blessed many lives through his service and acute understanding of the Scouting program. He currently lives in Las Vegas, Nevada. The views and opinions expressed in this message are solely those of the author.