While walking down the hall of the Provo 24th–27th Ward chapel in the Provo Utah North Stake, my attention was drawn to a bulletin board on which was located an eye-catching photograph of a pyramid of young Scouts. A closer look indelibly impressed upon my mind the potential impact of Scouting, leaders, and parents, for drawn to the picture of each boy in the pyramid was a line, and at the end of the line appeared names of places both far and near, including Spain, Mexico, Oregon, Thailand, England, Arkansas, and Tahiti.
A desire to investigate further brought me to the home of the former Scoutmaster, Rex Craig, who told me that he had taken the picture in June 1970. At that time he had called members of the troop together to inform them that they had been selected by the YMMIA general superintendency as one of the top 50 troops in the Church with a ranking of #11. (In a later year their troop achieved a #3 rating.)
At the time, Brother Craig had 23 boys in his troop. All of the boys except one went on to achieve the rank of Eagle (the remaining boy lacked only two merit badges), and to date all but two have gone on to serve the Lord in the mission field.
When I asked how he accounted for this kind of activity, he said there were a couple of reasons: The boys were basically good, and, in general, there was excellent support from the homes and the bishopric. But he felt there was one other ingredient that contributed to the success; that ingredient was the application of the program of the Church in which leaders work together to build men. In this case it was the Scoutmaster and the deacons quorum adviser. He handed me a letter that he had received from William Jones, a deacons adviser who had served during the time the boys were in Scouting. The special ingredient is described therein. The letter reads:
“Dear Brother Craig:
“As I prepare to leave Utah, I feel it appropriate to express my feelings and impressions of Troop 194, both as a deacons quorum adviser and as a worker on the troop committee.
“You know of my deep respect for you as a man, but I need to expand this to include your unique role as Scoutmaster. The activities have often taxed your time to the limit, but time was still found to meet the sincere needs of both Scouts and parents, even a ‘confused committeeman’ on occasion. Many felt that after your son became an Eagle Scout your enthusiasm would die. On the contrary, each boy in Troop 194 has, in turn, become a son to you and achieved the Eagle rank. I know personally of the great love each boy has for you.
“As a deacons adviser I owe you much for assisting me in making the priesthood such an integral part of each boy’s life. In no other place is cooperation more important, and I personally feel that in no other area is it more present than in our ward. Because you were with us on Sundays and you allowed me to play an active role in Mutual and on campouts, every boy became our concern and gave the program a true completeness.
“I was privileged to work with a choice group of men, but my greatest joy came from the obvious source—the individual boy. I shall never forget my first outing with the boys to Silver Lake. I was critical and tried to oversee 20 active Scouts. I failed, of course, but by the second go-round things began to focus and I watched the patrol leaders function. I saw characteristics in boys then that will someday make them fine men and our future leaders. Clean speech, honesty, and other principles that were taught in priesthood lessons came alive as I watched our boys.
“Troop 194 has no perfect boy. We have had and will continue to have loud, fidgety, curious, active creatures called boys to love, appreciate, train, and say good-bye to as they head into future challenges, better prepared for having been a boy in our ward.”
In response to my question as to how this relationship between priesthood and Scouting could produce such good results, Brother Craig said, “Everything I’ve ever read or been taught in the scriptures seems to say, ‘Seek the best; cease to be idle; gain knowledge in thy youth; love thy neighbor; do your duty to God; obey; be loyal’; and the list goes on and on. It doesn’t take long to see that a boy’s time seeking, learning, obeying, competing, challenging, promising, and excelling is well spent. It’s not easy, and the boy isn’t happy 100 percent of the time. But he is growing, and he thinks a lot about life now and in the future, and in the end he feels like he’s done something. Though his Eagle badge is important to him, he soon realizes it is just a training step. He knows within himself, here was a challenge. He took it, and he conquered it. Even though it often meant ridicule, sacrifice, and even doing something he thought he could never do, he did it. If you want to see desire and courage, you just watch a boy who reaches the age of 12 and can’t swim. He may struggle, fail, fight, and fail. With determination he will try again, fail again, sometimes cry, but always pick himself up and go on. in the end he knows that he has succeeded at something he thought to be impossible.
“In case anyone should think that our goal in Scouting is to become the top troop in the Church, or 100 percent Eagles, or be awarded the most badges at a court of honor, let me straighten him out. There is only one goal and that is to return the best spirit and strongest character possible to our Father in heaven. This is our goal in priesthood and in Scouting. Scouting offers some tools to practice the principles taught in priesthood.”
Another look at the picture impressed upon my mind the impact that parents, leaders, and the gospel have had upon a closely knit group of boys and, in turn, the impact they are having upon the world: Italy, Taiwan, California, Belgium—Tenderfeet, Eagles, missionaries.