There were only three Scouts, initially, in the Cleveland Branch of the Tulsa Oklahoma Stake. But that didn’t stop them. The branch was challenged to organize a Scout troop anyway.
“There were already other Scouts in the area,” reports Dan Steurer, first counselor in the branch presidency, who was given the specific assignment to organize the troop. “But troop committees weren’t really functioning. The community was looking for the leadership and organization that the Church could provide, and this was a way to serve them.” Strong adults, both LDS and non-LDS, were asked to work with the newly organized troop.
But the boys did their part too. “We recruited everybody to be in the troop,” said Brother Steurer’s son Rodney, 14. His brother Geoffrey, 13, and another Scout, Mark Choate, 15, said that soon their friends Michael Bradfield and Neil Hammock were part of the troop, and of course they asked lots of questions about the Church. Now both Mike and Neil are not only Scouts, but also members of the deacons and teachers quorums, both serving in leadership positions.
Depending on whom you ask, the Scout troop gets credit directly or indirectly for 8 to 13 baptisms.
“We’ve had Scouts who’ve been baptized, we’ve had assistant Scoutmasters who’ve been baptized, and their families,” says Michael Southward, the Cleveland Branch president. “The Scouts are probably the single most active missionary tools we have.”
Now the branch sponsors two troops, Troop 76 with 26 Scouts, and Troop 66 with 13 Scouts. Five boys have received their Eagle rank. The branch is also helping the Cub Scout movement in four different towns, and a Varsity Scout team is being organized.
“If service is helping people meet their own needs,” Brother Steurer said, “then you’d have to say organizing a Scout troop is one of the greatest service projects ever. And if you think of sharing the gospel as the greatest service of all, then you’d have to say we’re mighty happy.”