In addition to his other service to youth, President Thomas S. Monson has been a lifelong friend of the Boy Scouts of America, which has for nearly a century served as an activity arm of the Aaronic Priesthood in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, South Africa, and other countries such as the Philippines and Taiwan.
This video was prepared for use as the Boy Scouts of America celebrated the 100th anniversary of Scouting in the U.S. in 2010. In the video, President Monson talks about the blessings Scouting can bring to those who live according to its principles.
Skills of Scouting
It is impossible to measure the great good that has come from Scouting during the last century, President Monson says. “Skills have been learned, values have been established, good deeds have been done, and lives have been enriched. Scouting skills have also saved lives.”
He tells the story of his nephew’s 11-year-old son, who, the same day he received his swimming award at a Court of Honor, rescued his younger brother from drowning using lifesaving procedures learned and practiced in Scouting. He also relates stories of his own experiences as a young Scout, including eating ice cream at winter camp even when the Scouts were freezing, and learning about patience and kindness through the example of his Scoutmaster, who had only one leg.
Bringing out the best
“Scouting brings out the best in each of us,” President Monson says. “You’ve learned much from Scouting. Live what you’ve learned and will continue to learn. Help others to hike the trails, to keep steadfast in the paths of truth, of honor, of duty, that all of you can soar together on eagles’ wings. You are part of a mighty army of youth, even a royal army, and every organization, to be successful, has an honored tradition to uphold. May you uphold Scouting’s tradition, for it can be as a lighthouse beacon in the world of stormy seas, it can be a motivation to prepare for your role in life, it can be a yardstick against which you measure your accomplishments.”
President Monson describes his experiences with Scouting as an adult, including a visit to Westminster Abbey in London, England, where he saw the memorial to Lord Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of Scouting. “He was a builder of boys, one who taught them well how to run, and win, the race of life.”
Noting that he has served on the National Executive Board of the Boy Scouts of America for more than 40 years, President Monson says, “I believe in the power of Scouting to bless and enrich lives for good.”
The video concludes with a story President Monson heard from a Scouting executive, about a professional chef who each year at his own expense travels to a training area to prepare a meal for Scout executives who have been in wilderness training in California. During his youth, the chef was saved from being shot during the Nazi invasion of Greece because a sergeant recognized a Scouting emblem on his belt buckle, raised his right hand in the Scout salute, and told him to run. “Today I serve Scouting, so that boys may still dream dreams and live to fulfill them,” the man said, showing the belt buckle that he still carried in his pocket, the emblem of Scouting still shining brightly.
President Monson concludes the video by giving his own Scout salute, in honor of Scout leaders, parents of Scouts, and to Scouts themselves.
In Support of the Priesthood
The partnership of the Aaronic Priesthood and Scouting stretches back nearly a century. The Church officially affiliated with the Boy Scouts of America in 1913, after the Scouting movement began in England in 1907, spread to many other countries, and was formally started in the United States in 1910.
“Where Scouting is authorized by the Church, quorums may participate in Scouting activities during Mutual. Scouting should help young men put into practice the gospel principles they learn on Sunday,” says the Handbook of Instructions, Part 2, 8:13:4. Aaronic Priesthood bearers can use Scouting as an activity program to apply the values and put into practice the principles they learn in their quorums.
“If ever there were a time when the principles of Scouting were vitally needed—that time is now,” President Monson said in an article published in the November 1991 Ensign.
The Church organized the Young Men’s Mutual Improvement Association (YMMIA) in 1875, to provide spiritual and cultural activities for the young men of the Church. In 1911 Church leaders decided that Scouting, with its spiritual background and cultural ideas, had great appeal. The MIA Scouts were officially organized.
In 1913, the Church formally affiliated with Scouting in the United States as its first institutional sponsor. Today, the Church sponsors more Scouts and Scouting units in the U.S. than any other organization. Hundreds of thousands of young men are enrolled in groups or units sponsored by the Church.
For more information about Scouting, read “A Pillar Supporting the Priesthood,” New Era, February 2010.
Elder Hales Says ‘Do Your Best’ with Duty to God and Scouting
“I promise you that [Duty to God] will provide you with a living testimony that will sustain you throughout your life,” Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said in an article in the November 2001 Ensign. “Where available, Scouting can also help you in this effort,” he said.
“Some of the great blessings of these programs,” he added, “. . . are that as the youth of the Church, you will have a clear understanding of who you are, you will be accountable for your actions, you will take responsibility for the conduct of your life, and you will be able to set goals so that you might achieve what you were sent to earth to achieve. Our plea is that you strive to do your very best.”