On a warm August morning in Aurora, Colorado, 30 children armed with brand new soccer balls and kickballs gathered in the local park to play sports and have a good time. But when the game ended, the children and their parents left 150 unused balls behind.
That may sound strange, but 14-year-old Brandon Campbell had planned it that way. Brandon, a teacher in the Fox Hollow Ward, Arapahoe Colorado Stake, knew that his Eagle project would provide the Aaronic Priesthood holders in the ward with an opportunity to bless the lives of children locally and all over the world.
An avid sports fan, Brandon found a way to use his love of athletics to create a project that would benefit children in developing nations. Brandon organized a sports day in his area, and the participants at the event donated balls to a charitable organization that helps communities all over the world establish stable political and social environments. With the help of his family and the youth in his ward and Scout troop, Brandon was able to provide struggling children with a little bit of fun and relief.
Brandon says he’s learned the importance of serving others through his Church membership. He notes that giving meaningful service is one of the purposes of the Aaronic Priesthood. “Scouting is the activity arm of the priesthood,” he says. “Because of the activity we organized, now kids are going to have things to play with. Helping children is a way of respecting them.”
As he progresses in the Aaronic Priesthood and other areas of his life, Brandon recognizes the benefits of Scouting. “I came up with the idea for my Eagle project and organized it,” he says. “Learning to be a leader is a big part of Scouting and Church. Learning to be a leader now prepares you to be a leader in your Church callings later. That’s why we do it.” Brandon and his fellow quorum members were leaders on the field, acting as referees of the games and ensuring the safety and enjoyment of the participants.
So now that he has finished his Eagle project, what’s next?
“I’ve finished my Duty to God requirements as a deacon,” Brandon says. “But I’m now a teacher, so I’ve started working on my Duty to God requirements as a teacher.”
When Juan Hernández of Salt Lake City, Utah, looks back on his first visit to church, one word sums up his attitude: apprehension.
“My mom was the first to be baptized in the family. At the time, I didn’t know why. One day she asked me if I wanted to go to church with her to see what it was like. I decided to go with her just so she wouldn’t feel bad.” But thanks to the ward’s Aaronic Priesthood, Juan learned that there was something special about the Church.
One of the young men invited Juan to come to a Scout activity flying planes. Though he had no interest in attending religious meetings, flying planes with the Scouts sounded like too much fun to resist. On the day of the activity, Juan was surprised by how friendly and enthusiastic the young men were. “When we went up in the planes, I forgot that I barely knew these young men. Somehow I knew that they would be good friends to me,” Juan says.
Though Juan didn’t expect to be invited again, the young men surprised him by immediately treating him as a member of their troop. And the more he participated, the more he noticed how happy members of the Church were. Over time, he realized that it wasn’t Scouting that made them so happy—it was the gospel. Juan knew he wanted to be happy like they were, too.
Soon Juan, his father, and his sister took the missionary discussions and decided to be baptized. “All of the Aaronic Priesthood kids were there when my family and I were confirmed. Then my dad and I were ordained to the Aaronic Priesthood,” Juan says. “And when I passed the sacrament for the first time, they were all excited for us.” Because members of the Aaronic Priesthood saw an opportunity to reach out to Juan during his first visit to Church, they were able to better introduce Juan to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Scouting provided the activity that helped Juan to feel comfortable around members of the Church.
“I can see all that the Aaronic Priesthood has done for me,” Juan says. “It has helped me to love God and see the love He has for each one of us. I have learned to listen to the Holy Ghost. And I have learned about one of the biggest blessings of all—that if we live worthily we can be with our families for all eternity.
“Thanks to the leaders, my mom, and the Scouts, I could open the door to our Heavenly Father. That’s how my family and I found that piece that was missing in our life.”