Tuesday, January 20, 2015

I Love Working for the Boy Scouts of America!

In all of the years that I was involved in Scouting as a youth, I never knew that there were full-time paid positions within the Boy Scouts of America. And little did I know that as an adult I would have the incredible opportunity to work for this wonderful organization...

I was introduced to the profession of Scouting when I was attending Brigham Young University. At a pivotal moment in my life, I was walking down a hall in the Richards Building when I found myself face-to-face with a poster that read, "A Profession With a Purpose: Come work for the Boy Scouts of America." I was intrigued, and filled with a desire to learn more. Since I was not feeling enthusiastic about the Business Degree that I was pursuing at the time, and was craving greater purpose in my life, I called the number listed, and dramatically changed the course of my life.

I was told that someone who holds an entry-level position, called a District Executive, in the Boy Scouts of America needs to be able to talk with people, to inspire them to greatness, and to juggle multiple tasks at the same time. They would do everything from organizing Jamborees and other types of Scouting events, to carrying out fundraising drives and running Boy Scout camps. A District Executive is also often found working with top-level volunteers and leaders in the community to move the Scouting program forward, offering improved opportunities for the youth within their areas of influence. 

A Bachelor's Degree was required, and while any degree would do, it just so happened that BYU offered a Bachelor's Degree in "Scouting Education" at that time. Before obtaining employment, it was also essential that I pass a personality and ethics test administered through the Boy Scouts of Americaand I learned that the starting salary, which would not make me rich, would be sufficient for my family's needs. The BSA also offered sick time, paid time off, vacation time, and all of the normal benefits you would find at a large for-profit company. They also offered a pension plan that you rarely found with other companies, let alone a non-profit organization like the BSA. But more importantly, during that first phone call I was told that by working for the Boy Scouts I could make a real difference in the world by "helping the leaders of the next generation" become everything God wanted them to be.

I was hooked! That afternoon I went home and counseled with my wife. With her support I signed up for the Scouting Education Degree program the next day, and have had the ride of my life ever since. After completing my degree and being hired as a District Executive, I have done everything from running a variety of summer camps, carrying out a research internship at the National Office in Texas, starting many diverse Scouting units, connecting with influential business and political leaders, working directly with inspirational leaders in the LDS church, and working with countless other churches and organizations interested in preparing the next generation of leaders.

One of the things I love most about working for the Boy Scouts of America is that no two days are ever the same. This past week I have done everything from actively participating in a Council Executive Board meeting with over sixty community leaders, to talking with an LDS Stake President in his home about how Scouting can help him to reach his goals with the Young Men in his Stake. I helped organize a Scouting for Food campaign that will allow food banks to restock their pantry shelves with hundreds of thousands of pounds of food, taught a BYU class about what it means to work for the Boy Scouts of America, and brainstormed ideas with Scouting volunteers about how to better implement character-building programs in their councils.
The Boy Scouts of America is one of the largest non-profit organizations in the world, and is responsible for helping hundreds of thousands of youth reach their full potential as adults.
This job is so exciting to me because what I do as a professional Scouter has the potential to literally change the world!

If you would like to learn more about working for the Boy Scouts of America as a District Executive, please contact me or check out the BSA website.


If you are an adult or youth who would be interested in Summer Camp Employment opportunities within the Utah National Parks Council, follow this link for more information.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Team Building: Tying it Up

James Farnsworth and Clint Lawton ~ headed to Timberline
We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into as we loaded up our 50-pound backpacks and headed off for a week of leadership training at Timberline (NYLT) in Southern Utah.

We showed up to find what seemed to be hundreds of Scouts lined up in perfect order and dressed in full Scouting uniforms standing at attention. We looked nothing like them, and we were worried. If ever there had been a ragtag bunch of kids, we were them; having barely been thrown together as a team, and with our uniforms in disarray. We tried to look like we had it all together as we ran on to the parade grounds to join the assembly, but our veins were filled with fear and our ranks were already filling with contention.

While other patrols had been together for several months and had already made their way through the inevitable stages of team development that we would soon be learning about (forming, storming, norming, and performing), we had only just begun the storming phase. We argued like three-year-olds as we set up camp; bickering about who was going to do the dishes, and picking on each other for looking funny. We were on the brink of giving up, going home, and never hanging out with each other again when a wise Scout leader intervened and instructed us to "Get together as a team". To drive home his point, he grabbed a length of twine and literally tied us together! He secured it to my wrist, then wrapped it around the next boys wrist, and so forth, until our entire patrol was connected at the hip... ahem, wrist.

Yes, we could have easily slipped out of these bands, but to our young minds this was an intriguing game that forced us to figure out how to get along. From that moment on we worked in very close proximity with each other in everything we did. If we needed to make dinner, we had to divide up the jobs so that we didn't make a mess with the rope hanging between us. If one of us needed to go talk to the quartermaster to get something, we all did. Just imagine the resulting hilarity that such a predicament would produce! At the end of each night the Scout leader who tied us together would come to our camp and ask us how our teamwork was progressing. He wanted us to give him a report about how we were learning to do things as a team, and then he would council with us about what we could do better. Because of this wise Scout leader's guidance, we were quickly able to come together as a high performing team.

As youth we unknowingly are taught the way to be the leaders of the next generation in a fun and exciting way through the Scouting program. We are taught everything from team development to leadership and even how to be a good follower. These skills are vitally important as we transition from boys to young men, from missionaries to fathers, and eventually as we become the leaders of the next generation. I will be eternally grateful to Ed Twitchel, the Scoutmaster who tied us together, and to the many other leaders who taught me in my youth.

Whether we are currently a Scout leader or not, we need to be in tune with the Spirit, and open to creative ways that will engage our youth. It might be as simple as taking the time to bring a team of ragtag boys together, as formal as sending them to a National Youth Leadership Training, or as bold as hosting your own Stake NYLT this summer. Each of us needs to take action in order to help our youth become what Heavenly Father wants them to be: the leaders of the next generation.

For more information about Timberline - NYLT offered in the Utah National Parks Council, click HERE.


Saturday, June 14, 2014

Duty to God

What does "Duty to God" mean to you?

To me, doing my duty to God means giving service to others. Because I love God, I try to help other people at all times and love my neighbor as myself.  I believe that it is my duty to help other people come closer to God in their lives, and I try to do so by inviting them directly as well as being an example to them of what a believer is and does. By inviting our youth to join Scouting we have the unique opportunity to help them take a step along their own personal journey to come closer to God.

When I think of doing my duty to God I am reminded of a young boy named Jason who I first met at an elementary school where we were recruiting youth for a local Cub Scout pack. He was an awkward, shy boy whose dad had abandoned him and his mom several years before.

He needed direction; he needed positive role models in his life; he needed God. 

Jason's eyes sparkled with excitement when the membership chairman presented him with a flier and invited him to come and learn how to do archery, shoot BB guns, and race in the Pinewood Derby. He joined Scouting for the fun and adventure of it and has developed into an excellent young man who lives by the Scouting values he learned. 

Scout Oath
On my honor I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country
and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong,
mentally awake, and morally straight.

In this inspiring video we hear the voices of Lord Baden-Powell, the founder of Scouting, and President Thomas S. Monson, the longest standing member of the national board of the BSA, along with other great historical leaders who explain what they believe doing our duty to God means:

Duty to God
A Century of Honor

The years have flown by since Jason joined the Boy Scouts of America as a Cub Scout. It has been exciting to watch as he has grown under the guidance of many worthy father figures in Scouting. Along the way he discovered the gospel of Jesus Christ and is now poised to continue doing his duty to God as he serves a full time mission for his church. As he does so he will perpetuate a cycle of positive role models for future generations who will learn their duty to God and then teach others.

Let us reach out and invite the youth in our neighborhoods to join with us in this wonderful Scouting movement so that they too can learn to do their duty to God.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Always Be Prepared!

It was late March and the snow was deep at the top of the best hike in southern Utah, The Subway in Zion National Park. I had been on this hike many times and knew that as we worked our way closer to the valley floor below, the snow would dissipate and then the real fun would begin! Despite the cold, this reconnoitering trip came off without a hitch and the following week we returned with a brand new Venturing Crew made up of BYU college students.

Nothing out of the ordinary happened during the first half of the hike. We descended to the canyon floor some 800 feet down a windy trail and made our way boulder hopping and crossing the river as we traveled several miles to the cascading waterfalls. Spring was in the air with a crisp breeze and we had remained dry and warm so far. As we entered the actual "Subway" part of the hike we saw rounded walls that were shimmering with the mist rising from the torrent of water flowing through it. The water was wall to wall, about 18 inches deep, and was approximately 35° F because of the snow melting two miles upstream.

I posted myself at the base of a short scramble and spotted the students as they made their ascent and continued on up the canyon. After several students had made it to the top of this wall, I took a step back to call the next one up the river. Unexpectedly, my footing slipped and I vanished into a deep pot hole that was filled with freezing cold water over my head. I remember looking up at the next girl in line as she stared down at me through the water. She was helplessly trying to figure out how to get me out of the churning water while I frantically kicked against the current to get to the surface. After what felt like hours I was able to get to the top and take a breath, but then the real challenge began. The walls of the pot hole were covered with a thin layer of green algae that were so slippery that it was impossible to get a good grip. Thinking quick, the nearest student stripped off her backpack and threw me a strap. This extra help enabled me to pull myself up and roll out onto my side like a beached whale. I was soaked to the skin and my gear was completely wet with everything ruined, including my radio. We were miles away from any outside help.

Before shock and hypothermia set in, with the help of several students we worked our way downstream. We could see one ray of sunshine shining down into the canyon from the 2000 foot sandstone walls towering above. We had to get to it! As we came around the corner we saw Michael Chang, a good friend of mine and another of the leaders on this hike. He was a true Boy Scout and was prepared with every needful thing, plus some! After removing most of my wet clothes, he wrapped me in an emergency blanket and cracked a small heater inside. Several of the class members gathered around and prayed for me that I would make it out okay.

I truly felt the hand of the Lord warm my body and my heart that day! 

The sun began to dip below the canyon walls and we were still hours away from the cars. Wet, cold, and with it getting dark, we had to move fast. It was slow going and we didn't make it back to the car until well after dark.

The moral of this story for me is: Be Prepared, or at least be with someone who is!

Thank you to Michael Chang and that Venturing Crew for saving my life by doing things for me that I could not do for myself.

Scouting Changes Lives

When the founder of Boy Scouting, Robert Baden-Powell, returned home after serving in the Boer Wars in the early 1900s he was troubled by what he saw. Many of the boys in his community were idle and wandering the streets, getting into mischief and causing problems with all kinds of riotous living. They lacked supervision and direction as their fathers were away at war. Baden-Powell envisioned Scouting as not only an exciting organization that would keep these boys busy, but it would also be an engaging way to teach them morals and skills that would benefit their lives and their communities.

We can see many similarities in our own society today. Gang violence runs rampant, everything from school shootings to graffiti, with many boys just plain getting in trouble. Our youth have too much time on their hands and too little direction in their lives. At this time in our history, boys need Scouting more than ever!

One day, when my father was about 14 years old, he was sitting in school when someone entered his classroom to tell them all about the fun and adventure of Scouting. They learned that in The Boy Scouts of America you could shoot guns, swim, and rock climb, as well as participate in all kinds of other adventure that a boy would love. He studied the flier that contained information about the Boy Scout joining night that would be held the following day at the local church down the road.

He was presented with a decision that would have an impact on the rest of his life.

At this joining night he met his future Scoutmaster. On the stage was a leader who was talking about the Scout Oath and Law with the "new recruits." Just outside the door they had an archery activity set up for the boys to do while the parents were filling out paperwork and learning about the vision of Scouting. There was a pinewood derby track, a raingutter regatta, and an area for the Cub Scout age boys to learn their Promise, Law and Motto. After my dad returned home, he could not stop talking about both the fun that he had that night and the excitement and adventure yet to come. In the future there would be many hikes, camping trips, shooting sport adventures, and all around good times with Scouting.

From that time forward, he was hooked both to Scouting and to the religious organization that chartered their Boy Scout troop. This happened to be the LDS Dysart Ward in downtown Phoenix, Arizona, but just as easily could have been another religious or community based chartered organization. Through recruiting, this Boy Scout troop was able to grow from just a couple of boys to over 40 boys that stayed together clear through earning their Eagle Scout awards. Most of them ended up serving missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

The following video, forwarded to me from the Young Men General President of the LDS church, David L. Beck, tells how Scouting has profoundly influenced a group of boys who needed positive role models and direction in their lives:

Because of a brief encounter with The Boy Scouts of America during school one day, my family has been greatly blessed and generations of people's lives have been influenced for the better. My father continues to instill in his children and grandchildren the values of the Scout Oath and Law, which are now being passed on to the third generation of Boy Scouts who have been affected by this one decision.

"The spirit is there in every boy; it has to be discovered and brought to light." 
~ Baden-Powell