Church leaders and the national president of the Boy Scouts of America commemorated that organization’s seventy-fifth birthday February 10 in a special fireside originating from the Salt Lake Tabernacle on Temple Square. The program was broadcast via satellite to more than nine hundred stake centers in the United States and came just two days after the official anniversary of the BSA’s organization.
President Gordon B. Hinckley, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, noted that the Church officially adopted the Scouting program in March 1913, becoming the first religious organization to do so. “Who today can gauge the vast good that has come into the lives of hundreds of thousands of boys over a period of more than seventy years?”
He noted that two of the simplest but most important verbs of the English language are part of the Boy Scout motto and slogan—“Be Prepared,” and “Do a good turn daily.”
Referring to the Scout motto, he said, “There is no more significant work in this world than the preparation of boys to become men of capacity, of strength, of integrity, who are qualified to live productive and meaningful lives.”
Preparation, he said, is not necessary only to meet crisis. “I think the framers of that motto also had in mind preparation for the entire business of living. For the young men of this Church, that includes preparation for a mission, to go out into the world to declare the gospel of peace; preparation through education to qualify to earn a living and contribute to the society of which they will be a part; preparation for marriage and wholesome family life through cultivation of the great ideals set forth in the Scout law.”
The Scout slogan, “Do a good turn daily,” suggests that boys should seek opportunities to help others without expectation of reward. “This is not only the true spirit of Scouting, it is the essence of Christianity.”
President Ezra Taft Benson of the Council of the Twelve greeted those attending the program, saying, “I love Scouting. I have been associated with it for almost seventy years.”
“We urge young men of Scout age in America to seek the benefits and blessings of this great Scout program. It is truly a builder of character, not only in young men, but also in the men who provide the leadership.”
“The Lord wants you to be successful. You bear his priesthood,” he told the young men present. “Scouting is an inspired program that will help you achieve the blessings of happiness, success, good citizenship, morality, and leadership.”
Elder Thomas S. Monson of the Council of the Twelve also spoke.
“When we think of our responsibilities toward boys,” he told Scout leaders, “let us remember that our task is larger than ourselves, our influence more lasting than our lives.”
Addressing the leaders, he said many may be experts in their profession, but that each was also engaged in the “building trade”—building boys’ character and skills.
Elder Robert L. Backman of the First Quorum of the Seventy, president of the Church’s Young Men organization, conducted the program and narrated a special slide presentation on Scouting in the Church.
“Today the Church sponsors more Scouting units and provides more continuity in the program than any other partner [affiliated with the BSA]” he explained. At the end of 1984, the Church had 20,640 Scouting units—6,056 Cub packs, 7,322 Scout troops, 3,338 Varsity Scout teams, and 3,875 Explorer posts—“for a total of 285,873 young men registered, with 94,000 adult leaders.”
He spoke of the benefits of Scouting for young men, then introduced Christopher Rountree, an Audubon, Pennsylvania, Scout who has fought his way through a series of surgeries and physical ailments, a learning disability, hearing problems, and a speech impediment to become an Eagle Scout.
Sanford N. McDonnell, chief executive officer of the McDonnell-Douglas Corporation and president of the Boy Scouts of America, spoke about his “inexpressibly high opinion of the importance of high ethical standards, traditional values, and the building of character in young people. Scouting is a means to all those ends—one of the best means available to our society today.”