Baden Powell, the founder of Scouting, is quoted as saying “There is no religious ‘side’ of the movement. The whole of it is based on religion, that is, on the realization and service of God”.
One of the highlights I remember when I was a Scout, and one that I liked to emphasize as an eleven-year-old (EYO) Scout leader, was the Scout slogan of “Do a Good Turn Daily.” Doing a good turn emphasizes the Savior’s call to “love thy neighbor as thyself” (Matthew 22:29). We connect our EYO Scouts with heaven when we work with them and teach them the Scout slogan. I trained my patrol leader to conduct an opening, then have each Scout make a report of their week as a Scout to include any good turns they have performed. It was slow at first, but after a while they began to bring their stories of the good things they had accomplished—one item at a time. Very soon, you could see their self-esteem improve through their conversations about the good that they were accomplishing in life.
This is an important exercise. As Church members, we need to learn how to return and report. Not just of our troubles, woes, needs, and wants, but also of our accomplishments. I emphasized to my EYO Scouts around the campfire that the good turn is just one of many things we should include in our report to Heavenly Father each evening in our prayers and on Sunday during the passing of the sacrament. Learning in their youth the value of introspection will allow them later in life to know what they are doing well as well as areas where they might have missed the mark in their lives.
A discussion with EYO Scouts around the campfire about what constitutes a good turn stimulates their young minds to think about service to others. The power behind the Scout slogan leads the EYO Scout on a singular basis, down a road of service—one day at a time. You can connect doing a good turn with Mosiah’s words, “And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God” (Mosiah 2:17).
Scouting is firmly rooted in teaching young men to become men of character. The strength of the program lies in the fact that it clearly defines what it means to be a man of character. Not only is it defined by service to others through doing good turns daily, but also by the tenets of the Scout Oath and Scout Law. In the Scout Oath it unequivocally states the standard that is acceptable in life—to do one’s best. As Elder David A. Bednar puts it, “Ordinary people who consistently do small and simple things that are right before God will bring forth extraordinary results”. Learning to do the small and simple things well helps our youth gain confidence and build their character. As their character grows in a positive direction, it becomes more open to the promptings of the Holy Ghost.
Scouting’s tenets teach boys to be prepared. As an EYO Scout leader I spent time around a camp fire talking to the EYO Scouts about being spiritually prepared. We prepare ourselves spiritually by keeping the commandments. Thus, we can connect with the heavens in our time of need and use the power of the priesthood to bless ourselves and others during tumultuous times. As Pres. Gordon B. Hinckley said, “We can so live that we can call upon the Lord for His protection and guidance. We cannot expect His help if we are unwilling to keep His commandments”.
Scouting provides youth the means to connect with heaven in their daily lives by providing service to others, building their character to emulate the Savior, and by being spiritually prepared. Helping your EYO Scouts see the values they are learning and practicing those values on a daily basis is giving them the skills they need to connect with heaven.
-Stan Stolpe has served in multiple Scouting positions at the unit, district, council, regional, and national levels in the U.S. and overseas. He resides in Alexandria, Virginia, serving in the Mount Vernon Virginia Stake. The views and opinions expressed in this message are solely those of the author.