Oklahoma Scout Encampment Commemorates 100 Years

  By Beth M. Stephenson, Church News contributor

  • 29 October 2013

The motto “Decisions Determine Destiny” is incorporated into the logo at the BSA encampment entrance in Pawhuska, Oklahoma. The encampment commemorated the Church's 100-year affiliation with Scouting.  Photo by Brad Larsen.

Article Highlights

  • Scouts and Aaronic Priesthood holders from eight stakes and 55 units gathered for the commemorative encampment.
  • Activities included an obstacle course, a monkey bridge, a fire-building competition, and handcart races.

“All the returned missionary leaders who served non-English-speaking missions came to the front and sang ’I Am a Child of God’ in nine different languages. Then the English-speaking returned missionaries led the boys in singing ‘I Am a Child of God.’ Everyone felt the Spirit.”

STILLWATER, OKLA.

When James Murray of the Stillwater 1st Ward, Stillwater Oklahoma Stake, was asked to plan an LDS Boy Scout encampment for 2013, he loved the appropriateness of holding it in an area historically significant to the BSA.

Pawhuska, Okla., lays claim to the earliest Boy Scout troop in America. So what better place to stage an encampment to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the alliance between the Church and the Boys Scouts of America? he thought. But Pawhuska’s ties to the Boy Scouts precede even the 1910 organization and charter of the Boy Scouts of America: In May 1909, a Scout troop was organized in this rural hamlet under the authority of the Boy Scouts of England.

According to a BSA fact sheet, the troop was organized by The Rev. John F. Mitchell, associated with the St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Pawhuska. The Church owns the nearby Sooner Cattle and Livestock Company. Its general manager, Mike Justese, suggested a wilderness site almost encircled by Cedar Creek.

Gathering for the encampment were 630 Boy Scouts and Aaronic Priesthood members from eight stakes and 55 units. When temperatures unexpectedly dropped below freezing, the camp motto “Decisions Determine Destiny” and the Scout motto of “Be Prepared” were driven home. Those who were prepared fell asleep to the lullaby of coyotes howling. Those that weren’t, shivered all night in their cars.

Scouts participated in a variety of events, including, but not limited to: cooking in their campsites, shooting, throwing —hatchets, knives and footballs—an obstacle course, a monkey bridge, a fire-building competition and handcart races. Anglers found time to drop lines in clear-running Cedar Creek. Planner James Murray’s highlight was the Friday night program, despite the rain and cold. “All the returned missionary leaders who served non-English speaking missions came to the front and sang ’I Am a child of God’ in nine different languages. Then the English-speaking returned missionaries led the boys in singing ‘I Am a Child of God.’ Everyone felt the Spirit,” Brother Murray said. This was the third LDS Boy Scout Encampment in Oklahoma. Previous encampments were in 1997 and 2007.

 

Two young men enjoy fishing while at camp commemorating 100 years of the Church's affiliation with the Boy Scouts of America.
Photo by Brad Larsen

Motto, “Decisions Determine Destiny,” is incorporated into logo at entrance to BSA encampment at Pddawhuska, Okla., held in commemoration of the Church's 100-year-affiliation with Scouting.
Photo by Brad Larsen

Boy Scouts and leaders from eight stakes and 55 units set up camp on Church-owned property at Pawhuska, Okla.
Photo by Brad Larsen